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Eternity 114 - Persecution And The Kingdom Of Heaven Part Two

(Matthew 10:28 NKJV) "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

WHY WE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID

Persecution is a paradox - our enemies may kill us, but they can do us no harm! Luke puts the paradox very plainly: (Luke 21:16-18 NKJV) "You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. {17} "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. {18} "But not a hair of your head shall be lost. (They kill you..but not a hair of your head will be lost) see also 1 John 5;18,19. This is because God seems to have a "back-up copy" and you will be fully restored at the resurrection - down to the last hair on your head which is numbered! (Luke 12;7, Matthew 10:30)They might chop off your head, boil you in oil and burn you to ash but your every detail will be restored down to hair follicle number 345672 on the left temple in a glorious resurrection body!

Thus we are not to fear man because people cannot do us final and irrevocable spiritual harm: (Matthew 10:28-31 NKJV) "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. {29} "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. {30} "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. {31} "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

We are not to fear "those who can kill the body". That is highly unnatural. If someone holds a bazooka to my head it would take a real infilling of the Holy Spirit and a new nature not to be afraid, but that is what Jesus asks of us. Jesus tells us not to be afraid of secret police, spies, torturers, executioners, corrupt police, burglars and terrorists. Rather we are to fearlessly obey the commandments of God under all circumstances. In the end we are on the winning side:(Revelation 11:15 NKJV) Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

And in the Millennium when this earth is regenerated and renewed we shall even have all our possessions restored a hundred fold: (Matthew 19:28-30 NKJV) So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. {29} "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. {30} "But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

HOW WE SHOULD RESPOND

While we are not to fear, we are to flee! (Matthew 10:23 NKJV) "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. ... (Matthew 24:16 NKJV) "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Even Jesus used discretion about where He ministered. (John 7:1 NKJV) saving His death until the right time ordained by God when He set His face like flint and went to Jerusalem. This is practical common-sense and meant for me that after a certain threat level was reached I moved from Mindanao to Manila.

We are to overcome our fear and our visceral "fight-or-flight" response by praying for those who persecute us, blessing them, doing them good and living out of a new and different nature that dwells in love. (Matthew 5:44-48 NKJV) "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, {45} "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? {48} "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We are not to react to them but rather to act upon them with spiritual authority and power. This does not mean that we are wimps, rather we may speak plainly and boldly as Jesus, Stephen and Paul did when facing their persecutors. Thus we are not to b violent or timid but spiritual and strong. (Luke 12:11-12 NKJV) "Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. {12} "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

Yet we are not to be Christian masochists but to avoid persecution where possible and to pray for our governments that we may be free from persecution and freely able to preach the gospel so that people can be saved: (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV) Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, {2} for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. {3} For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, {4} who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

CONCLUSION

The Kingdom of Heaven is in opposition to "the kingdoms of this world' over which it will eventually triumph. We are in a war and as effective '"salt and light" Christians we face persecution. But the weapons of our warfare are not bombs and bullets but prayers and blessings, weapons that will pull down spiritual strongholds. (2 Cor 10:3-5) Persecution for righteousness sake (not for folly or criminality) is a sign that we have been considered worthy of the Kingdom, brings great eternal reward and helps us to grow into people whose love is perfected even to the love of one's enemies. Persecution cannot do us any final irrevocable harm and we will triumph over it in the end. Yet we are to be sensible and avoid it where possible and to pray to be able to live a godly and quite life in all reverence.