Community Bible Chapel
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
A place to grow.... where everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord.
 7/9/17   The Church – God’s Workplace  -  Target of Persecution
 

“Aelen” woke up one night to the sounds of someone burning her house down. Thankfully, she was able to grab her baby son and escape. Unfortunately, it was one of many hardships she’d been forced to face since deciding to leave her tribe’s traditional religion and follow Jesus.

Many in her village, including her family, perceived the change in her religious beliefs as an offence to their culture.  Many Laotians believe that when someone in the community becomes a Christian, the community worries that the spirits they worship will be offended, and that the community might suffer ill-effects as a result.

 

We are horrified by stories like this as we don’t have a belief system based on

spiritualism, but persecution in our secular world is just as profound.

          -The Communist governments of China, Russia, and Cuba persecute Christians.

          -Our Nation is growing more hostile toward Christian beliefs and ideals.

But persecution is part of our faith that we must not only be aware exists,

but very well may face.

-As part of the Church of the Living God, His church is persecuted every day.

-Where our brothers and sisters in Christ struggle to worship the One true God.

I invite you to join me in II Timothy 3:10-17 as we consider

God’s Workplace – His Church.

          -Paul begins this chapter by speaking of religion and religious people.

          -Paul emphasizes their focus on love. 

                    -They love themselves, they love money, and they love pleasure.

          -That kind of self love is the formula for “the most ruined life” award.

 
READ II Timothy 3:10-17

X Assurance of Persecution v. 10-12

          -Persecution has come full circle in Paul’s life.

          -Acts 8 has Saul persecuting the church.

                   -Dragging “men and women” from their homes and “putting them in prison”
                   -Seeking to “destroy the church” that was growing.

          -And as he is working to expand his murderous Christian hunt,

he meets Jesus and life becomes new.

          -And with that new life came the truth of God’s Word that is in opposition

to the world and how it lives.

          -Those same people that he speaks of at the beginning of this chapter

now turned against him and the truth of God that convicts them.

 
 
-Verse 8 speaks of that opposition.

                   “these men oppose the truth, men of depraved minds, so as far as

the faith is concerned, are rejected.” 

          -These are people that oppose God’s Word and have rejected the

Gospel of Jesus Christ.

-The natural progression then moves from the opposition of God’s truth

to those who uphold that truth.

          -As Paul continues to speak of his life being changed by Jesus and the persecution

 that comes with it, he gives us a warning.

                V. 12 promises “anyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus,

will be persecuted.”

          -What does it mean to “want to live a Godly life?”

          -Paul exemplifies it in v. 10-11

                   -“You know all about” me . . . it’s a life lived for all to see.

                   -His teaching, way of life, purpose to bring glory to God all lived in harmony.

                   -Paul was the same no matter what group of people he was with.

          -And as we seek to follow Christ and live for Him, he promised persecution.

          -And that makes perfects sense.

-As we live that Godly life in the midst of the world that has a different

basis than the truth of God’s Word, conflict will come.

          -That conflict will result in anger and hatred toward those who live for

 and love Jesus.

          -It was that way in Paul’s day, it is that way today, and will be tomorrow.

          -We don’t have to go any further than the words of Jesus to see that.

                   “if the persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”

          -The Apostles all experienced persecution and it has continued right up

to the present day and will continue until Jesus returns.

          -And just so we don’t fool ourselves into thinking that people are much nicer today

(or more evolved) than they were two-thousand years ago, there are more

          people persecuted today than there was then.
 

But before we get all uptight and wondering where God is when His people suffer.

X Promised Blessing in Persecution V. 11

       -The Lord rescued Paul from all the persecution, or we could say – God sustained

 Paul through all the persecution.

                   -I don’t think he meant that he avoided the persecution.

          -Here is a blessing that we may never consider in persecution, I’m sure Paul didn’t.

     X Future blessing

          -Because Paul was persecuted, he spent time in prison.

          -The result of that were the prison epistles.

                   Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon all written from prison.

          -Much of the content of Scripture was written because of persecution.

          -OT books of Exodus, much of Samuel and Kings, and both major and minor

 prophets were written in times of persecution.

                   -The Gospels were written in the Roman occupation of Israel.

          -What would we have if not for the persecution of God’s people?

-We would have the shell of the Scripture.

          -We are richly blessed because of the persecution of Paul, Daniel, and Moses.        

     X Promise of Salvation - Matt. 5:10 promises us

“blessed are those who are persecuted because of

 righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

          -When we live for Jesus, it makes logical sense that we receive from

the world the same treatment that He received.

-Not that we should go looking for it, but when it arrives, we know

and receive the blessing that the kingdom of heaven is near.

          -The possession and promise of the Kingdom is both strength to persevere

and hope to hold on to, in the midst of persecution.

     X Promise of Growth - Heb 11:37-39

“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”

          -We might wonder where the blessing in that is?

