Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which is the church as it was written and recorded in the book of Acts by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twenty-three through thirty-five of the twenty-third chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul still in custody after having been bound by two chains in the city of Jerusalem. The account of the apostle Paul upon coming unto the city of Jerusalem is one where prior to making his way to the city he knew and understood that bonds and afflictions abided him in every city he went. What’s more, is that when speaking unto the elders of the Ephesian church the apostle Paul would emphatically declare unto them that he went bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem not knowing those things which would befall him along the way, nor even those things which would come upon him once there in Jerusalem. It is quite interesting and intriguing to consider the fact that although the apostle Paul knew he was bound in and compelled by the spirit to go unto Jerusalem, he had absolutely no knowledge or understanding of what would befall or come upon him on the way unto the sacred city, nor even what would befall and come upon him once he arrived in the city. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the apostle Paul knew he was making his way unto Jerusalem—a city he had spent so many years in studying under the feet of Gamaliel, and even a city he visited twice already. Consider the fact that after the apostle Paul experienced and encountered Jesus the Christ while journeying on the road to Damascus and was later baptized in water, would receive his sight once more, and would receive the Holy Spirit he would make his way unto Jerusalem after being rescued from those who would lie in wait for him in Damascus to put him to death. It would be that first trip back to Jerusalem where the apostle Paul would have his conversion questioned by countless of the brethren there in the city, for they all knew what great havoc he wreaked upon the church, and how he hailed and committed countless men and women unto prison. It would be there in the city of Jerusalem where the apostle Paul would be introduced to Barnabas who would stand beside him in the company and presence of the brethren and the apostles confirming that Jesus the Christ had indeed appeared unto him, that Jesus the Christ had in fact spoken unto him, and that he had preached the gospel boldly in the city of Damascus. Ultimately the apostle Paul would be forced from Jerusalem on this particular occasion, for certain of the those who were present within the city sought to kill and put him to death. It would be this initial trip of the apostle Paul unto the city of Jerusalem that would initially be met with skepticism and doubt, and would ultimately lead to the apostle Paul being sent forth from the city and from those who sought to take his life.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and intriguing realities surrounding the life of the apostle Paul is the almost immediate attempts that were made to silence his voice and even put him to death. One of the most interesting realities that is found in Scripture is the enemy’s attempts to destroy and put to death the work of God while it is in its infant stage and early years. If you study the entire context of Scripture you will find it written and recorded how more often than not there were assaults and attacks on the work of God and that which he was doing in the earth during its infant stage and primitive years. The more I read and the more I study the Scriptures the more I come face to face with the reality that the most formidable years of any work of the Spirit is always those first years when the work is still young and when the work is getting off the ground and growing into that which the Spirit desired and destined. If you read and study the Scripture you will find that more often than not those first years are perhaps the most critical and most crucial years, for it has always been and will always be during those years when the enemy and adversary can and will seek to silence the work, and destroy that which the Holy Spirit is doing. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for with any great work that has begun and been done within the earth there has always been an almost immediate attempt to destroy and put to death that which has been brought forth into the earth and conceived before and among men. As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be reminded of certain and specific instances within Scripture when the enemy and adversary sought to destroy that which was being done in the earth while it was still in its infant, primitive and formidable years. Scripture is replete with example after example of how the enemy and adversary sought to slaughter and destroy that which the living God was working and seeking to accomplish within the earth, and we would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand each of these references, for by coming to the understanding of these passages of Scripture we come face to face with the activity of the enemy and adversary to assault and assail that which the living God is doing and seeks to do in the earth. I am first reminded of the days of the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, and how Pharaoh king of Egypt sought to put to death all infant male children under the age of two—either by throwing them into the Nile, or by simply putting them to death with whatever means were necessary. I am also reminded of the days when Jesus the Christ was born among men and how Herod the Great sought to destroy all the infant male children under the age of two by striking them down with the sword or any other means necessary. What’s more, is I am reminded of the account of the early church, and how during those early years of the church the enemy and adversary tried silencing the church, and even destroying it through persecution which broke out against it in the city of Jerusalem. I am reminded even further of the account of the male child which was born of the women who was clothed with the sun and had the twelve stars about her head as written about in the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ. I invite you to consider each of these passages of Scripture, for within them a picture will begin to emerge on how the enemy and adversary has always and will always seek to destroy the work of God and that which He is doing in the earth while it is still in its infant stages:
“And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: and he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive. And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children” (Exodus 1:15-2:6).
