I have been told to my face by both a preacher, a church matriarch and two missionaries that God’s Word cannot be taken at face value, that what He said in the Bible could not be true, etc. God, they and billions like them proclaim by both word and action, has evolved and the “reality” of the “Christian life” proves that He has evolved greatly. He has seen the light of man’s truth and has embraced man’s more enlightened way of thinking. One of the ways in which He has evolved is evident in His attitude toward the persecution of His people. In fact, spiritual persecution no longer exists in the more enlightened societies such as the world’s “Christian nations.” This is true, but is it Bible?
In Matthew 13:21 Jesus guaranteed His followers that they would be persecuted for obeying Him. In Acts 14:22 we are told that we “must” be persecuted as proof that are qualifying for salvation. Jesus and His apostles proclaimed that true saints would be persecuted, hated and rejected on the spiritual level by the false church because the saints’ light would expose the church’s darkness. Religious persecution is the result of obeying God to the point of being labeled “peculiar”–totally different to what the church calls “normal” (Titus 2:14/ 1 Pet. 2:9). To the church’s billions-strong “Sinners Saved By Grace,” Peter’s proclamation that “only the righteous will be saved” (1 Pet. 4:18) is the ultimate insult. To the SSBG, the words “righteous” and “will be” are blasphemous because 1) righteousness is impossible and 2) they are already saved.
In Luke 14:28 Jesus warns those who would follow Him to “… count the cost” of doing so. In 9:26 He warned that to fall away from Him after joining Him makes one “… unfit for the Kingdom of God.” In His first sermon (Mat. 5:1-7:27) Jesus tells His disciples (and the multitude–5:1,2/ 7:28,29) the changes that must take place in their lives in order to follow Him. In the first nine verses He tells salvation seekers that they must become righteous. In the next three verses He warns them about the consequences for doing so–they would be persecuted, reviled and slandered, the Old Testament prophets serving as their examples. Through the Scriptures Jesus and His apostles teach would-be saints what to expect from religionists–hatred, revulsion, rejection, etc. The experiences of those in the early church, along with God’s saints today, prove that He was right.
Jesus addressed the persecution vs acceptance issue in Matthew 10: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I came not to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother and a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household …. He who does not take up his cross (endure persecution) and follow (obey) Me is not worthy of Me …. brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father will deliver up his child, and children will rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death (for obeying God), and you (true saints) will be hated by all men for My name’s sake. But (only) he who endures (persecution) to the end will be saved” (Mat. 10:21,22; 34-39). As was the case with the prophets, the apostles, Jesus and God’s saints today, the persecutors were and still are those who call themselves God’s people.
In Acts 9:4,5 Jesus has struck Saul to the ground and is asking him, “… why are you persecuting ME?” Saul (later Paul) asked Him who He was. Jesus replied: “I am Jesus WHOM YOU PERSECUTE.” Saul had never met Jesus, so how was he persecuting Him? When he persecuted Christ’s people he was persecuting Christ Himself, for His people were one with Him. Jesus was one with God (Jn. 10:30). Therefore, when Paul persecuted Their people he was persecuting both Jesus and His Father. Nothing has changed. In his second letter to Timothy the evangelist Paul told him to bear up under persecution, to endure for the sake of the true saints (“elect”) so that he (Timothy) and they (true saints) would receive salvation (2:8-10). Paul goes on to tell Timothy: “IF WE (PAUL AND TIMOTHY) ENDURE (persecution) WE will reign with Him (Christ). (However) IF WE DENY HIM (by not obeying Him) He will DENY US ” (12,13). PAUL AND TIMOTHY WOULD BE SAVED ONLY IF THEY WERE PERSECUTED FOR BEING PECULIAR. Are we required to do anything less? Has the end-time church received a persecution pass? Is she allowed to stroll through life being accepted by the religious community? SSBGers shout “YES!” The type of persecution Paul had been waging against the church–hounding them from place to place, imprisoning them, torturing them, killing them, “wasting” them (Gal. 1:13) is what Jesus called “persecution” in Acts 9:4,5. One denomination looking down on another denomination is not persecution. It is merely a difference of opinion.
I will end this posting with a few Scriptures that need no elaboration relative to the persecution of God’s saints:
Romans 5:3-5– persecution precedes salvation. Romans 8:17,18– persecution produces God’s glory in His peculiar people. Second Corinthians 4:8-11– the persecuted have Christ manifested in them. Hebrews 10:32-38– converted Hebrews (Israelites) were a reproach to their fellow Hebrews. James 1:2-4– being persecuted caused the saints to be “completed in Christ.” First John 3:13– we are not to be surprised when the (church) world hates us. Romans 8:14– not being persecuted for righteousness’ sake means that one is not in Christ Jesus, is not led by God’s Spirit and is therefore not a son of God. Second Corinthians 4:4– the world is spiritually blind. Jn. 15:19– saints are not of the world. John 16:33– the world is at war with the saints and has enmity against God (Jam. 4:4). First John 2:15-17– saints hate the ways of the world, spiritually segregate themselves from the world (James 1:17) and are persecuted for doing so.
God’s Word is clear: “ALL WHO WILL LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS WILL SUFFER PERSECUTION.” “WE MUST THROUGH MUCH TRIBULATION ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” “IF WE WILL RULE WITH HIM WE MUST SUFFER WITH HIM.” L.J.