OPPOSITION TO REVIVAL IN THE CHURCH THEN, AND NOW
We have studied the many leaders of the revival in the early church, at least those present in the beginning. But these people, men and women alike, found the early church revival, was not popular with the devil or the world. The devil tried to oppose, stop, and hinder that revival, just as he does in our day.
The former rain revival met opposition from the world almost immediately. The priests and the officials of the synagogues felt threatened because of the involvement of the Priesthood in the crucifixion of Jesus.
Rome had crucified Jesus, so they also felt threatened by Christianity. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, so they were angry at the premises of Christianity. Opposition from these groups came quickly.
The last day revival will face enormous opposition. We will compare the two periods of opposition. They are similar in some ways, and will show differences in other ways.
From WITHOUT of the Christian movement came the initial opposition to the former rain revival. It came in several well-defined steps.
First, came the THREATS.
Acts 4:8-20, 29-31
"(vs. 17)...that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in His name ... (vs. 18)...They called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus."
It was initially difficult for the opposition to know what action to take to stop the incredible revival amidst Christianity. These Christians were breaking no law in curing the cripple. Thus, the opposition threatened them to leave out
the name of Jesus in performing such miracles. Had their threats worked,
the revival would have stopped. The miracles, the revival, and the salvation of souls was not instigated by the man - Peter, or the apostle of love - John.
It is not the denomination or the religious leadership that instigates revival.
The secret is JESUS. The world today does not mind our religion too much if we do not mention JESUS. There are implied threats today, there are inferences, and condemnations for those who frequently mention the name that sends the demons into frenzies --- JESUS.
Notice the Christmas season, with stores saying "happy holidays’ or ‘seasons’ greetings" and now a return of the "Xmas’ instead of Christmas. It is shameful, that businesses want to gain from the celebration of Jesus, but do not want to mention His name.
Notice today how the ones that are branded "Christian-right-wing extremists", "Christian fanatics", and "Christian extremists", are "coincidentally" also the ones who frequently mention the name of Jesus, and claim a relationship with this Jesus.
Do we today allow the threats and condemnations deter us from our mission? Do we slink away from the Christian movement to avoid these condemnations?
The second step of opposition was PRISON.
"Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, which is the sect of the Sadducees, and were filled with indignation. And they laid hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison."
A temporary lock up of the Christian leadership was attempted for the purpose of intimidating the movement. Presumably all of them were locked up. The doors that night were locked, with guards at the door. In the morning, the apostles were gone. How? Luke says, "an angel of the Lord" delivered them, and told them to go preach. THE DISCIPLES DID NOT FEAR! These disciples did not go far, but were quickly discovered near-by - preaching.
The opposition today is beginning to use prison as a deterrent threat to the Christian revival. Pro-life demonstrators, and even those who would hold a sign of opposition to the murder of the unborn are having laws drafted and used against them. Freedom of speech, and freedom of religion are being thrown out by our legislators with these laws that will incarcerate those of the Christian movement who oppose the sinful, murderous holocaust of the nation's unborn. There are Christians in jails today who are there because of their Christian witness.
The third step of opposition was the SECRET PLANNING OF VIOLENCE.
"Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence,
for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned... they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them..."
The opposition was so angered that they were tempted to pass a death sentence (which would mean stoning). Gamaliel (a great scholar of the day) counseled wisdom here and prevented them from trying to stone them. It was not God's will for them to die here -no doubt that God would have delivered them somehow.
Then, the PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AND THREATS came forth from the opposition.
"... And when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded them that they should not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go."
When threats do not work, and then the secret planning of physical violence will lead to the carrying out of actual violence. They gave the disciples thirty nine stripes, which was an agonizing and tortuous whipping with a sharp-edged whip. The disciples still paid no attention to their demands to stop preaching Jesus.
The fifth step was UNJUST TRIALS.
"They stirred up the people and the elders, scribes, and came upon him, and caught him and brought him to the council. And set up false witnesses."
False witnesses twisted what Stephen really had said (about Jesus destroying the temple). The temple of which Jesus spoke was His own body. He had said, "destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up."
Stephen explained the true meaning of Jesus, which should have been obvious in the post-resurrection period, to these Jews. The false witnesses again tried to misapply this teaching, and provided another unjust trial upon a child of God.
