PERSECUTION COMES WITH THE TERRITORY

The Apostle Paul says, without a hint of ambiguity that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted(2 Timothy 3:12). It is important that Christians recognize the nature and seriousness of this statement as we reflect on our lives. Most of us live in countries where religious freedom is under attack.

We would all do well to meditate on Jesus’ warning. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.Luke 9:62. Here, Jesus is reminding us all not to “look back” at the worldly life we left behind. In doing so, we err like Lot’s wife did in Sodom – not trusting God’s provision.

Christians, a day is coming when you will be forced to choose: the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Satan. On that day, you will be tempted to deny the very Lord that bought you (2 Peter 2:1). Prepare your heart now for that moment. Consider the cost of following Christ and give it gladly. Lay it it all down for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Remember, that it is “He who endures to the end that shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). The choice is stark and the eternal consequences deadly for those that choose the Kingdom of Satan.

What an entire generation of Christians do not understand is that refusing to align our language, choices, and actions with scripture is a blatant denial of Christ Jesus. Attacks on the doctrine of scripture are attacks on the Kingdom of God. Likewise, if we deny His word, we also deny Him. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot claim Jesus as our own and also continue to endorse the world’s philosophies. Increasingly, we are seeing Christians particularly in the denominational churches willing to deny Jesus and His doctrine.

Celebrating same sex marriage – legal in Australia December 2017

Let us meditate our hearts on the apostle Paul’s words. He writes, Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:8-10

CHRISTIANS MURDERED FOR FAITH ROSE 60% IN 2020

The watchdog organization Open Doors USA says levels of Christian persecution are at a record high around the world, revealing that the number of Christians murdered for their faith rose 60 percent in 2020. Biblical prophecy of the end times prior to Jesus return predicts increased persecution of this magnitude along with pestilences, famine and increased earthquakes in “divers” places. All of which are taking place in our time.

Open Doors announced the 2021 World Watch List this week, ranking the top 50 countries where it is the most dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Their latest data indicates one-in-eight Christians now suffer for their religious beliefs worldwide. 

In a broadcast carried on CBN News YouTube, Open Doors USA’s CEO David Curry said, “A shocking number this year is that 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination.” The top 10 countries on the World Watch List include North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India. “The big surprise on the World Watch List 2021 is that extremists and governments are using COVID-19 as a justification to increase persecution against Christians and we see this in several places,” Curry told CBN News. 

“In India, where local governments are using pressure on Christians to withhold food and medical care – over 115,000 incidents of this that we can document,” explained Curry.  “It’s also extremists like in northern Nigeria.  Boko Haram which is attacking Christian villages, knowing that there is nowhere for them to go and they’re taking food and medical supplies. We’ve documented this.  This is happening more and more and that’s on top of the other incidents of persecution. So, there’s this level of intensity that’s been added to because of COVID.”

Curry explained, “There’s 100 million Christians right now in China, and they (the regime) are using their technology to surveil the church. They’re watching their every move. They’re seeing when they go into church. They’re using facial recognition. They’re looking at their searches online. They have a massive surveillance system which is monitoring religious practice in China and it is absolutely chilling, and I think it poses the greatest threat to human rights.” Also, according to the report, extremist attacks spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond. In Nigeria alone, 10 Christians a day are murdered on average due to their religious beliefs. 

PROPHESIED LAST DAYS TRIBULATION

Since 2009, 34,400 Nigerian Christians have been murdered by radical Islamists, with 2,200 slain in the last year, Nigeria’s International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law. report says. Radical Muslims have also killed an estimated 20,000 moderate Muslims who were living in harmony with Christians. The newly-released report indicates that deaths which the Nigerian government describes as random banditry or inter-tribal violence, actually result from radical Islamists attacking Christians, said Intersociety leader and founder Emeka Umeagbalasi.

Christian mourners at the burial site of the Rev. Alubara Audu who was killed by jihadist herdsmen at Buda, Kajuru in Kaduna state, Nigeria, in September 2020.

