Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Persecution - or the Lack Thereof

The other day we visited with a missionary who just returned from a country that is closed to the Gospel and missionary influence. Some interesting points were brought up concerning missions around the world and the effects of persecution, or lack thereof, upon Christians.

We have become apathetic and secure in our faith here in the United States. When someone brings up the word persecution, it is usually in the context of something that makes one a bit uncomfortable. If my neighbor ridicules me for not visiting the bars and having "a cold one", then I feel "persecuted."

That's not persecution, folks! That's not even a small trial. Persecution is defined as this:

"Subjected to constant hostility or cruel treatment, especially because of religious or political beliefs. Harassment." Oxford American Dictionary

The missionary we spoke with told us that the underground church is thriving in the closed country. He said that church does NOT want us to pray for less persecution or that it would stop. They merely want prayer that they are able to withstand it. Here's the clincher: They don't want the persecution to stop because if it does, they will become like the church in America - one that has become lukewarm for Christ.

Eternal security is a subject often brought up to me by other believers because they know that I hesitate to say that a person can accept Christ, live for Him, and then walk away and curse Him and still be saved. I call that backsliding, though I know some circles say there is no such thing.

Here are some passages for you to think about.

1 Samuel 16:14 (NIV) says, "Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil sprit from the LORD tormented him."

1 Samuel 28: 6, 15-16 (NIV) "And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.

Now Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" And Saul answered, "I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do."

Then Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy?"

Judges 16:20 (NIV) "Then she called, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!' He awoke from his sleep and thought, 'I'll go out as before and shake myself free.' But he did not know that the LORD had left him."

In order for the LORD to leave someone, it would have to mean that He once was with him or her.

I don't believe we have to worry that God is going to pull our salvation because we slipped up today. I do think, however, that a pattern of sinning without repentance is something serious enough that we must give it careful attention.

We must not allow ourselves to be lukewarm. Jesus said He would rather we be "hot or cold." He said He'll spew out of His mouth those who ride the fence. Revelation 3:16

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