Monday, September 29, 2008

John Piper: How God can use persecution

Text: Acts 7:55–8:8
  • Illustration: Piper tells the story of a Bulgarian pastor thrown in jail. The pastor later declared that he had a more fruitful ministry there than he could have expected in the church.
  • We can find encouraging truths in a biblical account of church persecution.
Encouraging Truth #1 is that God makes persecution serve the Great Commission.
  • Persecution launches the church into outreach.
  • By contrast, comfort, ease, and security cause spiritual stagnation.
    • Illustration: Piper cites a recent study showing that the poorest give more than the wealthiest. Hard times beget more resources than easy times, because easiness anesthetizes.
Encouraging Truth #2 is that trouble for the sake of truth brings honor.
  • Illustration: Piper imagines a dialogue among Jerusalem church members incensed that Stephen's caustic speech has caused persecution.
  • Stephen's speech brought persecution upon the church; nevertheless, Luke honored him, along with all devout people.
  • The devout will honor you, too, when your faithfulness to God brings trouble for yourself and other Christians.
Encouraging Truth #3 is that sometimes our worst enemies become our best friends.
  • First, Saul ravaged the church; later, he led it. If Saul can get saved, then anybody can get saved!
  • Acts 9:1–19
    • Illustration: Piper tells of a parishioner praying for an enemy who seems beyond hope.
Encouraging Truth #4 is that persecution brings joy.
  • Persecution brings joy because it causes the preaching of "good news."
  • Persecution brings joy because it moves us to embrace Christ, our eternal source of joy.
To see an transcript of Piper's sermon, click here.

No comments: