Salvation for the Worst of All

Praying for Our Persecutors

By Linda Canup
  • January 25, 2015

It’s one thing to see evil in someone’s past and say, “Christ has forgiven this person.” But it’s something else to see someone committing evil and say, “Christ can—and will—forgive this person if he or she would only accept His gift of salvation.”

Except for the fact that it isn’t. While it may be more difficult for us to forgive, Christ’s offer of salvation is unwavering, regardless of the timing of the offenses. He forgives sinners who repent and turn to Him, always.

Prior to his conversion, the apostle Paul was a self-described blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor. The worst of all, he says. But even he found mercy in Christ, proving that no one is too evil to be saved (1 Tim. 1:12-17).

In his message “Persecuted,” Dr. Stanley explains the importance of loving and praying for our enemies:

    This is perhaps the most difficult assignment, yet it’s what Christ commands (Matt. 5:44). We’re to pray that Jesus might be made known to our enemies through our responses to mistreatment. Unbelievers can’t understand why Christians exhibit strength, love, and forgiveness in the midst of ill treatment. Wherever the church has endured persecution, it has grown because people see how believers respond, and want that kind of life as well.

    The worst way to react to persecution is to stop talking about Jesus for fear of upsetting people. However, we need to unsettle them by courageously and clearly sharing the truth because without Christ, they’re on their way to everlasting separation from God. One day all their enjoyments and pursuits will vanish, and they’ll have to stand before a holy, righteous God. We want them to know the only One who can change their lives—both now and for all eternity.

If there is ever going to be peace and respite from evil prior to Christ’s return, it will be because of His power to change hearts. Let us not only pray for freedom for the oppressed, but also for the release of sin’s hold on their oppressors, and for the courage to do our part.

Learn more about how God turns what was meant for evil into good in Dr. Stanley’s message “Persecuted.”

Related Topics:  Forgiveness  |  Evil  |  Judgment

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12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,

13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;

14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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