“Emmanuel’s Kingdom, Part 9” – Matthew 5:10-12

December 28th, 2014

Matthew 5:10-12

“Emmanuel’s Kingdom – Pt 9”

 

Service Orientation:  It seems as though Jesus is asking us to do the impossible:  Be thrilled and over joyed because of the reward you will receive by being insulted, persecuted, or slandered.  Jesus is obviously assuming a faith much greater and a hope much brighter than most of us possess.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  — 2 Timothy 3:12-13

 

Background Information:

  • If a Christian man is a peacemaker this is what happens to him. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 110)
  • (v. 10) Blessed apparently is repeated to emphasize the generous blessing given by God to those who are persecuted. “Double-blessed are those who are persecuted,” Jesus seems to be saying.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 220)
  • (v. 10) Jesus uses the imperative mood, which makes His words more than a suggestion. We are commanded to be glad.  Not to be glad when we suffer for Christ’s sake is to be untrusting and disobedient.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 231)
  • (v. 11) One of the Puritan commentators believed that the reason Christ repeated himself was because the statement was so incredible! And he was probably right.

Until now all the Beatitudes have been given in the third person–“Blessed are those,” and that is the way this Beatitude begins.  But the repetition in verse 11 changes to the direct address of the second person–“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you…” (Emphasis added).  The repetition of the Beatitude, its personalization, and its position at the end of the list tell us that it is of supreme importance for the church.  Significantly, when stretched on the loom of adversity the church has repeatedly woven persecution and joy into garments of divine praise.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 70)

  • (v. 12) The appropriate response of the disciple is rejoicing. The second verb, agalliasthe (“be glad”), Hill (Matthew) takes to be “something of a technical term for joy in persecution and martyrdom” (cf. 1 Pt 1:6, 8; 4:13; Rv 19:7).  Yet its range of associations seems broader (Lk 1:47; 10:21; Jn 5:35; 8:56; Acts 2:26; 16:34).  The disciples of Jesus are to rejoice under persecution because their heavenly reward will be great at the consummation of the kingdom (v. 12).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 137)
  • (v. 12) The word for be glad is from the verb agalliastyhai which has been derived from two Greek words which mean to leap exceedingly. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 116)
  • (v. 12) The word translated “be glad,” agalliasthe (also translated “exult”) refers to deep, spiritual joy (see Lk 1:46-47; Acts 16:34; 1 Pt 4:13). This type of rejoicing is eternal–unhindered and unchanged by what happens in this present life.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 82)
  • (v. 12) The phrase “the prophets who came before you” perhaps suggests that Jesus’ disciples are now the prophetic voice on earth (cf. 10:41; 23:34). (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 173)

 

The questions to be answered are . . .  What caveats must we first acknowledge to understand this beatitude?  Why are those committed to righteousness and Jesus persecuted?  Why are those persecuted for righteousness and Jesus’ sake commanded to rejoice and be thrilled?  What must one possess before this rejoicing in the midst of insult, persecution, and slander becomes remotely possible?   

 

Answer:  Listen to Pastor Keith’s sermon.  He is going to try and tell you.

 

The ways of the God of Scripture appear topsy-turvy to men.  For God exalts the humble and abases the proud, calls the first last and the last first, ascribes greatness to the servant, sends the rich away empty-handed and declares the meek to be his heirs.  The culture of the world and the counter-culture of Christ are at loggerheads with each other.  In brief, Jesus congratulates those whom the world most pities, and calls the world’s rejects “blessed.”  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 56)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Persecute

 

Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value-systems.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 52)

 

Without suffering, obedience is meaningless.  — Steve Brown

 

A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing. — Martin Luther.

 

Four questions that should help us understand what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:10-12:

 

 

  1. What caveats (warning or notice) must we first acknowledge to understand this beatitude? Answer: The promise of blessedness and reward is only to those who exhibit all the other seven beatitudes and are persecuted for Jesus’ and/or righteousness’ sake.  Not because we are annoying, stupid, rude, obnoxious, or indiscreet. (1 Pt 2:12, 19-24; 3:13-18; 4:12-19)

 

The words “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” and “for My sake” caution us to see to it that we are opposed and hated solely because we are the followers of the Lord Jesus, and not on account of our own misconduct or injudicious behavior (see 1 Pt 2:19-24).  (Arthur W. Pink, The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, 58)

 

