Early Church Persecuted for their Faith

During China’s Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and in front of that one gate placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitt … More

Persecution

This chapter records the first persecutions of the early church. In the Gospels we find great opposition coming from the Pharisees. However as Peter and John were speaking to the people they were confronted by a group of Sadducees and arrested (vv. 1-4). In Acts it is the Sadducees who oppose the Christians. This is because they disbelieved the doctrine of the resurrection which the apostles were preaching so powerfully. In spite of this a lot of people who had heard the message believed it. So by now there were about five thousand followers of the Lord (v. 4).

The Sanhedrin, composed of seventy-two members met and asked, “By what power or by what name, have you done this (vv. 5-7)” (Referring to the  lame man that had been healed)? Unwittingly they had handed Peter his text for a great sermon. With great boldness he turned the tables on the Sanhedrin and put them on trial (v.8). Filled with the Spirit of God, Peter called attention to the fact that the miracle was a good deed, not a crime (v. 9). Then he stated how this was done in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one whom they had crucified and God had raised from the dead (v. 10). Jesus is the only one in all the world that can save anyone (vv. 11-12).

Not often will we be sent to jail for sharing the gospel on the street as Peter and John were. However, we do run risks in trying to win others to Christ. We might be willing to spend a night in jail if it would bring 5000 people to Christ, but shouldn’t we be willing to suffer for the sake of even one.  What is it God would have us do to share the Gospel with someone today?

Application

What do I risk in witnessing?  The possibility of rejection or persecution from someone? Whatever the risk may be, I must realize that nothing done for Christ is ever wasted.

Acts 4:1-12 (English Standard Version)

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

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