"Persecution and Providence" - Dr. Gary Cass
February 20, 2022 Preacher: Gary Cass Series: Acts
Topic: Providence, God's Sovereignty, Persecution Passage: Acts 7:54– 8:3
PERSECUTION AND PROVIDENCE
Infusion Church / 2-20-22
It is estimated 8 to9 thousand believers are martyred each and every year around the world
I. GOD THE SON ARISES
Vss. 54-57; Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him.
Heb 4:12; For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
God’s people long for God’s Truth, not pandering and pablum.
John Adams: Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Does your heart tremble at the fact that God is just?
LUTHER: The Gospel proves to be the ultimate provocation of the ungodly because it calls the proud to abandon their most prized possession -- their own self-righteousness.
Vs. 55: But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
John 20:29; Jesus said to him [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Rev. 4:4-6; He who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
The glorious title of Jesus as “Son of Man.” was Christ’s favorite self-designation.
Jesus is referred to as the Son of Man 88 times in the NT.
Creed of Chalcedon: We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin;
Christ’s divinity is also clearly asserted in relationship to title Son of Man.
Matt 9:6; But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
Mark 2:24,27,28; And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”… 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mat 26:64; “I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Daniel 7:13–14; “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
There are 16 NT references to Jesus or the Son of Man and God’s right hand.
John 5:27; And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
2 Tim 4:16; At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me,
Vs.57; But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him.
II. THE GRACE OF DYING WELL
7:58-8:1a: Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 1a And Saul approved of his execution.
Stephen committed His soul to God, reverently lays down his life and surrenders his spirit to Christ.
We are to love our enemies even when they are guilty of the worst of sin against us.
Phil 1:21,23,24: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain… 23 … My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
The victory and sting of death is gone, vacated by Christ’s triumph over His tomb.
Rev 2:10: Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Stephen, whose name means wreath or crown, will have the honor to be the first of many who will have the honor to wear the martyr’s crown.
I Cor 9:25&26: Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly;
James 4:4; … whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
III. A KINGDOM DIASPORA
8:1b-3; 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. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
PS 68:1: God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!
Saul thought he was fixing the problem by persecuting the church, but the enemies of God always end up furthering His purposes.
Matthew 10:23; When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Isaiah 52:7; How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
2 Cor 5:20; Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
More in Acts
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March 27, 2022"Marks of True Conversion" - Dr. Gary Cass
March 20, 2022"Christ's Mission to the Nations" - Dr. Gary Cass