“The Persecution of Christians”
- Romans 8:35 (KJV)…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- There is nowhere on this earth a religion, a group of people or a single person that can experience “LOVE” of any kind greater than that of the love we Christians experience in our love towards our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
- As Paul says in our text verse “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Satan tries daily to separate us from our Lord, but to the faithful, to the strong at heart, and to the seekers of righteousness through our Lord Jesus Christ, there is nothing whatsoever that can separate us from our Lord.
I. Increasing Rise of Christian Persecution
A) Global Persecution
- According to the ACLJ (American Citizens for Law and Justice)… The interim report, compiled by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen states that violence and oppression against Christians is increasing rapidly, and becoming more deadly.
- “Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity. In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”
- The report states Christians make up “by far the most widely persecuted religion” among the one-third of the world’s population suffering some religious persecution.
- Persecution on grounds of religious faith is a global phenomenon that is growing in scale and intensity. Reports including that of the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’ (FoRB) suggest that religious persecution is on the rise, and it is an “ever-growing threat” to societies around the world.
- Though it is impossible to know the exact numbers of people persecuted for their faith, based on reports from different NGOs, it is estimated that one third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group.
- It’s chilling. According to the report, an estimated 80% of persecuted believers around the world are Christians.
- ISIS and its affiliates are spreading around the globe, promoting terror and perpetrating religiously based attacks . . . . It is estimated that since May of 2011 Boko Haram has killed more than 37,500 people, displaced 2.4 million, and created 228,000 refugees.
- Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and utilizes its tactics of mass killings and kidnappings to instill fear and intimidate. They target Christians and anyone else whom they see as a threat to the establishment of an Islamic State.
- Boko Haram’s atrocities have no limit. Horrific examples of its cruelty include: executing 59 boys in their sleep and burning down their school, utilizing mob violence to target Christians, and using fake preachers to massacre innocent worshipers.
B) Pastors being persecuted
- Christian Pastor Yousef Nadakhaniin Iran, was brutally beaten and arrested by Iranian authorities. Pastor Youcef – once sentenced to death for his Christian faith, released and now has again been imprisoned.
- A Chinese court just upheld its unjust conviction of Christian Pastor John Cao, a U.S. permanent resident. Pastor Cao dedicated his life to peacefully serving the poor and building schools in China and Myanmar (Burma.) Two years ago, he was arrested and ultimately sentenced to 7 years in prison for living out his faith. Pastor Cao’s health has been suffering, he’s been in pain, and he’s lost a distressing 50 lbs. from lack of nutrition. The ACLJ is working at the highest levels of government to correct this injustice and obtain his freedom to return him home to North Carolina with his wife and children.
- As this British report indicates, the situation for Christians around the world has become dire. Innocent Christian men, women, and children are in grave danger. Some will not survive this year.
II. Persecution of Christians in America
A) According to the Washington Times
- A poll finds that, in just two years, the number of Americans who think Christians are facing growing intolerance in the U.S. has drastically increased.
- 63% of respondents in the LifeWay Research survey said they agree or strongly agree that Christians are facing growing levels of persecution, up from 50 percent in 2013.
- A similar number, 60 percent, said religious liberty is on the decline in America, up from 54 percent in 2013.
B) According to Worthy News
- According to worthynews.com – More Christians died for their faith in the twentieth century than at any other time in history, says Christian Solidarity International. Global reports indicate that over 150,000 Christians were martyred last year, chiefly outside of the United States.
- Recently, a woman in Houston, Texas was ordered by local police to stop handing out gospel tracts to children who knocked on her door during Halloween. Officers informed her that such activity is illegal (not true), and that she would be arrested if she continued. Meanwhile in Madison, Wisconsin, the Freedom from Religion Foundation distributes anti-Christian pamphlets to public school children entitled, “We Can Be Good Without God.”
- The entertainment industry and syndicated media increasingly vilify Christians as sewer rats, vultures, and simple-minded social ingrates.
- The FBI and the Clinton White House brand fundamentalist Christian groups as hate mongers and potential terrorists.
- The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago warns that plans by Southern Baptists to hold a convention in the Windy City next year might foment “hate crimes” against minorities, causing some Christians to fear that speaking openly about their religious beliefs will soon be considered a crime.
- All this, while Christianity itself is often a target of hate-crime violence.
- A few years ago, Dr. Paul Vitz, then professor of psychology at New York University, worked with a committee that examined 60 social studies and history textbooks used in public schools across the United States. The committee was amazed to find that almost every reference to the Christian influence of early America was systematically removed.
- Their conclusion: the writers of the commonly used textbooks exhibited paranoia of the Christian religion and intentionally censored Christianity’s positive role in American history.
C) The results
- The results of America cutting ties to biblical standards, has caused this “daily activity” to increase…
- 437 children are arrested for drinking or drunk driving
- 211 children are arrested for drug abuse
- 1,629 children are in adult jails
- 30 children are wounded by guns
- 10 children are killed by guns
- 135,000 children bring a gun to school
- Now I ask you? “Can America afford to do away with the Biblical principles that Christians support and practice?”
III. Persecution of Christians is Not New
A) Persecution in the New Testament
- In many places in the New Testament, we can see the persecution (violence towards Christians) …
- Matthew 10:21-23…speaks of family members killing other family members.
- Luke 11:49… references killing and persecution in the same breath.
- In Acts persecution is linked with arrest, murder, and physical violence (Acts 7:52; 9:4; 22:4; 7; 26:11,14)
- Remember what Paul (a Godly man, raised as a Pharisee) said in Galatians 1:13…For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
- We need to be careful that we as Baptist Christians do not become like the other religions and persecute others who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord.
B) Jesus on persecution of Christians
- Jesus was persecuted first. Jesus is the Messiah promised, was sent by God to this earth and rejected.
- Jesus is still rejected by His own (Jews).
- Look at Matthew 5:10, where Jesus delivers His sermon on the mount…Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile (verbally abuse) you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
- Isn’t this crazy? We are supposed to be happy when people treat us like the apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ in His days upon the earth?
- WHY should we be “blessed (Happy)?” I’ll tell you why…because it means that they “know” that Jesus is the truth, the way and the life.” They know it!
- If they didn’t truly believe that He is who He says He is, then they wouldn’t even bother with arguing about it or fighting over it.
C) What can we do about the persecution?
- Jesus tells us to do one more thing in verse 12)Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
- WHY do people fight and argue over politics and religion? To claim bragging rights that “I have won.” It is their reward.
- This why Christ teaches us to stop arguing and start rejoicing in the fact that our rewards are not here…but up there, in Heaven.
- REJOICE, my brothers and sisters in Christ.
- GREAT is our reward in heaven when we are persecuted for His (Christ’s)
- We need to understand that persecution is perfectly normal in the average daily life of the Christians.
- II Timothy 3:12…Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13) But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14) But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
- There is nothing we can do, or should do except to accept it and rejoice.
- If you are not being persecuted as a Christian… check your salvation.