We are teaching through Acts in our church family and been breaking Acts into sections:
Acts 1-3: The Church Begins
Acts 4-7: The Church Persecuted
Acts 8-10: The Church Scatters
Acts 11-17: The Church Specific
In Acts 11-17 we see specific characteristics of the local church, and on Sunday we looked at Acts 12 to see Persecution is a specific characteristic of the local church. We see persecution in Acts 4, Acts 7, and Acts 12. But, we also see Christians being fed to lions and the Roman Emperor Nero dipping Christians in tar and lighting them on fire at his evening parties.
But, it didn’t stop there. In the 500’s there were over 20,000 Christians killed for their faith in Yemen. In 1500 people were imprisoned and burned alive for reading their bible in public. In the 1700’s the French Revolution tried to remove Christianity from their culture by deporting clergy, destroying churches, and outlawing public worship.
Even today we see over 300 Christians killed every month, over 200 churches closed or destroyed every month, and over 700 violent crimes committed against Christians every month.
It is a constant reminder that persecution is a characteristic of the local church, and in Acts 12 we see no matter how bleak it might look the God of Scripture cannot be stopped.