Scripture Reading: John 15:13-27
One thing that you and I are unlikely to pray about is persecution. Yet persecution is a subject that must be very close to the LORD’s heart. And it may very well be that you’ve experienced persecution.
Here’s a word from Jesus on this subject as we begin. John 15:18 “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
(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.”
It’s possible that, for some Christians, persecution is a mystery. I hope, by the LORD’s grace, to de-mystify persecution and then to encourage you with what I have to say today.
And we could as the question “why?”
Pastor John Piper lists some specific reasons why you might experience persecution as you walk with the LORD. Here’s what he says. “… a life devoted to righteousness or godliness will be persecuted or reviled or spoken against.”
Folks, whatever the subject, it’s always best to ask “What does the Bible say about it?”
So, on the subject of persecution today, please open your Bible with me to Jesus’ words – Matthew chapter five. Please look with me at verse ten.
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(11) “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
I’ve titled today’s sermon taken from the LORD’s Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed Are The Persecuted.” Shall we pray?
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the largest religion in the world is Christianity. As of 2011, there are 2.1 Billion people worldwide who take the name “Christian” [Found on www.about.christianity.com].
Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary says something similar. “32% of the world is considered Christian with the US having approximately 247 million Christians of all types” [according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon found on www.about.christianity.com]. And this same study says this about Christians and persecution. It found that no less than 160,000 Christians are martyred for their faith annually in the world. Martyred means that they lost their lives simply for being Christians.