ARE WE WILLING TO SUFFER PERSECUTION?
Today we are going to discuss ONE of the reasons our Father reveals why His children suffer through many trials and tribulations. There are many reasons we suffer through being His chosen children through Christ as we continue to give up more and more of ourselves to Him every day for HIS SAKE. It is the suffering of persecution many of us do not want to be a part of, and if a child of God does not want to experience this type of suffering, God tells us they cannot be a part of His full blessings in Christ and continue to grow in Him.
These powerful deep words from Jesus through the Holy Spirit that were recorded by John speaks volumes as why followers of Christ are persecuted. Many today do not get persecuted because they think they are higher than Him, or fear sets in because they are afraid they will lose more than they will gain. If He is working in and through a person they will get persecuted by those who are worldly whether it is a believer that still lives partly in this world, or an unbeliever that is fully part of the world. These words He speaks to his first disciples live in each child that has fully surrendered to Him.
John 15:18 “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. 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 15:20 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.
If a person is loved by the world Jesus says that is a good sign that they belong to this world and not His Kingdom. If the world loves a person, or the person loves the world then how can they be a part of His? He takes us out of the world and separates us from it, but many “Christians” today act as if they are still part of it. He tells us if a person obeys His teachings, then others will obey his disciple’s teachings because they are One teaching the same things He taught through His Spirit.
Many today do not live by or follow the teachings of Christ, they follow the world and man-made traditions, and they do not get persecuted for the same reasons He did. I often wonder if that was one of the reasons Constantine, the Emperor of Rome, combined the pagan beliefs with the Christian beliefs so the world would not persecute him or his government because he wanted to still be connected to this world and his own beliefs.
Many of us know the persecution from the Jews, the self-righteous “religious” people, and from the Roman government Jesus our Lord experienced. They did not receive God’s grace through Christ because they never accepted Him.
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, (only begotten) who is at the Father’s side, had made him known.
Many today do not take that step of faith letting Him speak and walk through them, out of fear of losing a relationship, their popularity, their accomplishments, social status, and ignore Him, and His presence they can’t see, just like the Pharisees, and the Roman government did. In my last blog, we discussed in detail what a person would have to give up if they were willing to follow Christ. Today we are discussing what we all must face and endure when we do give up all for Him.
Matthew 5:11 “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.
There was no way Herod or Pilot would of gave up their standing in their government for Christ or for God. It was far too important to them to humble themselves before God and surrender to the teachings of Jesus. That is why God chose them, he knew they would never surrender to Christ. He knew that the Pharisee, Sadducee, and the Sanhedrin during the time Jesus walked the earth proclaiming the Good News of God’s NEW Kingdom they would never surrender to Jesus and give up their standing in their religious circles, in their synagogues, and in their high standings in their government, and that is why God placed them to live during that time.
He knew who to choose for His disciples, even the one that would betray Him, because he knows the ones who are going to endure persecution, and the ones that are not, and they all had a purpose in fulfilling His Father’s prophesy. Today is the same, He still knows the ones that are going to surrender their lives wholeheartedly for Him, endure persecution no matter the cost, and stand the test of persecution without being shaken to complete the growing up of His sons and daughters during this time He has placed them in.
The god of this world, (Satan) and his army had their eyes and ears blocked, and they had no intention of wanting them unblocked, and God knew it. Today, as it was then, he has blocked many ears as Satan did then, and many are making it easy for him too. When a person is not willing to humble themselves through the sufferings of Christ through persecution it will hinder their walk and perfect will for their lives. Jesus tells this to the masses through His parable of the seed, and through his circumstances and other relationships our Father gave him, or placed in front of him.
Jesus lived to do His Father’s will, for His Father’s sake. He laid down His life for God above his family, friends, and government. All during His ministry he was refreshed by His Father through prayer. His Father sent angels to refresh Him because Jesus was the first Holy Son that came from God willing to give a full and total unwavering Heart of Himself completely to His Father without sin.
