The early Church shows us how to live amid opposition to truth
Even with laws that should be protecting us, Christians are experiencing increased threats, accusations, and legal actions aimed at silencing our voices and disqualifying our message. Not only does it happen in the public square, but it has reached our own homes and neighborhoods. The price tag for our convictions has gone beyond just intimidation and criticism, to lives and liberties being destroyed by demon-fueled agendas.
How do believers respond to these threats? What kind of action do we take in such a volatile culture of hatred towards Christianity, the sanctity of life, and everything that is holy and pure?
The book of Acts details the experiences of the early disciples as they led the newly birthed Church in the midst of enemy occupation. Even as the Holy Spirit was being poured out in signs, wonders, and miracles, the public authorities, as well as the religious leaders of the day, were rising up against this new wave of passionate Christ followers. The example and testimony of these disciples should provoke us to greater boldness in our own quest for God’s truth to be known.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were taken before the city council to answer for their extreme religious views and controversial actions. In response, the Scripture says they lifted their voices together in prayer: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue 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 Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30 ESV)! As a result, Scripture says, “the place was shaken” and they were empowered with even greater boldness to speak. They didn’t wring their hands in desperation or call for a demonstration against those who accused them. They went right into worship and asked God to give them even more courage to declare His name.
In the next chapter, the apostles were subjected to severe flogging. But this wasn’t from the godless civic authorities. It was from the esteemed religious rulers of the day – the Sanhedrin. The highest religious court in the land which should have been supporting their testimony gave them a beating with orders to stop speaking the name of Jesus. Their response? They left the Sanhedrin “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41). Then they just kept on speaking.
In the face of such threats, the consistent response from the early disciples was to rejoice, pray, and continue declaring the good news. They did not ask for protection, but the boldness to say more. They had an unshakable faith in God’s promises and were convinced of His power to heal and deliver the broken culture around them. Even death threats would not stop their charge to tell the world about this higher Kingdom of love and power.
As they traveled from city to city to share the good news, they didn’t go to the governmental authorities to incite change. Instead, they went directly to the spiritual leaders in the region. Some of these leaders didn’t have a title, but they had influence. And an open heart. Aeneas (Acts 9:32-35), Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43), Cornelius (Acts 10:23-48), and Lydia (Acts 16:14-15) were all well-respected citizens in their communities. They were converted through the testimony of these disciples and, as a result, influenced their entire city for the Lord. It was clear to the disciples that the veil of deception gripping the land was the bitter fruit of unregenerate and spiritually blind leaders. They knew the only way to ultimately defeat the spiritual strongholds over cities and regions was to displace them with godly leaders who walked in the truth and power of God.
Even witchcraft could not stop the power of this gospel is preached. Samaria was a city held captive through the influence of Simon the sorcerer. When Philip came and boldly proclaimed the power and authority of Christ, it broke the spell and the entire city was set free (Acts 8:9-13). Believing in the power of God to utterly save and deliver even the most hardened opponent, these courageous leaders preached the Kingdom of God fearlessly and trusted Him to validate their message. As a result, even governmental authorities woke from their stupor and changed their minds (Acts 13:4-12).
Our human tendency, in the face of accusations, threats, and oppression is to fight back. Our godly zeal compels us to act. There is certainly a place for championing justice by engaging in civic affairs, confronting corruption, and reforming the laws of the land, But, we must always start from a Kingdom perspective that is victorious. We must remember the power and authority we have been given as believers, not to prove our case, but to prove His. He has given us the most powerful message of all time and heaven’s anointing to back it up. He is more than able to show Himself strong and mighty if we give Him the opportunity to use us.
Wanda Alger has been in ministry for over 35 years as a worship leader, teacher, author, deliverance counselor, and speaker. She has produced numerous video and audio teaching series and six books, including her latest, WORDS TO PRAY BY. She also hosts a YouTube and Rumble channel, and is active on social media. Find all her resources and writings at www.wandaalger.me She is married to Bobby Alger, Lead Pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Winchester, Virginia which they founded together in 1998.