In writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul made the following statement about what the young man (and all Christians) would face as he tried to minister to others:
"Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution—that is, will be made to suffer because of their religious stand" (2 Timothy 3:12, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
Yet this statement of fact often rings hollow in the lives of professing Christians today—particularly those of us living in the so-called "free world" of the West—because of what is generally perceived to be religious tolerance. And without a doubt the degree of tolerance shown by the unbelieving majority around us contributes to this perception, but in actual point of fact the lack of persecution is due primarily to lukewarm Christians (Rev.3:15-16). Being in one’s comfort zone and taking the path of least resistance seldom leads to friction. However, when we examine the instruction the Holy Spirit has given us in the verse above, we should note that those who "delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus" will (not might!) suffer persecution. The inescapable logic is that persecution is minimal for most of us because we are not living godly lives—are not yielded to the Holy Spirit and filled with His Personal presence. A Spirit-filled Christian is guaranteed to attract persecution and intolerance like a picnic draws ants. Why? Is it because we must adopt a "holier than thou" attitude and do our best to alienate everyone around us? No, even though we will be accused of such things the explanation is to be found in Christ and not us.
Satan is presently the "god of this world," but he knows the days of his reign are numbered. Jesus Christ is coming back as King of kings and Lord of lords to rule the universe forever—and the devil hates Him with a passion beyond our ability to comprehend, because he desperately wants to take His place (Isaiah 14:12-17). Intense jealousy over ultimate power and position has been the driving force behind Satan’s tactics ever since "iniquity was found in thee" (Ezekiel 28:15b). But for reasons known only unto God, He has allowed him to continue as "the accuser of the brethren" (Rev.12:10) and function as a spiritual counterpoint in the world, until Jesus Christ returns to claim what is rightfully His. So the thing we need to understand is that persecution is directly proportional to the degree of fruit in a Spirit-filled life. The more we yield to His will and the Holy Spirit is exhibited in our lives, the more opposition we can expect from Satan. Conversely, the more we spend our lives on "cruise control" the less likely we are to attract the devil’s attention. We find this principle perfectly illustrated in the ministry of Christ Himself—the Bible tells us "He went about doing good." (Acts 10:38), but He suffered persecution and hatred the likes of which no other has ever experienced because He was totally filled with the Holy Spirit. And He told His apostles that they too would face the same type of opposition as they obeyed the will of God. History has shown us the accuracy of His prediction, because all but one of the apostles—John (with Judas being excepted)--died a martyr’s death.
In the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John we find the record of what the Lord said to His disciples on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. He continued to give them spiritual instruction right up to the time He was arrested and taken away. And the content of this teaching is most revealing in that much of what He said concerned their future testing. Beginning in verse 17, we find the following:
"This is what I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world—are no longer one with it—but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you. Remember that I told you, a servant is not greater than his master—is not superior to him. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word and obeyed My teachings, they will also keep and obey yours. But they will do all this to you—inflict all this suffering on you—because of [your bearing] My name, and on My account, for they do not know or understand the One Who sent Me" (Continuing with Chapter 16 and verse 2): "They will put you out of the synagogues—expel you. But an hour is coming when whoever kills you will think and claim that he has offered service to God" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
When we submit to the waters of baptism and publicly identify with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection—we take His Name and all that goes with it. For Jewish believers in the days of the early Church, this often meant being ostracized by family and declared dead! All means of livelihood were forfeited and the individual(s) usually had to move into Gentile areas just to survive. It cost them dearly to follow the Lord, but they were spiritual giants—filled with the Holy Spirit—and "turned the world upside down!" (Acts 17:6). Many were martyred for their faith and many more suffered deprivations and unspeakable hardships rather than renounce their faith in the Lord. In Hebrews chapter 11—often called the "Heroes of Faith" chapter—we find in verses 33-35 a description of those who, by faith, worked mighty deeds. But in verses 36-38 we find the description of those who suffered because of their faith:
"Others had to suffer the trial of mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword; [while they were alive] they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated. [Men] of whom the world was not worthy, roaming over the desolate places and the mountains, and [living] in caves and caverns and holes of the earth" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary).
