Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
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Map to the Church
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End Times Preparations
God's Will and Man's Will
Care for the Body
The Peacemakers' Blessing
Pure Hearts See God
Mercy to the Merciful
Hungry for Holiness
Men Spoke from God
The Meek Inherit
Rich Are the Poor
The Disciple's Portrait
The Character of the Teacher
A Call to Fight
O Woman, Great Is Your Faith
God Will Provide the Offering
In All Points Tempted As We Are
The Definitive Sign
Preparing the Way for the King
Our Redeemer - Preserved!
Take It To Heart
God's Way of Growing a Ministry
The Lineage of Our King
God's Provision for a Successful Life
First Be Reconciled!
The "Big Idea" of the Law
Do Not Covet
Who Cannot Be Jesus' Disciple
Protecting Our Neighbor's Name
Keeping the Charge of the Lord
Why Christmas Had To Be
The Present Value of Past Help
It's Harvest Time!
Thanks for No?
What Belongs To Our Neighbor
Do Not Worry
A Faith That Amazes the Savior
Keeping Marriage Sacred
Heaven, A World of Charity or Love
The Great Value of Human Life
Prepared to Proclaim
Honor Father and Mother
Call The Day A Delight
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Jesus' Word on The Word
God's Holy Name
The Cure for Stagnant Christianity
God's Holy Jealousy
Heaven's Citizens on Earth
No Other Before Him
Having God as Our God
We Preach Christ
The Adventure of Obedience
The Law From God
Walk in the Spirit
Jesus' Mercy to a Mother
Keeping the Law Through Love
Our Savior's Triumphant
By Grace to Good Works
Made Guilty Enough for Grace
God at Work in Desperate Times
The Blessings of Justification
How To Be Inexpressibly Happy
Friends Together in Jesus
Drawn to the Savior
A Godly Resume
Bullies in the Body
Valued by God
"I'd Love To, Lord, But..."
"The Blessedness of the Persecuted"
Theme: Those who are persecuted for Jesus' sake in the present are to
greatly rejoice over their future reward.
(Delivered Sunday, August 29, 2004 at Bethany Bible
Church. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture is taken from the New
King James Version.)
As we've discovered in our study of The Beatitudes over the past several
weeks, there's an almost universal appeal to Jesus' teaching in them.
In many ways, they affirm things that almost anyone could agree with.
But the last of the eight beatitudes is different. It - so to speak -
separates the men from the boys. It affirms something that, I believe,
would be almost impossible for anyone to agree with that isn't a genuine
disciple of Jesus Christ. If one's only point of reference is the life
lived in the flesh - in the 'here-and-now', then what this last beatitude
affirms would be rejected by them as absurd and unrealistic. But at the
same time, for those whose main point of reference is the hope of eternal
life through faith in Jesus Christ, and the prospect of heavenly glory
with Him, then what this beatitude affirms is not unrealistic at all.
It, instead, is a thrilling and motivating cause for great joy. I believe
that our personal response to this one beatitude reveals whether or not
we're rightly oriented to all the other beatitudes.
Let me read all of the first seven beatitudes to you, so that you can
appreciate this last beatitude in its context. Those first seven are describing
a kind of person - someone who is a disciple of Jesus Christ. If the other
seven beatitudes are true of you, then I believe you can and will rejoice
over what is affirmed in this eighth beatitude. Jesus said,
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:3-9).
Those first seven beatitudes describe a kind of life that would be lived
by of a man or woman who has become a follower of Jesus Christ, and who
now lives a life under the gracious gift of righteousness through faith
in Him. And then, we come to the last beatitude . . .
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness'
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (v. 10).
Knowing that this last beatitude would catch the attention of Jesus'
listeners, and cause them to perk up their ears, I believe He then deliberately
expands on it:
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and
say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be
exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted
the prophets who were before you" (vv. 11-12).
Notice that He doesn't say who "they" - that is, the persecutors - are.
The "they" who may persecute us are identified with the same "they" who
also persecuted the prophets who were before us; but that's all we know.
Who the "they" are is left undefined; and that, I believe, was intentional.
It makes the promised blessing that results from persecution the main
focus of this beatitude rather than the persecutors; and it makes the
promise of this beatitude applicable to God's people in all generations,
in all places of the world, and in all circumstances in which they may
be found - whoever the persecutors are.
