Jesus tells us that faced with the choice of persecution unto death or apostasy, many churchgoers will, unfortunately, choose apostasy. They will deny Jesus is the son of God and live for a short period of time longer than their faithful brothers. In both Luke and Matthew, we learn they will even betray their brothers and sisters who remain faithful. This is a horrible and almost unthinkable situation. Jesus says the love of “many” will become cold. I believe the parable of the ten virgins reveals that as many as 50% of people in our churches are not born again and they will choose apostasy rather than martyrdom. At greatest risk may be those people who were expecting to be “snatched away” in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.“
Do you trust God enough to be with you through whatever He calls you to do even martyrdom? Do you remember what happened when Stephen was stoned to death?
But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God… And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:55-56, 59-60
In the following passage in Philippians, Paul builds on Jesus’s instructions to be fearless in the face of persecution. First, he admonishes Christians to stand firmly together. It is this unity in faith that accomplishes God’s goal. Standing firm in persecution, a unified Church is living in a manner worthy of the gospel. Earlier Paul states that “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). If we truly believe that Gospel message, what will we fear? When persecutors see Christians standing in absolute faith that a better life and reward is coming, it is a witness to the persecutors of both their coming judgment and the sure salvation of God. This is God’s battle plan. How many millions of our opponents will see this and be converted by this faithful act of witness?
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” Philippians 1:27-30