Persecuting Jesus’ Followers
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.”
Saul, who was later called Paul after his conversion, was a religious zealot. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a teacher and a keeper of the law, who was also a persecutor of Jesus’ followers. And why did he persecute them? It was because he didn’t accept that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the Christ that the Jews had been waiting for, and so he saw Jesus’ followers as blasphemers who were promoting a false religion.
Those who are following Jesus Christ with their lives today are facing a different kind of Saul, and it is not a singular individual but a rather large force against true Christianity. It is the market-driven and flesh-driven institutional church which is a creation of human beings and not of God, although it falsely calls itself “the church.” And it has sucked up much of the church in its claws.
These flesh-driven and market-driven “churches” are conglomerates of the state (the government), partnering with big business, the world, and the church. They are the body of Christ, in part, unequally yoked together with the ungodly, marketing the church to the world and appealing to human flesh. Their goal is to draw in large crowds of people from the world, so they pattern their “church” gatherings after the felt needs of the ungodly.
In order to draw in large crowds of people from the world they have also altered (adulterated) the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more acceptable to the ungodly and to worldly “Christians.” They have removed God’s requirements for repentance (forsaking sin, dying to sin), for submission to him as Lord (Master), and for walks of obedience to his commands.
Therefore, they are on an outright campaign to destroy the gospel of Jesus Christ and the true church, the body of Christ. So they have corrupted the gospel message and they are vilifying the true gospel and its messengers. So, if you are a true follower of Jesus who is still following the gospel as Jesus taught it then you will most likely face their rejection and be persecuted for your stand for truth and holiness and righteousness.
Outcasts for Jesus
We who are following Jesus Christ with undying devotion and who are living for him, and who are still teaching the true gospel, are now outcasts in “Christian” circles. For the vast majority of those professing faith in Jesus Christ have either fully embraced or have partially embraced this modern way of “doing church” and of teaching “the gospel.” So we are not welcome.
They may just kick us out or invite us out of their gatherings, and then they may have nothing to do with us after that, or they may verbally oppose us and attack us and accuse us falsely of teaching “works-based salvation” or of being “hyper-religious” or “self-righteous.” And they may turn others against us, too. Already their teachings are designed to reject us who are teaching what Jesus taught and what his NT apostles taught.
They have already manipulated the minds of most of their adherents who now think that talking about sin and calling people to repentance and to obedient faith in Jesus Christ is legalistic or it is harsh and unloving. For they have altered the gospel to make it to where all you have to do is make a profession of faith and you are guaranteed forgiveness of sins and heaven as your destiny while you continue in deliberate and habitual sin against God.
So, if we call out sin for what it is, and if we teach what the Scriptures teach, and we call people to repentance and obedience to the Lord, then we are being accused of being negative, or intolerant, or insensitive to people’s feelings, or mean, or hateful, or unkind and impolite. For we are not supposed to say anything which might offend anyone, but we are just supposed to talk like everyone is going to heaven and we’re all saved.
But if we don’t align ourselves with this modern way of “doing church” and with this altered gospel message, then most people who call themselves Christians will want nothing to do with us. For we do not fit into their model Christian they are promoting. We stick out like a sore thumb, which is what we are supposed to do, in reality. For we are to be separate (unlike, different) from the world for we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ.
Persecuting Jesus Christ
Acts 9:3-5 ESV
“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’”
Now, the thing of it is, if you are rejecting, ostracizing, and persecuting followers of Jesus because they are actually following the teachings of the Scriptures, and because they are walking not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, and because they are filling their God-given roles within the body of Christ, and because they are being the light of the world and the salt of the earth in taking the true gospel to the world, you are guilty of persecuting Jesus Christ.
You may not see it as that, for you have probably been conditioned to see them as “off” and thus to be discarded. But if you persecute the Lord’s messengers who are bringing you the teachings of God’s word, in context, and in truth, then you are literally persecuting Jesus Christ because you are coming against his messengers and you are opposing them, not on biblical grounds, but on the grounds of culture and human philosophy and tradition.
So, before you cast off and throw away a follower of Jesus who is sincerely following Jesus wholeheartedly, not in the flesh, but in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, examine your own heart. Seek the Lord. Search the Scriptures. Test what these servants of the Lord are saying against the Scriptures, in context, and see if what they are teaching is the truth and if what you are believing are lies and deceptions of clever enchanters who have fooled you.
For, I can assure you that the vast majority of professers of Jesus Christ here in America are not following the Jesus of the Scriptures, but a Jesus created in the minds of humans. They are not following the gospel of Jesus Christ but a gospel created in the minds of humans based on Scriptures taught out of context and twisted to say what they want them to say. And they are following a Christianity of human origin based on culture and human traditions and the sinful flesh of humans who still want their way.
So, don’t be a persecutor of Jesus Christ. Don’t oppose his work and his messages and his messengers. Test everything you hear and make sure your decisions are based solidly in the truths of Scripture taken in context. For you can’t build your doctrine around Scriptures removed from their context while ignoring the bulk of Scriptures you don’t want to hear because they confront you in your sin and they call you to change how you live.
On Zion’s Glorious Summit
By John Kent
On Zion’s glorious summit stood
A numerous host redeemed by blood!
They hymned their king in strains divine;
I heard the song and strove to join,
I heard the song and strove to join.
Here all who suffered sword or flame
For truth, or Jesus’ lovely name,
Shout victory now and hail the Lamb,
And bow before the great I AM,
And bow before the great I AM.
While everlasting ages roll,
Eternal love shall feast their soul,
And scenes of bliss, forever new,
Rise in succession to their view,
Rise in succession to their view.
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Who like me Thy praise should sing,
O Almighty King!
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Holy, holy, holy.
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