What Is The Biblical Framework For Christian Thought?

The biblical framework for christian thought starts in the heart. We need to teach our own hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel. Through the Holy Spirit, the word of God and biblical meditation we renew our minds and transform our lives so that we don’t conform to a sinful world system. Therefore, we need to learn to think on the right things so that we can shape our attitude and conduct to glorify God.

Christian Thought Starts In The Heart

  • The heart is the wellspring of all our “inward attitudes”—meaning that the heart represents the “inner person” or the real orientation, belief, motivation and attitude of a person. It is from the heart that we think, feel and make decisions. It is the source from which everything we do in life is issued from (wether good or bad). The problem is our hearts are born sinful—meaning it is not neutral but deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked or incurable on its own and if left untouched will lead to destruction. But the gospel changes everything—starting with our hearts. Therefore, the goal for christian thought is to train our own hearts to be oriented towards God and the gospel so that we can fulfill our reason for existence (to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the gospel of Jesus) and guard it against our sinful inclinations.
    Mark 7:20-23; Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:8-9; Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9; 24:7; Psalm 58:3; 51:5, 10
  • The first step is being born again. You can’t just clean up your life morally and starting thinking positive thoughts. This leaves you empty inside and leads to a worse conclusion (self-righteousness and selfishness). But true salvation results in the permeant indwelling of the Holy Spirit who guides us in a radical “heart transformation” and causes us to change from the inside out. This causes the principle of replacement to take place: we stop thinking about the wrong things but we start thinking about the right things—which leads to us stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things—all for the glory of God.
    Matthew 5:44; 12:43-45; Ephesians 4:28; John 3:3-8

Renewing Our Minds Leads To Transformed Lives

  • As believers, we have experienced the incredible mercy of God through the gift of salvation in His Son Jesus. Because of the great salvation that we have received by the mercies of God (which are expounded by Paul in Romans 1-11) we as believers should offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice—meaning we completely give our lives over to God and live what is holy and acceptable to Him. Therefore, we are to be “transformed”—meaning it should be apparent that we are different and that we no longer walk according to the course of this sinful world. We no longer conform to the sinful world and society around us(all that is not oriented towards God and the gospel). The transformation starts with “renewing our minds”—meaning that our minds (hearts) need to be reestablished so that we can properly live out this transformed life. This transformed life results in a life that tests, discerns and lives according to the will of God—just like a priest would know what sacrifice was good, acceptable, and perfect.
    Romans 3:22; 12:1-2, (3); Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-18; 1 Peter 1:13-14; (Leviticus 22:19-25)
  • What is the renewed mind? The renewed mind is when our hearts are reestablished to know and submit to the truth of God as the foundation of all things right and good. The “spirit of your mind”—meaning your mindset, attitude, worldview, and inclination come into submission with the word of God so that what we want to do becomes what we should do. Our longings and our obligations become one and the same—which leads to true freedom—thus we are to stand fast and have no other mindset or view.
    Ephesians 4:22-24; Galatians 5:1, 10
  • How do we renew our minds? (1) Holy Spirit—the Holy Spirit works in a person’s life to allow the light of the glorious gospel of Christ to shine into their “blinded minds” and bring them to salvation. Once a person believes in Jesus they receive the Holy Spirit who continues His work of “renewing” them and bringing them into humble submission to the truth as our attitudes and actions come into alignment with our new identity. (2) The Word of God—the Holy Spirit before and after salvation works through the word of God. It is the word of God that provides the truth the Holy Spirit uses to cause God’s people to be renewed and thoroughly equipped to carry out God’s will. Therefore, we need to fill our minds with the bible (read the bible, listen to correct bible preaching and teachings, sing songs full of bible lyrics, memorize and quote scripture, etc.). (3) Biblical Meditation—the bible encourages us to actively and intently think about all the things the bible has to say. Through prayerful consideration we are to apply these “bible thoughts” to our everyday lives and decisions until we develop a “bible attitude”—a biblical disposition, propensity, or natural tendency towards the will of God.
    Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; 16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 1:2; 19:14; 119:11; Colossians 1:28; 3:10, 16; John 16:13; 17:17
  • What does the renewed mind do? The renewed mind puts everything to the test to see if it is the will of God or not. Your mind becomes a type of “biblical filter”—meaning everything is filtered through biblical truth. This helps in two main areas: (1) Conscious decisions—meaning we purposely think about something and try to make the best decision according to God’s will through the knowledge that we have; (2) Unconscious decisions—meaning all decisions we make without taking the time to think about it beforehand but make in an instant—thus the renewed mind allows us to automatically and unconsciously filter all these decisions through the “biblical filter” and change our sinful inclinations into godly ones (for example: lust, anger, pride, covetousness, anxiety, jealousy, envy, etc.). The general principal of the renewed mind is this: a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things—the renewed mind is the good treasure which allows us to live God honoring lives according to His will.
    Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Matthew 12:33-37

