Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unity # 7: Persecution For the Sake of Righteousness

Unity # 7: Persecution For the Sake of Righteousness
Theme Song: We are Free

Dear Father,
      We praise You for authenticating us by allowing the righteousness that comes by faith to arouse hostility in those who do not love Your Truth. I have undergone almost no persecution compared to Your saints and Your Son. We know that as we increasingly reflect the character of Your Son, we will be an aroma of death and the stench of condemning Light to those who stand in opposition to Your Kingdom. Please help us to be active in sharing our faith and in revealing Your glorious righteousness. And as the persecution comes, please grant us abundant joy. Grant such joy and strength to our fellow saints throughout the world who undergo persecution now. Our hope does not disappoint us because You have poured Your love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We believe in what we desire and we desire what we believe in: Your unfailing love.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,

Dear Beloved,

We are, like our patriarch Issac, children of promise. Issac was born according to the Spirit, but his brother, Ishmael, was born according to the flesh. The one born of the flesh persecutes the one born of the Spirit. But we know that those who are born according to the flesh are not heirs with us of eternal Life. (Gal 4:28-30) Indeed, all who desire to live Godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. We follow the examples of those Christians who reflect Godly teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings. The Lord rescues His people from all of the persecutions which they endure.  (2 Tim 3:10-12)

            Why are we guaranteed persecution? We are persecuted because we carry the stumbling block of the cross. And had we preached a gospel of works, that is, the false gospel exhibited in every other world religion, or if we desired to make a good showing in the flesh, this stumbling block would be abolished. (Gal 5:11, 6:12) But we have been called to do what is right and to suffer for it with patient endurance. We are called for this purpose because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example for us to follow in His steps. He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth. While He was reviled, He did not revile in return. As He suffered, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds we were healed. We were continually straying like sheep, but now we have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. (1 Peter 2:20-25)

            As we seek to follow in His steps, we remember His Words “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:10-12).

“The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: 
God will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. 
Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures; 
we are like the boy who wished to remove the blot from his copy, and by his bungling made it ten times worse.”

-- C.H. Spurgeon

How should we regard those who persecute us? We are commanded to bless those who persecute and revile us and not to curse them, but rather to endure (Rom 12:14, 1 Cor 4:12). Christ told us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, so that we may be sons of our Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If we love those who love us, what reward do we have? For even the people of the world are able to love one another in an earthly way. If we greet only our brothers we would be just like the people of the world around us who maintain a form of affection for those close to them. God wants His people to be perfect, just as He is perfect. (Matt 5:43-48) If our heavenly Father shows grace to the wicked, those who do not see His infinite worth and who do not praise or seek Him, then we know that to be perfect, we must do the same to our persecutors. We have a great hope that our persecutors will someday see the Truth and repent. The apostle Paul used to persecute the Way of righteousness to death by binding and putting both men and women into prisons (Acts 22:4). But he finally preached the faith that he once tried to destroy and the people of God glorified God because of him (Gal 1:23-24).

We are promised persecution. Christ told us that we would be hated by all because of His Name (Matt 10:22). He tells us that a slave is not greater than his Master. If they persecuted Him, they will persecute us. If they kept His Word [many of them did not], they will keep ours. They do all of these things for His Name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Him. (John 15:20-21) Let us consider the prophets, wise men, and scribes. All of them were persecuted. Those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One were betrayed, scourged in the synagogues, persecuted from city to city, and murdered. (Acts 7:52, Matt 23:34). Christ told us that before the End, our enemies will lay their hands on us, persecute us, deliver us to the synagogues and prisons, and bring us before kings and governors for His Name’s sake. IT WILL LEAD TO AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR TESTIMONY. (Luke 21:12-14)

Christ gave His disciples instruction for their response to persecution. He told them that when they are persecuted in one city, they should flee to the next (Matt 10:23). He tells us that when we are brought to trial we should make up our minds not to prepare beforehand to defend ourselves; for He will give us utterance and wisdom which none of our opponents will be able to resist or refute.  Not a hair of our head will perish. By our endurance we will gain our lives. (Luke 21:14-18)

The Holy Spirit and the Word of Christ are the treasure that we carry in the earthen vessels of our bodies. In this way the surpassing greatness of our power will be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the Life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. So as death works in us, life works in our fellow Christians who see the Life of Christ revealed in us. (2 Cor 4:7-12)

May we trust in our Lord and say “You are our God. Our times are in Your Hand. Deliver us from the hand of our enemies and from those who persecute us. Make Your Face to shine upon Your servant. Save us in Your lovingkindness. We are persecuted by the arrogant, those who are not in accord with Your Law. All of Your commandments are faithful; They have persecuted Your people with a lie. But we cry out for help and do not forsake Your precepts. Princes persecute us without cause, but our hearts stand in awe of Your Words. (Ps 31, 119:161) Let those who persecute us be put to shame, but as for us, let us not be put to shame. Let them be dismayed, but let us not be dismayed. (Jer 17:18)”
Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!
And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart is appalled within me.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your doings;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
I stretch out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You, as a parched land.  Selah.
Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails;
Do not hide Your face from me,
Or I will become like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear Your loving kindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul.
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I take refuge in You.
10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
11 For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
12 And in Your loving kindness, cut off my enemies
And destroy all those who afflict my soul,
For I am Your servant. Ps 143

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph 6:12

Excellent Messages
The Gospel of Our Salvation Study Guide by Paul Washer (recommended by Anand)
The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur (recommended by Mr. Edwards)

Love inChrist,

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