Jesus Christ was willing to let His Father speak through Him, He was God’s Word in the flesh walking among us through His Holy Spirit. He was not speaking to condemn us but to save us. He spoke those bold words to the Pharisees to save them from themselves and the false teachings that had developed through the law they were living out. Do you want to know Christ and have fellowship with His sufferings, or do you want to live your will for others or for yourself so you can still be a part of this world?
The Pharisees wanted no part of the sufferings for Christ they wanted to keep their high standings in the community. Paul wanted to know the sufferings of Christ, and through His Spirit we will too if we do not fall away when persecution comes.
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Through the same Holy Spirit, we will want to suffer as Christ suffered as Paul proclaims through persecution, that is the suffering Jesus suffered. We know Paul truly did suffer through a lot of persecution because He did His Father’s will and not His own through the Holy Spirit of His First Son. We who have experienced the sufferings of Christ know by suffering as He suffered we are being blessed by His power of His resurrection growing in us lifting us up in Him past where we were.
I am not talking about the severe persecution that goes on around the world. There are different measures of persecution we all must face, and that depends on where He has placed us. Not many today want to suffer the sufferings of Christ at any level, and because of that they invite many other sufferings that are needless, and do not grow in Him as He wants them too.
Many of us are taught many lessons from God through “The Parable of the Sower”, and I have learned a great deal about our human nature, the Son and the Father through this amazing parable. Jesus had to deal with a lot of people whose hearts had become calloused toward him when they heard His message of truth HIS salvation was proclaiming to all people.
Today this parable still speaks His truth and still others respond to it the same. God’s word through Luke’s record keeping explains the meaning of the parable from Jesus to His twelve disciples. Gods’ word through Matthew’s record tells us what this “testing” in Luke’s record is.
Luke 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
Luke 8:13 “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
Matthew 13:20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
In Matthew’s record, he calls persecution a test, and in Luke’s record he calls testing persecution. We can receive through both records we know God test us to see if His word is dwelling in us, He will speak His words through us for the building up of His Kingdom, or we will fail the test, and not allow Him to speak His words through us. Are we failing the test or are we letting Him freely speak through us for the building up of His Kingdom?
He will always test us if we are pouring out what He has poured in for the building up of His Kingdom. He does not want any of His children to be ignorant of who He is and why He came. We will always be persecuted in some way, and through this test of persecution some of those that hear the word will stay and continue to bear His fruit for His purpose, and will, and some humans will fall away because they want to live their will for their lives. They are not willing to lose their standing in their community, a child, friend or family member, or quite possibly their job, so they quickly fall away.
Who we are living for will always be proven through God’s word, and it will always separate us from the sin within ourselves, and from the world. It will always be because of God’s word that His true children are being persecuted. Many “Christians” think they know God but truly Jesus says they do not, because if they did they would be listening to His word, and His teaching and not follow others and their teachings. Today He speaks the same through us as He did then.
Each of us can reveal this human nature driving us Jesus is describing in this parable. Any of us can continue hearing God’s word with joy repeatedly rejoicing, and we can repeatedly fall away because of fear of persecution. Instead of freely speaking we have more fear of losing a relationship we can see, then losing His relationship we can’t see.
The good soil is a heart completely devoted to God, that person hears the word, understands it, because He is above all in their lives so He gives them the understanding of it, and they produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
God knows who is fully devoted to Him, He knows who truly put Him and His word above all things and all people, and He knows whose heart will bear His fruit just like He knew His first disciples and those who would betray Him. Which one are we, the one that continues to fall away because of persecution, or the one that is fully devoted to Him above all?
God tells us this through our blessings and woes through Luke’s record of the words of Jesus we all will experience persecution from many, and on many different levels, but like then, are we willing as the did to suffer persecution as He suffered on all levels. Are we willing to be those who are blessed by Him or one He looks at with piety?
Luke 6:22-26 Blessed are you when man hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in Heaven. For that is how their father treated the prophets.”
24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.
The word woe means someone that God pities, or looks on with piety because they are not rightly related to Him. For an earthly example, it would be like the piety of an earthly father looking upon his children after he had made a bridge for his children to cross above a pit of poisonous snakes. His children chose to ignore the bridge, and walk the way of the pit through their own understanding. To be pitied by God because one is not rightly related to Him after He has done everything for us to be, is a woe, and a piety I would not want any part of. His piety will grow into His wrath, a woe I want nothing to do with.
