by Howard Green
The ongoing persecution of Christians has been a sad reality in many parts of the world. Brutality at the hand of those who want to extinguish Christians, state sanctioned violence, and Islamic extremists all play a sad role. Persecution has been something Christians here tend to dismiss as an ‘over there’ issue. I firmly believe there is a trend being established in the Western world. It’s subtle in nature, but if you are carefully watching what is going on in media, entertainment, government, and sadly some ministries…..you will discern that the tide of public opinion is rapidly turning against true Bible believing Christians. It is time for followers of Jesus to get ready for persecution in the West.
To be certain, unlike us….our brothers and sisters are facing severe persecution in many parts of the world. Beatings, starvation, beheadings, and burned homes & churches are everyday life for them. I want to ask you to stand in prayer for them because they have placed everything on the line for faith in Jesus. They are family and we are called to support each other. Our ministry resource page has a link to Voice of the Martyrs and other ministries to help persecuted Christians around the world. If you want to help by giving or writing a letter of encouragement, please click here.
Before we dig in, I want to make a quick distinction about timing. One thing I firmly abhor is date setting and making ridiculous unbiblical predictions about last days events. When I say that persecution is coming, I’m referring to the hate and actions of a godless world against Christians….not to the persecution that will certainly take place during the last half of Daniel’s 70th week under antichrist. Having made that distinction, it’s worth noting that the spirit of antichrist is already at work even now, and this growing Christian persecution is certainly an indicator of the nearness of the Lord’s return and may very well be setting the stage for end time persecution.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
In the past few weeks….Franklin Graham, Todd Starnes, and others have been warning us about the coming persecution. Look at the trend in recent years: Florists, bakers, photographers, and other business owners being fined and made to attend sensitivity or diversity training as a result of standing firm in their faith. Then there is the squelching of the faith our children have in Jesus.
Eight year old Ryleigh from NorthCarolina wrote about her hero Jesus only to be told to write her paper about someone different. Erin, a ten year old from Tennessee was given an assignment to write about someone she idolized….her choice was God and Jesus. Erin’s teacher objected to her choice and said that Erin couldn’t use God as her idol and to choose someone else. The little girl was also told to remove the paper because it couldn’t remain on school property. There are numerous examples of how free speech and freedom of creative expression are just fine in the classroom and all subjects are on the table except one: Jesus.
This world celebrates the lives of the wicked and vilifies the lives of the righteous. We are certainly living in a day when evil is called good and good is called evil. You can be a scumbag, but the minute you come out of the closet and announce you’re gay….it is followed by massive support and applause plus you are lauded as a hero. Celebrities such as Bruce Jenner have sex change surgery and are lauded all over social media and the blogosphere as “heroes & brave.” Nowadays….the heroes are those who practice and promote perverse, debase, and deviant ways of life. Christians are increasingly vilified because we won’t bow the knee and join in the celebrating of what this world calls acceptable.
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…
In parts of Europe and Canada, verses from the Bible and sermons containing them are being labeled as hate speech. Pastors in Scotland and the Netherlands have been arrested and fined for hate speech or ‘homophobic hate speech’ because they read a verse from the book of Leviticus about homosexuality or they simply speak against the lifestyle. The issue over Christians warning others about the homosexual life is only scratching the surface.
There are so many other issues that highlight the growing divide between true Christians and the world. One major issue is religious tolerance. It should be apparent to anyone paying attention to the media, pop-culture, and politics……..religious pluralism is front and center. Islam, Hinduism, Bahaism, LDS, new age, Kundalini, Buddhism, and all other forms of religion or spiritual expression are generally tolerated. Here in the West, they are completely tolerated and people express their level of tolerance by accepting these expressions of faith in god, goddess, self, Earth, or spirit as co-equal or adding to the greater good.
People will quickly talk about the love or teachings of Jesus when they want to try to condone or explain away something that’s clearly unbiblical. The fact is this: While Jesus is truly loving, merciful, and kind……He is also holy. Here is what His word says about worshipping anyone or thing else but Him:
Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Worshipping Allah, Budda, nature, Mary, teachings of Joseph Smith, or anything else but the one true God of heaven…….is nothing less than idolatry and demon worship. False gods are demons.
I love the US. and was thankful that for most of my life….faith could be lived without hinderance for the most part. Times are changing and so are western views regarding religion. Pluralism and tolerance of religious expression and beliefs increasingly apply to all but one group: Christians. I read an insightful piece from The Gospel Herald and the title warns us of the persecution to come. It is titled: Pluralism is the churches new enemy…saying “Jesus is the only Way” may land you in Jail. Even the ‘religious’ crowd is jumping on the all religions are co-equal bandwagon. The World Council of Churches promotes a culture of multi faiths and denounces Christian ‘religious superiority.’
