14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. Gal 6:14-17 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul did indeed bear the marks of persecution on his body. He had been found to be worthy to suffer shame for the name as had Peter and John (Acts 5:17-42). Paul had been stoned, beaten, imprisoned, run out of town, and would die as a martyr. Why were the Apostles persecuted so?…
They preached the truth. They preached against sin and works theology. They preached the Cross. They preached the exclusivity of the Gospel and against pluralism. They held that God’s truth was absolute. This is the message the natural, unregenerate person hates. This is the message the pseudo-Christians hate as well because the clear bright light of God’s truth reveals their compromises and false doctrines.
I heard a sermon by R.C. Sproul several years ago about suffering. In that sermon, he referred to an incident in our Lord’s ministry in which a man born blind was brought to Him (John 9). They asked the Lord Jesus who had sinned, the man himself, or his parents that he had been born blind. This is the either/or fallacy. It assumes that the reason is one of only two options. Our Lord told them that this man was born blind for neither of those reasons, but that the works of God might be manifest in him (John 9:3). In this, we must understand that Christian suffering may indeed come upon believers for the very fact that they are faithful. They may indeed refuse to compromise and may indeed preach and teach things that cause offense to some. However, we must never forget that God is allowing these things that the works of God might be manifest in them. This is all part of being found worthy to suffer shame for the name in partaking of the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.