God, Culture Wars and Persecution

Believers should avoid faulty ways of responding to persecution and anti-Christian bigotry:

Because I am a Christian, I of course write a lot about God. And since I am also fully involved in the culture wars, that too is often the subject of my articles. And since these wars are resulting in more and more anti-Christian persecution, that is also something I have addressed frequently.

So here I am, writing on all three topics – once again. And I do so in part for one reason. It has to do with how I see many believers responding to the wars we are in and the battles that we face. While many have the right idea as to the way forward, many do not.

Those wrong sorts of responses are often dressed up in all rather biblical sounding jargon. Consider some of the quite common responses usually heard by so many Christians when they discuss such matters:

‘Just as the Bible predicted.’
‘This is all part of God’s plan.’
‘We were warned these things would happen.’
‘None of this surprises God.’
‘It’s all going according to plan.’
‘We have read the end of the book and we know that we win!’

While all these responses are basically true, what bothers me is what so often in fact accompanies these statements. And that is a fatalistic mindset. These believers think that since these things have been foretold or predicted, or that since God is in control, we just accept it all, do nothing, and simply grin and bear it.

They think we should just be resigned to our fate, and not do anything about what is happening. It is a hyper-spiritualised sort of response, and one that does not do full justice to the biblical data on this. Yes indeed, God is in charge and he is still on the throne. But that never means we are to sit by passively and do nothing.

God is on the throne, but he expects us to go out and evangelise and share the gospel. God is on the throne, but he expects us to act as salt and light. God is on the throne, but he expects us to grow as believers, putting off the old man and putting on the new. God is on the throne, but he expects us to get jobs and feed our families. God is on the throne, but he expects us to be proactive in so many areas and in so many ways.

While getting a full and proper grasp of how divine sovereignty goes along with human responsibility will always elude us – at least on this side of heaven – we have enough biblical truth to run with here. And that truth is clear: yes, God is sovereign, but he expects us to do what he asks of us. The great truth of his complete sovereignty is never meant to turn us into robots or doormats. We have a job to do, and we must do it.

I have too often been told by other Christians that all my warnings, all my sounding of the alarm, and all my watchman on the wall or prophetic type ministry is basically a waste of time. They think it is a distraction from the main game – whatever that is – or that I am living in fear and just pushing panic, or that I am not trusting God, etc.

Well, the Old Testament prophets also got plenty of criticism and abuse. They too were told to just ease up, chill out, and zip the lip. But they did not. They kept on doing what God had called them to do. And even more remarkable is the fact that they kept on doing what God called them to do, even though God told them ahead of time that they would not be well-received at all.

Indeed, prophets like Jeremiah were actually told beforehand that the words they had to preach would NOT be listened to but would be roundly rejected. Imagine that! Imagine being given a commission to preach to a people, knowing full well the masses would not listen and would steadfastly reject you and your words. Jeremiah for example stuck to this thankless task for some 40 years!

Lots of Christians today would say, ‘What’s the point? Why waste your time on this?’ But when God calls you to do something, you do it, regardless of the results. Whether or not people respond is beside the point: we are to obey God and faithfully do what he tells us to do.

Sure, there are times when people will not listen to us, and we then should just move on to those who will listen. As Jesus told his followers: “If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” (see Matthew 10:5-15).

And as to persecution, the Bible everywhere tells us that we will be persecuted. But that again should not lead us to passivity or fatalism. Nor does it mean that we just need to put up with it and do nothing about it. Two biblical incidents come to mind here.

One, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:23: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next.” That is, we need not simply resign ourselves to this fate, and say that we just have to put up with it. While there is a place for martyrdom, God does not want us to be fatalistic nor stupid.

Two, when Paul was persecuted, he sometimes fled, and he sometimes put up with it. But he also had a third response: when he was wrongly being treated by the Roman authorities, he appealed to Caesar (see Acts 25). He told his tormentors that what they were doing was wrong and illegal, and so the final chapters of the book of Acts tell us about how this lengthy process of appealing for justice worked itself out.

Today we too can have various responses to persecution and anti-Christian bigotry. We need not just put up with it, or just say that it is inevitable. At times we can fight against it. And that can include working hard to prevent some of this persecution from happening in the first place.

