James tells us to “Consider it pure joy” when you come into trials of all kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance or endurance, which must finish its work so that you may become mature and complete lacking nothing. One version says “perfect.” I look at perfect as a word that applies only to Christ. However, we can pursue our faith even in persecution. Dr. David Jeremiah said in a recent sermon that in the last 40 years there has been more Christian persecution than in all history combined. The Bible prophesies this. In fact, the persecution of the church is a hopeful sign of the soon return of Jesus Christ to rule and reign. But first the Tribulation.
Before I continue to talk about persecution I want to remind Christians that there will be a rapture of the church before the tribulation. Scripture prophesies in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that Christ will come with a trumpet blast and that the dead in Christ and then all believers will be taken up and then the tribulation. Revelation 3 tells us that the church will be taken up before the tribulation as well. So persecution is something that is clearly talked about in increasing frequency in the latter New Testament particularly in Hebrews.
In his work on AD the TV series by Roma Downey, Dr. David Jeremiah talks of how the persecution will affect us. He says that it will produce growth making us stronger. If we don’t run we will become stronger. One of the lessons of through difficulty is patience.
Jeremiah tells us that suffering offers greater opportunity for witness. Paul tells us in Philippians 1:12 that it served to further the Gospel. Then is gives us an opportunity to encourage the brethren by example. Stephen’s stoning was such a 1st century event. Perhaps lastly it prepares us to reign with Christ. Jesus reminds us in the Sermon on the Mount that “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you…rejoice for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11). For if we endure, we will also reign with him Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:12.
I don’t know about you, but I have personally seen more persecution. I have lost a job because of my witnessing. I read continually of how we should be tolerant and believe all faiths or religions are equal. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me” John 14:6). He is the only way. Yes it is exclusive, but inclusive of whoever will believe in Him, will have eternal life. I know that my offerings receive no comments from readers. But I am greatly encouraged that there are over 500 readers in Ukraine where faith is persecuted greatly. There are many readers in Israel and Russia. Of course no one can even receive my writings in China or North Korea. So let us keep witnessing for our salvation draws neigh.