God can Save Even the Worst of the Worst

Acts 8:1-3 ESV

“And Saul approved of his execution.

“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.”

Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul, approved of the execution of Stephen. And Stephen was a man of God, full of the Holy Spirit, who spoke the truths of God to the people, and he was a true servant of the Lord. And after Stephen was murdered there arose a great persecution against the church, and the Christians were scattered. And Saul was ravaging the church and putting people in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ and for following Jesus Christ with their lives.

And the true church throughout the world is still under persecution, for it is made up of true followers of Jesus Christ who love the Lord, and who desire after him and his will for their lives. And many of them are spreading the truth of the gospel of our salvation to the people of the world. And so they are being persecuted by those who do not want to hear the truth of the gospel. And many don’t even want to hear anything about Jesus Christ, for even his name offends them.

Now, here in America, the name of Jesus is not so offensive, because so many preachers and so many movies and TV dramas are portraying Jesus Christ in a very common way that makes him more like us in many respects. And so their characterization of Jesus doesn’t offend, because it is not fully his true character they are portraying, but an altered and diluted character that is more appealing to human flesh and to the people of the world. And so they are also diluting and altering the message of the gospel.

But that doesn’t mean that Christians aren’t being persecuted in America. Some of us are, if we are serious about our walks of faith, and if we are serious about holy living and godliness and moral purity and obedience to our Lord and to his commands (New Covenant). And we are being persecuted if what we are teaching is the full gospel message (the whole counsel of God) and not the diluted half-truth gospel that so many are passing off as the true gospel today.

Acts 9:1-2 ESV

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

Now, Jesus Christ said that if we follow him with our lives that we are going to be hated and persecuted as he was. So, it should not surprise us when other people, even religious people, end up hating, rejecting, casting off, lying about, and otherwise mistreating us. So we shouldn’t let it unsettle us when it does take place. And we are not to be afraid of being persecuted, either. But we are to consider ourselves blessed to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death and resurrection.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Jn 17:14; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Jn 3:13; Rev 6:9-11; Rev 7:9-17; Rev 11:1-3; Rev 12:17; Rev 13:1-18; Rev 14:1-13]

Acts 26:13-18 ESV

“At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

And now this is very encouraging! Not all persecutors of the faith remain that way. For God can save even the worst of the worst. God’s power can transform a murderer of Christians into a Christian himself, and as one who then became the target of persecution for his walk of faith. No one is so far gone that our Lord can’t save him. So rather than fearing our persecutors, we should be praying for their salvation. And how we respond to persecution sets and example before them as to what a true follower of Christ is like.

But not only did the Lord take a murderer of Christians and turn him into a Christian, but he made him a preacher of the same gospel that he once opposed and fought against. And he ended up writing most of our New Testament. And that is awesome! So don’t ever give up hope for anyone to be saved who is presently opposing the truth of the gospel.

Now, speaking of the gospel, this testimony of Saul’s (Paul’s) conversion also gives us the gospel message. For the Lord Jesus sent him to open the spiritual eyes of the spiritually blind, so that they may turn from darkness (sin, wickedness) to light (truth, righteousness), and from the power (control, rule) of Satan to the power and rule and dominion of God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. So this is about repentance and it is about obedience to our Lord, and it is about forgiveness and salvation from our slavery to sin so that we can now walk in righteousness and holiness.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: We’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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