Life for evangelical Christ-followers will in all likelihood become much worse. A Christ-follower who adheres to biblical morality with respect to the LGBTQ agenda and with respect to abortion can expect sever push back. The same can be expected for Christ-followers who take a stand for the doctrine of solus Christus – salvation is through Christ alone. In order to withstand the storm, Christ-followers can put into practice the advice provided by Acts 14:21-22 (ESV), which reads:
21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
Paul and Barnabus displayed extreme courage to return to those cities in which they suffered great persecution. These courageous men did three things for those 1st Century believers that can help 21st Century Christ-followers.
First, they were “strengthening the souls of the disciples.” This phrase can mean “caused the believers to believe more firmly” or “caused those who believed in Jesus to be strong in their faith.” See Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A. (1972). A handbook on the Acts of the Apostles. New York: United Bible Societies. To brace for the upcoming persecution, 21st Century Christ-followers can dive deep into God’s Word to mature their faith in Jesus. This will strengthen their resolve to stand firm in the face of persecution.
Second, Paul and Barnabus were “encouraging them [the disciples] to continue in the faith.” This phrase can mean “to remain faithful to what they had believed” or “to continue true in their trust in Jesus.” See Newman et al. 21st Century Christ-followers can gain encouragement to remain faithful to Jesus Christ by looking at the example of courage by Paul and Barnabus, as well as by many martyrs down through the ages, and especially in the 21st Century. We need to imitate those courageous Christians who are “sold out” to Jesus Christ.
Third, they were saying “that through many tribulations we [the disciples] must enter the kingdom of God.” This phrase could mean “All who believe must pass through many troubles in this life in order to enter the Kingdom of God in the age to come.” See Newman et al. 21st Century Christ-followers should not think that it will be any different for us than it wa for 1st Century believers. Persecutions and troubles will come that will manifest themselves in physical, mental, emotional, and financial ways and events. These are not matter of “if,” but of “when.” Let’s not be surprised when these kinds of things begin to happen with more frequency.
In conclusion, 21st Century Christ-followers can prepare for persecution by realizing that persecution and hardships will come without exception. It is mandatory that Christ-followers (1) become students of the Word and (2) gain encouragement by looking to the earlier saints as examples of courageous perseverance.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day. Acts 14 is one chapter in the reading plan for Day 154.
If you are an unbeliever, the bad news is that the Bible says that your destiny is hell. But, the good news is that your eternal destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
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