Summary: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:10
The preacher of an underground Chinese church tells others of the precautions they must take to avoid government persecution. Each time their church reaches ten to fifteen members, they split to reduce attention. They also alternate meeting places for the same reason. Because phone lines are monitored, members meet with a volunteer on a downtown street to find out where the church will meet next. One such volunteer was discovered by the government, arrested, beaten, and put in prison. He lost his job, house, and medical benefits. Another man stepped in and took his place and he too suffered the same fate. One of the visitors said, “I suppose you have difficulty filling that job.” The Chinese pastor replied, “No. We have a waiting list.”
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:10
A. Persecution: in any way whatever to harass, trouble, or molest, to persecute, to be mistreated, suffer persecution because of something.
B. Righteousness: in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, the condition acceptable to God; the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting.
II. For Righteousness Sake
A. "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10)
B. “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
(Matthew 5:10 TMNT)
C. Not all "hard times" may be explained by this verse; Jesus limits the scope of the blessing to those persecuted because of their commitment to him.
D. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11 He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 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, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:10—17)
III. The Blessings of Heaven
A. Persecution drives the persecuted closer to God, our only refuge.
B. You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:10—17)
A. Wang Ming Dao served was the preacher of Peking’s largest church. During Communistic persecution, he was thrown into prison because of his testimony and ministry. At the hands of his perpetrators, he was tortured for his faith. Fearing even greater suffering, Dao recanted his belief in Christ and was released by the authorities. He quickly regretted his decision and was seen walking the streets of the city weeping and mumbling, “I am Judas! I have betrayed my Lord!” Within a few weeks, he was unable to bear the guilt and shame any longer. He returned to the Communist authorities, confessed his faith in Christ, and asked to be put back in prison. For the next twenty-seven years he suffered the abuse of prison life, but never again entertained the thought of denying his Lord. When Dao was released at the end of his life, the Chinese church considered him a hero who had given strength and assurance to the many who faced the perpetual threat of persecution and imprisonment. Enduring faith will experience doubts, struggles, and disappointment. It happened to John the Baptist, to Paul, to Jesus and it will happen to every person who seeks to walk in Christ like obedience. In times of spiritual crisis, may we be inspired by both the success and failure of people like Wang Ming Dao.
The Vision of His Glory, Anne Graham Lotz, 1996, p. 81