Prepared For Persecution John 16:1-4

Text:  “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  Thou therefore (a conclusion) endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:2-3.

Good morning, well prepared Christian!  When the ever-present persecution promised to you and to me comes - are we ready to endure it; learn from it; and grow stronger as a consequence of it?  Praise God for well prepared Christians!

“Yea, and ALL that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue thou in the things which thou has learned and been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”  (2 Timothy 3:12-14)

The words Jesus taught His disciples in the opening verses of John Chapter 16 must have brought great fear and dread to their all too fallible hearts.  However, the Lord Jesus deemed this teaching most necessary to the well-being of His initial followers whom He was about to leave here on earth.

The lessons Jesus taught His initial disciples are still most necessary for ’end times’ Christians today.  We do well to learn these lessons again.

First, the Lord Jesus explains His reason for revealing such hard truths to His followers - ‘…that ye should not be offended…’, or too deeply upset. (V.1)

What Christ then prophesied must have made the disciples’ hearts shiver with dread:  “They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God a service.”  (V.2)

We do well to acquaint ourselves with the knowledge of how Christ’s disciples died.  We latter-day Christians must also be well prepared for such possibilities.  Be prepared, dear friend, there are bad times coming.  There are very bad times coming real soon!  Be prepared!

Do You Know How the Disciples Died?

1.  Matthew:  Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia - killed by a sword wound.

2.  Mark:  Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.

3.  Luke:  Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.

4.  John:    Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome.  However, he was miraculously delivered from death.  John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos.  He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos . The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey . He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

5.  Peter:  He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross.  According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.

6.  James (the Just):    The leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club.

7.  James (the Great):  The son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry.  As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem.  (Tradition teaches that the Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.)

8.  Bartholomew:  Also known as Nathaniel was a missionary to Asia.  He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey.  Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.

9.  Andrew:   Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece.  After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony.  His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: “I have long desired and expected this happy hour.  The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.”  He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.

10.  Thomas:   Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.

11.  Jude:  Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

12.  Matthias:  The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.

13.  Paul:    Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A..D. 67.  Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.

Thought:  We talk the talk - but are we prepared to walk the walk?  Lord, help us!

Testing One’s Love for God John 15:16-27

Text:  “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are NOT of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore (a Godly conclusion) the world hateth you.”

John 15:19.

Good morning, hated Christian!  No matter how much you go out of your way to show love to the world around you - you are utterly detested.  No matter how many good deeds you do for the unsaved world around you - you are hated by those whom you seek to help.  

Naturally, you would like the world of the unsaved in whose neighbourhood you live to like you, or at least tolerate you, and treat you with equal levels of neighbourly kindness - but, if God’s Word be truth, that will never be achieved, not as long as you and I seek to show love to the Lord God by obeying His commandments.  Fact!

“If the world (the unsaved all around us) hate you, ye know that it hated Me (Christ Jesus) before it hated you.”  (V.18)

If you and I are trying hard to live as Christ-like a life as we can - to bring glory to our Lord and Saviour - then the logical outcome for us is to incur the hatred of the world.  The natural side of us would just love the unsaved world in our neighbourhoods to ‘…speak well of…’ us, but if they do, then clearly we are not the ‘salt and light’ our Lord has called us to be!

“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!  For so did their fathers to the FALSE prophets.  But I (Christ Jesus) say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”  (Luke 6:26-28)

It is a Scriptural fact that sincere and active servants of the Lord Jesus Christ are seen by the worldlings all around us as ‘Christian spoilsports’!  Our very presence tends to spoil what the world enjoys as daily ‘sport‘: binge-drinking alcohol; foul and lewd talk; taking ‘recreational drugs’; sexual promiscuity; pornographic film-watching; all night revelry and general carnal debauchery.

Definition: Revel - (verb) to feast or make merry, especially in a riotous or noisy manner; to take intense delight in revelry. (The Chambers Dictionary page 1411)

The morals of Western societies have plummeted to an all time low!  There was more morality in the behaviour of Sodom and Gomorrah than there is in many of our local neighbourhoods today!  We are living in social disgrace!

