Don’t back down
Pastor Chuck De Vane
Special for The Sentinel-Record
So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them: “If it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, it is for you to judge, because we can only speak of what we have seen and heard.
— Acts 4:18-20, ESV
Persecution against Christians is as old as the Christian people. The first punch was thrown in the book of Acts, and it wouldn’t be the last. Scripture prophecy points to the fact that as we approach the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the blows of persecution will become more precipitous.
What makes one person persecute another? What prompted the Jewish authorities to follow Christ and the early Christians? It is the sinful and sinister combination of pride, power and unbelief.
Pride artificially inflates self-esteem and falsely considers others with low regard. Pride craves power over others, and politics and persecution are a way to get and keep it. The worst problem, however, was not their lack of humility, nor their lack of democratic sensibility, but their sheer lack of faith. The religious people who persecuted the first church were a religious sect without religion, the people of God without God, the Jews against Jesus.
On the other hand, the Christian gospel requires humility, admission of sin, repentance and faith. He models Jesus Christ, the Lord who lived the life of a servant, not a power broker. It emphasizes the vaporous nature of this present world and promises an eternity in heaven for the redeemed and in hell for the unbelievers. And when the gospel is preached, persecution in some form or fashion almost always ensues.
Persecution attacks Christianity in general. People don’t like to see themselves as sinners in need of being saved, they don’t want the ethical and moral limitations that come with being saved, and they certainly don’t want to be told that Jesus is the only way to salvation. sky.
Persecution attacks Christians in particular. Peter and John were beaten and put in jail. The early Christians suffered beatings, tortures and executions. The same can be said throughout the centuries, as the gloves of the Sadducees were picked up and used by Roman Caesars, medieval Goths and Communist dictators to persecute Christians.
Persecution ultimately attacks Christ. Jesus had said to His disciples before leaving: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (ref. John 15:20). When we find Saul of Tarsus doing his best to destroy Christianity and Christians, he is confronted by Christ himself who says, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (ref. Acts 9:4)
They slandered our doctrine and burned our books. Our people, they arrested, imprisoned, killed. But the punch of persecution cannot overthrow our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He will prevail, with His gospel and His people, the church.
In the end, the persecution proves that lost people are just lost. Man’s free will combined with inherent depravity can produce horrible choices. Those who choose to reject the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ can come to hate the truth, then hate those who tell the truth, then hurt them.
Moreover, persecution proves that saved people are saved. Faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted, and nothing tests our faith like persecution. Like Peter and John, we must refuse to withdraw, “because we can only talk about what we have seen and heard.
Let us Christians live and speak the gospel without fear or intimidation. And when we do, and the persecution comes back, we’ll just quote the late great Tom Petty, “Well, I won’t back down, no, I won’t back down, you can lay me down at the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down!”
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, 5963 Central Ave. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]