Acts 4:23-31 – Response to Suffering

The reaction of the followers of Jesus to Peter and John’s arrest is raise their voices together in praise and prayer (Acts 4:24). This runs counter to what the council intende . The disciples of Jesus ought to have been filled with remorse after they were shown their so-called gospel blasphemy. They ought to have humbly submitted to their elders and ceased their preaching of Jesus as the resurrected messiah.

On the contrary, they rejoice because they have been counted worthy to suffer persecution in a similar way to what Jesus faced. Opposition to Jesus’ teaching began with the Pharisees and Sadducees and Jesus was told he was not doing miracles by the power of God. Jesus was also subjected to traps to get him to state a false teaching publicly. Peter and JohnIn short, this resistance to the apostolic teaching is exactly the same as Jesus faced. The rejection of the teaching is far more grave, however, since the people acted in ignorance when they killed Jesus (Acts 3:17). But ignorance is no longer an excuse: the rejection of the Holy Spirit will result in a most dire judgment.

The disciples see this persecution as the fulfillment of Scripture, specifically Psalm 2. This Psalm is cited as proof that the apostolic mission is having the intended effect. The “nations” in the original Psalm are the gentiles, or generically the “enemies of God.” The gentiles did plot against Jesus and did put him to death, but now Peter is applying that same thinking to the actions of the High Priest. Peter is calling the High Priest and his inner circle “gentiles.” Arnold points out when Peter prays that God “stretch out his hand” he is alluding the events of the Exodus – when God brought his people out of Egypt with miracles and great signs and wonders (Arnold, Acts, 34). I think Peter is consciously connecting the Exodus, the great salvation event of the Hebrew Bible to the events of Pentecost – the new age is dawning and it will be like a new Exodus.

The Jewish resistance to the Holy Spirit is therefore interpreted here as the same thing as Gentile resistance to the people of God in the Hebrew Bible. Perhaps most significant is that this resistance will be  just as futile ans Egypt’s resistance to God in the first Exodus.

As they prayed, the meeting was shaken and they once again are filled with the Holy Spirit and they all spoke the word of God boldly. Just as Peter was filled with the Spirit and spoke boldly before the High Priest, now the whole community speaks boldly. The council commanded silence, but the community reacts by boldly witnessing concerning the truth concerning Jesus.

This is the first example of an arrest turning into a victory for the Jesus community (there are several more to come in the book of Acts). In Acts, no earthly power can hinder the power of the Holy Spirit and the witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus. The attitude of the earliest Jesus-followers seems the opposite of contemporary Christianity, especially in its American form. Christians are quite quick to decry some minor resistance to Christian practice as a “war” on the faith. Yet here in Acts, serious attacks (and physical suffering) are welcomed as signs the Gospel is effective and suffering results in a clear witness to the Gospel. How can we return to this attitude found among the earliest followers of Jesus?

23 thoughts on “Acts 4:23-31 – Response to Suffering

  1. I think that it is such a powerful picture to realize that often the growth of the church explodes the most under severe persecution. While certainly some will turn away from their faith in the face of persecution, those who do not recant will likely become all the more passionate in their convictions. We see this happening in the world today, where nations that have the worst persecution of Christians also have some of the most passionate groups of believers, whereas in America (where our self-pity for our “persecution” in society makes a mockery of what real persecution really means) the church is enabled to become stale, lukewarm, and complacent.

    The believers in Acts are beaten, imprisoned, and killed for their faith in Jesus, yet they will not stop preaching the Gospel of the resurrected Christ.

    “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:1-4).

    Even after the public stoning of Stephen, when strong persecution comes upon the Christian community and the believers are scattered and many are put in prison, the Gospel just spreads that much farther.

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  2. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
    Acts 4:19 (KJV)

    Pain, torture, humiliation, persecution – God again uses the unexpected ways to bring glory to Himself. The church not only survives, they thrive, knowing that they are privileged to shred in the suffering that Jesus also went through.

