Text: Acts 12:1-25 | Listen to Message
Faith in deliverance or in death
The story of Peter’s miraculous 11th-hour rescue from a Roman prison cell is a familiar one. Christian children all over the world have heard how the church prayed and the angel came, how chains fell off and doors opened automatically as guards slept. And subtly, if not intentionally, the moral of the story that’s been reinforced is something like, “If you pray and trust God, He’ll deliver you.”
Not so fast.
In the verses immediately preceding Peter’s dramatic rescue, we learn that another apostle, James, has just been brutally executed. I’m sure the church prayed for him too; but he died in faith. So we need a theology big enough – and honest enough – to account for both the deliverance of Peter and the death of James.
We understand when good things happen to good people. We even understand when bad things happen to bad people. But what about when bad things happen to good people – people who are trusting and serving God … and they die anyway?
There’s no simple answer to this question, but Acts 12 at least gives us some clues. And one of these clues is that our lives are part of a story that’s bigger than just our lives. In The Story, the ultimate goal of life is not the avoidance of suffering and death; our purpose is knowing and worshiping Jesus Christ. And we can always be certain that whether in joy or sorrow, pain or pleasure, life or death, it is always God’s goal to increase our understanding and enjoyment of Jesus.