Christians are going to be persecuted. Life is not a bed of roses for Christians once they come to know the Lord as their personal Savior. The world, because of their father the Devil, hates Christians and seeks to destroy them. They direct their hatred for the Lord at the Christian. The Lord says in Matthew 5:11-l2:
“Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
God allows Christians to face persecution to toughen them up. A Christian, who endures persecution in the early stages of his walk with the Lord, will be able to withstand much greater trials later on. Romans 5:3-5 says: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
2 Corinthians 6:4 says, “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses.”
James 1:3 says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
Persecution, directed at Christians because of their love for the Lord, must not be confused with reproof and rebuke directed at carnal Christians.
2 Timothy 4:2-5 says: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Contemporary Christian music performers are always crying about the way they are being treated by fellow Christians. Brian Quincy Newcomb says of Mark Heard:
“Over the years, Heard has borne the cross of critics (including us) making note of astounding similarities between his work and the music of his influences--James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn, T-Bone Burnett, etc.”
Contemporary Christian Music Magazine says of Deniece Williams:
“In 1978, Deniece laid to rest any doubts about her star potential when ‘Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,’ her duet with Johnny Mathis, went to Number 1 and their joint album went gold. . . . But Deniece hasn’t always been in the favor of one particular group--conservative Christians. Maybe it’s none-too-subtle racism. Maybe it’s the nagging fear Christians have that anybody with Deniece’s success is only coming into the Christian marketplace to rake in a few more bucks.”
Craig Johnson asks about Stryper:
“How can four articulate, intelligent young men, each with a strong Christian commitment, elicit such criticism? Isn’t the issue greater than spandex and spikes? What about the message behind the metal?”
It’s sad how these fellows, who dress like homosexuals, have hairdos like female movie stars, run around with secular rock groups, and who are on the same secular rock label as the Motley Crue are persecuted by weirdo conservative Christians. It seems that Christians could back off and let these “boys” do their thing.
The truth is, they are not being persecuted; they are being rebuked, chastised, corrected and reproved for their ungodly activities by concerned Christians. Christians have never been appreciated in trying to get others to fear God and follow His commandments. CCM performer’s situational ethics demands that they be allowed to pursue their desires in spite of the cost to anyone else. This causes conflict with Christians.
God corrects errors in doctrine among His people.
Proverbs 3:11-12 says: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
Quite often God uses His servants as tools to carry out His chastening. If CCM performers’ hearts were in tune with the Lord they might realize they were being corrected not persecuted.
Webster defines persecution as: “to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment because of religion, race or beliefs.” Webster defines correction as: “1. The act of correcting. 2. Something substituted for what is wrong. 3. Punishment or chastisement. 4. A quantity applied to increase accuracy.”
If every religious person does that which is right in his own eyes, as in the time of the Judges, there will be no possible way to determine what is right or wrong. When this is true we have situation ethics. If, on the other hand, the Bible is our guide we should be able to tell the difference between applying a “quantity to increase accuracy,” and “harassing or oppressive treatment because of religion, race, or beliefs.”
With God’s directives in hand we can tell people when they are doing things which are unscriptural and reprove and rebuke them. If they are born again and their motives are right they will receive the rebuke as correction. If they are lost or carnal Christians they will receive the rebuke as persecution.
Proverbs 15:10, 32-33 says: “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
CCM performers need to learn discernment, which can only be gained by believing in absolutes, which can only be found in God’s Word. When the CCM crowd learns discernment they will be able to tell the difference between persecution and correction.
It is very difficult to receive correction for those willfully pursuing their own “religious” course. Acting in this manner will always cause them to justify their actions.
The Lord reproved the Pharisees. He called them many names. The Pharisees, I’m sure, felt persecuted. They were religious zealots and knew the Old Testament. How did anyone, let alone a poor carpenter’s son, dare reprove them? Had the Lord not been perfect, had there been no absolutes, the Pharisees would have been correct to go on the counter-attack and accuse the Lord of slandering their good name. However, the Lord was perfect, there were absolutes, and the Pharisees were being corrected.
Man has not changed in 2,000 years. There are still Pharisees among us going on the counter-attack. They cry out, “Persecution, Persecution!” Could it be correction, correction unheeded?
Matthew 23:1-7 says: “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.”
In this chapter God calls these religious “entertainers” (they did like to be seen by all men): “hypocrites, devourers, proselytes, blind guides, blind fools, blind Pharisees, white sepulchers which are clean on the outside and full of uncleanness, outwardly righteous, children of them who killed the prophets, serpents and vipers.”
These religious leaders, these Pharisees who could have cried in self defense, “this fellow is guilty of slander and libel,” are the real persecutors. Jesus says in Matthew 23:34: “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.”
Persecution comes because the world hates God, and in attacking his children they are showing that hatred. Persecution also comes to strengthen us.
Reproof and rebuke however, are not persecution. Many CCM promoters and performers haven’t learned this distinction. Our prayer is that they may learn the difference so they may keep the Devil from continuing to destroy their followers.
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