Blessed are They Which are Persecuted

The picture of beatitudes show outline and lord jesus christ with integrity singleness heart For the last several weeks, we have been preaching through the Beatitudes, and today is the final installment in that series. This has been a tremendous learning and growing experience for me, as I guess I never really gave any thought or study to the Beatitudes before. And, even though they are a part of the Lords Constitution for the Kingdom, and are not doctrinally binding right now, they still hold a wealth of wisdom for us.

The big surprise for me was that the Beatitudes show an outline of the spiritual growth of a born again believer, from salvation through maturity.

First, you see yourself as a bankrupt sinner,

Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Secondly, you are broken over that,

Blessed are they that mourn.

Thirdly, you yield yourself to Him,

Blessed are the meek.

Then God puts a hunger in you,

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. You have a hunger and a thirst for the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then you begin to become more like God Himself, and the first characteristic to develop is mercy,

Blessed are the merciful.

The next godly characteristic that develops is integrity; singleness of heart and mind, where you agree with God,

Blessed are the pure in heart.

The next step in your growth as a Christian is to become a peacemaker.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. As a peacemaker, you begin to witness for the Lord, and lead souls to Him, effectively making peace between God and sinners, by introducing them to the Prince of Peace.

Today, we will study the last Beatitude. Matt 5:10-14

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Were talking persecution today, and point #1 is quite simply this: the persecution of the Church is one of the signs of the end times. Brothers and sisters, the Church is under persecution like never before, it is bad, it is getting worse, and it will continue to get worse until the Lord comes back and rescues us from absolute destruction.

As a born again believer, you are a part of the Church and you, as an individual, will be persecuted. And, as with the Church in general, it will get worse.

You will be persecuted for your faith in Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him, but to what degree? One way to look at it is this; your level of persecution is a good indicator of your relationship with God. If you are skating through life with little or no persecution, that means you ain’t doing much for God. If you are always working for Him, always tithing, always witnessing, always vocal about your faith, you’re gonna be under constant and harsh persecution. There is no way that you can be a genuine Christian and be exempt. 2 nd Tim 3:12 says all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Thats pretty clear. No persecution equals not living godly in Christ Jesus.

The new whipping boy in the world today is the Bible believing Christian. We are the most hated and persecuted people on earth. Bible believing Christians today suffer everything from the limitations of our freedoms, our civil rights, to scorn and ridicule in the media and on entertainment TV. Many are in prison, and many of your brothers and sisters suffer death.

There is a way that you can escape persecution. Just fail to be salt and light. Just compromise. Buddy up to this old world. Be conformed to this world, and you wont get any persecution.

I was driving down to Pasco the other day, to visit the Garzas. Hector called me on my cell phone and said, Be careful, brother. The news says theres some idiot driving the wrong way on the freeway. I said, It aint just one guy. Theyre all driving the wrong way!

If youre a Christian, youre going to be swimming against the current. Ive told a lot of newly saved Christians this; when you got saved, you changed directions. You used to be walking with the devil, and you didnt notice him much. But now, you’re walking against the devil. And you and him are gonna have a lot more conflict. Adrian Rogers put it this way; When you stop being in collusion with the devil, you will find yourself being in collision with him.

Adrian Rogers also told this story. He said that, when he was a young man, he was working as a carpenters helper. He told one of the carpenters that he was going to be a preacher, and the carpenter said, Ill tell you how to be a good preacher. Never talk about religion.

Thats how it is. Preachers would be a lot more popular if wed just quit talking about religion. If wed all just buddy up to the world; go the same rout as everybody else, we wouldnt get persecuted at all.

So, the first thing that we need to learn about persecution is that you should expect it. Its really kind of interesting that Christians have been persecuted, even to death, for 2016 years, and yet we act surprised when it comes.

The next question is, why? Ill give you a few reasons why we are persecuted. Maybe you can think of some more. First, and most obvious, is because of our testimony. Matt 5:10

Blessed are they which are persecuted for what? for righteousness’ sake: Do you know what the word righteousness means? It comes from a Greek word that means to divide, to be different. Just look at the word; right eous. If someone is right eous, then the others must be wrong eous. We are right, and it should show in our behavior; our testimony. The rest of the world is not righteous, and it usually shows in their testimony.

And the world doesnt like that. Because the world desires conformity. The world does not like people being different, and we are different. Were children of light. They are children of darkness. We are alive in the Spirit. They are dead in the spirit. We live by faith. They live by sight. Therefore we understand them, but they dont understand us. And we are different and they hate differences. We are salt. And salt flavors, and salt preserves. But if you rub salt in a wound, it stings.

