Sermons

Summary: To help the audience realize that true love for one another and a high regard for the word of God are vital for the Church to stand up under opposition

I Thessalonians 2:13-20

Introduction – It’s June 7, 1944, one day after D Day. The beach landings and air strikes were only the beginning. Brig. General Norman “Dutch” Cota, assistant division commander of the 29th, came upon a group of infantry pinned down by some Germans in a farmhouse. He asked the captain in command why his men were making no effort to take the building. “Sir, the Germans are in there shooting at us.”

John Eldredge writes: Why were those guys pinned down? First, they seemed almost surprised that they were being shot at. “They’re shooting at us, sir.” Hello? That’s what happens in war – you get shot at. Have you forgotten? We were born into a world at war. This scene we’re living in is no sitcom. It’s a bloody battle.

Eldredge makes a good point for us to remember this morning. We’re at war.

There is an enemy. There is an opposing force in this great journey heavenward

I’m thankful this morning for opposition. Prosperity has often been fatal to Christianity, but persecution never has. Opposition draws the line between Christians and phonies; makes the enemy clearer; makes it more obvious when the devil’s at work.

Paul said,

2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Quote - J. I. Packer in Knowing God. “Opposition is a fact: the Christian who is not conscious of being opposed had better watch himself for he is in danger.”

It’s a fact that the Church has experienced some of its greatest growth under some of its hardest times.

You won’t hear much about it in the news, but today, brothers and sisters in Christ are facing incredible opposition around the world. In places like…

Kuwait:

Kuwait has a law regarding converting to Christianity: This is from an actual ruling in the case of Robert Hussein, a Christian accused of converting from Islam:

"Any Muslim who converts from Islam and attacks Mohammed's prophecy and accuses him of being a liar, his blood would be shed. His wife should be divorced from him and his possessions should be distributed among his heirs and he should be killed. The Islam [ruler] should kill him without a chance to repent." This was the proclamation in the case of Robert Hussein, 1996.

Robert Hussein was executed for his belief in Jesus.

Laos

Around 150 Christians were arrested in Laos last year. Christians there are being rounded up, imprisoned and forced at gunpoint to renounce their faith. Accounts described how 7 Church leaders and a member were recently released after a month in prison in a southern province. They said they were denied full rations, placed in stocks or made to wear handcuffs and pulled into the prison yard to sign a declaration that they’d given up their beliefs by police officers pointing guns at their heads.

Pakistan

Two Christian men were shot to death as they left a courthouse on July 19, in Faisalabad, Pakistan. 2 brothers, were facing blasphemy charges after allegedly distributing papers that denigrated Mohammed. 5 days earlier, handwriting experts had informed the police that the signatures on the papers didn’t match the Christians.

Police were leading the two brothers from the courthouse when masked men opened fire on them. The gunmen urged Muslim police officers to back away from the accused Christians to avoid being shot. No arrests have been made for the murders.

Sources said Muslims in the area celebrated the killings with tea and candy.

India

On Aug. 15, police in Karnataka, India, arrested a pastor and an evangelist with India Campus Crusade for Christ, along with 10 other believers, accusing them of forcibly converting locals. Police arrested the 12 Christians after the attack, and at last report they were still in detention.

China

A report released in New York said, "The level of persecution aimed against unregistered Christians in China is high. The persecution against underground Christians has escalated and originates at the highest central levels of the Chinese government."

Aug. 5 and 6, the Chinese government shut down three house churches.

Aug. 30, a complex owned by the Taishan Christian House Church, in Taizhou City, was demolished.

Iran

Neshan Saeedi, a 27-year-old Christian, has not been seen since his arrest by government authorities July 24th.

The family was taken from their home to a detention center where they were interrogated for several hours before Saeedi’s wife and daughter were released. Officers threatened Saeedi’s wife, saying if the family continued its Christian activities their daughter might be taken away.

More Christians have DIED for their faith in the past 100 years than in the previous 19 centuries combined. An average of 171,000 Christians a year now die for their faith in Jesus.

As I was reading through the kind of suffering that people are enduring in the name of Jesus I found myself asking the Lord, “How can they endure it?” How can the world endure it?

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