Thinking On “These Things” Shapes Our Conduct

  • Our thoughts govern us. Therefore, what we choose to think about, what we allow ourselves to ponder on will dictate what we do. If we think about the right things, it leads to us doing right, but when we think about the wrong things, it leads us to do wrong. Therefore, Paul tells us to think on certain things so that our actions will embody those same characteristics. These are not “relative” characteristics that change from person to person but are ultimately characteristics found in God and expounded through the bible. (Note: This isn’t “positive thinking,” “positive self-image” or some type of psychology that tries to manipulate reality to profit self.)
    Philippians 4:8-9
  • Paul gives us several things to think about. Thus, “Christian thinking” should include: “any virtue” (moral excellence) and “any praise” (worthy of commendation). These are broken down into six characteristics: (1) “true things” (not false or deceiving things)—absolute facts wether positive or negative and is ultimately found in God and through His word; (2) “honest things” (not irresponsible or vulgar things)—the things that are honorable or worthy of respect because it has the qualities of applying biblical truth seriously and correctly; (3) “just things” (not evil or unrighteous things)—those things that are right according to the law and morality of the bible; (4) “pure things” (not immoral or defiled things)—those things the bible defines as moral and holy—all ethical purity—especially in relation to our body and sexuality; (5) “lovely things” (not rude or inhospitable things)—those things which are pleasing to others in a gracious and kind manner and communicates the love of God; (6) “things of good report” (not bad or contemptible things)—everything that can be defined as good and doesn’t contradict any biblical teachings but is in full alignment with it. Paul had exemplified these characteristics in his teaching and life and encourages us to not just constantly think on them but to also do them—to live them out—allow our thoughts to shape our actions.

Review Questions

  • The heart is the wellspring of all our what?
  • What is the first step?
  • What does renewing our minds mean?
  • What does the renewed mind do?
  • Thinking on what shapes our conduct?

Pledge Your Allegiance: A Lesson In Persecution

When you read the Bible it seems that all of us are called to live the life of the persecuted. But what determines why one would be persecuted? Paul pledged his allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ and was constantly persecuted because he constantly preached the Gospel—no matter the cost.

What Did Paul Mean About Being Miserable?
1 Corinthians 15:12-19

  • What did Paul mean when he said, “We are of all men most miserable?” Paul is addressing the false teaching that there wasn’t a resurrection, and he gives several points for a person to consider if Christ is not risen: our preaching is in vain; our faith is in vain; we would be false witnesses of God; there would be no resurrection of the dead; we are still in our sins; those who are already dead in Christ are perished. But then He also says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Meaning if we lived for only one purpose, one hope in life—that of the Lord Jesus—and we find out it isn’t true then we lived a very miserable life.
  • But what would be our response if the resurrection wasn’t true? Would it be the same as Paul’s? Or would we say: (1) “If it wasn’t true, at least I lived a comfortable and content life with a few mistakes.” (2) “If it wasn’t true, at least I learned how to live my best life now and store up riches.” (3) “If it wasn’t true, at least I raised my children in a moral place and we lived good lives.” I’m afraid there wouldn’t be many “miserable” people because we are not “all in” for Jesus.
  • Why was Paul’s response to the idea of the resurrection not being true that of being “miserable?” Paul said we are of all men most miserable if there was no resurrection because he lived a life of suffering—and if there was no resurrection His life of suffering was lived in vain. He held nothing back. We are also called to live a life of suffering. We are called to salvation but also to suffer. What kind of suffering? The same that we see and hear to be in Paul. That’s why he said we would be “miserable.”
    Philippians 1:29-30; Paul’s Persecutions: 1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

