But this shouldn’t cause Christians to despair. God often uses persecution and anti-Christian sentiments as a refiner’s fire for His church—to purify His bride. Here are a few verses that emphasize this:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2–4)
My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:10–11)
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:12–18)
Now, sadly, many people within the church will give in to the growing animosity toward Christians by making their message fit with the culture. We’re seeing this kind of compromise all around us today. Churches are welcoming gay couples into leadership and even performing gay “marriages;” seminaries and churches are adding millions of years and evolution into the biblical text; and professing Christians are ignoring sin and instead preaching a message of so-called “tolerance” and “love” for everyone. It was reported at one Christian college recently that the faculty members were debating if Christians and Muslims worship the same God! The answer is easy, by the way: no—if a person denies that Jesus is the Son of God, then he denies the true God! None of this should surprise us since the writers of the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, spent quite a bit of ink warning churches about false teaching and compromise (Romans 16:17–18; Ephesians 4:14; Titus 1:10–11; Hebrews 13:9; 2 Peter 2:1, 3:17).
Now, as the church goes through the fires of persecution, certain characteristics will come to describe the remnant church—a church that loves the Lord and His Word and is willing to stand on truth, no matter the cost. I was reminded of this from a recent article that delved into nine of these characteristics, almost all of which go back to two main themes: the remnant church being marginalized and hated, and the church standing on God’s Word. And we’re already seeing this.
Christians and churches that stand on the authority of God’s Word and lovingly and graciously call sin what it is and point out errors are blasted as being bigoted, ignorant, intolerant, or discriminatory. And yet there is still a remnant of churches that stand on the authority of the Word of God and will cling to this no matter what. This church is the church that loves God’s Word and uses it as the basis for thinking and acting. They recognize that Satan, our spiritual enemy, is crafty (2 Corinthians 2:11) and will use half-truths and outright lies to confuse people and lead them astray (John 8:44). But the only place where we can find unchanging truth is God’s Word (Isaiah 40:8). And it’s this remnant church that will endure as the lies come and go, and that will train committed disciples who will endure no matter the cost.
I’m reminded of the words of Joshua and the challenge he gave to people in his day—and really we have the same sort of challenge before us today:
And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
May we be people who stand on the authority of God’s Word and remain committed to our Lord no matter what the cost!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.