Patience and Longsuffering 3
February 10, 2019
Bold in Persecution
Come to visit him. And so First Corinthians chapter 15 verse 12 through 19. Here's what Paul says Paul says now of Christ be preached that he rose from the dead how say some among you that there's no resurrection of the dead. He says here's the deal we say that Jesus Christ rose from the dead but they're there are some people that say he didn't but if he had there be no resurrection of the dead then Christ is not risen and if Christ be not risen our preaching is in vain, What he says is this are preaching this whole idea of preaching is totally in vain if Jesus didn't rise again.
Yes, and we were found false Witnesses of God because we testified of God that he raised up Christ whom he raised not up. If so, if so be that the dead rise not what he's saying is this if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, I'm not a preacher. I'm a liar. Like if Jesus didn't rise from the dead I'm a preacher not a liar and here's the deal.
If Jesus didn't rise from the dead everything we do is a waste for the dead rise not then is not Christ raised and if Christ be not raised your faith is vain are you are yet in your sins then they which also are falling asleep in Christ are perished if in this life only we have hope in Christ. We are of all men most miserable.
I love what he says here in that last verse and I want you to look at it really quickly if in this life only if only in this life we have hope in Christ. And there's no Resurrection from the dead. Honestly, we're miserable. We are miserable men Paul starts by explaining to us how vital of a Doctrine the resurrection is to our faith without the resurrection.
We have nothing. Without the resurrection. We have nothing explains all the things and here's what he says all of Christianity Falls like dominoes. Did you be all used to do those Domino lines? I used to do those until YouTube came out and now I'm like why in the world without ever doing because people do them really cool on YouTube and I'm never going to do that.
So I used to put dominoes up and that have them go through things and go up layers. I used to love doing that. And what Paul says is this if you take Jesus's resurrection, and you can prove that his resurrection is not true. It's all down. It's all gone. If it's resurrection and true. None of it is true.
He explains All Things fall like dominoes is the resurrection isn't true. And then he closes off the section with this verse if in this life we have hope in Christ. We are of all men most miserable. That makes more that verse makes a lot of sense, but it only makes a lot of sense in the context of what Paul is saying and here's what Paul is saying Paul is saying to us.
I have built my life around Christ. Okay, I don't have a Monday Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Saturday life and then a Sunday life my life. Is built around Christ to wear if Christ and his resurrection is not true. Then I am a miserable miserable man. Everything. Well Paul thing is this everything about me only makes sense in the light of Jesus and his resurrection.
Like why in the world Paul would you do what you're doing? And Paul says the answer is Jesus. Paul why would you be beaten and thrown outside of a city as if you were dead and he goes to the answer is help me out. The answer is Jesus. Okay. Why would you Paul invest all of your time and energy and telling other people about the gospel and he would say the answer is.
but if his resurrection is a lie, man, I am a miserable miserable, dude. I'm a miserable dude. There's only one way to explain who I am. So if Christ and his resurrection isn't true of all men. I am most miserable. He said I would have lived a lie. Can you imagine what he'd had what you can you imagine?
What we he would have to say he did say this I was stoned. Oh for a lie. I was left for dead for a lie. I debated people for a lie. I spent my of myself so that I could repeat a lie. I worked in pastured and taught and it was all a lie if Jesus and his resurrection, is it true but that's only true if the resurrection is not true.
I guess one of the questions that would be good for us to ask is this what would be. the response on our life. If the resurrection wasn't true. No, this is where I'll say put your seatbelts on and brace for impact. Because I believe a lot of us would say this if the resurrection isn't true that I need to stop going to church on Sundays.
Period end of sentence because the only difference that Jesus has made in my life. Is it a go to church on Sunday? We would not have join in unison with Paul and say oh if the resurrection is a lie, man, I am the most miserable of men because I built my life around the gospel. We could never say that.
because all that's changed for us is that we have to get up a little earlier to go to church on Sunday mornings and we like. You gotta listen to this top got talk to us about the Bible that sometimes he's boring and we don't really get a kick out of listening to him and you know, sometimes I just wish I could stay home and that's the only difference it has made in our lives.