    From a very spoiled American view, I have never faced this persecution – and I know it would be a challenge to rejoice as they did. However, this is not a theme that has disappeared among Christians, throughout modern persecution and even death. I think specifically of the ISIS attacks on believers, who then watch their children beheaded in front of them, or some other equally horrific experience. I would suggest that we simply can’t grasp the significance of this rejoicing in suffering as those who have gone through it can.

    The obedience to God rather than man, there seems to be no hesitation on the part of Peter & John. No hesitation on the part of any of the believers, even Stephen – the very first martyr. Even in hard times like this, they did not deny Christ – they did what was right in God’s eyes. This challenged me quite a bit: Would there be hesitation in our churches today? Would there be rejoicing in my response to God’s plan of suffering and temptation?

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  3. The Sadducees and the priests and the captain of the temple were completely blinded to all the things that Jesus did. Here these leaders of the Jewish nation have been teaching so strongly according to the law and the guidelines they had set up and Jesus comes along and preaches a new message, basically negating the importance of their teaching. I would think that their pride would have driven them to cling that much tighter to what the law required. It says that they were, “greatly annoyed because they [Peter and John] were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2).
    When we understand this element, it is astounding to see how the people who hear this new message, turn and believe in Jesus by the thousands (v. 4). These priests and leaders that they used to follow and live under, now are preaching the wrong thing. These people who were supposed to be their religious leaders whom they had followed for so long, are persecuting the following of the true Messiah. In the post it says that, “The ‘nations’ in the original Psalm are the gentiles, or generically the ‘enemies of God.’ The gentiles did plot against Jesus and did put him to death, but now Peter is applying that same thinking to the actions of the High Priest. Peter is calling the High Priest and his inner circle ‘gentiles.’”
    People recognized the freedom and truth of the gospel of the risen Christ and they were willing to go against these religious leaders and praise God regardless of the persecution they were facing.

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  4. In acts 5:39 a Jewish leader even said “but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” as I read through this passage I do see that connection of a great movement we find in the Exodus and this new time of the church. Much like the pharaoh the Jewish leaders were so bent on keeping the traditions and pleasing the Romans out of fear that they destroyed or tried to destroy anything that questions the way of life for them. Much like the calling of Abraham the gentiles are called into the fold of God not because of who they are but of God’s love and will. Much like both the Exodus and call of Abraham the people where excited to do new things, see new things, and be apart of this new movement. Just like those times people took suffering as a birthing pain or growing pain. This persecution was a sign of being on the right road. Often when I read this I hear Bob Dylan in my ear singing “the times are a changing” and when the Holy spirit came, it surely did.

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  5. I think that this is the kind of boldness that every Christian should pray for! The work of the Holy Spirit really shows through the people when they worshiped God instead of trembled before the council. They were able to be encouraged because they knew how powerful their God was. I was always taught to never fear people or to be intimidated by people especially if it meant to spread the gospel, but personally, it is hard for me to express my love for God to people around me and it’s only because I want their approval. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit still works the same today as it did back then because it gives people today the boldness to share the love of God. Matthew 5: 16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

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    • Anna, good job on your discussion post this week. I, too, wrote my discussion post regarding the Response to Suffering article. In my post, I mentioned that a way for today’s society to get the earliest followers of Jesus mindset back is by reading the Bible more and allowing the Holy Spirit to pour into one’s life. However, I really liked how you mentioned one should pray for this. After reading this in your post, I believe prayer can be a key aspect in gaining this attitude. Verses such as Matthew 7:7-8, John 15:7, and Luke 11:9 all are based on the idea that if one asks he shall receive; therefore, today’s world needs to ask for this type of mindset in prayer and then by faith they shall receive it. I also liked how honest you were about mentioning your insecurity of longing for others approve making it difficult for you to always spread the word of God. Approval is huge in our society. This is why accepting percussion with joy because one knows it is spreading the gospel is extremely difficult. I, personally, face this battle myself. It is easy for me to talk about God within church or around a room full of believers. However, when I come into a setting with individuals who will put me down if I claim my faith I become afraid. This shows how far we have come today. I will not be put in prison, beaten, or put to death when spreading the gospel such as Peter, John, and so forth; yet, I will not do it because I am afraid of someone’s opinion of me. Honestly, I hate admitting that but it is so true. I need to start praying, reading my Bible more, and flowing in the Spirit if I ever want to become more than a lukewarm Christian who goes through the everyday motions of life. The good news is the first step to making a change is seeing where one is wrong. I have realized that. How do you think we can get others to realize they do not have the right mindset regarding persecution and how the gospel spreads through it?

