Persecution May Have Evil Intent But God's Intent Wins

ENGLISH

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. — Acts 8:1-3

I can, to some degree, see both sides of this situation. I can see that Saul believes his actions are devout. As a young promising Pharisee, he is educated in the law and growing through the religious ranks. He really believes he is doing the right thing. In fact, years later, he tells us that he believed he was doing the right thing. Listen to his comments in Philippians 3:4-6.

"If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless." — Philippians 3:4-6

This is a man who genuinely believed he was doing the right thing by persecuting Christians. He believed that the message of Christ as the Messiah was blasphemy against God. Thus he approves of the execution of Stephen. And because of this, the church in Jerusalem was persecuted even more. Stephen's indictment ending up setting off a fury of firestorms all over the city.

But notice what happened. This persecution by the religious authorities resulted in a massive overnight expansion of the Gospel. It served to scatter the message and move new disciples from the epicenter of Jerusalem back to their homes all over the countryside. Yes, the situation was intense, but persecution advanced the Gospel. Thus the message moved from the city, to the region, and across the world, which was precisely in line with Jesus's plan. Just turn back to his last words. Jesus said this in Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. — Acts 1:8

Friends, I don't think we have to fear the coming persecution. God can use any season of Christian persecution to accomplish His divine purposes. Now the opposition may intend it to harm us. But no one can spin evil purposes to accomplish a divine mission better than God. He can use persecution to drive discipleship deeper and spread the Gospel further. So be patient in the heat of our persecution. God is about to unfold a plan that will blow your mind. So be faithful, and let's press on together.

ASK THIS: How do you feel we are being persecuted in the present time?

DO THIS: What do you need to do to remain faithful in this present persecution? (Share this below)

PRAY THIS: God, drive discipleship deeper and your message further through me today. Give me the zeal of Stephen against the zealousness of the Sauls in the world. Unfold your plan through me. I am ready to suffer for your name.

PLAY THIS: While I Wait — Lincoln Brewster.

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Persecution May Have Evil Intent But God's Intent Wins

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13 thoughts on “Persecution May Have Evil Intent But God’s Intent Wins

  1. Scott Kelley says:

    I saw a debate between Ken Ham (YEC) and Jeff Zweerink (OEC). In the end they both completely agreed that it doesn’t matter to one’s salvation, and we (as Christians) are really to spread the Gospel. So what do we say to people that are engaging us with, for one example, disbelief that everything was created ex nihilo 6,000 years ago? Return to the Gospel because nothing else matters for their salvation.

  2. David J says:

    Christians are being persecuted because we don’t accept abortion, same sex marriage, premarital sex, etc as acceptable and normal. Lord give me the words to spread the truth.

  3. Roger says:

    Persecution must exist here in one form or another, otherwise, more Christians would share the good news of the Gospel. The persecution may be self inflicted in our own feelings of fear and failure, but it exists. Satan will use whatever means necessary to attempt to thwart God’s plan, but we who believe, know where the victory comes from, and we’re commanded to share the news of that VICTORY!

  4. Roger says:

    Prosecution must exist here in one form or another, otherwise, more Christians would share the good news of the Gospel. The persecution may be self inflicted in our own feelings of fear and failure, but it exists. Satan will use whatever means necessary to attempt to thwart God’s plan, but we who believe, know where the victory comes from, and we’re commanded to share the news of that VICTORY!

  5. Rich Thomas says:

    I think we need to grow a thicker skin. the persecution we face is nothing compared to others. We will face real persecution, I believe soon, and we need to be firm on our foundation and know who Jesus really is. We need to know what and why we believe. I would even recommend the book by Paul Little of the same name.

    • Scott Kelley says:

      I agree with your perspective. If someone is simply disagreeing with us, that may be an opportunity to politely engage them further with the Gospel.

      • Rich Thomas says:

        Yes, and we should. The key word is politely! And I would add in-person; not online.
        I heard someone speaking on this subject and calling it soft persecution and they argued for a similar response.

  6. Sheldon says:

    I feel we are being persecuted by how because of stand on matters like abortion, homosexuality, prayer in our schools and public buildings. what we can do to remain faithful is to pray with and for each other, and as the early church did do life together, be our brother’s keeper.

  7. Jack Dellinger says:

    Saul was perhaps the premiere student of traditional Judaism. As such he was acutely aware that traditional Judaism and “The Way” could not coexist. So his remedy was to eradicate “The Way”. The result of this persecution was a realignment of the way the gospel message was promoted. It was decentralized into smaller groups.
    Today Christianity and “Wokeism” cannot coexist. We should expect conflict between these two beliefs and be prepared to defend the gospel. What this looks like is still in the formative stages, but for now I need to know in whom I believe and why I believe. Just as the apostles were prepared, I have to be ready to endure whatever comes. James 1:12 says “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him .” Steadfastness comes from deep roots on a firm foundation.

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    • Eddie Ackerman says:

      I would respectfully disagree with you Brother James. we are persecuted in the US, but to A MUCH LESSER extent than in other countries simply because it is NOT illegal to be a believer in the US, where it is in other countries. The LEAST harsh punishment in other countries is banishment, and the MOST harsh punishment is execution. In the US it’s more SOCIAL banishment, shunning, and SOCIAL execution, but being believers, we are not OF this world anymore, which is why we will NOT be fully accepted in this world. “In this world you WILL face trouble, but take heart for I [Jesus] have overcome the world!” words are a direct quote from Jesus, emphasis is mine. 🙂

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