Summary: WHY ARE CHRISTIANS PERSECUTED? WHAT TO DO WHEN PERSECUTED? WHAT IS THE REWARD FOR THE PERSECUTED?
Sermon Study #318 - RIGHTEOUS LIVING PRODUCES PERSECUTION
Key Passage: Matthew 5:10-12 - Blessed are those who are persecuted (suffer, pressed forward) because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
MSG 10"You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
WHY ARE CHRISTIANS PERSECUTED?
1. Because we do not belong to the world.
~ John 15:18-20a - "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  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.  Remember the words I spoke to you: ’No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
2. Because we pursue Godly living.
~ 2 Tim. 3:12 - In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
WHAT TO DO WHEN PERSECUTED?
1. Rejoice – be blessed – be happy!
~ 1 Peter 3:14-17 - But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
2. Endure it.
~ 1 Cor. 4:12-13a - We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;  when we are slandered, we answer kindly.
~ 1 Peter 2:20 - But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
WHAT IS THE REWARD FOR THE PERSECUTED?
Crown of LIFE in the Kingdom of Heaven!
~ Matthew 5:10-12 - Blessed are those who are persecuted (suffer, pressed forward) because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
~ James 1:12 - Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
~ Rev. 2:10 - Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.