August 6, 2023
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, How to Prepare for Persecution.
One of the signs given in End Times prophecy is persecution of the Church. There is no way you can be a genuine Christian and be exempt from persecution. Christians today endure everything from limitations on freedoms, to scorn and ridicule, to prison and death.
What does the Word of God have to say about that?
Christ Jesus said,
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
There is a way to escape persecution: compromise. Rub shoulders with this world. Everybody loves a preacher who never talks about religion.
Jesus also said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing” (Matthew 5:13a). We have too many good-for-nothing Christians. (Read Romans 12:2.)
Here are three things you—and your children—must know about persecution.
Why are Christians persecuted?
The word righteousness comes from a Greek word which means “to divide, to be different.” We live in a world that breeds conformity—“inclusivity.” But Christians are children of light; those of the world are children of darkness. We are alive in the Spirit; they are dead. Therefore we understand them, but they do not understand us.
Christians are salt. Salt flavors, but if you rub salt in a wound, it stings. We are also light—“Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20).
We are different, and the world does not like the difference.
Punishment comes from good people when we do bad. Persecution comes from bad people when we do good.
Jesus said we are persecuted “For righteousness’ sake…for My sake.” (See Matthew 5:10-11.) Peter wrote, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you….But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:14-15.)
How did Jesus manage to get crucified? Because of false witnesses. (Read Matthew 26:59-60, Mark 14:56-58.)
What started the first great persecution of Christians in Rome? Nero was in a vast remodeling project and wanted to get rid of the slums of Rome—so he got a fire started. But burning the city backfired on him, and he needed a scapegoat. So, he said, “It was those Christians!”
They will lie about you, too. Do not believe everything you hear about any Christian.
Satan is trying to get at Jesus by getting at you, because you are Jesus’ representative.
Christ said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you…for My sake” (Matthew 5:11; emphasis added). This world hates Jesus, because He came to destroy the works of the devil. (See 1 John 3:8.)
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.
Did you know that one of your gifts is the ability to suffer for Jesus? “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29).
Not only should we expect persecution; we must endure it. Here is how it will come:
Personal insult — You will be made the butt of jokes. Reviling Christians is big business.
Physical harm — To persecute means “to pursue,” and it sometimes means they will follow you in order to imprison you. People have been imprisoned for standing up for the unborn. More people lost their lives in the 20th century by standing up for Jesus than in all of the 19 centuries before it.
Injustice — Jesus elaborated on this: “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them” (Mark 13:9).
Persecution will come from false churches, the government, and from within families. (See Mark 13:10-13.) This is part of being a Christian. Nothing has gone wrong.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
We can use our persecution to glorify God. Our Lord said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).
“Blessed are those who are persecuted…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10; emphasis added). There are three levels of life:
The Hellish Level: evil for good. This is when good people are persecuted for doing good.
The Human Level: good for good, and evil for evil.
The Heavenly Level: good for evil. The children of the King are the ones living on this level. This is tough, but we have to believe it, because it is in God’s Word: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
If people persecute you, do not get even. Why? You are reigning with the Lord. Pray, “God, help me not to stoop to their level.”
How do you rejoice in the Lord under religious persecution?
You have to earn persecution. You will not get it if you do not walk with God. But if you are experiencing persecution, say, “Hallelujah! They see Jesus in me.” All who live godly will suffer persecution. (See 2 Timothy 3:12.) When the apostles were threatened and warned not to preach in the name of Jesus, “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
As Stephen was being stoned, “he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin’” (Acts 7:60b). The Bible says his face was like an angel’s. (See Acts 6:15.)
There was man standing watching this whose name was Saul. He hated Christians. But later, on the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him and said, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5b). Something was goading Saul…what was it? The sight of a bloody face, shining like an angel’s—a man who showed supernatural love under persecution.
Matthew 5:10-13,44, 26:59-60; 2 Timothy 3:12; John 3:20, 15:18-20; 1 Peter 4:12-15; Mark 13:9-13, 14:56-58; 1 John 3:8; Philippians 1:29; Acts 5:41, 6:15, 7:60, 9:5
Many are my persecutors and my enemies, yet I do not turn from Your testimonies. I see the treacherous, and am disgusted, because they do not keep Your word.
Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”….Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.