The Truth in Boldness
I Will Build My Church: Luke & Acts Series • Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 44:59
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In a Year Operation Mobilization stats…
In a Year Operation Mobilization stats…
(from October 31, 2017 to November 1, 2018) In the top 50 World Watch List countries alone...
245 Million: Christians in the world experience high levels of persecution for their choice to follow Christ.
1 in 9: Christians worldwide experience high levels of persecution
14%: The rise in the number of Christians who experience high levels of persecution. (from the 2018 reporting period to 2019’s)
4,136: Christians killed for faith-related reasons
2,625: Christians detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned
11: countries scoring in the “extreme” level for their persecution of Christians. Five years ago, North Korea was the only one.
105: churches attacked, burned or vandalized each month
11: Christians killed every day for their faith
Switch to Wurmbrand Slide
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand was an evangelical minister who endured 14 years of Communist imprisonment and torture in his homeland of Romania. He is widely recognized there as one of the country’s greatest Christian leaders, authors and educators.
In 1945, when the Communists seized Romania and attempted to take control of the churches, Pastor Wurmbrand began an effective, vigorous “underground” ministry to oppressed believers as well as to the Russian soldiers occupying his country. He was arrested in 1948, along with his wife, Sabina, who was imprisoned as a slave-laborer for three years. Pastor Wurmbrand spent three years in solitary confinement, seeing no one but his Communist torturers. He was then transferred to a group cell, where the torture continued for five more years.
After more than eight years in prison, Richard Wurmbrand was released, immediately resuming his work with the underground church. A couple of years later, in 1959, he was re-arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Pastor Wurmbrand was released through a general amnesty in 1964, again resuming his underground ministry.
A group of Christians in Norway, realizing the probability and danger of a third imprisonment, negotiated his family’s emigration from Romania with the Communist authorities… Voice Of the Martyrs was later founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand.
What causes a man to have that kind of boldness and passion for the gospel of Christ??? I believe our scriptures today give us a clear answer...
The sermon we are looking at today takes place almost 2 years after the beginning of the church...
Last week we began to see the persecution that was beginning to take place towards the followers of “the way” or Jesus Christ
Interestingly the persecution was increasing… so the church had a prayer meeting!
We would pray that the persecution would stop BUT...
Acts 4:29 shares with us thier prayer...
“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence,
WOW! What an amazing passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ
Through this persecution the church continues to GROW!
The apostles set in place deacons to minister to the peoples needs while they focus on teaching and prayer!
One of these men is named Stephen
A man full of Faith and the Holy Spirit, full of grace and power...
Boldly and confidently declaring the message of Christ
Opposition was growing, consequences were severe for the church yet we see God answering the prayer of His church...
Blasphemy against God and Moses (law)
Speaking against the Temple and Law
Jesus will destroy this temple
Alter customs handed down by Moses
When we speak truth the world attacks with lies, twisting the truth ton their gain...
All those on the council gazed at him, and it says his face was like an angel… An Angel: like one who stands in the presence of God!
“When we stand before God justified by Christ, we have no need to fear any man we may be called to stand before” ~Jed Johnston
Stephen gives his speech boldly and confidently before his accusers and delivers a beautiful panorama of the Jewish history… the one who stands accused is NOT on the defense here rather he takes up the offense as he preaches truth! Acts 7:1-60
This is the longest discourse in Acts… yet it is powerful, concise, crucial, and a great reminder...
The high priest said, “Are these things so?” And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ “Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. “But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him. “But God spoke to this effect, that his descendants would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. “ ‘And whatever nation to which they will be in bondage I Myself will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they will come out and serve Me in this place.’ “And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household. “Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. “But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. “On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. “Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all. “And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. “From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. “But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. “It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. “It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. “And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. “But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. “And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. “And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. “On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ “But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us? ‘You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ “At this remark, Moses fled and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. “When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. “But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’ “This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. “This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. “This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.’ “This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. “Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us; for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we do not know what happened to him.’ “At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. “But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel? ‘You also took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rompha, the images which you made to worship. I also will remove you beyond Babylon.’ “Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. “And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. “David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. “But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. “However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, And earth is the footstool of My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord, ‘Or what place is there for My repose? ‘Was it not My hand which made all these things?’ “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
Application of Stephen’s Sermon
Application of Stephen’s Sermon
Those who have a wrong view of God
Have you tried to confine Him to your ideas to a place or time
Have you been rejecting Him, the truth He has been desperately trying to show you
Have you covered your ears to the truth
Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit
Are you praying for a boldness and confidence OR asking God to make life easy
Is there a passion for the TRUTH of Jesus Christ
What is your heart to those who hurt you...
Can you forgive them?
There was one who heard this forgiveness there… His name was Saul Acts 8:1-2
Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.
Initially: nothing seemed to come from this forgiveness other than the gospel spreading BUT GOD would work in this man Saul who we would come to know and love a The Apostle Paul!
Maybe you are saying in your heart… “I cant forgive” or “Pastor you have no idea” … But God does and He can work in your heart.
Dale Rhoton, one of the founders of Operation Mobilization recalled this story about Pastor Wurmbrand…
During one visit, I was with them in their home as they were talking in Romanian. I do not understand one word of Romanian, but I could tell they were talking about a person. “Who is this person you are talking about?” I asked. “That is the man who betrayed Richard, and because of him Richard was put in prison,” replied his wife, Sabina. Some hours later Richard said, “Dale, let’s take a walk.” As we were walking, a man crossed the street and came over to us. In Romanian style, Pastor Wurmbrand and this man hugged and kissed, and then he introduced us. The man left, and Richard and I resumed our walk. “That is interesting,” I said to Pastor Wurmbrand. “That man has the same name as the man who betrayed you.” Without blinking an eye he said, “Dale, we all make mistakes.”
Wurmbrand, R. (2017). Tortured for christ: 50th anniversary edition. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook.
How will you allow the Holy Spirit to have power in your life and give you a confidence in the face of persecution and hurt???