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Preparing for Persecution

Love Worth Finding / Adrian Rogers
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2020 7:00 am

Preparing for Persecution

Love Worth Finding / Adrian Rogers

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December 18, 2020 7:00 am

According to Scripture, becoming a genuine Christian means preparing for persecution. In this message, Adrian Rogers reveals what to expect and our response when pressed about our faith.

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Should Christians prepare for persecution?

Listen to Adrian Rogers. It means being ostracized socially and considered inappropriate to society. But no matter what happens, nothing can take our joy. What are the reasons for persecution?

What are the results of it? And perhaps the most important thing to consider, what is our response to persecution? If you have your Bible, turn now to Matthew chapter 5 as Adrian Rogers begins the message preparing for persecution.

I have a feeling ladies and gentlemen that we are living in the lengthening shadows of the last day. I believe that Jesus Christ is coming soon and one of the marks of the last days and we can see it fulfilled is the persecution of the saints of God, the children of God. There's no way to be a genuine Christian, a true man of God, a true woman of God, and escape persecution. I want you to put in your margin 2 Timothy chapter 3 and verse 12. The apostle Paul said, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

There's no ifs, ands, and buts about that. All who will, that is, who determine to live godly in Christ Jesus. So I want to speak to you today on this subject, preparing for persecution. And you need to prepare your children.

Just as you prepare them to go to school, you need to prepare them to live in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to Bible-believing Christians. Now, you can rub shoulders with this world. You can compromise with this world. You can go along with this world and not receive any persecution. The persecution comes to those who will live godly in Christ Jesus. Now, we have been studying together the Beatitudes. We've said the attitudes that ought to be the character of a Christian.

What a Christian is really like, and we call these the keys of the kingdom. And today we come to Matthew chapter 5 and verse 10. 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 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. Now, as a matter of fact, this verse that I just read to you speaks of joy. It says, rejoice and be exceeding glad, and it speaks of persecution. That's incredible that God would put both joy and persecution in the same passage, isn't it? Now, let me tell you what joy is, and let me tell you what persecution is. Joy is the thermostat. Persecution is the thermometer.

Now, you say, what do you mean by that? Well, no matter what happens, the joy of the Lord is there to regulate conditions in your life. There's nothing that can take your joy from you.

Joy controls conditions like a thermostat. But let me tell you about persecution. Persecution is the thermometer that registers how much you love Jesus.

That's it. If you're out and out for Jesus Christ, you can tell whether or not you're out and out for Jesus Christ by the persecution you get. Now, if you're not getting any persecution, don't say you must be doing a wonderful job.

Very frankly, you're doing a poor job. For the Bible says, yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. That doesn't mean that they're going to throw you in a dungeon. That doesn't mean that they're going to tie you to a post and whip you. That doesn't mean that they're going to come in with a machine gun and kill your children. All of that may happen, but that isn't what that necessarily means.

The word persecution is literally means to pursue, as we're going to see here in a moment. They're going to follow after you. In many ways, you will become the butt of jokes. You will become ostracized socially.

You'll be passed by for promotions. You'll be looked down upon as socially inappropriate if you live godly for Christ Jesus. When I was a young man working my way through school, I was in construction work, and I was a carpenter's helper. I worked alongside of a man who was quite a profane man, and when he learned that I was going to be a preacher, he really enjoyed ragging me about my faith, which I didn't mind really, but I was the butt of a lot of jokes and a lot of innuendos and so forth. But then he said, listen, young man, if you're going to be a preacher, why don't you be a good one? And then he said, I knew a preacher one time. He was a good preacher. I said, well, tell me about him. Oh, he said he was a great guy.

Said you could be around him. He would never mention politics or religion. That was his idea of a good preacher, a man who never talked about God.

Now, if you want to just be the kind of a person who never takes a stand for anything, never witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ, the people like that profane man that I was working under, they'll think that you are just fine. Why are Christians persecuted? Look in verse 10, if you will. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake.

