Our discussion of life in loving service
to our Lord and King Jesus builds on Lifebyte 55, developing
our King’s character through suffering. Suffering embodies
the many “altar experiences” in which you respond
to our Father’s grace. In effect, you exchange reliance
on your sin-nature controlled soul to being ruled by the Spirit
of Jesus through your spirit. Suffering takes place within you in
the unseen realm of your soul and spirit.
the other hand, is the negative response of others toward your
faith. A direct result of the stance you’ve taken for
your King, persecution runs the gamut from rejection and
mistreatment to torture and martyrdom. A cloud of heavenly
witnesses cheers His own on to em-brace the privi-lege of being
persecuted for the name of Jesus. To do otherwise would deny
Him as Lord of your life.
Followers of Jesus have endured
persecution for centuries, often at the hand of the Nicolaitan
religious establishment in its various forms. Sadly, many
expressions of organized Christendom have become so paganized
in compromising with the world system and its ways that
they’re no longer a spiritual threat to the forces of
wickedness in the heavenlies. Therefore they encounter neither
opposition nor persecution from the unrighteous around them.
“‘Both prophet and priest are
profane; even in My house I find their
wickedness,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:11).
We happened upon the following
illustrations of persecution on the Internet. The top two
pictures depict men who probably considered themselves
Christian to be tormenting mercilessly those whom they despised:
slaves and Jews. (We could have added Native Americans being
persecuted by self-justifying “Christian” soldiers
and reservation authorities as well.)
The bottom picture, however, graphically
shows an image of syncretism as the entertainment-hungry world system is
eagerly welcomed by a receptive church audience. That which blends in with the
world’s ways is acceptable in man-centered worship;
there’s no difference of holiness that would prompt persecution.
Can you find biblical precedent for a
self-gratifying, pleasure-bent “walk of faith”?
Those Jesus has called out as His own are called to be servants of a Great King, even at the cost of our lives for His name’s
Stop for a moment and read the article
below about our sister in Lord Jesus, Noviana.
Her suffering and the death of her friends
is very painful to consider. But if you’re a parent,
think what it must be like to have to live among those
imprisoned by the evil principality that took your
child’s life. Put yourself in the place of those grieving
Will the thought of what the
Muslims did to your children make you bitter so you seal
yourself in an emotional prison of hatred?
Will you begin to compromise as is
the way of so many Christians in the United States?
Or, will the thought of what the
Muslims did to your child(ren) make you bolder about your own
faith? Describe what you would do if these were your
For most western followers of Jesus the
persecution being inflicted upon our brothers and sisters so
far away has little effect on our lives. But not so in our
Lord’s eyes! His precious sons and daughters who are
being persecuted anywhere in the world are laying down
everything because of their love for
Him. They have counted the
“If one part suffers, every part
suffers with it...” (1
“Remember those in prison as if you
were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if
you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3).
You may not find yourself being persecuted
now, but you can involve yourself and your family in helping
those who are. When you can see these dear ones through the
eyes of Jesus, you’ll wholeheartedly share in their
sufferings with His compassion as His instruments of comfort
and relief. You can begin by going to <http://www.prisoneralert.com> and writing a letter to a suffering brother or
sister. At this site you can select phrases of comfort and
strength as well as Bible verses which will automatically be
translated into your prisoner’s language. Postage will
cost you less than a buck.
But for the grace of God those being
persecuted could be you and your family. What would you want
others to do for you? (See Matthew 7:12.)
The Spiritually Dying
“Hear Me, you who know what is right,
you people who have My law in your hearts: Do not fear the
reproach of men or be terrified by their insults” (Isaiah 51:7).
Are you able to appropriate for your own
life the beauty of our Lord Jesus’ purpose for suffering: to help you become more like Him? If so, then persecution holds no fear or
threat for you. He Who embodied suffering out of love to
fulfill His Father’s will is sharing in the suffering
you’re experiencing within as you walk in His steps of
righteousness. The persecution others inflict on you is
be-cause they reject your trust in Jesus.
Below we offer Scripture passages
concerning persecution and controversy. Certain consequences confront you when you
belong to and serve our Lord Jesus in His Spirit. We want to
strengthen and encourage you to remain true in your trust in
For we must go through many hardships to
enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
Some of the passages cited below entail
controversy, while others focus on persecution. It’s
important to note that if you have an aversion to suffering and are
reluctant to stand up for the truth in the face of controversy,
you’ll most certainly find it difficult to face persecution.
We’ve divided the Scripture passages
into different groups. Please read all the verses in each
grouping and then answer the questions for that group.Discuss
your answers with those close to you.
Persecution By The Religious Establishment
“Be on your guard against men; they
will hand you over to the local councils and flog
you in their synagogues. On My account you will
be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and
to the Gentiles. But when they arrest
you, do not worry about what to say
or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,
for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father
speaking through you. ‘Brother will betray brother to
death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their
parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for My
name’s sake. But he who endures
to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:17-22).
“Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him,
how they might destroy Him” (Matthew
12:14; see also 12:24; 26:3,4).
“Then the high priest and all his
associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees,
were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public
jail” (Acts 5:17,18).
“Now Stephen, a man full of
God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous
signs among the people. Opposition
arose, however, from members of the
Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)... These men began
to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or
the Spirit by whom he spoke.