Christians are very often persecuted not for their Christianity, but for lack of it.  Sometimes they are rejected simply because they have unpleasing personalities.  They are rude, insensitive, thoughtless–or piously obnoxious.  Some are rejected because they are discerned as proud and judgmental.  Others are disliked because they are lazy and irresponsible.  Incompetence mixed with piety is sure to bring rejection.  (R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, 71)

 

The most difficult problem in being a prophet is making sure that one is forth-telling God’s message in God’s way.  Some people glibly declare what they think is God’s Word without the constant check of the community to discern the spirits (1 Jn 4:1-6).  Others who think they are prophets and lambaste others with “the Word of the Lord” are actually suffering from an acute case of tactlessness.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 108-9)

 

You cannot choose which beatitudes you want to be true of your life, and leave the others to one side.  The Beatitudes come as a whole, not as a series of options.  Every Christian is intended to show every grace.  One beatitude flows into the next, as we have already seen:  the poor in spirit mourn for their sins, and as a result are marked by the meekness of those who know the truth about themselves in the presence of God.  Such men and women hunger and thirst for righteousness, and receive it.  Since they have been filled only because of the Lord’s mercy to them, they become merciful to others.  (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 35-6)

 

This means that there is no promise of happiness for those who are persecuted for being a nuisance, for Christians who have shown themselves to be objectionable, difficult, foolish, and insulting to their non-Christian friends.  This is not the thing about which Christ was speaking.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 51)

 

It is not persecution today when Christians are snubbed for pushing tracts onto people who do not want them, insulting them in the midst of a religious argument, poking into their affairs when they are not invited, and so on.  Christ was speaking of the persecution of those who are abused for the sake of his righteousness.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 51)

 

  1. Why are those committed to righteousness and Jesus persecuted? Answer:  Darkness hates light.  Evil hates righteousness.  Pride hates humility.  Children of Satan hate children of Jesus.   (Mt 10:18-22, 34-39; Jn 3:19-21; 15:18-25; Gal 4:29; Jam 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17; 3:12-13)

 

When Jesus came into the world, he exposed the evil in the world simply by being righteous, and the world hated him for it.  Before he came, people could get away with hypocrisy, lying, dishonesty, and pride, because others acted the same way.  But when Jesus came, those dark vices were exposed for what they are, just as light always illuminates the darkness.  If a Christian lives like Jesus Christ, he or she will be persecuted.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 76-7)

 

The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.  — George Orwell

 

The way of the world is to praise dead saints, and persecute living ones. — Nathaniel Howe

 

The reason for the persecution in v. 10 is “because of righteousness;” now, Jesus says, it is “because of me.”  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 137)

 

People living in the dark want everybody to be in the dark.   People who deny the Light are threatened by people who have seen the Light.  (Steve Brown message “Kingdoms in Conclict” from Matthew 2)

 

The fact that many professed believers are popular and praised by the world does not indicate that the world has raised its standards but that many who call themselves by Christ’s name have lowered theirs.  As the time for Christ’s appearing grows closer we can expect opposition from the world to increase, not decrease.  When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society it means that they are reflecting rather than confronting that society.  And when we please the world we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (cf. Jas 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 222)

 

To be Christian, ultimately, is to be like Christ; and one can never be like Christ without being entirely changed.  We must get rid of the old nature that hates Christ and hates righteousness; we need a new nature that will love these things and love Him and thus become like Him.  If you try to imitate Christ the world will praise you; if you become Christlike it will hate you.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 118)

 

Paul’s righteousness based on the Law brought him into direct conflict with the Truth.  He was a persecutor of true worshipers, as is everyone who tries to live by the Law.  Just as Cain could not tolerate Abel, those who seek to stand by their own righteousness find the presence of those who stand by faith in Jesus intolerable.  The righteousness of God, based completely on the atonement of the cross, strips away facades and lays bare the pride of man.  The cross is the greatest threat to man’s self-centeredness.  Paul testified to the Philippians that to know Christ he had to give up everything that he was.  When he perceived the righteousness of Jesus, he counted everything that he had so valued in life as rubbish (Phil 3:2-9).  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 23)

 

We should not be surprised if anti-Christian hostility increases, but rather be surprised if it does not.  We need to remember the complementary woe which Luke records: “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you.” (Lk 6:26).  Universal popularity was as much the lot of the false prophets as persecution was of the true.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 53)

 

Nothing exposes the counterfeit faster than the authentic. When true righteousness appeared in the person of Jesus, the false righteousness of the Pharisees was exposed for what it was, and they hated it.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 92)