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  6. When looking back in history one will see that many individuals in the Bible experienced persecution due to their religious beliefs. For example, Luke and Peter were imprisoned multiple times and even beaten because of preaching about Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 4:3, Acts 5:40). Job is another well-known Bible character who faced extreme measures of persecution when Satan was allowed to test Job (Job 1:6-12). While even Jesus himself experienced persecution when he was nailed to the cross (Matthew 27:32-56). One of the most important parts regarding each type of persecution in the Bible is those in that situation knew within their suffering they were playing a part in spreading the word of God (Acts 5:41, Job 6:8-10, and Matthew 26: 36-46).

    This type of positive attitude towards enduring Christian persecution in the sake of spreading the word of God has started to diminish in today’s society. Therefore, the question is how do we get back to this state of mindset? How do we, as believers, welcome suffering so that we are able to clearly witness the gospel? I believe there are two ways to get back this type of mindset. First, is by reading the word of God more. Individuals today are so quick to say ‘I went to church for an hour on Sunday morning. I am good for the rest of the week. I do not need to read my Bible’. According to Adelle Banks “…even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily (2017).” If individuals are not reading the word they will not know what is in it such as the many verses that advise us to endure persecution for the gospel and except it to happen as a follower of Christ (2 Timothy 3:12, John 15:18). A key verse a believer should study is 1 Peter 4:12-14 “… But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Therefore, reading the word will help Christians return to the attitude that the founding followers of Christ had. Second, I believe another way to get this type of mindset back is by allowing the Holy Spirit to take control over one’s life. In Acts, Peter and John were both filled with the Holy Spirit allowing them to be able to endure and conquer the tremendous suffering they faced (Acts 4:8). This type of power was not only given to the disciplines of Jesus; rather, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was for everyone from that day, for everyone in this day, and for everyone in future days to come. “…God’s salvation is for all people, as it speaks of the Spirit poured out on ‘all flesh’ (Jipp, 2018, pg. 42).”If individuals allowed the Holy Spirit to flow throughout their life they will start to rejoice when in suffering because of the power the Spirit will give them. They will know they are helping the word of God spread. In conclusion, if Christians want to learn how to turn towards the attitude found among the earliest followers of Jesus they need to read their Bible more and allow the Holy Spirit to work through them.

    References
    Banks, A. M. (2017, April 25). The Bible – helpful, but not read much. Retrieved from https://religionnews.com/2017/04/25/the-bible-helpful-but-unread/

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    • Jewel,
      Nice well thought out post! I would agree that it is important to connect with God’s word in order to help us witness. I also think that sharing fellowship with others is beneficial because the body is stronger when they connect and unify. One should take on the mindset of suffering is for strengthening and refining even though it is hard and can tear one down. What matters is that they get back up.

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  7. It is very true that the Christian community today has grown soft. I know of people who claim that the smallest of battles is spiritual warfare and they retreat from the situation. I find this reaction to struggle very counter-productive when sharing the Gospel. Shouldn’t we, as Christians, thrive for situations that challenge us and challenge our faith? There is nowhere in the Bible that says if you become a Christian your life will be easy. In fact, we are constantly being persecuted because of our faith! 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” As Christians, if we run away from suffering and persecution, if we play it safe, how will people know about Jesus? We might not get beaten or whipped like the Apostles for defending our faith, but we should realize that suffering comes with being a Christian. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us. It makes sense that the Apostles would be honored to suffer for Him. When we are faced with trials and tribulations or spiritual warfare or persecution, shouldn’t we be encouraged and motivated to suffer in the name of Jesus? Shouldn’t we stick it out and fight, knowing that we have the God of the Most High living within us and protecting us? At the end of our lives, don’t we (as Christians) want to be able to look back and say that we defended our faith with every ounce of our being? That we tried to get as many people to know about Jesus, whatever the cost?

