Greetings in the Name of Christ!
This is the 21th lesson taken from my book entitled: "Godly Counsel." If you have been persecuted for your faith, you are not alone. Suffering for your faith is part of the Christian walk. Please forward this lesson to a friend and share it on facebook.
P.S.: Download a PDF version of this book chapter:
Persecution Download in PDF
“If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but
praise God that you bear that name.”
(1 Peter 4:16)
Persecute: to oppress, subjugate, or
harass a specific group of people.
|Christians are under attack throughout the world. In some countries, they are not permitted to practice their faith. In other countries, Christians are actively persecuted or tortured because of their beliefs, even to the point of death.
Many Christians are surprised or dismayed at the persecution they suffer. However, God’s Word tells us that Christians should not expect to live trouble free lives and that they should view per-secution as a blessing for those who believe in Jesus Christ and who suffer for their faith.
Modern day persecution of Christians has its origins in the suffer-ing endured by the earliest followers of Christ. Jesus’ disciples were hated, rejected, falsely accused, and insulted because of their belief in Him and because they followed His teachings.
Christ was sensitive to their pain and took time to comfort them. He told His followers to be glad and rejoice that they were suffering in His name.1 He called them “blessed” when they were hated, insulted, and rejected for His sake.2 He promised them that after they had suffered a little while on this earth, they would be rewarded greatly in heaven.1,3
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you,
because of me. Rejoice and be glad,
because great is your reward in heaven.
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
All men will hate you because of me,
but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
|Jesus was familiar with persecution because He Himself suffered at the hands of others throughout His ministry.4 Because He was hated by many of His contemporaries, He knew that His followers would also be hated.5,6 In the end, Jesus endured the ultimate persecution when He was unjustly crucified on the cross.7-9
|He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
No servant is greater than his master.
If they persecuted me they will persecute you also.
If the world hates you,
keep in mind that it hated me first.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…and by his
wounds we are healed.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him.
“Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.
|After His crucifixion, Christ’s followers and all of the original disci-ples (except Judas) continued to be persecuted for their faith as they spread the word about Jesus throughout the world.10,11 Many of the disciples wrote about their suffering and pointed to the “positive” aspects of persecution.
If you suffer because you are a Christian, do not to be ashamed.12 If you suffer because you are doing good, this is commendable in the sight of God.13 Commit yourself to God’s work, and keep doing good.14,15
It was about this time that Kind Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.
They [the Jews] stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from the region.
If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed,
but praise God that you bear that name.
(1 Peter 4:16)12
If you suffer for doing good and you endure it,
this is commendable before God.
(1 Peter 2:2)13
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will
should commit themselves to the faithful Creator
and continue to do good.
(1 Peter 4:19)14
It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
(1 Peter 3:17)15
|If you have been insulted because you are a Christian, consider yourself blessed.16 You should never fear the fact that men “put you down” or insult you because of your beliefs.17
If you are a Christian, you should not be surprised that you are being persecuted.18,19 If you are living a Godly life in Christ Jesus, you should expect to be persecuted.20 Remember that Christ was persecuted and suffered for us and left us an example that we should all follow.21,22
|If you are insulted because of the name of Christ,
you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory
and of God rests on you.
(1 Peter 4:14)16
Do not fear the reproach of men
or be terrified by their insults.
Do not be surprised, my brothers,
if the world hates you.
(1 John 3:13)18
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial
you are suffering, as though something strange
were happening to you.
(1 Peter 4:12-13)19
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse,
deceiving and being deceived.
(2 Timothy 3:12-13)20
Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,
that you should follow in his steps.
(1 Peter 2:21)21
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ
not only to believe on him,
but also to suffer for him.
|Finally, despite the fact that Christians are often persecuted for their faith, take comfort in the fact that the Holy Scriptures promise us that nothing (including persecution) will ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.23
|Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything
else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.