 

It is service for God that calls forth the fiercest opposition.  Necessarily so, for we are living in a world that is hostile to Christ, as His cross has once and for all demonstrated.  (Arthur W. Pink, The Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, 57)

 

Godliness generates hostility and antagonism from the world.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 220)

 

Those born only of the flesh will persecute those born of the Spirit.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 220)

 

What does it mean to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for Christ’s sake?  Simply put, it means to be persecuted for being like the Lord Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus said that those who are persecuted for being like him will be happy.  And what is more, those who are like him will always be persecuted.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 52)

 

Is this the reverse of what we would expect?  Men and women who are poor in spirit, mourn for their sin, live lives of gracious meekness, long for God’s righteousness, show mercy to others, are pure in heart, and seek peace between God and man–would such people not be welcomed with open arms?  After all, these are the very men and women the world needs!

The world in which we live assumes that it will welcome Christians with open arms–until the first time it meets the genuine article.  Until then, it is ignorant of its real response to the gospel.  It assumes that it is well-disposed to Jesus Christ and to God.

But Scripture tells us otherwise: the world is in rebellion against. God.  Jesus himself said that if men persecuted him, they would also persecute his followers (Jn 15:20).  He told them, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (Jn 15:18).

Christians are persecuted for the sake of righteousness because of their loyalty to Christ.  Real loyalty to him creates friction in the hearts of those who pay him only lip service.  Loyalty arouses their consciences, and leaves them with only two alternatives: follow Christ, or silence him.  Often their only way of silencing Christ is by silencing his servants.  Persecution, in subtle or less subtle forms, is the result.  (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 41)

 

You would not think that simple honesty could be a dangerous lifestyle, until you put it into practice on the shop floor!  For the Christian who is employed by another person, righteousness demands that he give his employer the time and energy for which he is paid.  It means moral integrity.  But how angry other employees can be when such integrity is displayed!  (Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, 42)

 

Why is this persecution so inevitable?  It is inevitable because the Church, when it really is the Church, is bound to be the conscience of the nation and the conscience of society.  Where there is good the Church must praise; where there is evil the Church must condemn–and inevitably men will try to silence the troublesome voice of conscience.  It is not the duty of the individual but it may well be that his every action is a silent condemnation of the unchristian lives of others, and he will not escape their hatred.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 118)

 

When the church tries to use the things of the world to do the work of heaven, it only succeeds in hiding heaven from the world.  And when the world is pleased with the church, we can be sure that God is not.  We can be equally sure that when we are pleasing to God, we will not be pleasing to the system of Satan.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 226)

 

George Bernard Shaw once said that the biggest compliment you can pay an author is to burn his books.  Someone else has said, “A wolf will never attack a painted sheep.”   Counterfeit Christianity is always safe; real Christianity is always in peril.  To suffer persecution is to be paid the greatest of compliments because it is the certain proof that men think we really matter. (William Barclay; The Acts of the Apostles, 75)

 

III.  Why are those persecuted for righteousness and Jesus’ sake commanded to rejoice and be thrilled?   Answer:  For they are assured that theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  They will receive a great reward in heaven and a mature character here on earth.  In God’s eyes they have prophet status.  (1 Kgs 18:4; 19:1-3; 2 Chr 24:21; 36:16; Neh 9:26; Jer 20:2; 26:10-23; chps 36-38; Amos 7:10-12; Mt 5:10, 12; 23:29-37; Lk 6:22-26; Mk 10:29-30; Acts 7:52; Rom 5:3-5; 8:16-25; 2 Cor 4:17-18; 1 Thess 2:15; 2 Tim 4:7-8; Jam 1:2-4; Heb 10:34; 1 Pt 1:6-9)

 

If this happens to you, says Christ in effect, it is just the hallmark of the fact that you are destined for heaven.  It means you have a label on; it means your ultimate destiny is fixed.  By thus persecuting you the world is just telling you that you do not belong to it, that you are a man apart; you belong to another realm, thus proving the fact that you are going to heaven.  And that, according to Christ, is something which causes us always to rejoice and be exceeding glad.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 124)

 

The call to be glad about persecution (1 Pt 4:13 again picks up the thought; cf. also 1 Pt 1:6) sounds paradoxical, particularly in the exuberant terms Matthew uses.  But as with the beatitude concerning those who mourn, the blessing is not in the suffering in itself but in its promised outcome.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 172)

 

