Canadian Pastor Freed From Jail Encourages Congregation To ‘Fear God,’ Not Man

Pastor Tim Stephens
Pastor Tim Stephens |

Following his release from imprisonment over holding a church service that violated Canada's health guidance last month, Pastor Tim Stephens resumed preaching, urging the congregants to stand for God and fear Him.

Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church was freed on July 1 after being held for more than two weeks at the Calgary Remand Centre. He delivered an emotional sermon about persecution on Sunday, recounting his days during incarceration and learning about the faith of the church members during his absence, Christian Headlines reported.

"We were in jail ... for 17 nights and 18 days. And when you're there that long writing down, you have a lot on your mind, and you want to now share it," he said.

He stated that he was encouraged to learn that the church members continued to hold worship services and they were "strengthened and emboldened" in their faith. He was also praying for them every day that no one would fail in faith.

"Each day, He sustained me and each day I heard of His work among you and in the world," he added.

The pastor spoke about persecution, citing Matthew 10 which tells about Jesus' warning to his disciples.

"This text in Matthew 10 talks about these increasing consequences - this opposition that people face as they stand for the Lord Jesus Christ," he stated.

Further, he said that most of Jesus' statements were about warning and preparing the disciples for opposition, urging them to have endurance, boldness and loyalty to Him.

 The minister pointed out that the warning of Jesus is also "our call today," adding that the commission He gave to the 12 apostles is the same with the one he commanded to all the disciples as stated in Matthew 28. Christians today have the mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.

The pastor highlighted Paul's words in 2 Timothy 3:12, saying that persecution in not only for the disciples but also for everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.

Stephens shared that the nights he spent in prison have given him the "opportunities to declare the glory of Christ, within and without".

"[There] never has been a time in my life when I've been so hated by people. But never has there been a time in my life when I felt so loved by people [at] the same time. Don't fear men. Shout from the rooftops that Jesus Christ is King of all kings," he continued.

Further, he called for the church members to fear the Lord.

"...Fear God. Jesus said [that] God is the one who is going to judge and God is the one who is going to care for you," he said.

Stephens was arrested in June for holding an outdoor worship service after the government locked their worship center. It was his second indictment under Section 127 of Canada's Criminal Code, following his arrest in May for violating the May 13 Order of Associate Chief Justice Rooke.

But the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, the legal firm that assisted the minister in court, argued that the order used against him was not applicable and thus, the arrests were illegal.