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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Do God's Choice Servants Have Such Persecution?

2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV) 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Why is that? Why should God's most faithful suffer persecution? Couldn't He make things go smoothly for those are seeking to live godly lives.

Of course, God could make everything go smoothly but He doesn't. Persecution comes to those who live godly lives.

God is not the author of evil but He allows evil to exist. He allowed Satan to live in the Garden of Eden. He allowed him to seduce Adam and Eve.

In fact, God has frequently allowed evil to oppose His servants. He allowed Pharoah to stand in Moses way. He allowed Jezebell to threaten Elijah. He allowed Saul to oppose David. And never forget that He allowed Judas to betray Jesus.

Persecution is a torment for one's beliefs. It is obviously volitional when a person is opposed for his faith. It often appears circumstantional when a person is treated harshly after committing his life to Christ. It seems that his commitment of godliness resulted in the opposition. Yet, that also seems to be God's pattern. He makes what He wants seem impossible.

Remember that God told Joseph in a dream that his brothers and father would bow down to him, then let him go through a terrible time which made his dreams seem impossible. God told Moses to lead the people out of Egypt and then let Moses go through a terrible time as Pharoah opposed him. He led them to the Red Sea and made their journey to the Promised Land look impossible. Even the first city the Israelites would conquer looked impossible at the beginning.

God stretches the faith of those who seek to live godly lives. He leads them to places that they would never have gone to do tasks that they would never have taken in order to make them totally depend upon Him.

Doesn't it seem strange that God would tell those who think they have surrendered all to him to surrender more? They have claimed a desire to fully follow after God. All that they know of themselves commits all they know how to commit. So, God allows persecution to intercede to increase what they know of themselves and deeped their commitment to Him.

I suppose I would rather tell stories of sugarplums and lollipops which follow those who want to live godly lives but it would simply be a lie. A person who follows hard after God will find that he must drink from the bitter cup of opposition. Then, he discovers whether or not he meant what he said when he said that he surrendered all.

Most of the time I want to want to live a godly life. I know that really seeking a godly life will result in persecution and, frankly, I like smooth sailing with the wind at my back. The struggles define my godliness. They bring me to the realization of who I am.

The question I must ask myself is: Am a ready to seek godliness or do I want to just keep hoping that I want it?  I am either choosing the stagnant Christian life or the one that is truly full of life but accompanied by persecution.

Today, I choose godliness.

Tomorrow, I am afraid I will have to make this decision again.

4 comments:

Anthony chia said...

Hi Prentis,

Very well put for this subject. Such, is good to be added to the pool of understanding in the internet reservoir of true faith knowledge and understanding. It sure helps to balance out those teachings along the opposite line, of "if it is hard, you are NOT doing the right stuff God is wanting you to do".

I just want to say a little bit more; more to crystalise my own understanding, in the words and way that I remember them, and continue to remind myself:

God is the knower of heart, yet He still tests the heart. Why? Why, if He knows the heart of a man, He still tests the heart? The Scripture said it right: Man's heart is very deceitful. In other words, you can never be too sure, what it will lead you to do, next, to put it a simple, "so to speak" way. It, the heart, needs to be tested so that whatever it claims, it will really go through with it; in other words, the resolves of the heart must be tested to make them strong. Only by testing, can the resolves of the heart be made strong. It is possible, one fails, but on repeated attempts to live through the same resolve, with the grace of God, the resolve could eventually grow so strong that it will NOT waiver.

When one's particular resolve is strong, one becomes reliable (in that one area), and when you have become reliable God could use you more and more.

Then, also, Scripture said that if you waiver, you are double minded, you are a like the wave of the sea; which direction you will go, is easily influenced by the wind that blows. God said you cannot expect to get things (including resource and responsibility) from Him if you are double minded.

When your desire is to live a godly life, you are bound to be tested. Well, "desire" can come from the flesh or it can come from the Holy Spirit. Whichever, when you hark to it, it translates into the desire in your own heart. Our heart is NOT just the recipient or receptacle of desires; it can give effect to the desires, through directing of our actions. Godly life desires come from the Holy Spirit, and ungodly ones, from Satan, working through the flesh that has been infested (with the Iniquity) through The Fall. So, primarily, Satan is going to get at you, when you are NOT giving effect to his desires, but to the desires of God which are always righteous, and so, persecution is inevitable, primarily, for this reason.

Why can't God just step in and arrest the persecution even before it becomes full-blown, you may ask! Actually, how do you know God never did? I believe God might have deflected some, but He just is NOT going to deflect them all.

