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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 16, 2014
Blessed are The Persecuted
A History of Persecution
Those who would live righteously for God have always been persecuted by those who would not. It has been this way from the beginning of history. Righteous Abel gave a worthy sacrifice to the Lord and it pleased the Lord. Wicked Cain made an unworthy sacrifice to the Lord which was not accepted. The result was that Cain, in a jealous rage, lashed out and murdered his brother Abel. Every righteous man or woman mentioned in the Bible has suffered at the hands of the unrighteous. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Israel, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, all the prophets including Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Jesus Himself and all the apostles. It seems that righteousness is a magnet for persecution. Persecution against the righteous has continued from the Apostolic period even to the present day with many still losing their lives because they love the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? And how can Jesus say in Matthew 5:10 that those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness receive a blessing?
Turn to Matthew 5 as we continue in our study of the Sermon on the Mount and its opening section which we call the Beatitudes. It must be kept in mind that the whole thrust of Jesus’ message in this sermon is to explain the nature of true righteousness as opposed to the religious righteousness, the self-righteousness, of the Scribes and Pharisees. Your righteousness must exceed theirs in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus begins the sermon with a series of statements concerning the blessings that would be received by those who had the characteristics of righteousness. We have seen throughout our study that no one can develop these characteristics on their own to become righteous. Instead, these are the characteristics a person that has already been made righteous by the working of the Holy Spirit. These are the marks of true righteousness.
In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus concludes this series of statements about blessing, the Beatitudes, with a declaration that is similar to, yet very different from the previous ones. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
These are not two beatitudes, but one beatitude stated twice with verses 11 & 12 expanding on verse 10. This is also the only beatitude that is not a distinctive positive description of a righteous person’s character. This is instead a statement describing the reaction of the world toward those that live righteously along with a statement of the blessings that will be received and the reasons to rejoice in the midst of suffering. This is by far also the most difficult of the beatitudes to both understand and to live out. More than all the other beatitudes, this one will draw the line and divide between those who are truly righteous and those that are not; between those that are truly Christians and are saved, and those that feign Christianity but are not actually converted and saved.
If we are to understand how this beatitude divides the true and the false, then we must first understand the persecution that Jesus is talking about. There are many people that claim this beatitude fits them, but they are sadly mistaken. Contrary to their own claims and belief, they are not being persecuted because they are righteous. The unrighteous suffer much persecution at the hands of other evil people, and there are also many that are supposed to be righteous that suffer because of their unrighteous behavior including being obnoxious.
Persecution That Is Deserved
The Apostle Peter writes his first epistle to encourage the early believers scattered throughout Asia Minor that were already being persecuted and to prepare them for future persecution. Peter makes several statements about making sure any suffering they experienced was for correct reasons and not because of their own folly.
In 1 Peter 2:12 for example, Peter says, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe [them,] glorify God in the day of visitation.” In other words, make sure that when they speak evil against you that it really is slander by continuing to live righteously so that they might give glory to God when He comes. He adds in verse 20, “For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer [for it] you patiently endure it, this [finds] favor with God.” If you sin and are harshly treated, then you have only received what your sin deserves.
Peter goes on in 1 Peter 3:17 to say, “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.” You gain nothing in suffering if you suffer because you have done wrong. Drop down to 4:12-16, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.”
Too often too many people want to look at their suffering as a mark of their spirituality when in reality the persecution they are undergoing is deserved because of their own sinful actions. They do not suffer for the sake of righteousness but because they do any or many of the following: hate, fight, bicker, assault, lie, gossip, slander, covet, steal, lust, commit sexual sins or a host of other sins. This even includes some that are supposed to be ministers of God and preachers of His word. It is not hard to find such false teachers on “Christian” radio and TV who promote and exalt themselves rather than being humble servants who glorify Jesus Christ.
Let me give you some additional examples. Some evangelists are persecuted because they are just plain obnoxious. There are no Scriptures in which God commends someone for being obnoxious in proclaiming the gospel. The gospel itself is offensive becaus
e it requires people to recognize their sinfulness and turn from it. Sinners do not like hearing the truth about themselves. However, proclaiming the gospel in an offensive manner will actually obstruct its message of God’s love extend to sinful mankind in Christ Jesus. This kind of offense is done by all sorts of people. Some of it is unintentional by well meaning folks who just lack proper training in manners. Others are intentional. They proclaim the gospel with a self-righteous or “holier-than-thou” attitude. Others go farther to be so obnoxious that they strive to verbally assault people with the gospel instead of speaking the truth in love.
