Encouragements for our troubled times No. 73
COVID-19 Series | Date: 12 August 2021
The Elders and Deacons want to encourage the members and those who regularly meet with us through this weekly letter. If you have news which you would be happy to share with the fellowship or request for prayer, then please let us know.
A message from our Pastor
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The last of the beatitudes is about the cost of discipleship and the blessings associated with that cost. For it is a blessed thing to be persecuted for our Christian faith; the Lord tells us to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. In 1 Peter 4 vs 12-14 we are told, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 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. If you are 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.” So, we don’t rejoice in the sufferings themselves but in the glory it brings to Christ and the blessings we receive from Christ.
Firstly, persecution comes in many forms. There are those who are physically persecuted, who are harassed, afflicted, beaten, arrested, or even lose their lives for Christ’s sake. These extreme forms of persecution are a constant threat that some of our brethren have to endure on a daily basis. But the Lord knows that there are other forms of persecution that He, Himself, had to endure, for He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We are persecuted when men revile us; when they verbally attack our character and abuse, or mock, or defame us. And we are persecuted when men say all kinds of evil against us falsely for Christ’s sake; when they attack our Christian life, or our motives or message for Christ’s sake. Of course, if we are being persecuted because we have sinned or let the Lord down, then this does not apply to us. But if it’s false accusations, for righteousness’ sake, and for Christ’s name’s sake, then we can count ourselves blessed.
Secondly, the persecuted are truly blessed and can rejoice and be exceedingly glad for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven and they have great reward there. Now, this does not mean that they earn their place in Heaven by being persecuted. Just like the prophets before them, they are persecuted because they are the children of God and the citizens of Heaven; for righteousness’ sake and for His name’s sake. Nor does it imply that they will receive a greater reward than other Christians in Heaven. Enduring and overcoming through this life as a Christian verifies that we are His children, it does not earn the right to be His children. Likewise, the Lord is not saying that the persecuted saints will receive a greater reward in Heaven than any other, but is reassuring them that, even though they may lose much in this world, they will lose nothing of their great reward in Heaven. Sticks and stones may break our bones and WORDS MAY TRULY HURT US, but our Lord is for us and will comfort us; He has gone to prepare our place in Heaven and great will be our reward there.