Persecuted church sermon
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  • 1.  
  • 2.
    • Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour . Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings .
    • 1 Peter 5:8-9
  • 3. Throughout the world… 450 Christians killed for their faith each day. 200 million Christians persecuted.
  • 4. Nov. 17: “It was confirmed today that an underground church leader, his family members and dozens of his followers are likely to be executed.”
  • 5. Pastor Noble Alexander, before 22 years in Cuban prisons
  • 6.  
  • 7. The Staines family: Graham Gladys Esther Philip Timothy
  • 8.  
  • 9.
    • Safely Home
    • “ Well done, my good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Master.”
  • 10.  
  • 11.  
  • 12.  
  • 13.  
  • 14.  
  • 15.  
  • 16.
    • God chose to include in Scripture His people’s cries for deliverance and justice.
  • 17.
    • For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! … Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us ; redeem us because of your unfailing love.
    • Psalm 44:22-26
  • 18.
    • We are objects of reproach…of scorn and derision to those around us. How long, O LORD? … Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you…we are in desperate need.… make known among the nations that you avenge the outpoured blood of your servants . May the groans of the prisoners come before you.
    • Psalm 79:1-12
  • 19.
    • God promises He will ultimately bring both deliverance and justice.
  • 20.
    • They crush your people, O LORD… They slay the widow and the alien ; they murder the fatherless…. They band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death . But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness .
    • Psalm 94:3-23
  • 21.
    • See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins . The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer . In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword.
    • Isaiah 26:19-27:1
  • 22.
    • God promises special blessing and eternal reward for His persecuted people.
    • Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life .
    • Revelation 2:10
  • 23.
    • Blessed are you who mourn , for you will be comforted…. 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 , for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    • Matthew 5:11-12
  • 24.
    • The persecution of God’s people is directly linked to verbally confessing His Lordship before others.
  • 25.
    • They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John…they put them in jail.
    • Acts 4:1-4
  • 26.
    • “ And now you have betrayed and murdered him” [Jesus]….When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him . … “Look,” Stephen said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices , they all rushed at him , dragged him out of the city and began to stone him….
    • Acts 7:52ff.
  • 27.
    • If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. … I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you…. No servant is greater than his master . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also . …They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
    • Jesus , John 15:17-22
  • 28.
    • God promises his people that He is there for them in their suffering—nothing will separate them from His love.
  • 29.
    • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?....No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. …neither death nor life, angels nor demons…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 .
    • Romans 8:33-39
  • 30.
    • Those who follow Christ will be persecuted—it is inevitable, and it is promised.
  • 31.
    • 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 . …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 .
    • 1 Peter 2:19-23
  • 32.
    • Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering , as though something strange were happening to you . But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed …if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name . 1 Peter 4:12-17
  • 33.
    • For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake .
    • Philippians 1:29
    • Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
    • 2 Timothy 3:12
  • 34.
    • So….what are you doing, and saying, for Jesus that is resulting in you being persecuted?
    • (Persecution isn’t a goal, but an unavoidable byproduct of faithfulness.)
    • If you are not being persecuted in your school or workplace, is it because you are “fitting in” by failing to speak up for Christ?
  • 35.
    • God gives us the example of the persecuted church so we might raise the bar and take risks for Jesus, in what we say and do.
  • 36.
    • Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel . As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ . Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly .
    • Philippians 1:12-13
  • 37.
    • They called the apostles in and had them flogged . Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus , and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name . Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
    • Acts 5:40-42
  • 38.
    • Being a good witness for Christ is not measured by whether or not people like us or get mad at us.
    • Being Christlike is not just being “nice” and making everybody approve of us.
  • 39.
    • God uses persecution and suffering to build Christlike character in His people.
  • 40.
    • We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure , far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death . But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God , who raises the dead.
    • 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
  • 41.
    • God uses persecution and suffering to show the world that his people have a supernatural inner joy and peace, and an eternal hope.
  • 42.
    • We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed , but not in despair; persecuted , but not abandoned; struck down , but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body . For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake , so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
    • 2 Corinthians 4:8-11
  • 43.
    • Suffering is sure to come. Let’s follow the example of our perse-cuted brothers and sisters by:
    • Not wasting our suffering in self-pity or resentment, but giving thanks.
    • Drawing near to God for his comfort, strength and joy in our suffering.
  • 44.
    • They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
    • Revelation 12:10-11
  • 45. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. January 9, 1956
  • 46.  
  • 47. “ The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Tertullian
  • 48. Steve Saint and Mincaye, at Good Shepherd Jan. 21-22 The End of the Spear , in theatres nationwide January 20
  • 49. Before Communism: Less than 1 million Christians; Today: 100 million?
  • 50.  
  • 51.  
  • 52.  
  • 53.  
  • 54. God hears the cries of his people who suffer.  
  • 55.
