persecution of the christian: On the rise and closer than you think!
Persecution for the Christian is definitely on the rise these days, and certainly closer to your doorstep than you may think! Various statistics proves it to be so; but don't be alarmed. God's Word said this would happen. 2 Timothy 3:12 declares, "Yea, and all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Consider what Jesus said to His disciples and followers as he warned of what was to come in John 15:18-21, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, 'The servant is not greater than his LORD. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do unto you for My name's sake because they know not Him that sent Me.'"
When you first came to Christ and believed, accepted, and received His free gift of eternal life through salvation, you put your complete faith and trust in Him, knowing that somehow He would change you, to give you newness of life in Him. However, you may not have realized at the time (some Christians do not), that there is a huge cost to being a believer, and to being a true follower of Jesus Christ.
Just being a Christian or claiming to be a believer and follower of Christ automatically makes you a target, sought-out and identified for Satan to mess with and torture. He will hinder your work and ministry and try to create diversions and divisions within your family or other relationships as well.
Ephesians 6:12 makes it clear that you are not just fighting, battling, or struggling with or against other people, but with Satan and all his evil forces. Here's what it says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." So, as a believer, you must be vigilant in all things, in your prayer life, in your witness and testimony, and in your life as a whole.
It's clear that persecution is on the rise and at our doorstep, although we may wish not to think of it, especially for Americans. If you were to ask many Christian here out on the streets today that, if they knew before they were saved, there would be a great possibility of being harassed, tortured, bullied, or even killed just because they believed in Jesus Christ and claimed to be His follower, what do you think they would say? Their answer might surprise you.
You see, most who claim to be Christians this day in time (especially in the West) don't have even a clue as to what true suffering and persecution really is just yet, and seem to live fairly good and quiet lives without much upset for the most part.
We find in our culture as Christians that, as time goes by, the more tolerant we become towards each other as a society and towards everyone else's religions, the more intolerant society becomes towards the Christian believer. It used to be that we had more freedoms within the Christian faith, but now that is growing very dim.
Many believers and followers of our Lord Jesus are suffering this very minute, in every city, every state/province, and every country. and some are being horribly and brutally maimed, tortured, and even killed for the cause of Christ!
What Is true christian persecution?
Wikipedia.com gives the definition of this term as "hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race, political, or religious beliefs, and the persistent annoyance or harassment of someone or a group."
Those in the past and present who have singled out the Christian believer with the intent of inflicting persecution upon them have done so (and still do so) through various methods. Here are just a few of them:
- Through various forms of harassment and bullying;
- Through imprisonment/incarceration of those who proclaim to be Christians, of those who hide or who act on behalf of other Christians;
- Through various means of undermining and destroying the works of Christian materials for teaching and learning (examples: burning books, pamphlets, videos, films; shutting down websites/blogs that give out Christian information, etc.);
- Through various threats upon family members who are Christian or know of someone who practices his/her faith, and
- Through stabbings, hangings, and killings of those who proclaim Jesus and live the Christian life.
Those who would attack with persecution or who do ill or harm to the children of God do not care about their fate or how it will affect them in the future, and do it only for the sake of what their government tells/directs them to do, or by their own seething hatred for Christians and what they stand for.
The following passages of scripture tells us how God is greatly displeased with these types of people and what the final fate will be for those engaging in persecution:
- Luke 17:1-2 says, "Then He said unto the disciples, 'It is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.'"
- Proverbs 6:12-19 warns that, "A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; Frowardness is in his heart; he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly he shall be broken without remedy. These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift to running into mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
- Ecclesiastes 12:14 tells us, "For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."
- Psalm 37:1-40 gives us clear insight on how God will deal with persecution of the saints, and how He will bring calamity on those wicked ones who are doing the persecuting. It instructs the believer to do the following, "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgement as the noon day. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Fret not thyself; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way; because of the man who bringeth wicked devises to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil; for evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him, for He seeth that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoked shall they consume away. The wicked borroweth, and pay not again: but the righteous showeth mercy, and giveth. For such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand. I have been young, and now I am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread. He is merciful, and lendeth; and His seed is blessed. Depart from evil, and do good, and dwell forevermore. For the Lord loveth judgement, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved forever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever. The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgement. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him."
