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Sunday School

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A direct challenge to a person’s faith brings out either the worst or the best in a believer. He or she may, like Peter at the high priest’s house, give in to fear and cowardice and deny the LORD; or like Stephen, before the Sanhedrin, he or she may follow their convictions even to death. Thankfully, those of us who live in a tolerant society don’t often have to declare our commitment so completely. Today for the believer, ridicule and social pressure may be common, but so far political coercion is very rare. We may wonder how we would react if our government demanded that we either renounce our faith or die. We hope we would remain faithful, but we cannot know the outcome until we are tested. Our brothers and sisters living under hostile totalitarian regimes around the world can identify more realistically than we can with the persecuted saints of Scripture. They have firsthand experience with the principle Peter stated: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (see Acts 5:29). They make many of their decisions knowing that following their faith may cost them family, property, friends, or even their lives. Some of them no doubt find much comfort in the incident on which this week’s lesson is based. In this week’s lesson, three Hebrew youths, facing the prospect of denying their faith or dying for it made their commitment without flinching. They committed themselves to the mercies of the One whom they honored, and they found His presence sufficient in their time of need. If we do like them, we will too.

Dolores Simpson


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