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Chapter 2: Persecution in the First Centuries


think about...

1. In forecasting the experiences of His people to the end of time, did Jesus offer flattering inducements to lead men to accept of Christianity? What phase of their experience did He especially stress? 39:1 [43:1]

Note.—The fact that Jesus foretold the trying experiences through which His church was to pass has exerted a powerful influ- ence in fortifying the believers in their conflict with the forces of evil.

2. What was the secret of the fortitude and perseverance of the faithful amid the awful persecutions under paganism? 41:1, 41:2 [45:1, 2]

3. In what way did the persecution prove to be a blessing—(1) to the cause of truth, (2) to the experience of the individual believers, (3) to the church as a body? 41:3; 41:1 [45:3; 47:2]

Note.—The phenomenal growth of the church under these ad- verse circumstances is evidence of a remarkable spirit of missionary zeal among the lay members.

4. Changing his strategy against the church, Satan wrought more effectually for its ruin by leading its members to compromise. They increased greatly in numbers, but at a dear cost in spiritual vitality.42:2; 43:1 [46:2; 47:2]

Note.—We see in the religious world today a popular trend toward compromise at the cost of a surrender of vital truth.

5. What should be our attitude toward the present-day trend toward compromising with error? 46:1 [50:4]

6. What part did apostates act in their warfare against the doc- trines of Christ? 45:1 [50:1] (For the application of the same princi

ple in our own time see page 608, paragraph 2) [608:2-681:1]

7. How can the statement of Jesus, “I came not to send peace, but a sword,” be harmonized with His title, “Prince of Peace”? 46:2, 3 [51:1, 2]

8. Notice God’s dealing with the righteous and the wicked, in permitting them to reveal their true character, thus vindicating the justice of His decision in regard to their destiny. 48:1, 2 [52:2, 53:1]

9. Should the fact that there is no bitter persecution against the church be regarded as a matter for great satisfaction? What experi- ence of God’s people will result in a renewal of persecution? 48:3 [53:2]