Summary: The apostles suffer for the name of Jesus.
Jeff Hughes – April 13, 2003
Calvary Chapel Aggieland
a. Persecution is often God’s tool of choice for refining us and bringing us closer to Him. In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 25, God tells us this - 25 I will turn My hand against you, And thoroughly purge away your dross, And take away all your alloy.
b. I bought a piece of jewelry one time, a piece of what I thought was silver jewelry. It was silvery and shiny on the surface, but underneath was a cheaper metal. When I turned it on, it turned green. I thought it was shiny and pure all the way through, but I was wrong. That piece of jewelry wasn’t pure, it was alloy.
c. God’s desire is to have a pure church, free from the weight of sin. We saw this last week, as well as in the story of Ananias and Sapphira. We see the church under fire today as we continue in our study of Acts.
d. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you will know that persecution and tribulation are something that comes with the territory. I asked my pastor one time, after a really hard week, if it ever let up. He told me – no, not really, you get breaks every now and again, but for the most part, it is constant.
e. The imprisonment and trial of the apostles was certainly tribulation in the lives of these men. But, as we will see today, the tribulation passes, and the apostles get a breather at that point.
f. The first time, back in Acts chapter 4, Peter and John stood before the rulers of Israel, the Sanhedrin, they presented the gospel to this hardened body of politicians.
g. This defense in front of the Sanhedrin would be similar to the last. God, being so merciful, extended the grace of Salvation to the same group of men who condemned Jesus Christ.
h. The early church was a pure church. A spotless bride being prepared for Him. But, along with this tribulation, with this persecution, came blessing. God was preparing the church to serve Him, and to carry the gospel to the very ends of the earth.
a. While preparing our study for today, I ran across a quote from A. W. Tozer that was very appropriate considering our study today.
b. Those first believers turned to Christ with the full understanding that they were espousing an unpopular cause that could cost them everything.
c. Shortly after Pentecost some were jailed, many lost all their earthly goods, a few were slain, hundreds were ‘scattered abroad.’ They could have escaped all this by the simple expedient of denying their faith and turning back to the world. This they steadfastly refused to do.
d. To make converts, we are tempted to play down the difficulties and play up the peace of mind and worldly success enjoyed by those who accept Christ. We will never be completely honest with our hearers until we tell them the blunt truth that, as members of a race of moral rebels, they are in a serious jam, and one they will not get out of easily. If they refuse to repent and believe on Christ, they will most surely perish. If they do turn to Him, the same enemies that crucified Him will try to crucify them.