Why Was Paul Persecuted?
2 Timothy 3:11-12

  • Paul names three cities in which he suffered persecution. A look at these three cities where he was persecuted gives us one common denominator why Paul was persecuted in varying degrees: preaching the Gospel. Thus, those who live “godly” in Christ Jesus are those who preach the Gospel. Not only was he preaching the gospel but he was preaching it to the world. He wasn’t just preaching it in the safety of the church building or in a Sunday school class but to the heathen. He preached where he was told not too.
  • Paul’s example in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra:
    • Antioch: Paul preached to the Jews starting in the Old Testament and then preached the gospel. After the message was done, many of the Gentiles couldn’t wait until the next Sabbath day to hear more about this message. Many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas. The next Sabbath day came and almost the whole city came together and the Jews saw the multitude and were filled with envy and spoke against Paul contradicting and blaspheming.
      Acts 13:14-45
    • Iconium: He spoke to the Jews and Greeks in the synagogue and a great multitude believed. The unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and made them think evil thoughts against the believers. Paul and Barnabas continued to speak boldly in the Lord and they did many signs and wonders. The city was divided, half with the Jews and half with the Apostles. The non-believing Jews and Gentiles got together with there rulers and planned an assault to use them despitefully and stone them. They fled to the next city and continued to preach the Gospel.
      Acts 14:1-5
    • Lystra: Paul and Barnabas fled into this city to escape being stoned in Iconium. They preached the Gospel. They healed the impotent man in his feet being a cripple from his mother’s womb. The people of the city saw the miracle that they did and they started treating them as if they were god’s come down from heaven. When Paul and Barnabas heard this they were very upset and ripped their clothes and ran among the people crying that they were just men and preached the truth. They were preaching to a non-Jewish crowd and therefore started at creation. The people restrained and did not offer sacrifices to them. The Jews who had persecuted them in Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra and persuaded the people against them and they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city thinking he was dead. But Paul stood up and went on preaching the gospel.
      Acts 14:6-23

How Can We Endure This Type Of Life?
Luke 9:21-23

  • Self-Denial: As a disciple it means you are willing to say no to what you want, desire, and/or need for the sake of the gospel and following Christ. You are willing to share the gospel in spite of what people think about you. You must die to wanting to always be accept by your peers and know rejection is a way of life.
  • Take Up Your Cross Daily: As a disciple it means from the point of Salvation on, you are daily dyeing to yourself and plans and willing to bear “your cross” or God’s plan for your life. Just as suffering was part of God’s plan for the redemption of man, suffering is part of God’s plan to take the gospel to the world. Afflictions, trials, and persecutions are part of the Christian life and can be expected in a disciple of Christ just as evident as it was in the life of Christ.
  • Following Christ: As a disciple it means you are willing to do anything He may ask of you to the point of death. You pledge your allegiance to the King of kings. Will you follow Christ in-spite of: (1) family and friends—we will be persecuted and hated for His name sake and this might include being persecuted by those closets to you; (2) government—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego followed God instead of the government and were willing to follow God if He delivered them (“If it be so”) and even if He didn’t (“but if not”); (3) death—Steven was the first to be persecuted after Jesus in the church and he was a layman. Where is your allegiance?
    (1) Luke 21:16-17; (2) Daniel 3:16-18; (3) Acts 7:54-60

Review Questions

  • What did Paul mean about his “miserable” comment?
  • Why was Paul persecuted?
  • What happened in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra?
  • What three things can we do to endure this type of life?
  • Where is your allegiance?

How Do We Help Fellow Believers Being Persecuted?

We help fellow believers being persecuted through remembering them and loving them as ourselves. As believers, we identify with the body of Christ, thus we are to show empathy when other believers are being persecuted for righteousness sake. All believers are to find their comfort in “the God of all comfort” and comfort others with the comfort we ourselves received from God.

