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  • Writer's pictureFirst Pres Bakerstown

Persecution and Proclamation by Pastor Paul Becker

In this passage of scripture, we see how the proclamation of the gospel spreads as a result of persecution. Church history has proven this principle over and over. The persecution of the Church in China is just one example from modern history. 

On Sunday, Pastor Paul read Acts 8:1-8 and then, like movie credits that identify the cast, he offered commentary and insight about the people in these verses. This cast contributed to a dramatic storyline. Christians were:

  • Pressured to leave Jerusalem;

  • Spread out to Judea and Samaria, thereby fulfilling Jesus' desire that they be his witnesses in those regions (Acts 1:8); and 

  • Preached Jesus, thereby giving witness to him!

In this story, we see that God used Saul’s anger and hatred of Christians to accomplish the will of Christ. We also learn that the early church was very resilient, adaptive, and ready to do the will of Jesus no matter the circumstance. As a result of its resilience, adaptability, and readiness, ordinary, plain-vanilla Christians had to rely on the gifts of the Holy Spirit instead of the ministry of the Apostles.  This was a real growth point for the early Church. It led to greater spiritual maturity, power in ministry, and deepened faith in everyone..

How does this story apply to our lives? 

First, if persecution comes our way, it will be used by God in the lives of true believers.  False believers will fall away.  True believers will be sanctified and become more like Christ who was himself crucified.  Jesus tells his followers that in this world we will have trouble. (Jn 16:33) This is a fact. When we are faced with it, ask the Lord, “Give me faith to hold on to you and allow you to make me more like you.” 

Second, persecution is a form of pressure that tempts you to hold back on trusting Jesus or abandon faith in him altogether.  Though you may not be pressured by persecution today, you may be pressured by something that you haven’t asked for. For example:

  • You may be pressed into Church Leadership and Service in the Church.  So what do you do? Do you escape the pressure, and thereby the opportunity to learn to rely on the Holy Spirit to use the spiritual gifts he promises to give you? Do you join others who have consented to  grow under the pressure of service so that the name of Jesus is glorified?

  • You may be pressed by a medical diagnosis that you never wanted.  Do you resist the pressure to lower your trust in God or abandon the faith?  Do you thrust yourself into the care of Jesus by submitting yourself to the care of his bride, the Church?

  • You may be pressed into a hard place at work. The work culture may not welcome Christians or you may be pressured to violate your conscience, as formed by scripture? You may have to thrust yourself into the support and courage of other Christians.  You may even have to leave the job for another.

Ultimately, the Holy Spirit uses this passage to bring us to a common place of prayer to say: 

Thank you, Lord, that you are completely sovereign over my life and I can trust you to use me however you see fit. Amen.

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