The woe’s our God is speaking of in this message are for those who are rich and never share what they have with others that would make them have less so others that do not have can have more for His sake.
These people would never hurt for the hungry for His sake, or never mourn for the suffering of another or for the lost children of God for His sake.
These people would have all women and men in the world that spoke well of them, but they do not know God, and they would not be doing anything for His Sake.
They do it for their own sake of looking good and prosperous, and for the sake of others, but not for His Sake. These people that are happy and care free have woe’s deep within them they do not realize, because they do not have Him or know Him or His voice. They listen to the other voices more than they listen to His Voice which speaks through His word.
Why would people “hate Christians”, want to “exclude Christians”, “insult Christians”, and “reject a Christians name as something evil”? The wrong teaching, or the wrong idea of Him can cause us the wrong view of Him, and keep us from truly living out what He only can put in each of us.
Why would someone persecute people living in, and through Jesus Christ as being something evil in the world? Why would anyone think He is evil, think His followers are evil, be crucified, beheaded, and persecuted in many ways?
Like always we will ask our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit of His Son, and He will answer. Jesus talks to a Pharisee called Nicodemus that came to visit him at night in secret because Nicodemus was more fearful of losing his relationship among the Pharisee’s rather than losing His relationship with God the time this conversation takes place.
This statement Jesus tells Nicodemus is why many do not turn to him, reject him, hate him, insult him, and the same reason still applies today if He is working in us, and working through us. If He is working in a person, and through a person the same persecution He received we will receive on all levels He did.
John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who dos evil hates the light, and will not come in into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth (the Spirit of Jesus) comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
Jesus tells us in this statement when we receive His light HE exposes the evil that is within all of us, there is no exception, Jesus said His light has come into the world, not only shown to a few but to the whole world. Some will love darkness, and want to remain in darkness. Others will be ignorant to His truth for other reasons not because they are deliberately being disobedient but they are being deceived and living through a lie, and the illusions of truth.
Jesus is the judge or the verdict that came into the natural world that exposed every natural human being’s deeds, thoughts, and motives, whether good or bad, they were all evil in God’s sight. All natural men have no good motives. He wants to give all the world His light of truth through Christ for all to live through, but not all want to listen and obey His light of truth, they still want to remain in this world, and not be a part of His.
How does a person respond when He comes into them and exposes their evil sinful nature? They have two responses either they can live through His truth that exposes God’s work in and through them through His given Spirit, or they can remain in darkness, and those that remain in darkness or want to remain in darkness will not like Him. They will persecute the person He is living in, in some way, not because of them in who they are, but because of Him in who He is through His Spirit and word.
Jesus explains his motives are different than a natural man's motives no matter how good they may sound to us to his brothers that did not believe in Him in another conversation God reveals to us through the records of John.
John 7:3-7 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world. For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore, Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
We can see Jesus gets persecution from His own brothers because they are naturally thinking of themselves in their natural state of mind, so naturally they are seeing Him through their natural views, and naturally they see Him as they see themselves. They clearly did not know Jesus, His truth, motives or His deeds. They did not know why His Father sent Him, why His Father was performing all the miracles through Him, because they had not received His Holy Spirit that gave them the understanding, so they still had their mind on earthly matters, and not His Kingdom.
Through our natural human light, we will not expose the evil in us, or in the world for the right reasons, it will always be for vain purposes, so everyone can see how good we are, or everyone can see how good someone is. Jesus plainly teaches us to be careful not to do our good deeds in front of people so they will be seen by them, or known by them. This His brothers did not understand, and today many have not received this understanding of how He works in and through us.
Mathew 6:1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.
People get their rewards from themselves feeling good just like the brothers of Jesus was describing. Jesus knew where and who His rewards came from and no one could ever take them away. He was not trying to make himself look good or feel good, and he certainly was not doing it to make people feel good. He was doing it for His Father and He knew where His rewards came from.
