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The Boldness of the Cross

Crucifixion

 

The Bible tells us throughout the New Testament that it is not easy being a Christian.

And it isn't getting any easier. Just ask Kevin and Crystal O'Connor of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana who had to temporarily close their business and were forced into hiding and attacked by their own state Senator for proclaiming their belief in Biblical marriage and their refusal to be compelled to participate in same-sex "marriages."

(We urge you to show your support for the O'Connor's proclamation of faith by going to GoFundMe page called “Support Memories Pizza” and making a donation.)

Christians are called to follow an almost unfollowable example; a man who, in defiance of all authority, preached the Gospel of God’s power, love and forgiveness. And who, as the Son of God, set aside his earthly power and allowed himself to be crucified to redeem a world of sinners.

Holding such beliefs at any time, but especially in pagan Rome or secular America is bound to draw the scrutiny of those in power because central to the Christian world view is the belief that secular rulers have no power over us – Caesar’s image may be on the coin, but God’s image is upon us.

Indeed, being a Christian is almost a guarantee that Christ’s opponents will use the power of the government to persecute you if you follow him.

So it was a near-Biblical circumstance this week that found Christians in Indiana and Arkansas facing persecution for asking government to protect them from being compelled to participate in same-sex “marriages” and other activities that are contrary to their religious convictions.

The cowardly and regrettable retreat of Governors Pence and Hutchinson in the face of pressure from the radical homosexual lobby is indicative of a problem we face throughout our culture, and especially in the conservative movement, and that is a lack of moral courage in the face of pressure from those who seek to destroy our culture, our rule of law, and our liberty – those things that have kept secure the God-given rights exercised by those who seek to make America weaker and less exceptional.

And it is not new to Christians.

In the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion the Apostles were at first frightened and disheartened and then amazed and inspired by his resurrection. And when they began to perform miracles in Jesus’ name they quickly drew the attention and wrath of the secular authorities.

Acts 4 tells us that after healing a cripple through the name of Jesus Christ Peter and John were arrested and hauled before the Council, who sought to intimidate them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Act 4:7-12 tells us:

When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,  if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed,  let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is

‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
 it has become the cornerstone.’

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Isn’t that the situation we believing Christians find ourselves in today?

Secular authorities want to deny the power of the Christian faith to heal broken bodies, broken lives, and yes, broken countries – and they threaten Christians with punishment if they proclaim that “there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4: 18-21 tells us that after the Council deliberated for a while they called Peter and John back “and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’  After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them…”

What happened in Indiana and Arkansas is an attempt by liberals to avoid a repeat of the circumstances that Acts 4 tells us allowed Peter and John to escape, at least for a time, the punishment secular authorities wish to mete out to those who unashamedly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wish to live their daily lives by its tenets.

Peter and John recognized that their escape was not the end, but the beginning of their persecution for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and Acts 4:29-31 tells us how they and we should respond to threats of persecution for proclaiming our beliefs:

“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant[l] Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.”

This Easter, as we reflect upon the sacrifice that Jesus made for us upon the Cross, and we recognize the persecution Christians face today in the Middle East, in China, and yes, right here in America, let us follow in the footsteps of Peter and John who, when faced with the threat of government persecution, did not flinch, but instead prayed for boldness to continue preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Obama said, "We are not a Christian Nation"! Based on the retreat of Governors Pence And Hutchinson I'm beginning to think he was correct!