Now here’s what I see as the real question. Fellow Christians, are we ready to go down without a fight?
Hello Readers, hope all is well with you. It’s time for another Friday post in my End Times series.
Today I’m talking about something Jesus warned us about in Matthew 24 and many other passages. Namely, the world turning against Christians, persecuting them, and executing them. It also seems like many of the persecutors could be former Christians who were fooled in some kind of grand deception.
As always, my message is that this is nothing to worry about because it’s all part of God’s plan. What can we do to stop it? Nothing. God’s plans will always come to pass. But there is still something else we can do of course.
The coming grand deception and persecution of Christians will test our faith as never before. We need to examine our own faith right now, and make sure we have the spiritual fortitude to endure what will be demanded of us soon.
We Can’t Say Jesus Didn’t Warn Us
Jesus warned us that the world would hate us on account of His name in Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:13, and Luke 21:12. In Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:13, and Luke 21:12 He specifically states this in reference to the End Times. Let’s take a look at each.
In Matthew 10:22, the context in which Jesus said “everyone will hate you on account of my name” was when he commissioned the disciples to travel Israel. They were to preach that “the kingdom of heaven has come near” while performing healing miracles and expelling demons (Matthew 10:7-8).
Here’s Matthew 10:22.
(21) Brothers and sisters will hand each other over to be executed. A father will turn his child in. Children will defy their parents and have them executed. (22) Everyone will hate you on account of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.Matthew 10:21-22 (CEB)
So from this we see that from the very beginnings of Christ’s ministry, Jesus Himself warned us that the world would hate us. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. The world has always been hostile to Jesus Christ and His message. The world has always been hostile to those who preach it.
The world hates the message because when we follow Christ, we are not of the world. That’s a topic I’ve talked about many times on my blog and in this End Times series. Jesus makes this clear in John 15:18-19.
(18) “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first. (19) If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, I have chosen you out of the world, and you don’t belong to the world. This is why the world hates you.John 15:18-19 (CEB)
Jesus warned us right from the start that things would be this way. But He also taught us that it didn’t matter. We will claim the promise of eternal life with Him, but only if we stand firm in our faith until the end. Being executed by angry unbelievers means nothing in the long run. Our eternal life with Jesus is all that matters! We must never stop proclaiming the truth of the Gospels and of our faith, even if it costs us everything!
Now let’s look at Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:13, and Luke 21:12, parallel accounts of the same warning. These are the verses where Jesus Christ says “they will hate you on account of my name” in reference to the End Times.
Remember that at the start of Matthew 24 and Mark 13, the disciples ask what signs will show the end of the world is coming. Jesus tells them about “wars and rumors of war,” earthquakes, famines, and other things I often talk about on my blog. I reference Matthew 24 a lot, since this is where Jesus tells us about the great suffering and what to look out for.
Here is the quote as in Matthew 24:9.
(9) They will arrest you, abuse you, and they will kill you. All nations will hate you on account of my name. (10) At that time many will fall away. They will betray each other and hate each other.Matthew 24:9-10 (CEB)
In verse 10 we see a reference to people falling away. More on that in a second.
Now here is Mark 13:13.
(12) Brothers and sisters will hand each other over to death. A father will turn in his children. Children will rise up against their parents and have them executed. (13) Everyone will hate you because of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved.Mark 13:12-13 (CEB)
And Luke 21:12, which is a bit different.
(12) But before all this occurs, they will take you into custody and harass you because of your faith. They will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.Luke 21:12 (CEB)
So Jesus Himself already warned us that in the End Times, His true followers will be persecuted, hated, and even executed. Not only that, but there will be a great falling away. Many Christians will betray the faith and believe the lies of the AntiChrist and others. Many false Christs and false prophets will appear, deceiving even God’s elect. The love of many will grow cold.
There will be very few true followers of Jesus left after this persecution starts up. And those who remain will be hated and killed by their own former family and friends. Many Christians will abandon their faith and join in the persecution of their former brethren.
So don’t be surprised if you look at the world around you and get the feeling that things are heading that way. We already know from the Gospels that things must turn out this way. And that’s why we should not be dismayed to see our culture moving towards this either. It’s only one more sign that what Jesus already warned us about will soon come to pass.
