Blessing of Persecution

Blessing of Persecution

A faith commitment to Jesus Christ improves other human relationships, and it destroys them. Your Christianity will bear the sweet fruit of fellowship or possibly the bitter weed of hostility from others.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:34,

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ” ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.'”

This is one of the reasons why it is so wrong to sell the Gospel to unbelievers on the basis of the improvement that it will make on human relationships. While improvement of human relationships often does occur in the life of the new believer, sometimes Christianity will make those relationships much worse.

Consider a seventh grade Pakistani girl named Tara. Her strict Muslim family refused to answer her questions about Jesus so secretly she enrolled in a Bible correspondence course. When her parents found her in her room reading Christian books they beat her in a rage. She lay in unconscious in her room for about one week. She believes an angel woke her and helped her to get to a hospital. A year later, in 1995, she trusted in Jesus Christ as her Savior and was secretly baptized. Her parents had arranged for her to marry a Muslim man and when she refused, she was beaten again. She was made to stand for three days on her feet without sleep. After more beatings she fell into a coma and after three days she woke up in a pool of blood. She heard God tell her, “I am your Father. I will protect you.” Tara escaped and she now lives in a safe house in another country where she serves her Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes Christianity destroys relationships because Jesus is so hated. In the midst of persecution, we do have Jesus’ precious promise, and listen to this from Mark 10:28-30,

Peter said to him,

“We have left everything to follow you!”

And, Jesus says,

“I tell you the truth…no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel who will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age…and in the age to come, eternal life. “

This is the precious promise of God to all who have lost in this world because of Jesus.

The story of the Christian church, truly, is one of persecution. This should not surprise us as. This is exactly what Jesus promised. He would say in John15:18,

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But, because you are not of the world,I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘The slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, then they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also.”

Again, later in John 16:2, He says,

“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think he is offering a service to God.”

Not only did Jesus teach this, but the Apostles as well. Paul would write to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:12),

Indeed, all who desire to live in Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Peter, himself, would add in his own Epistle,

“For you have been called for this purpose since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.”

Christians who align themselves with Jesus Christ in this life, who align themselves to His Truth, to His Values, through their conversation, can expect hostility from a world system that is run and controlled by Satan and that hates the Lord Jesus Christ.

The record of the first persecution of the church is found in Acts 4. Now we hear and we discover that God calls us to be faithful and to respond to persecution by boldly proclaiming the life-giving message of Jesus; that we must not shrivel in fear of persecution, but that we might boldly meet it. There are three parts for our outline.

First, we are going to discover the reality of persecution. Then we are going to discover the reasons behind persecution, and, finally, the response towards persecution.

Let’s consider the reality of persecution: persecution is truly unavoidable. It must be a recognized constant that should not startle us or should not surprise us, nor should it discourage us. Again, Jesus promised, in John 16:33,

“In this world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

This is to say that God’s purposes always will be accomplished. We come to Acts 4, and we remember the context. Peter and John have gone up to the Temple. They saw this man who had been lame from birth; he was some forty years old and they heal him in the name of Jesus. “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth,” they say, “Rise up and walk,” and that is precisely what he did. And now he is leaping around with joy. A crowd gathers around wondering what has happened and they recognize this man who had been crippled from birth and now they see him walking and jumping around and Peter uses this opportunity, this physical circumstance, to bring an opportunity for him to proclaim the Gospel, and that is what he does in this sermon in the latter part of Acts 3.
In Verse 19, of that sermon in Acts 3, Peter, after confronting the people with their sin, after declaring the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that He is God become the flesh, the Savior who died and rose again, he says to them,

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”

that they needed to respond to Him now; respond with faith and repentance. We come to the first couple of verses of Chapter 4, understanding that that is the context.

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed…

They were indignant. They were exasperated. They were frustrated. They were angry. They were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people, and proclaiming in Jesus, the resurrection of the dead. They were indignant over, first, the miracle that had taken place and then they were more indignant over the sermon that Peter had preached.