But that's not what Paul says Paul says every facet of my life is dictated by the gospel would be our response that the resurrection was. It was a lie. Would we have to venture out and say the same things that he did did our life makes sense outside of the. Or what do we have to say? Something like this?
Not now this is this might offend your little bit and if it does congratulations the Bible supposed to offend you every once in a while. If it wasn't true at least lived a comfortable life and yeah, I made a few mistakes, but I lived a comfortable life in the states. If it wasn't true, at least I learned how to live my best life now and I start up my riches and I'm ready to go and man.
I'm. If it wasn't true at least raised up good children and man. I have them in a safe environment. But we have to understand is these thoughts are opposed to the power of the Resurrection. Can I say that it's crazy that a guy like Mark would go to China to preach and take five kids with him. It only makes sense.
A lot of the Resurrection, but how much of our life does not make sense unless the resurrection is true that the resurrection was a lie. Then what Paul was saying is that he had lived in vain his entire life. Was just a waste. His entire life was a waste what would be said of our lives? Our culture teaches us to do everything that we can do to stay safe.
Does it? Is that not what our culture does that know about our culture teaches us we've got to do everything we can to stay safe our culture teaches us all that we can do to live in a way that makes safety is our first priority. We want to be safe economically want to be safe physically want to be safe as a family but this is not the lifestyle of one that has a gospel-centered lifestyle.
Let me give you an update real quick on what's going on in China so you can get an update on that. This Sunday after everything happened. I want to show you a picture of the church. Can you put that next picture up there, please Bill the church met at this Chinese restaurant and they sat down and that's Charles who had spent nine hours in questioning with the guys and they're meeting on the table Charles told Mark.
He says I have no idea if people are even going to show up at church or not. And and here's what Mark said to him. He said, you know what they probably won't show up at church if the resurrection is a lie. But if they know Jesus they'll show up at church because Church matters because Church matters.
So these guys all of them know what's going on. They all gather around to the Chinese restaurant in China like Mark said last week all restaurants in China or Chinese restaurants, but so they're there they are and there's Charles and he's got his MacBook right there and he's teaching the gospel to them there in China.
That's what's going on. The Pastors in the church, they weren't sure at all what would happen if anybody show up but they showed up to worship. They showed up to study the Bible because they understood the importance and the Vitality of the church the church gathered. They spent time giving testimonies of what had happened and praising Jesus Through It their Pastor Charles been taking the police station for nine hours.
They weren't sure what else would happen, but the church was praying for him while he was at the police station. If you've read your Bible much, this sounds a lot like a chapter taking out of the book of Acts. He's at the police station for nine hours. The church has gathered together for 9 hours praying and asking God to show him to show himself powerful and to let Charles be released after nine hours.
They finished send him home after he paid a fine of close to $200, which is. Only about 10 months salary for a person in China and so besides that not a big deal. I bet he could say with Paul that his life made no sense outside of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. We thought that might that might be the prettiest.
We thought that my pretty much be the end of it with Charles and that everything was done, but we weren't sure did you can you put that other picture up with Charles? So you got you can actually see there's the pastor and his wife. And by the way, his wife is with this little baby this little tiny baby at home.
Wondering if her husband's coming back or not not knowing what was going to happen and while she's doing that she's texting Natasha Mark's wife and saying Jesus is worth it. Oh Chris, you don't understand the stress of having kids. Oh Chris, you don't understand the stress of not having my husband my wife my.
Jesus is worth it. If he doesn't come back, Jesus is worth it. I don't know about y'all, but I felt kind of convicted about that. You know, you guys might be like, oh, well, of course, I would do that. The second policeman after another one of the leaders of the church because what happened was that they found his name on the contract for the church building that went after him.
