Pastor Wrinkles: House On Fire Pt. 18

The Word of God is a bridge that connects Earth with Heaven and Heaven with Earth.- Joseph Elon Lillie

The Word of God is a bridge that connects Earth with Heaven and Heaven with Earth.- Joseph Elon Lillie

Our conversation through the book of Acts is going strong. Thanks to Debby and Ann for their contributions to the dialogue over the weekend. Today we begin to discuss Acts chapter 8. If you have missed any of our previous discussions and would like to get in on the action you can find them here   http://wp.me/P39vIx-Gh

Now on to today’s discussion: If you remember from our last lesson, Christianity obtained its first martyr in Acts chapter 7 when the deacon Stephen was stoned to death… The Bible goes on to say…

And Saul approved of their killing him.

The Church Persecuted and Scattered

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:1-3

In Acts 8:1 we have the introduction of the man who is going to dominate the rest of Acts and indeed most of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul.  By his own admission Paul was ...”circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal,persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. “Phil 3:5

We know he grew up in Tarsus the capital of Cilicia.

See if you can find it here   http://www.bible-history.com/maps/romanempire/Tarsus.html

 

According to Acts 22 we know Paul was a student of the Pharisee Gamaliel. However it would seem that Paul and Gamaliel did not see eye to eye on every matter of faith.  History shows us that over time a division had developed in  Pharisaic theology. Two schools of Pharisaism emerged. The Hillel tradition (which Gamaliel held to) and the Shammai tradition (which Paul seems to have favored as a Pharisee)

Here is a good article on the difference between the two schools: http://www.centralcal.com/crist2.htm

So in Acts Chapter 8 verse 3 we see Paul as a Shammai Pharisee beginning to persecute the church with great zeal. We also see the people of the church fleeing for their lives.

In the free countries of the world today it is hard for us to imagine being persecuted right out of your home. Yet just today I received a prayer request from a church In Bangladesh whose members have been ordered to begin worshipping Allah at the mosque or suffer eviction from their homes by the town government. Acts 8:1-3 is very real for many of our brothers and sisters around the world. If you were faced with such a situation what would you do? Would you stand up for your rights and fight? Would you run? Would you go underground and become a secret believer and a public pagan?

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6 thoughts on “Pastor Wrinkles: House On Fire Pt. 18

  1. I want to believe that I would stand up for Him no matter what I face. You said it the other day that God will give you the strength you need when you need. I am confident that He most certainly would do that for me. You see He is my love and I have never ever been in love like this before. I live for Him and I will die for Him just as he did for me. No matter how you look at it I win because I will be with my Lord and Savior.

    • Amen Deb!I believe God will give us the strength to do what is necessary when it is necessary. When persecution started happening in the church there were those who chose to stay and “take it” and others who chose to run. One of the early divisions in the church was between the stayers and the runners. There was a tendency by some of the stayers to consider themselves more holy than the ones who ran away. Sometimes the stayers even said the runners denied the faith by running away from the persecution. I am curious do think one choice is more right than another?

      • I believe it is not a matter of right or wrong but one of maturity in the word. By no means would I have been ready to lay my life down for our Lord when I first became saved. I still had so much fear I was dealing with probably just like the believers that ran. Today, l wholeheartedly would stay and stand up for my faith I have in Jesus Christ.

      • That is not something I had thought of before! Yes indeed maturity and strength in faith may have indeed played into the responses of many of these young Christians. Do you think God ever counsels people to stay or go? Do you think there may be times when God counsels to run away? If so why? Do you think there are ever times God counsels someone to stay and endure persecution? If so why?

  2. I believe God counsels people to stay or go. If God is counseling you to go then He knows that your heart is not ready to give all the glory to him. The same goes for if God counsels you to stay and endure persecution, He knows your heart is ready to glorify His name. When someone is ready to glorify Him I would think many more people could possibly be converted than if He asks someone to stay who is not ready.

    • This is so true Deb. Lillian and I were discussing this lesson during our weekly internship review. It really is about following the leading of the Lord. Lillian brought up that many times the apostles fled and that was so that the gospel could be spread in another location but even as they left other believers were called to stay and continue the work on the frontline so that the message in that city would not die out.

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