Sunday, April 26, 2009

He gets down to the end of his life and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life ...

The following are some quotes and points made from my sermon on Matthew 5:10-12.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV)
Click to listen:

I shared Six ways to learn everything you ever need to know about a man before you decide to marry him:
  1. Watch him drive in heavy traffic.
  2. Play tennis with him.
  3. Listen to him talk to his mother when he doesn’t know you’re listening.
  4. See how he treats those who serve him (waiters, maids).
  5. Notice what he’s willing to spend his money to buy.
  6. Look at his friends. And if you still can’t make up your mind, then look at his shoes. A man who keeps his shoes in good repair generally tends to the rest of his life too.
-Lois Wyse, Good Housekeeping, April 1985

Just as those things reveal the character of a man, so how one responds to suffering shows the character of a Christian. Also, the Beatitudes in general reveal the character of one who has been changed by the Holy Spirit into a new creation.

Difficulty/suffering is part of the (normal) Christian life. EASY Christianity is a misconception and a lie. (Phil 1:29; Matt 10:22; 1 Pet 4:12-19; 2 Cor 4:8-9; John 15:18-20; 2 Tim 3:12)
“There are worldly people who tell us they admire Jesus Christ, but that is because they have never seen Him. If they saw Him, they would hate Him as His contemporaries did. He does not change; man does not change. So let us be careful that our ideas about Christ are such that the natural man cannot easily admire or applaud.”
-Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Why 2 “blessed”s (μακάριοι)?
  • Emphasis to expect persecution
  • Reassurance that you're doing the right thing(s)
  • Happy because of God's blessing, knowing your reward is great

Why are they/we persecuted?
  • For righteousness sake (v. 10)
  • on Christ's account (v. 11b)
“Being righteous, practicing righteousness, really means being like the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore they are blessed who are persecuted for being like Him.”
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Jesus tells the people that they will be persecuted like the "prophets" i.e. those who proclaimed the Word. Like the prophets we are susceptible to persecution due to proclaiming God's truth, particularly about Jesus, His person & work, in evangelism.

Natural humanity will be at best indifferent, apathetic, and bored. Yet, more often than not, Jesus as the cure for their pervasive sinfulness will be met with hostility and hatred.
Evangelism is not changing their opinion about Jesus. Evangelism is informing them of the biblical Jesus, so that hearts changed by the Spirit might have someone in whom to believe.

The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is not so much seen in times of prosperity, but when times are hard.
What’s the difference between the two when mistreated? (e.g., Stephen, contentment & seeking forgiveness for persecutors, instead of retaliation, resentment, and discouragement)

A Christian Perspective … 5 Benefits of Persecution:
  1. Comfort from God
  2. Grow in faith/dependence
  3. Kingdom expansion
  4. A Great reward (v. 10b; 12a; 2 Cor 4:17-18)
  5. Assurance of identity (Matt 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23 vs. 6:26)
“By thus persecuting you the world is just telling you that you do not belong to it, that you are a man apart; you belong to another realm, thus proving the fact that you are going to heaven.”
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.”
- Eusebius

"You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy."
- John Calvin

"It's good to know who hates you and to be hated by the right people."
- Johnny Cash

"The Christian who is not conscious of being opposed had better watch himself, for he is in danger. Such unrealism is not requirement of Christian discipleship, but is rather a mark of failure in it."
- J. I. Packer

"If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified."
- Leonard Ravenhill

What does it say about you if you’re unwilling to undergo persecution? (cf. Acts 5:40-42)

“So we should all examine ourselves to see if we are playing a kind of cowardly Christian incognito. And if so, we should repent and resolve to be more sincere in the expression of who we really are.”
- John Piper

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