Embracing persecution for the sake of the gospel is Christianity 101. How did Paul and Barnabas minister to fledgling churches? “They returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 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” (Acts 14.21–22″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Acts 14:21–22). It is a sobering word, but not a cause for despair.
Arrest and Advance, Together
To say we will suffer opposition is not to say that the spread of the gospel will be stymied. In fact, what we learn from Peter and John in Acts 4.3–4″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Acts 4:3–4, and from the life of the apostle Paul, and from Jesus himself, is that arrest and advance go together in God’s invincible story.
The same is true today, and will be tomorrow. We will find that our newfound opposition and affliction, while being difficult and painful, is a good and fruitful phenomena. It will be more and more like the first century, when the gospel was attacked on every side and spread like wildfire.
Paul describes this powerfully from a prison cell in Rome. Look for the irony.