” The most dangerous dimension to radical Islamism in Nigeria is its secret rise and spread and clandestine control of state power through Fulani Jihadism. In other words, the Nigerian Government’s major local and foreign policy direction, in clandestine practice, is ‘Fulani Jihadism’ — a policy pursued with utter alacrity and through different colors and disguises including pro-jihadist or radical Islamic policies and conducts. To cover up these, the present Nigerian government has also created international machinery of falsehood and propaganda with well-funded or oiled international lobbying campaigns targeted at misinforming and misleading key and strategic international legislative, diplomatic, and democratic institutions or bodies especially the EU, U.S., U.K. and Australia, and their Parliaments; the Commonwealth and the U.N. and other internationally respected state and non-state actors,” the report states, in part.

Islam is the most Antichrist entity that has arisen throughout history. It is significant in terms of prophesied end-times events, that both Sunni and Shiite Muslims believe the appearance of their Messiah figure, Mahdi is imminent. Likewise, Orthodox Jews believe their Messiah will arrive sometime before the Jewish year 6000. We are now in 5781. Likewise, many Christians believe as I do that Biblically prophesied events reveal Jesus’ second coming is not too far distant. Could this shed some light on the identity of the Antichrist (The Beast) of Revelation? I think it does, the Little Horn (Antichrist) arises out of the geographical area that is now Turkey and I think it possible that both the Muslims and Jews will accept him as their long-awaited Messiah. Why Jews? Because he will build them a temple. What comes next? Prophecies in Daniel reveal that first Iran (Shia) seeks to exert its dominance over the Muslim nations which it is trying to do with its proxies right now. Next, Turkey (Sunni) crushes Iran to re-establish its former dominance when it controlled the Ottoman Empire. Biblical prophecy then reveals the revived Ottoman Empire is broken up into four out of which the Little Horn will arise.

Then the goat (Turkey) became exceedingly great (revived Ottoman Empire), but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven. Out of one of them came a little horn (Antichrist), which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land.  It grew great, even to the host of heaven.Daniel 8:8-10

We are not told why or who breaks up the revived Ottoman Empire out of which arises the Antichrist. It will be interesting to watch how this all plays out. But, how good is our God to tell us beforehand. He does, so that we can prepare and use this information to prove the Bible is truly God’s Word. Most importantly, we can complete our Lords Great Commission to bring many into His Kingdom.

DECEPTION IN THE LAST DAYS

Darkness will cover the earth. We now live in a world that largely denies God’s existence and His ability to judge us. A world that is under the control of Satan. Jesus acknowledged His current sovereignty over this word. Just as the first man, Adam, rebelled against God, the Bible reveals that Satan an angelic being (created by God to serve Him in the heavenly dimension but able to impact and even manifest in our earthly dimension) rebelled against God wanting to be God. We are told that one-third of the angels followed Satan in his rebellion and are now demons taking part in Satan’s demonic plan to subvert God’s redemptive plan.

“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

A world that denies the true history of this world including the worldwide flood of Noah’s day when God judged and destroyed mankind and the animals except those on Noah’s Ark just 4000 years ago. Probably, the greatest lie that Satan has got the world to believe is the evolutionary origins of this universe.

The world also largely denies God ever established a nation to represent Him on this earth and from whom would come the redeemer, the one who can save mankind from sin, man’s rebellion against their Creator. The true history of this world from its beginning to its prophesied end has been given to us by God Himself through the prophets. Fulfilled prophecies already prove the Bible is God’s Word. Jesus came into His world and changed history forever. It is 2020 because God ensured this event could not be denied. When the resurrected Jesus departed this world He said He would return to the same place where He left it, Jerusalem. Extensive details of His second coming were revealed to the O.T. prophets and to the N.T. apostles particularly John in the book of Revelation. There are more prophecies about Jesus’ second coming to earth than there were about His first coming and there were plenty of those.

Christians we need to start living eternally now, ready for Jesus’ return. We can use the coming prophesied events to prepare the church for the coming tribulation and also for what I call apocalyptic evangelism.

available as an eBook on Amazon and from me ron@bakb.com.au in trade paperback format. Anyone who makes a donation of $20.00 will receive a book delivered anywhere in the world. You will need to email me your address.

