Persecution Not Peace Is the Greatest Confirmation of Power & Presence

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ—the early church birthed on the day of Pentecost—as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-two verses of the fourth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the events which took place on the day of Pentecost taking a sudden and unexpected turn. It’s quite interesting and unique to read the words found within this passage of scripture—particularly and especially when you consider how the second and third chapters played out in the New Testament book of Acts. If you begin reading with and from the first verse in the second chapter you will find all those who were previously mentioned in the first chapter continuing to all be in one place and with one accord. Before you even come to that which is present and that which is found in the second chapter you will will learn that present in the upper room were a total of one-hundred and twenty souls. There in the upper room was not only the eleven remaining disciples, and not only certain women from their company, it I would also date state the two men whom Jesus met along the road to Emmaus were also present in that room. The beloved physician Luke writes and records how there were a total of one hundred and twenty souls and persons present in the upper room. What’s more, is that not only did he present us with the picture that there were one hundred and twenty souls there in the upper room, but he also presented us with the tremendous picture that they were all with one accord and gave themselves continually to prayer and supplication. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that from the time of Jesus’ ascension until the time the day of Pentecost had fully come there were a total of ten days. We dare not and cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for its one thing for such a number of people to be with one accord and in one place in prayer and supplication, but it’s another thing altogether when you consider the fact that this reality was in fact sustained by these one hundred and twenty souls for a period of almost ten days. Pause for a moment and think about what would Ana what could happen in our churches and in our Christian circles if we could sustain being with one accord, and if could sustain continuing in prayer and supplication. Pause and consider for a moment the tremendous and incredible reality that there is something truly remarkable and powerful about being with one accord and in one place, and to firmly commit yourself to prayer and supplication continually on a daily basis. It is no small thing for a group of this size to continue steadfastly in prayer and supplication for this period of time which led up to the events which took place on the day of Pentecost.

As you come to the second chapter of this New Testament book of Acts you will find that what we read about in the previous chapter was sustained and did in fact continue into the second chapter, and was even sustained through the day of Pentecost. The beloved physician Luke wrote how when the day of Pentecost had fully come the same one hundred and twenty which were mentioned in the previous chapter were still all with one accord and in one place. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words found and contained within the second chapter you will come face to face with and encounter the reality that when the day of Pentecost had fully come—not only did the Spirit manifest Himself and His presence in the midst of community, but the holy spiritual also manifested Himself in the midst of unity, as well as prayer. I firmly believe with all my heart that what we find in the second chapter was the continuation of the one hundred and twenty being with one accord and being in one place, and they were still given to much prayer and supplication. It is truly remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that by the time you come to the second chapter, and by the time you come to the day of Pentecost when it has fully come you will come face to face with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the midst of a people who were devoted and committed to prayer before and in the presence of the living God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to this awesome and incredible reality, for when the day of Pentecost had fully come the Holy Spirit was manifested in the midst of a praying people who had committed and dedicated themselves to one another, as well as to the living God. I would dare say that what we find in the first and second chapters of the book of Acts is not only a people devoted and committed to prayer, but of a people who were devoted and dedicated one to another. You don’t give yourself continually to prayer and being with one accord with others for as long a period of time as the one hundred and twenty did if you aren’t committed and devoted one to another. I am convinced this is the main and underlying reason why in the writings of the apostle Paul he continually wrote and spoke to the reality of the church committing themselves to unity, and even calling the church to commit themselves one to another. Oh there is something about committing yourself to prayer, and there is something to be said about committing yourself in unity and community with those around you, and to devote and commit yourself to others.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be gripped by the fact that when the day of Pentecost had fully come and when the Holy Spirit had descended upon and manifested Himself in the midst of the upper room, He did so in the midst of a praying people who were devoted and committed one to another. When the Holy Spirit did in fact come on the day of Pentecost, He came with a sound as of a mighty rushing wind, and with cloven tongues of fire which were disseminated upon each of the one hundred and twenty who were in the upper room. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the whole group of one hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room. I have to admit that I am absolutely fascinated with and by the fact that the physician Luke uses the word “all” when writing and speaking of those who were in the upper room, for there is not a doubt in my mind that when the events of the day of Pentecost came in all it’s fullness, there was not a single soul who was left out from the experience and encounter with the Spirit. I firmly believe that when the cloven tongues rested upon those who were in the upper room there was not a single soul who was left out and who did not experience the manifestation or being filled with the Spirit, as well as speaking with other tongues. There is something to be said about the manifestation and reality of the word “all,” for when all are involved and when all participate there is absolutely no one who is left out. We tend to forget that when all are present and all are actively involved in what is taking place in a corporate setting there is absolutely no room for anyone to be left out. When we think about and consider the events which took place on the day of Pentecost we must recognize and understand that the events which occurred and took place touched each and every soul that was present in the upper room. There is something truly astonishing and truly remarkable when you think about and consider the fact that when each and every soul that is present in the midst of the people of God are active participants and not simply spectators, there is absolutely no room for anyone to be left out, nor is there any room for anyone to stand on the outside and looking in. What I find to be so absolutely wonderful and incredible about that which takes place on the day of Pentecost is that each and every soul that was present within the upper room experienced the direct experience and encounter with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. I believe with all my heart that what we find and what we read in the opening verses of the second chapter of the book of Acts is a wonderful and powerful expression—not only of unity, but also of the wonderful work and manifestation of active participation in what God is doing among His people. When Jesus was preparing to ascend to the right hand of His Father He gave the disciples and followers one single command—namely you tarry in Jerusalem and to wait for the promise of the Father, which was the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. Oh how absolutely wonderful it is to find the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ—not only tarrying in the place or waiting, but also tarrying in the place of waiting and prayer.