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    • Leah,
      I really liked your post and your first sentence really stuck out to me. You stated, “It is very true that the Christian community today has grown soft.” I don’t think that there is a better way to say it. There are many factors that go into this. You mentioned the one that sticks out to me the most. This is that people think life gets easy when we become a Christian. You said it best, “We are constantly being persecuted because of our faith.”
      To build off my last statement, I believe that we are to act in a way that would model of after Jesus Christ. Jipp mentions this in his reading. He gives the example of Peter addressing Israel’s leaders. He says that they are being foolish and wicked. He was referring to when they crucified Jesus. Jesus did no wrong, so why would they crucify him? I think that this is the way we have to look at things. We all sin and act foolish and we should be called out on it. We need to accept it and find a way to fix it. This is one way that we will grow as Christians.

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  8. When I first read Acts five earlier this week, I was stunned by the apostle’s reaction to their suffering. I questioned the reaction but later thought deeper about what it looks like to be excited about persecution. My conclusion on this subject of why they would be so excited is for a few reasons. The first is the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 5 is very clear on the power of the Holy Spirit, it starts off with Ananias and Sapphira directly lying to the Holy Spirit. Immediately he fell and died. This was not an act of man. Peter was made aware of the lying from both Ananias and Sapphira, he was the one to make confront them. The second is their faith in God and prayer. The apostles may have not always been the most functional people, they knew the risk of their ministries, and probably were nervous at times. They did not let this stop them, they pressed on, but they did not do it on their own strength. We see this specifically in Acts 4:24-30, they prayed knowing God’s previous promises, God’s will, and for boldness. Third, they were focused on the overall goal. The book discusses this idea of aligning your thoughts and understanding of God’s plan (Jipp, 26). The apostles internalized the life of Jesus and the significance and necessity of Him dying on the cross. They got the point and they wanted in. The apostles were leading the coming kingdom in their actions and miracles. After reading of the apostle’s reaction to suffering, I think of what it would be like to have this kind of faith and excitement in suffering. My first step to getting closer to this attitude would begin with prayer. The idea of knowing God’s promises and work and praying for boldness that he would open my eyes to opportunity. The second step would be moving forth in boldness. The third step would be acknowledging God as the full strength to the work. If we had the boldness and reaction like the apostles, I think our churches would need bigger buildings and we would need more volunteers to work with students.

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    • Timmer,

      I really like the example that you used about the Apostles and their own faith in God and prayer. I agree, they were not the most functional or the “brightest tools in the shed” and they knew of the risks they were taking in preaching the Gospel, but that did not stop them at all. They trusted in God and continued doing what they were commanded to do and being called to do so that others could be reached and hear the Gospel as well. We all need to be more trusting and like you said, acknowledge the fact that God gave us the strength to do what we are coign for our lives.

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    • *Had to fix a typo that I found after I posted my original comment*

      Timmer,

      I really like the example that you used about the Apostles and their own faith in God and prayer. I agree, they were not the most functional or the “brightest tools in the shed” and they knew of the risks they were taking in preaching the Gospel, but that did not stop them at all. They trusted in God and continued doing what they were commanded to do and being called to do so that others could be reached and hear the Gospel as well. We all need to be more trusting and like you said, acknowledge the fact that God gave us the strength to do what we are doing for our lives.

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  9. I think the number one thing that we as Christians could do to get back to that attitude is to rejoice in everything. Romans 5:2-4 talks about rejoicing not in only the joy that we have in Jesus but also in the suffering that we are given. The disciples are a perfect example of how we should do this. Even after they were arrested, they did not just blend in to the shadows and do what the council wanted them to do. They went out there and rejoiced because they were lucky enough to suffer in a similar way of Jesus. The great part about this is that the threats and persecutions that the disciples are facing are no match for the Holy Spirit (Jipp 58). I think this is a great thing for us to remember to get back into the attitude of rejoicing amidst persecution. While we will face persecution, we have hope in the fact that through the Holy Spirit we will be safe. So many times when we face persecution, we tend to run away and hide, but in reality we need to face it head on and rejoice in the fact that we get to suffer for Jesus.

