Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
May 27, 1998
Last Updated :
July 9, 2012
Inevitability Of Persecution, No Peaceful Coexistence Between Believers And Nonbelievers, God's Word Divides The Sheep From The Goats, Families Are Divided By Christ, Authority Of God's Spirit, Rejoice When We Receive Persecution, Don't Be Ashamed, Walk Worthy Of Our Vocation, Rising Persecution, Keep Our Eyes On Jesus, Don't Faint In Your Mind, Coming Victory And Eternal Rewards, God's Prophets And Apostles Suffered Martyr's Deaths, Do Not Worry About The Future, Our Daily Sacrificial Service, Jesus Laid Down His Life For Our Benefit, Do Not Fear Death, Run The Race With Patience, Flee Persecution If It's Possible, Apostle Paul's Eventual Destiny With Martyrdom, Paul In Rome
As I concluded in part one, persecution is an inevitable part of being Christian. Sooner or later, someone -- a government, our coworkers, liberal judges and lawyers, our classmates, or even members of our own families -- will object to our faith, and will begin to persecute us in some way. It may be verbal, or it may be physical, or it may be both. They will attempt to make your life difficult in some way. They will try to find a way to irritate you. They will let you know that they don't agree with your Christian beliefs. They may make it difficult for you to remain at your job. They may hassle you at your school. They may make you feel unwelcome at your particular place of residence. The simple truth of the matter is that unless people agree, they can't really walk together for very long. They may feign friendship, or at least civility, but it may be doomed from the start. Consider the following verses:
"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"
Amos 3:3, KJV
"Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils."
1 Corinthians 10:21, KJV
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? . . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
2 Corinthians 6:14, 17-18, KJV
"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
James 1:8, KJV
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15, KJV
"And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word."
1 Kings 18:21, KJV
While Paul advises us in his Epistle to the Romans to try to live peaceably with all men -- Romans 12:18 -- the fact of the matter is that if we are living the Gospel Truth, and if we are really letting our lights shine before men, then try as we might, we just won't be able to peacefully coexist with the unbelieving children of the world for very long. Someone will eventually complain about your talking about Jesus all the time, just as some of my family members did with me. To try to force the situation is similar to attempting to mix water with oil. While it is possible to mix them together for a short while by shaking them vigorously, eventually, they will separate again into their individual components. It is just their nature to do so, and so it is with Believers and nonbelievers.
The Gospels clearly reveal that when Jesus spoke the Word, it divided people. It separated the sheep from the goats. It had a definite effect on everyone who heard it. It separated the believers from the nonbelievers. It forced His listeners to make a clear decision, either for Him, or against Him. As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew:
"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."
Matthew 12:30, KJV
Sharing God's Word today should have the very same effect. It should elicit some reaction from your listeners or from your readers. It should move them in some way. It will make them sad, or it will make them glad. It will inspire them, or it will offend them. No one can remain neutral for very long once they are exposed to the truth of the Word of God. Now, if the Word is not having that kind of effect on your audience, then perhaps you need to find out why. Is it in your delivery? Are you lacking the anointing of the Spirit? Are you speaking or writing with the Authority of the Spirit as Jesus did? Consider these verses:
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
Matthew 7:28-29, KJV
"And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes."
Mark 1:22, KJV
If your teaching and preaching is not having the effect on your audience that you desire, is it possibly because there is some kind of compromise in your life that is holding you back? If you deliver a no-compromise, full Gospel, and not a watered down version of it, then it is bound to result in division -- even amongst family members -- sooner or later, as we see by the following verses:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10:34-38, KJV
"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. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Mark 13:12-13, KJV
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:"
Luke 12:51, KJV
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:26, KJV
"So there was a division among the people because of him."
John 7:43, KJV
"Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them."
John 9:16, KJV
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12, KJV
If the time should arrive when we receive persecution, and are threatened with imprisonment, and possibly even with death due to our faith in Jesus Christ, exactly what should be our attitude? The following verses clearly tell us that we should consider it an honour, a privilege and a blessing to be counted worthy of suffering for the Lord's sake. In other words, we should submit to it joyfully. The Apostle James tells us to "count it all joy", and Jesus tells us to "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad", as does the Apostle Peter:
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
Matthew 5:11-12, KJV
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
John 16:33, KJV
"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
Acts 5:41, KJV
"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Romans 5:3-5, KJV
"But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
1 Peter 4:13, KJV
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
James 1:2-4, KJV
As we saw in part one, the last thing that any of us want to do is to be ashamed of our faith; because if we are ashamed of the Lord, and if we are afraid to suffer persecution for His Name's sake, then He will also be ashamed of us. So may God grant us the Grace to boldly face our persecutions, if and when they come, knowing that all things originate from the Hand of our Father. As the Apostle Paul writes, let us all walk worthy of the vocation wherein we have been called:
"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
Acts 5:41, KJV
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Ephesians 4:1-3, KJV
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Colossians 1:9-10, KJV
"As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory."
