Stand strong, Christian. Christians are to love everyone, but we must also speak the truth in love. There is a line being drawn in the sand. Will you stand on the side of truth? If you turn your back on the truth of Scripture, you’re turning your back on Jesus.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you…” (1 Peter 4:12-14).
Right now, there are tens of thousands of Christians being persecuted for their faith around the world. In Nigeria, 43,000 Christians have been killed by Islamic extremists over the last 12 years, and 17,500 churches have been attacked. Thousands have had their homes and land taken. The government does nothing to help them because the president is Muslim. We could write volumes about the persecution in North Korea, China, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, etc. Those who live in these countries are asking for our prayers. BUT, most of them are not asking for us to pray that the persecution will stop! These Christians want us to pray that their faith will not waver, that they will continue to trust God and have courage to share Christ with others, even while under the threat of imprisonment, torture, and death.
You need to know that many of the churches in these countries are vibrant and powerful. These Christians are 100% committed! The power of God is flowing in their “underground” house churches and many are being saved, healed, and delivered! They can see that persecution is good for their faith, keeping them close to Jesus, walking in holiness. Throughout history, persecution has been good for the Church, it purifies and empowers; this is why God allows it.
The Holy Spirit flows freely through a completely yielded vessel, through those committed and dependent on Him. What will it take for the Western Church to get to that place? Genuine repentance and complete surrender would bring us there, but it will probably take persecution. One more thing: Please stop calling Covid restrictions and mandates “persecution.” You are insulting our brothers and sisters who are being tortured for Christ.
Dear Christian, are you prepared to deal with persecution? The little that has already occurred: bakers fined because they won’t make cakes for same-sex weddings, Christian symbols banned from public display, anti-Christian sentiment in the media, etc. is only the beginning. Some of the persecution will come from family members (Matthew 10:21-22) and from the “Church” itself. Those who have compromised will hate you because you believe the Bible. Humanists already think they are more righteous than you because they help the poor and accept everyone’s sexual preference. Ask God to prepare your heart and give you courage. There are dark and difficult days ahead.
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:12-17).
It is now time to prepare the people for the difficult days ahead. Adversity and persecution are necessary to test your faith. Don’t be surprised when it comes. (1 Peter 4:12-19). Biblical Christianity is very unpopular in this hour. We are being called haters and extremists. Will you continue to be a Bible-believing Christian or will you succumb to popular demand?
In 64AD, the Roman emperor Nero ordered some merchant shops to be burned to make room for his new palace. The fire got out of control and burned two-thirds of Rome. Nero then blamed it on the Christians. This turned Roman society against the believers and unleashed a wave of persecution that caused many to be tortured and martyred, including Apostle Peter.
Be aware; Bible-believing Christians will be accused of things they did not do. (This happened to the Jews in Germany and Christians in Russia, China, etc.) How should we respond when this happens? There’s nothing wrong with defending yourself in court, but should we argue and fight as the world does? Absolutely not! We should rejoice! It is time to be courageous. The Church must not give way to the ungodly practices of our society. I hope you understand.
Over these next years, there will be increased pressure for the Church to accept abortion, homosexuality, and transgenders. This will not only come from the local and state government; it will be coming from within the Church. They will speak of love and acceptance, even using the scriptures to present their case – don’t be deceived. Pastors from several denominations have been forced to accept same-sex marriage or they lose their church and their pension.
Christian students in high schools and universities are denied their rights and risk failing grades. Christian business owners are being fined for not submitting to the gay agenda. Stand strong, Christian. Christians are to love everyone, but we must also speak the truth in love. There is a line being drawn in the sand. Will you stand on the side of truth? If you turn your back on the truth of Scripture, you’re turning your back on Jesus.
The Church is now being tested. The wheat is being separated from the chaff. This sifting will prove who is a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. The Lord showed me from scripture that in these last days many will be persecuted and even martyred because they believed in the Word of God.
Revelation 1:9 says that the Apostle John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos, “…for THE WORD OF GOD and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 6:9 says, “… I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for THE WORD OF GOD and for the testimony which they held.” And Revelation 20:4, “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus AND for THE WORD OF GOD…” Why were they martyred? For believing and proclaiming THE WORD OF GOD.
