Lesson for the Lord’s Day

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them. Acts 4:1

A silly story is told of an optimist who fell off the roof of a 50 storey building. As he fell past the tenth storey windows, somebody heard him say, ‘So far, so good’. This man was in for a rude shock at the first floor level, I think. So were the disciples at this point in the early days of Christianity. In the first few days after Pentecost, everything had gone well. They had seen thousands respond to the Gospel, and great miracles met with excitement and favourable reaction. But now, that is all going to change, and change with a vengeance. The priests, temple officers, and Sadducees wanted nothing to do with the Gospel and they were going to protect their turf. Today’s text marks the beginning of the persecution that Jesus told the disciples would come. It’s still coming, although we don’t yet see the worst of it in our part of the world. But the devil hates to give up his goods.

An organization that calls itself the voice of persecuted Christians estimates that more Christians were slain for their faith during the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined. And the rate of persecution and slaughter has risen sharply since the 20th century ended. We appreciate the freedom we have from such persecution in our country, including the freedom to publicly preach the Gospel. But there are growing threats that could well mean that the days of publicly proclaiming the Gospel are drawing to a close. Enemies of the cross are becoming more powerful and vicious, even more so than the priests, temple captain, and Sadducees in the early days. Moslems with their satanic Sharia law and avowed extermination of Jews and Christians have already gained strength in many countries and have a toehold in ours. As they grow in strength, the Gospel will be forced underground. The filthy homosexuality movement is already turning our society against decency and godliness and is striving to have the Bible condemned.

Despite its bloody consequences for many Christians, persecution was the best thing to happen to the Gospel in those early days. There is no reason to believe the same won’t happen here in our day. Persecution will weed out the half-hearted and nominal Christians. Persecution will bring out the best in the true and faithful believers. If we are concerned for our own personal safety, we will dread persecution. If we are concerned for souls and the spread of the Gospel, we must welcome persecution. – Jim MacIntosh

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