Sunday, June 29, 2014

Our Disposition in the Face of Persecution

My purpose here is not to instill negative attitudes of hostility, fear, and defeat, but to encourage believers to cultivate a genuine walk with the Lord Jesus and be prepared to stand courageously in faith and love during adversity. We must listen to the words of Jesus and emulate those first believers who experienced extraordinary grace enabling them to display exemplary behavior in the face of great persecution. We see in them no signs of hate, bitterness, or even discouragement. They were as amazing in their suffering as they were in their power.   -Billy Long

The verses below describe what our posture as Christians should be during persecution.  

Rejoice and be glad; Count it as an honor
John 16: 33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 

Matthew 5: 10-12
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

1 Peter 4: 12-14
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.”

Acts 5: 40-42
And when they had…beaten them, they commanded them that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of he council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Forgive
Acts 7: 58-60
And they cast him out of the city…and they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin,” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

1 Peter 2: 21-23
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth, who when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Persevere and endure
Acts 5: 42 (40-42
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.  

Acts 14: 19-21
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And…preached the Gospel to that city and made many disciples.

Worship and praise
Acts 16: 22-25
The magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he pt them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Appointed to suffering: Realize it is somehow necessary (in the mystery and wisdom of God)
Philippians 2: 29
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

1 Peter 2: 21
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.

Rev 6: 9-12
And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white rob was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow-servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”

Jeremiah 15:2; Rev 13: 10  “those appointed to be killed”
These two verses of scripture are of the same construction in Greek  (Jeremiah verse in Greek Septuagint, and Rev in Greek New Testament).

Acts 9: 15-16
He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

Commit yourself to God the Righteous Judge
1 Peter 2: 23-23
Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

1 Peter 4: 19
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

2 Timothy 1: 12
For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Stand in faith to pass the test (Sometimes it is a test)
Rev 2: 10
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Lu 22:31- Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail.”

Be courageous, Do not fear
Rev 2: 10
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Philippians 1: 28
And not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.

2 Timothy 1: 7-8
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.

Do not be ashamed
2 Tim 1:7-8
Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.

1 Cor 4: 9-16
For I think God has displayed us, the apostle, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake…we are weak…we are dishonored! To the present hour we bouth hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.  I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. ….Therefore, I urge you, imitate me.

Commend yourselves as servants of God
2 Corinthians 6: 4-10
But (contradicting what is usually expected of people when suffering) we commend ourselves as ministers (servants) of God: in ….
Being a “servant of God” you do not represent yourself, but are his ambassador. You do not react in a self-centered and self-serving way, but show yourself as His servant.

Maintain personal Integrity (so the enemy cannot justifiably assault you for corruption)
Daniel 6: 4-6
So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”

1 Peter 4: 15
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.

Love not your life unto death.
 Rev 12: 11 
And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Acts 20: 22-24
And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulation await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Persecution is sometimes related to judgment beginning at the house of God.
1 Peter 4: 14-19 (v.17)
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God….Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

Remember and pray for those who are suffering persecution for Christ’s sake.
Hebrews 13: 3
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.

1 Corinthians 12: 18,26
But God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased….And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Conclusion
Most of us feel weak and unable to live up to the standard presented in the verses quoted above. I must, therefore, remind the reader that God will give grace as it is needed for those who call upon Him in faith and who sincerely follow Him with their whole heart. The writer of Hebrews tells us that "out of weakness they were made strong." Some, by the grace of God, were enabled to work wonders and do great exploits. "Others," were given grace and strength for suffering. Our Lord will give us what we need as the occasions arise.
And what more shall I say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others, were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, slain with the sword. they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented---of whom the world was not worthy..."  Hebrews 11: 32-40


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Billy, for the first 300 years in the life of the Church, 1 in 60 were martyred. B.T.

Anonymous said...

Excellent...simply stating the Word...have we drifted s o far away in our ease that we have forgotten what was promised? Yes, we WILL suffer, and many of us already have to some extent...I am thinking of the brethren around the world who truly have already been martyred. I find a new theology emerging among certain young women; they want to read books that describe other' s lives of troubles and how each author rose to her present standing of author, blogger, super mom...all in the name of Jesus. The truth is there are countless other young mothers who struggle to get their heads off the pillow in the morning just to cope with one morning. This new theology imagines things like because Jesus is King I am a princess; ...it imagines God as , and I quote "Woot Woot that' s my daddy! ....He comes home still clothed in his battle garb, swings me around and kisses me on the cheek just like I see my husband do to my daughter." This fantasy escapism is the product of the more palatable Jesus, the " god" of the now kinder, gentler Christianity. I tell you it scares me to death. Thank you for your blog.We Don' t know exactly what the future may hold but we do know who holds the future...and He has given us the knowledge of the way to behave...and we have the very power that raised Christ from the grave indwelling us to enable us to face whatever may come. Praises to the LORD!
Gloria S.

Anonymous said...

As all others, this blog challenges me to reach for the God response to what may well come my way. In this country that claims to be the land of the free, there has arisen an element of intolerance to an unwelcome reminder that there is a righteous standard. The God standard pushes against the conscience of the unbeliever and even the outwardly religious who want to establish their own brand of freedom - and throw off all restraint. The true lover of God represents opposition to this false freedom, and those who want to legitimize their way of life seek not only to silence the truth but eliminate the truth speakers. The gay rights community is one example of this effort. The abortion industry is another.

I feel sure we will all have the opportunity to suffer for our faith if we are true to it. I only fear that I will deny Him by failing to speak out and be heard or stand out and be seen. I realize that it is much easier to remain in hiding in my associations with those I know are in the same camp rather than go forth and risk being found alone and vulnerable. Even now, I find myself in that position.

Thank you for the blog. All the scripture verses listed together in one writing make a strong case for the subject of to-be-expected persecution. I am glad you understand that sickness and infirmity are not on the list of those sufferings a believer is expected to bear. We are expected to receive healing to bring God glory. A paid-for benefit.
Joyce M.