Sunday, April 28, 2013


Sequence of events: 
Death, burial, resurrection - 40 days to Ascension - Pentecost

Pentecost = coming of the Spirit with promise - Acts 2:38-39

NEXT????  Great movement of God/Holy Spirit - Acts 2:41-17
Conversions, church growth, miracles, favor with people - all take place immediately after Pentecost.

AND.....  Opposition!!! - goes hand in hand with great movement of the Holy Spirit
Sanhedrin --> Synagogue --> people    Acts 8:1-3 - Stephen stoned - great persecution began

Then moved to civil leaders --> gentiles --> Roman State
So.... the next 300 years was full of off and on intense persecution in the empire.  Until 313AD - Constantine passed the "Edict of Milan" making Christianity a legitimate religion.  So persecution stopped immediately, and later in that century, it became the preferred religion of Rome

So......... did persecution end????  No - off and on for the next 2000 years!!!

341/614 - Persians/Muslims/Medieval - Catholics persecuted non-conformists
                 Reformation - persecuted Catholics
China - (17th to 20th centuries)
Japan - (mid 17th century) - 37,000 Christians beheaded in on day
France after the French Revolution - persecuted anything to do with the monarchy
1842 Ottoman Turks - Killed 2 million Christians
Soviet Union - 1917 - 1953 - millions of Christians died
Nazi Germany - "Protestant Reich" formed by Hitler vs.Confessing Church which wouldn't go along with Hitler
Uganda - 1971 - 1976 - 400,000 died, disappeared, displaced

Grant this:
1)  Not all of these persecutions focused on Christians only
(French Revolution, Soviet Union, Vietnam), but Christians included because they stood in the way

2)  Not all persecuted specifically for being Christian .. example:  Ottoman Turks - persecuted for NOT being Muslim.  (included Christian, Jew, Hindu, Pagan, Atheist)

3)  Not all were 'faith based' - persecutions.
Often were political.  Example:  Rome - if were not supportive of the Empire, were considered subversive!!

4)  Other faiths have also been heavily persecuted - not Christians alone.  Also, Muslim, Hindu, etc.

5)  Too often A) Persecution has been by "Christians"
                     B)  Christian persecution is by other "Christians"!!!  Example:  Reformation - Catholics, Reformers, Anabaptists

Point - since the days of Stephen, Christians have (off and on) experienced a lot of persecution.

TODAY???  "Open Doors Ministry" estimates:
-- about 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide today.
-- the church faces restrictions and hostility in 111 countries
-- Christianity is the largest religion - also the most persecuted
-- as much as 25% of the global church meets underground (in hiding)
-- approximately 163,000 die for their faith each year

2 Tim. 3:10-14 - focus on 2 Tim. 3:12 ("...all who live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution..")

Question #1.  Is this true?  for all times?
Answer:  Yes, BUT with qualifications.
1).  Recognize degrees of persecution - contrast Paul and us!
(opposition, discrimination, difficulties --- snubbed, slighted, ignored, denies)

2)  Recognize significance of "live Godly" - versus "claim Christianity")  world of difference between the two.

Question #2.  Why?  Why will we "suffer persecution"??
3 Reasons: 
1)  the Offense of the Gospel.  It says:  you are a sinner and separated from God. 
Redemption is found in the substitute sin bearer. 
And, HE is the only Way!!!  - narrow, offensive.

2.  the Offense of the Bible.  It says:  the Bible is the Revealed Truth. 
If you are not in agreement, then you are in error.
Not only in error, but in sin!!
John 3:19-20

3. The Opposition of Satan - Eph. 6:12
Compare Jesus:  Matt. 4:1   Seducing spirits - 1 Tim. 4:1  Rev. 12:17
Summary:  John 15:18-27

Question #3 - What to do???
A.  Don't get a "persecution complex"
B. Be Aware - "count the cost"
C.  Be steadfast/faithful/continue on. - 1st. Pet. 4:12-16, 19

Our persecutions are so minor, teeny, but if trying to live a Godly life and share the gospel, we will be offensive.

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