That is part of our responsibility as believers. That is part of being salt and light. We are citizens of two kingdoms, and we have responsibilities in both. Working to see just, fair and righteous government is a part of our calling here on earth. We should make use of this calling.

Let me close by saying one final thing about persecution. And as is often the case, I must warn against those who want to derail things because of their pet peeves. Those with their fav eschatological views can especially get itchy fingers at a time like this. But I ask you to kindly cease and desist.

I refer to various end-times scenarios, including whether or not there is some specific seven-year tribulation period, and whether or not Christians will go through it, or part of it. That of course has been the stuff of massive debate for quite some time now, and it is not my intention to get into it all over again here. (And yes I do fully know all the pros and cons in the debate thanks!)

But I know that many believers are convinced that we Christians will be snatched away before this period occurs, and so they can sometimes have a rather cavalier and glib attitude to what is happening: ‘Hey, no biggee, we will all be taken away, so nothing to get worried about.’

I am not sure if that is the best way to approach such matters. Again, I do not want to start a theological WWIII here, but something Corrie ten Boom once said on persecution really resonates with me. And she of course knew far more about suffering and persecution – based on her years living under the Nazis – than most of us will ever know. As she wrote in a letter in 1974:  

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly: “We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes – to stand and not faint.” I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next. endtimepilgrim.org/corrie.htm

Once again, not all may agree with her. That is fine. Some of you may be convinced that a pre-trib rapture theory is the most important and most certain biblical doctrine there is. Well, it might be, but then again, it might not be. Christians can and should be free to differ on these things. But the spirit of what Corrie is trying to tell us here is vitally important.

We must not think that we can always be exempt from suffering, persecution and hardship. The Bible nowhere promises us this. Just as Jesus suffered, was rejected, and was bitterly opposed – so too will his followers be. That must always be the case.

But exactly how we respond to all this persecution and opposition will depend on the situation I suppose. And my main point here is that a fatalistic or careless attitude is probably not the best way that we should be responding to it.

[1711 words]

17 Replies to “God, Culture Wars and Persecution”

  1. Powerful again Bill – thank you!

    It is without doubt true that evil flourishes when good people fail to act. We will all be required to give account of our stewardship of the life the Lord has entrusted us with, when each one of us stands individually before God when our life on earth is over.

    More vitally important insights to be aware of and share here:

  2. Perhaps one more aspect. We are called to warn, share the good word, to fight the good fight. There are souls to seek out, to bring unto Christ, to be saved. We cannot shirk this great work.

  3. Thanks for this article Bill.

    It needs to be heard, especially by those who believe they have a watchmen ministry as an encouragement to continue despite continued opposition. Indeed, I would say that at best *very few* will listen and be convinced, and that is the nature of the ministry.

    I can’t see the scriptures allowing us to be either fatalists nor pacifists.

    I am reminded by the example of the apostles to not only pray for God’s people but to also encourage them with words/letters (Ephesians 1:15–23; 3:14–20; Philippians 1:3–11; Colossians 1:9–11; 1 Thessalonians 1:3–4; 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 1:4–7; 3 John 2). I think this is for all believers. This is something that reaps real fruit and a reward, especially as the days get darker.

    This is a good reminder, and one sorely needed… To not give up on people, or myself; to continue pushing on, and most importantly to pray for those whose souls I am burdened with and also encourage fellow brethren. To run the race to the end.

  4. Hi Bill,
    in relation to the idea of a pre-Tribulation rapture; I have to admit that I am very very sceptical.

    I have noticed that many who promote that belief seem to use some pretty obscure scripture references to justify the belief. Yet, in Matthew 24, Jesus made very clear statements:

    Matthew 24:21-31
    21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the [c]elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

    23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

    26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

    The Coming of the Son of Man
    29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His [d]elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
    …………………………………………………….

    If , for the sake of the “elect”, those days of great tribulation are to be shortened, then it seems clear that the “elect”, that are alive on earth at the time of the Great Tribulation, will not be taken away in some sort of “pre-Tribulation Rapture”!

    I agree with Corrie ten Boom!!

    Here is a challenge for anyone who is a follower of Christ; just tell us when you were last in a Christian meeting and heard the need “to be Born Again” even preached, as the Apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost??

