Through Many Tribulations (Part 4: Persecution)

Text: Acts 14:22

Paul and Barnabas encouraged the brethren to remain faithful to the Lord “through many tribulations” so they could reach the final reward of heaven. The kinds of tribulations that we may face could be unique to Christians or common to all people. Any of these tribulations could potentially derail our faith and cause us to come up short of the reward. So we need to prepare ourselves to make it through these tribulations to reach the eternal kingdom. This lesson will focus on the example of Paul and how he faced persecution.

The Persecution Faces by Paul

  • Paul suffered as a criminal (2 Timothy 2:9) – he willingly endured this (2 Timothy 2:10) for the sake of the elect and to obtain salvation (theirs and his – 2 Timothy 4:7-8)
  • Paul faced physical persecution for his faith (2 Corinthians 11:23-25)
  • Paul was in constant danger because of his faith (2 Corinthians 11:26)
  • Paul also endured attacks from false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:26)

The Persecution of Imprisonment and Abuse

  • Christians will face persecution for their faith (2 Timothy 3:12) – do not be surprised by it (1 Peter 4:12); it may take different forms with varying degrees of severity, but it is a reality; the goal of persecution is to get Christians to abandon their faith
  • Why physical persecution is a challenge to our faith – natural desire to avoid suffering (Ephesians 5:28-29); tempting to focus on what we can see over what we cannot see (2 Peter 3:3-4)
  • How to face physical persecution and remain faithful – remember the reward for being faithful until death (Revelation 2:10; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17); remember the sufferings of Christ and all that He endured (Hebrews 12:3)

The Constant Threat of Danger

  • Because persecution is a certainty, the threat of danger is always present
  • Why the threat of persecution is a challenge to our faith – we desire to have security (Genesis 34:30; cf. Matthew 24:43; Leviticus 25:18); we could be intimidated into inaction (Proverbs 22:13)
  • How to live under the threat of persecution and remain faithful – remember that God is for us (Romans 8:31) and we overwhelmingly conquer through Him (Romans 8:37); put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)

The Persecution from False Brethren

  • We know persecution is inevitable – sadly, sometimes it is directed toward us from false brethren; those who should be our allies have turned against us (Galatians 4:16)
  • Why attacks from false brethren are a challenge to our faith – they are often unexpected; brethren should be an encouragement to us (1 Thessalonians 5:11), so we could be unprepared to deal with them; we watch for the devil (1 Peter 5:8), yet his servants are often disguised (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
  • How to endure persecution from false brethren and remain faithful – remember that the Lord is with us (2 Timothy 4:17-18)

Conclusion

  • The Lord knew that Paul would suffer (Acts 9:16) – he willingly endured this (2 Timothy 2:10)
  • We will face persecution for our faith (2 Timothy 3:12) – when it comes, we must not be ashamed (1 Timothy 1:8); glorify God (1 Peter 4:16) and rejoice (Acts 5:40-41)

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