Do you see it? That's the reason. For righteousness' sake. Now, the word righteousness comes from a Greek word which means to divide. The reason that Christians are persecuted is that in a very real sense they are divisive. They divide. They are different. You see, to divide means to be different. Christians are different. Christians ought to stand out like a diamond in a coal mine, like a gardenia in a garbage can. Christians are different. If you just take the first seven Beatitudes that we read and look at them, how different they are from the world.

We are just simply different. For example, it says, blessed are the poor in spirit. Well, the world doesn't believe that you to be poor in spirit. Humility is laughed at today. Today we are told be number one.

Assert yourself. The Beatitudes say, blessed are they that mourn. Who in America wants to mourn?

America is laughing her way into Hell. Blessed are the meek. The world says, don't be a meek man, be a mighty man, be a muscle man, be a money man, be a missile man. But whatever you do, don't be a meek man. The world doesn't like that. The world thinks that meekness is weakness.

And the world's attitude and motto is, winner take all. If you will take these Beatitudes, I will guarantee it. If you take the first seven Beatitudes and begin to live that way, then number eight is guaranteed. You will be persecuted. You will be persecuted. Now, if you're not living by the first seven, you're not going to get number eight. But if you take the first seven, if you take these Beatitudes and you will begin to put them into shoe leather, get them out of that notebook that you're writing in and get them into shoe leather, the eighth is guaranteed.

Why? Because children of God are children of light and they're children of darkness. My dear friend, we are alive in the Spirit. They are dead in trespasses and sin. We live by faith.

They walk by sight. We understand them, but they do not understand us. And Jesus, after he talked about being persecuted, he said, you're the salt of the earth, you're the light of the world. Salt irritates when it is poured into a wound and light reveals. And I'm telling you that the gospel of Jesus Christ is an irritant to the putrefying wounds of this world, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is revealing light to the things of darkness of this world, and therefore they say remove that salt and put out that light. Now, when we are persecuted for righteousness sake, we must be very careful here. We must be very, very careful that it is persecution and not punishment. A lot of Christians confuse persecution and punishment. And let me tell you the difference between persecution and punishment. We are punished by good people when we do evil. We are persecuted by evil people when we do good.

And that's the difference. Now, there are a lot of people, very frankly, who think they're being persecuted when they are simply receiving punishment that they ought to receive. When Christians are filled with the Spirit, they're going to be naturally supernatural, they're going to be different, and they will be persecuted. But don't go around and saying you're persecuted if you're not living for the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage of Scripture in the beatitudes says, number one, it must be false what they say about you, and number two, it must be for His sake. The very first reason that we're persecuted, number one, my dear friend, is because of what we are, that is, the life we live. Second reason we're persecuted. Look at the Scripture again. Look at it in verse 10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.

That's the first reason. Now look, if you will, in verse 11. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.

That's the second reason. The life we live, the Lord we love. That will bring persecution. The life we live, righteousness sake. The Lord we love. Jesus says, for my sake. May I tell you this world hates Jesus Christ?

You say, oh, no. The world doesn't hate Jesus Christ. My friend, the world hates Jesus Christ. Now, when I say that, a lot of people don't understand why I say that.

Let me say this, my dear friend. The world does not hate the baby Jesus. The world doesn't hate the baby Jesus. A few people may, but by and large, the world, the giddy crowd dances around the manger, and the merchants will make millions. They don't mind the baby Jesus.

I'm going to tell you something else. The world does not hate the Jesus that healed the sick and fed the multitudes. The world doesn't hate that Jesus.

Not at all. That isn't why the world hates Jesus. And if that's all you know of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you may think that the world really doesn't hate the Lord Jesus. Do you know why the world hates Jesus? Jesus said, I have come to destroy the works of the devil. And that, my dear friend, is why the world hates Jesus. Jesus has come to destroy the works of the devil.

What are they? Liquor, pornography, pride, racism, and greed. And Jesus Christ stands against that, and the world stands for it. Listen to what Jesus Christ said in John chapter 15, verse 19 and following. Jesus said to his disciples, if you were of the world, the world would love his own. But because you're not of the world, but because 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. My dear friend, the only reason that the world hates Jesus is because Jesus is not of the world. And the reason that a Christian, a real Christian is persecuted, number one is for righteousness' sake.

