"But the high priest rose up and all who were his supporters, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and being filled with jealousy and indignation and rage, they seized and arrested the apostles (special messengers) and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and, leading them out, said, 'Go, take your stand in the temple courts and declare to the people the whole doctrine concerning this Life (the eternal life which Christ revealed).'" (Acts 5:17-20, AMP)
The Bible reveals several accounts of persecution for the faith in both the Old and New Testaments. Persecutions against nations yes, however moreover, persecution towards individuals in particular. This regular occurrence of persecution came by way of not only the non-believers, but from the believing church.
The prophets were often persecuted because of their faith in God and their radical obedience to do His will. The twelve disciples were persecuted for taking a stand for the Lord (Matthew 5:11). Jesus himself suffered great persecution from the religious leaders of His day (John 5:16).
Persecution involves a type of harassment that is intended to inflict intense torment. Believers must be wise in discerning the true source of persecution and the motives that evoke it.
Peter's ministry attracted a lot of people. The Sadducees were controlled by jealousy that was fueled both by the apostles' popularity and by their own fears. Thus, they decided they must take action to stop the activity of Peter's ministry. The religious leaders tried to silence the apostles by arresting them and imprisoning them. However, not even the ironclad gates of the prison doors could keep the apostles down. The Lord opened the prison gates and commanded them to continue preaching the good news to all the people. How many of you know that when God is in the midst, no prison doors can keep you down. In Christ, not even death can keep you down!
This is the ultimate blessing that can be experienced in the midst of persecution, because God does not forsake the Christian facing persecution for the Kingdom's sake.
Christina is the founder of Relentless Love Ministries and lives in Linton. She is an active speaker, guest lecturer, and published author. For more information, questions, or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org .