“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
“Eyewitness: Islamic State is Systematically Beheading Christian Children” ; “Largest Christian Town in Iraq Taken Over by Islamic State”; “Obama Authorizes Targeted Airstrikes in Iraq as Islamic State Continues to Kill Christians, Religious Minorities”
These are just a few of the latest news headlines from recent days. Should we be alarmed at the recent increase in Christian persecution around the world? Most definitely! But as a student of the scriptures, we should not be surprised.
The Bible never commands or exhorts Christians to pray for persecution. But the Bible very definitely tells the growing Christian to expect persecution. 1 Peter 4:12 emphatically states that “we are not to be surprised” when persecution comes, or think that “some strange thing” is happening to us when we are persecuted as Christians. (See also Acts 14:22; Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 John 3:13.)
Persecution is “part of the package” of our salvation! By no means is such a statement meant to imply that the salvation of our souls is earned or merited through suffering a certain amount of persecution. No, the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is a personal gift from God and persecution is not part of the price. The price of our salvation was fully paid by God Himself when our Lord Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sins.
But while persecution is not part of the purchasing price of our salvation, it certainly is part of the “path of progress” of our salvation. We do not “get saved” by suffering persecution, but when we are saved we will suffer persecution. Such a concept as “saved to suffer” may rattle us a little at first. It may even cause us to experience a few wrong thoughts of our God. But such negative vibrations are cancelled out when we see from Scripture that God has a number of purposes for permitting His children to be persecuted. More next week.