A study by the Observatory on Intolerance Against Christians in Europe shows that five historically Christian countries are now the most likely to infringe on the Christian’s freedom of belief: France, Spain, Germany, the UK, and Sweden. Anti-Christian hate crimes have risen throughout Europe by 70% in the last two years. France and Germany have the most occurrences, but they were the most severe in France and Spain. In the UK, there has been a growing trend of prosecuting religious speech as “hate speech.”
The WORD OF GOD is considered “hate speech” because it reveals sin and calls sinners to repentance. Very soon, Bible-believing Christians will be censored and lose the right to call sin, sin; they will also be considered narrow-minded and intolerant for proclaiming that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
I have been watching conditions deteriorate in Europe over the past several years, as secular humanism and hedonism increased. Their decline was typically a few years ahead of what was happening in America. Heads up, America! Anti-Christian sentiment has already begun to happen here, and it will increase. Many will fall away because they aren’t grounded in God’s word. They won’t understand what is happening when they can’t make it all go away by claiming a few scriptures and making some decrees. You need to prepare yourself. But remember, God has allowed this and will use it to test you and to purify His Church. We must not be fearful or shrink back.
Pastors, please teach the people how to stand in difficult times. Let me encourage church leaders again to start home fellowship groups now, as this is an excellent way to make disciples and do neighborhood evangelism; it will also be good to have these groups up and running when it becomes necessary to meet in smaller venues.
There was a teaching given several years ago about the 7 mountains of culture (Religion, Family, Education, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment, and Business) proposing a strategy to gain Christian influence in all of these areas. This teaching went off the rails, but these “7 mountains” are accurate. Over the years, the enemy has multiplied his influence in all of these arenas.
He is now in control of education, much of the government, media, entertainment, and business. Christianity and the family are seriously under attack, and we are losing ground. Can you see these things? When you push Christ out of your home, city, or nation, Satan will quickly fill the void. Man’s good ideas and good intentions will not even hinder the onslaught of Satan.
The evil one is now launching an all-out assault on the Church. He has been emboldened by victories he has already won, and he is now using the news media, some politicians, and the entertainment industry to lead the charge. These individuals and organizations will bully, and badger you, and call you a hater or an extremist. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you…” (Joshua 1:9).
It is essential that you not become distracted in this hour. As a citizen of God’s kingdom, your goal is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33). Far too many of God’s children have been focused on an earthly kingdom and leader, and have been deceived by conspiracies that are of no importance. All of this is a distraction.
Simon the Zealot was one of the original 12 apostles. The Zealots were a political movement in the 1st-century which sought to incite the people of Judah to rebel against the Romans and expel them from the Holy Land by force. Simon probably expected Jesus to start an insurrection against the Romans and establish an earthly kingdom. He must have been confused by Jesus’ teachings that commanded His followers to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).
Simon eventually forsook his carnal ideas, humbled himself, took up his cross, and followed the Lamb of God who reviled no one, even when He was unjustly accused and crucified. Please don’t be distracted by vaccines, government mandates, and conspiracies. Keep your focus on Jesus. He never came against the oppressive government of His time, nor demanded His rights. Your freedom and democracy, in general, should not be your primary goal. Loving and obeying God, calling the backslider to repentance, and the salvation of souls should be. Time is running out – don’t get distracted!
Of course, you can be a Christian who loves your country, but Jesus never taught anything about quarreling and demanding your rights. Draw near to Jesus, and pray for those who come against you. Be a witness for Christ, help the poor, visit the sick, etc.; this is what Jesus taught us to do. God has surely used nations and governments throughout the ages, but “All nations before Him are as nothing and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.” (Isaiah 40:17). What God is looking for is a people who will truly love Him and will do what He asks them to do.
If you are serious about advancing the Kingdom of God, count the cost. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35). It’s time to grow up and understand the ways of God. We are totally unprepared for persecution. The Lord is now calling His Church to the fellowship of His suffering. (Philippians 3:10). This does not yet include the shedding of blood, as is happening elsewhere, but it’s time for the Christian to suffer reproach, rejection, ridicule, financial loss, and loss of reputation (at home, in school, the workplace, and church) for the sake of Jesus Christ. Are you willing?