You walk into a dark room and flip the light on, whats does everyone immediately say? Turn that light off! Jesus said men hate light because their deeds were evil.

Were persecuted because were different. Were twice born people in a world of once born people. What we have starts at a different source, it follows a different path, and arrives at a different conclusion. We are different and the world does not like the difference. If were righteous, they will try to limit us, subdue us, subvert us Any way possible, theyll try to drag us down to their level.

And, understand the difference between persecution and punishment. Some of us are getting what we deserve. Thats punishment. Punishment comes from good people when we do bad things. Persecution comes from bad people when we do good things. Listen to that again; Punishment comes from good people when we do bad things. Persecution comes from bad people when we do good things. st Pet 4:14-16

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. Peter said, if you’re gonna suffer, its better to suffer persecution as a Christian, for doing good, than as a heathen, suffering punishment for murder and stealing, and so on.

The word persecute literally means to pursue. That doesnt necessarily mean theres someone stalking you; it simply means they will be following you, hounding you, looking for anything they can use against you.

One day Jesus was going through the wheat fields and His disciples were hungry. They grabbed up a little grain and started to eat. And the Pharisees said, Look what theyre doing! Theyre threshing wheat on the Sabbath! Of course, Jesus pointed out that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, but heres the interesting thing; what were the Pharisees doing out in the field? They were following Him. They were pursuing Him. They were persecuting Him. Trying to find something they could blame him with.

One of the reason well be persecuted is because of the rightness of our lives. Because our righteousness is Jesus righteousness. And well be persecuted because of lies. Matt 5:11

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely They will tell lies about you. Why was Jesus crucified? False witnesses. The religious establishment persecuted Him through the telling of lies.

Nero burned Rome to the ground and then lied about it. He blamed it on the Christians. If you are persecuted, there will almost always be some amount of deceit involved.

Now look at the last three words of Matt 5:11

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. The name of Jesus is always a point of offense. This world hates Jesus. The world doesnt hate the baby Jesus in the manger. Most of the world loves Christmas; a little baby in a manger, fat little piggies in the straw The stores especially love Christmas. And the world doesnt hate the Jesus that fed the multitudes and opened blind eyes and healed the sick. The world hates Jesus because he came to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus and his kingdom is against alcohol, against abortion, against pornography, against pride, against racism, against hatred and against selfishness. Thats why they hate him.

John 15:18-21

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Do you love Jesus? Then dont complain when the persecution comes. Expect persecution. And, when it comes, endure persecution.

It may come in the form of personal insult. Matt 5:11

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you The world loves to revile Christians. They love to make fun of us, insult us, laugh at our expense. Reviling Christians is big business. Some of our popular entertainers make the mocking of Christianity their main theme.

For example, look at Marilyn Manson. Okay, dont look at him, it kinda repulses your eyes. But lets talk about him. Marilyn Manson is a heavy metal shock rocker, who has had albums titled Antichrist Superstar, In the Shadow of the Valley of Death (as opposed to the valley of the shadow) and Eat Me, Drink Me. Manson has written books titled The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, and God is in the TV. He has appeared in movies such as The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, and a bunch more that I wont even say the name of. The album Antichrist Superstar has sold over 7 million copies.

Marilyn Manson went on a concert tour that lasted a year, where they toured the world, doing 175 shows. In this show, titled Dead to the World, the background featured a picture of Jesus, self mutilation was a recurring theme, and the songs included such lovely pieces as Cake and Sodomy. During the show, among other things, Manson rips pages out of a Bible. And young people pay a lot of money to go see this creep. And Manson often incites the crowd to chant, We hate love! We love hate!

Florida Atlantic University student Ryan Rotela was told by professor Deandre Poole to write Jesus Christs name on a piece of paper and stomp on it. Rotela refused, and formal disciplinary action was taken against him.

There will be mocking and insulting, and there will be other forms of persecution. Ill list a few of the more recent items. These are all from 2016:

A relatively new form of persecution is the governments targeting of Christian groups for IRS auditing. That was big news recently, but seems to be dying down because the liberal media refuses to portray criminal acts of a democrat or democrat led administration as criminal. One of the IRSs victims was the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

A Lake City, FL ministry had been feeding homeless folks for 31 years, but the USDA threatened to shut them down unless they removed pictures of Jesus, the 10 commandmants and stopped giving free Bibles to the needy.

In Hemet, CA, two men were arrested for reading the Bible outside the DMV.

The owners of The Masterpiece Cake Shop in Gateway, CO are facing a year in jail for refusing to do a cake for a gay wedding. Interesting I’ve seen signs in bars and taverns that say, We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.

Lackland AFB 19 year veteran Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk was discharged after disagreeing with the Air Forces policy of not condemning gay marriage.