During the latter rain revival, there will be unjust trials of the children of God. If a child of God fails in any way, the media, and the courts will use any excuse to inflict perverted justice upon them. Jim Bakker was sentenced to forty some years in jail for what our lawmakers do on a daily basis. Some money was sent to Jim Bakker for building a hotel, and it was used for television expense. In a manifold expansion of this, most of the money collected for social security is spent by our lawmakers for other projects.
They call it "government" for themselves, but made it illegal for anyone else, especially anyone who is a Christian. Because of Jim Bakker's spiritual failure some seven or eight years previous, many in the Christian community decided to "shoot the wounded" instead of encouraging and forgiving. The media and the sinful government of the nation used the opportunity to attack him with unjust trial.
There are, and have been, many other less-noted unjust trials against the Christian world since that time. They are ever increasing. New laws are being written with the purpose of being used against the Christian body of believers. This is a step of opposition many of us may see soon. If any real revival period of the church age is examined, you will find that false accusations, imprisonment, and persecution quickly develops.
Then, the following step is the VIOLENCE AND MURDER of the saints.
Acts 7:54, 57, 58
"...they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth... they stopped their ears and ran upon him with one accord... cast him out of the city and stoned him."
The Bible adequately warns us that in the last days "perilous times" shall come. We are warned that our own lives will be in jeopardy, and we may likely face martyrdom in the last days. They hated and crucified our Lord Jesus, and they will also hate those who preach His gospel.
Finally, GREAT PERSECUTION became widespread.
"And at that time there was great persecution against the church...
Saul, he made havoc of the church..."
It will start on a small basis, in isolated areas of the country. When a successful pattern of persecution and violence is finally recognized and allowed by the people and government, the violence will be widespread.
It is coming soon. We should not be ignorant of it. We need to sit down and count the cost of building, and when we know the cost, we can forge ahead in the power of the Spirit. The opposition will then not be able to stop our witness. We will have a song in the prison (as Paul and Silas). We will have a resurrection after the stoning (as Paul). Our imprisonment will result in the salvation of souls (as at Philippi).
Persecution does not give the devil victory, unless we forsake the Lord in the midst of it. If we allow the Spirit to use us with the gifts of the Spirit at the times of persecution and violence, victory will be assured. Stephen may have been stoned to death, but his final prayer on earth allowed God to change the coat-holder Saul into the Apostle to the Gentiles - Paul. Everything the devil tries to do to stop us will bring him further defeat.
This opposition from without the church is how the persecution started for the former rain revival.
Then followed opposition from WITHIN.
We have been mainly facing that kind of opposition ever since. It is the main form of opposition the church faces today. When the opposition within the church is finally handled by the Lord with the final judgment of the church, we will again face stiff opposition from without. Till the "harvest of tares" (Matt. 13) has cleansed the church, we will face grave opposition from those inside the church.
After the initial opposition from without the church began, there also started in a small way, the opposition inside the church. Paul spoke of Demas who had "forsaken" him. John spoke of Diotrephes who "loveth to have the pre-eminence." This Diotrephes had indicated that he would shun John from his church, if and when John would come. Diotrephes wanted to be the only important personage of that congregation. Jealousy and envy had crept into the congregation.
Then there were disputes in many congregations of that day between the Jewish converts, and the Gentile converts. The Jewish converts had been raised with many details of law. They had dietary rules that the Gentile converts did not understand. They had rules on clothing, rules about the Sabbath, rules about circumcision, etc. Some attempted to inflict these rules upon the new Gentile converts. Many of the Gentiles resisted these added rules to the Christianity they had been taught by Paul and some of the other apostles.
The converts and fans of Peter, Paul, and Apollos each contended over which was the greatest preacher. Some tried to separate from those groups and claim a superior allegiance. This last group claimed to be fans only of Christ Jesus. They were claiming to be the super-holy group. In actuality, the divisiveness of all four groups was corrupting and hindering the church.
The church congregation at Corinth had many problems. They had terrible sins that corrupted the assemblies. Paul had to severely exhort them on many issues.
These sins inside the church continued to grow and develop. During the middle ages, the church was selling indulgences that allowed one to pay money to the church so he or she could commit a terrible sin and be "forgiven" ahead of time. The right to commit adultery, theft, murder, etc. were all being condoned by the church for a price.
In our day, we find many false prophets and their heresies. There are many hypocrites and spiritual abusers. The whole set up of many denominations and congregations perpetuate a form of Christianity that is powerless and is grieving to the Holy Spirit.
