A Few Thoughts About How Enemies Destroy Christians

Basics
B1 There are things in Scripture that we must not do, or we must do.
B2 There are principles in Scripture that we show us what is not God’s best or what is God’s best.
B3 There are examples in Scriptures that show us actions not blessed by God or actions blessed by God.
The principles and examples we study today deal with how people destroy Christians. This, of course, is used by non-Christians on other non-Christians, non-Christians on Christians, and sadly Christians on non-Christians or on Christians.
Please read Acts 6:8-15 and Acts 7.
Setting
B1 Stephen’s character: Acts 6:8 NLT Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.
B2 A disagreement:
C1 Acts 6:9-10 NLT But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. 10 None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.
C2 We are to know our reasonable faith and to defend our faith. We need to study. The pastors are to teach it. 1 Peter 3:15 WEL Instead, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. Always be ready to answer with gentleness and respectfulness anyone who asks you about the reason for the hope that is in you.
B3 Steps:
C1 Have evil desire: Proverbs 21:10 NRSV The souls of the wicked desire evil; their neighbors find no mercy in their eyes.
C2 Make an evil plan: Proverbs 15:26 NRSV Evil plans are an abomination to the LORD, but gracious words are pure.
C3 Recruit evil people: Acts 6:11 NIV Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”
C4 With lots of emotional appeal, stir up people to anger. If they are angry, people don’t think very rationally. Acts 6:12 NIV So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin.
C5 Bring your liars (false witnesses) to the authority: Acts 6:13 NIV They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.
C6 The best lies are religious lies: Acts 6:14-15 NIV For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
C7 Force them to face those you know agree with your lies: Acts 7:1 NIV Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these charges true?
C8 Show how nice you are and let them present a logical defense based on reality: Acts 7:2-53
C9 Encourage the leaders to have fierce, out-of-control anger. Most likely they will do what you want to solve your problem—kill’em.
C10 Make sure your supporters are so angry and are filled with so much hate that they will solve your problem: Acts 7:57-58 NIV At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
A Christian’s response
B1 We have a principle in this too.
B2 Continue to show the truth. There is a time to walk away, but when under someone’s control physically, we must continue.
C1 Provide an answer:
D1 Proverbs 26:5 LEB Answer a fool according to his folly, or else he will be wise in his own eyes.
D2 Stephen: Acts 7:2ff NIV To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran.
C2 Do not provide an answer:
D1 Proverbs 26:4 LEB Do not answer a fool according to his folly lest you become like him—even you.
D2 Matthew 27:14 NRSV But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
B3 There is a time to flee the area and a time to not flee.
C1 A time to flee: Acts 8:1, 4 NLT Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. 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. … 4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
C2 A time to not flee:
D1 Daniel: Daniel 6:9-10 NRSV Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict. 10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously.
D2 Congregation at Smyrna: Revelation 2:10 NRSV Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
B4 Love enemies:
C1 Luke 6:35 BSB But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
C2 Acts 7:60 GW Then he knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” After he had said this, he died.
B5 Be aware:
C1 God does not forsake Matthew 28:20 KJ2000 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
C2 Nothing can separate us from God’s love: Romans 8:35-39 GW What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or violent death separate us from his love? 36 As Scripture says: “We are being killed all day long because of you. We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. 38 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces 39 or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.
B6 Be faithful:
C1 Luke 9:62 NRSV Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
C2 Hebrews 10:35-36 LEB Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, in order that after you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
We learn:
B1 Many people hate Jesus and His followers.
B2 They cannot kill Jesus again, so they persecute His followers.
B3 Satan is an enemy.
B4 God can protect.
B5 If we die, God protects our soul.
B6 If we live, we can witness again for our Lord Jesus.
B7 God will help us be faithful to the end of our lives.
B8 We need to pray for all our brothers and sisters suffering persecution. We pray they will be delivered and be faithful.
B9 Evil will be destroyed someday by the return of the Lord Jesus.
B10 We need to be always prepared. Luke 12:42-48 NRSV And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?43 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. 47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Posted by Choco at 08:31
Labels: Bible Stephen, Christian persecution, Method of persecution

 

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