THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 6-12-05

LESSON TITLE: "THE CHRISTIAN BEATITUDES: BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE"

WELCOME

The Psalmist once proclaimed, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God," (20:7) So where do you place your trust on this wondrous Lord's Day? Who's name do you remember as first and foremost in your daily life?

Thank you so much for joining us this day for this time of Worship to our God. We are also thankful for this opportunity to assembly before God's throne and to study His Living Word. It is my prayer that we are all doing our best, today and every day, to accomplish everything according to God's precious will and His eternal purpose. Won't you do your part this morning so that God may truly be praised and so that all we offer toward our God will be done in spirit and in truth.

With these thoughts in mind, will you bow with me before His almighty throne in prayer.

(PRAYER)

Now let's join in our first song of the morning. It reminds us of the place we need to go to find the greatest teachings available in this life. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Savior, Teach Me."

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

There are two words which are sharply contrasted in the scriptures: faith and sight! In fact, in 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul said, "For we walk by faith, and not by sight." I am afraid that many in our day and time do not really understand the fact that we are not to base our faith in God on that which is seen.

To understand our discussion more, we might consider the definition for faith, given to us in Hebrews 11:1. There God says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Sound familiar? Faith is founded in those things from God which we hope for. They are real and they do have substance. However, the reality is that these things which are hoped for are not things which can actually be seen. The evidences which confirm our faith are not actually visible.

Another verse we want to consider is found in 2 Corinthians 4:18. Paul further states, "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." Again, we have the same fact proclaimed. As those who love and believe in God, we are not looking for the visible things which are simply temporary and passing away. Rather, as God's children, we are looking toward those things which are not seen, and are of a spiritual nature - thus being of a spiritual nature they are eternal.

You see, we have a clear distinction here between God, His Will and the spiritual. On the other hand, we see by sight the world and that which is in it, which is only temporary and will eventually pass away!

So what type of faith do you have in God? Is it based on the invisible proofs from God's Word which fully confirm that God exists, He is real, and He will do all that He has proclaimed. Or have you based your faith in things which are seen and passing? Therefore your faith is very shaky, wavering, and moved with those things which are visible to your sight. Chose today to be founded in the things of God and to build your faith in that which is not seen, just as God has commanded!

As far as our main study of the day, we will be concluding our discussion on the Christian Beatitudes. Our specific lesson of the morning will deal with the final beatitude, "Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted For Righteousness Sake...!" So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will be leading us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "More Holiness Give Me."

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Ray Sullins

The Christian Beatitudes. How exciting it is now for several months to be concluding this study together. We've had a great study in relationship to the things that Christ here stated to His disciples that they must do, those believers in God, that they should do in order that they would be pleasing to God, the Father Almighty. In fact, we have looked at so many things that not only are characteristic of the follower of God but also the blessings, the outcomes, if you will, of those who do such things as God have ascribed.

Today, we want to continue to look here together in the same text, Matthew chapter 5, and we want to look together in verse 10 at this final Beatitude where it says, "Blessed or happy are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Notice there, blessed. Blessed, happy are who? Who now is happy before God? The one who is persecuted for righteousness sake. In fact, verse 11 goes on to say, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you for My sake." Again here we find the concept of some kind of a suffering, an endurance that will have to take place of things that will be done against us.

And so now we look at all of these Beatitudes, here the 8th one, but the first three again kind of in conjunction with what God desires for us to do for Him, having a poor spirit and being mournful, understanding the stake, the humility that we must have in order that we be His true followers, that we be meek as He is meek.

And then we also looked at our reaction towards others and our reaction in this world as far as even hungering and thirsting after righteousness and having a great desire to want to want to be an individual who again exemplifies things such as being merciful as God is merciful and being able to have a heart that is pure and being a peace maker, but now, now notice this 8th one is really a trial type of happiness, or a temptation because of persecution, that which is done against us. Why? Because we love God.