A couple of years back there was a picture circulating in the internet, and emailed all over, showing a picture of a tall and big person in front of another person, and stones hitting the first person, with a few missing him and hitting the person behind. The first person or the person in front was held out to be Jesus, and the one behind, a believer, and there was a caption on the picture saying, "Are you alright? I might have missed a small piece." Then someone added this poser to the picture:"Jesus is doing His best.... You do yours ..." What is wrong with the picture with its caption? Also, what is wrong with the poser? Well, Jesus does NOT miss. God does NOT miss, if one came and hit you; it is because He allowed it. For the poser, it just insinuated Jesus is NOT capable enough to take care of all, and that is NOT right, either!

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Anthony Chia said...

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The picture does want to tell us something, only the caption and the poser should be changed. Indeed, God let some pass through to you, so that you can be tested, so that the particular resolves of your heart can be tested. God knows which to let through, as He assesses your spiritual growth. Scripture said that God does NOT test a man beyond what is common to men, and He will also provide a way out. If anything, often it can be a test of whether or NOT you truly know who you are, and what you are prepared and supposed to do. For one thing, having the picture in mind, are you putting on your armor that God said you are to. If you are, most likely you can handle the stone that came at you, and you definitely can, if you call on Jesus who is in front of you, referring the picture, that is.

Well, that picture also tells another story, and that story is that it is more likely it is NOT Jesus or God throwing the stones at you; in other words, it is God using what is happening in the fallen world to test you.

But make no mistake that although Scripture said that God does NOT tempt a person, He does test a person, either as discussed above, through using what is happening, or at times, He Himself, could test you as in, he brings forth a test.

It saddened my heart actually, last weekend, when I engaged one of my Healing Meeting Partners, in a discussion that began with the need to forgive (in our heart) of people who offended us, regardless, and then to release that forgiveness to the offender on prima facie repentance on the part of the offender, that the Partner moved the discussion in the direction of God does NOT test. You see, in the area of forgiveness, the resolve of the heart needs to be tested too; if you said, “I have forgiven so and so, in my heart”, but if the person is here before you, and says to you that he has since known that he was wrong and has repented, and asks for your forgiveness, and you will NOT release your forgiveness to him, it shows you have NOT really forgiven. And it can happen - that God will bring that person before you, to test you.

Now, this Partner argued at length that God does NOT test. “It is how man is, that he thinks God tests, and what will or will NOT happen, is all “already” happened, he citing Book of Revelation as support for holding such view that life is like a movie screened. No, life is NOT like a movie screened. No, life is NOT whatever will be, will be. Only things that God allowed to be prophesized, they will be fixed (the brother could hardly accept the use of this word, “fix”), for what God said will come to pass, must come to pass, but other than that, there is volition or man’s free-will at work, and God tweaks in real-time. It is because of this free-will of man or volition that the heart of man can be deceitful. Testing is aligning our will to the will of God; and testing is training us to be prepared to defer our will to the will of God.

Was it or was it NOT a test of God when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Of course it was. It was clearly a case of God directly brought forth a test for Abraham. It was to test Abraham’s faith, his heart particular resolve – of whether he was willing to give to God that which was precious to him, if God wanted it.

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Anthony Chia said...

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Another angle at this subject: Mature Christians are careful to say things along the line, “God loves his children, and so they will NOT suffer”; rather they would be (should be) more often teaching this: “God loves his children, yet ultimately He can only love you and I, unto righteousness”. Righteousness is everything; without it, you are unlike God, and when you are unlike God, you cannot expect to be able to subsist with God (stay in presence, like be in Heaven with Him) without soon incurring His wrath. Yes, we have imputed righteousness from Christ Jesus, but we also need to be volitionally righteous. There are only a handful of “The life of a believer is to ….”, like the life of a believer is to know Him more and more; and the life of a believer is to be tested, and to be refined till he is volitionally righteous; in other words, until each time and every time, he will choose righteousness over all else.

What does Romans 14:17 said the Kingdom of God is about? Yes, it is about righteousness; and because God loves, he uses whatever it takes (suffering and persecution, included) to get you to be trained to be volitionally righteous, so that He could use you, so that you could subsist with Him, and so, eventually, you will be at home in Heaven with Him. “Those He loves, He chastises”, is also about this same subject. The aim is our godliness, our righteousness, our holiness, without which we cannot see God and be with God.

May God greatly use this entry and comment to teach his people all around the world.

Y Watts said...

I like this. . .I live this. Truth is so refreshing to hear. Thank you.