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Summary: How the church confronts persecution.

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The Body of Christ, Part 1

Persecution: A People Who Overcome

Introduction:

A. A body is an organization of people who cooperate for the purpose of fulfilling a specific task. Organizational bodies have governing heads, rules of order, constitutions that define who they are and what they do.

B. The church is the organizational body of Christ. Christ is the head, the scriptures define who we are and what we do, and establishes the rules of order.

C. The Church, as the body of Christ, relates to the world, that is the body of people not subject to the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship is often contentious where the church is successful in gaining the allegiance of people away from the powers of the world and to the Lord Jesus Christ. When this happens, those loyal to this world and its way of life will attempt to eliminate or weaken the body of Christ.

I. Persecution Defined.

a. Imprisonment (Acts 12:1; Acts 22:4; Revelation 2:10)

b. Public humiliation (Hebrews 10:33)

c. Arrest and trial (Luke 21:12)

d. Slander (Matthew 5:11)

e. Torture (Acts 26:11)

Persecution: Any act of violence against a believer or church short of death.

II. Why Christians are persecuted

a. Rulers perceive threat to their loyalty (Psalm 119:161; Acts 12:1)

b. Religious rulers perceive threat to their position (Acts 13:50)

c. Religious rulers perceive threat to tradition (John 5:16, Acts 22:3; 26:11)

d. Carnal Christians try to silence the presence of conviction (Galatians 6:12)

Persecution occurs whenever the message of the Cross threatens to weaken the position of a ruler or a culture.

III. Persecution is Guaranteed to Occur Against Believers

a. It is predictable (1 Thessalonians 3:4)

b. It is guaranteed to those who want to be godly (2 Timothy 3:12)

c. It will get worse as time goes on (Matthew 24:9)

d. It is the example Jesus lived (John 15:20)

e. It has happened to everyone God has sent (Acts 7:52)

Persecution will occur against every believer and church because the gospel by its very design destroys the powers of sin over people.

IV. The Proper Attitude toward Persecution

a. It is a sign of success (Matthew 5:11)

b. Persecutors are to be loved (Matthew 5:44)

c. An opportunity to witness (Luke 21:12-14)

d. A test of faith (Romans 8:35)

e. A way for God to compel us to obey the Great Commission (Matthew 10:23; Acts 8:1)

f. A way for God to compel us to purity (Galatians 4:29)

g. An opportunity to bless (Romans 12:14)

V. Promise to those who withstand persecution

a. A great reward (Matthew 5:12)

b. The crown of life (Revelation 2:10)

c. The power of the Spirit at work in you (Luke 21:15)

A Christian who undergoes persecution will thrive in their spirits.

Conclusion: The Christian and the Church are certain to undergo persecution because their very purpose for existence threatens the powers and customs of this world. Christians will face imprisonment, insult, injury, and injustice as a way of eliminating or limiting the work of the gospel in the world. Christians must never consider persecution to be a curse, but rather a blessing that causes the work of God to manifest in this world.


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