If you are a Christian, the Bible tells us that it’s a certainty we’ll face persecution in the future:
‘In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…’ (2 Timothy 3v12)
God has shown me that, as part of the coming storm, persecution is coming to Christians. In some parts of the world, many Christians are already experiencing great persecution; however, the persecution that’s coming will affect the entire globe. God has shown me what I personally believe will be the beginning of this trial that will come to His people. In a dream I saw that law enforcement authorities will begin to plant false evidence against those Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin, in order to convict them of a crime they haven’t committed. The seeds of the reality of this coming persecution can already been seen in how many nations around the world are legalising same-sex marriage. In light of all this, we must be spiritually ready to suffer what we’ll need to suffer, even if it comes via great injustice. We must therefore understand the doctrines which concern persecution and protection.
The good news: comforts through persecution
The good news is that while God has a purpose for us to serve Him, He will physically deliver us from any and every type of persecution. The Apostle Paul revealed this truth in the Word:
‘You, however, know all about… the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.’ (2 Timothy 3, parts of v10-11)
While God wanted to use Paul, he was kept through any and every type of persecution, no matter how long it went for, and no matter how painful it was. God will do the same with us, as He will not take them through more than they can endure:
1 Corinthians 10v13:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
God will bring as much fruit out of us that He possibly can before we die, because Christ gave everything that we might not only be redeemed, but be lights who have great influence and effect in the world. God will not take His salt out of this world lightly, or allow it to be taken lightly, for we are the centre of His work in Christ, being His hands and feet. Only when we have fulfilled the complete purpose of our lives for Him, will He take us, and not one moment sooner.
God will also provide comfort while going through the persecutions, whether this be via the upholding power and encouragement of the Spirit to our spirit’s (our hearts and minds), or in more practical forms. Paul experienced this himself. Spiritually speaking, the Apostle received great encouragement and strength from the Spirit as he worshipped with Silas whilst in prison. On another occasion, the Lord Himself stood by Paul and encouraged him. And he always received comfort through his daily practice of being ‘instant in prayer’. Practically, he received comfort through friends and fellow ministers who visited him while he was in prison (and supported him with practical items), through the work of writing scripture he often did while detained, and through his thinking about all the Churches needs and how they were progressing in Christ.
Spiritual comfort in the Bible usually involved hearing the voice of the Lord through the Word, the Spirit to our hearts and minds, via the audible voice of the Lord, or angel visits. It also came via revelations and dreams and visions (think: what the Apostle John received on the island of Patmos during a time when he received persecution via hard labour). Our spiritual encouragement and strengthening may be similar to Paul’s, but whatever the spiritual comfort may be, it will definitely follow the Biblical pattern of how God has always comforted his servants through persecutions (and involve at least one form of spiritual comfort).
The other side of the coin: the need to endure
The Bible teaches us that while spiritual comfort is guaranteed, practical comfort is not. While practical comforts may be provided for us in tribulation, they also may not be. If we were practically comforted through every persecution, it wouldn’t really be persecution, but instead just mistreatment. This brings us to the reality of the need to endure pain and suffering when persecuted.
God will always watch over us, and is sovereign over every act of the enemy and evil man; however, that doesn’t mean His Kingdom people will not suffer violence, even unto death at times:
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subject to violence, and the violent lay claim to it.
There are too many Biblical examples of this to include here. Hebrews 11, known in Christendom today as the ‘Hall of Faith’, includes many examples of Christians who suffered at the hands of evil men, and even some who died for their faith. Most of the Apostles of the New Testament also suffered various persecutions, and most were called on to give their very life for God. Such men didn’t always receive practical comforts, but nevertheless endured till the end, and so not only confirmed the true source of their salvation, but also stored up for themselves a better resurrection (a more rich reward).
