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The Opposition to the Movement

The Opposition to the Movement

May 12, 2019

Passage:Acts 6:8-8:4

Preacher: John Welborn

Series: The Movement: A Journey with Theophilus


May 12, 2019

Pastor John Welborn

The Movement: A Journey with Theophilus

Opposition to the Movement

Acts 6:8-15, 7:54-60 & 8:1-4

Across the world every month, on average:

  • 345 Christians are killed for Faith-Related Reasons
  • 105 Churches & Christian buildings are burned or attacked
  • 219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced & imprisoned.

“Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world & it’s accelerating.”  Gary Bauer (USCIRF Commissioner)

“1 in 9 Christians around the world experience high levels of persecution.” Open Doors

We must grieve, pray for & help our persecuted brother and sisters, but we should NOT be surprised by opposition to the cause of Christ!

“Blessed are you when others revile you & persecute you & utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice & be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you...because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you; ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you...”  John 15:18, 19b-20a

We should be SURPRISED when we ESCAPE Opposition & Persecution!

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12

Main Idea: The Church is a Movement that Thrives in the Face of Opposition

“And Stephen, full of grace & power, was doing great wonders & signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), & of the Cyrenians, & of the Alexandrians, & of those from Cilicia & Asia, rose up & disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom & the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses & God.’ And they stirred up the people & the elders & the scribes, & they came upon him & seized him & brought him before the council, & they set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place & the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place & will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.’ And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel...Now when they heard these things they were enraged, & they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven & saw the glory of God, & Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, & the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice & stopped their ears & rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city & stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep...And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, & they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea & Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen & made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, & entering house after house, he dragged off men & women & committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” Acts 6:8-15, 7:54-60, 8:1-4

Three Thoughts on Opposition to the Movement:
I. Opposition Comes as the Church Embraces Its CultureActs 6:8-15

“And the word of God continued to increase, & the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, & a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7

II. Opposition Provides an Opportunity to Stand for JesusActs7:54-60

“...they will lay their hands on you & persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues & prisons, & you will be brought before kings & governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.” Luke 21:12b-13

Jesus: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Luke 23:46b

Stephen: “...Lord Jesus receive my spirit!” Acts 7:59b

Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34a

Stephen: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Acts 7:60b

Jesus: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:21-23

III. Opposition Forces the Church to Live the MissionActs 8:1-4

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

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit & began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4

“...the priests & captain of the temple & Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching people & proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. They arrested them & put them in custody...and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” Acts 4:1b-3a, 18b

“...they beat them & charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, & let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple & from house to house, they did not cease teaching & preaching that Christ is Jesus.” Acts 5:40b-42

“Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” Acts 8:4

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Tertullian

Sources and Further Reading Opportunities:

• Bible Exposition Commentary – Warren Wiersbe (1996)
• Holman NT Commentary: Acts – Kenneth O. Gangel (1998)
• Preaching the Word: Acts – Kent R. Hughes (1996)
• New Bible Commentary – D.A. Carson (1994)
• New American Commentary Series: Acts – John B. Polhill (1992)
• Daily Study Bible Series: Acts of the Apostles – William Barclay (1976)
• Word Pictures in the New Testament – A.T. Robertson (1933)
• MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Acts 1-12 – John MacArthur (1994)• The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Craig S. Keener (1993)
• Annual Report: 2019 – USCIRF (2019)
• Christianity in America – Gallup (2009)
• Christianity’s Explosive Growth in China – Inkstone News (2018)
• www.OpenDoorsUSA.org