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Tuesday
Nov252014

Theological Term of the Week

religious persecution
hostility and ill-treatment because of religious beliefs.

  • In scripture: 

    You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:10-13 ESV)

    If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 ESV)

    As we witness the testimonies of courageous persecuted brothers and sisters in person or through reports, it is worthwhile to reflect on the words of Peter, “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19 ESV). In these words, Peter defines grace as being enabled to endure suffering due to one’s faithfulness to God. As we read the accounts of those who have suffered for the sake of Christ, we might be justified in saying that, from the world’s perspective, those who endure persecution are heroic. But from God’s perspective, Peter reminds us, they are recipients of grace. Peter stresses that enduring suffering is evidence that God is at work in one’s life. There is no glory for the sufferer. No hero worship. No merit for those who are able to endure hardship, no boasting of one’s achievements. It is evidence of God’s grace. It is all a work of God, from beginning to end. Is it any wonder that near the end of his first epistle, written especially to instruct persecuted believers to stand firm in their faith, the apostle writes, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10,11 ESV). 

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: How should a Christian respond to persecution?
  2. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Persecution
  3. R. C. Sproul: Blessed Are the Persecuted
  4. Cal Thomas: The Blessing of Persecution
  5. Stephen Walton: Why were the Early Christians Persecuted?
  6. Glenn M. Penner: Why Are Christians Persecuted? (pdf) and A Biblical Theology of Persecution and Discipleship (pdf) 
  7. John MacArthur: The Persecution and Endurance of Christians, Part 1 - Luke 21:12-19,  Part 2 - Luke 21:12-19 (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Christian Life

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