PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH

In persecution of the saints that appears to be headed to America and all the violent persecution of the saints abroad, I gathered all the passages about persecution. I put them together with their references. They are from the NIV version and I added only the words in brackets in order to make it more first person context, and NOT to change any meanings. The rest of the wording is strictly Bible. After you’ve read, we are going to unpack these amazing passages and see how they relate to the persecuted church abroad and what they could mean of our lives in America.

[Seek] to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened (1 Peter 3:13-14). However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name (1 Peter 4:16). [Because] “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” (Acts 14:22).

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated [Christ] first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. Remember what [Christ] told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted [Christ], they will persecute you also (John 15:18-20). “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of [Christ]. 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). You will be hated by everyone because of [Christ], but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). That is why, for Christ’s sake, [Paul] delight[ed] in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when [we are] weak, then [we are] strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him (Philippians 1:29). In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co- heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:16-17). Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about [a church in their] perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials [they endure]. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result [they] will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which [they] are suffering (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:10-11). If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:20-24)

Let’s take a moment and review what is being said in all these passages.
If we follow Christ we WILL be persecuted. This was not directed towards only a select people but rather ANYONE who follows. This makes this a guarantee. - (Acts 14:2; John 15:18-20; Matt 10:22; 2 Tim 3:12-13; Rom 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:20-24)

In FACT, we are called by Christ to suffer persecution. (Phil 1:29; Rom 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:20-24)

There is something about suffering for Christ that guarantees our entry into Heaven. This is NOT suffering in this world as in you can’t pay your bills for all the junk and comforts and luxuries you’ve added. This is a suffering in doing the WORK of God. Think about this. Christ said “not everyone who says to me Lord Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 7:21-23). Yet, those who suffer for Christ seem to be given that guarantee (Philippians 3:10-11; Acts 14:12; Matt 5:11-12; Matt 10:22; Rom 8:16-17; 2 Thess 1:4-5)
We should not fear the coming of persecution and suffering but embrace it. (Phil 3:10-11; 1 Peter 3:13-14; 2 Cor 12:10). When we experience persecution and suffering, it brings us joy; and we rejoice in it. (1 Peter 4:16; Matt 5:11-12; 2 Cor 12:10) And we DO NOT retaliate against persecution. (1 Peter 2:20-14)

So, how did we fare in the American church? I dare to say, “not too good”. In America we think we are beyond persecution and fight to avoid it. We want our lives as comfortable as possible. We “tisk, tisk” the persecution overseas but do not rejoice in the blessing they have received. We think we are guaranteed entry into Heaven when, in fact, Scripture tells us it is the persecuted church abroad that’s guaranteed, not the comfortable lukewarm church of America. And, we tend to want to “kill them all and let God sort them out” when persecution comes to the church, and to this country. We, in America, walk in every apposed direction of what was given to us and promised to us in God’s Word. We must repent. We must find our comfort and joy in Christ and not the comforts of this World. Failure to do so could leave us crying Lord Lord in the end.