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PERSECUTION - A BLESSING OR A CURSE
Pastor Bob Paquet
 Acts 5:12-42
Adapted from a sermon by John Hamby, "Attacked Again" (www.sermoncentral.com)



 INTRODUCTION
 
Acts 5: 13-16
THE IMMEDIATE RESULTS OF PERSECUTION     
          
           1.The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira increased the evangelistic  success of the church
 
        2. The apostles continued to minister in miraculous ways and reap an evangelistic harvest of souls.
 
        3. The fear that resulted from the death of Ananias and Sapphira caused the unbelievers to
             be unwilling to pass themselves off as believers.

 
        4. The church did not lower it standards in order to win the lost
 
        5. The church’s growth did not slow down.
                                   
John McArthur states well the church's current situation,
“That stands in sharp contrast to the masses of uncommitted, even unsaved, people that feel
comfortable in the church today.
The failure of   churches to preach holy living, and to discipline those who
don’t live that way,allows sinners and hypocrites to remain in the church, convoluting its direction,
 sapping its power, robbing it of purity and marring its testimony.”
 
(John McArthur. The McArthur New Testament Commentary: Acts 1-12 ( Moody Press: Chicago, 1994).p. 162.)

 TRUTH VS DEAD TRADITION
Truth will always result in confrontation and persecution by the "religious" establishment
                                                                                    
THE INSTIGATOR STRIKES AGAIN
Satan - First he attacks from without - then from within
 
When that doesn't work its outside again                        
 
THE DANGER OF THE TRUTH 5:17-28
 
A. THE TRUTH IS SEEN AS A DANGER BY
THOSE WHO STAND AGAINST IT.
 
The word translated “indignation” is the Greek word zeloo and  can mean “zeal or eagerness”
in a good sense or it can mean the worse kind of jealousy as it is here.

 
Why was the establishment upset?
                                               
                                    1. The teaching of Christ's resurrection was in conflict with the teachings of the Sadducees
                       
                        2. The apostles defied their authority
 
                        3. The apostles denounced their spirituality - because they had crucified the Christ                            
they had sinned and needed repentance

 
                        4. The apostles were a danger to their domination of the people
 
                                     B. THE TRUTH CANNOT BE STOPPED (21-26)
                            An opportunity was provided for God to display His power
                                                                       
THE INDICTMENT  (vv.27-28)
 
                                    1. The Apostles were accused of "filling" Jerusalem with their "false" teaching
              
                        2. The Apostles were accused of  intending to "bring this man’s blood upon us (them)  
                                                                                         
 The high priest had conveniently forgotten that he and his associates had said to Pilate,
“his blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25).

A LACK OF COMMUNICATION
 
                        The high priest thought that the apostles wanted to have revenge because of the death of Christ
 
                        The Apostles wanted the Holy Spirit to convict them that they might repent and be forgiven
 
II. DECLARING OF THE TRUTH 5:29-32
 
A. THEY DECLARED THE TRUTH BY OBEYING GOD (29)
                                                                       
B. THEY DECLARED THE TRUTH BY CONFRONTING SIN (30)
                                  
C. THEY DECLARED THE TRUTH BY EXALTING CHRIST (31)
 
D. THEY DECLARED THE TRUTH BY A WILLINGNESS TO BE WITNESSES (32)
 
 III. DEALING WITH THE TRUTH 5:34-39
 
"Successful Christians and churches will make waves,  and the world and Satan
will retaliate with persecution.
To convicting preaching there are but three possible
 reactions, violent hostility, indifferent
indecision and saving acceptance." (John Hamby)

 
A.VIOLENT HOSTILITY TO THE TRUTH v. 33
 
                                    Conviction either brings repentance or rejection.
 
