Encouragement in opposition is how the Church is able to grow. Fox's Book of Martyrs says that the seed of the Church is the blood of those who died for Christ. The first martyrs of the Church paved the way for the Gospel to be told because their deaths caused the Church to scatter to other places besides just Jerusalem. Opposition caused them to pray. With prayer comes encouragement.
This sermon, recorded on Sunday morning, June 30th, 2019, is on Acts 12. Pastor Ed Craft discusses the opposition received by the Church and the encouragement which blooms from it.
Starting with King Herod Agrippa attempting to please the Sanhedrin Council, a new wave of persecution erupts. Herod orders the execution of the Apostle James. When Herod sees the Jewish leaders are delighted, he orders the imprisonment of Apostle Peter. In addition to Herod's persecution, the stoning of Steven at the approval of a young Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus, creates a dire picture for the Church.
However, the Church's ability to overcome persecution is through prayer. Because the Church gathers in a house and spends the night in fervent prayer, Peter is miraculously released from prison. In addition, King Herod's guards have no explanation for how Peter escaped, are tried and executed. Even King Herod himself, years later, becomes ill and dies because the Church prayed.
Finally, because of prayer, Saul is converted while on the road to Damascus. Knocked off his horse and blinded for three days, Saul is unable to eat or drink. His sight is restored when he meets a Christian named Ananias and becomes a Christian himself, changing his name to Paul. God answers prayer for the Church to encourage them in their opposition. And he still does today.