Notice the assortment, the broad assortment of people who had gathered together to become angry at these first Christians. They were a wide variety of people who all united together as a team to oppose Peter, John, and the Gospel. First, there are priests, as it tells us in Verse 1, the Levites who serve in the Temple. Then, there was this Temple Guard. You don’t want to mess with Temple Guard. The Temple Guard was a special police force that Rome had allowed for the Jews to have in order to maintain order amongst the people, particularly on the Temple Mount. This was a tough, brutal police force and the Captain of the Temple Guard was there.

The Scripture tells us that were the Sadducees. The Sadducees were of the religious aristocracy. They were the wealthy landowners. They were small in number but they were great in their political influence. They were very connected to Rome. They desired to maintain the status quo because the status quo was good for them. They were not very serious about their faith, except that much of their faith helped them on in this life to acquire more power and more money. They were a people who rejected the idea of an after life. They rejected the idea that there was a resurrection from the dead. They rejected the idea that there would be coming, a personal Messiah who would come into the world. In essence, they were a very secular people who used religion as a base of their influence more than as an opportunity to worship God.

These groups were all gathered together, and then in Verses 3 and 4, we see that

They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. Many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to five thousand.

Then we see some other people gathered together with this first group of three from Verse 1. We read in Verse 5, the next day, not only were the priests and the Captain of the Temple Guard and the Sadducees there, but also, there were

…rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem…

In Verse 6, some people by name. Annas, who was the high priest, but he didn’t hold the official title, but he was viewed as the high priest by the Jews. And then, there was Caiaphas and John and Alexander. We don’t know much about John and Alexander except that they are mentioned here as people who were united in their hatred of Believers; hatred of Peter and John and the Gospel.

…the rulers, elders and teachers of the law…

most likely are references to the Pharisees who, indeed, take their religion very seriously. They did believe in the resurrection of the dead and they did believe in a serious appraisal of their lives before God, and they sought to live according to the Law.

What is interesting is that none of these groups have anything in common with each other except their hostility toward Peter, John, and the Gospel. You would have never been able to unite this group around anything else except around the flag of unbelief. Persecution always comes because of unbelief. Many people say there are many reasons for persecution, but persecution is an issue of unbelief. This ungodly, unbelieving world gladly unites together, casts aside huge differences, in order to defeat and destroy the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a fact of human history.

You can open up any church history book and you will see that odd assortments of people have come together for the purpose of destroying the faith. In addition to these who are mentioned here in Acts 6, later we are going to see the Greek philosophers join in, we are going to see the Roman government exercise its authority to destroy the faith. We are going to see spiritesses, idolaters, and even atheists gather together. It is unbelief that joins them together and I want you to notice this in order to make two specific applications.

The first application is this: even when the Gospel is communicated in the best way, and in the most favorable of circumstances, it will often be rejected; it will often be hated. Few could argue that they could have preached a better sermon than Peter preached. After all, he is an Apostle and he preached this, or at least part of it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It was precisely the words that the Holy Spirit intended for Peter to use, and yet despite using the best of words, the world hated him. They hated his message.

Furthermore, notice the favorable conditions in which Peter preached this message. He had just healed a lame man who was born crippled and who had been in that state for forty years. Wouldn’t I love to be able to have a healing right here of a person who has been lame for forty years, and all of you would know him, and have him jump around, and I would say, “Surely they will listen to me now.” I mean, after seeing such a demonstration of, obviously, the power of God, “Surely they would listen now.” But, more favorable circumstances could hardly have been dreamed. The people did not listen; they refused to accept.

The idea that we can package the Gospel and reword the Gospel so that hearts that are filled with unbelief will not take offense is flat-out wrong, and I would urge you not to believe that. The nature of the heart of unbelief is when they hear the Gospel to either to be broken by the Gospel and respond with repentance and faith, or to become embittered by the Gospel and hate it all the more. The attempt to package the Gospel to make it less offensive to the unbelieving heart will ultimately distort the Gospel and cause us to be in the sad position of proclaiming a gospel wholly other than the One that has delivered to us once for all by God Himself.
I would encourage you, when your friends and your family respond negatively to the Gospel, even with strong negativity and even hostility to the message of the Gospel, understand that this does not mean you did something wrong. You may have done everything right.

