Summary: As Christ’s followers WE should expect persecution and many believers are being persecuted today.
“Following in Jesus’ Footsteps”
Nov. 26, 2005: Canadians Jim Loney, 41, and Harmeet Sooden, 32, and Briton Norman Kember, 74, and American Tom Fox, 54, all Christian peacekeepers, are kidnapped in Baghdad by a group calling itself Swords of Righteousness Brigades. This past week three of the four men were rescued in Baghdad. The fourth man, unfortunately, Tom Fox, had already been killed.
Being Jesus’ Disciples
1. What does it mean to become disciples?
a. John’s Gospel tells us that becoming disciples means believing that Jesus is the Son of God.
2. What does it mean to be disciples?
a. Eugene Peterson says that “discipleship is anything that causes what is believed in the heart to have demonstrable consequences in our daily life.”
b. Luke 9: 23 – “Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
3. What does it cost to be disciples?
a. Luke 9: 24 – “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
b. John 13: 16 – “Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are the messengers greater than the one who sent them.”
“If the world hates you . . .”
1. The world’s response to Jesus
a. Jesus’ teaching and authority questioned
b. Jesus opposed, persecuted, and put to death
2. The world’s response to Jesus’ disciples
a. Jesus’ disciples’ teaching and authority questioned
i. Acts 4: 1 – 2, 7, 18
“While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead.”
“When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’”
“But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.”
b. Jesus’ disciples’ opposed, persecuted and put to death
i. Acts 5: 17 – 18, 40; 7: 54 – 60
“Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.”
“And when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus.”
The death of Stephen – stoned for proclaiming Jesus.
3. The unbelieving world – then and today
a. The Jewish leaders of the time – Did not believe Jesus and persecuted both he and later his disciples.
b. The unbelieving world today – Ephesians 6: 12 – “principalities and powers,” not flesh and blood.
“An hour is coming . . .”
1. Examples of ‘Persecution’ in North America
a. Issues of abortion and homosexual unions/ redefinition of marriage
b. We still have freedom, but for how long?