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)

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