    If we accept what Jesus taught Nicodemus, “teacher of Israel”, then man can neither see or enter into the Kingdom of God unless he is “Born Again” of water and the Spirit (refer John 3)!!

    What would the answer be if we dared to ask all “church attenders and leaders” today if they considered that the Apostle Peter had it right when he challenged the crowd on the Day of Pentecost as follows:

    Acts 2:38-40

    38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

    40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

    ………………………………………..

    I suggest that a large part of what still passes for “Christian Church” today is not “Born Again” and therefore has not received the promised “Gift of the Holy Spirit” and therefore does not belong to Jesus!!

    Many will justify all sorts of alternative means by which one supposedly becomes a “Christian”; in the process denying what the Apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost; “saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

  5. So Who Is Really In Control?

    Thank you Bill.
    The responses you mention above such as; “God is still on the Throne” … “God is in control” …. etc. etc. are (IMHO) such lazy and selfish perspectives we hear way too often from Christians today.

    “We know how it will all turn out … we have read Revelation and we know who wins…!” “We do!” “We’re all right Jacque, nothing else to see or do here. Come on Rapture. Sleep in perfect peace tonight brother/ sister!”

    So BTW, who is going to stand up for that precious unborn Victorian about to be sacrificed today, tomorrow and everyday forward? (Thanks to laws introduced by Dan in 2008.)
    Who will stand up for our vulnerable Victorian Elders pressured into accepting the needle from Dan, before the natural end of their lives?
    Who will stand and protect the vulnerable young being indoctrinated by filthy lies about their sex and sexuality pushed by Dan?
    Dare I suggest: wake up Christians, or you may miss out on the prize.
    Please take a slow read of Luke 12: 54-56 (NKJV).
    Have we become just Consumers of the gospel or are we actually Doers?

  6. As always a timely article, Bill. Even when I was a young Christian the notion of the rapture seemed out of joint with me – it seemed inconsistent with so much Scripture that indicated we would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to endure tribulation (John 16:33 comes to mind).

    And to be honest, I see now, as a 65 year old boomer, that I have stayed silent far too long and bear a portion of responsibility for the landscape my grandchildren are inheriting. I think of how dispersed and fragmented we’ve allowed ourselves to become (see Schaeffer – How Should We Then Live). The words of Edmund Burke come to mind:

    “Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other’s principles, nor experienced in each other’s talents, nor at all practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest, subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connection, the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours, are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

    Finally, I appreciate the final statement from Mr. Killin above – “Have we become just Consumers of the gospel or are we actually Doers?” Thanks again Bill.

  7. I agree with Corrie Ten Boon and others above that we will have to go through the Great Tribulation and cosmic disturbances of the 6th seal as well. David Pawson warns of who started preaching about the rapture 200 years ago – see his End Times youtubes on davidpawson.org But when it comes to God’s wrath being released on the earth, I believe we will be sealed with the Holy Spirit and kept safe.
    This US Presidential election is so crucial to our wellbeing and whether we are going to be persecuted soon as if President Trump doesn’t win, China will come to power and start pulling the strings. As Riccardo Bosi of the AustraliaOne Party warned, three Chinese warships came into Sydney Harbour Garden Island last June 2019 unannounced and supposedly left with baby formula, on the thirtieth year anniversary (to the day) after the Tiananmen Square massacre. The ships had 700 personnel on board and stopped over for four days just days after it was revealed China had confronted an Australian vessel in the South China sea. How many more Chinese warships can come down here whenever they want?

  8. Corrie ten Boom’s comment above is 100% correct.
    Pre-trib rapture is a false doctrine , unfortuneately its very popular in the West….

    Keep up the good work Bill !!

  9. I certainly have to agree with you, Bill. While I do believe in a pre-trib rapture, I also recognise that the evidence for it is not exactly cut and dried. But even if we are to be removed before the Great Tribulation, Jesus warned us in John 16:31 to expect small-t tribualtions.
    The Western church has largely had it too easy and safe for too long and we seem to be able to remain oblivious to how the rest of the church is faring elsewhere in the world – and to prefer to remain oblivious. But why should we expect to be exempt from what Jesus warned us to expect? Time to be ready, Christians, to withstand and, “having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-19).
    Thanks for your voice, Bill. Don’t let anyone silence you.

