“That’s it — I’m done!”
John has lost count of the times I’ve declared those words out of frustration and hopelessness. Maybe you’ve also thrown up your hands and made similar pronouncements. Indeed, life can feel overwhelming, especially with all the horrible things happening lately. Sometimes we feel like crawling into a cave with a quart of chocolate double fudge ice cream while we pray for the Rapture. We get tired of trying to maintain godly attitudes when everything around us is falling apart. Believe me, ladies: I understand the desire to just give up!
As Christians, however, we know that the Lord calls us to persevere when life gets tough. Titus 2:2, as a matter of fact, instructs older men to set the example of being sound in doctrine, love and perseverance for the rest of the Church. As women, we have the responsibility to follow this example. We must keep most of that ice cream in the freezer and trust the Lord to take us through the difficulties and sufferings that surround us.
But what exactly is perseverance, and why should Christians persevere through trials? That cave with the ice cream seems a whole lot more comforting, and we really get sick of pushing through one trial after another. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to urge Christians to persevere?
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Paul traveled to Jerusalem knowing full well that he would be arrested. He correctly suspected that this arrest would eventually lead to His execution, though the Holy Spirit assured him that he would reach Rome before his death. During his introductory trial in Jerusalem, he explained the reason that the Jews demanded his execution:
But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” ~~Acts 23:6 (NASB95)
In our still comfortable American culture, very few people would seriously consider putting Christians to death simply because we proclaim Christ’s resurrection. Sure, they might question our sanity, or ask us not to bother them with our “religious nonsense,” but generally they treat us with a condescending tolerance while they celebrate the holiday with mythical bunnies and colored eggs. The idea of Paul risking his life rather than renounce his belief in Christ’s resurrection seems a bit foreign to us.
It shouldn’t. Many of us already suffer mild persecution for speaking against popular forms of sin. Those of you who stay home to homeschool your children know the pressure exerted by feminists who assume you’re wasting your lives and allowing your husbands to coerce you into submission. Those of you who oppose abortion and/or the LBGTQ agenda have been called terrible names. Even now, when persecution is relatively mild, standing for Christ carries a cost.
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Praise God that John MacArthur never shies away from an attack on God’s Word! In support of Canadian Christians who now face criminal penalties for upholding the Biblical model for gender and sexual identity, MacArthur is calling for American pastors to preach on Biblical sexuality this coming Sunday (January 16). You can read the details here.
Although I am certainly not a pastor and you are certainly not my congregation, I want to support faithful men who will stand in their pulpits and boldly proclaim the truth about sexuality this weekend. Several pastors in Canada know that they will probably be arrested for preaching the truth, and I applaud them for obeying God rather than the unjust laws of their secular government. American pastors won’t face the same repercussions, of course, but I admire their solidarity with their Canadian counterparts. I’m writing this post simply to add my Amen.
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Few people these days know much history, mostly because they assume it has nothing to do with them. It’s boring and dusty, full of dates to memorize and bloody battlefields where too many young men surrender their lives. And we’ve all suffered through history classes in school with teachers who drone on in monotone voices that make our eyelids heavy. Once we walk across a graduation stage and firmly grip that diploma, we assure ourselves that we’ll never have to think about history again!
Between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017, I blogged every Tuesday about various aspects of the Reformation in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Whittenburg, Germany. Sadly, those articles attracted very few readers, probably because people prefer reading about current controversies. Critiques of Beth Moore always get more clicks than essays about Luther, Calvin or Tyndale, And I admit to understanding that boring history teachers in everyone’s past have taught us that watching paint dry is more interesting than 16th Century religious squabbles. But I believe the blog posts about the Reformation were important four years ago, and I believe blog posts about the Reformation are just as important now.
This October 31, we need to remember the Reformation, even though it’s not the major anniversary that it was four years ago. As evangelicals, we still must be mindful of our spiritual heritage. Furthermore, we owe honor to the men and women of the 16th Century who suffered immense persecution to restore Biblical worship to the church. Neglecting church history sets us up to repeat the errors of past generations.
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Between Covid with all its accompanying ramifications and the effects of surrendering Afghanistan to the Taliban, things don’t look particularly rosy for Christians in 2021. Factor in the demands of the LBGTQ community and the Woke push toward Socialism, and it becomes obvious that Christians who stand on God’s Word must expect some level of persecution. As a result, many of us wonder how we’ll hold up under such intense affliction.
Maybe we should instead wonder what attitude the Lord wants us to take in the face of suffering for Him. Perhaps we should ask how He wants us to conduct ourselves in the midst of difficult circumstances. As we ask such questions, we need to go straight to Scripture. The epistle of 1 Peter, especially, offers tremendous insight into the stance God calls us to take when suffering — and specifically suffering for Christ — enters our lives.