His name is LeBron. I don't know if he likes basketball is everybody's like hey, you're LeBron. But his name's LeBron. And this is the and this is the big one that we didn't know what was going to happen in this happened since last Sunday the police summoned him and he came to the station. Let you come in the back room began questioning him.
He answered what he could and didn't answer what he couldn't or shouldn't answer. His name is on the contract for the church building. So they took him to the room where the church met and they rented and asked him if religious meetings were held there, but they'd only took him to the church building and said did y'all hold religious meetings here in this church building and he looked at the policeman he turned and looked at the officer Square in the eyes, and he said yes sir.
We did. They quickly grabbed him put him in handcuffs on him and put a black bag over his head like you would see on TV to break a no longer see anything could not see where they were taking him that you come to the police car to come to a dark room and handcuffed him to a table and started asking questions.
They didn't feel like he was cooperating like they wanted and so he asked if he could get a lawyer and that's when all of a sudden one of the policemen started beating him and said, you're not getting a lawyer. No lawyers going to save you what you've done is wrong. Then now they since they weren't getting the information they wanted they handcuffed him to the ceiling.
I know it sounds almost like you're watching an episode. Isn't it funny that we like watching TV shows like this. But these are men that for the sake of the Gospel. They handcuffed him to the ceiling to where he couldn't sit down. And they continued beating him and asking him questions for hours.
They let him lay down. So you get sleep into the early hours of the morning. No bed a concrete place where you could sleep. Nothing to cover himself up. Nothing to put his head on they kept him for 48 hours. Continually kept beating him questioning him hanging his arms from the sling to where he couldn't sit down.
And then either yesterday or the day before they released him after 48 Hours stating that he also had to pay a $200 fine. See what these guys have decided that they're going to live a life. Where convenience isn't their goal?
Can I just say that ought to convict us? Not you that ought to convict us? You know, we love complaining because Walmart doesn't open more than three registers. And it's not convenient to shop there. Just go on Facebook and look at how small our complaints look like and and I'm not saying them because here's the difference.
I don't put it on Facebook, but I think the same things. But they decided to have a life for a convenience and comfort was not their primary goal. Where their life only they decided to live a life where there's life. There's a life where their life only made sense in the light of the Gospel. The question is whether it makes sense to live like that or not because you might be sitting there and going man.
I'm glad for those guys, but that's not what I'm doing, but Philippians chapter 1 the bill read this morning has a lot to say about that Philippians chapter 1 verse 29 through 30 says For unto you it is given on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him. Help me out, but also to. what? Like Jesus literally says I wrapped a couple of presents and put them under the tree for you.
present number one. Believe in me. Yay, I believe in Jesus. Hey, what's the second present mom? What's the second present? Mom you go and get the second president. The second president president is. You got to suffer for him? You got to suffer for it. verse 20 says having the same conflict which you saw in me and now here to be in me what Paul says is this guess what you're going to suffer like I suffered by the way this.
This letter was written with Paul in prison. Not if I'm in prison, my letter to y'all is going to look a lot like this help me. Please help me now. His letter says not only to believe in him, but I've given to you the fact that you are going to suffer for him. Can I just say that we shouldn't learn to flee?
From what God Said is given to us. This doesn't mean that we volunteer for that were masochist or self-proclaimed the martyrs. But what it does mean is that what we have decided is this the gospel is of more value than my comfort the C that's really what it amounts to, you know, when you go and buy something when you buy it what you're saying is this I have to choose.
So I told Justin and see this was a way for me to get away from Justin without paying use it was but I chose told Justin. I've you the value of this book. To be more than the value of the 20 dollars that I had in my pocket. That's what we do when we buying something. We say the value of something.
I will forget to give that to you. So can you just pass that back if you don't mind? So the 20 the the the that was a that was a genius plan for me to just use that and then totally forget about it and leave but here's here's what we do is we say what is of more value? That's what we're doing when we're buying something what's of more value by the way, you schedule your time this way.
