Preparing for the Coming Persecution
Matthew 5:10-13 and following
Did you know that one of the signs we’re living in the last days is the persecution of the church.
As surely as I am standing here, the church will know more and more persecution. There is no way you can be a genuine Christian and be exempt.
2 Timothy “Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” That’s a pretty clear statement. “All” and “shall.” No ifs, ands, and buts about it.
The new whipping boy in the world today is the Bible-believing Christian. He may be the most hated, persecuted person on earth. Bible Christians today endure everything from the limitations of their freedoms and civil rights to scorn and ridicule in the media. Many are going through prison, and many through death.
In Matthew 5 our Lord Jesus said:
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The word “persecute” literally means to pursue, to find something you’re doing wrong. If you fly the flag high for the Lord Jesus Christ where you work, let them know you’re a Christian, they’ll watch you, looking for something to accuse you of.
There is a way you can escape persecution: just fail to be salt and light. Just compromise.
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Be conformed to this world and you won’t get any persecution.
But one of your gifts is the ability to suffer for Jesus. “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him but also to suffer for His sake” Phil 1:29.
As you live in these last days, prepare to learn and teach your children these three things:
1. Expect persecution
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” (Matthew 5:10)
That’s why you’re persecuted. We’re different. We’re children of light. They’re children of darkness. We are alive in the Spirit. They are dead in the spirit. We live by faith. They live by sight. We understand them, but they don’t understand us.
If you love Jesus, you’re going to be persecuted. The name of Jesus is always a point of offense. The spirit of this world hates Jesus because of why He came: to destroy the works of the devil. The devil doesn’t primarily engineer persecution against you; He’s just trying to get at Jesus by getting at you, because you’re His representative.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, ‘The servant is not greater than his lord.’ If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.
21 But all these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me.
And the apostle Peter wrote (1 Peter 4:14 and 16),
“14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified….
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
2. Endure persecution.
11 “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My name’s sake.”
How did Jesus manage to get crucified? False witnesses. What started the first persecution of Christians in Rome? Nero told a huge lie about the Christians living there.
More people have lost their lives standing up for Jesus in this century than all the preceding 20 centuries. Don’t get the idea martyrs lived in ancient times. yesterday. In China, if Christians will not line up behind a state-run church, they face prison, torture, perhaps death. In Sudan, some Christians, often children, are sold for $15 a head. In most Middle Eastern nations, people are forcibly converted to Islam. In Pakistan, under blasphemy laws, you can be killed.
Don’t get the idea that the religious world really honors the Lord Jesus. Not the Christ of the Bible. Turn to Mark 13:9-13.
9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them.
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye [believers] shall be hated of all men for My name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Persecution may come from the religious world (v. 9a). It may come from the government world (v. 9b). Government—the system—is loaded against what you and I believe. A lot of it will come from home (v. 12). Know what the devil is doing. He has leveled all of the artillery of hell against the home. Peter said concerning the fiery trial, “Don’t act as though some strange thing has happened to you. It comes with the territory.”
3. Enlist persecution.
We can use it for the glory of God. Jesus said in Matthew 5:12,
“Rejoice, be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Take what the devil meant for evil and turn it into good. “Be not overcome with evil; overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Show love toward your enemies.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
12 “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad…”
Why rejoice in the Lord? Because if you’re being persecuted for His sake, it means they’re seeing Jesus in you! So you can’t help but rejoice and say, “Hallelujah! They see Jesus.”
Remember when some of the apostles were warned, “Don’t you preach any more in the name of Jesus. We’ll put you in prison. You saw what we did to Him. You know what we can do to you.” The Bible says, “They departed from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
Reign in life! Rejoice in the Lord, if persecution comes.
Just keep loving. This is not sympathy, this is love. And if we’ll do this, we’ll be like the prophets:
12 …for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Did you know that the word “martyr” and the word “witness” are the same word in the Greek language?
Father, help us to stand up, stand up for Jesus as soldiers of the cross. To lift high His royal banner; it must not suffer loss. Lord Jesus, help me never, never, dear Savior, to be ashamed of You who died for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.