Monday, July 25, 2016

Persecution, part 2

Persecution unites Christians.  In times of peace and prosperity there is division, discord, biting and quarreling among Christians. But when persecution comes upon them, this unites them together!  When a storm or wolf comes, sheep huddle together.  Sometimes Christians who cannot stand to talk to one another in times of peace become close brothers in times of persecution.

  1. Times of persecution are times when truth advances.  Truth thrives most when it is most opposed and persecuted.  Philippians 1:12-14 says that the persecutions that happened to Paul caused a furtherance in the gospel.  By Paul's chains others were emboldened and encouraged to preach the word without fear.  After Stephen was martyred, the scattered Christians preached the gospel. 
  2. Persecution is a time for the Christian's joy.  A Christian's heart is never so full of joy as it is when he suffers.  Acts 5:41: '...rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name.'  Stephen found the joys of heaven in his heart as the stones came clattering around his ears (Acts 7:55-56).  So Paul and Silas sang for joy in prison.  See also Romans 5:3-4.
  3. To suffer persecution is the greatest and highest honor you are capable of in this world.  The crown of a martyr is a crown that angels are not capable of winning or wearing.  1 Peter 4:14 says if you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."  The apostles all along counted their sufferings for Christ their highest honor (cf. Heb. 11:36-38). The world was not worthy of those being persecuted for righteousness' sake.
  4. Though persecutions may come with your pursuit of holiness, God has a thousand ways to preserve you from being destroyed by persecuting hands.  Several afflictions and persecutions came upon Paul at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, but the Lord delivered him out of them all (2 Tim. 3:11, see Acts 18, 19).  As a righteous cause led him into sufferings, so a righteous God led him out of sufferings.

  1. Finally, all the persecutions that you meet on earth will advance your glory in heaven.  The more saints are persecuted on earth, the greater shall their reward be in heaven.  As persecutions increase a Christian's grace, so they do advance a Christian's glory.  Matthew 5:10-12: Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness' sake...rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven."  So also Luke 6:22-23.  The more afflictions and persecutions multiplied upon them in this world, the greater shall be their recompense in another world.  Chrysostom hit the nail on the head when he said that if one man should suffer all the sorrows of all the saints in the world, yet they are not worth one hour's glory in heaven.

If you have been are being persecuted, these are great biblical reminders.  Also, for those of us whom are not being persecuted at this time, if the time comes, we do well to remember these blessed truths.  God is sovereign even in and through persecution.
The above summarized and edited quotes by Thomas Brooks are found in volume 4 of his Works, p. 281-300.
Much of this blog is taken from an original blog post by
Shane Lems-
The Reformed Reader,

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