You schedule your time this way who is what is a more value this or this and you make a choice and you say with my time. I have dictated that this is more important than this and what you have to understand is we don't run into suffering and persecution and go. Yes, please. Let me be it. but at the same time what we do say is this.
The gospel is of more value. And my suffering suffering for us as a church on March the third we're going to not have a building anymore. We're going to go to my house and we're going to have church services at four pm and will be nearest comfortable. You know why? You know why because but that's our home an what what is worth more is the the gospel worth more?
Or is my comfort won't worth more now now see that seems almost laughable to even put in the same conversation because here's what LeBron did.
I can get them to stop beating me immediately and take this black cover off of my head to where I don't even know when they are hitting me. But the gospel is more valuable than a broken rib.
The gospel is more valuable than. That's exactly what was going on. And that's exactly what Paul says. He's given us this to suffer at something. It's easy to give lip service to it's easy to say oh persecution and easy to say that but man it's a whole different deal when it hits home. It's easy to say until our religion our relationship.
Our truth becomes inconvenient. I said that there's no doubt that the most convenient thing that the Chinese Christians could do is follow the lead of popular Christianity Today. They could think well. We don't really need a church. We can worship Jesus at home. Is that not the popular thing to say nowadays if I was a Chinese person?
I'd be like I'm going to worship Jesus at home because I'm the church. That's not like that's and I could even make it sound fancy. But that would be the most convenient thing for them to say but they gathered together still the funny thing is they're passing around the cell phone because 90% of their giving as online there and that crazy like Chinese and China they give online even more than the state's does and so they're passing around this phone and everybody's given they're giving money to the church could keep going forward.
It's crazy. Most convenient thing would be hey I want to stay home. I don't need to gather with my friends. I don't need to gather my family, but that's not what they did. But they gather around the world the word understanding the danger understanding how legal it is understanding the price. They might have to pay very few things in their life would be less convenient than gathering at together as the body of Christ.
Like very few things could be that. Paul tells us you need to be expect to suffer because it's a gift from God. The biggest question though is why did he suffer persecution in 1st to 2nd Timothy 3:11 says this persecutions afflictions which Came Upon me at Antioch at Iconium lystra what persecutions I endured but out of all of them.
The Lord has delivered me. Is that not a cool word all. Yes, I was persecuted. Yes, I had problems but out of all of them. The Lord delivered me says The Godly and then he says yes and all that live a Godly in Christ Jesus that were all when it comes to persecutions is a pretty cool word, but you're not gonna like it in the next verse because the next person says, yep and all those that live Godly in Christ Jesus, they're going to suffer persecution.
I like the all and verse 11. I don't really like the all because I like for it to say all but The Gardener's. That's not what it says. He doesn't have Godly they're going to Surfer persecution. Paul gives us three cities that have suffered persecutions in. He said God delivered me from all of them and you look at these cities and what you're going to see is this and Antioch in the book of Acts chapter 13 verse 14 and 15 Paul preach to the Jews and they persecuted him and they beat him and many people but many people believed in Jesus.
He goes Iconium and Acts Chapter 14 verse 1 through 5 and many people believed in him and the Jews got angry began spreading rumors, and they attacked him and he fled the city so that he would not get. Hurt and then he goes to lystra and as he's escaping from Iconium. Some of these will Jews go out and they're still pursuing him and they beat him and stone him and leave him for dead outside of the city and there's only really one thing that's in common in every city where he goes where he was persecuted where God freed him from it.
And that is this he was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Can I tell you that the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings persecution like sugar does that your picnic table and brings flies and bees and everything else around your around your table? That's exactly what happens. When you preach the gospel persecution comes when you preach the gospel things don't go the way you expect them to go.
