“Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” - Acts 5:20
The early church experienced the contrasting combination of both persecution and blessing. We in the modern Western church must be careful not to claim persecution like the early church; also being mindful of how our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are suffering for Christ, some even to the point of laying down their lives. However, there is no doubt that today the Christian faith finds itself in a tight space in Western countries. Christianity is being marginalised more and more by both liberal secularism and religious pluralism. Of course, ‘freedom of expression’ is a Western value which many of us cherish dearly, but it would appear that many shades of society are becoming more intolerant of Christian expression. This is a time when the church must waken up and find her voice again, giving a “certain sound” that Christ is the hope of our world!
In Acts 4:29-31, the early Christians prayed: “‘Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus’. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
We need demonstrations of God's supernatural power as a modern apologetic that “there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets” (Daniel 2:28). People will believe anything and anyone but God. It is the church's role to show them - God is real! Whilst the things around us that can be shaken are being shaken, we must display the existence of the kingdom of God which we are receiving which cannot be shaken (see Hebrews 12:27-28).
When the Apostles were imprisoned, God's Kingdom broke in as an angel of the Lord broke them out of jail and commanded them to “speak to the people all the words of this life”. This is what we must do in these changing times; believing God for “signs accompanying” the preaching of His word. We witnessed this happening at New Life, Newcastle in August (see photo), when people were saved, healed, touched and transformed by the power of God.
As I write this, we are making final preparations for the ‘For the Soul of the Nation’ event taking place 2nd September at St Anne's Cathedral. This is a response to the amendment to the Northern Ireland Government Formations Bill, which will force same-sex marriage and liberal abortion on Northern Ireland if the Stormont Assembly does not reconvene by 21st October.
Surely, this is a time to speak “all the words of this life” over our people, our land and the succeeding generations. A time to pray for God to hear the threats of wicked designs and for God's hand to intervene and bring healing to our land.