Lately, I’ve been studying and writing about becoming absolutely dependent on Christ Jesus, not just thanking Him for saving us from the fires of hell, but to come under His Lordship. Standing firm in Christ Jesus will prepare us for what is to come. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13).
When you feel the stinging bite of persecution for the first time in your life, you reel back, much like someone who has been attacked by a swarm of killer bees. “What did I do to deserve this?” Then you begin to wonder if it’s worth it to hold out for what you believe to be right or true. And that’s when the strength of your convictions determines whether you take the heat courageously, or cowardly back out of the kitchen. The reality is that as our age grows darker and more foreboding, the more will those who stand for something stand out as being “out of sync” and different from the crowd.
We stand at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. The Holy Spirit is visiting His people with power as darkness continues to increase. The light is getting brighter as the darkness is becoming darker. The onslaught of darkness is increasing in our classrooms, boardrooms, courtrooms, and bedrooms. The Spirit is speaking clearly and many are responding with wholeheartedness. “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you.” (Isa. 60:2)
The greatest revival and crisis in history is soon to come. It is darkest before the dawn and so our hearts remain full of faith. We know that a great awakening is soon to sweep across the nations. We look with confidence to God’s promises to pour out His Spirit on all flesh to empower His people to bring the gospel to all nations. “It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams…I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy… before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.” (Acts 2:17-20)
The Spirit is speaking about this outpouring and crisis. We may already be in the early days of the great endtime outpouring of the Spirit. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Mt. 24:14)
Consider the crisis that is at hand. The nations are living under the threat of natural disasters, terrorism, lawlessness, and war. Radical Islam is growing more intolerant as they seek global domination while Western governments are growing more tolerant as they legalize perversion and darkness. The result is that fear is quickly becoming more and more prevalent. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28)
Abortion continues to kill 4,000 babies each day in America. The sanctity of marriage has come under siege, threatening to destroy the moral foundations of our nation. Sexual immorality, both heterosexual and homosexual, is reaching epic heights of depravity, with easy access to pornography via the Internet and the hypersexualization of our culture promoted by the media. Entire school systems are giving way to this darkness. The number of women and children being trafficked in the sex industry is growing at an alarming rate. The list could go on and on.
There is another growing crisis that is emerging in many churches across America. A new wave of confusion is systematically seducing young adults into deception. Sincere believers, once ablaze for Jesus, are being allured into compromise on biblical truths and practices.
The true danger of this new kind of “Christianity” is obscured by the works of compassion and justice that its followers are engaged in. There is no amount of ministry activity that can balance out” the profound spiritual compromises that many are embracing. They are doing more and more in the name of justice and compassion, but less and less in the name of Jesus. In the name of tolerance they are settling for politically correct theology that trivializes Jesus’ glory. Our works of compassion and justice must flow from allegiance to Jesus and His Word.
A theological crisis is emerging across America that will perplex many who will be unable to discern between truth and deception. The Scriptures are clear that many will fall away and depart from the faith in the midst of the crisis, as fear, offense, and deception abound. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 24:9-13).
A visitor in China asked a leader of the growing house church movement how he could encourage people to pray for them. The Chinese pastor said, “Stop praying for persecution in China to end, for it is through persecution that the church has grown.” Then to his great surprise the pastor added, “We, in fact, are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution, so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China.” Perhaps his prayers are being answered.
When persecution knocks at your door, you tend to be taken by surprise—exactly what Peter told Christians not to experience. He wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Jesus told the disciples, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you,” (Luke 6:26). He also told them: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).
The blessing of persecution is one most of us never ask for, yet the fact remains that when you stand fast in the face of opposition, God does something deep, something lasting, something purifying in your heart and soul—something that would never happen apart from what you have gone through. That’s what we see in the biographies of men and women such as Wang Ming-Dao, Madame Jeanne Guyon, who was imprisoned for seven years, John Bunyan, who could have been freed from the Bedford prison simply by promising to stop preaching or teaching outside the established church, and a thousand others who in this generation have stood against evil and have paid the price by losing their freedom.
When you are persecuted, whether it is simply scorn or actually sustaining bodily harm, it is not because of the wrong you have done but because you stand for truth, for justice, or for God. And that’s when you can experience His presence and strength and an outpouring of His grace that will take your through your trial.
The greatest revival in America’s history is coming even as our nation stands on such precarious footing. The onslaught of darkness is increasing in our classrooms, boardrooms, courtrooms, and bedrooms. Confusion is pouring forth from many pulpits and from the halls of Washington. It is time for Christians to stand firm in the Lord. “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)