INTRODUCTION: Jesus finishes the great Beatitudes by talking about the consequences of living the other beatitudes in their lives. For the faithful Christian who lives these precepts persecution will surely come. He tells us to rejoice when we suffer persecution.
I. THE FACT OF PERSECUTION.
A. Faithful Christians are told that they will be persecuted for their faith.
1. Verse 12 - “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
2. 2 Timothy 3:12 - "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
B. Jesus said that His people would be persecuted for their faith.
1. John 15:20, 21 - “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. “But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.”
a. This promise, written first to the apostles, has been fulfilled over and over in the lives of faithful brethren throughout history.
II. THE REASONS FOR PERSECUTION.2. The servant is not greater than the master. If Jesus was persecuted, which He was, then we can be assured of persecution.
A. We need to make sure we are being persecuted because we are Christians- not because we have done something wrong or have a sinful attitude.
1. Remember it should be for "righteousness sake."
2. 1 Peter 4:15 - "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters."
B. Why are Christians persecuted?
1. Some are ignorant of Christianity and men are often afraid of and lash out at what they do not understand.
a. Ignorance was one of the factors in the murder of Jesus.
I. Acts 3:17 - "And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers."
b. Paul was sincere in his persecution of Christian, but did it ignorantly.
I. 1 Timothy 1:13 - "Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief."
2. Because those who live the Christian life are constant reminders to the wicked of their lost and sinful condition. It is a constant reminder of their sinful standing before God.
III. THE SCOPE OF PERSECUTIONa. John 3:19-21 "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
A. Jesus's words.
1. To revile and say all manner of evil suggest slanders and falsehoods said against others.
2. Persecute in Matthew 5:11 literally means to pursue or chase after.
3. Persecution can take many forms. It can be physical pain, death, shunning by friends or family, public scorn, etc. Any way that is used as punishment toward us because we are faithful Christians is persecution.
B. The extent of persecution.
1. Stephen was stoned by an angry mob - Acts chapter 7.
2. James the apostle was killed by King Herod - Acts 12:2
3. Paul suffered constantly because he was a Christian - 2 Corinthians 11:26-27
III. THE VALUE OF PERSECUTION.4. A catalogue of persecution - Hebrews 11:36-38
A. It is an indicator of spiritual life.
1. Just as pain is an indicator that we are alive physically and that our body is functioning properly, so persecution indicates that we are alive physically.
B. It makes the world and its things less attractive.
1. 1 Peter 4:1,2 - “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
C. It can cause us to lean more strongly on the Lord for help.
1. Paul learned that God would be with him in persecution and leaned on the Lord in time of need.
IV. THE REWARD OF PERSECUTION - "THEIR'S IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN."a. 2 Timothy 4:16, 17 - “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
A. When we emerge from persecution faithful we will receive the grateful reward of a loving Father.
1. Romans 8:17, 18 - “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. “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.”
B. We will reign with Christ.
CONCLUSION: Archaeologists digging in the remains of a school for imperial pages in Rome found a picture dating from the third century. It shows a boy standing, his hand raised, worshiping a figure on a cross, a figure that looks like a man with the head of an ass. Scrawled in the writing of a young person are the words, " Alexamenos worships his God." Nearby in a second inscription: "Alexamenos is faithful." Apparently, a young man who was a Christian was being mocked by his schoolmates for his faithful witness. But he was not ashamed; he was faithful. Let us never be ashamed when we are persecuted, but remain faithful. “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41).1. 2 Timothy 2:12 (NKJV) - “If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”
Copyright 1999 by Grady
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