It is important to remove unnecessary offenses like self-righteousness, like arrogance, like harshness or indignation; all of these things should not be a part of a true Gospel presentation. We should avoid all of those things in our communication of the Gospel to our family and to our friends, but the Gospel will often deeply offend those we tell it to.

Why do we still proclaim this Gospel if it is going to be so offensive, why would we still dare to communicate it? The Gospel is the only thing that will put this chaotic world right. The Gospel is the only thing that will mend a broken heart. The Gospel is the only thing that can bring salvation to a soul whom you love. It is the only thing.

The second application that I would draw from the reality of persecution is that persecution never obstructs the Gospel from accomplishing God’s purposes. We think that after persecution set in that that would be it for the church; that there would be no more growth, that there would be no more clamoring after to discern what is God doing with His people, and what is it about this Message; that would have been it. But just the opposite took place. We see, as the rulers and the priests and the Temple Guard and the Sadducees begin to ratchet up the intensity of the persecution, that more and more people came to believe the message. The number of men in Verse 4,

… grew to about five thousand people.

It seems he is not even putting a number on the women and children who are believing so the number could be upwards of ten to fifteen thousand people who have now come to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is still a minority within Jerusalem and certainly within the rest of the world. But, we see that the greater the persecution, the more that God uses the Gospel to accomplish the purposes for which the Gospel was designed.

One early church father by the name of Justin Martyr would remark that, “The blood of the Christian is the seed of the church. That every drop of blood that spills as a result of the persecution becomes the seed that grows and bursts forth with fruit fifty, a hundred, a thousand fold.” The blood of the Christian is the seed of the church.

This doesn’t mean that we are to pray for persecution or even desire for persecution. I pray for a lack of persecution and that persecution wouldn’t come to us, but when persecution comes, it gives us hope. It makes us understand that God is still on the throne despite the appearances of the difficulty and harshness of the response against the Gospel. God is still on the throne. We do not have to give into the intimidation that the world places against us as we proclaim the Gospel. The only the only weapons that the world has against the Gospel are intimidation and fear. That is the only weapon that Satan has against God Himself. They are weak weapons; they are nothing in comparison to the weapons of our warfare by which we are empowered to share the Good News.

In Acts 4:21,

After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.

They only have persecution; they only have intimidation and fear, and Peter and John, because they are filled by the Holy Spirit, did not allow intimidation and fear to keep them from bringing the Message. Today it is very important that we remember the persecuted church. We in America know very, very little persecution, though there is some. It is vital for us in America to remember those who are persecuted throughout this world. In fact, please understand that persecution is not irradiated from this world. In the last one hundred years, more Christians have died as a result of their faith than in the previous nineteen hundred years combined. Persecution is ratcheting up in its intensity, even as Jesus said it would in the last days.

The reality of persecution causes us to consider the reasons for persecution. As we mentioned that the heart of persecution is unbelief. It is remarkable the questions that unbelief refuses to ask. A person doesn’t believe the Gospel, not because they don’t have enough information, or not because they are very modem and technological in understanding in their thinking; none of those reasons is the cause of unbelief. Unbelief is ancient. It is an ancient as Cane. It is as ancient as the beginning of the church. You don’t have to be modem to have unbelief in your life. That is not the reason people have unbelief in their heart. Unbelief refuses to answer questions that are obvious to the one who is ready to believe.

For instance, if this happened here, here in this city, a lame man who has been lame for forty years starts jumping around with joy, there is this huge crowd and their lives are being transformed, not just by the dozens, but literally by the thousands in a single day, wouldn’t you begin to ask questions? Questions like, “Hey, what is it that is causing these peoples lives to be transformed?” “Why are there some many whose lives are absolutely being turned around to the direction of life and health and joy and peace?” “What is happening there?” Or, at least, wouldn’t you say, “Tell us more about the miracles. This miracle is really amazing and we want to understand.” That is not the questions that unbelievers ask. In fact, the Sadducees and the rulers in the Temple weren’t interested at all in those questions that were natural for a neutral party. What question were they interested in?