* * * * * * * * * *
I remember the first time I experienced something like persecution for
my faith. I was in high-school, and had just become a believer. Jesus
had made such a dramatic difference in my life that I wanted to share
it with my friends. I told some of them about what had happened to me;
but they were clearly uncomfortable, and began to laugh-off what I was
trying to tell them. And it wasn't too long afterwards that magazines
began to show up in the mail at my family's home with my name on them,
along with the invoice for the subscription - magazines like Playboy and
Penthouse. I immediately returned them; knowing that it was my old friends
that had sent them as a way of giving me a bad time because of my new
Then, one day that summer, I was sitting in my bedroom reading my Bible
when two of those old friends walked in. Seeing that I was reading my
Bible, they grabbed ahold of me and "kidnapped" me; throwing me in the
back of their car just as they had found me. I wasn't sure what it was
all about; and my parents laughed along with it, thinking it was just
a fun prank among friends. Those two friends drove me about a half a mile
away from home - making mocking comments about my faith along the way.
Then, they pulled over, pushed me out of the car, and drove away - leaving
me to walk home in my bare feet over the gravel along the roadside. I
didn't really hear much from them after that.
I think the only thing that hurt me more than my feet was the hostility
of my former friends. And I hope you understand that I don't share all
of that with you in order to impress you with myself, but rather to underscore
the comfort and encouragement of this morning's passage. I remember discovering
it at about that time. It greatly relieved me to know that Jesus promised
to reward those who faithfully endure such things; and that, for that
reason, I should be joyful whenever it happened. (I remember that, shortly
thereafter, another school friend mocked me by called me a "Jesus freak";
and I remember thinking about Jesus' promised reward, and immediately
thanked the guy who mocked me. That REALLY blew his mind!)
* * * * * * * * * * *
Because we live in a nation that is historically Christian at its roots;
and because we enjoy the freedoms given us by the First Amendment, we
American believers don't suffer much in the way of large-scale persecution
- particularly not the intensely violent kind of state-sponsored persecution
that many of our fellow believers in other parts of the world suffer.
But we do live among a people who's fundamental values and priorities
are becoming increasingly contrary to God, and that is often hostile to
the cause of righteousness. And the irreconcilable clash between two diametrically
opposing systems of life - the life devoted to obedience to Jesus Christ,
and the life devoted to the values and priorities of this world - must
inevitably result in the hostility of the people of this world being poured
out on the disciple of Jesus Christ.
Paul once wrote a letter to his young friend and ministry associate Timothy.
It's a sobering letter to read, because it was written just before the
apostle was beheaded in prison for his faith in Jesus Christ. He clearly
knew that he was about to pay the ultimate price for his beloved Savior
(4:6); and so He talked in very serious terms to Timothy about persecution.
He warned Timothy that, in the later times, many would wander from the
faith and embrace the ungodly values and priorities of this world. And
he told Timothy; "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner
of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions,
afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra -
what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me"
(2 Tim. 3:10-11). And he adds this very serious affirmation: "Yes, and
all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution"
Certainly, no one knew the truth of this better than Paul. He was reminding
Timothy of how, during his first missionary journey, he and Barnabas had
to flee from the city of Antioch, to Iconium, and then to Lystra, to escape
the threats made against them because of their preaching ministry. In
the city of Lystra, the people drug Paul out of town, violently stoned
him, and left him lying on the ground for dead. Yet, he picked his broken
body up and went back to town, and then on to the city of Derbe to preach
there. And then, he and Barnabas made the return trip to all those same
cities in which he had suffered, so that they could encourage those who
had believed the gospel to remain strong in the faith. And when he came
back to speak to those believers, Paul had a common theme in his preaching
to them. Can you imagine him standing before the believers - all broken,
bloodied, bruised and bandaged from having been stoned nearly to death
by an angry mob - and telling them, "We must through many tribulations
enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22)? What a vivid illustration he must
of been of the promise that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus
will suffer persecution!
You may say to yourself, "Well; that's Paul. God hasn't called every-day
believers like me to provoke the kind of trouble that Paul provoked through
his preaching." But let me remind you of what Paul once wrote to the believers
in Philippi - while he himself was still in prison. He told them,
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that
whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs,
that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for
the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries,
which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and
that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not
only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the
same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me" (Phil. 1:27-30).
Now, I'm not sharing all this with as if to say that we ought to all
run right out the door and find ourselves some persecution to suffer.