Many years ago a fellow button-holed Diane at a shopping mall. He demanded to know if she was saved or not and then demanded she pray out loud with him in the middle of the mall for all the unsaved folks walking around. When she balked at doing so with him, he accused her of all sorts of things. I called the fellow on the phone later, but got nowhere. He was a law unto himself and thought himself very spiritual to be “suffering” for the cause of Christ. The truth was that the rebukes, rejoinders and disparaging remarks made against him were because he was obnoxious. He did not have the blessing Jesus was talking about here for he was actually unrighteous and dishonoring to the name of Christ.
There are also those that have gone beyond being “fools for Christ’s sake” which is proper (1 Corinthians 4:10), to being freaks. Their attempts at evangelism are usually obnoxious, but worse is their effort to make others conform to their own ideas of holiness. They stick their noses where they do not belong and ask questions that should not be asked. It can be the “brother” that flaunts his freedom in Christ and causes a weaker brother to stumble and fall into sin (Romans 14:20; 1 Corinthians 8:10). It can also be the weaker brother that goes around asking questions he has no business asking (1 Corinthians 10:15-17). They are snoops seeking to bind a stronger brother by their own weak conscience (Romans 14:3-4). Either way, the hostility and ostracism they incur is not for the sake of righteousness, but because of their own sinfulness.
There are also those that are persecuted for a cause, rather than for the sake of righteousness. The Jehovah Witnesses make a big deal out of the suffering they have endured at the hands of others claiming it is because of what they do for God. The harsh reality is that they suffered for the cause of their man made religion just as many other religious people do including Muslims and pagans. They do not suffer for Jesus Christ for they do not even know Him. Even Christians have to be very careful lest they be swept into a political movement and suffer for some political cause rather than for what is truly righteousness’ sake. That can be a fine distinction sometimes, but it needs to be made. A case in point are Christian political organizations that focus so much on their political rhetoric that they forget the gospel they should be proclaiming. There is no justification for being obnoxious to other people. Remember, the blessing Jesus is talking about here is only for those suffering for the sake of righteousness, not religious or political causes.
What does it mean to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness?
Persecution That Is Undeserved
The Nature of Righteousness
The nature of true righteousness is such that it provokes the unrighteous. Those who are not living according to God’s standards react and persecute those who are walking in righteousness. We would expect such persecution from those who are in open rebellion against God or following false religions since the gospel exposes their sin and inadequacy. Such persecution has been recorded throughout history and it continues to this day with the most severe persecution currently occurring in countries that are controlled by either communists, Islam, or Hinduism. But we must also take warning from history for some of the greatest persecutions against the righteous have actually come from the “church,” i.e. man’s organization of the Christian religion. It can even come from fellow believers who have gotten their eyes off of Christ and onto their own traditions.
This should not surprise us for much of what occurs under the name of Christianity is really no different from what Judaism had degenerated into at the time of Christ. They had exchanged the law of God for their own system of rules and regulations that they could manipulate. Many denominations, sects and all cults that claim to be Christian have exchanged the gospel of Jesus Christ for substitutes that are false. The gospel is the good news that though man is sinful and under the wrath of God and facing impending judgment, God has also provided a way for man to be redeemed and forgiven of his sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God in human flesh who lived a sinless life then gave Himself as the sacrifice for man’s sin on the cross of Calvary, rising from the dead on the third day, then ascending to heaven where He is preparing a place for those who believe in Him and will one day return to take them to be in heaven with Him forever.
That is the gospel, but it is easy to find self proclaimed Christian groups that have exchanged this gospel for systems of religious works by which you earn your way to heaven. It was the Jewish religious leaders that lead the persecution against Jesus and had Him crucified. Heretical and aberrant groups within what is professed to be the “church” have often followed that same path in persecuting the righteous disciples of Jesus.
The church became perverted after Constantine made Christianity the religion of the empire in the 4th century. The Dark Ages where dark because the truth of the gospel was suppressed by man made systems of religion including the various forms of paganism, the religions of the east, Islam and the Roman Catholic Church. Every group that arose to proclaim the truth of the gospel in the western world such as the Cathari and the Waldensians were persecuted by the Roman Catholic church. Those within the Catholic church that proclaimed the gospel and called for a return to the Bible were condemned as heretics by Rome. Men such as Jon Hus in Bohemia (1369-1415), Jerome of Prag (d. 1416) and Savonarola in Florence (1452-1498) were martyred. John Wycliffe in England (1324-1384) had already died, so his bones were dug up, burned and thrown into the river. Thousands would die during the reformation period of the 16th and 17th centuries as European states fought each other over religious domination and control of territory. Those that would not submit to the current state church would be persecuted. Foxes Book of Martyrs gives account after account of those burned at the stake because they would not submit to the Church of Rome and deny that salvation came by grace through faith.
