Reaching the lost and inspiring Believers to live all out for christ
Reaching the lost and inspiring Believers to live all out for christ
2 Timothy 3:12… Indeed, all who desire to live in a godly way in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
All means everyone without exception -- with the caveat that they must fulfill certain qualifications in order to receive the "promise" of persecution… A desire to live godly in Christ Jesus!
Paul says a godly, Christlike life is only possible by abiding in Christ. It follows that from a practical standpoint every saint desiring to live godly should not regard the resulting experience of persecution as peculiar, but only as part of the price of loyal service to Christ.
Jesus made it very clear to His disciples in John 15:18-21 that... “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but 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 slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.
In the sermon on the mount Jesus said there was a beatitude in store for those who suffered in His place... (Matthew 5:10- 12) “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Paul explained to the saints at Philippi that... “to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."
Peter has a parallel warning exhortation... “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." (1 Peter 4:12- 14)
Paul encouraged the Thessalonians with words about the inevitability of their suffering reminding them that… “we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. (1 Thessalonians 3:2-3)
Indeed, all who Desire (thelo) refers to a desire that comes from one’s emotions and indicates an active decision of the will, thus implying volition and purpose. These men and women are continually (present tense) desiring to pursue godliness and it reflects an active decision (active voice) of their will.
Notice that desire in the present tense indicates this is not an occasional desire to choose to live godly, but a persistent passion which manifests itself in their lifestyle. They recognize that they are not in a religious "100-meter dash" but a spiritual "marathon".
And so Paul exhorted Timothy to...discipline (present imperative = command to make this his lifestyle) yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (1 Timothy 4:7-10)
Yes, pursuit of godliness is costly now, but eternity will show it to be worth the cost of commitment.
If anyone proposes to introduce into his life a loyalty which surpasses all earthly loyalties, there will be clashes with this "present evil age" that loves self rather than the Savior.
And that is precisely the loyalty that Christ demands of a disciple. (Matthew 6:24)
SO… It’s vital for every young "Timothy" to remember that persecution is an integral part of the godly life in Christ Jesus. Otherwise, when we encounter persecution, we might be tempted to think that he has failed the Lord or that the Lord is displeased.
William Hendricksen has written that… “Scars are the price which every believer pays for his loyalty to Christ.”
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus… Godly is an attitude of reverence exhibited in one's actions. The Greek word used for godly means reverence or awe that is well directed.
It is not talking "godly" but living "godly". The godly person lives a life characterized by a "Godward" attitude leading to actions that are well-pleasing to Him.
Paul is careful to point out that his persecution was not anything out of the ordinary.
It is in fact, an absolute promise for any believer "who desires to live godly in Christ Jesus."
Though there are not many believers standing in line to claim this promise, it is nevertheless a sure promise from God's word. Any believer with the slightest inkling to break ranks with the world and walk in line behind Christ will feel the heat of this world's rage.
If we find that we seldom, if ever, are being persecuted for our faith, then certainly we must question whether we genuinely are "living godly in Christ Jesus."
Persecution and opposition ought to encourage rather than discourage us.
Persecution often does in this life what the last great day will do completely—separate the wheat from the tares.
“Persecution is like the goldsmith's hallmark on real silver and gold; it is one of the marks of a converted man.”
Realize also that "suffering for Christ" is not only physical abuse but can include social ostracism and verbal insults: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. (Luke 6:22)
Indeed, all who desire to live in a godly way in Christ Jesus… will be persecuted.
A BIBLE PROMISE WE SOMETIMES WISH WERE NOT ONE!
This verse is not usually listed in the books that compile God's promises in a book. While we don't relish persecution, persecution does have a way of separating the wheat from the chaff, so that the cream comes to the top. False professors are weeded out. “True possessors of Christ's indwelling life and empowering Spirit are strengthened like moss attached to a tree, so that when the winds of adversity howl, the moss is blown closer to the tree.”
Persecution fans the flames of the explosion of evangelism!
"Persecutions are in a way seals of adoption to the children of God."
“Persecution is one of the surest signs of the genuineness of our Christianity.”
Persecuted… Greek word means literally to be hunted, and then to be followed or pressed hard after, pursued with earnestness and diligence with repeated acts of enmity. The picture of the Greek verb is of a fox being chased and hunted by the bloodhounds.
Paul is reminding Timothy, as well as us, that persecutions and afflictions are required courses in Christ's school of discipleship, they are not electives!
Opposition will come when we attempt to bring the light of Christ into a world that loves darkness. Jesus described this same principle in His nighttime conversation with the Jewish teacher Nicodemus declaring that... “this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Persecution and suffering for sake of Christ is a truth interwoven all through the NT in stark contrast to the paucity of preaching on persecution from pulpits in pampered American Christianity.
WHAT is CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION? All the persecuted share an important characteristic: They suffer because of their faith.
While Christian persecution takes many forms, it is defined as any hostility experienced as a result of identification with Jesus Christ. From Sudan to Afghanistan, from Nigeria to North Korea, from Colombia to India, followers of Christianity are targeted for their faith.
They are attacked. They are discriminated against at work and at school. They risk sexual violence, torture, arrest and much more.
In just the last year, there have been: • Over 360 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination • 5,898 Christians killed for their faith (That we know of) • 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings attacked • 6,175 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned • 3,829 Christians abducted.
These numbers are heartbreaking. And yet, they do not tell the whole story.
When we pray with persecuted Christians, we stand with them in solidarity, and remind them they are not alone. We join in God’s mission to provide them a place of safety through our support, knowing He will not leave them or forsake them—and neither will we.
A woman in India watches as her sister is dragged off by Hindu nationalists. She doesn’t know if her sister is alive or dead.
A man in a North Korean prison camp is shaken awake after being beaten unconscious; the beatings begin again.
A woman in Nigeria runs for her life. She has escaped from Boko Haram, which kidnapped her. She is pregnant, and when she returns home, her community will reject her and her baby.
A pastor in Afghanistan gets a text message, letting him know the Taliban knows he is a Christian—and they’re coming for him.
Pastor Jeremiah, whose church and village in northern Nigeria was attacked by Fulani militants, said: “We have cried to the government to intervene, but they have done nothing. We still pray for [the Fulani militants] to change their ways because some of them were forced into [attacking], while others had hardened their hearts to do this evil, but nothing is difficult for God.”
But it’s not just Nigeria. Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eretria, Pakistan, Iran, India, China, Jordan, Turkey, etc.
Jesus declared, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10, ESV).
The blessedness that Jesus spoke of is deep, abiding, unshakable joy rooted in the assurance of God’s blessing, both in the present and in the future. Life in our Lord’s kingdom is one of profound joy and inner well-being that no person and no circumstance can take away. Peter put it this way: “If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (1 Peter 2:20).
To endure persecution for the sake of righteousness requires uncompromising faithfulness to God despite every threat and pressure. Rather than feeling discouraged, dismayed, enraged, or depressed, believers who find themselves persecuted for openly living for Christ and His kingdom have good reason to rejoice and be glad—for their reward in heaven is great.
Jesus stated clearly what it means to follow Him: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?" (Luke 9:23–25).
Samuel Lamb gathered in his home in Guangzhou, China. After two hours of worship in cramped conditions, he was asked about persecution and the advance of the Gospel... His response: "In America," he said, "the church has experienced prosperity and is growing weaker. In China, the church has experienced persecution and growing stronger. Persecution is much better than prosperity."