We read about it in Verse 7,

“By what power or what name did you do this?”

“Who do you think you are to do this miracle and then proclaim this Message?”

They understood their Old Testament and their Scriptures and in Deuteronomy 13, God teaches if someone performs a miracle, and then uses that miracle to teach a doctrine that leads people away from the true God, they could be stoned. The questions that were on the hearts and minds of the religious rulers were not, “Let’s discover is this is true,” and that is always true of the heart of an unbeliever; they are never asking the question, “Let me find out if this is really true.” Rather, they are asking the question, “How can we get rid of this Message?” “How can we avoid this Message?” “How can we put this Message down and away?”

That is exactly what they are asking. They are thinking, “We are going to have to ask questions to trap these guys into saying something that will give us just cause to kill them.”

We have to ask, “Why does unbelief hate the Gospel so much?” There are three reasons. The first reason is that the Gospel threatens the world’s agenda, the world’s power, and the world’s values.

Acts 4:16,

“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle…”

They are not denying that. They are not asking any questions about that because they art not interested in the truth. They are not denying the miracle. They know that miracles happen, and it says,

“.. .and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

This group of leaders was threatened with the understanding that their power, their influence, their agenda for this world would be weakened if the Gospel would advance.

You remember how Herrod sought to kill the baby Jesus in infancy. Why did Herrod do that? Jesus is called the “King of the Jews,” and, Herod also had the title, “King of the Jews.” He recognized that two people can’t have “King of the Jews,” either He is King or I am king and I believe that I am king so I have to kill this baby. I am threatened by the presence of Jesus.” This is always true of this world. The whole Sanhedrin, which is made up of both Sadducees and Pharisees, but specifically, the Sadducees had the very same fears that Herrod had. They were thinking, “We have a great thing going here. We have power. We have influence. We have the money. We have our hands on the steering wheel and the controls. Christianity is threatening to mess up all of this that we have.”

If you ever have an opportunity to go to a Muslim country, or a Communist, atheistic country, please understand that that country lives in fear of the threat of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in order to keep the threat of the Gospel, what threat is that: the threat that the Gospel somehow removes power, removes their agenda from the focus of the people, that if people heard this Gospel, they might believe it and if they came to believe it then they would be more aligned with Jesus than they are to the human government. Please understand that is the nature of unbelief and that is the reason why unbelief refuses to just be neutral toward the Gospel but aggressively pursues snuffing it out.

Acts 4:13,

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled ordinary men, they were astonished. . .

They couldn’t stand to loose power to a bunch of country bumpkins who lived up in Galilee, who didn’t know anything, in their mind.

Billionaire Ted Turner said, “Christianity is for a religion for losers.” Former Governor Jesse Ventura said, “Religion is for the weak-minded.” Why is this? Why do people make such bold, hard statements against the Gospel? The answer – they are threatened. Their values are threatened. Their power, authority, their influence is threatened. All of it is threatened.

The second reason the Gospel is under fire by the world is the Gospel describes the wickedness of the human heart.

In Acts 3:13-15, Peter says,

“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed and you disowned him…”

Verse 14,

“You disowned the Holy and Righteous One…”

And, Verse 15,

“You killed the author of life…”

Again, if that weren’t enough, in Chapter 4, in the story we have before us, Verse 10, he says,

“…know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… “

and, that would be enough, but then he goes on to say,

“…whom you crucified…”

Again he is showing the wickedness of the human heart to take the One whom God had obviously given to be the source of blessing, to be the source of deliverance, and they were so wicked in their hearts, and not only could they not understand who He was, but, they, in hostility and enmity against God, shouted out, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”

The human heart today is just as wicked in fact to reject our need of Jesus Christ as Savior is to still be among those who still cry out, “Crucify Him.” The Gospel message hammers mercilessly upon the proud hearts of us – men and women. The Gospel shuts each of us up in the guilt of our sin. The Gospel reminds us of the horrible wickedness of the rebellion against an infinitely Holy God, and that God’s justice, His righteousness, condemns each one of us underneath the penalty of eternal death. This evaluation of our heart’s condition contradicts what we naturally would think of ourselves. We are very much like the Pharisees. We are very much like the Sadducees who thought that they didn’t need to repent, that they didn’t need to turn from their sin and to Jesus because they didn’t think that they had really done much wrong in the eyes of God.

