This sponsored post was prepared by Daniel Henderson, author of Old Paths, New Power.
For every Gospel action, there is an opposite and devious demonic reaction. In Acts 6:7 we see one of the great moments of spiritual resurgence in the early church. The apostles refused to be distracted from their salient priorities of “prayer and the Ministry of the word” (v. 4). Instead, they appointed seven others to handle the widow-feeding crisis. The result of this resolve was that “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” By any estimate, this is a New Testament instance of revival.
The advancement of Acts 6 was the impetus to the increased persecution. Antagonism by the Jewish authorities had already been dogging the apostles at every turn. Prohibitions against preaching the Gospel were enforced. The Jewish leaders had jailed the apostles and would soon launch a movement of martyrdom, starting in chapter seven with Stephen’s death by stoning.
The incredible power of the Gospel in Acts 6 became a threat to the Judaism of the day and to the ultra-pagan Roman society. At the same time, this revival served as preparation for the coming oppression, providing supernatural grace, transcendent resolve, and staunch boldness that would turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
A Preparatory Revival?
Without question we, too, are in need of a momentous Acts 6 movement of revival and evangelism. I also cannot help but wonder if this will be the ultimate preparation for a coming sifting of the church. In all likelihood, a revival will advance the supernatural spread of the Gospel but will also fast-track the inevitable showdown between an intolerant culture and the truth of Jesus Christ.
To think that America is immune is naïve. As John MacArthur has noted, “Religious liberty isn’t promised to Christians… Persecution is.”* My friend Brett O’Donnell, who works for a variety of national and state political candidates, has his finger on the pulse of the culture as well as anyone I know. As we shared a recent dinner, he stated, “Daniel, your grandchildren will be the first generation to grow up in a society where being a Christian and being an American citizen is no longer compatible.”
A Hopeful Preparation
The best preparation for the future sifting is a return to the realities of resolute commitment to “prayer and the ministry of the word” that gave early church leaders a transcendent faith and extraordinary impact. I have personally witnessed this kind of devotion on multiple occasions within the house churches of China, where the greatest current-day revival and advancement of Christianity has occurred under the oppression of a Communist government. With no facilities, no social media, no large programs, Christianity has flourished.
Back here at home, with all the training, technology, wealth, talent, and unprecedented opportunities we now have at our disposal, we are losing ground. So the sifting has begun. In all likelihood, it will become more focused and intense. Fortunately, the old paths of biblical ministry seen in the book of Acts are still able to result in new power to face the challenges of ministry in a post-Christian culture. It is time to experience a truly transforming approach as we make the next new thing the first old thing.
This devotion is adapted from the new book, Old Paths, New Power – Awakening Your Church through Prayer and the Ministry of the Word by Moody Publishers. DOWNLOAD A FREE EXCERPT at www.strategicrenewal.com.
* John F. MacArthur, We Will Not Bow, A sermon preached at Grace Community Church