True righteousness is becoming like Jesus in character. Jesus said that the blessing comes to those who are “persecuted for the sake of righteousness” in verse 10 and in verse 11 “on account of Me.” The more you become a reflection of Christ, the greater your true righteousness, the more the unrighteous world cannot stand you. Jesus said in John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”
The more we are like Jesus, the more the world will hate us because it hates Him. To live for Christ is to live in opposition to the devil and his world system (Ephesians 6). To live for Christ
then is to be confrontational and an affront to a sinful world by your very existence because your personal holiness. You can remain quiet and the unrighteous will still be provoked because you are not like them. The world loves its own, but it hates those who are not like them (John 15:19). Paul said it plainly to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Notice that you do not even have to be successful in living a godly life. The group you are with wants to do something you know you should not but you yield to the peer pressure. You will still provoke persecution by questioning it or even just being hesitant.
Three forms of persecution are listed in verse 11, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” The “when” here can mean “whenever” and carries the idea that personal insults, physical abuse, or slander can come at anytime. It does not mean that the mistreatment will be constant, not even Jesus was constantly harassed, but that oppression will come to all who are righteous.
Insults may be direct or indirect verbal or actions of contempt. To insult means to revile, reproach or complain against. It literally means to “cast in one’s teeth.” It may range from being looked down upon by people who think you are being stupid to those that hate you deeply. After college I worked for the Los Angeles County Agriculture Department in a seasonal position and had applied for a full time position which was more in keeping with my degree and training. I had a good reputation with the department and was highly qualified for the position so they wanted to hire me, but they also wanted me to guarantee I would pursue a career with them. I said I could only guarantee them three to five years, but not a career because I wanted to finish seminary and then be open to whatever the Lord wanted me to do. That was not good enough, so the supervisor of our division came out to try to convince me to take their offer on their conditions arguing I would be foolish not to accept it since I could still take classes at night and still serve in a ministry in a church as he did (he was involved with drama at his Episcopalian church). I argued that my limited guarantee was better than their new hires that quit after a year, but he made it clear that being stubborn in placing God’s call on my life first was foolish in his eyes.
But insults can certainly be a lot stronger than that. Consider the insults so often hurled at the Apostle Paul. Some looked down on His physical appearance or said he could not speak well or that he was foolish (2 Corinthians 11). In Philippians, Paul even stated that there were those who were preaching the gospel “out of selfish ambition . . . thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment” (Philippians 1:17). Consider what happened to Jesus after he was arrested and was put on trial. He was spat upon, hit and taunted by those that hit Him saying, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit you?” (Matthew 26:67-68). The soldiers put a royal robe on Him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They would then hit Him in the face.
If you live righteously, the world will consider you a fool and often will treat you as such. You will be called names, you will be taunted and mocked, and you will be the butt of jokes. You will have insults cast against you.
Persecution includes harassment, oppression, and physical assualt escalating even to murder. When Jesus called upon His followers to take up their crosses and follow Him in Luke 9:23, they knew fully well what that meant, and it did not mean to get a nice piece of jewelry to wear around your neck. It meant being willing and ready to die, and die they did. Tradition holds that all of the apostles died as martyrs except John who was exiled to the Island of Patmos. James was executed by Herod (Acts. 12:2). Tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down. Andrew was crucified on an “X” shaped cross (St. Andrew’s Cross). Paul had his head cut off. After them the next generation also died as martyrs. Polycarp, who was mentored by John, said before being burned alive in a Roman Arena, “86 years I have served Him (Christ) and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my king?” For the next two hundred years the early Christians were often martyrs dying in the arenas as sport for the ungodly people watching. Killed by sword and spear by gladiators, eaten alive by lions, children wrapped in sheepskin and then torn apart by wild dogs, and others covered with pitch and burned as torches in Nero’s garden.
Such persecution continues today in many places around the world. There were more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than the previous 19 centuries combined, and the pace has not slackened. How many believers have died at the hands of atheistic communism? How many at the hands of totalitarian despots? How many at the hands of those entrapped in other religions – paganism, animism, idolatry, eastern mysticism, Hinduism, and Islam?