That would be presumptuous - to say nothing of silly! All I'm saying is
that persecution is to be the normal course of things in the lives of
those who are fundamentally identified with Jesus Christ. If we are genuine,
faithful followers of Christ and we haven't experienced much in the way
of persecution, then we are to consider ourselves to be the exception
- not the rule. The rule is that, ordinarily, all who desire to live godly
in Christ Jesus will - at some level - suffer persecution from the people
of this world. But that fact is not to be looked upon as a curse, but
as an honor. As the apostle Paul said, it is something that God the Father
"grants" to us - a privilege from Him that we not only to believe on His
Son Jesus, but also to suffer for Him. And it's something that will be
* * * * * * * * * *
Consider with me for a moment where this final beatitude is found. It
falls where it does in Jesus' sermon for a good reason. When I read the
beatitudes that came before it, did you notice the kind of person they
described? I stressed that they described what it looks like to be a sincere
follower of Jesus Christ.
They described someone who comes to God - not in the kind of spirit of
pride and self-sufficiency that the world applauds - but as a poor beggar
who has nothing of himself of value to earn God's favor. He comes to God
"poor in spirit". He comes - not with the high attitude of self-esteem
that the world celebrates - but in an attitude of sorrow and mourning,
feeling very badly because of his sins. He comes - not with self-assertiveness
- but meekly and humbly, seeking God's mercy. He comes to God - not in
a righteousness of his own - but as a broken sinner who is hungry and
thirsty for a righteousness from God. He comes to God, not as the world
would expect, but in a manner very distinct from the values and priorities
In mercy, God gives such a person righteousness as a gift of grace through
his faith in Jesus Christ. And then, being made righteous by God's grace,
he goes out into the world to live consistently with the righteousness
he has now received by faith. He is merciful to others, just as he has
been shown mercy by God. He seeks to turn increasingly away from a life-style
of sin, just as he has been made pure in heart by God's grace. And he
seeks to be a peacemaker in this world, just as he now has peace with
God through Jesus Christ. Again, he goes out to live not as this world
would celebrate, but in a manner very distinct from its values and priorities.
The blessing begins the beatitudes is even repeated in this final one;
". . . For theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (see verse 3). Now you tell
me; what kind of an impact would such a person make in a sinful world?
How would the sinful people of this world respond to such a follower of
Jesus? Clearly, that's why Jesus closes the list of beatitudes by saying,
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake . . ."
But there's another reason why this beatitude falls where it does in
Jesus' sermon. It's because it not only completes the description of a
sincere disciple of Jesus Christ in this world, but it also introduces
the challenge that Jesus then goes on to place before that disciple. Immediately
after this beatitude, Jesus goes on to say,
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its
flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be
thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world.
A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp
and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all
who are in the home. Let your light so shine before men, that they may
see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).
When was the last time you suffered for being identified with Jesus Christ?
When was the last time you were insulted or called a name because you
belong to Him? How long has it been since the quality of your life so
ran against the grain of this world that you became an object of attack?
Has it been a long time? Has it ever happened to you at all? Clearly,
it's a part of what it means to be salt and light in this world for the
sake of our Savior.
* * * * * * * * * *
Let's look briefly at this beatitude and notice some of the details.
I find in it that Jesus teaches us (1) "the cause" of our persecution,
(2) "the characteristics" that persecution may take, and (3) "the command"
that He gives us with respect to that persecution.
First, let's consider . . .
1. THE CAUSE:
What is the ultimate reason for the persecution that Jesus promises will
result in blessing?
Believing people may suffer hardship and trouble in this world for a
variety of reasons; but not all of those reasons qualify their suffering
to legitimately be referred to as "persecution".
For example, a believer might suffer trouble and hardship from the people
of this world because they behave in a pushy and obnoxious manner. I remember
hearing about a young college student who used to go to the student commons
building during lunch, stand up on a table with everyone all sitting around
him, and deliberately preach a 'fire-and-brimstone' sermon to them until
the security people came and drug him out. He said that he got a thrill
out of doing that. I certainly can't fault him for wanting to preach the
gospel; and, without question, there are times when the preaching of the
gospel calls for bold methods. But whatever else we may say about what
that college student did, you really can't call his getting thrown out
of the building "persecution". And we shouldn't call it "persecution"
either, when we suffer for being unnecessarily obnoxious and rude.
Sometimes, someone might suffer trouble and hardship because they are
being fanatical over a 'cause'. There was a minister a year ago or so
who was executed by the state for having shot an abortion doctor to death.
He claimed that he was serving God in this way; but the Bible tells us
that "the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James
1:20). It is certainly right to use all legal means to oppose abortion
- and this is especially true for a believer. But it wouldn't be right
to call what happened to that minister "persecution". A better name for
it would be "prosecution". He broke the law and committed a violent act
of murder. We shouldn't consider it "persecution", in the sense that Jesus
is speaking of, when we go to such unrighteous extremes for a "cause".
