“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
But you know all about me. You know what I teach and the way I live. You know my goal in life. You know my faith, my patience, and my love. You know that I never stop trying. 11 You know about my persecutions and my sufferings. You know all the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra –the persecution I suffered in those places. But the Lord saved me from all of it. 12 Everyone who wants to live showing true devotion to God in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:10-12 ERV
Everyone who wants to live showing true devotion to God in Christ Jesus will be persecuted and go through hard times, but never forget that God is on your side! If you are a lukewarm, compromising Christian, the devil isn’t worried about you, but if you are a Book of Acts Christian – hot, on-fire, living a godly life, submitted to the Word and the Holy Spirit, a doer of the Word, preaching the Gospel, and obeying the Great Commission – then he will be very afraid of you. The devil will always come to try to hinder and to stop the doers of the Word – those who are obeying God – with persecution. You might as well make up your mind now to not get upset or discouraged when it happens. In fact, you should rejoice for it is a sign that you are doing the will of God!
Persecution and hardship is intended to limit your influence. Persecution can come in the form of verbal disapproval or attacks, physical attacks from people or circumstances, and/or spiritual resistance from devils and demons. The devil will try to get you to be discouraged and quit. If you are a touchy person and you take everything personally, then you won’t be able to endure to the end. Paul was just such a one who was bold for the Gospel’s sake and went through tremendous persecutions and hardships as he boldly preached and demonstrated the Word of God. Ungodly people stirred up strife against him; fellow Jews attacked him; other “Christians” questioned his integrity and lied about him; he was arrested and thrown in jail and eventually martyred for his faith – and yet he never gave up; he never quit. Persecution will never succeed if you will just never quit!
Remember Jesus Christ. He is from the family of David. After Jesus died, he was raised from death. This is the Good News that I tell people. 9 And because I tell that message, I am suffering. I am even bound with chains like someone who has really done wrong. But God’s message is not bound. 10 So I patiently accept all these troubles. I do this to help the people God has chosen so that they can have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. With this salvation comes glory that never ends. 11 Here is a true statement: If we died with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we remain faithful even in suffering, we will also rule with him. If we refuse to say we know him, he will refuse to say he knows us. 13 If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful, because he cannot be false to himself. 2 Timothy 2:8-13 ERV
Paul was persecuted for the Gospel’s sake, not because he had done wrong. He was bound by chains, but God’s Word was not bound – he continued to preach, write letters full of God’s Word and minister to everyone he met and the Lord continued to use him. How did Paul endure all this suffering? What Jesus did for him – and all men – was so real to him; eternity was so real to him; the promise of God was so real to him; that he was willing rather to suffer anything than deny the Lord Jesus Christ!
He was standing on the promise of God that:
1. If we be dead with Him, we shall live with Him.
– Romans 6:8 KJV – Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
– 2 Corinthians 5:15 KJV – And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
2. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.
– Romans 8:17-18 KJV – And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
3. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
– Mark 8:38 KJV – Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
4. If we won’t believe, He remains faithful: He cannot deny Himself.
– Jesus is faithful. He will still be with us even when we have endured so much that it seems we have no faith left to stand. We may even give up and be faithless at times, but Jesus is still faithful to His promise to be with us “to the very end of the world/age” (Matthew 28:20). If we deny the Lord or walk away and break fellowship with Him, still He will never turn His back on us, but be ready to receive us back, should we come to our senses and turn back to Him.
And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 5:40-42 KJV
Persecution did not stop the Early Church from serving God and preaching the Gospel. They counted it an honor to receive persecution for His Name sake!