I want you to notice with me the many great lessons that are being taught here, encouraged in our lives that we might understand what persecution truly is. I want you first of all to turn over to the book of Peter with me. There in 1 Peter chapter 2 we find Peter dealing with this same concept and here helping us to understand that again persecution was something that not only we have to endure but we have to endure it because someone was willing to endure it even before we were commanded to. In 1 Peter again there in chapter 2 beginning in verse 1 the Bible says, "For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that you should follow in His footsteps, who committed no sin, nor was the seed found in His mouth who when He was reviled did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously." Here we have a great example of Jesus leaving an example who did what? Suffer. The first thing He did was suffer. What was the greatest price that He paid? His own life. To what extent was Christ willing to go? To give His own life for you and me. I would say that's pretty good suffering the persecution at the hands of God's own people as the Jews of that time killed Christ and placed Him on the cross. I'd call that persecution. I'd call that a humility, a great love, an endurance, a willingness to suffer, and even when being reviled not to revile again, or when being harmed or hurt or spit on, not to spit back. Here we find God, a God in the flesh, Jesus who suffered.

What about in Matthew chapter 4? Jesus there tempted of the devil. He suffered. He suffered in physical ways as He was so hungry after so many days of fasting. He suffered in spiritual ways as He was being tempted by the devil to have more, to be able to enjoy more of this life. The same idea that we often find there in 1 John chapter 2 and verse 16. In fact, several verses there beginning in 14-16 talked about that we cannot love the world. In fact, it goes on to say, "because in the world there are three kinds of lust." It talks about "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life," that Jesus, as scripture tells us, was tempted in all these ways like we are, suffered like we suffer in all these areas. Yet, what is the difference? He did not sin.

So happy is the one who suffers, who is persecuted. Happy is he because even Christ set the example that we must suffer. But why do we suffer? Does God make us suffer? Does God really want us to suffer? Well, isn't it the fact that God made the world and He created things and He has set things in order even in motion, if you will, in the fact that the world just has things that take place. In nature, the weather is sometimes and often unpredictable, things that can take place that are very scary and even dangerous and even life threatening at times. Not only that, but the idea of how there's evil in this world and there are those who would deceive us and lead us away from God. There are many things in this world that are a part of the world especially the evil part of the world that would draw us away from God. So it is not necessarily the fact that God wants us to fall. Certainly He does not. He wants us to follow Him. It's not the fact that God wants us really to be tempted. It's the fact that this temptation has to be there, has to be ready in order that the choice that we make can be clear. Do we choose God or do we choose Satan and evil? Do we choose the blessed happiness of enduring persecution for God's sake or do we enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season? Here again we learn the great mysteries of scripture, the great wonders of the Bible that teach us that although the world will hate us and desire that we would turn away from our God, we must not. We must endure the temptations. We must endure the persecutions that come when we do stand up against those things that are contrary to the Will of God.

What about materialism? That is another issue in our day and time in the world that we live. There's so much that we can have, so many temptations that are laid out there before us, so many things that we can grab hold of that take priority and precedent often in our lives even over God. Temptation. The suffering that can come when we are tempted, when we fall into that temptation, when we are persecuted. But brethren, I want you to notice with me, friends, I want you to see the truth that truly our desire, our want must be that we strive to be like God. I want you to turn to another verse with me there in 2 Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians chapter 6, there beginning in verse 14, we again understand this very concept of where we must find our common goals and interests, where we must be unified. The verse there beginning in verse 14 states, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers for what fellowship has righteousness with what? Lawlessness. What communion has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? And what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the Living God as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be My people." Notice here what's the point. What is it that we must be willing to do as we endure persecution? Come out of the world, to get away from the world and know that we are the temple of God and thus being the temple of God, sin cannot exist. Light has no place with darkness. God's temple has no place with idols or the things of this world. In fact, he goes on to say in verse 17, "Come out and be separate from among them. Do not touch that which is unclean and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. If we are God's, if we obey Him, if we put Him first, if we show our love to Him through obedience and endure these things, these trials and temptation and testers in this world, certainly again what is ours? The great promises and blessings of God.

I want you also to notice in our text that really clarifies here what type of persecution, not just any type of persecution. Although anytime we are certainly persecuted, God is there to help us and care for us and lift us up. But what kind of persecution specifically? Blessed are those who are persecuted for what? Righteousness sake. Many examples in scriptures of disciples even the apostles being persecuted. Stephen stands out in my mind as a man who was persecuted and even died for righteousness sake. But here it says, "Happy are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake," for godly purposes or reasons. Now that almost doesn't make sense. How can we be happy when we are being persecuted because of our love and our faith and our obedience for God? Because when we are persecuted for God's sake, guess what? We are lifted up. We are blessed by God. We are glorified and we should praise His name because when we are persecuted in His name and when we endure it, then He blesses and blesses and blesses. He makes us happy and happier and happiest because we are truly His servants as His children.

