Text: 2 Timothy 3:10-12
46% of the UK say that they are Christian. “The proportion of people who said they were Christian was 46.2%, down from 59.3% in the last census in 2011. In contrast, the number who said they had no religion increased to 37.2% of the population, up from a quarter.” (OFS UK) “Over a third in the US, indicated that they have ‘no religion’ also known as being in the ‘unchurched’ religious category.” PEW Research 2018. “18% of baby boomers, 25% of Generation X, 29% of millennials, and 34% of Generation Z” are unchurched or unaffiliated (Lifeway 2022).
Reasons why they do not want to be part of any church? Irrelevant or not an important centerpiece in life; did not have any transformational experience; to avoid being persecuted or labeled.
In this thought of experiencing persecution and trials, we will emphasize today’s sermon. Before that, I have here a simple activity called: Three Lies and a Truth.
You’ll hear people saying, “you can overcome trials by yourself and God does not give us trials that we cannot surpass.” It sounds good, but it is not biblical. Look at Job; look at Paul in Romans 7. There are trials that you cannot surpass. And God gives you those trials so you can fully depend on Him, not on your own self. Read our passage: 2 Timothy 3:12. Explain verses 10-11.
Kintsugi – Makoto Fujimura said that in Christ’s weeping in John 11:35, he shares his children’s entire pain and persecution. Praise God for that because we have a God who assures us that he is with us when we are persecuted.
John 20:27, Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Why do we experience these things? Read John 15:18-21. Expressions of today’s persecution: discrimination, oppression, Subtle Persecutions nowadays: cancel culture, censorship. A proper theology of suffering begins with God. By persecuting the church, the devil deceives himself into thinking he can stop her mission in the world. – Dustin Benge
Why do we experience such persecution and suffering?
- Corporate Sin – God affirms corporate confession of sin as a model for the Jews in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God spoke these words to Solomon in the context of the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. God was not setting a liturgical format; rather, He was emphasizing the principle of mercy over a community who lives in humility before Him.
- Jonah 3:5-9
- Shares Christ’s Suffering – Philippians 1:29-30, For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have; 1 Peter 4:12-13.
- Draws near to God – throughout church history, we learn that persecution is a catalyst for church growth and increase instead of destruction.
Where is the gospel in here?
- Covenant of Redemption (Isaiah 49)
- Philippians 2:5-11
- John 3:16-17
- Explain the covenantal agreement; someone needs to atone for the wrongdoing and bridging the contract covenant, Rom 6:23, death is the payment.
- Eternal Reward – Rejoicing
- 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Matthew 5:10-11
- Paul, despite persecution, was rejoicing. Peter and Silas were singing in their imprisonment.
- One of the oldest Baptist churches in America (1665), First Baptist Church of Boston’s history traces back to a tragic event of Obadiah Holmes’ punitive whipping in 1651.
Obadiah Holmes stood his ground defending the truth of the believer’s baptism. As a consequence, he was imprisoned and had received thirty lashes with a three-corded whip. He chose to be whipped even though given an offer to be bailed by his friends. // With gracious endurance, he said that he had “such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence” that it was as if he had been whipped “with roses.” // Moreover, it is said that through this event, Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard University, rejected infant baptism in 1654.
II Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 4, 2022