Yes, persecution and even death has been the lot of many of God’s choicest servants, while others have led relatively uneventful lives. Why the difference? It all is part of God’s Sovereign will for each of us—individually tailored to fit the needs of His plan. Our responsibility is to try our best to be conformed to His good and perfect will by being filled with the Spirit on a daily basis, realizing that in doing so we are going to incur the wrath of the world around us. And this is not an easy thing to do! Most of us have no desire to be despised by others—particularly when we can avoid it by just keeping our mouths shut and minding our own business, so to speak. But "stealth" Christianity is one of the main reasons the Church has become so lukewarm and placid—focusing its attention on plans and programs, rather than growing sanctified saints. Worldliness among the brethren is certainly not conducive to being filled with the Spirit and the result is spiritual lethargy.
Furthermore, when we take into consideration the email we receive that constantly repeats the accusation that we are preaching hatred and intolerance because we adhere to Paul’s admonition found in 2 Timothy 4:2—the "job description" of preachers—we find it most revealing:
"Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency (stand by, be at hand and ready, whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable, whether it is convenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong) and convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
Because we voice disagreement and use the Bible as the standard, we stand guilty in the eyes of the majority as being hateful and judgmental. When in actual point of fact, they are very often hateful and judgmental in denouncing us! We advocate nothing retaliatory nor do we pronounce judgment upon anyone, because judgment is the Lord’s prerogative. Our articles are designed as commentary to promote Christian discernment and challenge unbelievers, but are never intended to be inflammatory or hurtful even though we realize that they are strongly worded. We are merely expressing what we believe to be the truth relative to spiritual matters and yet are constantly berated for it. Disagreements in matters of political or economic practice are seen as healthy discourse, but in religion it is more often than not viewed as hatred. Do you not find that interesting? And just for the record, WE DO NOT HATE OR ENCOURAGE HATRED FOR ANYONE!!! Disagree, yes.
Christian, if you can mingle with the world and be accepted—you are doing something wrong! If everyone speaks well of you, no matter how crazy it sounds, you are not living godly in Christ Jesus! Being yielded to the indwelling Holy Spirit and manifesting His presence as spiritual "fruit" in your life is going to cause problems—guaranteed! Those who are spiritually dead—and that includes the overwhelming majority of people around us on a daily basis—can not understand "where we are coming from" (1 Cor.2:14) and will do their best to avoid us if we truly live for Christ. And it is this precise point we advise you apply to those "Christian leaders" who are so respected by the masses today. Listen to and mark well what we say: any preacher who declares "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) will be despised by the world! And those who consistently rate at or near the top of the public opinion polls should be viewed with great suspicion, because the very fact of their popularity makes it obvious they are compromising their ministry. Beware!
How is it with you personally—Is your walk with God causing any friction? Here’s what the Lord had to say about His ministry:
"Do you suppose that I have come to give peace upon earth? No, I say to you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided [among themselves], three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Luke 12:51-53, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary).
In other words, His ministry was going to separate people into sheep and goats—believers and unbelievers—bringing with it all of the discord and persecution that inevitably follow such disagreement. It brought upon Him Personally the condemnation of the religious leadership of the day and culminated in a horrible death by crucifixion; a fate He knew from the very beginning would be His. But in spite of the opposition, He resolutely continued to preach, teach, and proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, letting the will of the Father be done and cooperating fully to the end. In doing so, He purchased the salvation of His elect people and paid for it with His own blood. And history is replete with instances of His followers who have suffered and died rather than compromise with the world to avoid persecution. Are you willing to follow and suffer? Just remember that the closer you get to Him and the closer you walk with Him, the more likely you are to incur the wrath of Satan and suffer because of it. The way to heaven is the narrow way and few there be that find it (Matt.7:14).
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.
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Finally, we would love to hear from you. You can write us at:
Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466
You can also E-Mail Pastor Ronald Riffe regarding questions or comments about this article.
God bless you.