The more I sit here this morning and think about and consider the events which took place on the day of Pentecost the more I can’t help but think about the absolutely wonderful reality that when the Holy Spirit came with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and when He parted cloven tongues of fire upon each of the one hundred and twenty who were in the upper room He manifested Himself and His presence on all who were present there in that upper room. Each and every one of the one hundred and twenty souls which were present in the upper room experienced the manifest person and presence of the Holy Spirit and there was a not a single person and/or individual who was left out. Pause for a moment and tell me when the last time was you were in a service or meeting and there was not a single soul left out from the experience and expression of the manifestation of the person and presence of the living God. When was the last time you entered into an assembly, or into a gathering and the manifest presence and person of the Holy Spirit of the living God and of His Christ was felt and experienced within that place, and there was not a single soul that was left out of that experience and encounter? I find it absolutely astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider the fact that there were one hundred and twenty and souls which were present in the upper room, and each and every one of those one hundred and twenty souls experienced the manifest person and presence of the Holy Spirit. When the day of Pentecost all the one hundred and twenty were with one accord and were in one place, and as the Holy Spirit was manifested among them in their midst each and every one of the souls which were present experienced the Holy Spirit in their own unique way. While I do firmly believe that there was an overall manifestation of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit, I also believe that there was an individual experience and encounter with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. What’s more, is that I would even dare suggest that when the cloven tongues of fire rested upon each of the one hundred and twenty which were present within the upper room there were no two tongues that were alike. What if when the cloven tongues of fire were manifested in the midst of the upper room were the tongues of the various nations, tribes, languages and peoples which were present in the world at that time? What if on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit parted one hundred and twenty different tongues with a different expression of the Holy Spirit and a different tongue resting upon the hearts and lives of those who were present in that room? What if when the Holy Spirit was manifested in the midst of the upper room the cloven tongues of fire that were part of the experience and encounter with the Spirit were an individual experience unique to each one who was present in the upper room, as they each spoke with a new and different tongue from that day forward? Oh I find it absolutely wonderful and incredible to think about and consider the awesome and incredible fact that when the Holy Spirit was manifested on the day of Pentecost, He was manifested in the midst of one hundred and twenty souls and they each experienced their own unique experience and expression of the Holy Spirit and speaking with other tongues.