I suggest to you that the kind of persecution Jesus is speaking of is
a very specific kind of thing. The apostle Peter wrote much about persecution
for Christ. He warned that persecution would be the normal course of things
for the genuine follower of Jesus. But he also warned us to make sure
we are persecuted for the right reason. The kind of suffering that has
a right to be called "persecution for Christ" is the kind in which we
clearly share in His suffering - that is, when we suffer because we are
identified with Him. Peter said,
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 reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit
of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but
on your part He is glorified. 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 (1 Peter 4:12-16).
Look again at Jesus' beatitude. He doesn't suggest that all experiences
that we might call "persecution" actually warrant a blessing. Sometimes,
those experiences are nothing more than what we deserved for having behaved
in a foolish or thoughtless manner. Rather, He says, "Blessed are those
who are persecuted for righteousness sake . . ."; and as we've seen, He
has described what that righteousness would look like in the other beatitudes.
Look further, and you'll see that He also goes on to say, "Blessed are
you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against
you falsely for My sake . . ." He specifies two causes for the persecution
- "for righteousness' sake" and "for My sake"; and clearly, these two
are meant to be seen as a unit. The only kind of "persecution" that we
have a right to expect will result in Jesus' promised blessing is the
kind of persecution that is caused by a man or woman living a righteous
life, in the midst of a hostile world, through a spiritual union with
Jesus once told His disciples;
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before
it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own.
Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A
servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will
also persecute you. If they kept My word, the will keep yours also" (John
Jesus is the Savior of sinners; and this is, unavoidably, an insult to
the world. The sinful people of this world hate Jesus Christ; and they
also hate all those who belong to Him. The righteous life He calls us
to live ends up being a condemnation of the sin of this world. And so,
I would suggest a good way to test the true nature of persecution is this:
If the reason that the people of this world are persecuting us is because
they hate Him and can't get to Him, then we're being persecuted for the
* * * * * * * * * *
Second, I'd like you to notice . . .
2. THE CHARACTERISTICS:
What are the different forms that Jesus says this persecution may take?
We often might think that persecution must always involve physical violence;
and of course, it may. It often has. In fact, it is happening to many
of our brothers and sisters in many places in the world even as we speak.
But the persecution that results from our living righteous lives in this
world because of our relationship with Jesus our Savior is much broader
than would provoke physical violence alone. Jesus says, "Blessed are you
when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against
you falsely for My sake . . ."
I see at least three forms that persecution can take. First, it can come
in a way that we might call "verbal". Jesus says we are blessed when we
are "reviled" for His sake - that is, to be insulted or upbraided or called
names. It's interesting that the apostle Peter encouraged us to not being
ashamed if we suffer "as a Christian" (1 Peter 4:16). This was because,
at the time he wrote his letter, the name "Christian" was an insult. It
was a derisive name that meant "a little Christ". It's not really all
that insulting to be called "a little Christ" though, is it?
If we are insulted by being called a jerk, or a crook, or a thief, or
a hypocrite, or an idiot, then the best thing to do is to make sure that
the claim isn't true and leave it in God's hand. And of course, if it
is true, we need to repent before God and apologize to those we have offended!
But if we are called "a Jesus freak", or "a religious fanatic", or (the
really popular one now) "a fundamentalist extremist", or any of the other
insults the people of this world throw on those who love and follow Jesus,
don't be ashamed of it. Welcome it. They're identifying you with Jesus,
and that's a great honor. They called Him names too.
Second, Jesus uses the word "persecute". Literally, the word itself means
to 'pursue' someone; and I take this to mean more of an "active" - perhaps
physical - form of attack. The apostles Peter and John were once brought
before the leaders of Jerusalem and commanded to cease from preaching
Jesus to the people. But the apostles were under higher orders, having
received a mandate from the Savior to declare Him to the world. They weren't
being obnoxious, of course - just obedient. They were even placed in prison;
but an angel came and released them and told them to continue preaching.
And when they were again brought before the leaders, they were physically
beaten and once again commanded that they should not speak in the name
of Jesus. And when they were released, the Bible tells us that they departed
from the presence of the council, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy
to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41).
What a great way to respond to a beating - to consider it a great honor
to be counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus! Most of us are so short-sighted
that we would have thought that it was the worst thing that could ever
happen to us if someone were to say that we were "a little extreme" in
our faith. But the apostles considered being shamefully beaten for Jesus
an honor for which they were scarcely worthy! May God help us to see such
a thing as He sees it!