In the last days time of the church there are predictions of great opposition inside the church. Many have read the following verse and assumed it spoke of sinners outside the church. However, if the context is noted, one will find that the Word is describing the conditions inside the church of the last days.
II Timothy 3:1-14
"This know that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth... their folly shall be manifest unto all men... Yea, all that will live godly, will suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived."
We are currently in these "perilous" times of the last days. The church is corrupted beyond belief. Many saints have "hidden their heads in the sand" of denial. The sin within the church is embarrassing, and appalling. We have seen many church congregations degenerate into pits of debate, judgmentalism, heresy, pride, spiritual apathy, and even perversion.
Some are debating allowing homosexuals be their pastors.
Some are encouraging sexual license.
Some are denying the resurrection and new birth.
Some are incorporating new age practices into the congregations.
Some are spiritually abusing young children, and new converts.
Some will spread lies and half truths to denigrate any one whose ministry they envy.
Many a one who has been called a "false prophet" or "heretic" in these last days, are the real saints of God. Those that are truly - "false prophets" have made their messages to satisfy the "itching ears" of the hearers, and are propagating damning doctrines.
Some will "shoot the wounded" and shun the hurting saint.
Some love themselves, and are self seeking, capitalizing on the generosity of saints who believe their passionate pleas for money.
Some are taken in sexual perversions that would shock any who discover the sins.
Some lesbians are even now promoting changing God's name to "Sophia".
They want to change the Word of God. They do not even have a relationship with the God of heaven, and yet they attempt to stay within the church.
Some are proud and feel superior to other saints, wanting the others to follow them as obedient sheep to a substitute shepherd.
Some have a form of godliness, but do not have the true Christian love
that would empower them to true revival.
Some are ever seeking to learn, but are refusing to believe the real truth.
They have allowed their minds to be so corrupted with false doctrines, debates, and arguments on small details that they never find the simple truths of the Word.
Some attack the real children of God, and the real message of salvation,
Christian love, and Biblical truth.
Some spend their time seeking to lead others into their own brand of deception. These persecute, lie about, and shun those who expose their corruptness.
II Peter 2:1-2
"...even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies... many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom, the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
The first opposition to the latter rain revival is from WITHIN its own ranks.
The devil has sought to corrupt Christianity since its inception. Judas was an early convert to the false deceptions of the devil. Ever since Judas,
the devil has sought to hinder the church by planting inside it those who are sin corrupted and deceived.
Betrayal by these "brothers", friends, church acquaintances, relatives, and church leaders will be a common occurrence in these last days.
"And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake."
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations (peoples) for My name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another."
"Before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you,
delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons... and it shall turn to you for a testimony."
The opposition that we meet from within or without, need not trouble us into despair. We are to be over comers in these last days. If we can learn to stand against the opposition within, we will have no real trouble when the opposition comes from without. Do not shy from the opposition. Do not fall into the deceptions of the devil. Stand up and be counted for the Lord.
"...they shall be as mighty men, which tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle; and they shall fight because the Lord is with them."
We have a hedge of protection about us in these last day. We have the power of the Spirit to bestow upon us manifold and miraculous gifts, signs, and wonders. The devil cannot defeat us, if we do not give up. If we simply "resist" him, he is defeated. The devil tried greatly in the former rain revival to oppose and defeat the early church. The devil could not stop what God had started. In the latter rain revival, the devil thinks that the trouble makers, offenders, spiritual abusers, hypocrites, and false prophets that he has placed within the framework of the church will cause its ultimate end, but God has another surprise for the devil.
When God has purged the church of these offenders, and revived the remainder of the church, He will give a revival that will astound the world.
Then, the devil will use the sinners of this world to resist the Christians. This last desperation attempt of the devil to oppose and to stop the revival will be valiantly defeated by the saints.
ARE YOU PREPARED? DO NOT FEAR, THE LORD IS WELL ABLE TO DEFEND AND HELP US. WE HAVE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, THE POWER OF THE LORD, AND THE GUARDIAN ANGELS SENT FOR OUR PROTECTION. MIRACLES WILL ACCOMPANY THE PERSECUTION. REVIVAL WILL "ABOUND MUCH MORE" THAN THE SIN AND TRIALS OF THE LAST DAYS. DO NOT DESPAIR, BUT REJOICE IN THE REVIVAL. "WHEN YOU SEE THESE THINGS BEGIN TO COME TO PASS... LOOK UP!!!!!!"