Iron, when heated in the flames and pounded, becomes a fine sword.  Wise men and saints are tested by abuse.  —Nichiren Daishonin

 

Persecution is a token of genuineness, a certificate of Christian authenticity.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 52)

 

When the church isn’t being persecuted, it is being corrupted.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 116)

 

When a man has to suffer something for his faith, that is the way to the closest possible companionship with Christ.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 118)

 

The Jews held the ancient prophets of God in high esteem; to be placed among them was a great honor.  Jesus explained that to live and speak for God in the face of unjust persecution, as did the ancient prophets, would bring great reward in heaven.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 83)

 

Persecution is a mark of our faithfulness just as it was a mark of the prophets’ faithfulness.  When we suffer for Christ’s sake we know beyond a doubt that we belong to God, because we are experiencing the same reaction from the world that the prophets experienced.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 232)

 

Abel was persecuted by his brother Cain.  Moses received grievous persecution.  Look at the way in which David was persecuted by Saul, and at the terrible persecution that Elijah and Jeremiah had to endure.  Do you remember the story of Daniel, and how he was persecuted?  These are some of the most outstanding righteous men of the OT, and every one of them verifies the biblical teaching.  They were persecuted, not because they were difficult, or overzealous, but simply because they were righteous.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 115)

 

There is a future recompense in the perfect kingdom, where men are rewarded according to their capacities.  And if the way in which we have met the world’s evil has been right, then that will have made us fit for a fuller possession.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 177)

 

Persecution:

–   It takes our eyes off earthly rewards

–   It strips away superficial belief

–   It strengthens the faith of those who endure

–   Our attitude through it serves as an example to others who follow. (NIV Life Application Study Bible, 1652)

 

Jesus does not take faithlessness lightly.  “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Lk 9:26).  If we are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of us.  Christ also warned, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets” (Lk 6:26).  To be popular with everyone is either to have compromised the faith or not to have true faith at all.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 222)

 

Jeremiah was repeatedly subjected to ill treatment (see Jer 12; 20; 26; 36; 37; 39; 43).  If tradition can be trusted, he was finally stoned to death by the people who had forced him to go down to Egypt with them.  Ezekiel fared little better (see Ez 2:6; 20:49; 33:31, 32).  Amos was told to flee away and deliver his prophecies elsewhere (Amos 7:10-13).  The labors of Zechariah were not appreciated according to their true worth (Zech 11:12).  Such rejection of the prophets was the rule, not the exception.  This follows not only from the words of Jesus here in 5:12 but also from his words as reported by Mt 23:31, 27; Lk 6:23; 11:49-51; 13:33, 34; Jn 12:36-43 (cf. Isa 53:1).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 281)

 

All these writers would have agreed in an instant that even in the most tolerant country the cross would never cease to be a symbol for derision and intense hostility, and they would have urged that the absence of persecution (as well as its presence) should drive a believer quickly to his knees.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Sermon on the Mount, 50)

 

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him.  He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless.  He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit.  This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit.  A Christian is fearless.  -Tertullian

 

In these closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose purpose for living is to please God with their lives.  In them, God finds His own reward for creating man.  They are His worshipers.  They are on earth only to please God, and when He is pleased, they also are pleased.

The Lord takes them farther and through more pain and conflicts than other men.  Outwardly, they often seem “smitten of God, and afflicted” (Is 53:4).  Yet to God, they are His beloved.  When they are crushed, like the petals of a flower, they exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels weep in quiet awe at their surrender.  They are the Lord’s purpose for creation.

One would think that God would protect them, guarding them in such a way that they would not be marred.  Instead, they are marred more than others.  Indeed, the Lord seems pleased to crush them, putting them to grief.  For in the midst of their physical and emotional pain, their loyalty to Christ grows pure and perfect.  And in the face of persecutions, their love and worship toward God become all-consuming.

Would that all Christ’s servants were so perfectly surrendered.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 93-4)

 

God’s purposes can never be accomplished if we react to our own pain by inflicting pain on others.  Nor can we continue growing as the people of God if we seek vengeance on others.  That spoils our reconciliation, not only with them, but also with God and with ourselves.  To curse our persecutors is surely always more destructive to us than to them.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 229)

 

Eighteen hundred years ago Tertullian said, “We [Christians] multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed” (Apologeticus, 50).  And 200 years later St. Jerome said, “The Church of Christ has been founded by shedding its own blood, not that of others; by enduring outrage, not by inflicting it.  Persecutions have made it grow; martyrdoms have crowned it” (Letter 82).  (John Piper, Future Grace, 345)

 

  1. What must one possess before this rejoicing in the midst of insult, persecution, and slander becomes remotely possible? Answer:  One must have faith in the promises of Jesus and the certainly of the hope of heaven.  (Acts 5:41; 16:25; Rom 4:13-21; 8:16-18; Gal 3:14-22; Eph 3:20; 2 Cor 4:17-18; Phil 3:10; 2 Thess 1:5-7; Heb 6:12; 10:23; 11:9-26, 36-40; Jam 2:5)

 

Suffering is a wedge forcing us to choose between hope and despair.

