Showing posts with label persecution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label persecution. Show all posts

24 February 2016

Sunday School Lesson--Persecution

When things get ugly

sunday school

Theme. The church is persecuted

Scripture. Acts 12.1-25

A1 Outline

B1 James killed Acts 12.1-5

B2 Peter freed from prison Acts 12.6-19

C1 Angel leads him out of prison Acts 12.5-10

C2 Peter goes to Mary, the mother of John Mark Acts 12.11-15

C3 Answered prayer Acts 12.16-17

C4 The guards are executed Acts 12.18-19

B3 Herod dies Acts 12.20-24

B4 Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark go to Jerusalem Acts 12.25

A2 Notes and questions

B1 Define

C1 Sovereignty

D1 "God is 'absolutely free to act as He wills and in accord with His own nature.'' He is 'the absolute monarch of the created universe.'"

D2 Humans do not have sovereign free will.

D3 Humans are not good and do not seek good (as defined by God). Romans 3.9-18, Jeremiah 17.9, Matthew 15.18-19, Romans 3.23

C2 Providential control

D1 "...nothing can happen apart from God's...preservation and upholding of all things."

D2 He knows what is going to happen and what is happening to us.

C3 Man's freedom

D1 "Humanity is created in the image of God and thus has the ability to make free, moral choices; however, 'God is able to govern the truly free exercise of man's will in such a way that all goes according to His plan."

D2 Note it does NOT say 'God governs man's will;" it does say "able to govern." Humanity does NOT have an absolute will to do good, to seek God, for we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2.1 and Colossians 2.13).

B2 Terms

C1 Pelagian--Pelagian. any system in which the human person is capable of achieving salvation entirely on his/her own with no divine assistance other than common grace (i.e. the grace necessary for any being to exist). (1)

C2 Semi-pelagian--Semi-Pelagian. any system in which the process of salvation is initiated by the human person apart from any grace other than common grace, but in which the process of salvation is synergistically completed by the cooperative interaction of both divine and human. (1)

C3 Synergism-Synergism. any system that affirms some kind of cooperative interaction between the divine and the human in the process of salvation. (1)

C4 Christian

D1 Differing points between Calvinists, but all believe that God elected some to salvation and that they cannot resist God's call.

D2 Differing points between Arminians. Classical/reformed Arminians believe in

E1 Total depravity

F1 Dale V. Wayman

G1 Here at SEA, we believe that total depravity is real. You can't be an Arminian and not believe in total depravity.

G2 Humanity was created in the image of God, good and upright, but fell from its original sinless state through willful disobedience, leaving humanity sinful, separated from God, and under the sentence of divine condemnation.

G3 Total depravity does not mean that human beings are as bad as they could be, but that sin impacts every part of a person's being and that people now have a sinful nature with a natural inclination toward sin, making every human being fundamentally corrupt at heart.

G4 Therefore, human beings are not able to think, will, nor do anything good in and of themselves, including merit favor from God, save ourselves from the judgment and condemnation of God that we deserve for our sin, or even believe the gospel.

G5 If anyone is to be saved, God must take the initiative.

F2 Lenos

G1 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17.9, ESV2011)

G2 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. (Luke 18.19 LEB)

G3 just as it is written, "There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3.10 LEB)

G4 And you, although you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (Ephesians 2.1 LEB) (Ephesians 2.5 and Colossians 2.13)

G5 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3.23 LEB)

G6 All humans are born contaminated with a sin nature (original sin).

G7 All humans do NOT seek God

G8 All humans cannot do good (as God defines good).

G9 All humans are dead in sins and trespasses

G10 All humans are sinners

E2 Total inability

F1 All humans do not seek God

F2 All humans need God's grace to enable us to understand our sinful condition

F3 Without God's enabling grace we would not/could not be saved

F4 God, by His grace, frees our will to respond. Our wills are not free but freed.

C3 Persecution

D1 Any suffering/abuse/death that Christians face/experience because they are Christians.

D2 If you are reviled on account of the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. By all means do not let anyone of you suffer as a
murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. But if someone suffers as a Christian, he must not be ashamed, but must glorify God with this name. (1 Peter 4.14-16 LEB)

C4 Herod of Acts 12

D1 Names--Herod I, Herod Agrippa, Agrippa the Great, Marcus Julius Agrippa (birth name)

D2 Parents--Father--Aristobulus IV, Mother--Berenice

D3 Lived--11 BC to 44 AD (died when he was 54 years old).

D4 Wife--Cypros

D5 Children--1 son, 3 daughters

D6 Life

E1 Friends with Caesar

E2 Spent money recklessly, which got him in prison and other troubles frequently. His wife usually made an appeal to someone, who then paid those debts.