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  10. Persecution of faith is very much a relevant part of our Christian Life. 2 Timothy 3:12 says “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. We are told that if we are righteous, and if we are with God, then we are doing the right thing, and it means that what we are preaching and what we are practicing is good. We must understand that even though it is being preached and conveyed through people who are flawed, it is still the word of God, and because of that we will face persecution, and must acknowledge that this must be the action that we accept and embrace (ESVSB 2088). The truth of the matter is that even though there is persecution, and even though we are being treated differently and poorly by others, those words and those actions aren’t a match to the spirit of God, and to the strong foundation that we are standing on when being persecuted (Jipp 58). The truth of the matter is that if we want to change our attitude on persecution, and if we want to stand more bold and more firmly, then that means we need to be more comfortable in our faith, and we must be more comfortable with weathering the storm.

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  11. I like how you some hat pointed it out in the beginning, and as I was reading through this part of the chapter I was also thinking about it, and that is free will vs being predestined, and something that you shared with me last semester is like in the context of school where freshman come in and they are scared to death, lying in bed shivering because they are so scared that they don’t have any free will and God is going to make their lives crazy, and then by the time that they are in there sophomore or junior year they are all sleeping nicely in their beds because they have realized that God is God, and his plans are always good. that is what is happening in this part of the chapter. The people are realizing that God is good and he is in control no matter what.

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  12. The followers of Jesus faced many sufferings and persecutions. The church leaders were very opposed to the message that they were spreading and were attempting to silence them. Jipp says, “Israel’s temple leaders and many of the people have murdered the Messiah and continue to reject the offer of salvation through his witnesses” (59). Not only had these leaders rejected Jesus Himself, but they were now rejecting His spirit (Long). Because of their harsh rejection they tried to keep the news of the Spirit under wraps. They imprisoned and threatened Peter and John for healing the sick and preaching the news of Jesus (Acts 4:1-21). Despite these threats and actions, the believers carried on. Instead of quieting down, they praised God (4:24). It was shocking to the church leaders who had hoped for silence. It shocks most readers of Acts as well. The readers see the hardship, pain, and suffering that is threatened, and it would make sense to them for the believers to grow silent. However, this is not what happened. They praised God and spread His word all the more. Why is this so surprising to readers today? Because anytime believers face confrontation or hardship they act attacked and offended. Instead of taking the opportunity to declare God all the more, they suggest that they are facing “war” and they are crippled by it (Long). The problem is that believers’ perspective of trials and persecution has shifted. Believers need to see the hardships they face as an opportunity to better themselves and to spread God’s love and message more. That is what the believers of the early church were doing. They were learning from the struggle, growing from it, and developing their faith in God. They did not care what was thrown at them, they were working for the kingdom of God and nothing was going to stop them. Modern day believers should take this as an example. They should not be soft when the confrontation comes; they should be strong in the Lord and proclaim Him all the more.

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  13. Changing the attitude of the modern Christian church is not easy. More accurately the western Christianity has lost this idea of rejoicing in suffering. This is something that I have not given much thought. After reading the blog discussing this idea of suffering for Christ I realized the church that I go to would not seem to be the type that would rejoice is something bad were to happen to the missionaries they support over seas. Naturally, when anything bad happens we feel empathetic, or sympathetic. Are reaction for those who suffer for Christ is immediately going to prayer and asking for protection. The more I think about this, it seems that the American church prays for safety in almost every prayer. The church responds properly by going to the Lord in prayer, but what is it that we ask for? Depending on what is being asked we get a glimpse at the heart of the American church. A large factor in this idea of rejoicing in suffering is the comfort level of the common American. Most individuals in America have all the basic needs met, along with their $28 dollar extra large mocha peppermint latte sugar free gluten free frappe. The point is that we are so used to comfort and Christianity that faith in Christ equals comfort. Scripture is clear Romans 8:17, 2 Cor. 1:7, Hebrews 11:25 all talk about suffering for Christ. The Christian walk is not easy or comfortable. Getting away from the idea of comfort is a start to returning to this heavenly mindset. In addition, bringing this up in conversation is important, because at times it has been a subconscious development that needs to be brought to the conscious mind.