END TIMES PERSECUTION

The rise of violent extremist groups throughout Africa, as well as the constant attacks against Christian communities in the continent’s most populated country, has religious leaders fearful that “the next jihad” is underway.

“I know one thing has never really changed: No one gives a damn about Africa except for their natural resources or if there is going to be a big party because there is a peace treaty being signed,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the global social action agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization with over 400,000 family members. 

Cooper teamed up with Rev. Johnnie Moore, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, to author the new book The Next Jihad: Stop the Christian Genocide in Africa. The book was written after the unlikely duo traveled together to Nigeria earlier this year to meet with dozens of Christian victims of terrorism from five different regions. “After our journey there, we want the world to know that you haven’t heard half of it,” the faith leaders said in a joint statement. “The terrorists’ aim is to ethnically cleanse northern Nigeria of its Christians and to kill every Muslim who stands in their way.”

Their trip came as thousands have been killed by Boko Haram (an Islamic militant group in Nigeria’s northeast with a splinter faction that has claimed allegiance to the Islamic State) and radical Fulani herdsmen who have in recent years increasingly raided predominantly Christian farming villages in the country’s Middle Belt.

In the natural this genocide is horrific and fearful but for Christians who truly understand God is working out His plans and purposes in His world and want to be in the centre of His will for their lives understand the truth of this Scripture.

 “And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”    Romans 5:3-5

IS TOTALITARIANISM COMING TO AMERICA?

When many of us think about totalitarianism, George Orwell’s 1984 or the former Soviet Union often come to mind.  Government inflicts terror and suffering on its people to force them to conform. Rod Dreher, the senior editor of The American Conservative contends America is fast becoming what he calls, a “soft” totalitarian state.

Dreher’s premise is featured in the new book, Live not by Lies: a Manual for Christian Dissidents.

“Ours is going to be a more soft version where they use the infliction of economic pain and marginalization and shaming to force Christians out of the public square and to compel us to conform with left-wing ideology and the fact that it’s soft doesn’t mean it is any less totalitarian,” Dreher said.

Dreher says today, social media is a major driver behind isolation and unease – especially among young people.

“It has made them desperate for something to solve their problem of alienation and their anxiety,” he explained.  “I think this is opening them up to the acceptance of a false idol that will be totalitarian that will tell them, ‘We can take care of all your problems, we can fix it if you will only say yes to us.’ That’s what happened in Russia and that’s what happened in Germany and that’s what’s coming here. And those who advocate Judeo-Christian values and reject the lies of the new American leftist state will be marginalized and singled out for persecution.”

Watch this video it will take just 5 minutes of your time.

END TIMES PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

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. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13

ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS BEHEAD IN MOZAMBIQUE REIGN OF TERROR

Islamic extremists have unleashed a reign of terror in northern Mozambique leaving churches burned to the ground, people beheaded, and tens of thousands displaced and traumatized. There have been reports that the militants beheaded 15 people in one week. Earlier in Holy Week, 52 young people who refused to join the Islamic terrorists were killed. Since 2017, more than 1,100 people have been killed in attacks after extremists launched a violent campaign to persecute Christians and recruit young soldiers.

OVER 8,000 MEMBERS OF ONE NIGERIAN CHURCH KILLED

One church in northeast Nigeria has revealed extremist group, Boko Haram, has taken the lives of 8,370 of its members. In a press conference, Reverend Joel Billi, from the Church of the Brethren, stressed the far-reaching and systematic persecution by Boko Haram.  “Over 700,000 members have been displaced, with only seven out of 60 District Church Councils not directly affected,” he said. According to Rev Billi, 300 branches of the church have either been burned or destroyed. As well as countless homes and properties. This has forced at least 25,000 church members into refugee camps in neighbouring Cameroon.

