Prosperous Persecution

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 (Matthew 5:10-12).

Jesus Christ was persecuted because He lived and taught the word of God. The apostles of Christ were persecuted because they lived and taught the word of God. The members of the Lord’s church, of the first century, were persecuted because they lived and taught the word of God.

Paul wrote: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12). The persecution of the faithful was not unique to Christ, the apostles or those of the first century. The persecution of the faithful is a guarantee that will last unto the end of time. The question is not if the faithful will suffer persecution, but how will the faithful respond to the persecution?

The persecution of the first century Christians was used to make the church grow. Notice the following three ways in which the church grew because of persecution:

GEOGRAPHICALLY

Christ gave the command for His gospel to be taken into all the world and to be preached to everyone (Matthew 28:18-20). This mission was to begin in Jerusalem and work its way out into the world (Luke 24:47). The gospel was first preached in the city of, on the day of Pentecost, as commanded by Christ. But, many or most remained in Jerusalem and failed to take the gospel elsewhere.

Persecution began against the apostles (Acts 4-5); was then shown against Stephen (Acts 6-7) and finally manifested itself against all the church at Jerusalem (Acts 8). Luke recorded that because of the persecution all the Christians moved from Jerusalem to the regions of Judaea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). Just as Jesus had described: the gospel went from Jerusalem into all the world.

SPIRITUALLY

The persecution of the church could have greatly weakened the church, but it did not. The persecution against the church caused the church to grow stronger. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4). The apostles remained in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1) but the other Christians taught the word of God wherever they found themselves.

Christians were forced out of the familiar surroundings, away from their familiar people but taught the familiar gospel.

NUMERICALLY

Some would think that because of persecution of the church the numbers would “fall off”. Luke recorded that the exact opposite was the truth: But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12).

In whatever situation we find ourselves let us ever be diligent in our service to God.

                                                                                                          Tim

 

 

 

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