Alarming Statistics Of Christian Persecution
We all know there are those Christians who bravely and quietly suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ and for taking a stand against Satan's evil influence and devices, but do we really know the sheer volume of suffering that is out there?!! Look at these numbers and statistics that are staggering to say the least:
- According to www.opendoorsusa.org, "every month (1) 255 Christians are killed, (2) 104 Christians are abducted, (3) 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed or forced into marriage, (4) 66 churches are attacked, and (5) 160 Christians are detained withouth trial and imprisoned."
- Again, according to www.opendoorsusa.org, "research calculations said that the top ten nations where Christians found it most dangerous and difficult to practice their faith in 2017 were: North Korea (the highest), Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran."
- There are now "Over 200 Million Christians Now Under High Levels Of Persecution", writes Frank Vernuccio, from TownHallfinance.com. This article really amazed me to see how this is such a growing problem for Christians worldwide!
- The spread of Islam is growing by leaps and bounds in the west and has been reported all over our world news and internet. Other religious groups have penetrated our societies and have infiltrated their belief systems within our American culture as well. Apart from Islam, many of these groups are: Judaism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Atheism, Jehovah's Witness, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Taoism, and many others. According to Wikipedia.com, "there are 77 different religions represented and practiced just in the United States alone"!
- Virtually everyday you hear of various atrocities that occur for many people throughout those countries mentioned (and added countries reported as well), whose governments and societies of people do not tolerate our Christian faith, or in accepting those who profess to be believers in Christ. Many times we don't hear about these abuses, and untold deaths in our country (USA), and sometimes find it shocking to think it's actually near our door step, but indeed it is!
Persecution affects those who are at home and abroad
This is happening everywhere really, on the home front as well as in other countries. I dare say that even in the country you presently reside, there are situations of Christian persecution even now, and possibly right in front of you as well.
How can you know it's going on, and where do you see it on your own turf? Well, you may not be able to truly pinpoint it exactly, but Satan has his claws into wherever he sees his golden opportunity to cause distention and to do harm. After all, the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8-9 for us to, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." Furthermore, John 10:10 reminds us that Jesus says, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
You realize, of course, that it is the devil who heads up the persecution of Christians in this world. He works with other unholy angels (demons), as well as through those wicked and sinful humans whom he uses to do his dirty work and evil bidding, and he won't give up until he himself is stopped by God!
You may see it being portrayed within your own house and family life. Satan may use the members of your family to get to you, or to absolutely destroy the stability of your family unit as a whole. I have seen this happen within members of my own family and others, and know this to be true.
This is also foretold and forewarned to us through God's Word in Luke 12:51-53, when Jesus said, "Suppose ye that I come to give peace on earth? I tell you, 'Nay, but rather division:' For from henceforth, there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." We also look to Micah 7:6, which also says, "For the son dishonoreth the father; the daughter riseth up against her mother; the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house." Also look to what Jesus has promised us in Matthew 19:29, which states," And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Looks like a tall order? Maybe, but that is what Jesus calls us to do if we are in complete love, honor, and devotion to Him.
You may also suffer persecution at work with your boss or co-workers for your faith. If they know you are a Christian, they may cause harm to your physical body or to your character and reputation. Perhaps you are looked over for a raise or a promotion at your job all because of your faith in Christ. Or, if you witness to others about the gospel while at work, then you may be targeted as someone who is a threat to them and may be bullied or harassed in some way.
Others who perhaps have businesses or own property are bullied, harassed, attacked physically, or even taken to court if they do not comply with social standards or laws prohibiting discrimination of certain groups of people (such as homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people, etc.) to use their products or services and such. I've seen this occurring a lot in our country as well. Perhaps you have witnessed similar situations and circumstances where you live too.
In the affected countries I announced earlier, where there are definite divides on this issue of Christian persecution, these particular evils and various horrible atrocities are happening everyday, especially where a particular religion or belief is held to the highest standard and is named to be the only one that must be worshiped, honored, and adhered to (example, Atheism, Communism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.).
We may hear that a certain pastor was put in prison, or a church was burned down, or a group of young girls/women were raped, or what have you, all for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of the gospel being preached. Yes, these things are atrocious and horrendous but God has His purpose and plan set in place. Each one of these examples of persecutions has its purpose within the kingdom of God.
