Overcoming Religious Persecution

Religious Persecution | Who would have thought that religious persecution would come to the shores of America? We know about persecution happening to all faiths in foreign lands, but on our soil? | #podcast #christianpodcastOvercoming Religious Persecution – Episode 94

Who would have thought that religious persecution would come to the shores of America? We know about persecution happening to all faiths in foreign lands, but on our soil? In this episode, we take a brief look at the persecution of the church in the first century and how our hope rests in Christ. He has Risen!

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When we read the scriptures after the death of Jesus we learn that the Jews who believed in Christ and ultimately were called, “Christians” were persecuted in ways we can’t even imagine. Religious persecution came in the form of abuse, verbal and physical. It came in the shunning of people, in crowds shouting, and so much more. Yet every time we read about the religious persecution we are given a sign of hope and reassurance that only comes from the Holy Spirit. While the church thrived in these early years it was in the midst of adversity.

When Christianity broke away from Judaism the religious and state authorities targeted these believers on both sides. Paul and Barnabas were expelled from Antioch in Pisidia and this was a form of religious persecution. You can read the full version in Acts 12:25-13:52.

Barnabas and Saul Are Sent Off On A Mission For God:

  1. Barnabas and Saul finished their mission and returned to Jerusalem
  2. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.
  3. After they fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Religious Persecution In Antioch:

  • On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and read from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.” 
  • Standing up, Paul read the Scriptures and then rebuked them.

As we know the people asked for a King and he gave them Saul from the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled for 40 years – and as we know the scriptures talk about how Saul and his failures and that of his sons – then David became King, and verse 22 states:

And it continues – Jesus brought us the message of salvation and the people of Jerusalem and their rules condemned him which was a fulfillment of the prophets – they had no crime to try him with – yet they crucified Him anyway.

The Answer to Religious Persecution: 

The answer to religious persecution is the example Paul and Barnabas gave us – they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. They were not angry or resentful, they did not fear and despair. Why? Because God was with them and in them.

We know that true joy – the kind that surpasses all understanding comes from the one true God!

The Romans did not offer their citizens religious liberties and Christians would be killed for rejecting the pagan faith of the Romans. And this is happening on our own shores today. If you want to stand up for your faith you will be persecuted. It has become more difficult to take a religious exemption for your beliefs.

Religious Persecution Today:

The liberties of Christians have been attacked worldwide, but now on our own shores. Turn on the news and you can hear this on a daily basis 24/7. If you are a conservative you are narrow-minded, bigoted or worse. Many Christian speakers have been run off of college campuses, they are not allowed to present an opposing view in a place where we should be able to express our differences. Political parties are at each other’s throats. Our rights to claim religious exemptions are being thwarted. Did you know that it is extremely difficult to get a religious exemption – but you can get a medical exemption?

But friends – we have hope! We should not worry or fear. Just like Paul and Barnabas whose lives were on the line, they trusted in the providence of God. John 10:28 – I give them eternal life and they shall never perish! That is what I pray for us.

Dear Lord – you gave us a wonderful example with the holy men and women who preached the good news. You promised not to abandon us, you promised to provide, you promised to give us eternal life. I am grateful Lord for your providence, for your protection and for your Word that remains with us in the Holy Scriptures. Thank you that we have The Bible to read, to learn from and to enjoy. I ask you, Lord, to protect our religious freedoms and our human rights – of the born and unborn. I ask you to watch over us – our families – and our friends. I ask you, Lord, to hear the prayers we pray today … please Lord provide for all we pray for, and I pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.

 

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