Sermon No: 117498-The Persecuted Church



SERMON TOPIC: The Persecuted Church

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 7 November 2021

Topic Groups: PERSECUTION, SUFFERING

Sermon synopsis: From the 7th to the 14th of November Christians worldwide will be praying specifically for our brothers and sisters living in persecution. These days of prayer are known as IDOP (International Days of Prayers for Persecuted Christians). 
Thank you for faithfully standing in the gap for our brothers and sisters who are living amidst persecution. Your prayers are worth more than all the silver in the world to them.
The theme of IDOP 2021 is:
Matthew 5:11. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  

Global Overview of Persecution. There 4 Ministries

From the 7th to the 14th of November Christians worldwide will be praying specifically for our brothers and sisters living in persecution. These days of prayer are known as IDOP (International Days of Prayers for Persecuted Christians).

Thank you for faithfully standing in the gap for our brothers and sisters who are living amidst persecution. Your prayers are worth more than all the silver in the world to them.

The theme of IDOP 2021 is:

Matthew 5:11. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Persecution of Christians

The persecution of Christians can be historically traced from the first century of the Christian era to the present day.

Persecution of Christians

Early Christians were persecuted for their faith at the hands of both a small number of Jews from whose religion Christianity arose and the Romans who controlled many of the lands across which early Christianity was spread. Early in the fourth century, a form of the religion was legalized by the Edict of Milan, and it eventually became the State church of the Roman Empire.

Persecution of Christians

Christian missionaries as well as converts to Christianity have been the target of persecution ever since the emergence of Christianity, sometimes to the point of being martyred for their faith.

The schisms of the Middle Ages and especially the Protestant Reformation, sometimes provoked severe conflicts between Christian denominations to the point of persecuting each other.

Persecution of Christians

In the 20th century, Christians have been persecuted by various governments including the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the form of the Armenian Genocide, the Assyrian Genocide and the Greek Genocide, as well as atheistic states such as the Soviet Union and North Korea.

During World War II members of some Christian churches were persecuted in Nazi Germany for resisting Nazi ideology.

Persecution of Christians.

In more recent times, the Christian missionary organization Open Doors (UK) estimates that over 200 million Christians face persecution, particularly in Middle Eastern countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Persecution of Christians.

Persecution of Christians around the world has increased during the Covid pandemic, with followers being refused aid in many countries, authoritarian governments stepping up surveillance, and Islamic militants exploiting the crisis, a report says.

More than 340 million Christians – one in eight – face high levels of persecution and discrimination because of their faith, according to the 2021 World Watch List compiled by the Christian advocacy group Open Doors.

Persecution of Christians.

Persecution of Christians.

“Open Doors” says that there was a 60% increase over the previous year in the number of Christians killed for their faith. More than nine out of 10 of the global total of 4,761 deaths were in Africa.

“The increasing persecution of Christians across the world should disturb us all,” said David Landrum, the head of advocacy for Open Doors UK and Ireland.

“Freedom of religion is what underpins many other human rights and civil liberties.

Oppressive governments know this, and they are exploiting the pandemic crisis to turn the screw on Christians.”

Persecution of Christians.

The World Watch List ranks 50 countries in which Christians face persecution and discrimination, with North Korea in the No 1 spot as it has been for the past 20 years.

China has re-entered the top 20 for the first time in a decade, and India and Turkey have also reported an increase in government authoritarianism and nationalism.

The report says Christians in numerous countries in Africa and Asia have been refused Covid-related aid at times by government officials, but more often by village heads or committees. In Kaduna, Nigeria, families from several villages reported receiving one-sixth of the rations allocated to Muslim families.

Persecution of Christians in China.

In China, the government has increased surveillance, with facial recognition systems installed in state-approved churches in some areas and online services monitored.

The government’s campaign to “Sinicize” Christianity has meant crosses and other Christian imagery have been replaced with pictures of President Xi Jinping and national flags, and Communist officials selecting church leaders, the report says.

Persecution of Christians.

Right from the outset of Christianity the “Body of Christ” has been persecuted.

The cost for the Apostles.

James: Beheaded by Herod.

Philip: Was ministering in Hierapolis (Phrygia). He was Imprisoned, scourged and then crucified. He was buried by Bartholomew who nearly suffered the same fate.

Bartholomew: Killed with a sword or beaten with clubs (conflicting accounts)

Peter: Was imprisoned by Nero for 9 months and then crucified upside down.

The cost of been called by God.

Mathew: Was put to death with the sword.

Mathias: Was stoned and beheaded.

Thomas: Was thrust through with a spear.

Simon the Zealot: Was crucified

Thaddius: Was crucified.

