In the book of Acts, we read a story about the apostles who were being persecuted by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem shortly after the resurrection of Christ. Peter and John were not only in trouble because they healed a crippled man in the name of Jesus in the Temple courts, but they were in more trouble because they used the opportunity to proclaim the gospel to all who would hear. Peter spoke very clearly, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith the comes through Him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see” (Acts 3.16). As a result, about 2000 people put their faith in Christ on that day.
The Jewish leaders arrested Peter and John and ordered them to speak no longer to anyone in the name of Jesus, which the apostles refused to do. Over the next few days, they were arrested again, jailed, liberated by an angel, imprisoned again, threatened again, flogged, and finally released. As a result of all of this hardship, the apostles left the place of flogging “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” of Jesus (Acts 5.41).
Something has happened in the last 2000 years. In the early church, suffering for Jesus caused the gospel to spread like wildfire, but in today’s church, we feel compelled to apologize on God’s behalf because of the problem of pain. The apostles rejoiced that they were worthy enough to suffer for Jesus, but we write books wondering why good people suffer. Has the gospel changed or has the church today lost something essential to the gospel?
On Sunday mornings, I have been preaching through Romans, and our study in Romans brings us to section of Scripture that speaks to what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ and how it is that we rejoice with the apostles when suffering comes our way (see Romans 8.17-39). Please be praying that God would prepare our hearts and minds to hear and receive His word.