By: Scott Adkins, Sling ‘n Stone Ministry
Carter County Times
Last time, we looked at how we must be peacemakers per Matthew 5:9. This week, we move-on to the eighth beatitude: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10.). But Jesus went further in vs. 11 through 12, the Lord elaborated on suffering and persecution. To that end, He said, “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and 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 the prophets that were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12). The Apostles took this to heart we know because, after the Lord’s Resurrection and Acesension, the Apostles were jailed (Acts 5:18), and later, flogged (Acts 5:40). Why? Because they refused to conform to the world; they refused to stop preaching the Gospel.
How did the Apostles react when jailed and flogged for the Gospel’s sake? “[T]hey departed . . . rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His Name.” (Acts 5:41). Yet, the Lord Jesus still had more to say about suffering persecution – He did so in the Book of Revelation, chapter 2. He did so in His letters to both Smyrna and Peragamos.
To the Christians at Smyrna, the Lord spoke both warning and comfort about forthcoming persecution, telling folks they would be “cast into prison,” (Rev. 2:10), and be tested for ten days. But the Lord gave Smyrna – and us – this wonderful promise: “[B]e thou faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).
Then, the Lord encouraged Christians at Peragamos, where the Lord Himself warned: “Satan’s seat is.” (Rev. 2:13). When the Lord did so, He remembered by name a then-recent martyr at Peragamos, a fellow named Antipas, who the Lord called “Antipas my faithful martyr.” (Rev. 2:13). The Bible says nothing more about Antipas; however, church tradition tells that Antipas was cooked alive inside a brass bull. But Antipas is forever remembered in Holy Scripture because he stood faithful unto death.
How does this affect us? Paul wrote, “Yea, all that Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12). Persecution varies in degree: some will suffer evil spoken against them falsely; some will end-up jailed; while others must seal their testimony for the Lord with their own blood. The first question for us is: Are we suffering, or have we suffered, even some mild form of persecution? If not, what does that say about our lives and testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ?
Rest assured, if we pass out Gospel tracts; witness to and invite sinners to church; show compassion; and knock on doors, we will suffer persecution. We can either receive the crown of life, or face the Lord’s being ashamed of us, if we are ashamed of Him. It’s a choice He gives us.
If you’re suffering persecution, rejoice because great is your reward!