9. Faith Again Becomes a Matter of Life or Death
Watch for persecution of Christians and the Church of God that keeps the Commandments of God (Revelation 12:17; 14:12). Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to… kill you” (Matthew 24:9). Here He is speaking to His people, His genuine disciples. The Apostle John gave the Church (and anyone who reads the Bible) a test that can be used to determine who is a bona fide Christian and who only masquerades as one. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4).
It is these commandment-keeping Christians who will be persecuted. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). Jesus clearly foresaw that the world would be full of religious confusion during the end-time. “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). Only the few seem to understand; only those called by God. What is the result of this spiritual blindness and confusion? “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (v. 12). So, at the end, there will be widespread chaos and lawlessness—and God says much of it can be traced back to false teachings and religious confusion from a “Babylon” of religions and denominations.
God’s people will be persecuted at the time of the end, just as the early Christians faced vicious attacks. “If the world hates you,” Jesus told the disciples—and this certainly applies to us, His disciples today—“you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18–19).
This present society around us will become increasingly hostile to God’s people and the moral standards they live by! The political, business, media, cultural and religious elites will feel condemned by the true Church of God, which will not compromise regarding God’s word. God’s Church will be politically incorrect. This world will feel guilty.
How about you? If Scripture reveals to you some Truth that may be inconvenient, embarrassing, or personally or financially costly—what would your reaction be? Will you become angry at God because He is meddling? God says He has a right to tell you what is right or wrong in the most sensitive areas of your life. Some people will even start spitting in hatred at the mere thought that Someone else seeks to impose His values on them! And they will not like it. All animals and human beings blink when suddenly exposed to light when they have been in darkness. They do not like that bright light. So it is with the light of the Truth.
“Remember,” Jesus said, “the word that I said to you. ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). Did the religious and political authorities of Jesus’ time keep His word? No, they did not. They crucified Him instead. But Jesus continued, “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (v. 21).