How should christians react to the sufferings of persecution?
Devout believers and followers of Christ who are at home and all over the world know that they will one day suffer persecution of some kind to one degree or another. Either they are suffering now or will at some time within the near future.
Don't be fooled into thinking that it will never come to your doorstep, or that you will somehow cleverly escape it because, if you indeed are a true Christian, who loves God with all your heart, soul, body, and mind; living to please Him everyday and in every way, then you too will suffer for the cause of Christ!
God's Word is FULL of rich promises, prophesy, teachings, principles, instruction, guidance, leadership, comfort, and hope in the line and reasons for why the believer must and should want to suffer and die for Christ's sake.
Consider the following passages of scripture as it lays out these biblical truths while we think of our dear Christian brothers and sisters who too are on the sidelines, as well as on the front line of persecution everyday:
- Acts 5:37-42 speaks on the plight of the apostles as they suffered persecution and how they reacted to it, which says "After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, as many as obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say unto you, 'Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this council or this work be of men, it will come to naught: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: And when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased NOT to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
- Acts 9:13-16, Ananias spoke to the Lord regarding Saul (who later was named Paul), and couldn't understand why He had called him to do a work for God, knowing that he had previously persecuted the Jews. This passage says, "Then Ananias answered, 'Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name.' But the Lord said unto him, 'Go thy way: For he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake.'"
- 2 Timothy 2:12, here Timothy also proclaims that, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us."
- Philippians 3:10-15, Paul encourages the believer to press onward even through his/her persecution. Here he writes, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained; either were already perfect: but I follow after; if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before; I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."
- Hebrews 11:24-27 says that, "By faith Moses, when he came to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible." Imagine Moses having to deal with many avenues of persecution while driving the Hebrews out of Egypt!
- James 1:2-5 instructs and encourages the believer, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him."
- Matthew 7:12 instructs us, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
- Ephesians 4:32 clearly states how we are to treat others in the line of persecution. Here it reads, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Lastly,
- Proverbs 25:21-22 also says, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; if he be thirsty, give him water to drink. For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee." At times, doing this very act may indeed lessen the effects of persecution.
what are the results of christian persecution?
Out of the woes and horrors of persecution comes yet a tremendous benefit and powerful result for the kingdom of God, and that is it enlarges the kingdom of God!
The bride of Christ grows bigger and stronger through the various forms of persecution. When I realized this great truth, it encouraged me all the more and gave me more confidence as a believer in Christ, knowing that His Word will stand forever, for all time!
The following are some of the benefits and results that come out of persecution:
- The spreading of the gospel grows churches and enlarges the kingdom of God. Look at these examples given in scripture as we see how the church grew even in the midst of persecution. Acts 2:42-47 demonstrates it clearly, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the LORD added to the church daily such as should be saved." More examples of the increasing number of souls being saved throughout the early church as it was growing and establishing itself are from Acts 4:4, which states, "Howbeit, many which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand." And then in Acts 5:14, it reports, "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes, both the men and women." It plain to see that with persecution, comes the growth of the church.
- Your life becomes more victorious as you continue to follow and obey God's Word. 1 John 5:4-5 says, "For whatsoever if born of God overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" Also, Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us, "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
- Even though you may suffer through harsh persecution, you are honored and protected by God. Look to Isaiah 41:10, which says, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness."
- You have given your all and all to Him, and therefore you live your life with complete abandonment towards God, knowing that He will care for you and sustain your life fully. Consider Matthew 10:28, which reminds the believer, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." As for His provision, look to Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus encourages us further as it reads, "Therefore, I tell say unto you, ' Take no thought for your life; what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold, the fowls of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore, take no thought saying, 'What shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.'" You see, even through the horrors and evils of persecution, God is keeping a watch over you and sustaining you for the work He would have you do.
- Knowing your life is stayed on Him, the Lord will bring others to you who will help you in spreading the gospel as well, or He will send you to those people. Here's what Jesus said in Luke 10:2 as He spoke to His disciples about spreading the gospel news: "Therefore said He unto them, 'The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers unto His harvest." Also, look to John 4:35, which says, "Say not ye, 'there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?' behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and on the fields, for they are white already to harvest." Furthermore, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything; neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God; ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."
