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(10) "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(11) "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
(12) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
EOLS: Christian life is at odds with the world and the disciple will face opposition to his walk.
(12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
(13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Whatever became of the Twelve Disciples?
1. John died of extreme old age in Ephesus.
2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
3. Peter was crucified, head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, in Achaia, a Grecian Colony.
5. James, the younger brother of the Savior, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the east Indies.
9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis (Abyssinia).
10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (now Iran).
Friends, we have it so good. It’s so easy for us.
Today in America we enjoy the fruits of two hundred and thirty five years of freedom and liberty. Our founding fathers gave their lives so that we could enjoy the religious freedom that we have today in this country.
I often grapple with “why me, why us?” We are in a unique situation where our faith walk does not cost us physical persecution, or our lives. The huge preponderance of church history is flooded with the blood of martyrs and the suffering of saints for the sake of Christ.
Interestingly, and contrary to a normal or natural view of things, persecution and martyrdom have not hindered the church or held it back in any fashion. On the contrary, these have fueled the church and given it life in the most dire circumstances and times!
The Church Father Tertullian observed that, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
You see untested faith is not proven faith. It’s easy to stand up and profess Christ when it’s popular or unchallenged to do so. The day that it begins to cost you what you hold dear is the day you begin to decide what’s important and just how committed you are. That’s when your faith begins to run deep and when you decide if this is just a convenient choice or a deep, imbedded passion that’s a part of your inner being.
George Bernard Shaw said that
“the finest compliment the world can pay any author is to burn his books” thus showing that his books are so dynamic and explosive as to be considered intolerable.” Likewise for God’s people-the finest affirmation a Christian can receive is to be counted worthy to suffer persecution
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