Written by Kevin L. Howard   



Intro: Modern examples

  • Stats on martyrs: 200,000 reported cases of Xns dying for faith in 2003
  • Define persecution: Any suffering for cause of Christ


So what?


1. God has allowed persecution to be intrinsic to following Christ

Luke 9:23

Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me."

  • History illustrations: Tacitus reporting on Nero
  • "Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." -Tertullian (AD 196)


2. God wants Christians to expect persecution

Jn 15:18-20

When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don't. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? "A servant is not greater than the master." Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you!


2 Tim 3:12

Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.


2 Cor 11:24-25

Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.


2 Cor 4:7-10

But this precious treasure - this light and power that now shine within us - is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.


Phil 3:10

As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death....


  • Nations be Glad, lions cage
  • Website: how to survive jail (50s-60s civil rights training)


3. God blesses the persecuted

Mt 5:10

God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.


4. God purifies the church through persecution (but not always)

1 Pet 4:1

So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning.


5. God tests our love through persecution

Mt 5:44

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!


Rom 12:14

If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don't curse them; pray that God will bless them.


I Cor 4:12

We have worked wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us.


  • Are we godly if not persecuted?
  • What accounts for our comfort?  Is it ok to go through seasons of calm?
  • Does the Bible ever anticipate a time before Christ returns when the church will rest from persecution?
  • 1 Tim 2:1-2 "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity."
  • What does our faith cost us?


"...For if the disciple of Jesus never experiences any persecution at all, it may fairly be asked where righteousness is being displayed in his life." p28

(The Sermon on the Mount, D.A. Carson)


6. God defeats his enemy through his persecuted ones

Rev 12:10-11

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, "It has happened at last - the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ! For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth - the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night. And they have defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die."


"The fact that Jesus holds all authority and that he will never leave his followers enables us to fulfill his command to go and teach all nations (Mt 28:18-20).  The truth of God's power in our lives sets us free to take chances and risks for the sake of God's glory that would otherwise be foolish" (Me, Growing, unpublished).



Prayer sessions for top five persecuted countries


NLT (Crosswalk)

The Persecuted Church, MP3

The Persecuted Church, Windows Media Player