By Nathan Jones
Should Christians in the West prepare for persecution?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista, Evangelist Don McGee of Crown & Sickle Ministries, and I will look at the eighth end times sign of Christian persecution prophesied by Jesus in Luke 21:12-19.
Persecution Through Political Correctness
Vic Batista: Don, I think you would agree that we need to prepare ourselves in this country for a terrible persecution of Christians. It wasn't too long ago reported in the news about someone who was beheaded by a Muslim man?
Don McGee: Yes, that occurred in Moore, Oklahoma. While it made some headlines, only a few news outlets actually really carried that story. The reason is because it's not politically correct in our country today to point a finger of accusation against a Muslim. Much like the shootings at Fort Hood were called "workplace violence" as opposed to terrorism.
These nuances are slight, but they are happening. They are happening in our country right now and we don't even want to talk about them. Why? Because we are not supposed to. There is a pass that is given to the horrors of Islam. Islam is often called one of the world's great peaceful religions, but that's also political correctness.
The truth is people don't want to face the truth. Until people come face to face with the truth, whether it is the horrors of Islam or the fact of the imminent return of the Lord or anything prophetic, then they are going to continue in the way of ignorance which they are living under now. That is indeed a very sad situation.
Vic Batista: Yes, absolutely. No matter what happens, the Bible tells us that Satan and the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. God has a plan. Every time persecution comes to the Church, it develops and grows, right?
Nathan Jones: Exactly! Do you know what's so amazing to me? When you look at the whole Left Behind movie series, both old and new, they will get people talking about the Rapture. And then, when the Church is raptured out, everybody for a few moments at least who are truly left behind, they won't have a single believer in Christ among them across the entire planet. Just think about that.
But then, when they realize the Rapture has actually happened and they realize their loved ones are gone, they will read the materials and the Bibles we left behind. They'll also see the Two Witnesses whom God is going to provide in Jerusalem and who will share the Gospel. There will also be 144,000 Jewish evangelists and the Gospel Angel who will circle the earth, and they will also tell the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We read in the Fifth Seal Judgment how multitudes beyond count from every tribe, tongue and nation will give their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ during the Tribulation. So, the world is truly on the precipice of one of the biggest spiritual harvests that have every happened in the last 2,000 years, and we play a little role in it!
Vic Batista: Persecution is a way to test our faith. Don, I think we need a little bit more of that in America, because there are so many people who call themselves Christians but are not living as such, right?
Don McGee: You're very right about that. It might have been someone who is part of the Voice of the Martyrs, but they said that, "The blood of Christians is fertilizer to the seed of the Word." So, as terrible as it might seem to have to live under such circumstances, it is those trials which help purify the Church. Persecution separates the wheat from the chaff.
Vic Batista: Yes, absolutely! That's why I know that we're going to have to stay strong. There are so many challenges and persecutions coming. For instance, we have the homosexual agenda. I know people don't want to talk about those sins. But, just think of living in a society where there are so many marriages by men to men and women to women. When we stand up for God's word on that matter, we as Christians we are going to be looked at as a minority, right, Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Yes, exactly, and already are.
Don, that's an excellent quote, I love that quote! As a matter of fact, I've got that written out and posted, because it reminds me all the time of how God turns persecutions into salvations. The quote comes from Foxe's Book of Martyrs and it goes, "And yet, notwithstanding, all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the Church daily increased deeply rooted in the doctrine of the Apostles and of men apostolic and watered plenteously with the blood of the Saints."
I don’t know about you guys, but as a Christian I find it hard to think that dying for my faith could possibly bring more people to Jesus Christ than my lifetime spent witnessing to them. But, God uses our sacrifices for His good. It not that God thinks we are disposable soldiers, but He knows our lives here on this earth are short. Our life's purpose is to bring people to Christ, and if our deaths do that, then He'll use that too to bring people to Jesus Christ.
Don McGee: The way we live is a whole lot more important than those religious accolades we like to repeat on Sunday mornings sometimes. We have church services where as the old folks used to say, "We wax long and loud in our prayers." We try to impress people with our theological knowledge. We use all these terms like sanctification, good terms and all, but often times it is just so much noise. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" is what they say where I'm from. Seeing something is more important than your words. Just watch how someone responds to persecution then. That's going to make a big difference in the lives of those who see what's happening in the lives of Christians.
Vic Batista: So true. Of course, we are not saying that we want persecution to come necessarily, but I think that we need a little bit of a purification in America. We really need as a Church and individuals to wake up in a sense and to take their faith in God seriously.
Nathan Jones: I've been studying the Minor Prophets, because frankly, the Minor Prophets aren't studied very much. I've been doing a lot of reading and writing on them. The more I study the Minor Prophets, the more I realize how Israel through much of the Old Testament was how we are as a nation today.
Take Amos, for instance. Israel at the time of this prophets did have a "religiosity." They went to Temple. They offered sacrifices. They held the Sabbath Day. But, the Jews the rest of the week lived however they wanted. That really bothered God. He detested their false spirituality, the same spirituality that we claim that we have today. It's religion without the real heart for Jesus Christ. That real relationship with the Lord isn't there. That's where the United States is now.
The parallels between Western culture and Israel's culture back in the Bible times are uncanny. We have that religiosity, so to speak, but the real heart and love of Jesus Christ is no longer there. And so, just like with Israel, God uses punishments to get people to turn back to Jesus Christ and renew their faith.
I agree totally with Don that we are now on a precipice. We've reached that point where God now has to bring persecution back to the Western nations to shake up the Church in order to get it vibrant again and so our people will turn back to Him. We know this spiritual apathy of the Church was prophesied in Revelation 3 with the Church of Laodicea, which is the final phase of the Church. The time would be defined by apathy. Clearly, we are living in that time now. But, I'm hoping before we go in the Rapture that there's something that wakes up the Western Church and gets us on fire for Jesus Christ again.
Go to the Word
Vic Batista: Don, there maybe individuals who really don't have a relationship with God. They've heard about Jesus, but they themselves have not committed themselves unto the Lord. What would you say to them in terms of encouraging them as we know that time is running out?
Don McGee: I'd tell them go to the Word. We have a lot of good Bible teachers and preachers out there on radio, television and in churches, but there's also so much out there that's just mere man's opinion regarding salvation and about living our lives. If you want to know about Jesus and about salvation, it's okay to listen to people, but measure every word and every recommendation according to Scripture. I hear so many times preachers on television and radio declaring what Christianity is about, or this is what you need to do and this is the way you need to respond.
My advice to people is to go to the Word. God gives people a mind that is capable of understanding the translation of the Bible into English. The Holy Spirit guides us in the study of these things. Stick with what the Word says. I guess that is my greatest exhortation and encouragement to people.
Vic Batista: I always encourage people to go to the Word of God. The Bible says in John 3:16 that, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son; so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." That is the Word of God speaking to the heart of man.
In the fourth and last segment of our discussion on the end times sign of Christian persecution, Vic and I will discuss why God allows the persecution of Christians.