Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

The End Result of Persecution


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SPECIAL MUSICAL GUEST FOR THIS SERVICE:
Hillsong United singing “Hosanna”

 

TEXT: Matthew 5:10-12: “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.”

Today, as we conclude our series on persecution in the church and how to handle persecution in our lives, I want to take a brief look at the end result of persecution. Oftentimes we get so bogged down in the details that we fail to see the big picture of what’s going on. Today, we will look at three results of persecution according to the Bible..

I. First, your persecutors may become fellow believers. If you suffer your persecution as Jesus Christ would have you to, your faithful witness will serve as conviction to the hearts of your persecutors. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs tells the story of how the man who turned over James, the disciple of Christ, to the Roman authorities was so impressed by James’ behavior throughout his trial, that he gave his life to Jesus Christ. Sometime later, as St. James was being led away to be beheaded because of his faith, this man went to the place of the beheading, admitted to the authorities that he was wrong to have handed James over, and then refused to leave James’ side. The Roman government had them both put to death together.

We see in that story that James’ witness as a believer influenced his persecutor to give his own life to Jesus Christ. God also used the witness of Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to change the heart of King Nebuchadnezzar. Last week, we saw how God delivered these three Hebrew young men from the fiery furnace. Well, Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he made “a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

Just as God used James and the three Hebrew boys, God can, and oftentimes will, use your witness for Him during your persecution to bring your persecutors to faith in Jesus Christ.

II. The second thing that will happen as a result of your persecution is that God’s will will be accomplished. I am sure you are familiar with the powerful story of Stephen who was the first recorded martyr for the faith. The Bible tells us that immediately after his death, in Acts 8:1, that “…at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria…”

Now, some may think that this scattering of the church to many different locations was a bad thing. In God’s eyes, this was a good thing because it forced the church to accomplish His will. In Mark 16, Jesus commanded His disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” God’s plan was never for the church to remain in Jerusalem alone. God wanted those first believers to spread out and take the Gospel to every part of the world. Because the persecution that the church faced in Jerusalem, they were forced to move away from Jerusalem to other places, and they took their faith with them.

Because of their persecution, they fulfilled God’s will.

III. The third thing that will happen as a result of your persecution is you will be rewarded in Heaven. My friend, Jesus Christ does not forget those who suffer with and for Him. He has a great reward planned for those who do. The Bible says in Matthew 5:10-12: “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.”

What you go through on earth will be worth it once you step foot in Heaven. This is the reason why Christ tells us to “rejoice” and “be exceeding glad” during our persecution. Not because we are happy we are being persecuted, but because we know a “great reward” awaits us in Heaven if we are faithful to the end.

Paul told Timothy that he endured every thing he faced because he knew that, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”