Jesus, in Luke 18, tells a wonderful parable about two men who go to church; they are actually going up to the Temple. They both go up there

“…to pray, one (was) a Pharisee and other (was) a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up…”

in his prayer. He says,

“‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – 0r even like the tax collector over there. I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

What is the difference between these two men? On the outside one of those men is far, far less moral, not even close when you compare them by human standards on who is better than the other – not even close. But, it was the more wicked one who went away justified, accepted by God. He recognized his need of a Savior and he called out to God for mercy.

Jesus says,

“The world hates me because I testify that its works are evil.”

This world does not like the Gospel because it relates in clear terms that we are not right the way that we are, nor even that we just need a little cleaning up so as to make ourselves presentable. We are “desperately wicked,” the Scripture says, and the proud heart of man just simply will not accept this message and they must beat it down.

The third reason why persecution breaks out against this Gospel as the Gospel exalts Jesus to His rightful place.

Verse 9, and following,

“If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel – it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected. but, He has become the Chief Cornerstone.’”

There is much about Jesus that this world despises; that this world hates, but more than anything about Jesus, more than anything, more, I believe in the fact that Jesus claims to be God come in the flesh, more than that Jesus died on the Cross so they are offended by the Cross, more that he claimed that He did rise from the dead, more than those things, I believe that the chief stumbling Truth in the Gospel, particularly in our culture, is that the Gospel claims that Jesus Christ is exclusively the Lord and Savior. He is the only Lord and Savior.

Look at Verse 12,

“Salvation is found in no one else…”

This is not some wild-eyed, fundamental denomination that comes up with this Verse. This is the Apostle Peter, underneath the instrument of the Holy Spirit, who is saying these words.

And, he says,

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

The world desires to choose its own way to God, but the Gospel stands up and it calls everything else lies, deception, error.

If you wish to stir up an argument, just go to your workplace or your next family reunion and say, “Jesus is the only Savior, and only by believing in Him, can anyone escape Hell.” Just say those things. That is what this Verse is saying. Just say those things and notice the response. “Yes, this is the Gospel itself. This is what we must proclaim. First, that Jesus is the Savior. He is the answer to the problem of sin in this world.”

The healing of the lame man was a beautiful illustration. Peter didn’t come and say, “Hey, you know, if you follow this exercise regimen, then you will be made whole.” Instead he said, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk.” So it is with sinners in this world. God doesn’t give us a book that says, “Here is a self-help program. Here is how you can amend yourself and your ways before me to be accepted by me.” Here is what the Gospel says, the Gospel comes to us and says, “In the name of Jesus, be whole. Be healed in your soul so that you have life with me, so the tragic effects of the fall which caused us to be dead in our transgressions and sins are reversed and be made alive. In the name of Jesus, walk.”

Are you trying to make yourself a Christian? Please know you cannot do it. You need a miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; a miracle of God’s Grace that comes to you through faith. Only Jesus can heal you and you must believe that, but also not only does Jesus thus save you, but He is the only Savior. Jesus is not one among many gods. He is the only Savior.

Someone may protest saying, “That is so narrow.” Yes, it is narrow.

Someone may say, “That is so exclusive.” Yes, it is exclusive.

Someone may say, “That is so intolerant.” Yes, it is intolerant.

True religion, as God describes it in the Bible, is always intolerant. That is why, way back in the day of Moses, God commanded (Exodus 20:3) (KJV),

“Thou shalt not have any other gods before me.”

That is the reason why Peter proclaims in Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

This is the Gospel Truth. It is the Gospel Truth that Jesus Christ consistently proclaimed as He walked this earth. It is the Gospel Truth as Peter and Paul and the rest of the Apostles proclaimed all through sacred Scripture.