As you continue reading the events which took place and occurred on the day of Pentecost you will find that there were those in Jerusalem who marveled and wondered at the events which were taking place, and there were those who doubted that which was taking place, while others mocked the one hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room accusing them of being drunk with new wine. It was in direct response to the mockery of the one hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room and the accusation that they were drunk with new wine that prompted the apostle Peter to stand up in the midst of all those which were present on that day in the midst of Jerusalem and emphatically and boldly speak unto them concerning that which took place on that day. It’s worth noting and mentioning that when the apostle Peter spoke unto the great crowd of people which stood and marveled and wondered at the events which took place on that day, he spoke unto them concerning a prophetic word which was prophesied generations and centuries earlier by the ancient Hebrew prophet Joel. When the apostle Peter sought to express and reveal that which was taking place on this particular day he did so by declaring unto them that what they were experiencing was the direct expression and manifestation of that which the ancient Hebrew prophet Joel prophesied and spoke about centuries earlier. As you read the words written and recorded within this passage of Scripture you will find it mentioned that what those in Jerusalem were witnessing and beholding on this particular day—this day fifty days after the death of Jesus the Christ, this event forty-seven days after the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and this event which took place ten days after the ascension of Jesus the Christ—was the beginning of the fulfillment of that which was prophesied and foretold by the ancient Hebrew prophet Joel. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words found and contained within this passage you will come face to face with the reality that what took place on the day of Pentecost was indeed and was in fact the beginning of the fulfillment of that which the prophet Joel spoke of during the days of the southern kingdom of Judah. With that being said, I have to admit that I do not believe for one minute that the events which took place on the day of Pentecost fully and completely fulfilled the prophetic word which Joel spoke about. The apostle Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit emphatically declared and proclaimed that the events which took place on this day were the fulfillment of that which the ancient Hebrew prophet Joel spoke and prophesied, yet there is a dual layer and dual level to that which the ancient prophet Joel prophesied and spoke about, for there was an initial fulfillment of the prophetic word of Joel on the day of Pentecost, however, the prophetic word of Joel continues to be fulfilled today, and have been fulfilled in the days every since Pentecost. Consider if you will the words which were spoken by the apostle Peter, yet were prophesied centuries earlier by the prophet Joel:

“But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my hand maidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vaopour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:16-21).

After declaring unto the great crowd and multitude of people which stood in amazement and wonder at the events which took place on the day of Pentecost that what they were beholding and witnessing was the fulfillment of the prophetic word spoken by Joel, and after speaking unto them concerning Jesus the Christ, the apostle Peter witnessed and observed as a great many of those present were pricked in their hearts and immediately asked what they ought to do. You will read the words found and recorded in this passage of Scripture and you will quickly discover that the apostle Peter would ultimately transition from the fulfillment of the prophetic word spoken by Joel to Jesus the Christ, and how although Jesus Christ of Nazareth was a man approve of God among them. By miracles and wonders and signs, He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God as He was taken by them and by wicked hands slain and crucified. The apostle Peter brought the reality of what took place on the day of Pentecost to the person of Jesus the Christ, and how because God raised Jesus Christ whom they crucified on the third day, and because God exalted and glorified Jesus the Christ upon His ascension unto the right hand of all power, Jesus has become and been made Lord. What’s more, is that it was from that place of exaltation, that place of honor, and that place of glory that the Father was able to send and release the promise of the Holy Spirit which was sent by Jesus the Christ upon His disciples and followers. On the day of Pentecost all those who heard the words of the apostle Peter were pricked in their hearts and asked what they ought to do. Immediately the apostle Peter instructed and admonished them to repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and there were a total of three thousand souls who repented and were baptized on this particular day. Think about and consider the fact that on the very first day the church and body of Christ was established and birthed in the midst of the earth three thousand souls repented and were baptized. What I find to be absolutely incredible when thinking about and considering that which took place on the day of Pentecost is that not only were three thousand souls baptized and added to the number of the one hundred and twenty-and not only did the Lord add to their number daily such as should be saved, but there is also something else the beloved physician Luke writes and records concerning that which took place on that day—and not only on that day, but also from that day forward. In verses forty-two through forty-seven you will find the following words which were written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke:

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon ever soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking of bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:42-47).

