Satan (Part 20) - The Epic War: Satan Persecutes the Early Church (Part B)


G. There is a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem i. Having a small victory under his belt in the martyrdom of Stephen, the devil continues pressing on. ii. There was a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and the church was scattered (Act 8:1). iii. The devil had deceived a man named Saul of Tarsus and used him very effectively to go house to house persecuting the church members (Act 8:3). iv. This must have initially looked positive to Satan, having scattered the church and preventing them from assembling together. v. But the LORD used the scattering of the disciples to His advantage by using them to preach the word everywhere (Act 8:4). a. Philip went down to Samaria and preached the gospel, baptized believers, and started a church (Act 8:5,12 c/w Act 9:31). b. There were many new churches started in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem (Act 9:31). c. Satan's plan of persecution had backfired. vi. One of Satan's most useful tools, Saul of Tarsus, was converted by Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians (Act 9:1-6). a. Christ would use Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13; Gal 2:7-8) to turn the world upside down (Act 17:6). b. Paul would also later write half of the books of the New Testament. vii. Peter was called to preach to Cornelius in Caesarea (Act 10:1-6), who was the first Gentile convert, which was the opening of the door of faith unto the Gentiles (Act 11:18; Act 15:7; Act 14:27 c/w Mat 16:18-19). viii. Satan was no longer able to deceive the nations as he had before the coming of Christ (Rev 20:1-3). ix. Satan had been dealt a major blow in his war with the church, but it was far from over. H. James is killed by Herod, and Peter is put in prison. i. Having failed at religious persecution, Satan then tried his hand at governmental persecution. ii. King Herod killed James the apostle, the brother of John, with the sword (Act 12:1-2). a. Who do you suppose inspired Herod to murder James? b. Remember that Satan is a murderer (Joh 8:44). iii. The death of the first apostle was a significant event in the war between Satan and Jesus Christ. iv. Having popular support, Herod proceeded to lock up Peter in prison (Act 12:3-4). v. The Lord sent an angel again to free Peter from prison (Act 12:5-11) and then shortly after killed Herod with an shameful death (Act 12:20-23). a. No weapon that is formed against God's servants shall proper (Isa 54:17). b. God will reprove kings for His people's sake (Psa 105:14-15). vi. What was the result of this State-sanctioned persecution of the church? The word of God grew and multiplied (Act 12:24). vii. God had won yet another battle in the great war between Satan and His Christ. I. Paul is persecuted, conspired against to be killed, and is put in prison numerous times. i. Paul's first evangelistic trip. a. During Paul's first evangelistic trip, he was opposed by unbelieving Jews numerous times. b. They opposed him in Antioch in Pisidia, contradicting and blaspheming (Act 13:45). (i) They were doing the deeds of their father the devil (Joh 8:41-44). (ii) The result of their opposition?... the word of the Lord was published throughout the region (Act 13:49). c. They opposed him in Iconium and stirred up the Gentiles against him (Act 14:1-2). d. They opposed him in Lystra and persuaded the people to stone Paul, thinking they had killed him (Act 14:19). e. The result of all their opposition in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra? (i) Churches were built in those three cities, the souls of disciples were confirmed, and elders were ordained to oversee those churches (Act 14:21-23). (ii) Each time Paul was persecuted by Satan's men, the gospel was only furthered. (iii) God kept winning every battle. ii. Paul's second evangelistic trip. a. Paul went to Philippi (Act 16:11-12). (i) Paul was beaten and thrown in prison for casting a devil out of a soothsaying woman (Act 16:16-24). (ii) The result of Paul and Silas being imprisoned? (iii) The jailer and his house were converted, believing the gospel and being baptized (Act 16:25-33). (iv) Every attempt of the devil to thwart the preaching of the gospel ended in the furtherance of the gospel. b. Paul went to Athens and disputed with the idolaters (Act 17:16-17). (i) He was opposed by Greek philosophers (Act 17:18). (ii) Satan has been opposing the gospel and Christianity with false philosophy since the first century, and he still is (Col 2:8). (iii) God destroys the wisdom of this world with the foolishness of preaching the gospel (1Co 1:19-21). (iv) The result of the attacks by the Greek philosophers? (v) Men desired to hear Paul again and certain clave unto him (Act 17:32-34). c. Paul went to Corinth and preached the gospel (Act 18:1). (i) The Jews there opposed themselves and blasphemed (Act 18:6). 1. Who was behind the Jews' opposition and blasphemy? 2. Remember it is Satan who takes men captive and causes them to oppose themselves (2Ti 2:25-26). (ii) The result of the opposition of the Jews? (iii) Many of the Corinthians heard the gospel, believed, and were baptized (Act 18:8). iii. Paul's third evangelistic trip. a. At Ephesus Paul disputed with the Jews in the synagogue for three months (Eph 19:8). (i) Many hearts were hardened, and they spoke evil of the gospel; so Paul left and spent two years disputing daily in the school of Tyrannus (Act 19:9). (ii) The result of Satan's continued persecution of Paul and Christianity? (iii) All they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks (Act 19:10). (iv) Satan's attacks only kept causing the faith of Jesus Christ to spread across the world. iv. Paul was arrested and taken to Rome (Act 25:9-12 c/w Act 28:16). a. He wrote many epistles in prison that ended up becoming scripture (Eph 3:1; Eph 4:1; Php 1:7; Col 4:3, 18; 2Ti 1:8; Phm 1:9-10; Heb 10:34). b. Though Satan bound Paul, he could not bind the word of God that Paul wrote in bonds which were copied and distributed throughout the world (2Ti 2:9). c. Paul converted members of Caesar's household while in prison in Rome (Php 1:12-13; Php 4:22). d. He converted Pudens and Claudia (2Ti 4:21), and they took the gospel to Britain in the first century. e. Satan's plan of persecuting Paul certainly did backfire.