“In those days there was no king (moral authority) in Israel, but every man/woman did that which was right in his/her own eyes.”  (Judges 17:6)

Verse fifteen of our Bible reading today clearly teaches us that the Lord God, in His own wisdom and grace, has chosen us to be saved.  We have NOT chosen to make ourselves known to the Living Lord God.  He has made Himself known to us, in the incarnation of the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.  God reveals Himself through His Word - His Word is truth!

“Sanctify (set them apart, save them, cleanse) them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.”  (John 17:17)

“Seeing that ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit (capital S!) unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.”  (1 Peter 1:22-23)

God the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) empowers us to ‘…purify our souls in obeying the truth…’.

Therefore, we can test the quality of our love for the Lord God by the level of obedience we exercise in a consistent manner day by day.

We can also test our love for the Lord God by the level of love that we manifest towards other Christian believers.

“These things I command you, that ye love one another.”  (V.17)

We can further test our love for the Lord God by the level of hatred the world manifests towards us - “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me (Christ Jesus) before it hated you.”  (V.18)  Does the world hate you and I?

We prove the depth of our love for Christ by the level of persecution we receive from the world that hates us, because it hates our Saviour, Jesus Christ!  In this manner, what the world desires for our hurt, actually encourages us in ’…the faith once delivered unto the saints…’  Praise God!

Thought:  Do you and I love God?  Is there daily proof of this love?  If so, rejoice, dear Christian, the world’s hatred proves God’s love for us, 'His people'.

‘…Continue Ye In My Love…’ John 15:9-15

Text:  “As the Father hath loved Me (Christ Jesus), so have I loved you (born again believers); continue ye in My love.”

John 15:9.

 Good morning, well-beloved Christian!  As God the Father loved, loves, and has always loved His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus - in this same Divine manner, God the Son loves you and me.  Hallelujah!  We are loved of God.

“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God IS love.”           (1 John 4:7-8)

Now, while most of us are perfectly sure that the Lord God loves us, the more profound question we often ask ourselves is this: do we love God?  And if so, how do we prove to ourselves that we actually love God?

We love Him (the Lord God), because He first loved us.”  (1 John 4:19)

The Lord God Almighty is the infinite source of LOVE; and it is His Divine love that has caused us to love Him in return - through the Divine revelation of God in human form, Christ Jesus.  Our love is totally inspired of Him.

We would never have desired to know and love the Lord God had He not drawn our very souls unto Himself, by His Divine cords of Eternal love.

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”   (Jeremiah 31:3)

“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My Son out of Egypt…I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.”  (Hosea 11:1; 4)

Almighty God’s love is manifested clearly in the Cross of His dear Son, Christ Jesus - Whom the Father sent to suffer in our place and die to save us from our vile sins.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God is, therefore, the epitome of true and Divine LOVE.  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour Lord we have in Him!

“For God so loved the world (elect sinners of every nation), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (trusts, and continually trusts) in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16)

God’s love for you and for me is therefore clearly proven from Spirit-inspired Scriptures.  But how can we prove our love for Him?

Today’s brief Bible reading clearly teaches us the only way we have of proving to ourselves whether or not we actually love the Living God.  Christ Jesus here teaches us that His Father loves Him; and that He loves us; and that we can actually prove our love for Him by ‘…continuing in His love…’  

We ‘…continue in Christ’s love…’ by continually seeking to be obedient to His written commandments; His clearly set forth teachings; living our lives in His Spirit of truth and love.  We prove our love for God by our obedience.

“IF ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”  (V.10)

The ‘IF’ in this teaching of Christ denotes a condition He is setting down for us to fulfil before we can claim the promise of abiding love which follows.

“For all the promises of God in Him (Christ Jesus) are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”  (2 Corinthians 1:20)

In other words, ‘Have we fulfilled God’s condition of being in Christ?’  Yea, we have.  Then, having fulfilled God’s set condition - we are ‘in Christ’, and seeking to obey His commandments - we can therefore claim all the promises of God contained in His Word to us, His Blood-bought children. 

We can prove we love God in this manner, IF we obey His commandments and are ‘…hidden in Christ Jesus…’  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!

“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be HID in the day of the Lord’s anger.”  (Zephaniah 2:3)

“Blessed (blessed with blessings) is he/she whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man/woman unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”  (Psalm 32:1-2)  (See the Doctrine of Imputation)

“Ye are My friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command you.”  (V.14)

Thought:  Do we love Christ?  If so, let us obey His Commandments.