                        Repentance brings forgiveness and reconciliation with God and man
 
                        Rejection often brings anger.                                     
 
 If the gospel we preach is not convicting enough to ever make anyone angry then it is not sufficiently
 convicting to bring anyone to salvation. (John Hamby)

 
B. INDIFFERENT INDECISION ABOUT THE TRUTH vv. 34-39
Worldly Advise or Godly Advise?
 
Gamaliel's advise was really only good worldly advise. It sounds like sound reasoning, but it is not.
                        1.  He classified Jesus as just another  rabble-rouser.
                       
                        2. He assumes that history always repeats itself
 
                        3. He had the mistaken idea that if something was not of God it always fails, 
                                       experience tells us that is not always so

 
                        4. He assumed that it is possible to be neutral about Jesus and his message and it is not!
“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” (Matthew 12:30)
                                                                        
He was right in that he asserted that “if something is of God you can not overthrow it” v. 39.
 
Tragically Gamaliel did not make a commitment to follow Christ. Instead, as far as we know he
 died waiting to see whether the Christian movement was really of God.

THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL IS TO RESPOND TO GOD'S INVITATION TODAY
(2 Cor 6:2, Heb. 3:7, 15, 4:7).
 
IV. DECISION ABOUT THE TRUTH 5:40-42
           
V. CONCLUSION
1. No man can stop us from proclaiming the gospel.
2. No one stop the spread of the  gospel, not even in countries where Christians are being persecuted and killed.
3. Persecution  promotes preaching and the truth
4. We should never be ashamed of proclaiming the gospel. Because it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.
 
And what is the gospel?
 
It is that Christ Jesus died on the  cross, bearing our sin and suffering its penalty as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This Jesus now freely offers us total salvation.
                                   
 When people hear the gospel, either they will repent and receive Christ, or they will reject him, refuse
 him, and be forever separated from Him.
 
 The moment you hear and understand the gospel, you must make a decision, either to receive or to reject, the decision is yours.
 
 
 
NOW YOU HAVE HEARD - NOW YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE

 
‘Happy New Year! 1962.’
In his commentary on the book of Acts, R. Kent Hughes
  tells the story of Aida Skripnikova, a Russian girl
who was born in 1941 in Leningrad. “In the fall of
1961 Aida came to know Christ as a nineteen-year-old,
and with her new faith came the impulse to share it
with others. Aida purchased some postcards with a
  beautiful picture by Claude Lorain representing a
  harbor at sunrise, (chosen perhaps as a symbol of the
spiritual sunrise she had discovered) and then wrote
a poem on the reverse side. The poem expressed her
perception of life and the need to find God. The poem
was entitled: ‘Happy New Year! 1962.’”
 
 
  Our years fly past
  One after another, unnoticed.
Grief and sadness disappear,
  They are carried away by life.
This world, the earth, is so transient
Everything in it comes to an end.
Life is important.
Don’t be happy-go-lucky!
What answer will you give your creator?
What awaits you, my friend, beyond the grave?
Answer this question while light remains.
Perhaps tomorrow, before God,
You will appear to give an answer for everything.
Think deeply about this,
For you are not on this earth forever.
  Perhaps tomorrow, you will break
Forever your links with this world!
SEEK GOD WHILE HE IS TO BE FOUND.


  “Aida then took her postcards and stood on the Nevski
  Prospect (which is the Leningrad equivalent of Fifth
  Avenue in New York City) and handed out her cards to
  passersby. She was, of course, arrested. In April
1962, she was tried by a Communist court. She was
  exiled from Leningrad and lost her job as a lab
  assistant. She was arrested again in 1965 and was
  sent to a labor camp for a year. In 1968 she was
arrested again and was sent to a labor camp for three
  more years” (R. Kent Hughes, Acts: The Church Afire,
  [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1996], 86-87).


What do you think inspired Aida Skripnikova? Perhaps
  she had read the fifth chapter of the book of Acts
and been struck by what the angel told the apostles
after he delivered them from prison, “Go, stand in
the temple courts and tell the people the full
message of this new life.” Perhaps she took note of
how the apostles were arrested, tried, and flogged,
but on their release they went right back to the
temple courts and “never stopped teaching and
proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”