Persecution & Suffering: 35

Hebrews 10:32-39 says, “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.’  And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

This is a beautiful picture. These people chose to suffer public humiliation, confiscation of their property, imprisonment, and all sorts of persecution gladly, knowing that their reward was greater and eternal. Their confidence will prove well-founded. The promise to them is that if they persevere and do God’s will, they will receive what God has promised. Those who shrink back, prove their commitment was empty, and are punished. Those who are faithful are saved with a great and eternal salvation.

We see the same portrait in Moses, described in Hebrews 11:24-26: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

In China, one of the major house church networks has people who are being baptized take a pledge:

“I am ready at any time and any place to suffer for the Lord.

I am ready at any time and any place to be imprisoned for the Lord.

I am ready at any time and any place to escape for the Lord.

I am ready at any time and any place to die for the Lord.”

They are then baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This makes it quite clear from the moment they identify with Him that they understand what it will cost to follow Him and they recognize He is worth it.

If new believers realize that suffering for Christ is normal and expected, then they are far less likely to be confused, or discouraged, or hopeless, or bitter, or angry, when they face that suffering. Suffering for Christ is the normal life of a believer. One measure of God’s greatness is that He can strengthen us to endure it, and He can use it for our good and His glory.