Posts Tagged ‘Persecution


Standing In Grace

God’s grace not only saves us, but it sustains us as we walk in the newness of life. Peter, at the very end of his first letter, talks about his purpose in writing. The Christians to whom he was sending this letter were undergoing intense persecution for their faith. He encourages them over and over to stand firm. Stand firm in the faith. Stand firm against the devil. Stand firm in the face of persecution. He encourages them to stand firm once more. He wrote in 1 Peter 5:12 (NLT):

I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.

The persecution they were facing was a part of God’s grace. That may sound strange, but here is why: persecution can have positive results. It can strengthen your faith and prove it genuine and authentic. It causes you to rely more and more on God’s grace. His grace can see us through persecution and trials. So no matter what you’re going through, remember to stand firm in the grace of God today.


Insulted For Christ

Persecution comes in many forms. We can be insulted and made fun of for our faith. People may be discriminated against because they are Christians. People are tortured for the cause of Christ. Some are even martyred for their faith. Peter says that God blesses those who are insulted and persecuted. 1 Peter 4:14 (NLT) says:

If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.

If you are being insulted or persecuted for your faith in Christ, know that you will be blessed by God. Jesus said that your reward is great in Heaven in Matthew 5:12. This is not meant to trivialize persecution. Persecution is hard and heart breaking. Staying faithful to Christ is difficult in the midst of it. Yet we must not forget the reward we have in Heaven. Don’t let temporary persecution derail your faith in an eternal God who promises an eternal reward. While those who persecute you may be able to kill the body, they can never kill your soul.


Partners With Christ

One of the themes I am noticing more and more in my Bible reading is that of being persecuted for our faith. Those living in the first century were undergoing severe trials and persecution. The authors of the New Testament encouraged their fellow believers to stay faithful no matter what. This is what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT):

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

Throughout history, Christians have been persecuted and martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. Peter says that we are partners with Christ in His suffering. He suffered first and when we suffer for His sake, we join Him in His suffering. Do not fear those who persecute you and do not worry about the future for there is a great reward for faithfulness: we will experience the glory of Jesus. Instead of dreading His return, we look forward to it. Instead of fearing judgment, we’ve already been declared not guilty. Heaven awaits, my friends. Stay faithful.


Sin, I’m Through With You

What does persecution have to do with sin? Plenty, according to Peter. He wrote in 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NLT):

So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

Jesus suffered physical pain on the cross as He died for our sins. He was perfect and never sinned in any way. He suffered for doing good. We may also suffer for doing good and for following Jesus. Peter says that we’re done with sin if we do. Why? Because it is a sign that we are more committed to following Christ than we are to following our sinful desires. Our sinful desires are for comfort and ease. The way of the cross means pain and suffering. The way of sin is a life free from struggle. The way of the cross means struggling against the sinful nature. The way of sin is the way of selfishness and self-centered living. The way of the cross is self-denial. Though it is the difficult path, choose the way of the cross. It is the only way that leads to eternal life.


When You Are Persecuted

Following Jesus will eventually bring persecution into your life. Jesus is threatening to people who want to live according to their own standards. People want to serve themselves and Jesus says, “Deny yourself.” People want to gratify their sinful natures and Jesus says we have to take up our cross. People want to follow their hearts and Jesus says, “Follow Me.” When you live for Jesus, you threaten their lifestyle and therefore they threaten your life. Jesus said:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad,​ ​because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)

Persecution is nothing new and it will continue until Christ returns. Do not forget that there is a great reward for the faithful. Don’t give up! Persecution is temporary. Heaven is for eternity. We’ll be there soon and we’ll know that perseverance through persecution was worth it.

The Blessing Of Persecution

In Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” He begins with several “Beatitudes” that describe what a person who is on the right track spiritually looks like. It begins with understanding the depth of one’s spiritual poverty and moves through a growing understanding of God’s purpose for their life. When you want the things of God’s Kingdom, you’ll become more of a Kingdom-minded person. Jesus says that this person is “blessed,” which means, “happy.” He concludes the “Beatitudes” by talking about being persecuted. He says:

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10 (NIV)

When you live for the Kingdom of God, it means that you are no longer living for the kingdom of this world. You’ll live differently than you did before. You’ll act differently, talk differently and think differently. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb. You may be persecuted for your faith. Jesus says that you are blessed when you are persecuted because you’ll know that you truly belong to Him. Persecution isn’t a possibility, it is a guarantee. When you live for Jesus, you become a threat and persecution becomes a reality. Stand firm in your faith because Heaven is the reward.

What Matters Most

The apostle Paul suffered for his faith and his defense of it. He was imprisoned, beaten, flogged and nearly stoned to death. Yet he persevered in spreading the good news about Jesus and His love for the world. He didn’t complain about his trials, but instead he rejoiced in them. He even encouraged others to rejoice about his trials. He wrote:

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. – Philippians 2:17-18 (NIV)

Could you do it? Could you rejoice in suffering for Jesus? If you could keep your eyes on what matters most, then you could. For Paul, sharing God’s good news about Jesus was what mattered most. Telling people about Jesus mattered most. Even if it cost him his life, he would rather die telling people about Jesus than live as he kept silent. The good news matters most because without it, people are lost.

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