By Nathan Jones
Why does God allow Christians to be persecuted?
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.
Nathan Jones: The eighth end times sign Jesus in Luke 21 foretold was a greater increase in the persecution of Christians. The Church was well persecuted since its beginning and all throughout the Roman Empire. There has definitely been persecutions of Christians all over the planet in different areas throughout history. But, as we get closer to the Rapture, we'll see and have been seeing Christians all over the world suffering and dying. And then, after the Rapture and during the Tribulation, anyone who finally believes in Jesus as their Savior will most likely be martyred for their faith. Very few Tribulation Saints will survive the Tribulation to live on into the Millennial Kingdom. So, the persecution of Christians will continue to come more frequently and more intensely the closer we get to Jesus' two-staged return.
Vic Batista: There are some incredibly horrific statistics in terms of the persecution of Christians coming out the last few years. Persecution has been terrible in our present time. Can you talk a little bit about what is going on even in our current events, Nathan?
Nathan Jones: Well, it's just a slaughter! Christians obviously are the biggest targets in the world. The news is filled with ISIS, the Islamic State, which is marching through Syria and Iraq. They are killing everybody who isn't a radical Muslim like they are, even murdering other Muslims who they don't think are as devout as they are. The Christians in those lands have almost been wiped out.
The last few years has also seen Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood trying to wipe out the Christians.
In Nigeria Boko Haram in the north has been coming into Christian villages, bombing their buildings, burning their homes, and chopping up their people with machetes. Boko Haram throws children down wells, steals Christian daughters and forces them into marriage.
The persecution of Christians hasn't been limited to Muslim states, for it has been going on all over the world. We sit here in the West and feel somewhat safe. The United States as a country was founded on Christian values, and the Lord has blessed us greatly for that. He's kept the persecution at bay, but even so, we are starting to see the walls that hold back the persecution of Christians in the United States crumbling as evil people have supplanted the good people. They now control the country. As a result, we are going to see a great persecution happening eventually in the United States.
I don't enjoy it, but it's interesting to read up on the amount of persecution and the stories going on behind the scenes. I can tell you all sorts of stories of different persecutions that are happening to Christians around the world right now.
Vic Batista: That's a very good point, because people are not aware. They think that when we talk about persecution, that it's something that's not going to be knocking on our doors here in the United States of America. But, we are already seeing evidence of the coming persecution. The Muslim religion is moving about in circles of power with the current administration. These guys are relentless. Whoever doesn't worship their god Allah, they are seeking the freedom to go to the extent of killing innocent Christians.
Vic Batista: But, of course, the persecution of today is nothing compared to what's going to happen in the Tribulation Saints, right, Nathan? What the believers are going to experience in that time will make today's sufferings seem minor. Can you talk a little bit about the persecutions of the Tribulation?
Nathan Jones: After the Rapture of the Church, there won't be a single Christian left on this planet. But, the spread of the Gospel doesn't end with the Church's departure, because God will leave behind Two Witnesses. We aren't sure who they're going to be, but some say Moses and Elijah, or Elijah and Enoch, or they are actually just two Jewish people who will get saved after the Rapture. During the first half of the Tribulation they will witnesses from Jerusalem where they will share the Gospel.
The Lord also has 144,000 Jewish evangelists reserved. They will be saved after the Rapture, and then they will share the Gospel with people all around the world. God will supernaturally protect them so that they are unkillable.
God is also going to send an angel. He will be called the Gospel Angel and he will travel the world to share the Gospel. No person will be left who hasn't heard about Jesus' salvation and been given the opportunity to accept Christ.
God has other avenues to get the Gospel to the people of the Tribulation era. Bible teaching programs will be left behind in article and podcast form. Our Bibles will remain. You name it! These witnessing resources are all going to be left out there to share the Gospel with those people.
We know from the descriptions found in Revelation that there will be millions and millions of people who will come to accept the Lord as their Savior during that time. In fact, Revelation 6:9-11 says, "I saw under the altar of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, 'How long sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?'"
Also, it says in Revelation 7:9, "A great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne in the front of the Lamb." From these verses and others, we know that during the Tribulation millions will be saved. But, when someone gives their life to Jesus Christ at that time, most likely they will be martyred for their faith. It will be a time period when Satan will be ruling directly on the earth through a one-world ruler called the Antichrist. He will have a false prophet. All religion will be about worshiping the Antichrist, who is pretty much Satan acting through the Antichrist. With that form of worship happening, other religions cannot be allowed. Satan will force the world to choose him or not by taking a loyalty mark, which is the name of the Antichrist placed either on the forehead or on the right hand. If the people of that time don't take it, they will be killed. We know from Scriptures that many, many people will come to know Jesus as their Savior during the Tribulation, but they will likely be killed for making that choice.
Vic Batista: Amazing and incredible things will be seen! In the midst of the persecution today, God is going to preserve a remnant. God is always going to protect His Church in this age. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it. And, we know that when persecution comes, the Church of Jesus Christ excels, right?
Nathan Jones: Persecution is an odd thing, isn't it, when you think about it. You can preach to your hearts desire, and you can share your faith with people, but they just kind of yawn and roll over uninterested. But, when you die for something you believe in, that captures people. It gets their attention. They start thinking, "He must really believe in Jesus because He was willing to die for it. I better check Jesus out."
We've seen over the last 2,000 years of the Church how those who have died for their faith have made a greater impact for the message of salvation than they ever had in life. God uses that kind of faith. We live our lives as a Christian, and we are servants of Christ, so we are like soldiers. Soldiers are willing to give up their lives for war, and we will likely give up our lives just as many Christians do around the world. When we die for what we believe in, such a sacrifice makes an impact on people.
God used our sacrifices to advance His kingdom. For example, look at the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire controlled the known world in its time. They heard of this new little group of Christ-followers that was called "The Way" who following this carpenter from some backwater providence called Judea. These Christians continued to grow and flourish even though the Romans tried to stamp them out. They tried to wipe Christianity out by sacrificing Christians to the lions and gladiators, but they just couldn't kill their beliefs off. By 300 AD, the Roman Empire had given up and decided to adopt Christianity as its own state religion. Sure, the Romans messed it up a lot doctrinally, but basically Christianity had taken over the Roman Empire.
And so, the Lord uses the persecution of Christians to proliferate the Gospel and bring people to Christ. That methodology has worked for 2,000 years, and will continue to work throughout the Tribulation.