14 May 2015

How do we handle persecution?


A1 Theme--God uses people to accomplish His plans.


A2 Objectives

B1 Describe why the apostles were persecuted.

B2 Describe how the apostles responded to persecution.


A3 Scripture

B1 Acts 4:1-31--Peter and John before the Sanhedrin

B2 Acts 6:8-15--Stephan accused of blasphemy

B3 Acts 7:51-60--Stephan finishes his speech and then is stoned to death


A4 Notes

B1 As the Jewish leaders opposed the Lord Jesus, so they opposed His followers. Jesus's followers

C1 Taught the teachings of Jesus, whom the leaders hated and His teachings which they hated.

C2 Lived as Jesus taught them.

C3 Praised Jesus.

C4 Accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah.

C5 Taught that people are sinners that needed to repent.

B2 The Sanhedrin (See here and here

C1 Also known as the Council or leaders of the priests

C2 The highest court of Israel

C3 Consisted of 71 individuals

D1 Qualifications


C4 The Jews use Numbers 11:16-24 as to the origin of the Sanhedrin

C5 Members included

D1 High priest

D2 Members of privileged families of the High Priests and others

D3 Elders

D4 Scribes

D5 Included Pharisees and Sadducees

C6 The Acting High Priest was the head of the Council

C7 Council (Sanhedrin) Meeting

D1 Sat in semicircle (everyone could see everyone else)

D2 Two men stood at the front to record the votes

D3 Accused stood near them

B3 Peter and John before the Sanhedrin

C1 Setting

D1 At the time of prayer (9th hour= 1500), a crippled man, his faith, and his healing.

D2 On Solomon's porch

D3 After healing, Peter preaches a sermon.

D4 The priests, etc. do not Peter's preaching about Jesus and His resurrection.

D5 They arrest Peter and John.

D6 The questioning of Peter and John

E1 "By what name or power did you do this?"

E2 The Holy Spirit then helped Peter give a message to these people.

E3 Peter did not become a coward like he did in his denials. He clearly states the fact boldly (this is God's help), "...let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name this man stands here before you whole." (Acts 4 10 EMTV) In this Peter gives glory to Jesus.

E4 That is not the answer these rejecters wanted. Peter drives home the point that they are guilty of killing their Messiah. "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you, the builders, which became the chief cornerstone.' (Acts 4 11 EMTV)

E5 He also points out that there is no salvation except through Jesus. "Nor is there salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven which has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4 12 EMTV)

D7 The healed man was standing there. They knew him. They knew that he had been healed.

D8 The Sanhedrin holds a meeting. They agree to forbid the disciples to preach Jesus.

D9 Peter and John tell them that they must and will tell the truth about Jesus. It makes no difference what the leaders say. "But Peter and John answered them and said, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you be the judge. (Acts 4 19 EMTV)

D10 Peter and John are let go.

D11 They return to the group and tell them everything that had happened.

D12 They pray for boldness.

D13 God answers. "And when they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4 31 EMTV). Filling with the Holy Spirit is preaching Jesus and living for Jesus without compromise.

B3 Stephan

C1 He was falsely accused.

C2 He was falsely tired, convicted, and murdered.

C3 His sermon convicted the Jewish listeners, but they would not repent. They resisted God's Spirit just like their forefathers had done.


A5 Questions

B1 What are some reasons that persecution (soft or hard) is not good?

B2 What are some reasons that it is good?

C1 Increased commitment

C2 Sifts the true from the false

B3 Why did Peter and John go to the Temple? (To pray).

B4 Who did they meet just before entering? (An older than 40 crippled man).

B5 What did this man ask? (Money)

B6 What did the Apostles give? (Healing in Jesus's name).

B7 Does God still heal in this manner? (Sometimes).

B8 Who is glorified by this healing? (Jesus)

B9 What made the priests so angry? (Jesus)

B10 Why? (They did not believe)

B11 In this context what makes people angry at Jesus today? (They do want to believe).

B12 Is it ok to not obey our leaders? (Yes, when they forbid preaching Jesus or living for Jesus).

B13 How does God give boldness today? (The same way)

B14 What kind of persecution do we face today?

C1 What is persecution and some other general facts.

C2 World watch list rankings and explanation.

C3 Information


Underlying impulses

Persecution engine

Tribal impulse

Islamic extremism

Other religious militancy

Tribal antagonism

Ecclesiastical arrogance

Secular impulse

Communist oppression

Aggressive secularism

Exploitative impulse

Totalitarian paranoia

Organized corruption


Drivers of persecution


Government officials at any level from local to national


Ethnic group leaders

Non-Christian religious leaders at any level from local to national

Religious leaders of other churches at any level from local to national

Fanatical movements

Normal citizens (people from the broader society), including mobs

Extended family

Political parties at any level from local to national

Revolutionaries or paramilitary groups

Organized crime cartels or networks

Multilateral organizations


"Pressure (squeeze) and violence (smash)

Pressure of persecution World Watch Research distinguishes two main expressions of persecution: squeeze (the pressure Christians experience in all areas of life) and smash (plain violence). Nevertheless, while it would seem that smash is the most prevalent and invasive expression of persecution, it is often the squeeze that is most prevalent and invasive. The WWL methodology, therefore, negates the idea that the more violence there is against Christians, the more persecution there must be. The WWL methodology also seeks to negate another assumption, which is that the most violent persecutors of the church are its main persecutors.

While smash can be measured and tracked through incidents of violence, squeeze needs to be tracked otherwise. It needs to be tracked by discerning how the act of Christian life and witness itself is being squeezed in all the different areas of life.

The WWL methodology has defined the 'five spheres concept' to track the expressions of persecution in different areas of life. These five spheres express the squeeze (pressure) in each sphere of life. A sixth building block expresses the smash (plain violence). The sixth block potentially cuts across all five spheres of life."

C4 Christian Persecution
(this link is from 2008 but still valid)

B15 What kind of persecution are you facing?

B16 How do we respond?

C1 Anger? (No)

C2 War, fighting, etc. (No)

C3 Patience and witness for Jesus? (Yes)

C4 We need God's help to face this. We cannot face it on our own. (These points are adapted by an article by Robin Sam.

D1 We were forewarned. John 15:20

D2 God will not leave us. John 16:33

D3 Those before us faced persecution. Hebrews 10:32-34

D4 Rejoice, patience, and prayer Romans 12:12

D5 We are blessed in enduring persecution James 5:11

D6 Prayer Matthew 5:44, Romans 12:14, 1 Corinthians 4:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:4

D7 Testing by persecution reveals if we have a real root into Jesus and His teaching Mark 4:17

D8 The Scriptures have been given in part to encourage us during those times of persecution 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3

D9 We will experience the grace of God Romans 8:35, 2 Corinthians 4:9, 2 Corinthians 12:10

D10 Is a testimony of the living Messiah--Jesus 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

B17 Will we be faithful? (O God, please help us).

B18 How do we encourage one another?

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