Biblical Audio Commentary – Coming Persecution: I Might Be Wrong
It wasn’t long after coming to the Lord that I learned about martyrs of the faith. I don’t think I even knew what the word martyr meant, but in a small group study our hosts pointed me to Foxes Book of Martyrs and a little book about the amazing, humble man of faith in China named Watchman Nee.
From there I learned about Voice of the Martyrs, and a couple years after that began volunteering with them. I spoke about VOM at various churches and helped out at many of their yearly regional conferences near where I lived. Through this exposure, I met a number of remarkable people of faith who had suffered for the Name of Christ in different places around the world.
I can truly say that it was this introduction to persecution in my Christian walk that strengthened my faith immensely. Once I began studying Bible prophecy, I began to understand the connection of belief in Christ with how the end-times would see immense hatred toward Jesus and intense persecution of His followers.
In contemplating these coming times, I made the assumption that the persecution which has been present throughout history, and more recently in most places around the world except in America, would eventually make its way here. In large measure – looking at our current circumstances – it seems, for the most part, that I may have been wrong – please note my qualifier.
The extent of persecution elsewhere than America is literally off the charts. It’s said that there was more persecution around the world in the 20th century than in all previous centuries combined. I think it’s fair to say that our 21st century – were it to continue to its conclusion some 80 years from now – would eclipse the prior record. Of course, as an imminent pre-Tribulation Rapture believer – and as someone who is convinced God must soon judge this wicked world – I don’t think our planet will get anywhere near that time milestone, since the world as we know it won’t be around that long.
We have only to peruse the Open Doors World Watch List to understand how awful persecution is around most of this planet. Christians are being maimed, tortured, and killed at an alarming rate. One of the difficult – and frankly, disgusting – lessons I learned when speaking for VOM is that a great majority of Christians simply don’t want to hear about persecution, because it upsets them so much. They’d rather be ignorant of the truth than learn about the dire plight of our brothers and sisters in the faith. Over time, the opportunities to speak for VOM and the persecuted church dried up. Nobody wanted speakers to come tell them about the harm that much of the world was inflicting upon believers in the 10/40 Window and elsewhere. That friends, families, and State actors were stealing, killing, and destroying the lives of those whom we should care about, simply wasn’t a concern for churches in these United States. In the few remaining venues I could speak, I began warning that such persecution was likely coming here, so we’d better prepare for it.
In that, I think in one respect I was incorrect. Now, don’t get me wrong. We are experiencing some level of persecution in our country. It’s coming at us in the form of bakers and florists being sued for not wishing to lend their skills to ungodly homosexual or trans marriage celebrations. It’s taking the form of raids and lawsuits against those who protest and pray against the evils of abortion. Many of us are being cancelled from various social media formats for declaring Christian doctrines that point toward righteousness and call out sin for what it is. In the most egregious example, we have the January 6 prisoners – a combination of political and religious individuals – who have been held for over two years in abhorrent conditions without proper due process of the law. For a supposedly free nation with our Bill of Rights, this is a significant sign of the lawlessness that is the hallmark of the last days.
But let’s compare the levels of persecution. In 2022 according to Open Doors, 5,621 Christians were murdered for their faith worldwide. How many of them died here in America? Additionally, it’s reported that 2,110 churches were destroyed by anti-Christian marauders. How many churches here in the US were burned to the ground by Muslim or Hindu radicals? Do we have to meet in secret, underground churches – cautious not to sing above a whisper like our brethren in China – who are hunted down by the Communist government for their faith in Christ?
Given where we are in these final days so near to the pre-Trib Rapture – in relation to intense persecution – is there time for it to ramp up to the levels we see in other nations? I don’t think so.
If that’s the case, will we directly see in our lives what Jesus warned about such as in Mark 13:9-13?
“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Surely, some of these things are currently happening in one form or another here in our country. But, let’s get real. It’s nothing like what is going on in places like Nigeria or North Korea.
So, the question must be asked: Since Jesus said we’ll be persecuted, what will we as pre-Tribulation Rapture believers experience?
I think our “persecution” is of another form altogether. In fact, Jesus told the Apostle John about it in His letter to the Revelation churches. I believe our type of persecution actually has to do with the apathy, agnosticism, and even apostasy, of the Laodicean church.
What’s a greater threat to faith and to the church of Jesus Christ at large? Is it persecution or is it apathy? It’s clear from history that when persecution comes against the church, it goes underground and grows. As the early church father Tertullian said: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
What about when people simply don’t care?
What is it here in America that causes this attitude? What do we have that the rest of the world doesn’t? Wealth, riches, comfort. In fact, most people have it so good that for them to accept they are sinful and in need of repentance is repugnant to them. They think they’re good people because they haven’t murdered anyone or committed adultery – at least in their physical body. When confronted with Jesus’ Words that if they did these things in their heart, to God it’s as though they did them in the natural, they don’t want to hear it. The attitude is similar to what I mentioned before with people not desiring to know more about persecution. That knowledge is too uncomfortable, so they dismiss it.
The laxity toward faith in our nation must be distressing to God. Might there be serious consequences because of it? I think the Lord is giving this Christian generation the opportunity to truly serve Him, but time is running out. If those of us who eagerly seek the return of Jesus are, in effect, the Philadelphia church; what of those who would rather enjoy the world? Are they effectively the Laodicean church? And if so, might Christ’s warning to it today be the same as it was then? If the saved in Christ who are lukewarm are also “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17), and they do not take Jesus’ counsel, rather they ignore it; might there be some repercussions? He does say that because He loves them, He will “rebuke and discipline” them for their disobedience (Revelation 3:19). What might that look like in these last days?
Regardless of my thesis here that believers generally may not suffer persecution because of the pre-Tribulation Rapture, is there a case to be made that some number of Western Christians – because they live in Laodicea, so to speak – will endure persecution?
We live far from the Lord in heart and deed at our own peril. If Jesus promised persecution, does that only apply to the 10/40 Window? Could it be that persecution will follow a church that ignores God’s counsel because He must break them to change their earthly desires for heavenly ones?
I think there’s a lot more to this subject than most of us consider. Bottom line: If we seek God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and remain awake for His soon return, we have nothing to be concerned about. He is faithful. Let us be faithful as well.