When Adolf Hitler ascended to power in 1933 he immediately passed his infamous racial hygiene laws. These laws mandated that natural Aryan born men and women could not intermarry with Jews. From there this led to the rapid persecution of Jewish businesses, culminating in Kristallnacht, a night of infamy when Nazi thugs across Germany were released to harass, smash and destroy any Jewish businesses they came across.
From there Jews were quickly excluded from public positions and office. A Jew was no longer trusted to be a teacher, to be a doctor, to be a lawyer or a judge. A Jew was no longer trustworthy to hold any kind of public office. Hitler marginalized, vilified and then openly persecuted the Jews; a process that led directly to Auschwitz.
Christian business owners, lawyers, parents, judges, county clerks, organizations, universities, hospitals, adoption agencies and other individuals and groups now stand marginalized, openly vilified.
Persecution is coming.
It is now more important now than ever that we are spiritually alert to the dangerous days in which we live. It is imperative that believers understand what is shortly going to happen. Jesus expects us to be alert and properly prepared for what is about to take place. We should also be actively watching for the signs of His return, “What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:37)
In view of recent decisions, followers of Jesus Christ are no longer in a position where they can spiritually sit on the fence. We are increasingly going to be drawn out into the open by circumstances and people purposely trying to expose us as “bigots” and “haters” by people intent on vilifying the God of the Bible and us.
This is a war and open combat is about to begin, in earnest. Yet when facing these difficulties, and always in discussing them with others, we should understand that the day of our salvation is close at hand. We should truly embrace the fact that Jesus is coming soon (2 Corinthians 6:2).
In the build up to the Tribulation period and the Rapture, before Jesus removes His Bride from this earth, believers are going to increasingly face three significant challenges. They are going to face increasing levels of deception, pressure and temptation.
Deception is strong, even today but it will soon get much worse. This deception will become so real, and be so all-encompassing that the whole world will be won over by it. The recent Supreme Court ruling is a part of this deception.
Deception is already particularly strong within the mainline churches, with mega churches filled to the rafters with excited people purposely driven to preachers who are willfully deceiving them. These mega churches are filled with individuals who have experienced a faith that requires no conviction of sin and therefore no repentance. These mega churches are full to the bursting point with people who attend each Sunday because the message being taught is one that satisfies the desires of their fallen, fleshy lusts; that of certain wealth, happiness and “stuff.”
These mega churches are packed to the rafters because there is never any conviction of sin, therefore there is no need for repentance and regeneration in Jesus Christ. Have “your best life now” because God loves you “just the way you are.” It is deception and many will actively be involved in persecuting the faithful remnant of Jesus Christ in the near future.
Faithful believers in Jesus Christ are going to quickly become more and more marginalized. The purging that will take place within Christianity will be swift and it will be brutal, carried out by those who follow, “…a different Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Those who hold doggedly to the teachings of Jesus Christ and will not compromise are going to be targeted.
“They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God” (John 16:2)
Indeed, Jesus, when on the Mount of Olives warned of the coming deception first, before listing any other sign of his return (Matthew 24:3-5).
The closer we get in proximity to the Tribulation period, the greater the deception will increase. The recent Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage demonstrates this, showing evil as good and good as evil. Equally, as the time of the Antichrist’s advent approaches it will be this powerful deception that will prepare the way for him.
Mainstream Christianity will join this parade of apostasy, capped by the awe-inspiring superhuman and unprecedented displays of satanic power the prophesied False Prophet and the Antichrist will perform. The false teachers and preachers we see today are pawns in this strategy of deception,
“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
Spiritual growth through regular, habitual Bible study and prayer are essential right now so as Christians, we can resist these deceptions. Without a good understanding of the last days and Christ’s soon return, Christians are vulnerable to deception. Jesus Himself warned his followers of this threat (Matthew 24:23-26).
Understand that specific things will happen in the near future which will shock people to the very core, including Christians. We should in no way underestimate what is to come. Men’s “…hearts will fail them for fear.” The only antidote to this deception is the truth and power of Scripture.
Prior to the Rapture of the Church all believers will have to cope with increased pressure. Those believers who are saved during the Tribulation will face the ultimate pressure test; that of death. Yet even in this, Jesus Christ will be with them. He will not abandon them or leave them to face their trials alone.
Nor will He abandon us in our trials. A key premise we must take to our hearts is what Jesus said: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). The world hated Jesus so much it killed him. The world is going to hate us, too, because we follow Jesus without compromise.
Prior to the Rapture, “…the increase in lawlessness,” and the “….love of most growing cold” (Matthew 24:12-13), is only going to exacerbate for truly regenerate Christians. We are living in days like those of Noah, a time characterized by violence and rebellion and with the Supreme Court ruling last week we are also now certainly living in the days of Lot.
Both those time periods were followed by exceptional divine judgment. God does not change (Malachi 3:5). Judgment is coming.
Coming soon is a time when it will not be possible to be a “lukewarm” Christian anymore. Believers must persevere. They must refine their faith, delving deeply into the word of God and applying it through prayer daily (1 Peter 1:6-7).
After the Rapture it will get even worse. Every conceivable wickedness will become commonplace. Men and women, whose hearts are naturally “…deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9), will have their consciences seared and their abandonment to their lusts will mean they are actually unable to recognize right from wrong.
God will allow the world to be given over to a truly reprobate mind (Romans 1:28). The beginnings of this are all around us. Many believers today will find the approaching time of difficulty very hard because of the commitment it will require to live our faith through it. If believers have found it difficult to contend for Jesus Christ today, what will happen to them when they face real persecution, bitterness and hatred? Many will fall away from the faith and join the growing apostasy.
Persevering in our unique ministries, whatever they may be into the future and even under persecution is essential. We must do what must be done whilst there is still time and the opportunity to do it,
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).
Many Christians now find themselves wondering how they will fair in the future. They wonder how they will defend themselves when faced with the onslaught to come; what to say, how to act, what to do? Many do not feel able to give an account of themselves as they would like.
My friends, just stand. You are never more powerful than when you are humbly standing on the Word of God. You are giving a witness and it will impact others, even if you are insulted for the gospel, even if people mock you and belittle you, even if they shout at you and rail at you. Even if they scorn you for speaking the only name that can bring salvation and life. Even if they spit at you and beat you.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is like a caged lion. It doesn’t need to be defended, all you have to do is let it out of the cage and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Jesus doesn’t require you to bring clever arguments, He requires you to let the Good News out of that cage and even if all seem to reject you, believe that the word you have spoken “…will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
“The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
The Word of God will convict some and ultimately they will have been snatched from the fire (Jude 1:23).
So even if you find yourself all alone against a hostile baying world, remember that you will never really be alone. Jesus, our Messiah and King will be standing right next to you holding your hand, and behind Him the host of heaven.
Fear not, just stand.
“…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20)