“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Beth-lehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2:13-18).
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days” (Revelation 12:1-6).
It is quite clear from each of these passages that one of the enemy’s great tactics and greatest straggles is to target and assault the work which the Lord is doing in the earth while it is still in its infant stages and infant years. While perhaps the account in the book of Exodus might not seem like it has any relevance to this particular reality, we must recognize and understand that Pharaoh sought to slaughter all the male children of the Hebrews because of how great and mighty they were becoming within the land. In order to try and control and manipulate the Hebrews and prevent their growth within the land of Goshen, Pharaoh thought that he could instruct the midwives to kill all the male children who broke the womb from among the Hebrews. Of course we know from Scripture that the Hebrew midwives refused Pharaoh’s order and would not strike down the Hebrew male children that broke the womb. As a result of their actions Pharaoh resorted to having the male Hebrew children cast into the Nile River in order that they might be put to death. This action would later be taken by Herod when he ordered that all male children under the age of three be struck down and put to death. This was all in order that he might strike down and put to death this One who was born to be King of the Jews. When speaking of the early church it is important that we recognize and understand that the enemy sought to use persecution within the city of Jerusalem to destroy the church, and if you read the words which are found within the book of Acts you will find that as a result of the persecution which broke out against the church the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria and preached the word of the Lord Jesus wherever they went. In the case of the vision which the apostle John saw in the Revelation of Jesus the Christ the great dragon sought to strike down and kill the male child which was born of the woman who was clothed with the sun with twelve stars about her head and which had the moon at her feet. Each of these passage help form a picture that one of the enemy’s greatest tactics and strategies is to target that work which the living God is seeking to do within the earth while it is still in its infant and primitive years, for if he can destroy it before it grows to be a threat he can eliminate it all together. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for it helps us come face to face with how the enemy operates within and among the saints of God, and even before and around that which the Lord is doing in the earth. We must recognize and understand that the enemy has always and will always target the work of the living God while it is still in its infant stage in order that he can destroy the work before it ever gets off the ground and before it can ultimately and eventually grow beyond his control and becomes a threat to his kingdom.
When we read the account of the life of the apostle Paul we must recognize and understand just how much the enemy and adversary sought to silence his voice and eliminate him before he would and could every be a threat to his kingdom. The ninth chapter of the book of Acts is quite powerful, for it wonderfully demonstrates the tremendous reality that the enemy and adversary sought to silence the voice and message of the apostle Paul very early on, for the enemy knew what would and could happen if the apostle Paul was permitted to actually step into the calling that was upon his life. Undoubtedly the enemy was very much aware of the mission and purpose that was upon the apostle’s life, for Jesus the Christ spoke unto Ananias and declared unto him that which would come of the apostle Paul and how much he would suffer for His name’s sake, and even what the apostle Paul would do for the kingdom—namely, bring the gospel to the Gentiles round about Judaea and Samaria. This is actually quite unique when you take the time to consider it, for the enemy and adversary has always and will always do anything and everything he can early on to prevent you from stepping into the calling that is upon your life. This is true and evident within the life of the apostle Paul, for if you read the book of Acts you will find that both in Damascus and in Jerusalem there were attempts to silence his voice, to prevent him from stepping into the calling that was upon his life, and even to put him to death. It’s important that we recognize and understand that when the apostle Paul preached the gospel in Damascus, and then in Jerusalem—although he was doing the work of the kingdom, and although he was engaging himself in the preaching of the gospel—he wasn’t necessarily stepping into the calling and destiny that was upon his life. The apostle Paul knew the Lord had called him to preach the gospel unto the Gentiles, and the apostle Paul knew what great things he must suffer for the sake of the kingdom of God and for the name of Jesus the Christ, however, when he first began preaching and teaching he hadn’t even begun stepping into that which Jesus the Christ had purposed and ordained for his life. In all reality, I would dare say that those early years after the apostle Paul was converted to Christianity were years of training and preparation as the Holy Spirit was preparing him for that moment when he would finally be ready to step into the calling that was upon his life. We must understand and come to terms with this, for just because there is a calling that is upon our lives, that doesn’t mean that we can and will step into that calling immediately and right away. There is this growing tendency to think that just because the Spirit calls us that we are immediately to step into the calling that was placed upon our lives, and yet we don’t realize that with calling comes training and preparation, and even making sure that one is absolutely and completely ready to step into that calling.