Persecution here in the United States is not as extreme as in other countries, but it does happen here too. On January 30, 2010, Stephen Ocean and Tite Sufra were murdered in Boynton Beach, Florida after witnessing to a man on the street near the library. More commonly in the United States, persecution takes the form of verbal abuse, losing promotions or work, having our constitutional rights attacked and being sued for standing up for righteousness.
Homosexual activists target Christians to try to force them to approve of their perversions. Masterpiece Baker in Colorado, photographers Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin in New Mexico, Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon, and Liberty Ridge Farm here in New York are just a few of the businesses that have faced threats, law suits, fines and / or boycotts to drive them out of business because they would not participate in a homosexual wedding or celebration. Last year California passed a law stripping tax-exempt status for youth organizations that refuse to accept all gender identities and sexual orientations throughout their organizations. This includes many Christian youth ministries.
The attack on Christian heritage and celebrations is well known. Every year there are threats and law suits concerning allowing Christmas decorations, celebrations and carols in public schools and other public facilities. The discrimination of Obamacare against Christians is also well known in trying to force them to have coverage for things they find morally abhorrent such as abortive contraceptives.
Consider also the lesser known cases that do not make the news including: People held back in company advancement or fired because they will not participate in unethical business practices; Students that are graded down because they write a paper reflecting God’s moral standards; Personal ostracism from co-workers, “friends” and neighbors because you will not participate in their dirty jokes, crude behavior, gossip, parties, or other immoral behavior.
Saying evil things against you falsely is slander and that has become common place even in America. It is part of the strategy to marginalize Christians so that society will accept greater persecution in the future. For several years there have been problems with Military and Federal government departments listing evangelical Christian organizations such as American Family Association as “extremist” and conservative Christians as potential terrorists. Entertainment media commonly portrays Christians as stupid and bigots.
Most of us are well aware that others will lie about us to gain an advantage. This is done even to the extreme of distorting and perverting our righteou
s deeds into horrible lies, but it has been this way from the beginning. The early Christians were accused not only of burning Rome, but also of cannibalism because they celebrated the “body and blood” of Christ, and of having sexual orgies because they had “love feasts.” Slander can arise from misunderstandings, but it is more often obvious and malicious twisting of the truth. Even Jesus was called a “glutton and drunkard” (Matthew 11:19).
We are to rejoice though insulted, persecuted and slandered. How?
First, you must remember your reward is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10). The beatitudes start and end with this same blessing. You are persecuted because you demonstrate the characteristics of true righteousness: Poor in Spirit, Mournful, Meek, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, Merciful, Pure in heart and Peacemaking. As you become more like Jesus, the world will react to you the same way it reacted to Him. As mentioned earlier, Jesus said in John 15:20, “A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you . . .”
You can also rejoice in the midst of the turmoil that comes with persecution that you will have a great reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12). You are laying up the gold, silver and precious stones that are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3 that bring glory to God and show your life is counting for eternity. You are fulfilling the purpose of your existence.
Persecution also puts you in association with the great prophets of the past who suffered these same things. Hebrews 11 points out many of these great men of God who suffered as examples for us: Abel, Noah, Joseph, Moses and those described in verse 36-38 as having “experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 ([men] of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”
The world is not worthy of these great men of faith, but the believer is to be worthy of them. Persecution verifies that you belong to the line of the righteous which is a reason to “rejoice and be glad” (caivrete ka;i ajgallia:sqe), an extreme joy. The joy is not that you are persecuted, for that is a cause of grief both personally and mourning over their sin. The joy is knowing that being persecuted for the sake of righteousness, suffering insult and slander because you reflect Jesus Christ means you are walking with the Lord as did the prophets before you and that heaven will be your home.
John Chrysotom was a godly man that became the foremost preacher in Constantinople in the fourth century. However, his preaching was uncompromising and soon he offended the corrupt Empress Eudoxia and other church officials. Chrysotom was threatened with banishment by Emperor Arcadius if he did not cease his uncompromising preaching. His response was, “Sire, you cannot banish me, for the world is my Father’s house.” He was then threatened with death, and he responded, “Nay, but you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God.” He was threatened that all his treasures would be taken away. Chrysotom replied, “Sire, that cannot be either. My treasures are in heaven, where none can break through and steal.” Finally the Emperor threatened, “Then I will drive you from man, and you will have no friends left!” Chrysotom answered, “That you can not do either, for I have a Friend in heaven who has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.'” Chrysotom was banished and died soon after, but none of the threats or the eventual reality of his banishment and death could take away what he valued most. He could rejoice even in the midst of persecution. Have you reached the point in your own walk with Christ that you could say the same thing?
