Persecution… Count On It
One has only to take a casual look around to understand that, nowadays, Christians are considered as equivalent to the proverbial ‘red-headed stepchild’.
If you are a blood-bought (convicted in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem you from all of your sins), born-again (the Holy Spirit is living in you by your invitation, directing your desires and how you live your life) Christian believer, you are a member of a shrinking minority.
The world… which largely rejects Jesus Christ… hates you.
I know that hate is a pretty strong word, but if you as a Christian are in any type of regular habit of reading the Holy Scriptures, you are already nodding your head in assent with what I just said. The witness of the One that we worship as KING of kings and LORD of lords is all the proof required to know not only that Christian believers are hated by the world, but why they are hated by the world:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (John 15:18)
Why is it that the world hates Jesus Christ? He said why the world hated Him:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. (John 7:7)
If you are a Christian believer, you are in the world, but you are not of the world. Your allegiance is not to the world: your allegiance is to the One who died on the cross to pay the penalty of eternal death that you earned through your sins so that you might stand blameless before God on the day of judgment. Jesus Christ explains with a lucid clarity why the world acts the way that it does toward His people:
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:19)
Linger long over something so precious from the above passage… Jesus Christ has chosen you out of the world!
The KING of kings and the LORD of lords… the Peerless Son of God Almighty… the One possessed of all knowledge, presence and power from eternity past into the present time into eternity future…the One filled with grace and truth… has chosen you.
How did this come to be?
The Psalms give great glory, honor and praise to God. Read how God chose you:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Persecution was nothing new for Jesus Christ. In addition to the opposition of the Jewish religious authorities to His message and ministry, and the rejection of His message and ministry by the very people to whom He was first sent, He would eventually suffer the ultimate persecution… an agonizing death… to pay the penalty for the totality of the sins of humanity for all who would place their faith in Him. As Christian believers, we will not suffer to the extreme that Jesus Christ did, but we will surely face an increasing degree of persecution in these last days. This may range from no persecution at all, to mild degrees of ridicule, disdain and perhaps social ostracism such as the loss of family relationships and friends, to physical violence, to loss of property by seizure, to imprisonment, to torture and martyrdom for those who will not recant their faith in God and in the One that He has sent. We who believe in Jesus Christ will surely encounter persecution, because He said we would:
Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. (John 15:20-21)
Jesus Christ explained plainly that if He had not told the people who hated Him why they hated Him, and if He had not done amongst the people who hated Him the various miracles that clearly validated His claim to be the Messiah promised to the Jewish people, then the people who hated Him would not have been guilty of sin against Him:
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason’. (John 15:22-25)
People hate Jesus without reason. People hate Christian believers without reason.
In multiple posts elsewhere throughout this blog, I have stated the case as capably and strongly as I know how that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. His deeds while walking on this earth during the time of His ministry, most notably His eye-witnessed resurrection from the dead after His crucifixion at the hands of the Romans, but also His multiple miracles and the established fact that Holy Scripture in its thousands of prophecies has never once (to the time of this writing) been wrong… then you are not intellectually honest if you deny Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and deny Holy Scripture as the authoritative Word of God that is the last word in all ethical, moral and spiritual matters.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. (Psalm 14:1)
At the bottom of any fool’s denial of Jesus, God and the Holy Scripture is a pride that says, in effect, “I will not be held accountable to anyone.” You can rationalize all you want… say that the Christian faith is full of errors and inconsistencies, say that the Christian faith is nothing more than a fantastical compilation of fantasies by deluded men from a long time ago, say that people don’t need the Christian faith because they are ‘good people’, say that the Christian faith isn’t rational and doesn’t make sense, say that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Christian faith are just crutches for weak and ineffectual people… you know why you deny Jesus, God and the Holy Scripture.
Because you consciously choose to.
The fool needs to understand that there is going to be a time of reckoning:
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27)
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)
The bottom line is this (italic emphasis mine):
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
Not much future in being a fool, is there?
Now, all of this having been said, take a serious look at the world around us. Can we really say (with a straight face) that we have achieved a just and equitable world based on our own efforts, leaving God out of the equation? Now I am not saying that if everyone in the world was to turn to God, following His ways and commandments, that we would have a paradise on our hands… in the first place, we are born as sinners and will never live as anything else until we die (so even as redeemed people, we will still commit sin, although it should be less sin), and in the second place, not everyone will turn to God and follow His ways and commandments. Our world would be better, yes, but not a paradise by the most extreme stretch of our imagination.
So in the mess that we find ourselves living in (which, by the way, we have caused due to our sin and rebellion against God and His ways and commandments), those who do choose to live Christian lives by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit WILL be persecuted: this is guaranteed:
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12)
I am speaking personally now, but I foresee a time in this country, the Unites States of America, when the preaching of God’s Word from the pulpits of Christian churches will be regarded, and prosecuted, as hate speech. Political correctness will graduate to the sewer with the haughty defiance of God’s Word, and of God Himself and the One that He has sent, even in our hallowed halls of worship.
Persecution is coming. Be ready. Confess Jesus Christ as LORD, placing your faith, hope, trust, confidence and strength in Him, read and live His Holy Scripture every day, and pray without ceasing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, above all, this from Jesus Christ…
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)