Home > C. H. Spurgeon, church history, church life > Persecution and Suffering for Righteousness Sake: Not Just Burning at the Stake

Persecution and Suffering for Righteousness Sake: Not Just Burning at the Stake


A nominal Christian friend is impressed by the stories of the martyrs who were burned at the stake (past and present situations), and objects to hearing fellow believers talk about the persecution we experience in America:  “that’s not really persecution.”  He was okay with the description found in verses in 1 Peter (ESV), which describe the less dramatic and non-bloody “suffering for righteousness,” but insisted that “suffering for righteousness” is not the same as persecution and thus we shouldn’t say we are experiencing persecution.

I see his point, but would say that the difference is one of degree, not of different words such that only martyrs are persecuted and the rest of us do not experience persecution. Also, if only those who die for their faith experience persecution (and only them), what does one do with 2 Timothy 3:12?  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  Of course that does not mean that only those who die for the faith are the ones who live godly lives. After all, in the preceding verse Paul described past persecutions – events certainly greater than what most Americans today experience, but since Paul was still alive and writing about them, it was persecution of the non-bloodshed type.

In thinking further about this, I came across this great commentary from Spurgeon:

In olden times they did it by burning, torturing and tormenting Christians, making them suffer all kinds of indescribable agonies. But that method did not work, so the devil now adopts other measures. He found that the more he oppressed them, like Israel in Egypt, the more they multiplied—so now he acts in another fashion. How does he do it?   Not exactly by open persecution, but “the offense of the Cross” shows itself, sometimes, by private persecution.

You do not, all of you, hear of the persecution that is going on with regard to the Lord’s people. Every now and then things of this sort come to my notice, though you may not know of them. How many drunk husbands there are who persecute their wives almost incessantly because they cleave fast to God? How many a young man, how many a young woman is there who is called to suffer persecution from father and mother and sister and brother, for Christ’s sake? Persecution is not over—it works slyly and comes not out openly before the world. It comes not out into Smithfield, as it did of old, though there may be many a house in the neighborhood of Smithfield that reeks with it. It comes not out in an honest garb, but watches for its prey in a covert way. It is not the lion, but the prowling jackal, though it is as wild and as ravenous as ever.

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  1. Truth2Freedom
    May 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  2. May 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Wow that’s a good point Lynda. For a long time I would tell people and preach that we in America have not really been persecuted. But good point especially with 2 Timothy 3:12

    • May 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks, Jim. Yes, Spurgeon described it well, and we can look at verses such as 2 Timothy 3:12 as to what persecution is, though in differing degrees.

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