Doctrines

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    D138 - Since the time of Christ, believers have endured persecution

    Matt 21:33-44; Mark 12:1-11; Mark 15:16-20; Phil 3:10; 2 Tim 3:12

    Christ endured persecution, shame, and finally death on the cross (Mark 15:16-20).

    The Apostle James, one of Jesus’ three closest disciples, became the first Christian martyr when King Herod had him put to the sword (Acts 12:2).

    The Apostle Peter was told by the Lord that he would eventually die an almost similar death to his when Jesus said,

    ‘Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’- John 21:18.

    The Apostle Paul went through tremendous suffering (2 Cor 11:24-26) but instead of lamenting, he was determined to ‘share (participate in) his sufferings, becoming like him in his death’ (Phil 3:10).

    It was Paul who said that

    ‘all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim 3:12).

    In fact, Jesus said the same thing even as he encouraged his disciples with positive words in Mark 10:29-30:

    ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.’

    While there are eternal benefits to be a Christian, Jesus had also promised us persecutions on earth.

    Persecution is a given although Paul asked Christians to pray in 1 Tim 2:2, ‘that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’

    Jesus said in John 17:15,

    ‘I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.’ 

    Who likes persecution and suffering?

    Most of us with some exceptions generally enjoys peace in this period. But there are uncomfortable signs on the horizon that might be pointing toward a wind of change. Whatever it is, it is important for Christians to note that peaceful coexistence tends to be the exception rather than the norm.

    Remember, Jesus never wanted his believers out of the world.

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    D139 - Persecution should not surprise believers

    Matt 5:11-12; Matt 14:10; Matt 16:24-25, Matt 24:9, Mark 1:12-13; Mark 10:30; Luke 6:22-23; Luke 9:22-23; John 15:20; John 16:2, 33; John 17:15; John 21:18-19; Acts 12:1-2, Acts 14:22; 2 Cor 1:4-6; 1 Peter 4:12-16, 1 Thes 3:3-4; 2 Thes 1:4; 2 Tim 3:12

    The Bible never assures believers will be wealthy but it promises us that there will be persecution.

    In fact, Christ called out the rich when he said,

    ‘Woe to you who are rich for you have received your consolation’ (Luke 6:24).

    Even in the Beatitudes, Jesus said, in Matt 5:11-12,

    ‘Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’

    Jesus reminded his followers in Matt 16:24-25 that

    ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ A cross is not exactly a comfortable thing to carry.

    Then, in John 16:33, Jesus reiterated, ‘In the world, you will have tribulation.’ Jesus was transparent about the cost of being his disciples.

    Jesus reminded us that

    ‘”A servant is not greater than his master”. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’ 

    The Apostle Peter told us ‘do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing’ (1 Peter 4:12) and to rejoice as we are able to ‘share the sufferings of Christ.’

    It was the same with the Apostle Paul in 2 Thes 1:4 where he was able to

    ‘boast about your (the Thessalonica church) steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions’

    Indeed, Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim 3:12 that

    ‘All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’

    Persecution of God’s elites can be found in the Old Testament. The Prophet Jeremiah, often referred to as the Weeping Prophet, had own people turned against him. He was whipped and put in prison (Jer 20:1-3), attacked by a mob (Jer 26:8-9), threatened by the king (Jer 36:26), and accused of treason (Jer 37:1-15) and thrown into a deep empty well (Jer 38:1-6). In Jer 15:10, he exclaimed in anguish, ‘Everyone of them curses me.’

    So was Ezekiel to whom God told him that his wife would die and he was not to mourn for her (Ezel 24:15-27). And tradition tells us that the Prophet Isaiah was tied inside a sack, placed within the hollow of a tree, and sawed in two. two.

    Persecution is even more intensive at the end-times when Jesus said,

    ‘Then, they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake’ (Matt 24:9). 

    So, here is the question:

    Did Jesus live his life and die on the cross in order to set an example for us to follow, or did he make that sacrifice so that we can avoid tribulation, suffering, and persecution?

    The answer from the above verses is obvious; persecution is normal for Christians and it should therefore not surprise us.

    Please see

    • D126, Temptation is normal and to be expected,
    • End times, heresies, and persecution in B369 to B385 (including B420).
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    D140 - Hatred for believers is normal

    Luke 6:22; John 7:7; John 15:18-20; Matt 5:12; Matt 10:22; Matt 24:9; Acts 12:1-2; 1 Cor 4:9-13; 1 Peter 4:12-16; 2 Thes 1:4-7; 1 John 3:13

    This is yet another promise that Jesus gave to us. He said in Luke 6:22,

    ‘Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you and insult you and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.’ –

    NB: Hate/ Ostracize/ Insult/ Scorn/ Call you evil.

    In Luke 6:26, Jesus contrasted it with,

    ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.’

    Jesus explained why we are hated in John 7:7

    ‘The world cannot hate you but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.’

    Jesus said, again, in John 15:19,

    ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you.’

    We are hated because we associate ourselves with Jesus Christ.

    Matt 24:9 says,

    ‘You will be hated by ALL NATIONS for my name’s sake.’

    It is a case of Christ Derangement Syndrome.