- Others will see how, even through your suffering and persecution, you are committed and faithful to Christ through it all. They too will see God's power and glory throughout your life, and will want what, or (Who) you have! Matthew 5:16 instructs us to, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven." Also, in Romans 12:1-2, we are clearly exhorted, "I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." Moreover we see the commitment of Paul to the preaching of the gospel, regardless of persecution, as he write in 2 Timothy 1:11-12 when he says, " Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless, I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Lastly,
- The Lord gives you plenty of grace to help you bear these trials and tribulations when undergoing the perils of persecution for Christ's sake. He never promised to keep us clear of it, or to avoid it completely, but He does promise to help us through it, so He gets the honor and glory in it. When you allow Him to use you as an instrument of love and grace, He then honors your life with much spiritual fruit and the reward that is yet to come! Ponder upon these helpful verses: Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Also, in John 1:16, it reminds us, "And of His fullness have we all received, and grace for grace."
The early church suffered much persecution as the apostles went about preaching and teaching the gospel, not so concerned for their own personal safety or welfare, but for the lost souls of those people around them who had yet to believe.
There is nothing to be ashamed of if you too are suffering persecution in the line of duty as a believer, follower, and soldier for the Lord, and for the sake of the gospel message. Consider these wonderful passages of scripture taken from Romans 8:35-37, which reminds us, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, 'For Thy sake, we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Wow! What a blessing! What a promise!
Paul suffered on many occasions, but endured through them all and lived to tell about them until his ultimate death. Here he reported to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:10-11, "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the LORD delivered me."
Just look at some of the things Paul had to live with, suffer from, and endure throughout his ministry as he boldly took a stand for the Lord:
- 1 Corinthians 15:30-32 says, "And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."
- Galatians 5:11 also posses the question, "And I brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased."
- 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 exhorts, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered into death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So that death worketh in us, but life in you. We have the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore I have spoken; We also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
- 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, here Paul continues as he states, "Giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves, as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true: as unknown and yet well-known: as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, and yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." And finally we see in,
- 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Paul speaks of many horrors and atrocities of which he experienced during his time of persecution, as he said, "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool), I am more; in labors, more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods; once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils by the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." These are pains and sufferings that any "normal" human being would care to or dare to suffer for the cause of Christ! One must be in complete devotion and dedication to the Lord to endure all these things.
- 2 Corinthians 12:5-10 Paul again reiterates that, "Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool, for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. /and lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong." Paul's infirmities and struggles made him stronger throughout all his persecution.
Even though their physical lives were on the line, they went out boldly as they obeyed the final instruction, the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, right before He descended into Heaven. Matthew 28:16-20 gives the account, "Then the eleven went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, 'All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
You too may be suffering and experiencing Christian persecution where you are, at home or overseas. It could be happening only from time to time, or on a daily basis. Just know and realize you are not alone in this. The Lord is with you. He never forsakes His own!
As Christians, we must come together in continual prayer, study, and meditation upon God's Word, so that we may be able to endure with patience and grace. Truly, we must pray for our dear brothers and sisters who are humbly serving the Lord and being used as vessels and instruments for Him overseas and on the home front, as they spread the gospel message to all who will believe and receive it.
Let us pray diligently for our missionaries at home and overseas, for those who stand up and stand out boldly for the sake of Christ, and for His gospel message. Pray also for those who endure persecution in other places, that although it may come up in unusual situations and circumstances, still it is persecution, nevertheless.
May the Bride of Christ come together in unison, to bless, encourage, and uplift each other as the day of Christ's return draws nigh. We have that blessed hope and promise of His return, which should comfort us all.
In conclusion, I want to leave you with yet two wonderful and timely passages of scripture to help you and encourage you as you walk with the Lord in obedience to Him.
Allow these passages to penetrate down deep and to touch your spirit as you remain a beacon of light to others, and an ambassador for Jesus, in all you say and do. Look to:
1 Peter 4:12-19, as it instructs and encourages you: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice: inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil-spoken of; but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." And lastly,
Galatians 6:9, exhorts us, "And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Amen and amen.
May the Lord bless and keep you as you strive to trust and obey Him, and that you continue to remain worthy of His calling.
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