Introduction

Persecution is the act of rejection, hatred, and social and physical harm from people of this world to those who live and serve Christ and preach His gospel.

The Scripture is filled with passages that confirm my definition of persecution for example:

2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

These words are a reminder to every Christians that they will face opposition for devotion to Christ. As Christ said to His disciples in

John 15:18-20 ” 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

Acts 14:21b-22 “Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.”

Persecution comes in different shapes, and degrees, and they come from different people. The early church was faced with different shapes of persecution. Some times they faced individual persecution, other times they faces persecution from the Jewish nation, the Roman government, and still other times they were faced with organized persecution especially in the life of Paul.

As Hiebert says, “Persecution “may vary in degree and take different forms in different countries and in different ages, but the basic hostility of the world to the godly man remains unchanged.”

Thus persecution is part of the church throughout it’s history. In reality persecution is the church fuel. Without it the church would not probably grow as it had grown or spread.

Many of the disciples and apostles of Christ were persecuted intensely. Fox’s Book of Martyrs writes about the death of the early church disciples. For example:

  • Stephen was cast out of the city and stoned to death
  • James the son of Zebedee 10 years later (A.D. 44) was executed by Herod Agrippa as a favor to the Jews
  • Philip was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterward crucified A.D. 54
  • Matthew was slain by a sword in A.D. 60
  • James the half brother of Jesus was beaten and stoned by the Jews at age ninety-four and finally had his brain dashed out with a fuller’s club
  • Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded
  • Andrew was taken and crucified on a cross, the tow ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground.
  • Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria at the great Solemnity of Serapis their idol.
  • Peter was crucified with his head downward, at his own request
  • Paul was arrested by Nero and beheaded
  • Jude was crucified A.D. 72
  • Bartholomew was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters
  • Thomas was martyred by being thrust through with a spear
  • Luke was hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece
  • Simon was crucified
  • John was exiled to the island of Betimes

Today I want us to think of persecution from a biblical perspective giving that persecution is part of the Christian life. Thus we will be looking at seven reminders from the Scripture to help us keep a biblical perspective as we go through trials, persecution, and suffer for the name of Christ.

1. God Appoint certain people to be persecuted.

Acts 9:10-15 “For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.  10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered.  11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”  15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.

2. God promised to be with us.

Matthew 28:20 “…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

3. God gives sufficient grace in the midst of persecution, trials, and suffering so that we would endure it.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

4. God is still Sovereign in the midst of persecution

Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”

Psalm 135:6 “The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.”

Psalm 47:1-4 “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. 2 For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. 3 He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.”

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

5. God will not allow anything in our lives that He knows we will not be able to endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ” No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

6. God will allow nothing to separate us from the love of Christ.

Romans 8:35-39 “35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

7. Our Savior, king, and redeemer Jesus Christ is worthy of our dedication and suffering for Him because He suffered and died for us.

Revelation 5:8-14 “8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

because you were slain,

and with your blood you purchased for God

persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,

and they will reign[b] on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honor and glory and power,

for ever and ever!” 14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Philippians 3:7-8  “7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”

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