Sermons

Summary: As Christ’s followers WE should expect persecution and many believers are being persecuted today.

“Following in Jesus’ Footsteps”

John 15: 18 – 25; 16: 1 – 4a; Acts 5: 41, 42

Introduction

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.

b. Jesus has chosen us – John 15: 16a – “You did not choose me, but I chose you . . .” – John 15: 19b – “I have chosen you out of the world.”

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?

c. We have freedom now, but we shouldn’t be complacent and simply take it for granted.

2. Examples of Persecution Overseas

a. An avalanche of media coverage of an Afghan man facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity has apparently sparked the arrest and deepening harassment of other Afghan Christians in the ultra-conservative Muslim country of Istanbul. Mr. Abdul Rahman (41), an Afghan citizen and a Christian, has been charged with “rejecting Islam” and may face the death penalty. Mr. Rahman converted from Islam to Christianity nearly 16 years ago while working for an international Christian group in Pakistan. He recently returned to Afghanistan to seek custody of his two daughters. Police arrested him last month after discovering him in possession of a Bible during a custody dispute. The presiding judge is due to pass sentence in two weeks.

b. A Local council in West Java (Jakarta) has warned serveal congregations in the Rancaekek Kencana housing complex in Bandung to abandon their cell group system which allows limited numbers of Christians to meet together in private homes. In letters to the churches over the past three months the council also warned Christians to stop meeting in buildings that were converted some years ago in permanent – though unregistered – worship facilities.

c. The Rev. Tongkhojang Lunkim was released at 1pm on Saturday, March 18 after being held captive for two months by the Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) in Manipur state, Northeast India.

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