Sermons

Summary: Persecution is inevitable. In fact, trying to avoid it will not prevent it. Stand firm in the faith!

THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH BEGAN BEFORE IT WAS EVEN ESTABLISHED. IT STARTED WHEN SATAN STIRRED UP THE FEAR, GREED, AND RAGE IN THE HEART OF A MAN NAMED HEROD AND WIELDED HIM LIKE A SWORD TO PIERCE THE HEART OF JESUS CHRIST.

IF SATAN COULD DESTROY THIS MESSIAH AS SOON AS HE ARRIVED, SATAN THOUGHT, THERE WOULD BE NO CHURCH, NO CROSS, AND NO REDEMPTION. AND SATAN WOULD WIN HIS WAR AGAINST GOD…OR SO HE THOUGHT!

WHAT SATAN DIDN’T REALIZE WAS THAT JESUS DID NOT COME TO EARTH ALL ALONE. GOD THE FATHER WAS WITH HIM, WATCHING OVER HIM AND PROTECTING HIM.

BUT SATAN WAS DESPERATE! EVEN WITH THIS PROTECTION SATAN TRIED MANY TIMES DURING JESUS’ LIFE TO STOP HIM FROM REACHING THE CROSS AT CALVARY.

SATAN USED TEMPTATIONS, RIOTOUS JEWS, PROUD RELIGIOUS LEADERS, AND FINALLY, WHEN ALL SEEMED LOST, SATAN TRIED THE SPIRIT OF REJECTION THAT CAUSED JESUS TO CRY OUT IN MATTHEW 27:46, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

WHAT SATAN THOUGHT WAS A SHOUT OF SURRENDER, WAS ACTUALLY A TESTIMONY THAT NOTHING COULD SEPARATE JESUS FROM THE LOVE OF HIS FATHER.

JESUS WAS OBEDIENT TO THE FATHER’S WILL. JESUS ENDURED THE CROSS AND ACCOMPLISHED HIS MISSION. SATAN QUICKLY REALIZED THAT JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS WAS NOT HIS VICTORY BUT HIS UTTER DEFEAT.

EVER SINCE THAT MOMENT IN TIME WHEN SATAN WAS UTTERLY HUMILIATED, HE HAS NOW TURNED HIS HATRED AND ANGER AGAINST THE CHURCH. WHY THE CHURCH? BECAUSE THE CHURCH IS CHRIST’S PHYSICAL BODY HERE ON EARTH.

WE ARE THE CHURCH AND WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST WHICH SATAN HAS TARGETED FOR PERSECUTION. SINCE HE COULD NOT DESTROY THE LITERAL BODY OF CHRIST UPON THE CROSS HE IS NOW TRYING TO DESTROY HIS CHURCH BODY UPON THE EARTH.

OUR SCRIPTURE PASSAGE TODAY GIVES MANY ACCOUNTS OF HOW SATAN HAS TRIED TO SILENCE THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST WITH ALL FORMS AND DEGREES OF PERSECUTION.

ALTHOUGH THEIR VOICES AND BODIES WERE SILENCED, THEIR TESTIMONIES STILL SPEAK BOLDLY OF JESUS CHRIST. SATAN USED REJECTION, RIDICULE, BEATINGS, STONINGS AND THE VILEST FORMS OF TORTURE TO INCLUDE SAWING PEOPLE IN HALF TO KILL THE BODY…BUT IT DIDN’T WORK…OR HAS IT?

STORIES OF PEOPLE BEING MARTYRED AND MURDERED FOR THEIR FAITH SEEM SO BARBARIC AND "OUT-DATED." WESTERN CHRISTIANITY TODAY HAS NO PROPER CONCEPT THAT COULD ACCEPT OR COMPREHEND PERSECUTION EVEN TAKING PLACE.

OURS IS A THEOLOGY OF FREE-WILL, BELIEVE-WHATEVER-YOU-WANT AND A “BLESS-ME-PROSPERITY” THAT TEACHES A FAITH WITHOUT ANY RULES, RISKS OR DEMANDS. IT SEE SALVATION AS NOT MUCH MORE THAN A TICKET OF ADMISSION INTO HEAVEN.