Then they secretly
persuaded some men to say, ‘We
have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and
against God.’ So they stirred
up the people and the elders and the
teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, ‘This fellow never stops
speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we
have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy
this place and change the customs Moses handed down to
us’” (Acts 6:8-14; see
“Now after many days were past, the
Jews plotted to kill [Paul]....And he spoke boldly in the name of the
Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him (Acts
9:23,29; see also 12:1-3; 13:45,50; 14:1-22; 17:5,13).
Do you believe that followers of
Jesus in this nation will be persecuted by the Nicolaitan
religious establishment? If yes, how do you think this will
Controversy: Discern Between Effective
Confrontation And Vain Argument
“But some of the sect of the
Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and
to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:
“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will
come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your
own number men will arise and distort
the truth in order to draw away
disciples after them” (Acts
“My brothers, some from Chloe’s
household have informed me that there are quarrels among you... In the
first place, I hear that when you come together as a church,
there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there
have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s
approval” (1 Corinthians
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from
Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different
gospel which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the
gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should
preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be accursed!
As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to
you than what you have received, let
him be accursed. Am I now trying to
win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please
men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a
servant of Christ” (Galatians
“Yet not even Titus, who was with me,
was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.
[This matter arose] because some false
brothers had infiltrated our ranks
to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not
give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel
might remain with you” (Galatians
“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in
the wrong. Before certain men came
from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they
arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the
Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
The other Jews joined him in his
hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even
Barnabas was led astray. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all,
“If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and
not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as
Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14).
“As I urged you when I went into
Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they
teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless
genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart,
from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which
some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk. They want to be teachers of the
law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what
they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly” (1 Timothy 1:3-8).
“If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the
sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly
teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He is obsessed with controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife,
malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between
men of corrupt mind and destitute of
the truth and who think that
godliness is a means to financial gain. Timothy, guard what has
been entrusted to your care. Turn
away from godless chatter and the
opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some
have professed and in so doing have
strayed concerning the faith. Grace
be with you” (1 Timothy
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will
gather around them a great number of
teachers to say what their itching
ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
“For there are many rebellious people,
both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the
circumcision group. They must be
silenced, because they are ruining
whole households by teaching things they ought not to
teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain... Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and
will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who turn from the truth.
To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are
defiled. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny
him, being detestable, disobedient
and unfit for every good work” (Titus 1:10-16).
foolish controversies and
genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because
these are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive
man after the first and second
admonition, knowing that such a man is warped and sinful; he is
self-condemned” (Titus 3:
“But there were also false prophets
among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.
They will secretly introduce destructive
heresies, even denying the Lord who bought
them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. And many will follow their
destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By
covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long
time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction
does not slumber” (2 Peter 2:
“I wrote to the church, but
Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence
among them, does not receive us. So
if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about
us. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the
brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting
them out of the church” (3 John 1:9,10).
Describe your inner feelings about
controversy over faith issues. Do you readily stand up to
defend your beliefs? Do you confront others who are teaching
Describe how you think faith-based
differences should be handled.
Would those who know you consider
you someone who argues about religion for the sake of argument?
Do you get hung up on a religious
point and can’t seem to let it go even though everyone
Explain what you believe the
difference is between “confronting controversy over
truth, yet avoiding controversy for controversy sake.”
Boldly Facing Any Type Of Persecution
“For it has been granted to you on
behalf of Christ not only to trust in Him, but also on behalf of Him to suffer” (Philippians 1:29).
“But even after we had suffered before and
were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to
speak to you the gospel of God in much
conflict...For you, brethren, became
imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ
Jesus. For you also suffered the
same things from your own
countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans” (1 Thessalonians 2:2,14).
“so that we ourselves boast of you
among the churches of God for your patience
and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure” (2
“But recall the former days in which,
after you had received the light, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became
companions of those who were so
treated; for you had compassion on
me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better
and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven” (Hebrews 10:32-34).
“Women received their dead raised to life
again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might
obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and
imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn
in two, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts
and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:35-38).
“Beloved, do not think it strange
concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange
thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed,
for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. But let none
of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a
busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian,
let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this
matter. Now, “If the righteous
one is scarcely saved, what will
become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let
those who suffer according to the
will of God commit their souls to
Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19).
“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if
the world hates you” (1 John
“Then the dragon
was enraged at the woman and went
off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey
God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of
Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).
Are you, your family and faith
family prepared for the persecution that will accompany the
Dark Days of Chastisement? If not, what do you lack?
Are you raising your own children
to be popular and successful by the world’s standards, or
to be Jesus in the flesh, willingly and lovingly serving His
Describe how you’re
spiritually preparing yourself for persecution to come.
The Scripture passages we cited are clear:
followers of Jesus WILL encounter controversy and persecution.
If you shy away from either, you’re denying both Jesus as
Lord and the truths His Spirit has entrusted to you. Ducking
isn’t an option! “My
righteous one will live by trust. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased
with him” (Hebrews 10:
Use this Lifebyte to strengthen your
resolve and that of your fellowship family to embrace suffering
and persecution. Make sure none of you has an aversion to
either. Keep reminding each other of the goal of suffering for His
name’s sake” that you each may be more like Jesus. His character being formed in you evidences that you’re His beloved
If you don’t avoid suffering,
you’ll be better prepared to face persecution. May we all
embrace the attitude of our King:
Looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at
the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).