Relax: These Things must Happen
The End Times cannot be stopped, because it is God’s plan. I often say this on my blog, because it’s true. God is sovereign. His will, His plans will always come to pass. He has already ordained these things.
These things will happen because they must happen. They must happen because Jesus said they must. God’s plans will come to pass in His own time, whenever he has ordained that they will happen. His plans cannot be stopped, delayed, altered, averted, and so on.
Let me tell you from experience, once we accept that truth and understand we are powerless to change or avoid what’s going to happen, it leads to much less anxiety about the end of the world. Accept that the world is ending and Christ will return soon.
We do have the power to do something before that happens. And that is to put our faith in Jesus, confess and REPENT of our sins, and do our very best to change our ways and overcome sin right now with Jesus’ divine help. All the work we need to do happens within us.
Anyway, when we see society slowly (but steadily) becoming more hostile to Jesus, His message, and Christians in general, we have the right to speak out against it if we wish. I don’t have any problem with people choosing to protest, etc.
I think it will be better to spend our final days embracing those who are against us and trying to bring them over to the truth of Christianity. Every individual who can be turned away from non-belief and sin (etc.) and led to Christ is a loss for Satan and a victory for Christ. Right up until the very last day, any victories like this we can score are precious and they glorify God. That’s partly why I for one don’t plan on fighting any of this persecution—more on that below.
Let’s be grateful that thanks to Jesus we can look in the Bible and see what’s coming, see what’s in store for us next. And let’s all be clear on the fact that the worsening persecution of Christians in the future cannot be stopped. It is clearly stated to be an End Times event that must happen.
They Can’t Kill Us, only our Bodies
And what does it matter if they execute us? Seriously: So what?
As I always say in my End Times posts, going all the way back to the first post, no saved Christian should be afraid to die. If we die then we go up to be together with Jesus. Death holds no power over us, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross and our faith in Him. The promise of eternal life He so graciously offers us sinners is greater than any temporary discomfort such as torture or execution. But do we have what it takes to stay faithful to the bitter end?
Remember that there is only One we should fear and that is YHWH, the One and Only God. The Power who has the authority to judge our souls and damn us to an eternity of torment.
(28) Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.Matthew 10:28 (CEB)
Whatever physical suffering we will endure, no matter how horrible, is temporary. Our eternal life is never-ending. Let’s consider which is worse: 10 days of horrible torture ending with our gruesome physical death, or an eternity of torment that never ends?
We must not lose our salvation and promise of eternal life out of fear of the physical pain we must suffer, or the desire to preserve our lives in our physical bodies here on earth! Remember that this earth, this life is not all there is! Our real life is not here on this world—our real life is in heaven with Jesus Christ the King! We must never lose sight of that, no matter what’s going on around us.
We can lose this life, that’s fine. But if we deny Jesus in the hopes of saving our own skins, then we’ve really screwed up. We would be much better off dead.
(33) Whoever tries to preserve their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life will preserve it.Luke 17:33 (CEB)
I hope that’s enough to make you feel better about (physically) dying in an anti-Christian persecution. But if anyone needs a bit more to see that such a thing is nothing to worry about, I’ll add in this passage from Matthew 5:11-12.
(11) “Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. (12) Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.Matthew 5:11-12 (CEB)
The Real Question: Is our Faith Strong Enough Not to Fight them?
Now here’s what I see as the real question. Fellow Christians, are we ready to go without a fight?
Yes that’s right: Do we have the faith that it takes to put up no resistance and cooperate with our own execution? Because that is the example that Jesus showed us.
When the Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus, He didn’t put up any fight at all. He could have. He could have killed every one of the soldiers, He could have destroyed the whole city, the whole country. But He didn’t, because that wasn’t the plan. He said so Himself:
(52) Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword. (53) Or do you think that I’m not able to ask my Father and he will send to me more than twelve legions of angels right away? (54) But if I did that, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this must happen?”Matthew 26:52-54 (CEB)
Jesus said He could summon more than twelve legions of angels in the blink of an eye! Yet He didn’t. But why not? After all, He knew his arrest would end with His execution, so He was leading Himself to His own death.
