By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr.
"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon you……” (1 Pet 4:14).
“… if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4:16).
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12)
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him" (Jam. 1:12)
The persecution of God's Church is not new; throughout history God's true church has suffered persecution one time or another.
If we are God’s Church, we must necessarily suffer persecution. And the heavenly message is that we ought to rejoice, for the Spirit of glory rests upon us!!
The joy of the persecuted Church stems from the glorious defense she enjoys in the Lord.
"And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defense.
"And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain" (Isa. 4:5 – 6)
Halleluiah! The persecuted Church is not a defenseless Church; she enjoys divine protection:
"And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the child.
"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time from the face of the serpent.
"And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood-
"And the earth helped the woman and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth" (Rev. 12:13-16)
Through thick and thin God is with us – in the river, fire and hailstorm (Isa 43:2). The “Shekinah” glory on us is the envy of Satan and his people, and that is why they persecute us.
Rev. 12:1 pictures the persecuted church, the Woman, clothed with Divine glory thus:
"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars."
Notice! The woman clothed with the dazzling glory of the "sun of righteousness", Christ (Mai. 4:2), has the lesser power of the prince of darkness – the moon under her feel. (See Gen. 1:16).
No matter the persecution the devil instigates against God's people, he is under our feet; shortly the God of peace will crush him under our feet (Rom. 16:20).
As believers, we should always see persecution as the blessed assurance of victory. If we are persecuted because we will not compromise with the world or with false brethren, blessed are we! (Matt. 5:10-12). So did the saints before us endure and become victorious (Rev. 12:12).
We will not associate with false brethren and if we are persecuted for it, so be it! Christ wrote to the church in Smyrna:
"I know thy works and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not [false brethren] but are the synagogues of Satan.
"Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer, behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life" (Rev. 2:9-10).
For the truth's sake, the true Church endured persecution for 1260 years – 538 AD to 1798 AD (Rev. 13:14) – refusing to compromise with the paganized church of Rome (the broad way Mt. 7:13-14).
It is their faith we should emulate; the same Jesus who strengthened and protected them will do the same for us today (Heb. 13: 7 – 8).
"… The trying of our faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing". (Jam. 1: 3-4)
As believers, we must expect trial and persecution, but we must maintain our faith to the end for through much tribulation we will enter the kingdom of God. (Matt. 24:13; Acts 14:22).
Suffering to gain – or enduring persecution until victory – is the life of Christ we must live as believers (Luke 24:26; 1 Pet. 5:10). This life involves persecution but is not overcome by it:
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed but not in despair;
“Persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed;
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8 – 10).
This life starts off in weakness – as if conquered – but ultimately triumphs! (2 Cor. 12:9).
The Lord Jesus proclaims triumphantly;
“I am he that liveth, and was dead: and behold I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18; Heb. 2:14-15).
But what if Christ had not died or had feared to die?
“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”, so declares 2 Cor. 4:17 (NIV).
With this incomparable glory set before us, what then shall separate us from the love of God? "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? … Nay, in all things we are more than conquerors [over the persecutors and their troubles because we don't give up] through him that loved us [and strengthens us – Phil. 4:13]" (Rom. 8:35-39).
We are in a time of war; the tabernacle of David has been set up (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Acts 15:16-17; Eph. 6: 10-13).
King David's rule was marked by continual war and yes by continual victory too!
We will fight one battle after another, but we will win each one of them because of the
Commander in charge of our army–Christ, the New Testament King David (Luke 1:31-33).
We are destined to endure persecution, but we are also destined to emerge the victors all the time (2 Cor. 2:14).
For His Holy Name's sake we must suffer patiently until the victory destined for us becomes a reality (Acts 5:41).
The devil at this very end time is wroth with us, but he cannot overcome us; he has already been overcome by the blood of the Lamb. (Rev.12:11-12, 17).
Even at the time of the severest persecution of true believers under the world rule of the Beast, victory shall not be snatched from us:
"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God" (Rev. 15:2).
So let is rejoice in hope at this time of persecution, enduring it patiently, while constantly at prayer (Rom. 12:12)
We have overcome according to His sure word of promise (John 16:33).