True Christians stand on unshakable ground in the belief that…Jesus is the only way. This exclusive worship of Jesus and proclaiming He is the only way to eternal life will become a flashpoint of persecution. A day is coming soon when standing for Jesus will cost us dearly here in the West.
The exclusivity of Jesus isn’t just something Christians claim because we believe He is the only way. It is a fact that’s rooted and grounded on the authority of the Bible because of what Jesus said about Himself:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Jesus leaves zero room for doubting His exclusivity.
His claims to be God, the only way to heaven, and the only way to salvation & eternal life should give pause to those who call simply call Him a good teacher, ancient master, guru, one of many prophets, etc…. He is either exclusively God or he’s not and if people are trying to make Him….one of many spiritual experiences, they are worshipping a false Jesus.
I believe from here on out…..not only will true Christianity and true Christians be marginalized, we will also be vilified, and see persecution increase here in the West. In most of Europe, Canada, or America….if you believe in traditional marriage, speak against abortion, and are resolute about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, you are labeled as a hater. You are labeled as out of touch, antiquated, and a hateful homophobe. Words are powerful…the media, blogosphere, and entertainment industry won’t dare denounce the exclusive claims of Islam.
If you are a Christian……it’s open season on you and your beliefs.
The old saying has never resonated louder than now: If you tell a big enough lie often enough…..it becomes truth. The quote and evil intent has found it’s place many times in recent history. Here we are again….in a time when it’s commonly accepted practice to denounce the beliefs of Christians as hate or hate speech.
Friends, the persecution has already begun with words and slander. Rogue judges and prosecutors in Europe, Canada, and the US. are censuring parts of religious (Christian) based broadcasting, arresting people for teaching certain parts of the Bible, and fining Christian business owners for not providing services clearly intended for a purpose the owner’s faith won’t support.
Strong arm coercion, fines, words of ridicule from Hollywood and the local courthouse……..this is just the beginning. This world has a very skewed sense of the reality of good and evil. Many will call a Palestinian terrorist a ‘freedom fighter.’ Violent people will burn down part of a city and many will call them ‘misunderstood or disenfranchised.’ Even the government will call a violent beheading by a Muslim convert ‘workplace violence.’
One day….and I think given the anti Christian climate, one day much sooner than later, words and fines won’t be enough to deal with true Christians. Jail, garnishment, closing of ‘Christ centered’ churches, the suppression of pastors, Christian based writing on the internet, and broadcasting will follow. True Christians could very well have bank accounts seized, fines imposed, face jail time, get physically beaten, or even be murdered for our faith…..this may be the reality for Christians who refuse to deny their faith and not go along with the crowd.
The Bible commands Christians to be subject and give honor to the governments and authorities God has put in place. We are indeed called to live peacefully with all men…..as much as it depends on us to do so. Here’s the thing: public opinion, pop-culture, and society seem to make it impossible for this notion of living peacefully with all……by the world’s standards. Living peacefully with them means to accept, celebrate, and honor everything they believe in. It doesn’t matter how evil and wrong it is…….you must be in agreement or remain silent. If we want you to get involved in some way, you must comply or else…….that’s the true essence of tolerance to them.
Make no mistake about it, the reason Christians are on the verge of growing persecution here in the West is because we believe Jesus is the only Way. Joel Osteen was asked by Larry King if he believed Jesus was the only way to heaven. He danced around the subject and finally told Larry King: “I can’t judge someone’s heart…only God can. That’s the way I believe, but it’s not my business to say this one is or this one isn’t.” -Osteen As a Christian, Mr. Osteen could have simply rested on the authority of Jesus’ own words and said yes….Jesus is the only way because He said so.
Not only are we living in a time of growing persecution, we are living in a time when we will witness a mass defection from the true faith. Increasing numbers of ‘professing Christians’ will abandon the faith or drift into an ecumenical, worldly faith, and as the Bible calls it….a form of godliness. In all likelihood, we will find ourselves being denounced by false converts, some of those who used to claim to follow Jesus and worshipped in our churches.
1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
How are we to respond to persecution? The verse above is one of many in the New Testament that gives us an example on how to live in evil times and how to treat others when persecuted for the name of Jesus. We can pray for our enemies. We can maintain a spirit full of humility and kindness, even in the face of harsh ridicule and treatment. We must also not compromise the message of the gospel for the sake of acceptance. God’s word and god’s people are becoming increasingly unpopular, but the message of salvation though Jesus alone is what we must be faithful to. Stay in the reading of the Bible. Spend time with the Lord in prayer. Fellowship with other believers. Full of God’s Holy Spirit….be determined to finish well. The Lord will give you strength to stand and to get ready for persecution here in the West.
1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
All for Him, Howard