This reality of having a call upon your life and yet not immediately stepping into it is evidence countless times within and throughout the course of Scripture, for if you read the accounts of some of the great heroes of the faith you will find that although many of them had callings upon their lives, and although all of them would step into their callings, that didn’t mean that they immediately stepped into the call that was upon their lives. Consider Moses who was eighty years old before he finally stepped into the call of God that was upon his life, and how he spent forty years in the wilderness of Midian before finally encountering the living God at the burning bush at the mountain of God in the wilderness. It would be a full eighty years before Moses would step into the calling that was upon his life—despite the fact that he made a small attempt to step into it while still in the land of Egypt. A similar reality is true of David who was anointed king over Israel as a teenager, and yet would wait a little more than a decade before he would actually step into that which he had been anointed and chosen to do. He would in fact be anointed with oil by the prophet Samuel and would be chosen to be the next king of Israel after Saul, and yet almost immediately after the oil was poured upon his head he would be thrust into the conflict that was the encounter with Goliath, and would ultimately spend more than a decade on the run from the murderous threats and assaults of Saul king of Israel. What’s more, is that this reality is seen in the life of John the Baptist, for although his calling and purpose was understood before he was conceived in his mother’s womb, he wouldn’t immediately step into the call that was upon his life. John the Baptist would spend time in the wilderness eating locusts and wild honey before he would finally be released into the region of Judaea and the Jordan River where he would preach concerning the kingdom of God and the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist would spend years in the wilderness before he would finally step on to the scene and begin baptizing men and women in the Jordan River unto repentance for sins. Even more than this, we must also consider the life of Jesus the Christ who was and is the eternal Son of God, and how He walked upon this earth for thirty years before He would finally step into that for which He had been sent to the earth to accomplish. Although Jesus the Christ was indeed the Son of the living God, he would not step into that which He had been sent to the earth and among men right away, but would have to wait thirty years before He would come to the Jordan River and be baptized of John the Baptist and hear the voice of the Father speak to Him. [As a side note, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus the Christ had heard the voice of the Father speak to Him during those first thirty years of solitude, seclusion and privacy. I have to wonder if the voice of the Father broke thirty years of silence within the life of Jesus, and it was at that moment when the voice of the Father broke the silence that Jesus knew the time and hour had come for Him to step into that for which He had been sent. It causes me to wonder if there are times in our lives when it is the voice of the Father that breaks the silence and confirms and reveals the time has come to step into and enter that for which we have been called and chosen].
The more I read and consider the life of the apostle Paul and this third trip to the city of Jerusalem, the more I can’t help but find him almost coming full circle from when he first returned to Jerusalem after being converted to Jesus the Christ. It would be the very first time the apostle Paul would journey to Jerusalem after coming forth from Damascus that he would be introduced to the apostles and brethren, and would continue preaching concerning Jesus the Christ and reasoning with those there in Jerusalem. Ultimately there would be those who would seek to put an end to this man named Saul who would dispute and reason concerning Jesus being the Christ and having risen from the grave, and the apostle Paul would have to be brought out of Jerusalem in order to spare him from those who sought to take his life. Here we are decades later and the apostle Paul is returning to Jerusalem knowing that he would be bound and would be handed over to the Gentiles. Undoubtedly the apostle Paul remembered his earlier days after he had been converted to Christianity and began walking with and following Jesus the Christ and how men sought to put him to death, and now he is preparing to return to this same city knowing that it would be in this city he would be bound by the Jews and would be handed over to the Gentiles. Of course the apostle Paul did not know how he would be bound by the Jews, nor even what would lead him to being bound by them and handed over to the Gentiles, and yet he still made the decision to make the journey to the city of Jerusalem. What’s quite interesting to think about and consider is how the apostle Paul would indeed come full circle from when he first returned to Jerusalem after departing from it a Pharisee with letters in hand to bring back any followers of the way he found and to bring them unto Jerusalem to be punished or imprisoned. Here we have the apostle Paul having stepped into the call that was upon his life and having fulfilled that which Jesus the Christ had ordained and appointed him to do in the regions of Greece and Macedonia, and even in Asia as he would preach the gospel concerning Jesus Christ from Ephesus for three years as he warned them with tears and declared unto them the counsel of God. The apostle Paul would return to Jerusalem this third time, and yet this third time would not only bring him full circle from when he first returned to the city, but would also prepare him for the next leg of his journey, which would ultimately lead him to Rome itself. HEADED TO ROME VIA JERUSALEM! It’s actually quite interesting and unique to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would be destined to journey unto Rome itself, and yet in order for him to journey unto this capital city of the Roman Empire he would have to go through Jerusalem.
