The Promise of Persecution

JRC Sermon Notes & Discussion Questions 11/10/2013 – John Lindell 

John 15:18-16-4
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:18-27 ESV) “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” (John 16:1-4 ESV)


  • Jesus is in the upper room.
  • Telling the disciples what they need to know, before he leaves to be crucified.
  • Loving others, preparing a place, abiding,…and now persecution.
  • If people hate me and get riled up in anger at me, they will also be riled up by your Christian witness.
  • The story of Christianity is a story of persecution, martyrdom, and death.
  • Consider the deaths of nearly all of the disciples/apostles. John was the only one to die a natural death, but he was boiled in oil and exiled to the Isle of Patmos.
  • For more see: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (Story of Polycarp & others)
  • Just because we, in America, have it easy doesn’t mean that other Christians throughout the world have it easy.


  • There is no guarantee that following Christ is easy.

Why are we being persecuted?

  1. Because the world hates Jesus 15:18 – What other founder of a religion does the world make fun of? Yet, the name of Jesus Christ is taken in vain repeatedly. Despite the fact that Jesus gave his life for the world they hate him, because the world is energized by Satan.
  2. Because we are not of the world 15:19 – We are not part of the system. We oppose it. If you/we reflected the values of the world (were a part of the pack) we would not be bothered. 
  3. Because we have identified with Jesus 15:20 – No matter what you do, if you are willing to “Confess Christ, Confront Sin, and Create Community” you will come under criticism and castigation. Phil 3:10 That I might know Christ sufferings and be like him…how well do we relate with Paul’ statement and request/desire to know Christ?
  4. Because the world doesn’t know Jesus 15:21-24 – It is interesting to note that if we tell someone they don’t know Jesus…they get offended. A lot of people think they know Jesus, but in reality – they don’t.
  5. Because God’s word predicted it 15:25 – They hated Me without cause. 1 Pet 4:12 – Don’t be surprised when you come under attack. Expect it. We are in the midst of a bloody battle, and you/we live in the middle of the battle field  whether you want to be or not, whether you know it or not. Furthermore, if Jesus continues to tary, it will get worse.

How shall we respond?

  1. We should rely on the Holy Spirit. 15:26; Mark 13:11 – Do not be anxious, we have the HS living inside of us, who will help us respond. We are not alone when we are confronted. Don’t freak out. Be a vessel for the voice of the spirit.
  2. We should keep sharing the truth 15:27; Luke 21:13-15 – You also shall bear witness, because you have been there from the begining. Confession creates opportunity. God will provide us with wisdom that cannot be contradicted. God will give us a “mouth.”
  3. We should stand firm 16:1 – Following Jesus could cost you/us everything that you have. Accept it now so that you won’t be surprised when conflict and loss comes your way.
  4. We should remember persecution was predicted 16:4 – I will lay down everything to follow him. Jesus shoots straight with us.  He doesn’t candy coat the truth.  We knew it was coming.  It has always been part of “the mission.”

Three Life Applications:

  1. There is big difference between picking a fight and enduring persecution – Being abrasive without cause just means that you are a jerk, not that you are being persecuted.
  2. There is a big difference between living in the world, and loving the world. – It not about becoming a cloister, a bubble society to hide in. We are to be a light in the world by living in the world and rubbing shoulders with those in the world. All was given for us to enjoy, but the enjoyment shouldn’t become our focus or our priority. Be all that some might be saved. (without compromising Biblical priciples)
  3. There is a big difference between running scared and being informed. We know that it will get worse. That doesn’t mean that we are freak-out and freeze ourselves into inaction…Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Letters from Prison…”And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Discussion Questions: For questions with multiple parts, find an answer to the first part before you read the next part to the group. These types of questions are designed to build on the answer of the previous part before moving on.

  1. In 15:18-19, Jesus said because He chose us the world will hate us. Why do you think this is? Have you ever experienced animosity from non-Christians because of your faith?Explain. How can we have a Christ-like response when people treat us wrongly because of our faith?

  2. Read 15:18-21 & Luke 14:28-33. Jesus said we are chosen by Him (John 15:16, 19), but that privilege has its cost. As you have served Jesus, what “cost” would you say you’ve paid? As you’ve paid that cost, what has God given you back in return?How has this strengthened your relationship with Christ?

  3. Read 15:21-24. According to this passage, why does the world hate Jesus? When confronted with something we’ve done wrong, why is our natural reaction often to be defensive or hostile? How can we continually walk in humility throughout every area of our lives?

  4. In the midst of telling His disciples about persecution, Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. Read 15:27 & Luke 12:11-12. According to these scriptures, what is our responsibility during times of persecution? What is the Holy Spirit’s role? How does this encourage & empower you to share your faith no matter the outcome?

  5. Jesus warned His disciples about the coming persecution so they would not lose faith when things got tough (16:1-4). Tell of a time in your faith journey when things got hard or did not go the way you wanted them to. How were you able to resolve your doubts?What was the most important lesson you learned from that situation?

  6. In 16:2 Jesus said His followers would be put out of the synagogue, which meant they would be excluded from their society’s normal way of life. As Christians today, how have you seen this dynamic played out?Read John 17:14-18. What does it mean to live in the world, but not be of the world?

  7. In 16:2 Jesus said a time is coming when people will be so deceived they would kill His followers, thinking they are “doing a holy service for God” (NLT). Have you ever known a person who was so deceived that they justified their sin as the will of God? Explain. How can we help a person in that situation?What are some steps we take to keep ourselves from falling into deception? 



One response to “The Promise of Persecution

  1. Reblogged this on Jagged Veil and commented:

    A great message from JRC – James River Church – along with discussion questions. Originally posted on my Life Group Blog

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