IT OBVIOUSLY HASN’T SUNK IN HOW THE BIBLE PAINTS A RADICALLY DIFFERENT PICTURE. THE BIBLE SAYS THAT PERSECUTION IS INEVITABLE. IT IS AS NORMAL TO THE CHRISTIAN AS IS PRAYER, WORSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP.

THE BIBLE SAYS THAT IT IS TO BE CONSIDERED AS A BLESSING. MATTHEW 5:10-12, "GOD BLESSES THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED BECAUSE THEY LIVE FOR GOD, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS THEIRS. GOD BLESSES YOU WHEN YOU ARE MOCKED AND PERSECUTED AND LIED ABOUT BECAUSE YOU ARE MY FOLLOWERS. BE HAPPY ABOUT IT! BE VERY GLAD! FOR A GREAT REWARD AWAITS YOU IN HEAVEN…."

IT IS NOT ONLY A BLESSING, BUT IT IS SOMETHING WE SHOULD NEVER FEAR. REVELATION 2:10, "DON’T BE AFRAID OF WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SUFFER. THE DEVIL WILL THROW SOME OF YOU INTO PRISON AND PUT YOU TO THE TEST. YOU WILL BE PERSECUTED FOR TEN DAYS. REMAIN FAITHFUL EVEN WHEN FACING DEATH AND I WILL GIVE YOU THE CROWN OF LIFE."

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, WE KNOW WE SHOULD ENDURE THE TRIALS OF PERSECUTION SIMPLY BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF WAS PERSECUTED - PERSECUTED BEYOND ANYTHING WE CAN EVER IMAGINE OR UNDERSTAND.

JESUS SAID IT VERY CLEARLY IN JOHN 15:20, "DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT I TOLD YOU? ’A SERVANT IS NOT GREATER THAN THE MASTER.’ SINCE THEY PERSECUTED ME, NATURALLY THEY WILL PERSECUTE YOU….”

PERSECUTION IS AN INEVITABLE PART OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE SO TRYING TO AVOID IT WILL NOT PREVENT IT! THAT IS WORTH HEARING AGAIN: AVOIDING IT WILL NOT PREVENT IT!

I PRAY THAT YOU WILL NOT FEAR ANY FORM OF PERSECUTION WHETHER IT IS AS LITTLE AS A TEMPTATION OR AS BIG AS THE THREAT OF DEATH.

I PRAY THAT CONDEMNATION WILL FIND NO FOOTHOLD IN YOU SOUL WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF SUFFERING FOR NO APPARENT REASON OTHER THAN FOR BEING A CHRISTIAN.

I PRAY THAT YOU WILL BECOME BOLDER FOR CHRIST’S SAKE THAN YOU EVER HAVE BEEN BEFORE, CARING NOTHING FOR WHATEVER YOU MIGHT SUFFER OR EXPERIENCE IN CONSEQUENCE.

I PRAY, AS PETER PRAYED, THAT YOU WILL "NOT BE SURPRISED AT THE PAINFUL TRIAL YOU ARE SUFFERING, AS THOUGH SOMETHING STRANGE WERE HAPPENING TO YOU. BUT REJOICE THAT YOU PARTICIPATE IN THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, SO THAT YOU MAY BE OVERJOYED WHEN HIS GLORY IS REVEALED. IF YOU ARE INSULTED BECAUSE OF THE NAME OF CHRIST, YOU ARE BLESSED FOR THE SPIRIT OF GLORY AND OF GOD RESTS ON YOU. IF YOU SUFFER, IT SHOULD NOT BE AS A MURDERER OR THIEF OR ANY OTHER KIND OF CRIMINAL , OR EVEN AS A MEDDLER. HOWEVER, IF YOU SUFFER AS A CHRISTIAN, DO NOT BE ASHAMED, BUT PRAISE GOD THAT YOU BEAR THAT NAME."

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