We As Americans have the idea of suffering and persecution is something we never want to have a part of but that's not the Bible view of it our goals in life seem to revolve around the exact opposite of anything. That might not bring us pleasure. Isn't it funny? We all have remote controls so that we can change our channels because it's so hard to go change channels on the TV.
Is it not a crisis when you cannot find the remote control, but is it not? We have drafter restaurant. So we don't even have to get out of the car to eat. We have a button on our wall to decide how hot and how cold we want our house to be? We have a machine in our house so we can heat stuff up in a portion of the time.
We hit a button on it and this microwave just automatically zaps your food. It's crazy the kind of stuff that we have and how convenient you know, what one of the coolest things I have about convenience. And and by the way, I'm as guilty of these as anybody we don't have a microwave in our house.
We have two microwaves in our house. Like let me just say I'm all about it. One of the most convenient things ever is now you sit in this recliner. Beautiful recliner you just sitting there with your laptop and you go don't even have a shirt on but I think I might want one of those click that button and it'll be here the day after tomorrow, and I don't ever have to get out of my recliner.
Now if you don't get a recliner for two days at the problem just saying. They put it in the Box headed. Do you realize what they do when you order something from Amazon? Do you realize what you're doing? Do you realize the power of your money and what it's doing because you are literally saying order this by you sitting there and all of a sudden they're employing people that are going to go pick out what you want and put it separate and they're employing other people to put it in the Box other people give that box to people that are on deliver it to your house the other you have an army of people that work for you as if you were the king of the world is it not a convenient day and age we live in.
They give it straight to your door. And if you're willing to do it, they'll leave Amazon now, we'll even walk into your house and put it where you tell them to put it. I'm not doing that. Like I missed technologically advanced as they come but I'm not doing that. They're not getting a code to my house.
They're not coming in my house, but you can even do that now because it's so inconvenient when it's warm or cold outside the open that door into grab that box. We live a convenient life think we had to live that we live Comfort conveniency. We live with privilege because of this here's the problem because of this it's easy to think that our church experience in our Christian Life should reflect our American lifestyle.
We really think that our Christian Life in our America and our church experience. For your flight environment and lifestyle the truth is that we're selling a product that doesn't exist in scriptures when we sell that product Jesus speaks of Christianity in a whole different way because here's what Jesus says Matthew chapter 7 and I got to wrap it up Matthew chapter 7 says this these twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them saying go not into the way of the Gentiles and into any of the city of the Samaritans enter ye not but go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
And as you go, what are you going to do? Is you go. You're going to preach the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and then verse 16 and 17. I want you to see what he says about these verses here behold. I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.
Okay, sheep four-legged animals dumb animals, not very capable animals wolf. Is there Hunter? He goes, oh, I'm sending you out and I'm sending you out like a sheep in the midst of wolves. It's easy to look at that as an allegory and go. Oh that doesn't sound cool. But what he says that he's saying that to us.
As we go out and we do what God has called us to do. He's sending us out as a sheep. And so guess what many of us honestly need to make the decision. Jesus is not worth it because if you don't know him, he's not worth it is crazy to think that you might live a life where he says I'm sending a sheep in the middle of wolves.
Can you imagine the fear nothing to see? It's easy to look at a sheep, but think about a ship in the middle of wolves and think of the fear of the sheep in the middle of the Wolves. Is that the way I'm sending you out? So what do we do with that? And here's some things to think about first it needs to be and we need to understand how thankful.
We ought to be for Where We Are. Do you realize how privileged you are isn't it funny that we don't even want to talk about Jesus in our schools. Because our friends might look at us poorly. Now when I say that we have Jacob and Hannah and Andrew in the room that are still in school. So all of y'all that aren't and Josh they're still in school.
And so when I say that here's the deal you can look at that and you go. Yeah, y'all. Yeah. Yeah. But we don't talk about them at work either do we? You know why because well I might be looked at poorly. I love you to sit across the table from LeBron and say well, you know, I would have told people about Jesus, but you don't understand it would have been inconvenient for me to talk about Jesus and my friends might have laughed at me.