Understand that while Jesus Christ is exclusive in that He is the only Savior, the invitation to come to Him is always inclusive, that is to say, that it is open and available to everyone.

Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones writes these words: “What is it that people object about this old Gospel? Above everything else they dislike its exclusive claim. They say. ‘You people are arrogant.’ You say that you, ‘alone are right; you alone have the Truth of God,’ but, what about Hinduism, or Confucianism, or Islam. Why do you say that this message, and this message alone, is true? You must not claim that.’ And then they add, ‘We must not send missionaries to India and Africa and Asia and say to the people, ‘Listen, this alone is the Truth.’ No, no we must go and say, ‘What you have is all right but we think you ought to know something about this as well.’ You must not say that anybody is a ‘non-Christian.’ Modem theologians never tire of telling us that we need the insights of other religions to help with philosophy and modem learning. And, that taken all together, some how or other, some time or other, these will bring us some glimpse of truth and that is a great description of this world.”

The description is of the direction of the church; that we are succumbing to these Satanic and worldly influences as we let go of the exclusive claim of Jesus and begin to embrace doctrines of pluralism and doctrines of inclusivism.

Our Family Pastor, Daniel, went to Peoria Christian School for Life Change Week and he asked a class a question. He asked them to close their eyes and just raise their hands, he didn’t want anyone to be embarrassed by their answer to this question, or be influenced by others. He asked them a question, “How many of you think that an adult who does not believe in Jesus might possibly go to Heaven?” He asked them to raise their hand. Eleven of the fifteen students believed that it is possible to go to Heaven. We are not talking about Dunlap Public School or Peoria Central or Richwoods or any of these other schools. We are talking about Peoria Christian School – high schoolers.

Understand how vital it is for us, the church, to embrace Acts 4: 12 so that there is no confusion among our young people, there is no confusion in our hearts and minds of us as adults. I believe it comes because we have backed away from the exclusive claims and rather than proclaiming it all the more boldly, we have become ashamed of the Gospel itself.

I was talking to my wife, Kimberly, about the topic of this sermon on persecution, and she looked at me and she said, “But, Ritch, I don’t like persecution.” I looked at her and lovingly said, “Tough it out, girl!” (Congregation laughter.) No, it didn’t say that! I don’t like persecution either. I pray it wouldn’t come to us. I believe it will if we are faithful to the Gospel.

How do we respond? We yield our lives and obedience to God’s Spirit. We read in Verse 8, that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. The only way that we can rightly respond is if we are filled with the Holy Spirit; that mean we yield ourselves to God in obedience, that God, whatever it takes we are going to praise you. That is our first commitment.

Secondly, I believe we are to boldly proclaim the Gospel all the more persecution must not have its intended affect of intimidating us from proclaiming our faith clearly and boldly.

Third, we need to gather other believers around to pray to God. That is what they did in the final portions of Acts 4:23-24.

Finally, I would urge you to refuse to court the world’s favor by making the Gospel less clear as you proclaim it.

In looking at our world together, would you not agree that our world needs a Savior? We see wars, we see tsunamis, we see diseases, divorces, crime, and poverty. Only Jesus can save this world. He is the only Savior; that is who He is.

Furthermore, individual souls, men, women, and children, need saving. Hearts that have turned cold need to be warmed by God and His presence. Minds that have been deceived and are dwelling in darkness need to hear and receive the Light of the Truth and this is the great word of the Gospel and this is their salvation. There is salvation found in this One, no one else, but in this One, there is salvation. What a great word salvation is. It includes cleansing of our conscience from the weight of the guilt of our sin. It includes the delivery of our souls from the power of sin, the propensity to turn and walk in sin and away from God. It includes the restoration of all that was found in Adam from the beginning before sin entered into the world, and even more than that, in a more dynamic way, we can even draw nearer to God than Adam himself could. It is a total restoration of fallen man in a state of absolute liberty and joy in his or her relationship with Jesus Christ.

I ask you today, have you turned to this One who is Savior; this Jesus? Have you called out to Him, for all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved? How precious is that?