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All in for Christ

One of the things I want you to see in the book of Acts is that historically the church thrives under persecution. An effective church is a courageous church, and a courageous church is one that has often gone through suffering. From the first day the church was founded in the upper room (Acts 2), it faced persecution. Sometimes persecution comes from organized religion, sometimes it comes from jealousy, and sometimes like here in Ephesus it comes from Satanic opposition. I cannot overemphasize the point that this battle rages within Bible-believing churches because Satan does not want to see the gospel go forward and make a difference for God. He energizes hatred and opposition to everything that God says is right. In Acts 19 we are introduced to a man named Demetrius who had a lucrative career fashioning silver statues of their goddess, Artemis. Demetrius saw the impact Paul's message was having in the city and was enraged. He had heard Paul say, "gods that are made with hands are no gods at all." He didn’t object to Paul’s message on religious grounds. He didn’t even object to God’s existence, or try to defend Artemis – he saw economic disaster coming for the city itself if people stopped coming to worship Artemis because a considerable number of people were turning to the truth. In effect, he was forced to admit that the gospel was successful. When I read this, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul" (Mark 8:36). Hell will be filled with people who loved and prioritized money (materialism) more than God. Paul’s ministry and these events had infuriated the enemy and undermined the economy of Ephesus – which caused, “no small disturbance!” The fact of the matter is that the first-century Church faced unbelievable trials and persecutions. The type of people who walked with Jesus in that time were, by definition, sold out to Christ and His gospel. They had to be! I really hope that all of us are walking with Jesus in such a way that you could pick us up, drop us in the first century, and we would not miss a beat. But is that so? Do we have the courage and grit and determination it would have required to stand in the intense challenges of the first century and preach Christ? Do we believe that we could win so much of our community to Jesus Christ that it would literally change the landscape of where we live? Never forget, one person can make a difference! Press On, Pastor Brian Richard


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