Time doesn’t allow us to go through all five chapters of 1 Peter today, but we can observe a couple key points from Chapters 1 and 2. These points provide the framework for the rest of Peter’s instructions.
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The Outspoken TULIP has a mission, in part, to prepare women for persecution. Primarily, that preparation comes through Biblical doctrine, which leads to discernment. Without question, emphasizing the teachings and practical applications of Scripture takes precedence over political commentary, especially since I don’t consider myself very astute at understood politics. When our political leaders make decisions that will potentially increase the persecution of Christians, I have to decide whether or not to push through my ineptitude in order to alert readers to new threats.
During this last two weeks, I’ve felt a bit guilty for writing about other matters, as if I didn’t care about the withdrawal. I told myself other bloggers weren’t addressing the situation either, so I didn’t have to.
In reality, I simply didn’t want to address it.
I still don’t. But I believe I must. My thoughts may be scattered, and definitely lacking in any sort of depth. However, perhaps the Holy Spirit will use something I say here to encourage you to pray for the Afghan Christians and to prepare for the persecution that most assuredly is coming to America.
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First of all, we shouldn’t wonder whether or not persecution will come to the United States. In that respect, I guess I’ve slightly mistitled this article. It’s already started in Europe, Africa, Asia and Canada, aided and abetted by governmental reactions to COVID, Islamic terrorism and LBGTQ demands. It seems to be slowly creeping into America — I noticed this week that all my Kindle books on homosexuality have disappeared. Well, I’ve expected it for years. Only a matter of time before this blog vanishes.
Let’s go with the premise that persecution is definitely coming, and indeed that most of the world has suffered persecution since Jesus hung on the cross. My pastor once remarked that America has been an anomaly in regards to the relative acceptance Christians have enjoyed during its first four centuries. I believe that such acceptance, while it has blessed us with wonderful opportunities to proclaim the Gospel freely, may have lulled us into an attitude of entitlement. For instance, I felt cheated because Amazon pulled those books from my Kindle app, even though I knew the licensing agreement clearly states that I never actually owned them. American Christians have lost sight of the truth that persecution is the norm for true believers.
With all this in mind, we must accept persecution as an inevitable fact of life. No, we don’t have to like it, and we shouldn’t set ourselves up for it. But we should remember that Jesus warned us that persecution would come to those who follow Him.
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18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave 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 15:18-20 (NASB95)
Let’s be honest: we look at all the insanity in the world, as well as the various trials in our personal lives, and try to figure out what the Lord is doing. As a matter of fact, Christians feel a sense of responsibility to understand His purposes in everything that happens. I suppose we think having a firm grip on perplexing circumstances will help us weather them.
A few days ago I read a psalm that gave me a perspective on facing difficulties that I’d never considered before.
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever. ~~Psalm 131 (NASB)
In the past, I’d isolated the verses from each other, so none of them really made much sense to me. Occasionally verse 1 reminded me to maintain a semblance of humility, and verse 2 encouraged me to trust the Lord, but I failed to see how those verses fit together. And I completely ignored verse 3.
When I read Psalm 131 a few days ago, however, I disciplined myself to think about their context. Suddenly the psalm took on a clarity that surprised me. In this psalm, David teaches that Israel can hope in the Lord by resting in Him instead of trying to figure out what He’s doing through the various situations in the world.
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Once again, John is typing this post at my dictation. I’m getting better, and even sat at the computer for 15 minutes last night. However, I am still looking for a morning PCA who can help me build up my back muscles. Consequently, I am not able to include Scripture verses or links to citations at this time. Thank you for your patience and prayer as I recover from my back injury.
By now, many of you know about Jory Micah’s tweet declaring that she follows her heart over and above following Scripture. Although her honesty is a bit shocking, the idea of following one’s heart is hardly novel. I guess people in all generations have trusted their own feelings and intuitions over and above trusting God’s Word.
That’s a shame.
Proverbs 3:5-6 warns us against leaning on our own understanding instead of trusting the Lord with all our heart. The prophet Jeremiah said that the human heart is deceitful and sick. Jesus said that all manner of evil comes from the human heart. How terrifying to think that a supposed Christian leader like Jory Micah would choose to trust her own emotions and insights as having greater authority than the Bible!
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John is graciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or links to verses — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.
Regardless of your eschatology, you must admit that evil is escalating. The political situation in the United States indicates that Bible believing Christians will face varying degrees of persecution in the next few months. Regular readers of this blog know that I have been warning about this probability for the last five and a half years, yet I’m not sure any of us (including me) have really let the truth sink in.
It’s not a truth we want to face.
As Elizabeth Prata shows us in her recent post about James Coates, Canadian Christians have begun to experience real persecution. In our prayers for this pastor and his family, American Christians must keep in mind that our pastors may soon experience the same suffering that James Coates and his family are going through.
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