Remember Our Chains

THE STATE OF THE PERSECUTED CHURCH Tim Keesee: ABSTRACT: At the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he writes, “Remember my chains.” Thousands of Christians around the world today could write the same words. Some are locked behind bars; others are threatened with intimidation, discrimination, and violence. Yet as persecution grows in many parts of the world, so too does the gospel. From North Africa to North Korea, from Central Asia to Central Africa, Christ is building his church — and very often, he is doing so not despite persecution, but precisely by means of it. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. (Colossians 4:18) Did Paul’s shackles clank as he penned this postscript? His letter to the Colossians lifts us to the heavens with soaring sentences portraying the beauty and power of Jesus and his magnificent gospel: “He is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15)“By him all things were created.” (Colossians 1:16)“He

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Blessed are the Persecuted. Really?

Sam Storms: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12). Seriously? Did Jesus really mean what he said? Yes. Let’s look closely at this stunning statement. This beatitude explodes several myths that people believe about what it means to be a Christian. • It shatters the myth that Christianity is a means of deliverance from suffering. As we become more like Jesus, we should expect to be treated like Jesus! • It shatters the myth that God loves his children too much to allow them to suffer at the hands of unbelievers. God does indeed love us, but that does not mean we will be insulated from

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10 Things You Should Know about Persecution

By Tim Keesee, author of Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places. 1. Persecution is bound up with Christ’s persecution. Jesus made that clear on His way to Jerusalem when he told his disciples that there he would “suffer many things . . . and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matt. 16:21). And then he told his followers that they were, in fact, to follow him by taking up their cross—that is, by fully identifying with him, whatever that would cost them and wherever that would take them. Suffering for the sake of the gospel is a way in which we identify with Christ’s sufferings—and he, in turn, identifies with the sufferings of His people. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you

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5 Ways Western Christians Can Help Persecuted Christians

David Curry: It seems like every day we hear stories about refugees fleeing from the terror of ISIS. Most commentary on these stories has focused on the need for the governments of the United States and its allies to act quickly to provide a safe haven for refugees and to develop and implement an effective strategy for defeating the Islamic State. These are critically important steps that must be taken and more advocacy is undoubtedly needed to move government to act. But is it enough? According to the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List, last year had the highest level of global persecution of Christians in the modern era. More than 100 million Christians were persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. Unfortunately, it is looking as if this year will be even worse. While freedom-loving governments must act on behalf of the persecuted, they are not the only ones who have a

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The greatest of enemies

But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.  Galatians 4:29 “The persecution of the true church, of Christian believers who trace their spiritual descent from Abraham, is not always by the world, who are strangers unrelated to us, but by our half-brothers, religious people, the nominal church.  It has always been so.  The Lord Jesus was bitterly opposed, rejected, mocked and condemned by his own nation.  The fiercest opponents of the apostle Paul, who dogged his footsteps and stirred up strife against him, were the official church, the Jews.  The monolithic structure of the medieval papacy persecuted all Protestant minorities with ruthless, unremitting ferocity.  And the greatest enemies of the evangelical faith today are not unbelievers, who when they hear the gospel often embrace it, but the church, the establishment, the hierarchy.  Isaac is always mocked and persecuted by Ishmael.”

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