POLICE SHUT HOUSE CHURCHES IN CHINA AND ORDER CHRISTIANS TO STOP BELIEVING IN GOD

House churches across China have experienced intensified persecution in recent months. Bitter Winter, a publication produced by the Centre for Studies on New Religion which covers human rights issues in China, documented numerous instances where Christians were threatened by Chinese Communist Party officials. Recently a group of officials in the city of Leiyang, in the central province of Hunan, raided a house church. The Religious Affairs Bureau in Yongzhou city shut down a house church for “holding illegal gatherings without permits” and confiscated computers, a photocopier, and Bibles. Police in Dengzhou city raided a house church, confiscating its Bibles and hymnbooks, and took 8 members away for interrogation. Officers warned them that they would be sentenced to 3 to 5 years in prison if they gather again. “The government wants to eliminate all religions and force us to give up our belief.” Christian churches that refuse to register with the government, known as “house churches,” are illegal. However, even Three-Self churches, those registered with the government, have also experienced an uptick in persecution in recent months. Regardless, according to estimates, there are more Christians in China than Communist Party members.

COVID 19 STOPS CHRISTIANS FROM ESCAPING NORTH KOREA

With borders closed and security increased, COVID-19 has made it harder than ever for North Korean refugees to escape. Between April and June 2019, 320 refugees fled to South Korea. In 2020, the number of those who made it across the border amounted to only 12. According to South Korea, these numbers are the lowest ever.

PREFER AWAKENING TO JESUS OVER FREEDOM

“I would rather see millions of [Iranians] come to Jesus than have freedom and democracy. If freedom was such a great thing for the Kingdom, then why is America and Europe in the state it is now?” —Leader in the Iranian underground church

This is why the West will see more persecution before Jesus returns. God wants more people to start living there life in the light of eternity not for a better life here.

Listen to this video and learn from Iranian Christians on how to live life.

RESPONSE TO PROPHESIED LAST DAYS PERSECUTION

Juan Riesco and his brother, Jose, were heirs to a flourishing family business — Nini’s Deli — in downtown Chicago. But it all came crashing down in early June, when the beloved eatery, owned by their foreign-born parents, found itself in the crosshairs of the increasingly progressive Black Lives Matter movement.

Having since left Chicago in the wake of the restaurant’s forced, permanent closure, Riesco told Faithwire he and his brother are focusing on ministry.

If they’re gonna protest,” he said, “we’re gonna preach.

Riesco, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba and Mexico, was once lauded by numerous publications as an up-and-coming entrepreneur with a knack for viral branding. He had enjoyed so much success with the deli and his personal business, Chicago Native, that brands like Nike and Adidas launched collaborations with him. But when Riesco refused to wholly endorse the official Black Lives Matter movement, he and his family were made villains on blogs and news outlets, many of which labeled them as “racist” and “homophobic.”

Photo of Nini's Deli - Chicago, IL, United States. Nini's!
NINI’S DELI BEFORE CLOSURE
Photo of Nini's Deli - Chicago, IL, United States. If there's a line.. must be good and worth waiting for
NINI’S DELI BEFORE CLOSURE WITH FIVE STAR RATING ON YELP
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NINI’S DELI AFTER CLOSURE
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Rather than kowtow to the demands of a movement with which they harbor many disagreements, the Riescos stood firmly by their convictions. In early June, after being asked if they “believe Black Lives Matter,” Riesco published an official statement on the deli’s since-shuttered Instagram account. In it, he wrote he and his family believe “all people were created equal in the image of God.” The lengthy statement continued, “We believe that all black lives matter and we know that only God can bring about justice that is deserved.”

Riesco told Faithwire that, because of the success of Nini’s Deli, which had a five star rating on Yelp, locals were eager to see the restaurant throw its weight behind the Black Lives Matter campaign. Rather than totally embrace the movement, though, Riesco said it was important to use his platform to share his faith.

“I had felt in my spirit that I needed to, yes, take a stand [against] injustice, but also take a stand, most importantly, for Christ,” Riesco explained. “Because my business was so successful, by God’s grace, we had a lot of eyes waiting on us to make a statement about what was happening.”

“We used that platform — all those eyes on us, waiting to make a statement — to say, ‘We believe black lives matter, but we believe that because they’re made in the image of God,” he added.

However, by distancing themselves from the overarching Black Lives Matter movement, as other Christians have done, the Riescos drew the ire of many progressive protesters. After posting a statement to the restaurant’s Instagram handle on June 3, Riesco said “all hell essentially broke loose.

