Summary: The church is not a fortress, but a force, and therefore must implement 3 counteroffensives in response to our enemy’s attacks!
The Church’s Three Counteroffensives to Our Enemies Attacks
17 Nov 2002
We are going to return to our broad outline for understanding Acts, you’ll remember the theme is THE START OF SOMETHING GREAT. While our three major points were:
1. Being a witness in Jerusalem (1:1 8:13)
2. Being a witness in Judea and Samaria (8:14-9:31)
3. Being a witness in the remotest part of the earth (9:32-28:31)
Today, we are going to shed some light on what types of attacks our enemy will use to stifle the voice of the church. The first one is…
1A. Persecution (8:1-3)
Following the death of Stephen, Saul began ravaging the church in Jerusalem. Now this did at least two things. First, it must have been a time of great fear for believers. Second, it was the beginning of the end for the church to remain isolated in Jerusalem and the end of a beginning for the church in Judea and Samaria.
The Enemy of our souls will use any means to quiet the voice of Christ’s church. And one counter attack he will relentlessly use is persecution. Clement of Rome – a disciple of the apostle Paul writes the following…
THE FRIST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS
CHAPTER XLV.—IT IS THE PART OF THE WICKED TO VEX THE RIGHTEOUS.
Ye are fond of contention, brethren, and full of zeal about things which do not pertain to salvation. Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them. There you will not find that the righteous were cast off by men who themselves were holy. The righteous were indeed persecuted, but only by the wicked. They were cast into prison, but only by the unholy; they were stoned, but only by transgressors; they were slain, but only by the accursed, and such as had conceived an unrighteous envy against them. Exposed to such sufferings, they endured them gloriously. For what shall we say, brethren? Was Daniel cast into the den of lions by such as feared God? Were Ananias, and Azarias, and Mishael shut up in a furnace of fire by those who observed the great and glorious worship of the Most High? Far from us be such a thought! Who, then, were they that did such things? The hateful, and those full of all wickedness, were roused to such a pitch of fury, that they inflicted torture on those who served God with a holy and blameless purpose [of heart], not knowing that the Most High is the Defender and Protector of all such as with a pure conscience venerate His all-excellent name; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. But they who with confidence endured [these things] are now heirs of glory and honour, and have been exalted and made illustrious by God in their memorial for ever and ever. Amen.
This week, the London Times wrote an article about the allegidely “peaceful” religion of Islam. It entailed the account of a single woman (Ms. Lawal) who had a child out of wedlock. The bottom line is this. once the child is weaned from his/he mother, the mother will be buried up to her head and then stoned to death. So much for calling Islam a peaceful religion. Sorry, but I categorically disagree with our President on that one.
For those of you who are suffering to any degree from persecution, we want to pray for you. We also want to pray for those brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted and yes, even surrendering their very lives over to death rather than compromising and denying our precious Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s pray for them right now…
2A. Deception (8:9-25)
When persecution falls short of the Enemy’s counter attack, he will do something more subtely. He will instill deception amongt the ranks of believers.
It is said, the first casualty in all warfare is the truth! And it’s no different in the spiritual warfare we wage everyday.
4A. Isolation (8:26, 31)
How do we overcome these attacks?
1A. Stay the course, knowing you are following His plan (8:4-8; cf. 1:8))
Philip obviously left Jerusalem as a result of Saul’s persecution. When he realized there were others witnessing in the areas of Judea, he took the only logical step – stay the course. What course you ask? Look back at Acts 1:8
2A. Expose the deception, knowing its source (8:20-24; cf. Eph 5:11)
Peter responds, Acts 8:20 – Message Translation
Peter said, "To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift!
Peter, guarding the honor and glory of God, strongly rebukes Simon with a curse. But not just any curse, a curse that says you and your money are on the way to hell. Peter’s curse not only relates to the elimination of Simon’s money and to Simon’s physical death, but also to his state after death. Simon’s sin is he values God’s Holy Spirit in terms of a sum of money, that money as such is of chief importance to him, and that he worships the creation ($) over the Creator.