John 15:20 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.
Illustration : What Became of the Twelve Disciples?
1. John died of extreme old age in Ephesus.
2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
3. Peter was crucified, head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, in Achaia, a Grecian Colony.
5. James, the younger brother of the Savior, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the east Indies.
9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis (Abyssinia).
10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (now Iran).
I. Definition: Persecution, The act or practice of persecuting; the infliction of pain, punishment or death upon others unjustly, particularly for adhering to a religious creed or mode of worship, either by way of penalty or for compelling them to renounce their principles.
Illustration: China’s Boxer Rebellion
During China’s Boxer Rebellion of 1900, insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and in front of that one gate placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot. Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eighth student, a young girl, refused to commit the sacrilegious act. Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose and moved carefully around the cross, and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining ninety-two students followed her to the firing squad.
II. Why Christians are persecuted.
1. Even Christ was persecuted Joh 15:20 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.
2. Because we sons of God and the unbelievers are sons of the devil Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
3. Because we are the light of the world. Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Mat 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
4. Because we are chosen and transferred from darkness to light. 1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
5. Because our citizenship is in heaven. Phi 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
When the Emperor Valens threatened Eusebius with confiscation of all his goods, torture, banishment, or even death, the courageous Christian replied, “He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.”
III. Sources of Persecution.
1. From unbelieving family. Mat. 10:21-30
2. From Scoffers. 2Pe 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
3. From other believers. 1 Pet. 4:1-3
4. From unbelieving teachers in the school. Rom 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.
Polycarp was a pupil of the Apostle John, Bishop of Smyrna. In the persecution ordered by the Emperor he was arrested and brought before the governor, and when offered his freedom if he would curse Christ, he replied “Eighty and six years have I served Christ and He has done me nothing but good; how then could I curse Him, my Lord and Saviour?” He was burned alive.
IV. Things to do in the midst of persecution
1. Pray for them. Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
2. Resist using the word of God. Mat 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
3. Answer them softly. Pro 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
4. Show your love to them. Mat. 5:44
5. Show them how strong is your faith. 1Pe 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
6. Put in mind that you are no the one being despised but the Lord. Luk 10:16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
7. Forget revenge – Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
8. Consider yourself blessed because you share the sufferings of Christ. Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Persecution is just one of the most painful experience we Christian will experience. The question is will you still be committed to Christ when suffering under persecution?