The Christian entrepreneur recalled receiving an onslaught of threats and promises to protest his family’s restaurant as a result of his statement on racial injustice. On Friday, June 5, just two days after the initial post to Instagram, Nini’s Deli shut down permanently as liberal protesters descended on the once-popular eatery.

Tensions only rose when Riesco’s brother Jose began brashly preaching during the raucous protest outside the deli, calling out many of the protesters for their “wicked agenda.” With his at times confrontational style, he talked about how his brother once identified as gay but “Jesus fixed him, straightened him

He also spoke out against the Black Lives Matter campaign’s affiliations with Planned Parenthood, the LGBT movement, and calls to defund the police.

Ultimately, the social pressure proved to be too much: the constant protests, the endless stream of social media posts slandering the restaurant, and the cancelled partnerships with big-name brands resulted in Nini’s Deli having to permanently closed its doors after a decade of business.

The pain of what they’ve lost remains fresh. Through tears, Riesco said he and his family “poured our hearts into loving our community, despite gender, despite sex, despite whatever you want to identify as.”

Nevertheless, even though the family company is gone, the Riesco brothers — both of whom became Christians at the deli — said they are “blessed.”

I was just sharing with our team yesterday that my circumstances have changed, but my identity in whom I trust hasn’t,” Riesco said, adding he is still in “a position of gratitude toward our God.”

Moving forward, Juan and Jose Riesco plan to dedicate themselves to ministry.

WILL YOU ENDURE PERSECUTION DURING THE COMING TRIBULATION

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:13 is likely one of the most misquoted, misapplied, and misunderstood passages within the New Testament. Suffice it to say, it is not about how one can literally do anything you put your mind to simply because you are in Christ. Paul has a specific context in mind here—and it is not about attaining your personal goals and aspirations, developing a healthy conception of self-worth, nor is it designed to be a coping mechanism to deal with the hardships of life. The passage isn’t even about finding the secret of contentment in all things, despite insistence from many that this is the focal point of this passage. This interpretation has more validity due to the previous verses:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Paul undoubtedly affirms learning contentment in all circumstances. However, the overarching point of Paul to the Philippians in this passage is not contentment, but one of enduring through suffering, particularly, a suffering brought on through no fault of their own.

Brutal execution of 11 blindfolded Christians in Nigeria, the day after Christmas

The thing that is rather sad about focusing on both the ability to do “all things” and “contentment” is that we don’t focus properly on the message of Paul, which is Christ Himself. Not only does emphasizing the “all things” profoundly miss the point of the passage, but it just doesn’t stand the test of basic logic. It isn’t even an adequate application of this passage, because all things” to Paul here has a specific context, and that context is enduring through suffering for the prize gained through the glorious gospel of our Lord. Even more clearly, they stand to be glorified with Christ, as they too share in His sufferings. Yet equally as sad, though perhaps in a less heinous way, is the focus on learning contentment that is often also presented as the point of this passage. Again, it must be restated: contentment is the fruit, not the root. The root is Jesus Christ

A rather large focus in Philippians surrounds the idea that the knowledge of Christ and His great work is the means by which the Christian is able to endure persecution. What that means is that a true knowledge of Christ leads to us seeing Him as greater than everything else—even our suffering. A true knowledge of Christ will produce in us the heart attitude that believes all else is to be considered as loss, and that to live is Christ. The one who sees Christ as the preeminent One will actually remain stable in the midst of either incredible prosperity or incredible duress, because their eyes are fixated on the risen Christ Himself (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are not lured away to treasure or trust in wealth, yet neither are they acting as if the sky is falling in the midst of even the most horrendous of circumstances. They are able to say with Paul that they may be, “…hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Why? Because it is invariably through weakness that the Lord is pleased to show His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are content, yet their contentment is born exclusively out of seeing that their light and momentary” afflictions produces an eternal glory, which is the hope of the resurrection that the gospel of Christ brings (2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10).

Taken from article by Grayson Gilbert (Patheos) “Philippians 4:13 is not about your life goals”. Grayson completed his Masters of Divinity degree at Moody Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing church planting under the umbrella of his home church.