Temple Baptist Church - 10-2-2016
A. Persecution: is it a curse or a blessing?
1. Through the eyes of humanity, we see persecution as a terrible thing and many avoid it at all costs. The reason that the many avoid it is because they have never had to pay a price for their confession of faith. We live in comfortable days in which we have neither persecution nor need of anything. We have fat bodies instead of fat souls.
a) Psalms 106:13-15 They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: (14) But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. (15) And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
b) I have often said that fat bodies make for lean souls. God’s people are good people and I hate to see them suffer. I hate to hear that some missionary or child of God has lost their life simply because that they have professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
c) I certainly am not a “fan” of suffering and pain either. I do not pray daily for the Lord to send me a “messenger of Satan” to buffet me or some religious zealot to persecute me. I do not long for the day that our own government will label us the enemies of the nation and try to regulate what we preach, teach, and live.
d) I am sure that believers throughout the ages have hated to be stoned, sawn asunder, burnt at the stake, crucified, etc. just for trying to live their lives in quietness and peace for the Lord.
2. Through the eyes of the Bible, we find the blessedness of those who are persecuted. Again, a Beatitude is a state of blessedness and is not based upon what is happening to us at the moment. The local church has actually been blessed in many ways during hard times of persecution. Persecution causes self-examination; persecution brings holiness; persecution causes the chaff to separate from the wheat; persecution brings about unity and love in the body.
1. The history of persecution. Adaptation! The Old Paths! God’s people have suffered persecution from Genesis 4 to this day and we are not ashamed of their testimony and hold to their paths.
a. Cain killed Abel in the very beginning.
b. The Prophets in the Old Testament
c. Our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary
d. The Apostles and the Church in the New Testament
e. An estimated 70,000,000.00+ have died since the death of our Lord.
f. One statistic says that a Christian is martyred every 5 minutes in our day.
g. And we think that we may not have to suffer?
2. The Reason for Persecution. Identification! Identification with the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ instead of the world. Because of a godly life that condemns an empty profession.
1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
John 15:20 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.
3. The Rejoicing of Persecution. Association! We are partakers with Christ’s sufferings as He is touched with ours.
1 Peter 4:13 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.
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
4. The Glorification of Persecution. Magnification! As we suffer after a godly manner, we bring glory to our Lord.
Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1 Peter 4:14-16 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. (15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. (16) Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
5. The Reward of Persecution. Exultation! If we suffer with Christ, we will also reign with Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Mark 10:28-30 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life
6. The Promise of Persecution. Exhortation! We have suffered very little to this point but the persecution is on the horizon for those who will not capitulate. Our government is getting ready to “turn up the heat” upon those of us who will not accept sinfulness by becoming politically correct. We are not hateful. We are not unloving as we love all people. Yes, the sinful is welcome to come and sit upon our pews. They are welcome to hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:10-12 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, (11) 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. (12) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) (14) 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.