In 1 Peter again, chapter 4 if we'll look there again, in verse 12 beginning it talks about how that we should not think it is strange that there are fiery darts coming against us that somehow try to lead us away from Christ. "Don't find it strange," verse 13 of chapter 4, "that we are somehow sufferers with Christ, that we are reproached in His name, that there are evildoers and busybodies who are after us," verse 15, but verse 16 hear it, "yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in this matter." Glorify, glorify God that we suffer for righteousness sake. Why? because He blesses us. He blesses us and I think no better verse helps us with that in truly understanding what is found there in the book of James. In fact, we might almost see the parallel concept of what we've read there in the Sermon on the Mount there in Matthew chapter 5, "Blessed is he who is persecuted for righteousness sake." Hear what James said there in James chapter 1 and verse 12, "Blessed (the same word) is the man who endures temptation." Notice the idea of happy is the man who endures the sufferings and these persecutions for righteousness sake." In fact, notice what he says, "For when he has been approve...", when he has been found faithful, when we have endured and we have been able to be seen by God as one who has endured and we have stood strong, what then is the outcome? I want you to hear it there in the same verse. He goes on in verse 12 there of James 1 to say, "...he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." Notice how we love God. We love Him by enduring temptation until the time we are approved through our faithfulness. Love has always been attached to obedience, to a faithfulness and action and word. So here again we find such a beautiful passage that gives us the blessings of God. God knows we love Him and guess what. When He knows that we love Him through our actions and words, what does He do? He promises us the crown of life. He promises us the mansion over the hilltop, the heavenly home, the beautiful opportunity to live eternally on high with God and all those faithful who have gone on before.

Well you see that should not be strange to us because we can go back to our main text in Matthew 5 and we can read again from verse 10 of our text this day, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (and hear this) for theirs is (what?) the kingdom of heaven." The kingdom of God. The kingdom of the Lord. Theirs is the kingdom... You see, if we are in the kingdom, guess what. We're saved. If we're in the kingdom, we're in the church. In fact, in Corinthians again it tells us in 1 Corinthians that it is that kingdom someday that will be what? Delivered back to the Father when He comes again to receive His own at the end of time. You see here again how exciting it is to understand the scriptures and understand that there is a reason to endure persecution. There's a reason to go through the trials and the tribulations which we do. There is a purpose that God has and there are blessings that will be ours as we are on this earth that He will even help us to endure these things but then give us gifts and help us and provide for us in this life with what we have need of. But ultimately what will He give us? Eternal life.

I want you also to notice there in that same text, Matthew 5, what He goes on to say down in verse 12 as He now adds this fact, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward." Rejoice and be exceedingly glad why? You are being persecuted. Those are doing evil against you, speaking against you, ugly against you. That's what He's just been speaking about. He says, "Rejoice and be glad because (what?) your reward is in heaven. You have been made a part of the kingdom of heaven and you're ultimate reward is in eternal life, that is found there in heaven." Heaven where God the Father is. And then it says, "For so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Don't think it strange again. Don't think it strange that you suffer because Christ suffered. As we read here, don't think it strange that you suffered and those who were before Him, John the Baptist and others also suffered. Don't think it strange that you suffer because Christ suffered and the prophets suffered and then also as we back up, not only the prophets but the kings, the faithful kings suffered, and not only the kings, but Israel suffered. On and on and on we could go. Those who are faithful to God will suffer at the hands of an evil world, a world that pleads with us and tugs and pulls to bring us away from that righteousness in order that we might turn away from God. But what does it say? Blessed, happy is he who is persecuted for righteousness sake because when he endures, when he is strong, when he has been found faithful, when he has been able to fulfill all those things that are God's that are according to His glory, how precious that is. The kingdom of heaven is his. The reward of eternal life in heaven is his.

I want you to hear then again this passage with me as Jesus opened His mouth beginning in verse 3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when you are reviled and persecuted and they say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My name's sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven for so they persecuted the prophets which were before you."

Be strong in the Lord and be happy in the Lord no matter what comes your way because as long as God is on your side, you will be able to endure and ultimately as we have seen you will be blessed as His child not only in this life, but ultimately blessed with eternal life in heaven someday.

(SONG # 3 - "All The Way My Savior Leads Me!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this worship to God!

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Truly we are blessed if we endure persecution for the sake of God. In fact, what better way can we show God we love Him than to endure suffering on His behalf. To God be the glory!

(Program closing)