Why Persecution is Good and Strengthens, Grows, And Spreads the Church

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

We might think that persecution is bad, but in fact, persecution causes the growth of the church but also growth in the Christian.


We might think that persecution is bad, but in fact, persecution causes the growth of the church but also growth in the Christian. To begin with, everyone who lives a godly life is promised persecution, so if you’re a believer, you can count on being persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). If someone is never, ever persecuted, they might want to examine their faith because they might not be a believer at all…or they are a secret, private, underground Christian who is afraid to share their faith. In either of these cases, it’s very troubling. Persecution defined means oppression for the “holding of a belief or opinion” and is from the Old French word “persecucion” and means to persecute or damage or afflict or cause suffering. What is all the affliction and suffering about? It is because we trust in Christ and the world hates God so it will hate us because we are ambassadors for the coming Kingdom (2 Cor 5:18). We can face persecution from our family, friends, and co-workers and even from those on social media.

Christian Growth From Persecution

When we are persecuted for Jesus’ name’s sake, we grow in Christian character and conduct. Many people try to avoid persecution by remaining silent about the gospel, but the early apostles couldn’t keep quiet about Christ (Acts 4:20). We miss out on great blessings by our sin of silence because “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet 4:14). Who doesn’t want that? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10), so we must keep our eyes on the coming kingdom of heaven when we are persecuted for His name’s sake and understand there is a blessing that comes with it, and besides, we are in great company. Our Lord said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). What a great group of saints to be associated with!

Church Growth From Persecution

Every time the church was persecuted in the New Testament, it didn’t destroy it, but in fact, it grew the church and the church spread. We see this in the Book of Acts where is says, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1). When the church was persecuted and many scattered around the Roman Empire, they brought with them the gospel and seeded the entire province of Rome and Asia with the gospel. That’s why persecution is good. It causes the church to grow. When China wanted to stop the church from growing, they scattered the individual members all across China, but what China inadvertently did was to seed the entire nation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. By trying to stop the church, the church actually grew because of the persecution. The Apostle Paul said that, “For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)! If we don’t share Christ, we are out of the will of God (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

The Model for Church Growth

The model we see in the Bible for church growth that is not found in programs or in planning but in preaching the gospel and paying for it in persecutions. For example, the Christian’s “were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 9:1), but they brought the gospel of Jesus Christ with them! These fleeing, persecuted Christians spread out into the entire region of Judea and Samaria, meaning much of the Roman Empire, and after the gospel had spread that far, “the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied” (Acts 9:31). Church growth is not found in programs or plans but it is God Who gives the increase (Acts 2:47), and that increase comes from persecution.


It is my prayer that you have already put your trust in Jesus Christ, and are right now, sharing Christ with all those around you (Matt 25:35-36; 28:18-20). If you have still not yet trusted in Christ, you are flirting with disaster. Why would I say that? It is because God will forbid you from entering into the Kingdom. I would remind you of Jesus’ warning that on the Day of Judgment, “many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name” (Matt 7:22). In a heartbreaking statement, Jesus’ passes sentence on these who believed they were saved but were not. The Lord will say to them, “I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt 7:23). That is why I plead with you today…in fact, right now, to repent and put your trust in Christ. If you do not, you will surely face God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or at Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whichever happens to come first.

Here is some related reading for you: How to Respond to Persecution Jesus’ Way

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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