In MO, the National Park Service has started requiring churches to get permits to do baptisms in park waters. When the government demands that a church gets a permit to do baptisms, its effectively saying that it also has the right to deny that permit. Thats the next step.

In places with less regulation of religious persecution, its much, much worse. We have pictures on our wall, right out in the entryway, of men who are in prison because of their Christian faith. Christians throughout the world are exiled, beaten, tortured and murdered for their faith. More people have been killed for the name of Jesus Christ than for any other reason, even war.

In WW2, 50 million people were killed. During the Inquisition, the catholic church murdered an estimated 50 million. To this day, there are an estimated 160,000 people killed every year for their faith in Jesus Christ.

A group of wealthy men wanted to speed up the evangelizing of the world. So they asked Dr. David Barrett whats the most effective means of evangelizing. Barrett said, The most effective means of evangelizing (is) Christian martyrdom. How you handle your own death will have a greater effect on folks than anything that you can say to them. There silence for a minute, then one of the men asked, Dr. Barrett, could you tell us the second most effective means of evangelism?

It was bad then, its bad now, and its going to get worse. Wheres this persecution coming from? In large part, from the religious world. Mark 13:9a

But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils(religious councils)

; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: Dont ever believe that the religious establishment honors the Christ of the Bible.

And its going to come from the government: Mark 13:9b ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake. The government is locked and loaded against what you and I believe. The ACLU recently said in California, It is our position that teaching that monogamous, (hetero relations) within marriage is not a traditional American value. Their goal isnt just to make gay marriage legal, its to make opposition to gay marriage illegal.

Persecution will come from established religion, from the government, and itll come from your own family. Mark 13:12

Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

Do you know what the devil has been busy doing lately? He has focused all of the weapons of Hell against the family. Divorce rates are through the roof. Sodomite marriage is being legalized in more states every year. How many of you have been snubbed or insulted by your own family because you faithfully attend a Bible believing church? I have. Joey has. And, dont think that its unusual. Peter said

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

So, what do we do? How do we react to persecution? Back to our Beatitude Matt 5:12

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

You have to be careful not to react to persecution; dont let them push your buttons. There are three levels of interaction repaying good with evil; thats the devils way. Repaying good with good and evil with evil; thats the human way. Then theres repaying evil with good; thats the godly way.

When somebody is doing you evil, and you react to that and do them evil in return, thats a human response. But ours is the kingdom of heaven. We are to react in a godly manner; good for evil.

Bob Shuler (this is Robert P. Shuler, the old time Southern Methodist, not Bob H. Shuler, from the Crystal Cathedral) wrote a book titled Some Dogs I Have Known. He said that, one day he saw a big old bulldog, big shoulders and little tiny hind legs. And a little yappy ankle biter came out and started yapping at that bulldog. Shuler said that bulldog never looked back. Shuler went home and prayed, Oh God, whatever that bulldogs got I want. Oh for the ability to walk with strong tread straight ahead and let them yap and snarl, growl and bark till their heart is content. And he said, God, give us men whom the acclaim or howling threat of the multitude do not move. Men who walk amid criticism, condemnation, anathema, cursings, content to know that in their very molding and making there is something so royal as to defend them forever, against such mouthing. Men who are too tall for stooping. Men whose ears are too close to heaven to hear the little growls from the throats of the worm like things of earth.

Dont react with vengeance, react with a godly characteristic; love. Some of us try to witness like a prosecuting attorney. Jesus didnt say youll be my lawyers. He said, youll be my witnesses.

First, you see yourself as a bankrupt sinner,

Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Secondly, you are broken over that,

Blessed are they that mourn.

Thirdly, you yield yourself to Him,

Blessed are the meek.

Then God puts a hunger in you,

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. You have a hunger and a thirst for the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then you begin to become more like God Himself, and the first characteristic to develop is mercy,

Blessed are the merciful.

The next godly characteristic that develops is integrity; singleness of heart and mind, where you agree with God,

Blessed are the pure in heart. When your heart is in agreement with the heart of God

The next step in your growth as a Christian is to become a peacemaker.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. As a peacemaker, you begin to witness for the Lord, and lead souls to Him, effectively making peace between God and sinners, by introducing them to the Prince of Peace. A peacemaker is working for the Lord, witnessing, spreading the gospel. And, when you start doing something for Jesus Christ, you can absolutely believe that you will fall into the last Beatitude;

Matt 5:10-14

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:

As with all of the other Beatitudes, I want that blessing. To get that blessing, I have to get busy doing something for the Lord. Examine your life. If you are not suffering some form of persecution, you need to step up your service. (Invitation)

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