We Should Remember Believers That Are Persecuted

  • We should remember believers that are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. The Hebrew believers were told to “remember” the persecuted because they were “also in the body”—this has two possible understandings: (1) Identification—we are to remember believers that suffer adversity (cruel and mistreated, etc.) because we also identify as part of the body of Christ with them—we are all part of the family of God. If someone in the body of Christ is persecuted for Jesus’ sake, then if we were in their same situation, we would also possibly be persecuted for the same reason because we identify with the same Lord Jesus and with the same mission. Persecution shouldn’t separate believers or cause division but it should unify us. (2) Empathy—we are to remember believers that are “in bonds, as bound with them” because we are also in a human body and can understand their feelings and share in their pain. Either way, we are to be active in remembering the persecuted and we do that through loving them as ourselves. Below are some examples:
    Remember: Hebrews 13:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; Identification: 1 Corinthians 12:26; Empathy: 1 Peter 3:8; Romans 12:14
    • The Hebrews—The Jewish believers were already remembering the persecuted. Not only did they endure persecution and have a great confidence in God, but they also they had “compassion” on those in prison.
      Hebrews 10:32-35
    • Obadiah—When Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in caves, and fed them with bread and water.
      Kings 18:13; Romans 12:13
    • Ebed-melech the Ethiopian—When Ebed-melech heard that they put Jeremiah the prophet in the dungeon—(which was like a cistern for storing liquids), he went to the king to plead his case because he was afraid that he would die in there. This was risky move by him, but he was granted permissions to take thirty men to go rescue him.
      Jeremiah 38:7-13; 39:15-18
  • We should remember believers that are persecuted for Jesus’ sake because they are Jesus’ representatives. Jesus told His apostles that anyone who receives them also receives Him and thus receives God. They are official representatives of Jesus, therefore those who receive them should do so with the same respect due to those whom they are representing. Thus, those who receive a prophet or righteous man will also be partakers in their reward because they were a helper in the work. Therefore, there is incentive to receive and help the man of God. But also, anyone who serves a believer without the reputation like that of a prophet or a righteous man, but is just a disciple, will also be rewarded. Below are some examples:
    Matthew 10:40-42; 2 Corinthians 5:20
    • A Great Woman and Her Husband—When Elisha the prophet and a holy man of God went through Shunem, a women there would urge him to eat some food. Thus, eating at this families home became a normal habit for him when he visited this town. Then the women and her husband decided to build a chamber (upper room) on the roof of their house with a bed, a table, a stool and a candlestick. That way they could provide a place for him to stay whenever he came to them.
      2 Kings 4:8-11
    • Ahikam the son of Shaphan—Jeremiah and Urijah were both prophets that prophesied against the city of Jerusalem in obedience to the Lord. Urijah was apprehended and killed by Jehoiakim the king, but the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan (a government official) was with Jeremiah, so that he was not handed over to the people to be put to death. So Ahikam used his influence to support Jeremiah even when it was dangerous to do so.
      Jeremiah 26:10-11, 20-24

We Should Find Comfort In “The God Of All Comfort”
Psalm 94:19; 56:8-9

  • God comforts us in our tribulation (affliction). God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—He allowed Jesus to suffer on the cross, but used it for a greater purpose. God is the Father of mercies—He has great compassion on the suffering. God is the God of all comfort—He is the One who can give true consolation in times of suffering. We are persecuted because of Jesus, but our consolation also comes from Him. If persecution abounds, so does the consolation that He gives us. Thus, the comfort that is needed is never-ending and is given to us by a merciful God through His Son Jesus.
    2 Corinthians 1:3-4a, 5; (Psalm 23:4; 86:17; James 5:11)
  • God comforts us in our tribulation so that we can comfort those who are in any trouble. As we go through tribulations, sufferings, affliction, or trouble, God is working in our lives and as we trust in Him for strength, we learn what true comfort is. Thus, we are able to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves received from God.
    2 Corinthians 1:4b
    • Paul and Timothy understood this truth. They knew that their affliction and comfort would be used for the “consolation and salvation” of the Corinthian church—meaning they knew that the comfort they experienced through persecution would function to help the church to also know how to have comfort and perseverance when they patiently endured the same types of sufferings. It would also confirm the gospel because they weren’t unashamed of it—causing them to endure in the comfort of their salvation until they are fully saved out of this world. There is hope for all believers because if you partake of the sufferings, you will also partake of the consolation.
      2 Corinthians 1:6-7; (Romans 1:16)
    • Paul and Timothy exemplified this truth. They didn’t want their brethren to be unaware of the trouble and affliction they had when they were in Asia. Something had happened to them that is was beyond their control and it threatened to end their lives. It felt that everything had fallen apart and they were sentenced to death. But all of this was done so that they would not trust in themselves, but in God who raises the dead. God delivered them from this deadly event. They believe that He will even deliver them again because they set their hope and trust in Him.
      2 Corinthians 1:8-10
  • Prayer is a way we can comfort other believers in persecution. Paul told them that they could help through prayer. If God would answer their requests for them (“gift bestowed”) by the prayers of many, then thanks may be given to God by many on their behalf.
    2 Corinthians 1:11; (Romans 12:12; Hebrews 4:16)
  • God’s Word is a way we can comfort other believers in persecution. The Psalmist said that  His comfort in His affliction was that God’s Word—His promises—gives him life (quickened). We are to think upon and obey God’s Words and take comfort in them—not forgetting them or forsaking them in the midst of persecution.
    Psalm 56:10-11; 119:50-52, 76, 81-88

Review Questions

  • Who should we remember?
  • Why should we remember them?
  • What are some examples of helping God’s people?
  • Where do believers find true comfort?
  • How can we comfort others?