The reasons to endure
a. For the necessity of confirming & evidencing our salvation
We must endure persecutions for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, we must endure to confirm the reality of our salvation—specifically, of what source it really is from (whether it is just something of ourselves or truly a gift of grace from Christ). True faith and salvation survives anything (and by its very natures proves itself/evidences itself- i.e. fruit tells the type of tree it comes from) and if it is true, it will be proved even though fire gets put to it. Fire is something the Lord has chosen to test this:
1 Peter 1v6-7:
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
b. To ensure we do not reject or disown Christ
We must also endure so that we do not become in danger of choosing to reject or disown Christ. The Bible calls rejecting Christ apostasy from the faith. Disowning Jesus is just as bad, for scripture tells us that if we deny Him, He’ll deny us:
2 Timothy 2v12:
If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
If we do not endure, there is a very real chance that, even if we don’t outright reject Jesus and renounce our faith in Him, we’ll disown Him. While the Lord may be gracious with us if we actually do this (i.e. like He was with the Apostle Peter), it’s an extremely big risk to take (i.e. Judas wasn’t so lucky).
c. To ensure our salvation/life brings glory to God, and we do not suffer eternal loss of rewards
Thirdly, we must endure so as to ensure that this salvation of ours glorifies the Lord. It is possible to be saved, and yet not have the salvation itself/our salvation (by extension our lives) glorify Him. The Bible explains that this kind of life can actually exist, and also the consequences of it in regards to the rewards Christ will one day give:
1 Corinthians 3v10-15:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
So while we may still retain our salvation if we shy away from persecution, we will suffer heavy loss of our eternal reward. This takes away from the glory that our lives will one day bring Christ in eternity. We are the hands and feet of Jesus, and we shine the light of His life, gospel and truth to the world, so if we hide that light under a bushel, it cannot bring Christ glory. We are the people of God and His Kingdom, and God chose to let His glory rest on us by giving us His Spirit and redeeming us. This is equivalent to the talents Jesus has given us and also the fact that we are supposed to be reflectors of His person to the world. If we bury those talents, and do not reflect Him, He won’t be glorified.
d. So that we do not bring Jesus’ name and the Christian faith into disrepute
If we shy away from persecution, we will not only not bring Jesus glory, but also risk bringing His name into great disrepute. If the world sees that we are willing to turn from Jesus when persecuted, they will question the very truth and life we represent. They would not only question Christianity because of an evident lack of power, but also due to the missing love we profess to have for Christ (for if Christ has great love, so should His people for the God they say they love/ relationship is evidenced and proven by its actions and connection). If we bring Christ’s name into disrepute, this is also a kind of anti-evangelism. By refusing persecution or doing everything to avoid it, we ourselves scream out to others that there is no Christ (for if there was, would we not go through anything for our Lord, God, and Saviour? and go through anything to ensure we reach the Heaven we believe is real?). The Bible regards this kind of anti-evangelism as something which causes Jesus’ name to be blasphemed:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
e. Because we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses
The Bible tells us that a great cloud of witnesses surrounds us. We do not want to one day, when we reach Heaven, be ashamed in their presence. We want to be able to say that we emulated their example, and that we too endured as they did.
Those that have gone before us also paved the way for us to know how we can get through persecutions and even be effective to serve Him through them. All this came at great cost both to themselves and many of the people of God. We need to be of the mind to want to honour their lives and their sacrifices, by learning and copying their example. In this way we also ensure that they, and those that followed their example down the ages, did not die, or sacrifice what they sacrificed, in vain. We know that no Christian sacrifices anything, including their lives, in vain, but we also (to a certain extent), determine just how much fruit comes as a result of their endurance. Enduring persecution always brings about incredible fruit for the Kingdom of God. By the disciples’ sacrifice of their lives (those that were killed), we have much of New Testament scripture. It was also through the suffering of persecution which the disciples endured that the Lord was able to bring about such powerful, profound, relatable/relevant, and pure scripture. It is through death to self that the life of Christ most powerful shines. Persecution brings about the very height of death to self, and so brings about the greatest opportunity to witness for the Lord and to be fruitful for Him.
