Listen: 66 Question 1

In the world that we live today, Christians are subject to persecution.  In fact, true believers in God have always had to suffer persecution.  It should not be a surprise to us that some suffer for the cause of Christ.  It should not be a surprise to us if we are called upon to suffer for the cause of Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:10-12, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,  Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  I suppose no one, apart from Christ Himself, was persecuted more than Paul.  He forewarns us here that if we live godly lives, then we too, will be persecuted by a Christ hating world.  To suffer for the name of Christ is a gift from the Lord.  We are told in Philippians 1:29, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”  In the early church, the Apostles considered it an honor to suffer for the Lord as we read in Acts 5:40-41, “…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. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”

It is, indeed, an honor to be able to suffer for the Lord.  There is also a reward for it as the Lord tells us in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”  When we are called upon to suffer for the Lord, we should rejoice for we are in good company.  Just as the prophets were persecuted for their testimonies, we can expect the same ill treatment towards us.

During the seven year Tribulation period, the wrath of God is being poured out upon a disobedient and unbelieving world.  We read in Revelation 16:1, “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.”  King David longed for the day that the Lord would punish the unbelieving world as we read in Psalms 79:5-6, “How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire? Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.”

Although Christians are subject to being persecuted by the world, we will never face the wrath of God.  The Lord said to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.”  This is the promise of the Lord that His people shall not have to endure this time of tribulation when He is judging the world.  Romans 8:1 is an incredible verse that shows believers that we will never be judged of God.  It says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

It’s not that today’s Christians do not have to suffer; we do.  However, we do have the promise of God that we will never suffer from His wrath.  It is important to realize that Christians will never be judged by the Lord.  Why is that?  It’s because the Lord Jesus Christ completely paid our sin debt by dying for us on the cross.  1 Peter 2:24 tells us the Lord Jesus, “…bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”  Our debt has been paid in full.  2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that God, “…hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  When the Lord sees us, He sees us as righteous in Christ Jesus.  There is no judgment for those who are in Christ Jesus.  This is one reason why Christians do not have to endure the Tribulation period.