E3 Was overheard that he wished Tiberius to die and Caligula be made emperor, thus ending up in prison again.

E4 After Tiberius died, Caligula became emperor. Caligula then promoted Herod.

E5 Caligula was assassinated.

E6 Claudius became emperor and promoted Herod to finally control Judea and Samaria.

E7 Gave a speech in Caesarea where flatters praised him as "the voice of a god and not a man." He then died from abdominal disease, which caused great pain. The word for "worms" in the Bible might be referring to maggots. Others think that he had a gangrene, which brought maggots.

E8 Jewish records of him from that time speak well of him, but Christian one's don't.

D7 Picture

Herod Agrippa

C5 James, the Apostle

D1 Son of Salome (some believe she was sister to Mary, the mother of Jesus) and Zebedee

D2 Brother of John

D3 Called by Jesus while at work with their father

D4 Wanted to call fire down on the Samaritans because of their bad manners.

D5 One of three to see the raising of Jairus's daughter, the Transfiguration, and agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

D6 Saw the resurrected Jesus.

D7 Died on Herod Agrippa's order.

B3 James killed Acts 12.1-5

C1 Why was Herod involved in persecuting the church?

C2 Why did Herod kill James?

C3 What was the reaction from the Jewish authorities?

C4 The days of unleavened bread (2)

D1 One of the Three Pilgrim Festivals

D2 Celebrates the Exodus, the freedom from slavery of the Children of Israel from ancient Egypt that followed the Ten Plagues.

D3 Beginning of the 49 days of Counting of the Omer

D4 Connected to barley harvest in spring.

D5 2015 date is sunset of Friday 3 April to nightfall of Friday 10 April / Saturday 11 April (7th day)

D6 2016 date is sunset of Friday 22 April to nightfall of Friday 29 April / Saturday 30 April (7th day)

D7 Related to Shavuot ("Festival of Weeks") which follows 49 days from the second night of Passover.

C5 How many soldiers were guarding Peter? (16)

C6 Why so many?

C7 Who is praying for Peter? (The church). What is the church? (All the believers in Jesus. It is not an organization).

B4 Peter freed from prison Acts 12.6-19

C1 In human terms was Peter secured in the prison?

C2 When the angel came, a light shone in the cell. Wouldn't that alert the guards? Why was there a light anyway?

C3 The angel did the light, awaking Peter, and the removal of chains. Why didn't the angel do everything else (fastening the belt, etc.)?

C4 Was is it that some Christians suffer persecution and some don't? Do Bible believing Christians suffer more than the other types of Christians?

C5 Why did the angel come at night?

C6 Are Christians in the USA facing persecution? What kinds?

C7 Why was Peter delivered this time but later died for the faith?

C8 What does it mean the "expectation of the Jewish people?" (Most commentators believe that the Jewish leaders and people were waiting with excitement that another Christian was going to be killed). Why do people like death and mayhem? What does this indicate about the human heart/soul/person?

C9 Peter goes on to the home of Mary the mother of John Mark? How did Peter know to go there?

C10 The people were praying, but Peter was already freed.

C11 Why did Peter knock? Shouldn't he just have walked in?

C12 Why didn't the praying people not believe Rhoda?

C13 Why did Peter give his report on what happened then quickly left? (The authorities would be out looking for him).

C14 What James is this in Acts 12.17? (Jesus's half-brother). Why were they to tell James?

C15 When someone are being persecuted, should we pray for their release and their persecution to stop? (I have heard people say they will not do that for the brethren, because persecution is increasing their faith).

C16 How do Christians know that God is with them when they are being persecuted?

C17 How should we help the persecuted brethren?

C18 In Acts 12.18 why are the guards so worried about not finding Peter?

C19 Is God responsible for the death of the guards?

C20 How do you think Herod was feeling about Peter's disappearance? (Humiliation)

B5 Herod dies Acts 12.20-24

C1 Some say that Herod went to Caesarea for a festival.

C2 A chamberlain was a right hand man of the king.

C3 The occasion for Herod's anger for the people of Tyre and Sidon is unknown.

C4 Josephus relates that Herod was wearing a gown made of silver which reflected the light of the sun. Would this make an impression on people?

C5 Why would anyone yell out, "the voice of a god and not a man?"

C6 Josephus reports that it took Herod 5 days to die.

C7 Here the persecuted lives and the persecutor dies.

C8 Is God's kingdom ever stopped by a person?

C9 How do we deal with praise from people?

C10 Do we seek and carry out revenge?

B6 Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark go to Jerusalem Acts 12.25

A3 Resources

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?