He is different. And number two, for the Lord's sake, he is devoted. The life we live and the Lord we love. My dear friend, you begin to live by these beatitudes and you be out and out with a burning, blazing, passionate, emotional love for Jesus Christ that will not back up, let up, or shut up, and this world will come down on you like a hammer.

And if you don't believe it, it's because you're not doing it. My dear friend, the Bible says, yea, and all, all, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall, shall, shall suffer persecution. That, my dear friend, is the thermometer that registers how much you love the Lord Jesus Christ. Now here's the second thing. Not only the reason for persecution, but the result of this persecution. What shall it be like? First of all, there's going to be personal insult. They will revile you. There are people who are going to laugh at you. I've done it ever since I was a teenager, gave my heart to Christ at high school and would not do the things the other guys did and would not use the language the other guys used.

I was captain of my football team, president of our class. But nonetheless, I knew what it was to be ridiculed and reviled for Jesus Christ. But not only will they revile you, my dear friend, there may be not only personal insult, but physical abuse. The Bible says they will persecute you. And this word persecute has more than just being reviled.

It means actually they will do you harm if they can. But not only will there be personal insult and physical abuse, there will be social stigma. They will say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. My dear friend, Christians never truly, true Christians, Bible believing Christians are never really reported on in the newspapers or in the media most of the time, at least as they ought.

If you ever see a situational comedy, the Bible believing Christian, what's he made to look like? He is, number one, made to look like some authoritarian bigot or some cruel monster or some hypocrite. And the whipping boy, I say, of society today is the Bible believing Christian. He may be the most widely hated species on this earth. Much of it comes from the radical liberal median, radical civil libertarians in the pornography industry.

The mainstream film and television producers are becoming overtly, overtly anti-Christian. That's the result of it. Now, number three, what is your response? How are you going to respond? Well, number one, my dear friend, you need to respond like a king.

Look at it, if you will. He says in this verse, blessed are ye, are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now, just to underscore that, the very first thing you ought to do is reign like a king. When you're persecuted, never come down to their level. You are a part of a kingdom, and you need to live like it. You need to walk like it. You need to talk like it. Never get down on their level. Remember, yours is the kingdom. You're one of the king's kids.

And learn to act like it and live like it. There are three levels of life. Now, first of all, there's what I want to call the hellish level.

That's the level that returns evil for good. That's what Jesus is talking about. We're persecuted for righteousness sake. All of that is out of hell.

If you're one who persecutes the righteous, may God have mercy upon you. There is the hellish level. Then there's the human level. The human level returns good for good and evil for evil.

Most people are on that. They're not on the hellish level, they're on the human level. But, my dear friend, there's the heavenly level. The heavenly level, the level of the kingdom returns good for evil.

Now, that's the level you're to get on. When you're persecuted, don't return evil for good or don't even return good for good or evil for evil, but learn to return good for evil. That, my dear friend, is what we're called to do. Look in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 43. You've heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. 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, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.

That's what I'm saying. You're the king's kids. You are the king's kids. You act like your Father in heaven. Return good for evil. Reign in life. Number two, rejoice in the Lord.

Look in verse 12. He says to rejoice and be exceeding glad. Do you know what this word means? It literally means to leap and jump. I mean to dance.

You're so happy. You can't keep your feet on the ground. Why? Because you've been persecuted.

You say, that doesn't make sense. Oh, friend, when you realize they can finally see the difference, when you realize that somebody has discovered that I am a Christian, somebody said, if most people were arrested for being a Christian, there wouldn't be enough evidence to convict them. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, because somehow they have identified you with the Lord, and that ought to be a time of great joy.

I was reading in Acts chapter 5, verse 41 about those early apostles who were persecuted, and the Bible says in Acts chapter 5, verse 41, after they had been put on trial, the Bible says, and they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing, rejoicing, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Boy, isn't that a great verse? Have you ever said, oh, thank you, Lord. Thank you.

Thank you. I'm worthy to suffer shame for your name. Reign in life. Rejoice in the Lord. Our Lord has commanded that you to rejoice and to be exceeding glad. The Bible says in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 12, if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. The third thing, not only should you reign in life and rejoice in the Lord, but you should respond in love. Just respond in love.