Third, Jesus mentions the times "when they say all kinds of evil against
you falsely" for His name's sake. I believe we can take this to refer
to a kind of "social" persecution - a kind in which someone spreads untruths
about us to others with something like slander or gossip. It may even
include the times when, as Jesus says elsewhere, "they exclude you" (Luke
All of this simply shows us that persecution may take on many forms.
We may not suffer actual physical violence because of our relationship
with Jesus; but we may suffer insults and ridicule or rejection. We may
be called names and become the butt of jokes. We may even be misrepresented
or misquoted, and become the objects of slander because of our faith.
Our failures may become exploited and paraded in front of everyone, while
our sincere efforts to repent and follow the way of righteousness may
be deliberately ignored and misconstrued. But in any case, Jesus sees
it all; and He promises a blessing when it's because of Him.
* * * * * * * * * *
And this leads us, thirdly, to consider . . .
3. THE COMMAND:
How does Jesus tell His disciples to respond to such persecution?
Amazingly, He tells us to rejoice! He even commands us to do rejoice!
In fact, He commands us to "rejoice and be exceedingly glad" when we are
persecuted for His sake. As Luke records it, Jesus tells His disciples
"Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!" (Luke 6:23). Such a response may
be more than a little confusing to those who persecute us; but Jesus tells
us that we have great cause for doing so.
First, He tells us that we should rejoice greatly, "for great is your
reward in heaven". It isn't just that we have a reward in heaven. That
alone would be a reason to rejoice, But rather, Jesus says that it is
a "reward in heaven that is "great"! A "great" reward in heaven is a reason
to "rejoice and be exceedingly glad"!
This makes me think of something that Jesus says in the Bible to a group
of Christians who were suffering for Him in the ancient city of Smyrna.
The Book of Revelation tells us that Jesus commanded a letter to be sent
to this church; and in it, Jesus says, "These things says the First and
the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation
and poverty . . ." Apparently, their persecution was so severe that it
had resulted in their suffering not only tribulation, but also poverty
- the loss of their goods, their homes, their businesses, and their lands.
Their experience of persecution had made them desperately poor, and Jesus
acknowledged this. But He then adds - almost as an aside - ". . . (but
you are rich) . . ." They thought they were poor; but their Savior and
Lord lets them know that they were, in reality, very wealthy; for great
was their reward in heaven!
What does that heavenly reward involve? I have no idea. I can only guess;
and even then, I'm sure that my imagination would fall pathetically short
of the reality. But I know that the apostle Paul once said, "For I consider
that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in us . . ." (Rom. 8:18). And I
know that the apostle Peter spoke of "an inheritance incorruptible and
undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you"; and
that we are to rejoice in this prospect, "though now for a little while,
if need be, you have been grieved by various trials" (1 Peter 1:4-6).
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ; we have great cause to rejoice and
be exceedingly glad whenever we are genuinely persecuted for the sake
of Jesus Christ. We have reason to thank our persecutors profusely! The
harm they intend for us results in great eternal good!
* * * * * * * * * *
Jesus gives us another reason to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. It's
because, when we are persecuted for Christ's sake, we enter into the company
of the prophets of old; ". . . for so they persecuted the prophets who
were before you."
One of the things that characterized God's prophets was that they were
persecuted for speaking the message of God to the world. Jesus once mourned
over Jerusalem, saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the
prophets and stones those who are sent to her!" (Matthew 23:37). And Stephen,
the church's first martyr, scolded the religious leaders under the power
of the Holy Spirit by saying, "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart
and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do
you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed
those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become
the betrayers and murderers . . ." (Acts 7:51-52). And all of this is
simply to underscore the fact that, when we are persecuted for the cause
of Jesus Christ, we are keeping honored company. We are experiencing that
which was suffered by the prophets of God who came before us.
And may we follow the example of those persecuted prophets! The apostle
James writes, "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of
the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them
blessed who endure (James 5:10-11a).
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ; Jesus can never be accused of false
advertising. If we live the kind of life our wonderful Savior invites
us to live - the kind of life that is described in The Beatitudes - then
we will suffer in this world for it. But that's not the thing that He
is most concerned to let us know. Instead, He is most concerned that we
look not at the persecution we will suffer for His name's sake, but at
the greatness of the reward that will follow.
So then, let's never be ashamed to take the name of Jesus to ourselves.
Let's never be afraid to be identified with Him and to live the righteous
life that He calls us to live. Let's never fear the wrath of this world.
Instead, let's be encouraged and motivated to boldly claim Him as our
Lord and Master. Let's look to the reward. "Blessed are those who are
persecuted for righteousness' sake," He tells us; "for theirs is the kingdom
of heaven" (v. 10).
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