By: Nelson Walters
Author: Are We Ready For Jesus? (June 2015)
This last week saw two events of monumental impact. Both have likely end time ramifications. One was the Supreme Court hearing the case of same sex marriage. The second was the Baltimore riots and calls for a DOJ takeover of police forces nation-wide. Both can result in persecution of Christians. We wonder why these things are happening and how we are to react. One of the first things we should do is stop calling it culture war.
What we call something shapes the way we think about it and, in the case of war, how we fight. The name we give something is not trivial.
Why Is This Happening?
Let’s first look at why these things are occurring. These issues are not man-made. Muslims, Gays and Politicians are not driving these conflicts. Scripture is plain about the source of our struggles:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12 NASB)
Most Christians are familiar with the verse, but it is amazing how few view their circumstances in light of this verse. The problems we face are not political problems and won’t be solved politically. These problems are spiritual and they have spiritual solutions. Viewing the problem correctly is the first step to a solution. If you know your adversary, then scripture will provide the answer on how to proceed. Romans is a good place to start.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13: 11-14 NASB, emphasis mine)
We need to know the time. The Time of the End is almost here, Church, it is time to wake up. The Lord is coming soon. Prior to his return, the Church will endure hard times. We are at the very beginning of the persecution.
Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East are dying in record numbers and we are concerned about cakes? Where is the outcry about the martyrs? This coming storm should not surprise us, will engulf us, and should be the focus of our efforts and prayers:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1 Pet. 4: 12-13 NASB, emphasis mine)
Persecution is natural for Christians. Jesus tells us so. In western culture, Christians have seen so little persecution that we have come to believe we are immune in our insulated nations. That is obviously no longer the case.
The Church has planned on a Pre-Tribulation Rapture to remove it prior to any hard times. This mistaken notion that we won’t face persecution has made us weak, unprepared and ineffective.
Why Is God Permitting This?
So the question arises, why would God permit persecution if he loves us? Notice Peter tells us one reason God is permitting the persecution is for our testing. This is incredibly important. God could choose (and may still choose) to protect us from it, BUT he may not. He is sovereign not us. His will be done, not ours. That may mean martyrdom, imprisonment, loss of job, etc. All these things can be within his will and can be for our ultimate good.
Take a good look at the Christian Church in the USA. Are we ready for a rapture? Not at all. We need to be refined by fire until we are pure gold. Notice Peter says to rejoice over trials. Faith means trusting God’s nature even when circumstances are falling apart all around us. God causes all things to work together for good; even persecution. Becoming refined gold is a great good.
What Should We Do?
The first step is to stop calling this a culture war. Culture wars are fought with culture (politically). If you fight a spiritual war with politics, you lose. That is why Christians are so frustrated and why we appear to be losing. This is not a culture war. It is a spiritual war. We have been using the wrong weapons.
Second, we need to stop expecting the world to go back to the 1990s. We need to stop expecting that everything will be “fine” again. We need to “know the time.” We are hurtling toward the 70th Week of Daniel, and we need to act like we are. Dr. James Dobson recently made a statement that we are witnessing the end of western civilization. Yes, we are. It is a sign of the time we are in. We are headed to a brief time of Antichrist civilization. Then we will enter the glorious Jesus civilization where he reigns as king. This is our blessed hope. The good ol’ USA is not our blessed hope. Let’s not act like it is. Let’s not look back like Lot’s wife. Let’s look ahead to our blessed hope.
Fighting a Spiritual War
If we’re going to fight a “spiritual” war, we need to be dressed for it. Let’s return to Romans 13,. First in the passage quoted above, notice Paul says to put on heavenly armor. (Eph. 6:13-18) Paul then spells out specifics, no drunkenness, no sexual immorality, no strife. As a Church we need to get our spiritual act together. In my post ARE WE LIVING IN THE DAYS OF LOT?, I discussed how the Church’s divorce rates and viewing of pornography is just like that of the culture. If we are not acting morally how can we call out the non-believers for doing the same sort of things?
Also notice the passage calls for “no strife.” This has two meanings. First, within the churches let’s stop worrying about worship styles, speaking in tongues, Armenian versus Calvinist. Church, we are at war with our adversary. Let us stop fighting among ourselves and fight as one unified body.
Second, “no strife” applies to those the churches view as “enemies” as well. This includes Muslims, Gays, and our politicians. They are not our enemies; they are under the influence and dominion of the Evil One who is our enemy. Jesus is so clear that we need to love our enemies and do good to those that persecute us. We are to overcome evil with good. Does that mean baking them a cake, having them over our homes, sharing the love of Jesus with them? Yes, it does. Romans tells us “no strife.” The Gospel is our weapon.
Now does that mean as citizens we shouldn’t attempt to protect our nation and families? Of course not. Government is established by God to protect the citizens. As citizens we still have a voice and a vote, and should be active in attempting to have a righteous nation. However, this cannot and should not be our primary means of warfare, and unfortunately for most it is. Additionally, if the nation becomes unrighteous, we are not to win by fleshly means. Look at what Romans 13 has to say about resisting government:
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (Rom. 13:2 NASB)
Paul wrote this passage during the reign of the horribly immoral Caesars. Our nation is darkening, but it is not anything like Rome was yet. Despite this, Paul said to honor authority, even immoral authority.
So why would God ever permit us to suffer persecution? Let’s see what Jesus has to say:
But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. (Luke 21: 12-17 NASB)
There is the purpose, there is our battle plan: “an opportunity for your testimony.” Look what Revelation has to say about the power of testimony:
And they overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Rev. 12:11 NASB)
Those who follow God’s battle plan of testimony even unto death will help overcome Satan. This passage is about Michael casting Satan to the earth. The saints’ testimony somehow helps make that happen. Jesus is granting us this great privilege. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Phil 1:29 NASB). God is telling us it is a privilege to suffer; an honor. Let us embrace God’s Will for us.
We are going to face hard times. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus sang this Psalm, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Spiritual war is always won with a cross. Let’s pick ours up.