– Isaac Watts
When Martha ran to Jesus to tell Him that Lazarus was dead, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this’” (John 11:25-26)? This meant that “all that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37), and Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
The church has spread more rapidly through persecution than by any other means, perhaps Paul’s missionary work. It says in Acts 8:1 that “there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” That got the church on the move, outward, which was part of the Great Commission, anyway (Matthew 28:19-20). Perhaps God allowed this persecution so that the Gospel would go out into “the regions of Judea and Samaria.” Whatever the case, it worked! Persecution ensured God’s promise that this Gospel would go out into all the world.
If you believe the promises of God are enough to venture an eternity on them, then you must embrace the idea that you’ll be hated. Wait! You probably thought this would be an uplifting and encouraging promise–but it really is. As part of God’s promise, “even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled” (1 Peter 3:14), and “even if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). God chose us “out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). This promise of God comes with blessings.
Jesus once said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), and that day is coming for everyone who’s repented and trusted in Christ. When the Apostle John saw the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1) along with the New Jerusalem come down from heaven (Revelation 21:2), I believe he was most impressed that “the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3). This means we “will see his face” (Revelation 22:4a) for the very first time! That promise may be the greatest next to our receiving eternal life by repentance and faith.
If Isaac Watts is right and “the promises of God are enough to venture an eternity on them,” then we can know we have eternal life by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and know that persecution and hatred will be coming our way but blessings with them and we finally get to see Jesus face to face for the very first time. These promises should encourage us to endure today for the joy set before us.