December 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends,

“Are you willing to take these with you when you visit China?” was the question I asked a missionary friend. He is the brother of one of our teammates in China. He and his wife were going to Asia for a visit. Our ministry was given hundreds of solar-powered audio devices that contained the Chinese audio Bible, preaching, etc. But we needed to get them into China. However, with all things like this, there is a risk. He agreed since they were going to be visiting China on this trip. He took the first batch of 250 devices into China without much of a problem—meaning they were stopped, asked questions and then released—successfully getting them into the country. But on their second trip into China with another 200 devices they had bigger problems—meaning they were stopped by customs, their bags were opened and security was called. Him and his wife were put into separate rooms for about two and a half hours. Eventually, someone showed up to interview them. Afterwards, they were released but all the devices were confiscated, as they found out it was “religious propaganda” (in their terms) from listening to the content on the devices. Finally, they were told that the devices were not allowed to enter the country but they could get them out of customs and take them to another country. They didn’t have the time to do this on their trip, thus we are still working on getting them out of customs. Praise the Lord for their protection and the devices that got in. Pray for those officials who listened to the content of the devices to realize that they are not listening to “propaganda” but “truth” that can set them free! Pray as we use the devices that are in-country to help reach into the cities and villages of China.

Praises, Prayer Requests, and Announcements:

  • New Support Update: We have raised about an additional 2% of new support this past month which makes a total of 10% raised on furlough. We are at 80% of our new support goal, which means we only need 20% more.
  • Furlough Traveling: Sine our last prayer letter, we had meetings in: SC, NC, TN, GA. Again, it is a blessing to serve God, see people respond to His working in China, and make new partners in the ministry as we travel.
  • New Project: Our China team, Vision For China, has written a book entitled, “A Thousand Lives” about the great need in China. Lord willing, we will be launching it at the end of this month. 
  • Event Reminder: December 28-29, 2018 is the Our Generation Summit in Mt. Sterling, Ohio. Our whole family will be attending this conference, Lord willing, and we want to invite you to come too! For more information contact us or visit: www.ogsummit.com.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying, serving, and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward and keep fighting the good fight. May we strive everyday to know Jesus, to be happy in the Him, and to make Him known! 

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

How Do We Endure The Persecuted Life?

Enduring persecution is part of God’s plan to evangelize the world, thus, we endure the persecuted life by: following Paul’s example; resting in the all sufficient grace of God; knowing there is a better and greater reward; and allowing God to avenge the persecuted.

We Endure By Following Paul’s Example

  • Enduring the persecuted life was exemplified by Paul. Paul and the apostles lived “the persecuted life”—meaning they were constantly under siege from different types of suffering because of the gospel—“as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God”. It was as if they were on exhibit in a Roman arena where men are sentenced to death. It was a life that seemed foolish, weak and despised—but it was the will of God because it was founded on the truth of God. Paul even goes on to describe their life (His and probably Sosthenes’ life) at that time. They were hungry, thirsty, naked (poorly dressed), buffeted (beat or punched), homeless (no certain dwelling place) and laboured by working with their own hands (financially support themselves and others). There were made as “the filth of the world” (like scummy water) and “the offscouring of all things” (like dirty scrapings). But Paul didn’t allow all of this to defeat him, instead He tells us what he did to endure the persecuted life and then urges us to be followers of him.
    1 Corinthians 1:1; 4:1, 9-16
    • “Being reviled, we bless”—endure verbal abuse with verbal blessings—to respond with truth, kindness and a godly disposition.
    • “Being persecuted, we suffer it”—endure harassment and attacks by bearing it—to patiently and tolerantly suffer it even though it is really unpleasant and difficult.
      James 5:10-11
    • “Being defamed, we intreat”—endure slander with entreatment—answer kindly in truth and love any false accusations brought against us or the gospel.

