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  • Writer's pictureBrian O'Kelly


    Introduction – Episode 67 - PERSEC

2)      Chapter 5 of the gospel of Matthew opens with what has been most frequently called “the sermon on the Mount”. This consists of a series of statements of Jesus which have been called the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes offer a perspective on how the Christian is to live and evaluate their life and decisions. In each of these Jesus offers a category of people who are blessed as well as the reason that they are blessed. Today we will get to the last of the Beatitudes.

3)      10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

a.       This verse marks a shift from the preceding beatitudes.

                                                               i.      Jesus speaks of the opposition faced by those committed to righteousness. So it’s not just any persecution of anyone, it’s persecution for commitment to God that is on the table here.

                                                             ii.      He directly addressed the struggles and persecution that His followers could expect due to their commitment to righteousness.

1.       Christians are persecuted around the world for their faith

2.       Open Doors Estimates

a.       1 in 7 Christians are persecuted worldwide

b.       1 in 5 (20%) in Africa

c.       2 in 5 (40%) in Asia

d.       4998 Christians were murdered for their faith

e.       4125 were jailed for their faith

f.        14,766 Churches or other Christian properties were attacked

3.       Types of Persecution

a.       Communist  or Post Communist Atheism – China/North Korea/Laos/Cuba

b.       Islamic Oppression – Iran/Saudi Arabia/Yemen/Pakistan

c.       Dictatorial paranoia – Tajikistan/Nicaragua

d.       Religious Nationalism (India – Hinduism/Myanmar – Buddhism)

e.       Christian Denominationalism – Ethiopia (Eastern Orthodox)

f.        Organized Crime ) Columbia/Mexico

4.       We are seeing the beginnings of this in the west now

a.       Children ripped from families for not comporting with the transgender ideations of their kids.

b.       Physicians and pharmacists who have their careers and licenses threatened over either abortion or trans care.

c.       Speaker of the House Mike Johnson was roundly criticized for his faith immediately after his ascension.

d.       This is still nothing like in the countries of real persecution.

                                                           iii.      This beatitude aligns with the broader biblical narrative that foretells the suffering of the righteous and their eventual vindication.

                                                           iv.       The promise that "theirs is the kingdom of heaven" speaks to the ultimate reward awaiting those who endure persecution for righteousness pointing towards a time when God's kingdom will be fully realized.

                                                             v.      It provides hope and assurance to those facing persecution, assuring them that their fidelity to righteousness is not in vain.

                                                           vi.      This beatitude challenges believers to examine their commitment to Godly living and to be prepared for the inevitable challenges that may arise in standing for justice and truth.

                                                          vii.      It serves as a source of inspiration for Christians navigating hostile environments, encouraging them to persevere in their commitment to righteousness despite the hardships they may encounter.

                                                        viii.      It invites Christians to consider the cost of discipleship and to be prepared for opposition in a world that may resist the ethical standards set by the gospel.

b.       The War against the saints

                                                               i.      Satanic hostility  - Rev.12:10-12 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

                                                             ii.      The kingdom given to those who suffer for it

1.       Dan.7:21-22 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

2.       Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

                                                           iii.      Old Testament Examples:

1.       Joseph

2.       Daniel

3.       David

4.       Messiah

a.       Isa.53:3 He is despised and rejected by men,

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with [grief.

And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;

He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

b.       Isa. 53:7-8 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He opened not His mouth;

He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,

And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

So He opened not His mouth.

8 He was taken from [o]prison and from judgment,

And who will declare His generation?

For He was cut off from the land of the living;

For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.

c.       Isa. 53:12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,

And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,

Because He poured out His soul unto death,

And He was numbered with the transgressors,

And He bore the sin of many,

And made intercession for the transgressors.

d.       Luke 24:25-26 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”

5.       Reasons for the world’s animosity toward those who have escaped from it. John 15:19 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. In a world marked by moral relativism and shifting values, Christians are called to uphold righteousness, even if it leads to opposition and persecution.

a.       Human rebellion against God and His anointed

                                                                                                                                       i.      Psalm 2:1-3 Why do the [a]nations [b]rage,

And the people plot a [c]vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves,

And the rulers take counsel together,

Against the Lord and against His Anointed,[d] saying,

3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces

And cast away Their cords from us.”

                                                                                                                                     ii.      “for Name sake” Matt.5:11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

b.       Resentment against righteousness

                                                                                                                                      i.      1 John 3:11-13 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      1 Pet.4:1-4 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past [lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

c.       No blessing for being persecuted for bad behavior

                                                                                                                                       i.      1 Pet.4:15-16 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      1 Pet.2:19-20 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

6.       The Christian’s proper response

a.       Flight is permitted

                                                                                                                                       i.      Matt.10:23 When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Acts 9:23-25 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

b.       but not forcible resistance

                                                                                                                                       i.      Matt.5:39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      James 5:6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

c.      Remember Jesus Heb.12:1-4 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

d.       Rejoice Matt.5:12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

                                                                                                                                       i.      Because their hostility can be taken as a compliment

1.       Acts 5:41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Because you are given an opportunity to glorify God

1.       1 Pet.4:13-14 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. 14 If you are [e]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.

e.       Bless them, Do good to them, pray for them

                                                                                                                                       i.      Matt.5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Rom.12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

If he is thirsty, give him a drink;

For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

f.        Pray for ultimate vindication of God’s people

                                                                                                                                       i.      Rev.6:9-11 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

g.       Increase you own resolve to press on into the Kingdom

                                                                                                                                       i.      Matt.11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

                                                                                                                                     ii.      Acts 14:2-3 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

                                                                                                                                   iii.      Act 14:19-20 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.


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