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

          -Ah, there it is, the blessing in persecution comes in making us more like Jesus

who also was persecuted.

                   -In it we have the opportunity to grow and be made faithful and perfect.

     X Promise for strength – II Cor. 12:10

                   “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in                                hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak,

then I am strong”

          -Paul is speaking of the promise of God’s strength in the midst of my weakness.

     X Promise of God’s Love - Romans 8:35-39

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
          we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Some might think that persecution is a sign of God disappearing when you

need Him most, but the opposite is true.

          -God’s love is right there with you through the persecution and always will be.

          -Persecution always brings God’s promised blessing, which doesn’t necessarily end

or take you out of persecution, but delivers you through it.

 

X  The Opportunity for “good work” in Persecution

          -II Tim. 3:14 exhorts us to

“continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of”

          -What have we learned and become convinced of?

                   -We have learned the Gospel and how it has affected every area of our lives.

-How are we convinced of it?

          -A quick word to parents here, Timothy had been taught the Holy Scriptures

from infancy.

          -He had been taught it from his mother and grandmother and seen it lived

 out in their lives.

          -That early formal and informal teaching of the Word of God helps prepare

children to be wise for salvation.

          -It’s never to early to start reading the Scriptures to your children                                         and teaching them how to live for Jesus.

-We have also been “convinced” by the life of Paul and others who have lived

 out and upheld the truth of God’s Word in response to persecution.

          -Certainly we have learned from Jesus how to respond in total humility

as Phil 2 speaks of.

          -And we have become convinced because of the Scriptures (v 16-17)                                         which have taught us, rebuked us, corrected us, and trained us.

-God’s Word has given us wisdom for salvation and for how to live as a

 follower of Jesus.

          -It has equipped us for every good work and persecution gives us

 opportunity for that “good work”.

          -What kind of “good work” can we do in persecution?

-We respond to our persecutors with the proclamation of the gospel in the hope

 that they might see the resolve of the Gospel and be lead to

Jesus themselves.

          -Perseverance of our faith in is an encouragement to the Body.

          -Our mostly inconsequential lives take on great significance on the stage

of persecution, where we are useful to the Master.

-Last week I shared part of the story of Dan Cathy and his response of loving

those who persecuted him and upholding the truth.

-He followed the greater commands of Scripture for God’s glory.
X Matt. 5:44
          -Jesus said:  “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

          -We pray for strength and release of those who are being persecuted, and we

 should, but we also need to be praying for the Holy Spirit to work in

 the hearts of the persecutors.

                   -It’s their souls that are at stake.

          X Rom 12:14-21

          -At the end of this passage on how to Biblically deal with those who oppose us

                   Paul writes . . . “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

          -That means that we need be careful not to become wrathful and bitter against

 those who oppose us, but to treat them as God treated us.

-Diamond Rule living. – Jesus gave that to us

 “love others as I have loved you”
          X I Cor 4:12

          -This speaks to how to respond to everyday relationships as well as the

circumstances of persecution.

                   “When we are cursed, we bless, when we are persecuted, we endure it,

 when we are slandered, we answer kindly.”
 

Since none of those are our natural language, we need . . .

X Strength in Persecution

Jesus told a parable about the seeds of the Gospel.

-Some fell on the path, some on the rocks, and some on the good soil.

-About the seeds that fell on the rocks, Jesus said in Matt 13:21  . . .

                   “Since he has no root, he lasts only a short time.  When trouble or

persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

-I want to contrast that with Paul speaking of the persecuted church in

          Thessalonica.

     X II Thes. 1:2-4 

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.  Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.”

       -The contrast is striking.

          -This church is suffering, yet are growing in faith, growing in love,

and are growing in reputation.

          -Somehow, we picture a growing church from the mega-church mentality.

-It has lots of children’s programs, a dynamic world class Pastor,

ministering in the community, and being “blessed” financially.

          -But here is an example of a growth of a very different kind.

-It’s not growing in children’s programs – it’s trying to protect them and

    provide families because their parents are in jail or have been murdered.

-It doesn’t have a world-class pastor – he is in jail.

-The community is seeking to burn the church down.

-And it’s people are starving.
-Yet, appearances are not all they seem to be.
-God is blessing this church in the midst of persecution.

          -It is truly a growing and blessed church.

          -God is providing strength for this church to stand for Him and uphold His Word

in a wicked city and culture.
         
X  My Place in God’s Church:  
II Tim 2:20-21

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”

Let’s see what it looks like to be useful to the Master  . . .

Video from Voice of the Martyrs - Suta
 

Sometimes we might think that God is discarding us in persecution, but the reality is

that God is refining us and making us useful to Him.

          -Moving us to the place where we are totally sold out to Him and willing to hold up

                   the Word of life.
         
Our place –

          -Be prepared for persecution with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

          -Be praying for the persecuted and their witness to their persecutors.

         
 

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