“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. (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them in prison.”
Put yourself in the apostles shoes for a moment. They had recently seen a huge increase of favour for both their message and the wondrous miracles they were performing. The church was growing. People were being saved, healed, and delivered from evil spirits. Even Peter’s shadow was causing people to be healed. The fellowship was running effectively and smoothly now that the role situation had been clarified……UNTIL, Stephen a devout man of God, filled with the Spirit was arrested after being falsely accused of blaspheming against God and Moses. Sadly those lies, accompanied with Stephen’s boldness to plainly and clearly declare the truth about who Jesus was, led him to be stoned to death, and from that, a huge persecution threatened to completely destroy the work of the disciples in spreading the Good News of Jesus.
Yet the persecutors could not be more wrong! There is nothing or no-one that can stop the move of God. His church can never be stopped, shaken or destroyed. What happened in persecution had an adverse effect. Instead of shutting down the church, the church grew stronger and those who had been scattered, preached about Jesus even more, making the words of the respected Pharisee Gamaliel sound truer than ever…‘So my advice is this, leave the men alone (the church). Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.’ The apostles could have given up, but they pressed on, because God’s Kingdom cannot be destroyed or overthrown. Even in persecution the church rapidly grew through the power of the Holy Spirit through the scattered believers and the apostles unwavering message.
Friends, if you are faced with any kind of persecution because of Christ, at work, at school, by friends or even family, no matter how hard it is, don’t give up. For even in persecution, God is at work. He is with you. Hold fast and trust that your life is in His hands. His Kingdom can never be overthrown.