Proper Response to Persecution – Acts 16:16-40

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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On July 7th, 2016, the Ark Encounter, a full scale replica of Noah’s original ark built by the Christian organization Answers In Genesis, opened in Kentucky. Christians from all over the country enthusiastically gathered to see an example of biblical truth, and to rejoice in their faith. But many hostile atheists gathered to picket the opening. They even had a huge billboard with a picture of the ark, which read, “Genocide and Incest Park–celebrating 2000 years of myths.” What was the response from Eric Hovind, the host of the opening? He thanked the protestors for the additional media exposure, urged Christians to treat the protestors respectfully, and invited those on the picket lines to come in for a free tour with complimentary refreshments.

While ministering in Philippi, Paul had a lengthy encounter with “…a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination…” (Acts 16:16). For “many days” she followed Paul, interrupting his efforts in ministry, until Paul cast the demonic spirit out of her. This enraged the masters of this girl, because their ability to profit from her abilities was now gone. They responded by apprehending Paul and Silas, taking them to the “magistrates,” and falsely accusing them of teaching things contrary to Roman law. This unverified news incited a public multitude, causing the authorities to command Paul and Silas to be beaten severely, then cast into prison. How did these two innocent servants of God respond? Today, rather than continuing to speak out, the response of many Christians to any level of persecution is often surprise, a pity-party, questioning why God allowed this, depression, or even permanent silence. Thankfully, this was not how God’s servants responded. Instead, “…at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25). Far from being defeated in their Christian walk, they remained victorious regardless of their situation. Two things were key to their frame of mind. They prayed. Perhaps it was for strength, courage, or continued boldness. Whatever the content, they remembered to pray, and the result was a spiritual strength that maintained their victory over circumstances. They also sang praises. They chose to focus on exalting the Lord verbally, and they likely sang songs laced with biblical truths that further strengthened their souls.

It’s important how we respond to any level of Christian persecution. Let your response be a testimony to the lost through godly behavior, prayer, praise to the Savior, and continuing to share the gospel.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."