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Count how many times a word for “persecution” is said. Talk with your parents about why Christians are persecuted and how you rejoice in the midst of it.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the theme of the Sermon on the Mount? How do the Beatitudes fit within that theme? How is the last Beatitude (Matthew 5:10-12) similar to the previous ones? How is it different? Why does 1 Peter have so many statements to make sure that any suffering incurred would be due to righteousness and not folly? What are some of the reasons other than righteousness that will bring persecution upon Christians and non-Christians alike? Why does true righteousness provoke persecution? Why has so much persecution of Christians come at the hands of others that profess to be Christians? What is the world’s reaction to those that strive to be like Jesus? Explain. Why does just the desire to live godly in Christ Jesus bring about persecution instead of only success at doing so? Define insult. How do the unrighteous insult the righteous? Has this happened to you? Explain. Define persecution. How have the righteous been persecuted throughout history? In the U.S. at the present time? What persecution have you experienced? Define slander. What is the purpose of slander? How have Christians been slandered in the U.S.? What blessings are given to those persecuted for the sake of righteousness / the name of Christ? Why should these be a cause of rejoicing? How does such persecution given an assurance that you are in the company of the prophets of old? How have you reacted to persecution so far? What might you do to prepare for future persecution? How does the reaction to persecution separate the truly righteousness from false professions.
Blessed Are the Persecuted
February 16, 2014 – Matthew 5:10-12
Throughout history, those who strive to live righteously have been _______________by the unrighteous
Why does ______________ result in persecution and how can that be a blessing?
The Beatitudes state the blessings given to those who have the ___________ character described
Matthew 5:10-12, states the blessings given to righteous who ______because of the world’s reaction to them
There is no blessing in being persecuted unless the suffering occurs for the sake of ________________
Persecution That Is Deserved
1 Peter 2:12 ____________________________________________________________________________
1 Peter 2:20 ____________________________________________________________________________
1 Peter 3:17 ____________________________________________________________________________
1 Peter 4:12-16 __________________________________________________________________________
Being persecuted is not a mark of spirituality if the suffering is due to your own __________ actions
Evangelists who are _______________will suff
er persecution because of their behavior and attitude
Obnoxious Christians _____________the name of Jesus Christ
Being a “fool for Christ’s sake” is good (1 Cor. 4:10), being self-righteous, a busybody or a ________is not
Suffering for a _____, even a religious one, is not the same as being persecuted for the sake of righteousness
Persecution That Is Undeserved
The Nature of Righteousness
True righteousness provokes the unrighteous because it _____________their sin and inadequacy
Much of Christianity has exchanged the gospel of Christ for substitutes that are ______________
______________and aberrant groups “Christians” will also persecute the righteous followers of Christ
The _________was suppressed during the “Dark Ages” by paganism, eastern religions, Islam and the R.C.C.
The world persecutes the righteous because they are becoming like __________in character – John 15:18-21
The more you are like Jesus, the more the world will ___________you
________________to live godly in Christ Jesus is enough to provoke persecution – 2 Timothy 3:12
Insults are direct or indirect verbal or actions of ________________
___________received many insults (2 Corinthians 11; Philippians 1:7) as did Jesus (Matthew 26:67-68
If you live righteously, expect the world to taunt, mock, ridicule and __________ at you.
Persecution includes harassment, ___________________, and physical assault escalating even to murder
To take up your cross (Luke 9:23) means to be willing to _______- and early Christians were often martyred
Persecution continues with more martyrdoms occurring in the ____________than all previous 19 combined
Persecution in the __________has included martyrdom, but is more often harassment, oppression and abuse
Christian businessmen are threatened, sued, fined and boycotted for not approving ____________ activities
Christian heritage and celebrations are increasingly __________________ from the public square
Obamacare forces Christians to pay for coverage they find _______________
Other persecution: no advancement, _________from work, student papers down graded, personal ostracism
Saying evil things against you _____________ is slander and is a means to marginalize Christians
Military and Federal departments have listed evangelical Christians as “extremist” and potential _________
Entertainment media commonly portrays Christians as stupid and _______________
Christians are maligned from both misunderstandings and purposely __________our deeds into horrible lies
The Beatitudes begin and end with the same blessing of the kingdom of _____________- a reason to rejoice
Persecution also brings the blessing of a greater ______________ in heaven
Persecution puts you in association with the _____________and great men of faith of the past – Hebrews 11
Persecution verifies that you belong to the line of the ___________which is a reason to “rejoice and be glad”
John Chrysotom could rejoice in the ________________of persecution – Can you do the same?
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