Does Persecution Cause the Church to Grow?

Persecution

Following the death of Stephen, a time of persecution began against the church in Jerusalem. The result of this was that the disciples were scattered and the gospel was preached and received in other places.

Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

The early church faced much persecution. It also experienced a lot of growth. We do not experience the same degree of persecution today (at least not in this country). We also do not see the same rate of growth (generally speaking).

Because of this, some have wondered if we might see more growth if we experienced persecution. If persecution and growth seem to go together, does that mean a lack of persecution will result in a lack of growth? It is a good topic to consider. So let us examine the question: Does persecution cause the church to grow?Continue Reading

Regular Christians (Part 9): Antipas

Regular Christians

Antipas was one who endured persecution – not just mocking and ridicule; he was put to death. He was mentioned in the book of Revelation in the letter addressed to the church in Pergamum.

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells” (Revelation 2:12-13).

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The Sect That Is Spoken Against Everywhere

Paul in Rome

When Paul came to Rome as a prisoner, he was permitted to meet with the Jewish leaders in that city. The apostle used this opportunity to explain why he was there – not as an enemy of the Jewish people but that he was suffering “for the sake of the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:17-20). The Jewish leaders had not heard about Paul, but they had heard about the church.

They said to him, ‘We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:21-22).

The church was this “sect…spoken against everywhere.” Why was this the case?

When we study the book of Acts, we find several reasons why the church was “spoken against everywhere.” As we follow the same pattern that they followed, this will often happen to us as well. We will be “spoken against” by others. It is not that we should seek out trouble or conflict. Paul told the Romans, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). However, we do need to be prepared for this reality.Continue Reading

The Christian and the World

Man in Forest

One of the more interesting books I have read was The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. This book describes a man – Christopher Knight – who disappeared in 1986 and was not found until 2013. For twenty-seven years, he lived alone in the woods in central Maine without any contact with others. The way he was able to survive in the woods – not just for part of a brutally cold Maine winter, but for almost three decades – was fascinating, despite his unethical methods (stealing in order to acquire supplies).

One reason why a book like this was so popular – it was a national bestseller – is because we are intrigued by the idea of one who was able to disappear into the woods and continue his life without interference from the world around him. There may be times when we wish we could escape from the world, yet we know that this is not practical or realistic. We all live in a society and necessarily need to interact with others.

As Christians, there is a “relationship” that we have with the world. Jesus described it in the following verses:Continue Reading

The Way (Part 4): Troubles Along The Way

The Way: What it Means to Be a Disciple of Jesus

And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:8-9).

With all of the good that is spoken about “the Way” in the Scriptures, it is not without its difficulties. There are troubles that come by following this path and these are clearly shown to us in the word of God. So in this final lesson, we will discuss the troubles that come from following “the Way.Continue Reading

Suffering as a Christian (Season 10, Episode 7)

Suffering as a Christian (Season 10, Episode 7)

 
 
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Suffering as a Christian (Season 10, Episode 7)

In this season, we’re discussing some lessons from Peter’s first epistle.

Suffering is going to be a part of our lives as Christians. As Peter explained, we need to be sure we are suffering as Christians and not justly as evildoers.

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Through Many Tribulations (Part 4): Persecution

Through Many Tribulations

As we continue looking at the apostle Paul, we will see that he did more than just sacrifice his time and effort in laboring for the cause of Christ, along with a degree of material and mental well-being. He also faced persecution for his faith.

He told Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:8-10). Not only did Paul suffer as a criminal, but he willingly endured this. Why? He said he did so “for the sake of those who are chosen” (2 Timothy 2:10). He also told Timothy later in this same letter, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). He endured persecution in order to obtain salvation – for himself and for others. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he described some of the ways he faced persecution.Continue Reading