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12, KJV
"So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Thessalonians 1:4-12, KJV
Because of the nature of our work, it is realistic to expect that the number of our casualties will continue to increase; especially as the evil cloud of unbelief and liberalism, and the spirit of carnality, continue to envelop this rebellious world, and persecution rises against our Christian brethren. As I mentioned earlier, for many of our brethren, persecution is already a reality, and they are dying on a daily basis in certain nations around the world. Persecution takes on a more subtle form in some countries. For example, certain Christian missionaries are restricted by local laws and customs, so that they are forced to restrain their evangelical endeavors. Such is the case in Muslim countries, as well as in the state of Israel.
During times of persecution and imprisonment, we must always remember to keep our eyes upon Jesus, who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith; knowing that in due time, we will reap a great victory -- and Eternal Rewards -- if we faint not in our minds, and don't surrender to the enemy. Consider the following inspiring verses:
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. "
Hebrews 12:2-3, KJV
"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not . . . For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."
2 Corinthians 4:1, 16, KJV
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Galatians 6:9, KJV
"Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory."
Ephesians 3:13, KJV
"But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing."
2 Thessalonians 3:13, KJV
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Romans 8:18, KJV
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:57, KJV
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
1 John 5:4, KJV
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Revelation 2:10, KJV
"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Matthew 25:21, KJV
It is a historical fact that many of the original Apostles suffered martyr's deaths, as did Stephen, Paul and others. As I point out in such series as "Revelation's Babylon the Great", the same holds true for many of the Prophets of the Old Testament era as well. None of us truly knows what the Lord may have in store for us in the days and years ahead. Perhaps it is better that we don't know; because to possess such knowledge would be a source of unnecessary worry, which the Lord clearly taught us we are not supposed to do. Not only that, but Jesus even told us not to worry about what we will say to our persecutors once we are finally apprehended. Consider the following verses:
"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Matthew 6:34, KJV
"But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."
Matthew 10:19-20, KJV
If the day should arrive in which some of us are called to give our lives as a final witness of our faith in the Lord, then as the previous verses indicate, it is our duty to do so gladly. Just as we currently offer our lives in daily sacrifice to the Lord's service, we should also be willing to present our bodies one final time through our martyrdom, knowing that our reward is great in the Kingdom of Heaven. After all, our bodies belong to the Lord, and we are bought with a price. I discuss this same topic in such articles as "Are You Crucified With Christ?" Consider these verses:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
Romans 12:1, KJV
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."
2 Corinthians 11:23-27, KJV
These words shouldn't really seem strange to our ears. After all, not only did the Lord teach us about daily sacrificial service in the Gospels, but He also led the way by His very own example of willingly surrendering His life and body for our benefit, as we can determine by the following verses:
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."
John 10:11, KJV
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13, KJV
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
1 John 3:16, KJV
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."
Luke 9:23-24, KJV
If we are currently yielded to the Lord in humble submission to His Will, then our future release from this wicked world will come much easier. In fact, while we shouldn't purposely hasten our Graduation through our own foolishness, we should anticipate death with great gladness. We should not fear it; knowing that just like the Apostle Paul, we too have run with patience the race which has been set before us. In contrast, so many people of the world are afraid of death and of dying; so much so that the Bible informs us that they are in bondage to it, as we see here:
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Hebrews 2:14-15, KJV
As King David wrote, the Lord cherishes the death of every single one of His children. In fact, the Book of Acts tells us that Jesus actually arose from His Heavenly Throne when Stephen was martyred by his enraged, Law-bound, pharisaical persecutors; the unbelieving Jews of the Sanhedrin. Please consider the following verses:
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"
Hebrews 12:1, KJV
". . . What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
Acts 21:13, KJV
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:6-8, KJV
"But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God."
Acts 7:55-56, KJV
"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."
Psalms 116:15, KJV
In light of all of the preceding Scriptural evidence, does this mean that we are to just allow ourselves to fall into the hands of our enemies, whether it is our own government, or perhaps members of our own family, or bullies at school, or maybe a jealous pastor down the street, or some foreign government, or an unsympathetic boss? Most definitely not! Naturally, we are to try to maintain our freedom as long as possible, unless the Lord specifically reveals to us that we are to do otherwise. In other words, if you are given the opportunity to flee from persecution, then by all means, please use your head and do so.
Such was the case with the Apostle Paul. As I explain in the article called "A Biblical Cafeteria or the Whole Course?", the Lord clearly revealed to Paul that he was going to pay a great price for his faith; and that he would be bound and taken as a prisoner to Rome, in order to be a witness in the courts of Emperor Nero. Some of Paul's Epistles prove this very point as well, as we see here:
"And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more."
Acts 20:22-25, KJV
"And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."
Acts 23:11, KJV
"The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. [The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.]"
2 Timothy 4:22, KJV
"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also."
Romans 1:7, 15, KJV
"Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [To the Galatians written from Rome.]"
Galatians 6:18, KJV
"Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. [To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.]"
Ephesians 6:24, KJV
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. [To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus.]"
Philippians 4:23, KJV
"The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen. [Written from Rome to Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus.]"
Colossians 4:18, KJV
"But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me."
2 Timothy 1:17, KJV
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a servant.]"
Philemon 1:25, KJV
Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.
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