HOW TO COPE WITH PERSECUTION IN THE DAYS AHEAD

Josef Tson: What His Suffering for Christ in Communist Romania Taught Him, and Can Teach Us

This article by Randy Alcorn www. patheos.com July 21, 2022 is very applicable to the “end times ” persecution that is unfolding in our time.

I opened the Scriptures with Josef in 1988, with a group of theologians discussing eternal rewards. Twenty years later, writing my book If God Is Good, I remembered his stories and insights and called him again, in order to share his insights with others. Josef explained to me how the belief that God doesn’t want His people to suffer once corrupted the Romanian church. In the interests of self-preservation, he said, they failed to speak out against injustice, tyranny, and the idolatry of turning men into gods. He recalls joining the crowd on the streets and crying, “Glory to Stalin.”

God convicted Josef. As a pastor, he refused to glorify communist leaders and started to speak out boldly for Christ. Interrogators threatened him with death every day for six months. Finally he told them, “Your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. My preaching will speak ten times louder after you kill me.”

Josef said, “During the time I was expecting to be crushed by the Romanian secret police interrogators, God became more real to me than ever before or after in my life. It is difficult to put into words the experience I had with God at that time. It was like a rapture into sweet and total communion with the Beloved. God’s test for me then became the pathway to a special knowledge of the reality of God.”

21 Coptic Christians beheaded by Isis in Tripoli, Libya

Finally, in 1981, the Romanian government exiled him. After facing much evil and nearly being martyred in Ceauşescu’s Romania, Josef told me, “This world, with all its evil, is God’s deliberately chosen environment for people to grow in their characters. The character and trustworthiness we form here, we take with us there, to Heaven. Romans and 1 Peter 3:19 make clear that suffering is a grace from God. It is a grace given us now to prepare us for living forever.”

He also told me he believed that 95 percent of Christians pass the test of adver­sity, while 95 percent fail the test of prosperity.

In the West, with our conspicuous prosperity and ease, Christianity’s popularity continues to shrink. In Africa, Asia, and South America, with much greater adversity and suffering, it continues to grow.

Josef Tson believes, “The gospel will never be spread without someone suffering.” He said our first question in suffering should not be, “Why?” but, “God, what do you want to do in the world through my suffering?”

Josef continues, “God achieves great things in the world through the one who accepts His way of suffering and self-sacrifice. In the end, however, it turns out that the greatest things are achieved in the sufferer himself. The one who sacrificially expects to be a blessing for others discovers that, in the final analysis, he is the one who has harvested the greatest blessings.”

Suffering can help us know God and prepare us to trade a shallow life not worth keeping for a deeper life we’ll never lose.

When interrogators worked Josef into exhaustion for ten hours a day, one of his persecutors made a strange statement: “Pastor Tson, when I interrogate people I am used to feeling their hatred for me. But you do not hate me. It has become a delight for me to be with you.”

Jesus saw our suffering as an opportunity to share the gospel, do you?

Jesus said to them, nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you, they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives.Luke 21: 10-19

Josef viewed his suffering as God’s means to accomplish God’s purpose. He told of guards coming to Christ while beating Christian prisoners, then confessing their faith and being imprisoned and tortured themselves. As a result, the gospel his persecutors tried to dismiss touched them instead.

IN WHOM DO YOU TRUST AND FOR WHAT?

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday ... Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place – the Most High, who is my refuge – no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.Psalms 91:1-6, 9-11

Now, this magnificent poem does not necessarily mean that the faithful – those who dwell “in the shelter of the Most High”– will not get the pestilence or suffer the other afflictions mentioned. 

Satan used this Psalm in his temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:5-7), trying to get him to invoke its promise that angels “will bear you up” by throwing himself off from the pinnacle of the Temple.  But such an interpretation, Jesus points out, would be to put God to the test, violating Deuteronomy 6:16.

But those who trust God as their refuge will be delivered from the evil of the pestilence and from fear of it.

Look at these promises of God to David. They are yours if you hold fast to God in love.

Because He holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect Him because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation
.” Psalms 91:14-16

GREAT TEACHING ON THE HEART BY LEADING CARDIOLOGIST

Great testimony and teaching from Dr Sam on our heart attitude towards things of this world and God. Dr Sam learned the hard way as he made becoming a doctor the idol he worshipped most and it was not until he cast that idol aside in favour of God, did God open up the door for him to become not only a doctor but a leading cardiologist.

I almost did not post his testimony as Dr Sam has got the timing of The Rapture wrong, but his testimony is so good I have posted it regardless. Dr Sam has The Rapture occurring before the last seven years (70th week of Daniel) before Jesus returns to earth with the Saints to rescue Israel at the battle of Armageddon. However, as most of you would know, I contend that the Bible makes it clear we go through the tribulation period but God does not pour out His wrath upon the Saints and that His wrath is poured out when the scroll is opened with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements. God uses the tribulation, even great tribulation which occurs during the seals being opened to sort the wheat from the chaff, The hot from the cold and the lukewarm. It will only be the overcomers that are taken up at the Rapture. It will occur with the trumpet blast at the opening of the seventh seal. The church of Philadelphia is taken up but the church of Laodicea is left behind. Each church represents the church during each year of the seven years as do the seals. The seventh seal heralds the Rapture and the Wrath of God being poured out on an unrepentant world for one year and ten days. Jesus said His return would be like the days of Noah and it will be in terms of lawlessness but also the wrath of God in Noah’s day lasted one year and ten days.

CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA: “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my nameBecause you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.Revelation 3:8,10

CHURCH OF LAODICEA: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and nakedThose whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.Revelation 3:15-17,19

HOW TO HEAR FROM GOD – TRUST HIM

Learn from the amazing life of George Muller. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:2-4

DISTRACTED FROM THE ONLY THING THAT REALLY MATTERS

The busyness of life distracts us from the source of all life. our Creator. Our focus is invariably on our goals, tasks, and demands.  But when we pause to consider David’s words in the Psalms, we can see where our focus truly needs to be – let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us a heart after God that David had.

“I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water,” David wrote in Psalm 63

We can see the world getting darker exactly as Jesus prophesied would happen in the time before His return, lawlessness is on the increase and His Commandments despised. We are, indeed, people living in a dry and parched land. We need God more than anything else; our ultimate longing should be for Him alone.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me!” Psalm 66:16-29

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” Psalm 28:7

Do you want God;s help? David did and He knew how to get it – “my heart trusted God”.

Want to get right with God? It starts with repentance and acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, understanding that without His sacrifice on the Cross, we are all dead in our sins. ” I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:6