Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jailed For Jesus

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
Acts 16:25-26

Yesterday Pastor Michael Salman began his sixty day sentence for conducting a home Bible study in a building on his property. According to the Phoenix, Arizona prosecutors, this came down to zoning issues and permits.  He was not jailed for his preaching but for not keeping zoning laws.  So was the pastor out of line?  Was his insistence on having a Bible study at odds with God's injunction in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the land?  It is a bit of strange irony to understand that it was the apostle Paul who wrote this chapter in Romans.  Why?  He was the same fellow who wrote 2 Corinthians 11:23, "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft."  Paul was imprisoned often for disobeying the law of the land.  It would be nearly four hundred years before Christ was allowed to be preached in the Roman Empire.  In Paul's day the law clearly stated that only the official Roman religions could be preached, and Caesar worship took center stage.  Now the question could be asked is there a contradiction in the Bible concerning obeying the laws of a nation and preaching the gospel?

It seems at times that serving God and sharing His truth are at odds with the laws of the land.  Ask Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (aka. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego).  The law of Babylon was very clear and explicit. "That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:5-6)."   It is also clear that they willfully broke this law and that all knew it took place.  "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up (Daniel 3:12)."   So what was God's opinion of all of this?  Ask Him!  He was there as He was the 4th man in the fire.

Simon Peter also understood that there are times when sharing the Gospel that delivers souls from eternal torment is more important than repressive laws that attempt to restrict its propagation.  This same Peter who just weeks prior had denied the LORD three times was now preaching about the risen Christ he had seen.  He had been warned by the priests and legal authorities to never mention that name nor share the message of the cross even while being beaten and whipped.  Did it stop him?  Not hardly.  In Acts 12 we find him imprisoned for sharing Christ when the legal authorities (Herod)  had him jailed.  So what did God think about this?  Ask Him!  He sent a mighty angel to release him.  I guess that was God's response.

We could ask so many from history what their opinion was.  There were hundreds, no thousands martyred for illegally preaching including all of the apostles except John.  There were those pesky preachers and servants of Christ who were burnt in the Lollard's Pit for passing out illegal English Bibles.  There are just so many to ask that I don't know where to go next.  Wait!  We could ask the Puritans and Pilgrims who helped to found this land.  Were they not escaping persecution from their governments for not worshiping in the prescribed and lawful way?  Maybe we should ask them?  Some of their descendants would form a near forgotten document called the Constitution of the United States of America that allowed the free exercise of religion because they did not want a repeat of what had happened to them in their nations of origin.

Maybe we should look for more current and contemporary witnesses?  Ask the unknown number of Chinese saints what they think as they conduct illegal services in their houses, barns, and local woods since Christianity is illegal in their Communist land.  How about the thousands who are forced to not mention the name of Christ in lands where Sharia law is in place?  Maybe w
e should ask those who have been raped, tortured, beaten, scarred, and burnt for illegally worshiping Christ in Muslim lands?  Just days ago 18 were  killed in Kenya.  Ask them!  Eighteen confirmed dead in church attacks in Kenya - Provo Christianity | Examiner.com Ask Youcef Nadarkhani for his thoughts as he awaits his execution in an Iranian jail for illegally preaching and failing to recant Christ. U.S. urges Iran to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani - UPI.com

Maybe we are asking the wrong person.  Let's ask Jesus.  Was he not crucified for preaching and setting up a kingdom contrary to the established Roman authorities?  That is what His accusers said.  They had him beaten, whipped, and nailed to a cross for preaching illegally.  Unlike the 18 in Kenya, you can ask Him now.  The grave could not hold Him.  His empty grave itself testifies to His answer.  Men's eternal souls are worth more to God than all of the repressive laws of man that try to stop the preaching of the cross that saves!  By the way, if you choose not to ask Jesus now, you won't have long to wait for His answer.  You will get it soon as He is Soon2Come!


  1. Acts 5:28-32 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his.....AND AGAIN!!!!We ought to obey God rather than men.

  2. Luke 21:11-12 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute [you], delivering [you] up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.