YOU MUST NEEDS GO THROUGH JERUSALEM! YOU MUST NEEDS BE BOUND! YOU MUST NEEDS EXPERIENCE AFFLICTION AND OPPOSITION! One of the most intriguing and interesting details regarding the life of the apostle Paul is how it was the Lord’s will to bring the apostle Paul to Rome itself, and yet He didn’t simply board a ship with his companions and sail to this capital city as he did previous cities he had visited. It would have been very easy for the Lord to allow the apostle Paul to set sail from Judaea, or even from any of the other cities he sailed to and sailed from, and to come unto Rome, and yet when the Lord wanted to bring the apostle Paul to Rome, He brought him to Jerusalem first. What’s more, is that the journey to Rome would lead straight through Jerusalem, and not only would it lead through Jerusalem, but it would also come via affliction and opposition. More often than not we think that the Lord can bring us unto those places He desires for us in a comfortable and convenient fashion, and yet if there is one thing the life of the apostle Paul reveals it’s that the Lord doesn’t always operate this way. The Lord did in fact desire to bring the apostle Paul to Rome itself, and yet in order to bring the apostle Paul to Rome he would bring him there as a prisoner who was assaulted and attacked in Jerusalem, bound with chains, and even put on trial before finally boarding a ship which would take him unto the city of Jerusalem. It absolutely and incredibly interesting to think about and consider the fact that it was the Lord’s will and desire to bring the apostle Paul unto the city of Rome itself, and that he would testify and bear witness of him there in the city, and yet he would not bring him there as a free man. TESTIFYING AS A BOUND MAN! WITNESSING AS A PRISONER! The apostle Paul would in fact come unto the city of Rome, and yet he would come unto the city as a prisoner who would be handed over to the Gentiles by his own people. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would ultimately come unto the city of Rome where he would testify and bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ, and yet when he would come unto Rome he would not come as a free man, but as a prisoner of Jesus the Christ. It’s worth noting that in some of what are known as “the prison epistles” you will the apostle Paul referring to himself as “the prisoner of Jesus Christ,” which is actually incredible language when you take the time to think about it. Although he was bound with chains and shackles in the natural, and although he was confined to a prison call in the natural realm, he did not view his natural circumstances in the natural, but viewed them in the spiritual and supernatural realm. The apostle Paul did not view himself as a prisoner of Rome, nor did he ever view himself as a prisoner of man, but rather as a prison of Jesus the Christ to whom he was apprehended. The apostle Paul never viewed himself as being bound by men, but rather being bound by the Spirit for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ.
The letter which the chief captain which was in Jerusalem wrote unto Felix who was the governor at that time is actually quite astounding when you take the time to consider it, for within the letter he spoke of how the apostle Paul was taken of the Jews, and how he would have been killed by them were it not for his intervening on his behalf. The chief captain of the guard wrote in his letter how he came with an army and rescued him understanding that he was a Roman and would have known on what grounds he was accused by his own people. What’s more, is the chief captain—whose name we learn is Claudia Lysias—declared in his letter that he perceived the apostle Paul to be accused of questions of their law, but to have done nothing worthy of death or bonds. Even more than this—within the letter he wrote that the only reason he was sending the apostle Paul unto him was because of the conspiracy that was uncovered to put him to death. It would be the threat and conspiracy against the life of the apostle Paul that would ultimately lead to his appearance before Felix the governor, and the chief captain would send the apostle Paul unto him bound in chains and secured by soldiers and guards in order that his life might be spared, and in order that they might ascertain and discern whether or not he had done anything that was worth being bound, and even being put to death. Please don’t miss this, for when the apostle Paul was brought unto Rome, he was not brought to Rome by his own countrymen, nor was he accompanied by his own companions, but was brought unto Rome bound in chains with other prisoners, and would even experience shipwreck while on the way to Rome. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that just as the apostle Paul would go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, he would go bound in the natural unto Rome. The apostle Paul would in fact stand to testify and bear witness concerning Jesus the Christ in Rome, and yet he would not do it as a free man as he had done in Asia, and as he had done in Greece and Macedonia. Instead, the apostle Paul would be a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ, and would be bound in the natural and physical realm in order that he might stand in Rome itself and proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ. By the time of his death the apostle Paul not only have stood in Jerusalem and proclaimed the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ, but he would also stand in Athens and proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and would finally stand in Rome itself and proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be in Rome, however, where he would not preach the gospel as a free man, but rather as prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ as he was bound with chains and shackles. This is important for us to recognize and understand, for just because we may have been called to preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ doesn’t mean that we have been called to do so in comfort and convenience. There are ministers and preachers today who enjoy preaching and who do so willingly enjoying the freedom and comforts we have here in this country, but there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder how many of our preachers, how many of our teachers, and how many of our ministers would still preach if they were bound in chains, and even if they would suffer persecution, suffering and affliction as a result of their preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ.