Andrew: Preached against idolatry in Patrae (Greece) annoying the Governor, who had him crucified on an X shaped cross.

The Faith-worthies.

Hebrews 11:35-39

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith.

The Church in the West however is not a great threat.

Napoleon once pointed to a map of China and said, There lies a sleeping giant. If it ever wakes up, it will be unstoppable.

Today the Church in the West is a sleeping giant.

Each Sunday, church pews are filled with members who are doing nothing with their faith except "keeping" it.

Jesus paid the ultimate price for His Bride.

Ephesians 5:25-27.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for herto make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

1 Corinthians 6:20.

You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.

Many paid a great price to obey God’s call.

Galatians 2:21.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

What is cost Paul to follow God’s call.

Philippians 3:7-9.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

Paul’s suffering.

2 Corinthians 11:24-28

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

Paul spent much time in prison.

Although the Apostle Peter was set free from prison by an angel, this was not the case for Paul the Apostle.

2 Corinthians 11:23.

In prisons more frequent.

Ephesians 3:1.

For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.

Acts 20:22,23.

Prisons and hardships are facing me.

A powerful church embraces suffering for Christ.

Luke 9:21-26.

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Suffering and persecution of Christians.

Persecution from the world.

John 15:18-25.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.

That is why the world hates you.Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: They hated me without reason.

4 Nov 2014 - Shehzad Masih (right) and his pregnant wife Shama Bibi, Pakistani Christians, were murdered after a mob falsely accused them of tossing out pages of the Quran along with the rubbish, thereby desecrating the holy book. The couple were beaten by a mob and dragged into a brick kiln where they were burned to death, 1 leaving behind 4 orphaned children.

1 http://www.dailymail.co.uk

YOUR LIFE

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

A couple weeks ago, I met a man with an interesting tattoo written across his bicep, though not in your typical tattoo green.

“But if not,” I read aloud. When I asked what his tattoo meant, the man told me the phrase was from the Bible. This is the story the tattooed man told me:

King Nebuchadnezzar II reigned over Babylon from 605 BC- 562 BC. He conquered Judah and the city of Jerusalem, taking young Jewish men of noble or royal birth as captives. The book of Daniel tells the survival and incredible faith of four Jewish captives: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar decided to build an enormous 90-foot tall golden statue in modern day Iraq.

He gathered all the important people in his empire and commanded them to fall down and worship the statue whenever they heard music. Soon, the beautiful melody of horns, harps, and pipes spread throughout the area. In response, people fell on their faces, hands outstretched in worship.

Daniel 3.

Three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to bend their knee and worship the gold statue. In a rage, the king commanded that the trio appear before him.

Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not worship The three men replied without hesitating, “O King, we don’t need to answer you. Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fire, and he will deliver us from your hand. But if not, we will still not bow down and worship the statue.”

When you hear the sound of music, fall down and worship the image that I have made.But if you do not worship the golden image I have set up, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And what god will deliver you out of my hands?

Much faith and courage is crammed into those three tiny words, “But if not.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew the Sovereign Lord had the ability to rescue them from the king. They had no doubt in God’s powerful might. But if God decided not to rescue them, they still possessed the courage and the faith to stand for their convictions.

Much faith and courage is crammed into those three tiny words, “But if not.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew the Sovereign Lord had the ability to rescue them from the king. They had no doubt in God’s powerful might. But if God decided not to rescue them, they still possessed the courage and the faith to stand for their convictions.

I asked myself, when my prayers are answered with “But if not,” will I still continue to trust in God?

Sick Churches.

Some churches don’t have to worry about persecution because they do not pose a threat to Satan and his agenda. For example the “Three c’s Church” in China is sanctioned by the state and has a list of things that they are not allowed to do or say.

There are Government officials in the meetings to see that the rules are observed and subsequently they are allowed to operate these Churches without too much obvious interference.

Christians are called to die.

Salvation starts with baptism into the “Body of Christ”. This is symbolized by water baptism, which is a funeral ceremony.

Nowadays in the West there is not a great price to pay for the act of being baptized, other than possibly being alienated by friends and family.

However in the 1500’s, when adult baptism by immersion was first practised by those who saw that infant baptism or sprinkling was not Biblical, the price was high.

Christians are called to die.

The Anabaptists.

By insisting on adult baptism, the Anabaptists were denying the state’s authority in matters of the church and were pulling apart the religious and political threads of Europe’s social fabric. Within months of the first “re-baptism,” the Anabaptists were fleeing for their lives.

Driven by persecution and missionary zeal, Anabaptism spread to many areas of Europe. Thousands of Anabaptists were imprisoned, tortured, burned, drowned, and even dismembered by both Protestant and Catholic authorities.