  10. Well done Bill … and Corrie. Matt 24:29 is so clear. Immediately AFTER the tribulation… How on earth can any Bible reading Christian believe in a pre-trib rap! It is Satan’s trick to make church goers complacent.

  11. Thank you Bill. What I love about your articles in that they are great primers, they get us all thinking. I also love reading what the others have to say. Everyone who replied on this article had something really valuable to say, and I realized how much we are all on the same page, by thinking the same things. Each and everyone of the letters above blessed me and has spoken to me. The only thing that is missing though is the interaction between us all. When I take the time to comment on your page, it always seems to be one way, no reply except maybe are thank you if I have congratulated you on your piece. I guess where there is no interaction, you tend to wonder whether or not you are even being heard or not, or if you are just wasting your time which is why I have not commented for are while now. Still regardless I do continue reading your articles when ever I can, and I especially love hearing the comments from the others who all have special gifts that they love to share, and that I feel blessed by. Never was said are truer word “we are all one in Christ” and I feel this with you and the ones commenting on your page from miles away and even when we don’t even know each other. Thank you Bill and keep that pump priming so the water keeps flowing, that is your gift for our Lord, and I appreciate it.

  12. I’ll say a few things: a prophet is not without honor save in his own time or his own country. Being willing to be a martyr for Christ is good and noble but never a goal. (If it was there are numerous places on earth now that if you just show up and preach you will be dead very quickly) It is easy to find something worth dying for the better question is do you have something worth living for????

    As to pretrib rapture I will say A) there is a difference between tribulation and THE tribulation and we should ALWAYS prepare people for the former. B) some of us who are pretib believe the a good soldier doesn’t leave the battlefield till his commander, or Sgt or whoever is in charge, gives him the order to retreat and we are soldiers of the Lord so we will fight, trying to win souls and fight the advance of evil, until the Lord calls us home. C) being pretrib we feel a urgency about this I feel is lacking in mid and post trib positions especially post because we know our time is short and could be over any minute so we must do what we can. I believe a verse speaks of working in the day because night is coming and no man can work then. That is the level of urgency we feel. If you feel the Lord’s return is still 100 years off you most likely DON’T feel that urgency.

    Unfortunately there are pretribbers who just sit back and wait, often passing the time by picking dates (though they won’t admit they are date setting just pick high watch dates and they seem to enjoy the rollercoaster ride or exciting build up and crushing let down [when no rapture happens on the given date]), others actually encourage or aid the downfall of society believing they are hastening the Lord’s return (I believe the is a verse with those words that they are misinterpreting). Too many think all pretribbers are like that or scared of the tribulation so we maligned a lot. For me I can say I am not scared or lazy or collaborating with the enemy in hopes of bring Christ back sooner. I’m just battle wary and tired and see things in the Bible that promise hope.

    And in the spirit of the season I will end with Tiny Tim’s words “God bless us one and all”

  13. well rob I could point out much on our side BUT since Bill does not wish to make this site a site of argument I will simply chalk your statement/question up to passion. We can disagree with each other on the non important issues but we have to be careful how we word it. a few word words can mean the difference between an acceptable honest question and a unacceptable insulting or snarky question. wording can change meaning.

  14. Thanks guys. Of course it is both impossible and silly to believe that I expect or want an interactive website like this with controversial topics galore to somehow be argument-free. So I have never said, “No arguments allowed”. What I did say – and have often said on some articles – is that I do not want things hijacked or derailed so that the main message I am trying to share – often an important spiritual point or exhortation – is lost or overlooked because some folks must go on and on with their favourite pet theologies. I am far more concerned that folks are encouraged and stirred by God through something I have written than to have yet another interminable theological debate breaking out over some secondary doctrinal area, where people feel they must push their pet peeves. Especially since these debates have been beaten to death already, and there are kazillions of sites where people can argue to their heart’s content on such issues. So I prefer that folks go to the heart of what I am saying, and not allow my pieces to get taken in unnecessary and diversionary directions. Comprende? Thanks guys.

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