The Persecuted Church

I’ve been working all day on a sermon for Sunday at The Donelson Fellowship, and my heart is burning for the persecuted church. I’d like to share a few segments with you over the next few days. The entire sermon will be posted later on the TDF website.

Genuine Christians—true Christians—are not militant in any literal way. Jesus told Peter to put his sword back in its sheath (Matthew 26:52). He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The early apostles went out armed with only one weapon, the two-edged sword of Scripture; and their message was one of Good News. And yet each of the apostles except for John died a violent death at the hands of persecutors. And John himself was imprisoned on the island of Patmos.

That has set the tone for Christian history. No one knows how many believers have been oppressed, resisted, criticized, ostracized, arrested, tortured, abused, and slain for their good-hearted and hope-based faith.

How do you explain the hostility of our society to the simple message of the Gospel and to Jesus Christ and His followers?

It began with Jesus Himself, who never picked up a sword, never struck a single person, never started a war, never fired a gun, never shot an arrow, never called on His followers to engage in jihad. He never declared a holy war, except one that is invisible and spiritual.

He taught people to be kind and pure and gentle and loving and to share the joys of their faith with others. What did He receive in return? He was hated and despised, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, a man who was seized and abused, tortured without mercy and slain without remorse.

When I see the inexplicable, inherent hatred this world has for the Gospel, it’s proof of the factuality of the Bible’s message. There is indeed a devil that opposes the Creator of the universe, and this devil has spread his rebellion to this planet. There is indeed a reality of evil in the world that instinctively hates what is good. That rebellion is in the human heart. And those who bring a message from God—even a message of life and hope—are instinctively reviled by a fallen, sinful culture.The very story of the Bible tells us that persecution is the expected thing for God’s children on a fallen planet.