The Anabaptists emphasized the authority of Scripture and salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

Christians are called to die.

The Anabaptists correctly understood the biblical teaching of believer’s baptism and they were willing to stake their lives on this belief, because it was founded on a clear understanding of Scripture’s authority in the life of the church.

They followed sola scriptura to their deaths, resting their faith in the Bible and not in church authority and tradition.

Christians are called to die.

Anabaptists were fined, drowned, burned at the stake, tortured, and persecuted in all the manners of the day for such crimes as refusal to pay tithes, refusal to attend church, refusal to refrain from Bible study groups in private homes, refusal to refrain from preaching, and other offences against the church-state. Thousands of Anabaptists were put to death.

The Anabaptists were severely persecuted by the Roman Church. In fact, because many believed in immersion, many were put to death by drowning. The Lutherans also put many Anabaptists to death by one form of execution or another.

1. The Cages.

One of the ways that ruling bodies try to stamp out a new trend is to make an example out of someone publicly. Possibly it would deter someone else from following in their footsteps. One such way this was accomplished was by hanging the Anabaptists up really high on a bell tower in a cage. While in the cage they would be naked and exposed to the elements.

They would have no clothes and no food. They had no where to use the restroom except through the bottom of the cages. They would remain hanging there for years, long after they were just bones and dust.

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2. The Rack.

As if being drowned or burned alive was not bad enough, sometimes they needed to be tortured and then murdered.

One of the favoured methods of that time was putting them on “the rack.” This device bound the ankles and wrists and then slowly pulled them apart.

Naturally you had to know that some of them got burned at the stake. Perhaps the most discussed execution by burning was that of Dirk Willems

3. Burned & Roasted At The Stake.

Dirk Willems.

Dirk was imprisoned by the Catholic church for receiving adult baptism and for baptizing others himself. In a miraculous feat he was able to escape his imprisonment.

However, after his escape he was pursued and the man who was pursuing him ended up falling threw the ice on a small pond and nearly drowned.

Being the good Christian that he was, he turned back to save his pursuer's life. He was then promptly re-captured and then burned alive.

4. Permanent Baptism

One of the ways the Anabaptists could be both killed and also mocked was by giving them an adult baptism of another kind.

In this baptism they would not be emerging from the water.

The first Anabaptist to be martyred in this way, and possibly the most famous, was Felix Manz. Felix was one of the co-founders of the Anabaptist faith.

4. Permanent Baptism

He engaged in great scholarly debate with the reformed leaders of his time about adult vs infant baptism.

Unfortunately, the councils having these debates came to the conclusion that infant baptism was the only acceptable practice and demanded that Felix and the Anabaptist baptize their children.

Felix refused and was then drowned as were many other Anabaptists.

To make this even more repulsive the council led by Zwingli was a reformed movement.

Baptism is a funeral ceremony.

Baptism is symbolic of the cost involved in following Jesus, it is symbolic of the death of our life (A burial) so that Christ can live His resurrected life through us.

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.

Jesus didn't hide the cost in following Him.

Luke 14:25-33. Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even their own life, such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

(Jim Elliot - an evangelical Christian missionary to Ecuador who was killed at age 28 while attempting to evangelize the Waodani people)

“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives… and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”

Nate Saint [1923-56], the missionary pilot to Ecuador who was martyred along with Jim Elliot

Jesus didn't hide the cost in following Him.

Luke 14:25-33.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.

Jesus didn't hide the cost in following Him.

Luke 14:25-33.

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

Jesus didn't hide the cost in following Him.

Luke 14:25-33.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?

It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.

There are three root sources of testing for us as Christians.

Our flesh (our physical body with it’s desires, weakened by our sinful nature)

The World (Society, the systems of government that have been influenced and controlled by powers and authorities, gods that man has allied himself with rather the almighty God)

Satan The rulers of this world.

Suffering caused by our flesh.

1 Peter 2:19-23.

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.

But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

Sources of suffering.

Satan is not omnipresent like GOD. He also is not all knowing, but certain people like Job, get onto his radar and suffer greatly at his hand.

For the most part Satan can ignore professing Christians and leave them for the world and the flesh to drag into sin and defeat.

The powers of this world.

Ephesians 6:10-11.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Who is our struggle with?

Ephesians 6:12.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Do we have a concern for the persecuted Church?

1 Corinthians 12:24-27.

But God has put the body together,…there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

We have been called to remember those who are suffering for their Faith.

Hebrews 13: 3.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Our response if we are called to suffer.

Hebrews 10:32-37.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.For, In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.




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