“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11 NKJV
Every true “Mark 16:15-18” believer will suffer persecution, but there are blessings that come from being persecuted.
Blessing #1: Perfection
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV
Opposition and persecution make you look at yourself critically to know whether you are truly in the will of God in your life – in your attitude, your words, your actions and your direction. Measure yourself – not by man’s opinion – but by the standards set by the Word of God. Do not be selective in your scriptures, but receive the whole of God’s Word as though it were spoken directly to you. As you consider your own self and allow the Lord to prune your branches, you are refined and perfected in your faith.
Blessing #2: Establishment in the faith
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:11-12 NIV
Persecution will either drive you stronger into your faith in God or away from it. If you do not yield to the pressure, you will certainly come through stronger than before. We are also strengthened by each other’s faith as we stand together and stand strong through persecution. As the saying goes – what doesn’t kill you makes you better!
Blessing #3: Spiritual strength
Greek: sthenos (NT:4599), to bind together and strengthen so there will be no danger of warping, splitting, or falling apart. Only used here. The Lord – His Spirit and His Word – is the source of our strength through every, and any, trial and temptation we may face. Just as the muscles of our body are strengthened by exercise and use, so our spiritual strength is built and developed by use; by standing strong in the Lord.
Blessing #4: Becoming settled or grounded in the faith
Greek: themelioo (NT:2311), good foundation. To be settled means to not be moved. Being grounded in something means that you have become deeply familiar with it – you know that you know. Founded – grounded – in the faith. Nothing built, that stands the test of time, does so without a good, strong foundation. There are no shortcuts to a good foundation – it takes time, effort and skill. Your foundations are built and settled as you grow and are established through the tough times.
Blessing #5: Persecution helps to spread the Gospel further abroad
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. 4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. Acts 8:1-6 NKJV
Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Acts 11:19-21 NKJV
At the time that the Church was scattered by the persecution, they were most likely not too happy. However, it ended up in being highly beneficial because the Gospel was successfully preached in all the places they went to along the way.
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:12-14 NKJV
Even though Paul was in chains, he continued to boldly teach and preach the Gospel. This inspired the rest of the Church to be bolder and to preach with no fear. In this day and age, it seems that the Church will do anything to avoid persecution. They will even compromise God’s Word to be liked. This makes the Church weak. Persecution sorts the men out from the boys; it is a sifting process – each person will have to decide whose side they are on; because of this, persecution causes the Church to be strong and pure.