“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” 2 Timothy 3:12). In my previous article I spoke about Paul when he proclaimed “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"(Philippians1:21).Read all the biographical accounts in Acts, and even the letters of the Apostle Paul, and you will find that he knew how to live for Christ, and he knew how to die for Christ. He has told us that the true Christian life is no easy life. No bed of roses! There are at times heartache, suffering, and even death. In the West we haven’t seen as much of that as they have in places like the Communist countries, the Muslim countries, or even the Hindu countries. This is likely because of what went on in generations before. England, America and other western nations had the solid Christian influence of previous years. This is especially true of America, which the founders intended to be a Christian nation. If you don’t believe that, read the Mayflower Compact: http://www.nationalcenter.org/MayflowerCompact.html. The obvious witness of early American patriots like John Bradford, John Winthrop, John Witherspoon, Patrick Henry and many others. Now, whether this nation or any other was ever in reality a Christian nation is perhaps debatable, but the intent and influence was definitely there.
In our day we have indeed reached the time that the late Francis Schaeffer labeled the Post-Christian Era. There are still elements of the true Christian faith here, and many true Christians still are active here. But the public sentiment is expressed in everyday life through the media and the entertainment industry with its passion for extreme violence, and sick humor, thriving in a culture of nakedness, adultery and fornication. We can readily see that the USA is not generally a godly nation. Not any more! Almost all our politicians, and many others in the public eye give lip service to Christianity, but the “proof in the pudding” reveals a different character. This is not just the liberal Democrats I am referring to, but many “Conservative” Republicans as well. When we see what is going on in Washington these days, we have a tendency to look for a knight on a white horse to save us from all the corruption, yet look closer and we are disappointed. Mr. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, a fiscal conservative, may be in some ways much better than Ted Kennedy. Yet he is weak on the moral issues. Many years ago he posed nude in Cosmopolitan magazine. He is “Pro-choice (which really means pro death). Abortion on demand is not the most compelling issue of our time for most Christians. Perhaps it should be. Do you mean we have sat back and done little, or nothing while 50 million unborn babies have been murdered in America alone since 1973’s Roe vs. Wade decision ? And we want God to bless us? And if we are not speaking against these murders and doing what we can legally to stop it, can we call ourselves true Christians? May God help us, for only He can.
Paul, Peter and the early Christians knew persecution because they were on fire for Christ. Many paid for that with real fire--at the stake! I’d tell you to buy a Foxe’s Book of Christian Martyrs and read some of the accounts of Hus, Ridley, Latimer and others who were tortured and killed, but you likely will not find that book in your average Christian bookstore. You will likely have to order it online to obtain it. In more recent times, what about martyrs like Watchman Nee in China; Ivan Moiseyev,Aida Skripnikova,and GeorgiVins in the Soviet Union; Richard Wurmbrand, Nicolae Moldoveanu, Simion Motz and László Tokés in Romania; Haralan Popov and Stefan Bankov in Bulgaria. There are books about most of these available today. But persecution by communists is not all in the past. In China today, now, in 2010, Christian rights attorney Gao Zhisheng is still being tortured, whereabouts unknown. This imprisonment has lasted so far for 359 days. Read about him: http://www.freegao.com/ .There are many others. There is already much harassment, and even some religious persecution in the USA, not yet to the extreme of some other places, but if this “progressive” liberal, God hating crowd stays in power, believe me dear friends, there will be more persecution. Are you ready for it? I know some would rather I did not mention these things. That is “the ostrich mentality”. Sure, I’d rather just preach the gospel, but my freedom to do so, and yours, is in peril. I know God is sovereign, but we are accountable.
Expounding a bit more on 2 Timothy 3:12, we see that Paul said “all who will (or desire), to live godly shall suffer persecution.” Note: he did not say they might, he said they shall, which means they will. Maybe you say “I am a Christian and I have never suffered persecution.” Examine yourself dear ones. Are you really desiring to live godly? Are you separated and unspotted from this world? Remember in 1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” So many professing Christians in our day are no different from the world. They balk when you say that, but it is true. They go places where true Christians should not, they partake of things true Christians would not, and love things true Christians could not. Is this you? Do you watch the increasingly filthy, and disgusting modern movies, and TV shows filled with nudity, adultery and fornication? Do you attend a church where Christ is not preached, where the Bible is not believed; where everything under the sun is promoted rather than Jesus Christ? If so, GET OUT! If you are a true believer you must, and find a Christ centered church.. We are too late in history to play church.
Paul told the church at Philippi that suffering was to be their lot, as it was his: “ For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Philippians 1:29-30). Following our main verse it says “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” 2 Timothy 3:13). Live godly, and persecution will come in some form. The good Bible commentators express this, but I think Matthew Poole (1624-1679), summed it up best: “Such is the disposal of Divine Providence, such the malice of the men in the world, that though not every individual person, yet it is the usual lot of them who will keep a pure faith and a good conscience, to suffer persecution in some kind or other, either in their persons, or reputation, or estates. Men may live profanely, or may be morally honest men, and be safe enough; but if they will profess faith in Christ, or love to him in keeping his commandments, they will be exposed to troubles: the world will not endure men to live in peace, that will not live as they live, and believe as they believe.”