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persecution

History of persecution of Godly people

The first great Biblical persecution of true followers of God of which we have any record are the events that broke out against the worshippers of God among the Jews in the days of King Ahab. At the instigation of his wife Queen Jezebel, they sought in the most relentless manner to utterly wipe out worship of Jehovah and substitute in its place the worship of Ashtoreth and Baal.

King Ahab’s example in this respect was followed by King Manasseh, who “shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (2 Kings 21:16; compare 2 Kings 24:4).

In all ages, in one form or another, the people of God have had to suffer persecution. In its earliest history, the Christian church passed through many bloody persecutions.

In the second and third centuries an unbelieving world often looked on with wonder as the Christians submitted to torment rather than renounce their faith. Nor were spectators more impressed by the amount of suffering sustained by the confessors and the martyrs, than by the spirit with which they endured their trials. They approached their tortures in no temper of dogged obstinacy or sullen defiance. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer in so good a cause. They manifested a self-possession, a meekness of wisdom, a gentleness, and a cheerfulness, at which the multitude were amazed. Nor were these proofs of Christian magnanimity confined to any one class of the sufferers. Children and delicate females, illiterate artisans and poor slaves, sometimes evinced as much intrepidity and decision as hoary-headed pastors. It thus appeared that the victims of intolerance were upheld by a power which was divine, and of which philosophy could give no explanation. —William Dool Killen, The Ancient Church

In subsequent centuries, wicked behavior against follower of Jesus Christ has taken place in many lands. Today, the world’s most persecuted minority is Christians of all races. This will continue and intensify until the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation.

True Christians are to forgive

In God’s sight, it is totally unacceptable for a Christian to refuse to forgive others. Remember the parable of the master who forgave a guilty man who owed him an amount so enormous that he could never hope to pay it back? The master completely forgave him. But, afterward, that forgiven man roughly grabbed another who owed him a very small amount, and allowed him no time to repay—showed him no mercy—and threw him into prison. When the master heard of this, he was FURIOUS and his punishment was swift.

In that parable, the Master represents God. And the forgiven man represents you—if you have similarly FAILED to forgive another, when Christ’s blood has paid your unpayable debt to God, and He has forgiven you for everything you have ever done wrong—and for your continuing failures to do everything that is truly right and good.

Therefore, we have a responsibility to be humble, forgiving, loving servants of God.

“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship…can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…” —Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Revenge is forbidden

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” —1 Peter 3:9

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge. I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” —Hebrews 10:30

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. —Romans 12:2

Never force people to accept the Gospel

Christians are forbidden to seek the propagation of the gospel by force (Matthew 7:1; Luke 9:54-56; Romans 14:4; James 4:11-12).

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Article Version: July 2, 2021