The Great Persecution Of The Church

4th June

A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria….But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.”

Acts 8:1,4

It is amazing that wherever you go in the world today, there are believers who share the same faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is even more amazing that just 2000 years ago, “the church” started with just a few dedicated believers who met together, shared what possessions they had with each other, and were faithful in sharing the gospel with others. Yet what made the church grow so rapidly?

Of course it was the Holy Spirit, as it is His work that brings about salvation, but as Luke tells us in Acts 8, it was also in persecution that the church grew. The early church believers had just witnessed the death of one of the brothers in Christ, Stephen, at the approval of the then called Saul. Saul, by permission of the ‘religious leaders’ started a wide spread persecution of the church. Little did he know that this would have an adverse effect. Instead of stopping the church, the church grew and grew as the believers everywhere continued to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ wherever they were scattered.

In fact this is exactly what Gamaliel said would happen when he gave his advice to the council in Jerusalem.. “but if this is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:39). Indeed that was exactly what was happening. A man led agenda to crush the church, ended in the church exploding in numbers and in faith.

We can be encouraged that even today the church is continuing to grow around the world. People are still being scattered through persecution and people are still being sent as missionaries across the world to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. Moreover the sharing of the gospel also includes us so let us not give up sharing about Jesus either. The Gospel is alive and “is the power of God, to bring salvation to everyone who believes!!” (Romans 1:16)

The Light Of The World

3rd June

…and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

John 1:4b-5

Light has so many characteristics. It shines to give light in the darkness, it exposes unclean places that have been neglected and gives direction in unknown places. When Jesus came into the world He accomplished all of the above.

Light in darkness

Sometimes it almost feels like this world is becoming a darker place, when in actual fact, it is not so much that darkness is filling the earth but rather there seems to be an absence of light. Moreover, darkness in and of it itself is actually only the absence of light. When we say it is dark, what we really mean to say is that the light cannot be seen. If Jesus is the light of the world and Jesus lives in us, then we should be shining brightly for all the world see. As Jesus rightly said in Matthew 5, “no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket!” The amazing thing is, John tells in verse 5 that the light we possess can never be extinguished. We are always on the winning side. Don’t hide your light. Let it break through the darkness in this world.

Exposes unclean places

Jesus came into the world not to condemn us but that through Him we may saved. Yet Jesus’ perfection and Jesus’ light was so strong and so bright, that it exposed our sin, not to condemn us but rather to help us realise that we are the sick ones in need of a doctor and in need of saving. The light of Jesus exposed the darkness in our hearts so we could and can repent of our sin and be full of Jesus’ light.

Gives direction

Jesus’ light, as mentioned above, was never meant to be put under a basket. We must let our light so shine before men “so that everyone will praise our Heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16). Any light that we possess is to guide people back to the Father. When Christians take authority in dark places, atmospheres change, darkness is exposed and the Name of Jesus Christ in lifted up, bringing glory to the Lord of all creation. Don’t hide your light but rather let it shine so bright. Darkness never wins and can never extinguish light.