In the verses we looked at on Sunday, (Acts 7.54 to Acts 8.4) we saw Stephen stoned to death (the first Christian martyr) and we saw Saul persecuting the church. An occurrence that has gone on to various degrees in various parts of the world ever since, and we are not immune from it today.
What was the purpose of this anger toward Christians? It was and is to stop the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ. But the intended effect was defeated. The church grows and it continues to grow. Persecution of the church doesn’t shut it down, doesn’t kill it off, it opens it up and grows the church.
Tetullian ( A christian who died in about 220 AD) wrote these words, “Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to the dust…The more you mow us down the more we grow, the seed is the blood of Christians.’
This is the sovereign work of God. God is God, he is in complete control. Of all things. His work of growing his church will not be defeated. But there is a cost. And that cost is an uncomfortable one.
For us at Albany Baptist Church, for us as individual Christians what does that look like? When we speak of evangelism, of sharing the good news of Jesus, what are we prepared to do? What are we prepared to give up? How radical do we want church to be, how different?
When it looks as if things are falling apart, when it appears as if we are not making any head way, when life seems against us, don’t give up. Remember God is in control. He sees way beyond what we do – we focus on the short term, whereas God is seeing into eternity.
We mustn’t give up, but we must be prepared to pay a cost. That cost is obedience, that cost is holiness, that cost is courage, that cost is being different.
God is going to build his church. Are we going to let him build us as well?
Prayer and fasting
How are you going? Are you pushing into God, are you giving him space to speak. What is he saying?
Continue to pray for the lost, for new people to come into ABC, for us to reach those who need to know the good news of Jesus effectively. Continue to pray for an increasing sense of his Spirit at work among us, for us to grow in obedience and holiness.