When we come to the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the entire number of those which were added to the early church on the day of Pentecost continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, continued in the breaking of bread, as well as in prayers. What’s more, is that all those who believed were together and had all things common, as well as sold their possession and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need. Furthermore, we find and read that all those who were present on the day of Pentecost and were added to the church continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. This is the context that sets the stage for what we find and what we read in the third chapter, for on the heels of this unity, and on the heels of this community we find the apostles Peter and John heading up to the Temple at the ninth hour to pray and give themselves in supplications before the living God. It would be six hours after the events which took place earlier on in that day that the apostle Peter and John came upon a man who was lame from birth sitting at the gate of the Temple—sitting at the gate of the Temple outside the courts of the Lord unable to enter in, and begging and asking for alms. I previously wrote concerning this reality, and what a tremendous tragedy it is that this man was left outside the courts of the Temple of the living God in the city of Jerusalem, and was forced to sit at the gate asking and begging for alms. What’s more, is that I wrote concerning this man and how there was in fact a dilemmas that was found at the gate of the Temple, for when men and women would walk up to the Temple in order that they might worship the living God with and through prayers, supplications, tithes, offerings and gifts, they would undoubtedly see and behold this man. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many men and women passed by this man on a continual and daily basis, and how many men and women would make their way unto the courts of the Lord in order that they might worship Him with prayer, supplications, gifts and offerings, and how many of them had absolutely no room in their routine of prayer and worship to minister to the needs of one whom they encountered on a daily basis. Oh, this actually brings me face to face with the reality of our own daily routine, and those souls whom we encounter on a daily and continual basis. The beloved physician Luke wrote and recorded how this man was laid at the gate of the Temple daily, and there is not a doubt in my mind that even devout Levites, even devout priests, and even devout Jews would walk and pass by this man and would pay him no mind or attention because they could and would not allow any room in their routine of worship and prayer for interruption and distraction. With that being said, I would dare say there is something to be said about being so incredibly engrossed and engrained in your routine—even in your routine of worship and prayer—that you have absolutely no room and no place for the interruption and distractions of the needs of those who are present before and all around you. There is something to be said about being so caught up and consumed in your own routine of prayer and worship—even your routine of going up to the house of the Lord—that you have absolutely no capacity, nor any context for the needs of others to interrupt and disrupt your routine.

What we find in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is the apostle Peter and John coming upon this man, and the apostle Peter looking steadfastly upon this man and fixing his gaze upon him. Unwilling to ignore and unwilling to simply pass by this man, the apostle Peter took note of him, and paid attention to him—something this man was not used to at all. What’s more, is the apostle Peter instructed this man to look at him, and upon hearing this the man thought and assumed that Peter and John would have given him something. The apostle Peter declared unto this man that silver and gold he did not have, however, what he did have he offered freely unto him. The apostle Peter would then instruct and command this man in the name of Jesus of Nazareth to rise up and walk. What followed next was the apostle Peter taking this man by the right hand, lifting him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones were strengthen them, and he leaped up and stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping and praising God. Pause for a moment and consider this reality—the reality that this man had spent his whole life lame and unable to walk, and a considerable amount of time watching as others walked into the courts of the Temple, and unto the house of the living God, while he himself was left out—not only as a spectator and causal observer, but also as one who was begging and asking for alms. On this day, however—this day of Pentecost—this man would receive something far greater than silver and gold, for this man would be miraculously healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and would not only walk into the Temple of the living God praising Him with everything he had in him, but he also went up into the temple of the living God leaping for joy. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for this man as after spending his entire life lame and unable to walk, and after daily being laid at the gate of the Temple asking and begging for alms, he was now able to walk into the Temple worshipping and praising the living God. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how long and how often this man longed to walk into the Temple, yet never once thinking and believing within his heart that it would and could be possible. How often and how many times had this man had somewhat of a desire to walk into the temple of the living God, and yet almost as quickly as that thought entered into his mind doubt and reality entered and set in, as this man would come back to the reality that he was lame, and had been lame his entire life. What I so love about this reality, is that I am convinced that what we find and what we read in the third chapter of the book of Acts is very much linked to that which we find in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, for it’s in the new Testament gospel of John we find Jesus and the disciples departing from the temple, and upon departing from the Temple coming upon a man who was blind from birth and was laid outside the courts of the Temple asking for alms and begging of others. Oh that we would read the words which are found within this third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and would consider it in light of that which Jesus did and performed in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John. In fact, before we get into the events which took place in the fourth chapter of the book of Acts, let us turn and direct our attention to that which we find in the ninth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John:

“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not” (John 9:1-12).

