Resistence to Biblical Evangelism – Acts 7:51-60

Why did God create the universe? What was the first word did the Lord use to describe His creation? Other than a short period of time of fellowship between God and His creation, what was the next major event in human history? (The Fall.) How correct is it to say that the history of the human race has been one of conflict? Should this be surprising? (Genesis 3:15 prophesied it.) Did the Lord know, prior to creating the universe, that there would be so much conflict? So why did He create? In this regard, what is the purpose and result of evangelism? But what, generally speaking, is the sinner’s reaction to the gospel?One of the most profound mysteries of history and theology is that God permits resistance towards Him. Could the Lord quash all rebellion and squash every rebel? Who is the greatest of all His adversaries? Some people think that the adversary’s primarily target is man, but that isn’t true. Who is Satan’s primary target? Is the Lord obligated to tolerate or to put up with Satan’s arrogant disrespect? Why does He tolerate Satan? “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Is Satan the only creature who tries to oppose the Lord? Is man’s opposition toward the Lord confined to resisting duties and responsibilities? Does man ever reject and resist God’s intended blessings?

Periodically the Lord reminds man of His great power and wisdom. What are some examples? (Volcanos, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.) Could grace be an example of the Lord’s power? Wisdom? Could the incarnation of Christ be an example of the Lord’s grace? What about the Lord’s permitting of the crucifixion? At the same time, could you say that the crucifixion was an attempt by Satan to resist the Lord? How much human input was there in that act of rebellion? (The Jews and Judas, primarily.) What was the Lord’s reply or response to that resistence? (The resurrection.) Why would it be incorrect to say that the resurrection was God’s reaction to the crucifixion? (Christ Jesus was the Lamb of God “slain from the foundation of the world.”) Do you mean that something good came out of Satan’s attempt to kill the Messiah? According to the Book of Acts what happened when the Jews began persecuting the church in Jerusalem? (The Lord began to bless the preaching of the gospel in other places.) The sinner’s resistence towards the Lord didn’t hinder His glorification of Himself.

Man’s resistence to evangelism has taken several forms.

Human government.

Is human government a blessing or a curse? How is it a blessing? (Helps to maintain justice and peace.) How is it a curse? How much will human government be a part of the disasters of the Tribulation period? Can we see governments moving toward the Tribulation today? How? Generally speaking, do governments today hinder or help in the work of Biblical evangelism? Does it matter what levels of government we are talking about? If we wanted to have a Christian, Baptist or Calvary Baptist Church parade in Post Falls, could we? Do you mean that the government could keep us from honoring the Lord in with a parade? What if we didn’t ask them for permission? I read the other day about a young lady, who wanted to publically wear a Christian symbol of her chastity to school, but she was denied permission, and yet the Muslim girls at the same school are permitted to wear their distinctive clothing. What would happen if we went up the street, bringing along a portable loud-speaker, and we had our church service out under the trees in the city park?

How often is public resistence to the gospel, religiously motivated? Why did the Jewish Sanhedrin forbid the apostles from preaching Jesus in Acts 4:18? Why didn’t the first Roman emperors permit the preaching of the gospel? (They claimed deity themselves.) Why were the Waldenses persecuted? Was the Spanish Inquisition politically motivated? Is, or was, the persecution of the saints in the former Soviet Union political? When a Christian tries to witness to an homosexual, what is the usual reply? In the light of the public opposition to the Truth and the gospel, who really is the god of the this world?

Does this mean that Jehovah has abandoned His creation or His interest in souls? What would have happened to the world if Japan had won the war in the Pacific? Could the defeat of Japan have been the work and providence of the Lord? What would the world be like if the Soviet Union had prospered? Who destroyed the Spanish Armada in their attack against Elizabeth’s England? Why? Can we see the hand of the Lord lifting up and putting down human governments?

Despite man’s resistence towards the grace of the Lord, God has not abandoned His creation.

Human religion.

How many centuries have passed since Christ’s death on the cross? How many millennia have passed since we were commissioned to make disciples in all the earth? What percentage of the people of earth profess to be Christians? (About one third.) Between 1961 and 1994 has that percentage changed very much? There were 2.8 billion people in 1961 according to the World Almanac; in 1994 there were 5.5 billion. In 1961 there were about 900 million “Christians;” and in 1994 there were 1.8 billion. What percentage of that number are genuine children of God? Would you guess that the percentage of genuine Christians is more or less today than in 1961? There are 4 to 5 billion people today who profess to have no relationship to Christianity.

Why is it that despite the inestimable wealth of blessings in Christ, 98% of humanity rejects the gospel? If Jehovah is truly God, why does He allow the multiplication of human religions? In 732 AD Charles Martel, defeated Mohammedanism in Europe; why is Islam sweeping Europe today? Why are the cults and foreign religions prospering in America today? Can we say that the gospel is being resisted?

The Human Heart.

How many people are there in the world who are sinners? How many people, before God’s saving grace is applied, are dead in trespasses and sins? What is meant when the Bible says that sinners are dead in sin? There are people who say that “to be dead” means that those souls are merely separated from God. Is that what it means? When God told Adam that when he sinned he would die, did Adam think that the Lord was talking about mere separation from God? When Adam sinned did he die? What kind of death was it? Ephesians 2:1 – “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:5 – “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” What does “quickened” mean? Does it mean “to be restored to fellowship?” Is it correct then to say that for someone to be spiritually dead means that – he may be 30 years old, in perfect health, with a genius level IQ, and possessing all the wealth, family and friends that he may want, and yet he has no genuine perception of God, nor ability to come to Him? How do we know that sin and spiritual death are universal? (The universality of physical death.) Is it surprising then that there is such rejection of God and resistence to the gospel?

Biblically speaking, which is more surprising: That the world is not more completely Christian, or that there are any Christians in the world at all? In an election, what do the voters do? If there is just one piece of pie, and you want a piece, do you have a choice about which kind to eat? If there are a dozen different kinds of pie, and you choose to eat a piece, how many pies have you not eaten? If a blind man, suffering from a very bad cold came into a room with a dozen pies, what is the likelihood that he would know and choose to eat a piece of rhubarb pie? That is the spiritual condition of humanity – blind, olfactorally-challenged and senseless – dead. Even if that blind man hears about the pie, he’s not going to choose the rhubarb. The Bible teaches unmistakably that if God didn’t choose to save specific dead sinners, then there would never be anyone ever saved. The Bible unmistakably teaches that God has elected people to save.

In the mean time, those who are not elect unto salvation are going to hate and reject the gospel. Is that true sometimes, never, or always? Their hearts are going to resist every aspect of the gospel. What does the average lost man think about the charge that he is a wicked sinner? What does he think about the idea that there is nothing that he can contribute to his salvation? What does he think about needing a substitution and sacrifice to make him acceptable before God? What does he think about God’s holiness? Has there ever been a sinner who wanted to be saved whom the Lord refused to save? What percentage of the world’s population is guilty of refusing the gospel? What percentage of the world’s population is guilty of rejecting the gospel? What percentage of the world’s population is guilty of resisting the gospel? Despite this rejection, God is saving a remnant of souls by his irresistible grace.