 

The Christian is a man who should always be thinking of the end.  He does not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  That was the secret of those men in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 126)

 

The apostle Paul once put it like this, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:17, 18).  The Christian should always be looking at that.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 125)

 

The apostles rejoiced “because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41).  Peter saw trials as a means of grace to prove the genuineness of faith and to increase its purity (1 Pt 1:6ff.).  And in the OT the fiery furnace became the place where the divine Presence, even in a visible emissary, was made manifest to three Hebrew young men (Dn 3:24f.).  However, in the passage before us only one reason is given to prompt Jesus’ disciples to rejoice under persecution, and that reason is sufficient:  their reward is great in heaven.  Jesus’ disciples, then, must determine their values from the perspective of eternity (a theme Jesus expands in Mt 6:19-21, 33), convinced that their “light and momentary troubles are achieving for [them] an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17).  (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 30)

 

As the condition of the godly, during the whole course of this life, is very miserable, Christ properly calls them to the hope of the heavenly life.  And here lies the main difference between Christ’s paradox and the ravings of the Stoics, who ordered that every man should be satisfied in his own mind, and should be the author of his own happiness:  while Christ does not suspend our happiness on a vain imagination, but rests it on the hope of a future reward.  (John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 266)

 

How can we reconcile the truth that Christ is our only merit with our receiving great reward in heaven?  There are at least twenty-five texts in the NT that teach that rewards in heaven will be distributed by Christ according to our works.  We get to heaven by faith alone, but the reward we experience once we are there is based upon the works that we do in this world.  Therefore, those who are justified are called to live fruitful, godly lives that produce good works, and those works will receive a heavenly reward.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 94)

 

Worship Point:  You will not be able to stop worshiping when you fully realize the strength, the hope, the courage and the unfathomable joy that comes with believing and trusting in the promises of God through Christ Jesus.

 

The Church of our day is sadly lacking in that separation from the world.  The intense attachment and obedience to Christ, the fellowship with His suffering and conformity to His death, and the devotion to Christ on the throne seem almost forgotten.  Where is our confident expectation of the never-ceasing flow of living water from the throne of grace which gives the assurance that the fullness of the Spirit will not be withheld?  No wonder the mighty power of God is seldom known and felt in our churches!  (Andrew Murray, Receiving Power from God, 73)

 

Gospel Application:  Stop looking to yourself to find the joy, courage, strength and hope you need to face day in and day out insults, persecutions, and slander.  Look to Jesus.

 

In Ermelo, Holland, Brother Andrew told the story of sitting in Budapest, Hungary, with a dozen pastors of that city, teaching them from the Bible.  In walked an old friend, a pastor from Romania who had recently been released from prison.  Brother Andrew said that he stopped teaching and knew that it was time to listen.

After a long pause the Romanian pastor said, “Andrew, are there any pastors in prison in Holland?”  “No,” he replied.  “Why not?” the pastor asked.  Brother Andrew thought for a moment and said, “I think it must be because we do not take advantage of all the opportunities God gives us.”  Then came the most difficult question.  “Andrew, what do you do with 2 Tm 3:12?”  Brother Andrew opened his Bible and turned to the text and read aloud, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  He closed the Bible slowly and said, “Brother, please forgive me.  We do nothing with that verse.”  (John Piper, Future Grace, 346)

 

Either we will obey Acts 1:8, or we will experience Acts 8:1.  In the first text, Jesus calls us to be his witnesses beginning in Jerusalem and on to Judea, Samaria, and ultimately to the ends of the earth.  Acts 8:1 tells us that “on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria.”  (Steve Sjogren, Conspiracy of Kindness, 89)

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Allow God to increase your faith.   That comes by reading God’s Word.  Meditate long and hard on the promises of God that are made to us who are “in Christ.”

Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value-systems. — William Barclay

Christ:

the Persecuted One

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