The same words He speaks to us, when we see Him as only a natural man, or see ourselves as being only a natural person any time is right for us because we do not expose the evil in the world for the right reasons it will always be to make ourselves look good, not Him. He does expose the evil within us and through us in others, and that is why His children get persecuted as He did. Not because of who they are, but because of who He is.
Up to this point in time His brothers nor any of his disciples received any persecution that amounted to anything. When He was arrested, they did, but they scattered like scared cats being chased by a dog. After He resurrected He gave them His Spirit of truth, and they endured their persecution as He endured His, because the Father gave them all they needed as He gave Jesus all He needed.
At some point in our own relationship with Him we all will experience some persecution if we are growing in Him. Like Him, it could be from our own personal family members, body of believers, community, friends, co-workers, government rulers or authorities. God tells us through Luke’s account of another encounter with persecution Jesus experienced that came from His hometown.
Luke 4:24 “I tell you the truth, he (Jesus) continued, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.”
Luke 4:28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town. And took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowed and went on his way.
These people were not evil people in their eyes, they all did good works, were kind to one another, loved life, helped one another, went to worship in their synagogues, and loved God through man made rules and traditions.
Jesus told them the story of Elijah not coming to heal them in the days of Elijah when God brought severe famine throughout the land, and God only healed Naaman, a Syrian widow, because she believed Elijah was a man of God. That is when the Jews in his home town got furious because He was telling them the truth, exposing their sinful nature going their own way, listening to their own voice, and not the voice of God seeing Him as He truly was.
Whether they thought they were good through their own eyes, God did not, nor did His Son. They had no faith in Him nor in God their Father giving them all they needed, so He left without performing many miracles. He does the same thing today when we do not see Him as He truly is.
Through our studying of God’s word today we know why Jesus got persecuted, and we know why we do, when we walk and talk as He did He exposes the evil within us and through us as He did. We will have a heart fully devoted to Him as His first disciples so He can perform many miracles within ourselves, and through us for others, so people can be drawn to Him?
Will we be like His home town, and see Him in others as a mere human, and not God living in and through them as they did. Will we want to throw them off a cliff when they speak His truth to us, kicking them out of our lives because we chose to live in sin, or accept a lie that is not true.
Today in America, and in our own families it seems we are throwing Him off a cliff, and keeping what and who makes us comfortable in the world we have chosen to live in. Paul warns the church body in Thessalonian they will face trials of persecution and they were destined for the trails because they had accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
1 Thessalonians 3:2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trails. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be be persecuted, and it turned out that way, as you well know.
He will test us with our children, he will test us with our parents, co-workers, church body, friends, and where ever he places us in the world if we are speaking and walking out His word in our daily lives. I hope this will help you past the test He has given you, and if you don’t remember today is a new day for all to receive His amazing grace, repent, change your heart to a willing heart completely devoted to Him so through Him He can work in and through you for others giving His blessings while you are being persecuted with his signs, miracles and wonders He can only give as He gave His first church.
Persecution will come but He gives us all we need of Himself to endure it, just has He did His First Son, disciples, and apostles that came after, and still are coming and living through Him on this earth. He gives us a heart to pray for them, and forgive them as we continue to speak and walk in and through His presence.
If those who are persecuting us leave our lives, or ask us to leave their lives as they left Him, or He left them. He will replace anyone or anything we have lost for His sake with His amazing grace that continually washes over us, not only for us, but also for them.
All people must surrender their lives to Him to work in and through, just like all His reborn children that came before us. He will never give up sending others to speak and walk in front of a person to tell His truth of grace and salvation if anyone else is not able because they have left, or He has told them to leave. We must always stand firm in His truth no matter the cost, and not compromise His truth for someone else.
He gives all His reborn children the heart to continually pray for his lost confused children, and those that persecute us for telling His truth. He will send others to be the answer to our prayer when we are no longer able to speak His truth to them. That is how he cares for the lost and confused souls His reborn children care about when He can’t speak through them. He will send someone else in our place because we continue to pray for all those who prosecute us because of His Word.