Well, He was putting His money where His mouth was, He was practicing what He preached. He was walking the walk, not only talking the talk. He taught us in the Sermon on the Mount that we must turn the other cheek. We must not oppose those who want to harm us.
(38) You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. (39) But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well.Matthew 5:38-39 (CEB)
When Jesus put up no resistance when the Romans came to arrest Him, He was showing us the importance of upholding this teaching by the most brutal example possible. It cost Him His life to give us this example, to teach us through His actions that we must never put up a violent resistance. And that has nothing to do with our ability to win a fight. Once again, Jesus could have won a fight against the Romans in the blink of an eye. But that wasn’t the plan.
“Eye for an eye” was the old Jewish law first set forth in Exodus 21:24. But in Matthew 5:39, Jesus liberates us from the tyranny of the old law and teaches us the new way. It’s up to us to follow it.
To turn the other cheek is hard. That’s why we must do it. Jesus didn’t come to teach us trivial matters. What He came to tell us are the most important things we could ever know. If He said we must not oppose those who would harm us, and if He showed this in action when He didn’t fight the Romans, then we must follow His example and do the same when it’s our time.
If someone punches us, it’s in every one of our instincts to punch back. That’s the easy thing to do. The hard thing to do is to overcome our natural instincts. Jesus didn’t come to teach us any shortcuts or how to make things easy. He came to teach us the way to live. His way is much harder than taking the easy route (following our instincts). Following Christ is playing the game of life on hard mode. And it’s the harder route because it goes against our natural instincts, and our own interests.
Turning the other cheek is hard because it doesn’t make sense to do. That’s why when we do it, it sends a powerful message and has a much greater impact than any physical retaliation we could have unleashed.
Jesus also calls us to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us, who curse us.
(43) “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. (44) But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute youMatthew 5:43-44 (CEB)
On the surface, it doesn’t make sense to do this because it goes against our own interests. That’s why it’s so hard to do this. But in the end, to be a Christian means denying ourselves and picking up our cross (our burden), all for the glory of God.
(24) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.Matthew 16:24 (CEB)
Jesus taught us that we must overcome our own instincts, we must deny ourselves if we want to glorify Him.
We must deny our human need for payback and retribution; vengeance belongs to the LORD and the LORD only (Romans 12:19). Rest assured that He will repay it if it’s justified. But that is for Him to judge. We are not the ones to judge.
Some of those who will execute Christians in the future may even repent and find Jesus themselves; we have no idea! If that were to happen, it would all be part of God’s plan. That would be another example of God producing good out of something evil, all for His own glory. Like He did in the book of Job.
Speaking of the book of Job, never forget that everything that happens in this world happens because God either caused it or allowed it. As we see in the opening chapters of Job, God will sometimes allow Satan to take harmful actions. But when He does, it’s always to serve His own divine purposes. God can test our faith like He tested Job’s. I believe He’s about to.
Spiritual Fortitude Is what We Need
God warned us these things would happen. He flat out told us. So who are we to go against God’s plan? Armed resistance against the future persecution of Christians is not the plan. Jesus already showed us what to do by His example.
So the real question is: Do we have the strength of faith it takes to do that? Are we ready to die rather than deny our faith in Jesus Christ to the world?
Instead of physical fortitude, it’s spiritual fortitude we’re going to need in the final days. As St. Bruno said, “Fortitude is not of the body, but is a constancy of soul.”
Can we be sure that we won’t fall for the deception of the great falling away? Can we be sure we won’t deny Christ under painful torture? Do we have the spiritual fortitude to overcome our own instincts and follow the teachings of Christ, even if it kills us?
Think about these questions and be mentally prepared for these events, but don’t worry too much. Remember that God is always in control, no matter what we see happening around us. It’s all part of the plan. As faithful Christians we know we’ll be alright.
Death has no power over us anymore. Fear Only God, and don’t lose sight of what matters. And care for and encourage each other so that we will all remain strong in our faith. Amen.
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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3 comments on “Do Not Fear the End Times Part 9: They Will Hate Us on Account of His Name”