Persecuted with Jesus

jail window on outside of stone building

As I continue my series on the Book of Acts, I would like to teach from Chapter 4 and how it applies to us Christians today. Previously I talked about the healing of the lame man done by the Apostles through the power of the Holy Spirit. Today I would like to discuss something that we all need to realize and that is the persecuted church. There are many Christians around the world who become imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for proclaiming the name of Jesus. I myself live in the United States of America where we are blessed to have freedom of religion in 2019. However, I would like to give a warning, our freedoms will be coming to an end one day, Christians in the United States will begin to be persecuted and killed for proclaiming the name of Jesus. My question for you is, are you ready to take a true stand for Jesus or are you just going to go with the flow? Jesus took a stand for us sinners on the cross, so we should all be ready for the day of persecution. I have heard many prophetic words on the persecution of Christians coming to America, and I feel strongly in my spirit that the enemy is planning to get some Christian blood in America. In this teaching I will discuss the imprisonment of John and Peter, and what we need to do to be ready for not just persecution but ongoing spiritual warfare that is going on right now.

Let’s look at Acts 4:1-3 (NKJV), “Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,  being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.”. John and Peter were arrested for teaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Sadducees were the ones who were predominately behind this because they did not believe in the resurrection. Matthew 22:23 (NKJV) tells us, “The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection…”. The followed the Pentateuch which is the portion of the Hebrew Bible they deemed true. Regardless of what the Sadducees thought, we find out many who heard the teachings about Jesus from Peter believed. Acts 4:4 (NKJV) confirms this, “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”.  We also see the number of believers grow because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we continue on Acts 4:7 (NKJV) tells us the leaders of the Sadducees began to question John and Peter on the next day, “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?””. With this questioned asked, we can expect a great teaching from Peter. Acts 4:8-10 (NKJV) continues, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:  If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,  let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.”. Peter spoke boldly to these rulers and explains they did a good deed in the mighty name of Jesus that resulted in a lame man to be completely healed, this will be something these rulers will not be able to deny. Acts 4:11-12 (NKJV) goes on to say, “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”. Peter tells the leaders that Jesus is the cornerstone of the church, this was prophesized in Psalm 118:22 (NKJV), “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.”. Peter also tells them that salvation is only through Jesus Christ, John 14:6 (NKJV) tells us “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”. This was another great teaching given by Peter because he spoke with the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also foretold of this very event happening in Luke 12:11-12 (NKJV) when He said, ““Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”. We will also see that Mark gave an account of this in his gospel as well in Mark 13:11 (NKJV) where Jesus said, “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.”. When we are dealing with spiritual warfare, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through us and guide us just like the apostles did.

The rulers see the boldness of Peter and John. Acts 4:13 (NKJV) continues, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus”. They claim that John and Peter are uneducated and untrained in ministry. Let me tell you something you don’t need a degree from a highly ranked university or college to become a great minister. Don’t get me wrong coursework and training will help to prepare you, but not everyone is able to go to earn a full degree to step into ministry. There are many churches that offer small programs both accredited and non-accredited and they do successfully prepare people for ministry. A true minister will deliver a message only from the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. God can call anyone into ministry at any point in their life. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV) tells us “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”. Additionally, 2 Timothy 1:6-8 (NKJV) tells us, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God”. We should not be afraid of sharing the Gospel nor ashamed of sharing it. I feel in my spirit that there are too many secret disciples today too many people who publicly don’t want to admit they are a follower of Jesus Christ. This is something we can all be guilty of, but we must remember we need to share the Gospel at every opportunity we possibly can. We will also need to realize that people of this world will not always favor us because of our faith. People of the world would rather see Christians be more politically correct than Biblically correct. The only way to be a true Christian is to be Biblically correct, then politics can come second according to what is right in the Word of God. There are many Christians who are not voting accordingly to what the Word of God says is correct, and God is angry right now with America. It is time Christians take a stand and vote on values according to the Word of God, rather than what the mainstream media is brainwashing us with. Jesus told us in John 15:18-21 (NKJV), “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet 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. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.  But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake because they do not know Him who sent Me.”. 

Continuing Acts 4:14 (NKJV) says, “And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”. The religious rulers cannot say anything against the miracle of the lame man. Acts 4:15-22 (NKJV) goes on to say, “But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.  But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.  For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.”. The religious rulers are going to try to put a stop to the spread of Christianity, however, we will find out that Christianity will continue to spread. There is no power of the enemy that can stand up against the power of the Holy Spirit, therefore we must pray with authority.

After John and Peter are let go, they go back to their group of believers and inform them of what happened. We will find out that they pray together as they face this giant. Acts 4:23-26 (NKJV) tells us, “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.  So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,  who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’”. We see that part of what they prayed comes from Psalms 2:1-3 (NKJV), “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.””. Persecution because of faith in Jesus Christ was prophesized in the Book of Psalms. We will see when they asked for boldness the Holy Spirit gave them boldness. Acts 4:27-31 (NKJV) continues and tells us, ““For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.  Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”.

Peter leads by example and shows us how we need to seek God in both our personal trials and in spiritual warfare. When we are in a trial or dealing with spiritual warfare we need to put on the Whole Armor of God as it is told to us in Ephesians 6:10-20 (NKJV), “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;  praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—  and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”. So, my question to you is have you truly put on the whole Armor of God? Are you ready to face spiritual warfare? How is your prayer life right now? Are you only praying to just bless your meal? Are you only praying when a problem is coming your way? Or are you praying at every opportunity you can get in the valuable time the Lord has blessed you with? The truth is we all need to spend more time praying and more importantly praying in the Spirit. I just gave you a teaching on the gift of tongues, if you have not received that gift, I encourage you to seek God and ask Him for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit and for the gift of tongues. The devil hates when someone who is truly baptized in the Holy Spirit prays in the Spirit. I promise you the more time you spend praying in tongues the greater amount of change you will see take place to the spiritual warfare going on around you and in your own trails and weaknesses. If you need a deeper explanation on the gift of tongues, I encourage you to look back on that teaching I recently gave on my blog or YouTube Channel. I encourage you again to put on the full armor of God and do spiritual warfare and seek God on where you need to improve in your prayer life.