In other countries, Christians know they will be mistreated and could even be imprisoned for their faith, and yet they commit their life to Jesus. What has happened to the western Church? What happened to personal sacrifice for the sake of Christ?
Do you know the difference between “phileo” and “agapeo” love? Phileo is the Greek word for brotherly love or affection, friendship. Agapeo is Greek for “self-sacrificing love.” This is how God loves us. (John 3:16). There is an interesting discourse between Jesus and Peter (John 21:17), after the resurrection when Jesus asks Peter three times if He loves Him. The first two times Jesus asks, “Do you agapeo Me?” Peter answers with, “Phileo.” Sadly, both of these words are translated as “love” so we entirely miss the meaning.
Before Peter denied Christ, he boldly declared that he would die for Him (that would be “agapeo” love). After running away and denying Jesus, Peter was humbled and broken. He could no longer declare a self-sacrificing love for Jesus so he answered, “You know that I phileo You.” Then Jesus asked him (the third time) if he even had affection for Him; this is why Peter was grieved. Jesus then restores and encourages Peter by telling him that he will surely demonstrate his sacrificial love for Jesus by eventually dying for Him (John 21:18). My point: How many of us claim to have a deep love for God, but when tested, we run away. Many are even ashamed to mention the name of Jesus in public.
Why do we give an invitation to accept Christ by asking everyone to bow their head, and close their eyes? Are we afraid that someone will get embarrassed? It would be much better to say that others won’t like them and they could be mocked, and persecuted for believing in Jesus. If they still come forward, then you will have someone who is genuinely committed to Christ.
Are you ashamed to call yourself Christian? A lot is riding on your words and actions during this season. Don’t be a coward. It’s time to break your silence. Jesus saved you by suffering and dying. He hung publicly on the cross for you. Won’t you acknowledge Him before others? I’m not saying you must preach on a street corner, but at the appropriate moment, in a private conversation, why can’t you say, “I love Jesus Christ. He has changed my life.” Ask the Holy Spirit to help you do this.
It’s not a bad thing to be insulted or abused for the sake of Jesus; it is very good. You should rejoice! But it’s very bad to sway with the wind so people will like you. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26). Over the years, while ministering on the street, I have been mocked, threatened, spit at, had things thrown at me, and was attacked by someone who smashed the equipment.
One time, while preaching on the street, 2 men began to rant and spit at me. They grabbed our gospel tracts and tore them in pieces. I was both angry and afraid, but then something wonderful happened! The Holy Spirit began to speak to me, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…”
At that moment I was filled with such joy that it must have caused my face to shine. The attackers looked at me and then walked away. The Lord was there to comfort and encourage me during that difficult time – He will do the same for you. I am so grateful for the awesome privilege of serving the Lord Jesus Christ!
Ask the Lord to do whatever He needs to do in you to bring you to a genuine self-sacrificing love for God – willing to be uncomfortable, inconvenienced, and embarrassed or, someday, even to give your life for Him. Look forward, with joyful expectation, for this glorious time to come!
Remember, your hope and encouragement are in Jesus Christ. If you continue to trust and obey God and endure to the end (Matthew 24:13), you will spend a glorious eternity with Him. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
We must get this right, Church! Before you tell the Lord you are willing to die for Him, I encourage you to be willing to live for Him, to be uncomfortable for Him, to be inconvenienced, embarrassed, and rejected for Jesus. Seems like a good place to start.
I think you’re aware of the scripture, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). This is often quoted when teaching about the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
The obvious: We are to be empowered by the Spirit to share the gospel with others. Nevertheless, there is something here that you may not be aware of. The Greek word used for “witness” is “martus;” it means to tell what you have seen or experienced. However, the word “martyr” is derived from “martus”- “those who have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death.”
Martyrdom is the ultimate witness for Jesus, to give your life for Him, willing to die rather than deny Him. This is an awesome privilege! Are you willing? Lord, prepare us for the difficult days ahead and help us to be willing to lay down our life for You.