By the time you come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the events which took place at the gate of the Temple reaching the ears of the priests, the captain of the Temple, the Sadducees, and others in leadership during those days. When you come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the entire religious system upset and grieved with and by the events which were taking place on this particular day, for the apostles taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. What’s more, is that in the fourth chapter of this book of Acts you will find that the religious leaders of this day laid hands on the apostles, and put them in hold until the next day. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many hours we are removed from the events which occurred on the day of Pentecost, and when the events which took place in the fourth chapter actually occurred. We know and understand from the beginning and opening of the third chapter that it was the ninth hour when the apostles Peter and John went up to the Temple of the living God to pray, and what we find in the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is the entire religious community and system being grieved at the fact that the disciples not only taught the people, but also that they preached through Jesus Christ the resurrection from the dead. Undoubtedly preaching through Jesus the resurrection of the dead would have upset the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection to begin with. Preaching through Jesus the resurrection of the dead would also have upset the Pharisees and religious system during that day, for if you read the words which the apostle Peter spoke in the second chapter, as well as the words which he spoke in the third chapter, and even in the fourth chapter, you will find him emphatically and boldly declaring unto all those present that this Jesus of Nazareth was delivered up by them and was handed over into the hands of wicked man that He might be crucified. In three different chapters within the first four chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Peter not only speaking concerning Christ, but also speaking and declaring concerning Christ of Nazareth that He was handed over by the Jews and the religious leaders themselves to be crucified and put to death by the hands of wicked and sinful men. On three different occasions—in response to the events which took place on the day of Pentecost, in response to the man lame from birth being healed, and even in response to the words which were spoken by the religious system and community—the apostle Peter brought it back to the place where the Jews and the religious system handed Jesus over into the hands of wicked and sinful men, and how they crucified and put Him to death. Oh that we would recognize and understand this absolutely incredible reality, and how the apostle Peter not only preached Jesus the Christ on each of these three occasions, but how He also preached concerning Christ of Nazareth that He was handed over into the hands of sinful men by His own people—by the Jews, as well as the religious leaders and system of that day.

Perhaps what intrigues me the most about what we find and read in the fourth chapter is that it is in this chapter where we begin to see that although the Holy Spirit was released and manifested in the second chapter, although three thousand souls were added to the one-hundred and twenty, and although a man lame from birth was healed, the freedom and peace that seemed to be felt early on would not last. In all reality, I would dare say that the relative peace and freedom the disciples and early church experienced in the early days of the church would not last, for there would come the moment of truth when opposition would begin to manifest itself, and would begin to oppose the disciples, their teaching, and the ministry which was ordained and appointed unto them. Eventually and ultimately there would come the time when the disciples would face and experience opposition within the city of Jerusalem, and it’s worth noting and pointing out that the opposition would not immediately come from the Jews, but would come from the religious leaders and religious system of that day. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus the Christ spoke while He was still present among the disciples on the earth—first in the Sermon on the Mount, next in the Olivet Discourse, and also in the words which He spoke on the night in which He was betrayed. Consider if you will the words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ which are found in the New Testament gospels of Matthew and John:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14).

“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to Him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart” (John 16:1-6).

If there is one thing we find and notice when we come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it’s that although souls would be added unto the church daily, although there was a strong sense of community and unity in the midst of the early church, and although signs, wonders and miracles would take place, there would come the moment in time when opposition would rise up against the early church, and when they would begin to experience suffering and persecution. What we find in the fourth chapter is the beginning of opposition toward and against the early church, for if there is one thing about the early church we must recognize and understand it’s that more often than not there can be no power absent persecution. What’s more, is that I would dare say that power and persecution are intrinsically linked and connected, for one is dependent on the other and vice versa. I would strongly declare unto you who are reading the words which are found within this reading that if you desire to experience the manifestation of the person of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit, you must have room and allow within your heart and life room for persecution, for I would dare say that more often than not the true mark and the true sign of power is not peace but persecution. More often than not we have allowed ourselves to think about and consider the fact that peace is a true sign and mark of power and presence, and yet if there is one thing the early church revealed, proved and demonstrated, it’s that persecution is more often than not the true distinguishing mark of power among the saints of God and disciples of Christ. Looking back to the Old Testament account of the children of Israel in slavery and oppression in the land of Egypt we find that the more they were afflicted and the more they were oppressed the more they grew. A similar reality is manifested in the midst of the early church, for it seems the more they were persecuted the more the power and presence of the Holy Spirit was manifested and evidence among them within their gatherings and meetings. Oh, if we read the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, let us come face to face with the incredible reality that more often than not persecution and not peace is the true and distinguishing mark of the power, the presence and the person of the Holy Spirit. Oh that we would not seek to experience and enjoy the power and presence of the Holy Spirit without allowing room for persecution, and without allowing any room in our midst for affliction, for suffering, for opposition, and the like. PERSECUTION CONFIRMS POWER! PERSECUTION CONFIRMS PRESENCE! PERSECUTION CONFIRMS THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! PERSECUTION CONFIRMS POWER, PRESENCE AND THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

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