Secure in the Kingdom
Sermon Text: Matthew 5:10
Sermon Theme: Those persecuted for righteousness’ sake are secure in the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they which are persecuted,… Not for any crimes they have done, for unrighteousness and iniquity, as murderers, thieves, and evildoers, but for righteousness sake: on account of their righteous and godly conversation, which brings upon them the hatred and enmity of the men of the world: for saints, by living righteously, separate themselves from them, and profess themselves not to belong to them; their religious life sets a brand upon, and distinguishes other persons; yea, it reproves and condemns their wicked lives and practices; and this fills them with wrath against them, and puts them on persecuting them: or by “righteousness” may be meant, a righteous cause, the cause of Christ and his Gospel; for by making a profession of Christ, showing a concern for his interest, and by engaging in a vindication of his person and truths, saints expose themselves to the rage and persecution of men: and particularly, they are persecuted for preaching, maintaining, or embracing, the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ; because it is not of man, nor agreeable to the carnal reason of man; it is opposite to the way of justification, which men naturally receive; it excludes boasting, and is contrary to their carnal and selfish principles: persecution is either verbal with the tongue, by cruel mocking and reproachful language; or real, by deeds, such as confiscation of goods, banishment, imprisonment of body, and innumerable sorts of death: the latter seems here more especially designed, and both are expressed in the following verse; and yet the saints, though thus used, or rather abused, are happy;
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; not only the Gospel, and the ministration of it, which belongs to them. “The poor have the Gospel preached”: it not only reaches their ears, but their hearts; it enters into them, is applied unto them, they receive and embrace it with the utmost joy and gladness; but eternal glory, this is prepared for them, and given to them; they are born heirs of it, have a right unto it, are making meet for it, and shall enjoy it.
(From Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
- Do you think that Kingdom honor should be granted as compensation for the unfairness of life? When tragedy comes will we not say, “Why me, Lord?” When our suffering is for Christ’s sake in actively pursuing true kingdom righteousness we not only will not complain or feel ashamed but will glorify God for it (1 Peter 4:16). Jesus did not offer the kingdom of heaven as a blanket blessing to all victims of persecution everywhere for all causes. He offered it only to those who are persecuted because of godly righteousness and because of Him.
- The Beatitudes show a categories of people that no one would normally want to be, because no one would normally think of them as “blessed.” In fact, it’s a list of people who are, from the perspective of our normal understanding of blessedness, obviously not blessed in that first century world – and, for that matter, in our twenty-first century world. Who wants to be persecuted? Who wants the promises that Jesus gave to His followers that they would receive the same hostility that he was facing (John 15:18–25)? Peter also spoke often of unjust suffering (1 Peter 1:6; 3:13–17; 4:12–19). But, to suffer for doing what God requires brings great consolation and assurance of our salvation. For persecution is one of the surest and most tangible evidences of salvation. Persecution is not incidental to faithful Christian living but is certain evidence of it. To live a redeemed life to its fullest is to invite and to expect resentment and reaction from the world.
- How, it may be asked, could such beautiful features of godly character as shown in the Beatitude provoke persecution? To this the following answers should suffice:
- “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:20).
- “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).
- “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).
- “There is yet one man (said wicked Ahab to good Jehoshaphat) by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil” (2 Chronicles 18:7).
- Are there any attitudes or behaviors that would have made people say, “He’s no different than me,” or did I exhibit a Spirit-empowered life that is being transformed to Christ’s image? We are not to provoke persecution by strange sentiments or conduct; by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be Christians, and to live the life of Christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is an evidence that we are the children of God, and that He will defend us. For “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
- Did I live my life so radically for Christ that I was noticeably different from others? Being poor in spirit reflects the right attitude we should have to our sinful condition, which then should lead us to mourn, to be meek and gentle, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful, pure in heart, and have a peacemaking spirit. A Christian who has all those qualities will be so far above the level of the world that his life will rebuke the world—which will bring persecution from the world and light to the world.
- Have you taken the responsibility to support your brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer persecution? We should do this with the awareness that “while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” (2 Timothy 3:13) there may be a day coming when we are the ones standing in the need of help and prayer.
- Was I persecuted or ridiculed for my faith? Am I experiencing Christ more through any suffering? For those who belong to His kingdom are people full of eager aspirations, bent on heart purity, given to efforts for the good of others, ready even to suffer the loss of all things for truth and righteousness’ sake. Believer will have the attitude of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ.
- Are you willing to live a godly life knowing that it will generate hostility and antagonism from the world? Kingdom people are rejected people. Holy people are singularly blessed, but they pay a price for it.
- Are you avoiding persecution in an obvious and easy way by living the habits of sham Christians? To live like the world, or at least to “live and let live,” will cost us nothing. To mimic the world’s standards, or never to criticize them, will cost us nothing. To keep quiet about the gospel, especially the truth that apart from its saving power men remain in their sins and are destined for hell, will cost us nothing. To go along with the world, to laugh at its jokes, to enjoy its entertainment, to smile when it mocks God and takes His name in vain, and to be ashamed to take a stand for Christ will not bring persecution. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).
- Do you understand that friendship with the world is enmity with God? When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society it means that they are reflecting rather than confronting that society. And when we please the world we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (James 4:4). “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
- Have you counted the cost of following Jesus as a true disciple? We do the Lord no honor and those to whom we witness no benefit by hiding or minimizing the cost of following Him. The cost of discipleship for the kingdom life is to prepare for loneliness, misunderstanding, ridicule, rejection, and unfair treatment of every sort. Some costs will be great and some will be slight. But by the Lord’s and the apostles’ repeated promises, faithfulness always has a cost, which true Christians are willing to pay. But whenever and however affliction comes to the child of God, his heavenly Father will be there with him to encourage and to bless. Our responsibility is to be willing to endure whatever trouble our faithfulness to Jesus Christ may bring, and to see it as a confirmation of true salvation. For suffering persecution is part of the normal Christian life (Romans 8:16-17).
- Are we sometimes willing to water-down the gospel to attract the unsaved? But God does not want His gospel altered under pretense of its being less demanding, less righteous, or less truthful than it is. He does not want witnesses who lead the unsaved into thinking that the Christ life costs nothing. A synthetic gospel, a man-made seed, produces no real fruit.
- Can you recognize which churches today are engaged in self-glorification and attempt to gain worldly recognition? When the church tries to use the things of the world to do the work of heaven, it only succeeds in hiding heaven from the world. And when the world is pleased with the church, we can be sure that God is not. We can be equally sure that when we are pleasing to God, we will not be pleasing to the system of Satan. For Satan’s great enemy is Christ, and he opposes us because we belong to Jesus Christ and He is in us.
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