When we hear about Christians being persecuted in other countries, it’s difficult for those in the West to understand their plight. Please take a moment to consider this: How would you feel if your neighbors gathered outside of your house and began yelling at you because you are a Christian? Then they throw stones at your house and begin threatening you. Would you be afraid? Would you be angry? How would you respond? I hope you wouldn’t get your gun.
We have brothers and sisters around the world who endure things like this. They try their best to trust God and remain faithful to their Savior. Some even find ways to help those who hate them, expressing the love of Christ and proclaiming the truth of His Word. They have even led some of their oppressors to the Lord. God gives amazing grace at times like this. He will do the same for you.
Cling to Jesus. Seek Him for instructions on how to prepare for the days ahead. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3).
How will the Church gain victory in this hour of darkness? By the blood of the Lamb, the truth of God’s Word, our testimony, and the power of the Holy Spirit using our spiritual gifts. We must surrender our life to Jesus and obediently follow Him, COMPLETELY laying down our life. Do you understand? “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25).
Martyrdom is one of the most prominent themes in the Book of Revelation. Consider Revelation 6:9-11, “When He (Jesus) opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.’” God has pre-determined the number of martyrs!
One of the purposes of the great tribulation is to bring the Church to maturity by taking the saints through a similar experience that their Savior had. Jesus never spoke of a pre-13 tribulation rapture.
In Matthew 24, Jesus is preparing the disciples to be hated, persecuted, and martyred. The Church is very prominent in the Book of Revelation; it has not been raptured! Pre-tribulation rapture believers will say that these are the ones left behind, but this is NEVER stated in the Scriptures! Remember, our hope is not in this life; it is in the world to come. Our call is to follow Jesus even unto death… to love Jesus more than anyone or anything, more than our own life.
The Church WILL face the Antichrist. We WILL be martyred for believing the Word of God and testifying to the truth. Remember, martyrdom is the ultimate witness to those who are not saved. Because of this, there will be a great harvest of souls during this gross darkness. Here are more scriptures that speak of martyrdom:
Revelation 7:9-14, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’ Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So, he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'” I believe these are the martyrs dressed in the white robes they had been given (Revelation 6:11). They are standing before the throne not by rapture, but by martyrdom.
Everyone around the world will hate believers. Nevertheless, many will be saved by the witness of the martyrs. The Church at the end of the age will not only proclaim the gospel, but we will also demonstrate the gospel by laying down our lives. The pre-tribulation rapture teaching causes the Church to be detached from the greatest time in Church history. As we lay down our lives for Jesus, multitudes will be saved!
Revelation 12:10-11, “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God, day and night, has been cast down.’ And they (the saints) overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.‘”
Revelation 13 and Daniel 7, 8, and 11 tell of martyrdom at the hand of the Antichrist. We give our lives away during this time, as Satan attacks the Church; this is how we overcome him! Please don’t think you should fight against the Antichrist forces. Lay down your life, don’t try to save it!
Throughout the Book of Revelation, we see the blood of the saints being spilled. Nevertheless, the truth of Scripture has been whitewashed. Many preachers portray a comfortable church being rescued from all of this, but this is not the truth. It will be a glorious privilege to give your life for Jesus Christ. This will be the church’s finest hour!
Jesus was brutally tortured and crucified, shedding His blood for you. If you obediently follow Him, you will suffer persecution. You may even die for Him. It is unbiblical to think that God will spare you from suffering. Millions of Christians have suffered, and are now suffering, for their faith in Jesus. And remember, a fruit of the Spirit is long-suffering! There is great value in suffering. Sadly, much of the western Church will not survive this persecution because they foolishly believe they won’t have to suffer. Our mandate is to overcome. Those who endure to the end will be saved!
The following is a quote from Corrie ten Boom, a wonderful woman of God, who was in a Nazi concentration camp where only 20% of the women survived: “There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.
In China, the Christians were told, ‘Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be raptured.’ Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, ‘We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first.’ Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes – to stand and not faint.’”
I hope you understand. Draw near to Jesus and have your heart and mind prepared to suffer and die for Him. Ask the Lord to make you ready, and consider it a privilege! Your reward will be great in heaven.