Promises & Prophecies Which Must be Fulfilled --- John 12:23-28 (Lk. 6:40 (1 Jn. 2:6, Heb. 2:10, Acts 14:22), Jn. 7:6-7 (1 Jn. 3:1, 13, 1 Pet. 4:1), Jn. 12:35-36 (Matt. 5:14-16, Eph. 5:7-17, Heb. 13:12-13), Jn. 15:18-25 (1 Jn. 3:1, 1 Thess. 1:6, 2:1-4, 13-16, 2 Tim. 3:12)
Not just anybody can become a God-sent missionary, no! One must be chosen and sent by God Almighty in Spirit and truth, like the apostles, prophets, and evangelists of the New Testament. The Gospels and the Book of Acts - as one witness - entrusts to all Christians "The Instruction Manuel of Mission Work", the one and only. We have no other standard of normal "Christianity" or normal "Missions" except the testimony of inspired scripture. Let's be honest, what has our own methods and missions done for God or man? Very little in comparison to the testimony of scripture, this is for sure. God's Missions done God's way will never lack God's blessings! But are we prepared to walk in "God's way"?
The Book of Acts does historically and factually chronicle the missionary exploits of Christ-possessed men who turned the world upside down and suffered martyrdom, this we know... but what was the secret of the Early Church? Has the world changed? Has God's Missionary Method changed? Is all of this really relevant to 21st century Christians, "American Christians"? Should we really compare ourselves to apostolic missions? My reader, our example is Jesus Christ, the Living Lord, and the apostles commanded us to walk in their ways which were "in Christ". The real question is, has Christ changed?
Leonard Ravenhill made the right comparisons when he said, speaking of Christ, "And there's no room for Him [Christ] in the inn. He got a bit older, there was no room in His family, His family turned on Him. He went to the temple, no room in the temple, the temple turned on Him. And when He died there was no room to bury Him, He died outside of the city." What do Christ's sufferings have to do with 21st century "American Christians", according to Ravenhill? He went on to say, "Well why in God's Name do you [American Christians] expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it that the world couldn't get on with the holiest Man that ever lived and can get on with you and me? Are we compromised? Are we compromised? Have we no spiritual stature? Have we no righteousness that reflects on their corruption?" Ravenhill spoke the truth! No matter the century or generation, Satan hasn't changed, the world hasn't changed, and Jesus Christ hasn't changed ("the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" - Heb. 13:8) - that's the truth of the matter!
If we are ever going to see "Pentecostal Power" return to the Church, we must prepare our hearts to walk-out the biblical testimony of post-Pentecost persecution. Power was with the preaching and persecuted, not the popular. Martyrs must exist because of the capability and predictability of depravity.
My reader, think about what happened in Jerusalem! The disciples denied Christ, forsook Christ, and were scattered from Christ, and consequentially they were confused, overwhelmed, and depressed. Albeit with two moves of Christ's omnipotent hand, the City which killed Christ was turned to Christ! 8,000 souls were swept into the Kingdom and a good 15,000 to 40,000 (approximately) were utterly astonished with wonder at the 8,000 converts to Christianity who were transformed into New Creatures right in front of their eyes! In this circumstance, now, the Sanhedrin became confused, overwhelmed, and depressed! Slander did not hinder or overcome the witness of Christ and the Gospel, no! Slander and persecution did but provide a circumstance of evangelistic impossibility whereby the Lord Jesus converted people by the methods which He did always ordain, as Paul confessed, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4-5).
Slander did not pervert the Gospel witness, it established it! Therefore, is persecution localized to a certain race, language, or culture of humanity, or is it common among all depraved humanity in every century? Paul's missionary journeys do conclusively answer such a question. If Satan is the same, sinners are the same, and Christ is the same, the persecution that broke-out in Jerusalem will predictably break-out everywhere else when the same witness is manifest! The capability and predictability of depravity demonstrated in Jerusalem among the Jews, was repeated among the Gentiles when they encountered the ministry of Paul and Barnabas in all nations - Christ-conflicting-Depravity everywhere and in everyone, no exceptions!
Indeed there is a senselessness of satanic fury which works through depraved men in persecution of Gospel preaching… so what can be said? It is just sin. It is just hate. It is Satan's fury against Christ-in-men! Let us take heed therefore, brethren! Let us face the biblical facts! Persecution progresses alike in all depraved humans when and if a biblical witness is being manifest: Light – Moderate – Strong! This very same pattern is proven predictable in Paul's second and third missionary journeys (covered in part #2 of this series).
Look straight-on at the sober reality which Paul faced, my reader. He told Timothy in one of his last letters before his martyrdom, "This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes" (2 Tim. 1:15). How did it happen? Why would all of Asia forsake the primary instrument God used to plant Churches in that region? I entreat the reader to listen to the sermons and follow along in the scriptures so as to find out why. What did happen must happen, then and now... only may God open our eyes so that we will hear what His voice is speaking through inspired scripture. May God open our eyes to see "the signs of the times" which are upon us in this late hour. May God have mercy and wake up the sleeping virgins as it was prophesied in Matthew Chapter 25. May God raise up biblical Christians and biblical Churches who suffer with and glorify Christ in this our day.