THE ULTIMATE TEST OF YOUR COMMITMENT TO THE GOSPEL IS NOT FREEDOM BUT BONDAGE! THE ULTIMATE TEST OF YOUR COMMITMENT TO THE GOSPEL IS NOT COMFORT BUT PERSECUTION! I would dare say that there are many ministers today who are only preaching because they are enjoying the freedom that is afforded to them within this nation, but remove all the comforts, remove all the conveniences, remove all the freedoms, and even remove all the wealth and monetary gain that comes from preaching the gospel, and how many of these ministers would still continue to open the word of God and preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. The true test of your commitment to the gospel is not how you preach while enjoying freedom, but how you preach when you are in chains, or when preaching the gospel could result in your being imprisoned, tortured, and even put to death. Please note that I am in no way condemning or criticizing the preachers and ministers who faithfully proclaim the word of the Lord Jesus week after week in our churches, but rather to question how many ministers who would only preach the gospel in comfort, in convenience, and even if they are receiving some monetary gain as a result. If you were to remove the comforts, if you were to remove the conveniences, and if you were to remove the freedoms which every minister in this country enjoys, and if you were to replace those with threats of imprisonment, threats of torture, and even threats of death, would those same ministers continue preaching the gospel? What about you? Do you need to be comfortable and convenient in order to fulfill the call which the living God has placed within and upon your life? Do you need to experience a life absent any type of trial and trouble in order for you to faithfully serve the Lord Jesus the Christ? Do you need to experience life without any external threat of persecution, torture, suffering and affliction in order for you to follow the Lord Jesus the Christ? What would happen if all the comforts and conveniences you have enjoyed and perhaps even grown accustom to were removed, and you were forced to live your life under the dark shadow of persecution, affliction, suffering, torture, imprisonment, and even death? Oh would and could the faith we profess here in the United States of America hold up in countries where the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ are forced to worship underground? Would you faith hold up under the pressure of persecution, torture, affliction and suffering? Would your faith hold up if their were chains around your wrists and shackles around your ankles? Could you handle being a prisoner of the Lord Jesus the Christ and would you still remain faithful and committed to the gospel and to the Lord Jesus the Christ? Could your faith withstand the fiery furnace and even the lions den? Could your faith stand up if you were threatened to be cast alive into the fiery furnace or cast alive into the den of lions? I have to personalize this question and ask whether or not my faith is strong enough to withstand opposition, affliction, persecution and suffering? How we answer these question can and will determine how we live our lives for Christ in the coming days. Could we still follow Jesus the Christ if all our comforts and conveniences were removed, and if all our freedoms and privileges were removed? Could we still worship and would we still worship if we had to do so underground at the risk of imprisonment and death? Could we in fact live our lives as prisoners of the Lord Jesus Christ, and continue walking with Him faithfully if everything we have enjoyed was stripped away and removed? If the answer to any of these questions is a hard and definitive “No,” or even if you are unsure and uncertain how to answer any of these questions, then I would strongly encourage you to get alone with and before the living God and ask for a faith that can not only withstand the threat of the fire and the threat of the lions, but could also withstand the actual fire and lions themselves.