We Endure By Resting In The All Sufficient Grace Of God

  • Our infirmities, His strength: Paul gladly boasted in his infirmities because of the sufficiency of Jesus’ grace. Jesus’ strength is made perfect in weakness. Thus, Paul was wanting the power of Jesus to rest upon him. He realized that when he is weak, then he is strong through Jesus. Thus, for the sake of Jesus, he learned to be content with or take delight in infirmities, reproaches, necessities (hardships), persecutions, and distresses.
    2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • Our weakness, His power: As believers, we have “treasure” in earthen vessels. The treasure that we possess is “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. The earthen vessels or jars of clay represents our human weakness. Thus, God works through us who have received His salvation to show that the excellency and all-surpassing power belongs to Him and not to us. Paul was constantly being persecuted because he was always bearing in the body the death of Jesus—meaning that because he was being persecuted for Jesus’ sake. Through this suffering “the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body”—meaning that it would serve as a witness to others of Jesus. He evens says that they were always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake—meaning that believers are always going to face the potential of death if they live boldly for Jesus and try to reach the world with the gospel (like Paul and the other Apostles did). Through this risk of death “the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh”—meaning that we are willing to put our lives at risk of death so that others might receive life. God’s grace gives us the faith to say the following:
    2 Corinthians 4:6-12
    • “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed”—endure difficulties and suffering with hope in God knowing that He provides grace for us in the time of need.
    • “We are perplexed, but not in despair”——endure doubts and confusion with faith in God knowing He gives you the needed emotional and mental composure to endure.
    • “Persecuted, but not forsaken”——endure harassment and attacks with confidence in His presence, He will never leave us or abandoned us.
    • “Cast down, but not destroyed”—endure being thrown down with victory—we are never defeated because we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
      John 16:33; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

We Endure By Knowing There Is A Better And Greater Reward

  • Believers who endure the persecuted life will be rewarded. Jesus promises a great reward in heaven for those who are persecuted. Also, the Hebrew believers knew they had a better and an enduring substance in heaven—eternal salvation. When they first believed they endured a lot of persecutions. Then Paul encourages them that they are to continue in this “confidence”—their relationship with Jesus—and not cast it away because of continuing persecution because there is a great reward for them. To do this we need to patiently do the will of God, and in the end we will receive the promise of eternal life. As believers, we live by faith to the saving of the soul.
    Luke 6:22-23; Hebrews 10:32-39; 11:23-28
  • Our persecution is noticed by Jesus and rewarded. Jesus praises the church Smyrna for: enduring tribulation—being persecuted because of their faith in Jesus; enduring blasphemy—being accused of doing wrong and slandered by unbelieving Jews; enduring poverty—being financially poor, most likely due to following Jesus. Jesus warns that more persecution is coming. They will be cast into prison for “ten days” and may even face death. He advises them to “fear not” and to be “faithful unto death.” A reward for enduring this type of persecution is the “the crown of life,” which probably refers to eternal life or a literal crown, either way it would be a just reward from Jesus Himself.
    James 1:12; Revelation 2:9-10

We Endure By Allowing God To Avenge The Persecuted

  • God will avenge the persecuted and the martyrs. We don’t have to avenge ourselves, but rather leave it to the wrath of God. In Revelation, the souls of the tribulation martyrs—those that were “slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” are described. They were killed because they were faithful to the Bible and boldly proclaiming Jesus in spite of the opposition to the message they preached. They cried out from under the altar and asked God when He was going to avenge their blood. They were told to rest for a little season because there were other believers who would also be martyred like they were. But afterwards, He is coming to judge and avenge their blood.
    Romans 12:17-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10; Revelation 6:9-11

Review Questions

  • How did Paul exemplify the persecuted life?
  • Why did Paul gladly boast in his infirmities?
  • God’s grace gives us the faith to say what?
  • We endure persecution because we know what?
  • We should allow God to avenge who?

Exciting Things Happening!

✪ Our team Vision For China is working on a book, Lord willing, that we will have ready by the end of the year. You can find out more about this project here. We have been spending a lot of time on it recently and I am excited about how the Lord may use it!

✪ We are also praying that God will give us a man to help lead up our efforts to reach the villages in China. While most of our missionaries are going to be working in the cities, where the majority of the populace reside, we don’t want to forget about those living in the villages—God loves them and they need the gospel too!

✪ Our friends were taking solar-powered audio players for us into China that contain preaching and the audio Bible in Chinese, but they ran into some trouble. There were able to get the first shipment into the country with only some minor problems, but the second shipment was confiscated and not allowed into the country. Our friends were held and questioned but eventually released. We are now trying to get those players shipped to Taiwan since they can’t go into the country.

✪ Praise the Lord for our support continuing to be raised. We had two more churches partner with our ministry recently.

✪ The Our Generation Summit is coming up at the end of this month. I hope that you will be able to make it. It is going to be an incredible time. We are praying for God to do great things!