    1 John 3:13 therefore says,

    ‘Do not be surprised, brothers (and sisters), that the world hates you.’

    Hatred for believers is normal.

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    D141 - Believers are hated because we have become 'aliens' when we follow Christ

    John 15:19; John 17:14-16; 1 Peter 2:11

    Jesus said in John 15:19,

    ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you.’

    And he said it again,

    ‘They are not of the world even as I am not of the world’ (John 17:14-16).

    The day we became Christians, we changed our allegiance to Jesus.

    Our citizenship is now in heaven (Titus 3:7).

    Please read B124 – Do not be ashamed of Jesus (Identify with him openly).

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    D142 - Persecution is used to refine and perfect believers to produce patience

    Matt 13:21; Mark 4:17; Rom 5:3; 2 Cor 11:22-33; Acts 5:40; James 1:2-4; 2 Thes 1:5; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 4:14; 1 Peter 5:8-10; Rev 2:10; John 15:2; Heb 12:6, 26-28; 1 Tim 3:9

    In Matt 13:21, Jesus explained the purpose of persecution –

    ‘When tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.’

    It is to test whether as believers, we have roots and can endure for a while.

    Rom 3:5 says,

    ‘Suffering produces endurance (or perseverance).’

    We are constantly being perfected by Jesus in our journey of life. Paul should know that. He suffered for the Gospel of Jesus as seen in 2 Cor 11:22-33. So did Peter who said that persecution helped prove the ‘genuineness of our faith’ in 1 Peter 1:7.

    Heb 12:26-28 used the analogy of shaking (earthquake) and the writer said,

    ‘so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.’

    The shaking is not viewed negatively but is a ‘quality checking’ process.

    In the face of persecution, be prepared to endure.

    Please read the following:

    1. D128 – Believers will be tested by the Lord,
    2. B124 – Do not be ashamed of Jesus (Identify with him openly).
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    D143 - Despite the turmoil of tribulations, believers are promised inner peace

    John 14:27; John 16:33; Acts 5:40-41; Phil 4:6-7; 2 Cor 1:4-6

    In John 14:27, Jesus promised us ‘his peace’ and in John 16:33, he reiterated that it was a peace that came around because he had ‘overcome the world.’

    It was not as if it was a peace without any struggle for even Jesus had to stay focused. In Luke 22:42, he had to remind himself with these words,

    ‘Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.’

    It was an intense battle that took its toll when Luke 22:44 said that

    ‘he prayed more earnestly and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.’

    It inspired his disciples so much so that when they were flogged and then released in the Book of Acts, they could still rejoice and considered themselves ‘worthy to suffer shame for his name’ (Acts 5:41). Here was from a group consisting mostly of uneducated followers.

    Paul described that peace as something that

    ‘surpasses all comprehension’ (Phil 4:7).

    The Bible never promises that believers will live calm and persecution-free lives. Only that despite the suffering and persecution, we can still possess an inner peace that passes all conventional understanding.

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    D144 - Believers should eschew violence if persecuted

    Matt 26:52-53; 1 Peter 2:18

    Jesus chose non-violence in the face of his crucifixion.

    He could have taken his enemies out with his twelve legions of angels but that was not the plan (Matt 26:52-53).

    Look at the example of Jesus as described by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:21-23 –

    For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

    Christians are peacemakers and love is what defines us. The example of Jesus is to eschew violence even if we are being persecuted.

    For more information, please turn to B112 to B116 – Relationship with governments.

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    D145 - Believers must be ready to lay down their lives (martydom)

    Luke 14:26; John 10:17; Rev 12:11

    Jesus said (Luke 14:26),

    ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple’.’

    These were very heavy words. Maybe, that was why many of his disciples turned their back on him (John 6:66).

    Rev 12:11 says,

    ‘And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.’

    To love Jesus is to be prepared to die for him. All his disciples were ready to lay down their lives for him. We know that James, the brother of John, became the first Christian martyr in Acts 12:2; readers might want to note that John (his brother) did not renounce his faith following Jesus despite the death of his close brother.

    We do not have expressed details in the Bible how the other disciples died but early church fathers and secular historians provided us with some records. All except John, the son of Zebedee, died a martyr’s death.

    Why?

    Because they were eye-witnesses to all accounts and works of Jesus, including his resurrection (1 John 1:1).

    Even Philemon, a wealthy man, whom the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to in speaking up on behalf of Onesimus, was killed by the Emperor Nero for refusing to denounce his faith for Jesus Christ.

    Right now, somewhere in the world, someone is being killed simply for being a Christian. 

    Please read

    • D140, Hatred of believers is normal and
    • D216 – Eye witnesses are very important in the Bible.
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    D146 - Trial always come before glory (endure)

    Matt 4:1-11; Phil 2:7-11; 1 Peter 1:11; 1 Peter 4:13; James 4:10

    The best example of trial before glory is that of Jesus. In Phil 2:7-11, the Apostle Paul showed how Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. In v9, it says,

    ‘For this reason also, God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.’

    The Apostle Peter pointed out in 1 Peter 1:11 that before the glory, there was the sufferings of the Messiah.

    And James 4:10 says,

    ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.’

    For believers who are in persecution, may they endure trials even as they await their glory.

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