What a witness that is. You see, the world needs love. The world doesn't need what it deserves. You know what love is? Love is not giving people what they deserve.

Love is giving people what they need. And Jesus said, love your enemies. Bless them that curse you.

Do good to them that hate you. What a witness. Saul, before he became the apostle Paul, Saul hated a Christian. That Christian's name was Stephen. Stephen stood up for the Lord Jesus Christ, and Paul hated him. And Paul said, if you guys want to stone him, I'll hold your coats. And there's old Saul. Oh, they're holding the coats, looking with glee as old Stephen is being stoned.

And here's Stephen over here. The stones are falling on him. He's crumpling to the earth. And he begins to pray. And he says, Lord Jesus, lay not this sin to their charge.

He's been stoned. And he's praying. He's praying for old Saul over here. Saul never forgot it.

He never forgot it. Later on, when Saul got saved, Jesus said, it's hard for you and Saul to kick against the pricks. That is, it's so hard for you to rebel against what is happening in your heart and your life because you saw the love of God released in a man who was being persecuted for righteousness' sake. He returned good for evil.

And the greatest Christian to ever live came to Jesus Christ. You say, well, I don't know if these people are persecuting me or going to get saved. I don't know whether they'll be better or not if I return good for evil. I don't know whether they will or not either. I don't know whether they'll be better or not myself. But I'll know one thing.

You'll be better. You see, look, folks, we are not in this world to please other people. We're here to please Jesus. I'm told that a concert violinist played a concert. And when he finished playing, the people stood to their feet in applause. But the violinist put his face in his hands and wept. They said, don't weep. Look at the people.

They loved it. But he kept weeping. They said, look, they're all standing. He said, they're not all standing. He said, you see that man down there?

He's not standing. I said, he's only one man that I know. But he's my teacher. And if he's not pleased, I'm not pleased.

Friend, I want to tell you something. It doesn't matter if you please the whole world and don't please Jesus. But if you please Jesus, it doesn't matter whom you displease.

What an encouraging word for us today from Adrian Rogers. If you please Jesus, it doesn't matter who you displease. If you have questions regarding your faith in Jesus about following him fully with your life, we'd love to offer you an insightful resource. It's at our website and it's called the Discover Jesus page. You'll find answers you may need about your faith, something that's rolling around your soul today.

There's a response section as well. We'd love to hear how this message has affected your life. Just go to LWF.org slash radio and click the tab that says Discover Jesus.

We can't wait to hear from you again. LWF.org slash radio and click Discover Jesus. Now, if you'd like to order a copy of today's message in its entirety, call us at 1-877-LOVEGOD and mention the title Preparing for Persecution. This message is also part of the insightful Sermon on the Mount series, The Keys to the Kingdom. For the complete collection, all eight powerful messages, call that number 1-877-LOVEGOD or go online to LWF.org slash radio.

Or you can write us at Love Worth Finding, Box 38600, Memphis, Tennessee 38183. We're so glad today that you've taken some time to study God's word with us. Knowing the reasons for persecution and the results of it, what's your response?

Are you willing to follow Jesus in a world that hates him? When you're persecuted, rejoice in the Lord and respond in love. And be sure to tune in next time for more profound truth simply stated right here on Love Worth Finding. Well, in today's fast paced, self-focused world, it's difficult to find quality biblical teaching, let alone teaching that simplifies profound truth so that it can be applied to our everyday life. This year alone, we proudly launched four new resources to help you share the only love worth finding this Christmas season. Our two new books, His Story and Discover Jesus, tell the story of our savior in a fresh and exciting way. And our two new card sets, Profound Truth Simply Stated and Names of God, are the perfect gift for loved ones of all ages. And don't forget about our special calendar year end giving opportunity. One of our Love Worth Finding friends has given a generous gift with the hope of motivating you to give above and beyond at year end. So reach out today, call us at 1-877-LOVEGOD.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-14 00:49:35 / 2024-01-14 00:59:00 / 9

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