And LeBrons all wrapped up because you got a couple of broken ribs. He's got black eyes and his face is all beaten up and he looks at you looks at you because I understand it. Yeah. Good job. Be thankful for your at you're in a free country. You are an amazing country. God has been good to us be thankful for that.
The second thing you got to do is you got to learn to pray for other parts of the world where Christians are not suffering tomorrow. They're suffering today. They are suffering today. What you have to understand is this this LeBron guy is not a guy. He's my brother.
That's funny. I thought that was on dries phone. That's it. Here's what he said. But you know what LeBron is not some guy in China LeBron has a Christian a follower of Christ and he's my brother in Christ and as my brother in Christ, I ought to take that burden and not just be his it ought to be my burden as well number three.
We need to prepare ourselves for the time when following Christ. More like China than it does here. You prepare yourself for that. So Chris. How do I prepare myself for that? You know how you prepare yourself for that you live like you believe in Christ today? We need to decide that it's a valid thing to follow Christ This Way.
That's by the way the axe 4:13. I love it says when they would saw the boldness of Peter and John and proceeded to how they were unlearned and ignorant men. He said what they learned about Peter and John was this what really set Peter and John are crawl out where they were bold. They weren't bold for Christ tomorrow because it's easy to look at tomorrow and say tomorrow.
I will live this way it is today saying I will live for Christ and I'd say there's three decisions that you need to make number one decide to follow Christ. Because it's gonna be a time when your friends and family are going to appreciate it. And you say you know what the gospel is of more value than my friends and my family the government's going to tell you.
You can't at that point. You've got to say the gospel is of more value than the government and then death. You know what you say. Well, I'm looking at death if I do this, but you say the gospel is more worn than my life. I wish I could bring in some biographies of Great Men of the past explain to you how that is the way that they have lived.
I wish you could look at that way the apostles died and place their life on the line. They said you're going to die. If you do not recant believing in Christ, and they go will kill me because I will never recant that I Believe In Christ. You look up with at home don't have time to look at it right now, but Luke chapter 9 verse 21 through verse 23 what those verses teach us is this you've got to learn to die to yourself daily.
Every single day I'm going to die to myself and to my desires number 3 the Bible says take up your cross daily. And that's our job as Christians as I hear more and more from China and all the happenings over there are more and more challenge to make sure that my attitude in serving Christ is correct.
But can I just tell you that I have bad attitudes all the time and the holy spirit's going kind of attitude. You need to have can encourage you today to start praying for the men and women of the church in Dalian China. Pray for Charles pray for his wife pray for his child prefer LeBron for his wife and for their child.
They were taking their baby and dropping it off. The wife was summoned to the after about 24 hours of LeBron. They called the wife and the wife as she went to the police station. She had to drop her baby off not knowing whether she would see her baby again. If she would be locked up in the same prison and everything else and had to take her a little two month old baby and drop it off at somebody else's house as she went into the police station and she had to decide whether the gospel was worth it or not.
If that's not convicting guys, I don't know. What is. Decide that it's not just about them. It's about us as well. Can I encourage you every day to make a decision to follow him? Can I ask you to ask God to forgive us for wanting more and to never being content with what we have? I'll say this morning.
We're about to sing it as we sing. The offering plate will go by if some of you guys want to help out in China Mark your checks for China. If this is not your normal Church giving you can put some money in the plate and we'll make sure that they get it. There's $400 the gone out already from these guys that don't have the ability to pay for that.
But they paid for it they figured it out. So if you want to be a part of it, let me know. Y'all can put it in there just Market China will take care of to make sure that he gets to Dalian for these guys to be able to help them with these fines because you know what? It's not us. It's not them and us it's we as the body of Christ.
Here's the question. Are you willing to say I'm going to deal with persecution with boldness? I'm going to say the gospel has more value than anything else in my life. And if not, it's time we do that.