f. Because God will give us the grace and power to endure any type of persecution
No person can endure persecution without God enabling them to. No matter what God allows or calls us to endure, though it will be difficult, He will give us the ability to do it:
2 Corinthians 12v8-10:
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This does not mean that suffering won’t be involved with persecution—it most definitely will be, because that’s the very nature of the experience. But it does mean that God will not give us more than we can bear—in other words, it WILL be possible to get through it, no matter how hard it gets. No matter the level of the pain, sacrifice or trial, God will give us the needed grace to get through it.
g. God will deliver us from persecution
God delivers His people from persecution. This happens whether DURING life or by its END. Though we must go THROUGH the persecution by experiencing it, the Lord will bring it to an end (no matter whether after a short time, or long). There are many examples of people in the Bible being delivered from persecution. Paul was delivered from many persecutions before his end:
2 Timothy 3v10-11:
You, however, have observed my teaching, my conduct, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, my persecutions, and the sufferings that came upon me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
Paul suffered greatly with persecutions, but God was faithful to deliver him from all of them, and none of them overcame him. Hebrews 11 talks about many in the Word who were also delivered from persecutions:
There is also a kind of deliverance which is not an Earthly and present life deliverance. This is a deliverance from persecution that comes through our death. God allows His Kingdom to suffer violence at times, and this has seen many Christians through the ages die because of persecution. However, even if we are called to give our lives, the Lord will be with us in great sustaining Holy Spirit power and strength. God knows that no man can give their life in their own strength, and so He will always be faithful to give us what we need in order to lay down our very lives if we’re called to. Not all are called to do this, but if we are, we have nothing to fear. This is especially true when we think about the Heaven that awaits us! We know that all men die eventually, so there’s nothing that persecution can do to us that won’t come to us eventually one day anyway.
h. God will warn us about the persecution beforehand, in order to prepare us
The book of Revelation shows us that God warns His people when they’re about to be persecuted:
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’
God warns us of persecution beforehand in order to strengthen our faith and give us the encouragement and comfort we’ll need (and hope- see last part of scripture above). He also does it so the shock of persecution won’t jolt us out of faith in Him, or at least jolt us out it at the most crucial moment (when it first hits us). Jesus warned his disciples that persecution was coming before the cross, but because they never properly listened, understood the warning, or took it to heart, they let the shock of it make them flee the Lord (this also revealed their not properly understanding scripture they should’ve understood about the soon coming death of the Lord).
i. So that we do not value this life more than the one to come
Our salvation, the glory, work and testimony of Christ, trumps any other human consideration that we may be tempted to battle with in the coming time in regards to persecution. It doesn’t matter whether the consideration is in regards to family, friends, work, or even our health or wellbeing. Our sufferings in this life are temporary, but the eternal life and rewards are just that: eternal. We should not risk any eternal setback for present gain or safety.
The Lord has shown me that coming storm will blanket everything and everyone; no one will escape its reach or effect. This will be a storm of great ferocity and great darkness, and only by the Lord will anyone make it through it, whether through it in regards to this life, or through it so we’ll make it to the next life- the Heavenly one. Part of this storm will involve persecution for Christians. God is completely sovereign over this, and will use it for our GOOD. For the true Christian, this experience will mean BOTH protection and pain. We mustn’t see the future as all dark, as the Lord will be with us, and there will still be blessings in it. But we must be realistic, believe what the Lord has revealed, and so also except that pain and persecution will be coming too. The Lord will keep us through all of this, but we must also be ready to face it. This means walking with the Lord in our lives in the present, praying about what is coming, and arming ourselves with the Word of God and the doctrines necessary for preparation. The whole armour of God is based on the Bible and IS the very substance and power of the Word itself: so every Christian solider out there must make sure they are diligent to arm themselves spiritually, in order to fight the good fight of faith that is about to confront us.
The Lord willing, Prt 4 of the coming storm doctrines will be on its way soon.