    • He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME ?”
    • “ Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
    • “ I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.
    • Acts 9:4-5
  • 56.
    • Christ takes it personally when his people suffer:
    • To hurt them is to hurt Him.
    • To help them is to help Him.
  • 57.
    • The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
    • Matthew 25:40
  • 58.
    • I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
    • Jesus, Matthew 9:41
  • 59. Christian children of Uganda
  • 60.  
  • 61.
    • [The martyrs] called out in a loud voice, “ How long, Sovereign Lord , holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer , until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.
    • Revelation 6:10-11
  • 62.
    • When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, “Woe! Woe, O great city…”     In one hour she has been brought to ruin!
    • Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets!   God has judged her for the way she treated you.
    • Revelation 18:18-20
  • 63.
    • The Lord said, “ I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering .…So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians.”
    • Exodus 3
  • 64.
    • Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed . Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
    • Psalm 82:3-4
  • 65.
    • Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves , for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy .
    • Proverbs 31:8-9
  • 66.
    • What can we do?
    • Become informed (books, magazines, websites, emails, videos); “17 Countries Where…”
    • Pray (for deliverance, endurance, boldness); “How to pray for…”
    • Fast
    • Give
    • Go
    • Speak up; letters, phone calls
    • Follow their example
  • 67.
    • Voice of the Martyrs
    • International Christian Concern
    • Open Doors with Bro. Andrew
    • Christian Solidarity Worldwide
    • Far Reaching Ministries
  • 68.
    • The biggest barrier to faith in God: the problem of evil and suffering
    • The Logic: “A God who is both all-good and all-powerful could not allow such evil and suffering. If He is there, He must not care.”
  • 69. The Truth: God has never allowed anyone to endure suffering as great as He has willingly taken on himself.
  • 70.  
  • 71.  
  • 72.  
  • 73.  
  • 74.  
  • 75. “ Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Aslan is not a tame lion.
  • 76. Aslan is not a tame lion.
  • 77.
    • “ You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill.”
    “ I do not deny it,” Aslan said.
  • 78.
    • “ Please—Aslan,” said Lucy, “can anything be done to save Edmund?”
    “ All shall be done,” said Aslan. “But it may be harder than you think.” And then he was silent again for some time.
  • 79.
    • The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him . They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him .
    • Luke 22:63-65
    • “ Are you not going to answer?”…. But Jesus remained silent.
    • Matthew 26:62-63
  • 80.
    • Between them they rolled the huge Lion over on his back and tied all his four paws together , shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been the death of them all. But he made no noise , even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh .
  • 81.
    • “ He is worthy of death.”…Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists . Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?”
    • [They] came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him , led him away and handed him over to Pilate.… he had Jesus flogged , and handed him over to be crucified. Matthew 26:66-68; 27:1-2
  • 82.
    • Then they began to drag Aslan towards the stone table. The Witch said, “Let him first be shaved.” Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers….
    • Why, he’s only a great cat after all!” cried one. “Is that what we were afraid of?” said another. And they surged round Aslan, jeering at him , saying “How many mice have you caught today, Cat?”
  • 83.
    • Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.
    • Matthew 27:27-31
  • 84.
    • “ Muzzle him!” said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two or three of them their hands. But he never moved.
    • … for a few minutes the two girls could not even see him—so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him .
  • 85.
    • They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him : “Hail, king of the Jews!” They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again . After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him .
    • Matthew 27:29-31
  • 86.
    • They dragged the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing.
    • He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him on to the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords .
    • The Witch bared her arms, then began to whet her knife…
  • 87.
    • Had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been the death of them all.
    • One bite from his jaws would have cost two or three of them their hands. But he never moved.
  • 88. “ Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:53
  • 89.
    • Ask yourself:
    • Can you honestly look at this God who became the suffering Savior and fault him for his lack of compassion or understanding of those who suffer?
    • Can you accuse Him of staying at a distance and not doing enough to deal with evil and suffering?
  • 90.
    • Christ chose to give himself over to death to save us. Then he restrained himself from stopping the worst injustice and worst evil and worst suffering of history: on himself. (All for us.)
    • If we remember this, we’ll always be grateful, never resentful, regardless of what we suffer. No more spirit of entitlement. No more whining.
  • 91.
    • Because of our sins we deserve an eternity in Hell .
    • Because of his love and sacrifice, he offers us an eternity in Heaven .
    • Thanks to Jesus, we will never get what we deserve.
  • 92.
    • To meditate on Thanksgiving week:
    • “ Give thanks in all circumstances , for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:18
    • We are never grateful for what we think we’re entitled to. We are only bitter when it’s taken from us.
  • 93.
    • If God can bring the single greatest good in history, human redemption, out of the single most horrible event in human history, the crucifixion of Jesus…
    • Can he also use the suffering of his persecuted people—and our suffering—for good?
  • 94.