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  14. It is intriguing that the early believers accepted suffering as something to be obtained for the sake of Christ because this seems to go against human nature. I can imagine that when the first martyr was made known, they would have had an immense fear for their own safety and wondered if it was worth it. In today’s society, we work extremely hard to be safe and comfortable all while claiming we are willing to suffer for the Gospel. Can you be comfortable and suffering at the same time? Matthew 16:24 is commonly used to encourage believers that suffering is necessary for our Christian walk. But what does it mean to suffer and still praise God? There has to be a difference between enduring suffering for a cause while saying the words of praise, versus be constantly encouraged and upheld because of your unwavering faith in Christ. I think a major advantage the early believers had was being eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus. It is easier to proclaim and stand firm in a belief or statement when you were there from the beginning ( Acts 4:10-11). The disciples saw Christ as the embodied God on earth, they were there for the burial AND the resurrection. I think what the current church needs is to take Acts 4:25-28 and stand in the eternal truth that God has promised us as his followers. When we put aside our fear of the flesh and focus on the spiritual truths, we will see the purpose behind the suffering.

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  15. I think one of the reasons why we don’t have this same attitude is because we don’t rely and trust as much as they did. In general, Christians today are comfortable with where they are at and with what they have. We don’t have the threat of persecution that these people did, and as a result, (whether consciously or not) we don’t think we have to depend on God as they did. This causes a different mindset, one of self-sufficiency. Because of this, when the threat of persecution arrives, we do not view it as from God, but as a threat to our comfort and lifestyle.

    Another reason why we don’t have the same attitude is our culture and mindset, and how we Christians conform to it. This is somewhat similar to my previous point, but we are generally materialistic today. We enjoy our possessions and our lifestyles, and we fear anything that threatens this. Persecution in the name of Christ would be one of these things.

    I think one of the ways to solve this issue is to change our mindset and our ultimate goals. Instead of trying to live a comfortable life, we should strive to live a life that brings honor and glory to God. Instead of trying to live by our own means, we should have a similar attitude as the believers described in Acts 2:45 – that we should give up what we have to God. Instead of viewing trouble and persecution with fear, as 1 Peter 4:12-14 puts it, we should glorify God because of it. In sum, we need to totally rely on God, not ourselves, and we should focus on serving Him and giving Him glory. This is how we can change our attitude on persecution.

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  16. The earliest followers of Christ saw that if the words of the gospel were being preached and shown to the world and that suffering went with it they gratefully bore the price. In the same manner, the passion of doing the will of God outweighed the hurt and pain of the moment compared to an eternal agony that those who didn’t know Christ would suffer. Today the Church has become silent in the fight of proclaiming the Word and helping those who are without God and victimized. God wants us to take the heat of suffering if we are doing it for him his honor and glory, not for our own justifications or self-righteousness. God opposes the pride, but give grace to those who humble themselves before him. (James 4:6). In this understanding, the Church has neglected its job to be outspoken and fear nothing other than the wrath of God. As Matthew 10:28 states, ” And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.”

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  17. The apostle’s response to the persecution brought upon them by the Pharisees and Sadducees is rooted in pure joy. A large part of their joy comes from the fact that they were expecting persecution. Jesus warned the disciples when he was with them of the suffering they were going to endure at the end of times. “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9). The apostles believed that this persecution was what Jesus spoke of. Therefore, the apostles rejoiced not only because they were worthy of persecution, but also because they believed they were nearing the end of times that was to go along with their persecution. American Christians, on the other hand, seemingly have no concept of the return of Christ or the truth of suffering for Christ. In many ways, we are too content with our lives here on earth to be focused on the glory of Christ’s return. In many ways, our trust is found not in Christ, but in our government and our money. Instead of counting it joy when we are persecuted, we call upon our government to defend our rights as citizens. Instead of being willing to give all of our possessions away for the work of Christ, we use the blessings God has given us to accumulate wealth for ourselves. We are blind to our failings. In order to return to the attitude of the early Christians, we must follow Jesus’ earliest instructions in our own lives. We must put our trust in him alone, not relying on our wealth or our government.

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