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PERSECUTION IN THE EARLY CHURCH

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In Acts 12, King Herod killed the apostle James (John’s brother). When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he also arrested Peter and imprisoned him. Herod’s intention was to deliver Peter to the Jews for execution after the Passover. But earnest prayer was going up to God from the church for his safety all the time he was in prison. The night before he was to be executed, he was asleep, double-chained between two soldiers with others standing guard before the prison gate. Suddenly there was a light in the cell and an angel of the Lord stood beside Peter! The angel slapped him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists! Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your shoes. Now put on your coat and follow me!” the angel ordered. Peter followed the angel. But all the time he thought it was a dream or vision. They came to the iron gate to the street, and this opened to them of its own accord! They passed through and walked along together for a block, and then the angel left him. Peter finally realized what had happened! “It’s really true!”. FRIENDS, PETER WAS PERSECUTED FOR PREACHING THE GOSPEL, HOWEVER, HE CONTINUED TO PREACH THE GOSPEL UNTIL THE DAY HE DIED! PETER STAYED FAITHFUL TO THE END! WE MUST ALSO SPREAD THE WORD OF GOD EVEN IF PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO HEAR OR BELIEVE IT! WE MUST BE FAITHFUL TO THE END! Romans 5:4-5 Patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

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