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    The Church in Persecution May 17, 2015 Sermon: #693

    May 17, 2015 Sermon: #693

    The Church in Persecution


    We are continuing with A.D. The story is that of the persecution of the early church by Saul, the Jewish leaders, and the Romans. Why do men attack Christianity? Because they are afraid! Afraid that the Gospel might be right and that their false religion untrue. Fear that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Because of that Christians will always be persecuted. But why does God allow it?

    Acts 8:1-4(NKJV) – 1Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.2And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. 4Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.

    What is a trial? It is more than a bad thing. There is a purpose in it.


    I. Why does an omnipotent God permit bad things to happen to good


    James 1:2-8(NKJV) – 2My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.


    A. God is in control!

    Romans 8:28-39(NKJV) – 28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

    33Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  

    B. The audacity of putting God on trial.

    Exodus 17:1-7(NKJV) – 1Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.” So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?” 3And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”

    5And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

    ILL: They were Judging the Judge! “stand before me” God would stand as an inferior stands before a superior. Esther before Xerxes, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before Nebuchadnezzar - God had placed Moses in authority and God will not act until Moses does.


    II. God allows free will

    Genesis 3:1-13(NKJV) – 1Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which

    the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

    11And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

    1. God knew that the serpent was in the garden

    2. God knew what would happen if they ate the fruit

    3. God gave them a free choice.

    4. As a result we live in a broken world, with broken people, who make broken choices, God has given us all the right, the freedom, to make the choices


    A. Salvation does not end the rights of God

    John 16:31-33(NKJV) – 31Jesus answered them, ”Do you now believe? 32Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”


    ILL: A. W. Tozer “it is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”

    ILL: Yes we are born again but all babies have crappy dippers.


    James 2:8-13(NKJV) – 8If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ”You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11For He who said, ”Do not commit adultery,” also said, ”Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

    ILL: Trying to fulfill the grace (love) with law is like filling a big red balloon with hot air - all it takes is one pin prick to break it!


    B. Law will never keep love

    •  Love is always a choice
    • God can never force us to love Him
    • Trials reveal love and move us to God’s destiny


    Acts 8:4-8(NKJV) – 4Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8And there was great joy in that city.


    Psalm 81:7(NKJV) – 7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah

    ILL: When God’s people get comfortable he sends a problem to move them!


    Conclusion: When you get comfortable with your life God will send a problem to help you change. When you or a people get out of God’s will He will send a test to get you back where you should be!


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