"The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are Overcomers."
Those words were written in a letter in 1974, by Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Nazi Death Camps. Unfortunately, I don't think Christians in the West listened to her ... especially here, in the United States. We have lived too comfortably, and we have identified for so long as a prosperous nation, that it is difficult to admit that this world is actually dying. That outlook might be about to change, so maybe we should examine her letter a little more closely. There is hope as she points out that we Christians are ambassadors for Christ to this dying world. And there is no compromise in her theology; she takes the Bible at face value, so she is cognizant of what the Lord said the world would look like before He returns.
She is really quite honest when she admits, "Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you, too, are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to you, shouting “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” for I have found where it is written that Jesus said, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be His God, and he shall be My son.” This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be Overcomers in the midst of a dying world".
I will tell you that this is a message that the Western Church is reluctant to hear, let alone accept. But it is a message that I share -- both the good, bad, and ugly about what the Bible prophecies for this time. And I will also tell you that far too many of my contemporary Christian brothers and sisters do not want to receive that message. But as a Watchman on the wall, it is my obligation to speak the truth -- all of it -- both the coming persecution and final victory in overcoming.
Corrie shares some of the persecution she and her sister Betsy
suffered in the midst of the evil in that concentration camp, and that she even
struggled to understand God's purpose in all the death she witnessed, including the death of her beloved sister. But, as the Word says, "What the devil meant for evil, God will use for [His] good". And I would like to say that He uses it for His Glory, as well. Corrie saw that herself. She stated that because of Betsey's death, she has been given the assignment [and gift] of traveling all over the world and telling people about Jesus.
In regards to the persecution she personally endured, in 1974, Corrie declared, "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." I am now declaring, that in 2021, there are some among us teaching we will be able to escape the persecution in our time, and receive a reprieve from the tribulation! They tell us that we are on the brink of a "worldwide revival". But Scripture not only tells us we are not going to escape persecution, but I am unable to find anywhere that Jesus foretells such a revival. And I do not believe that we are to cherry-pick the Psalms that speak of our victory in Christ, yet overlook those verses that cry out for deliverance from the persecution of the Enemy.
I absolutely believe that the Bible speaks of personal revival in the End Times, as each human being must make a decision for Christ in the face of persecution and tyranny by the Enemy. Jesus warns of false prophets who are like wolves in sheep's clothing; of diseased trees bearing bad fruit; of wars, nation against nation, famines, and earthquakes -- all of which are the beginning of birth pangs, indicating the end of the Age. Furthermore, He says we will be delivered up to tribulation and put to death. Many will fall away from the faith and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved! Nowhere do I see Jesus saying that there will be a worldwide revival ushering in the fulfillment [completion] of the Kingdom on earth.
The Kingdom is here NOW! And Jesus tells us that the Good News about this fulfillment of the Kingdom [in His Second Coming] will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then "the end will come". I believe the end He is talking about is the end of the reign of the kingdom of darkness on the earth. Yes, the whole world will hear of what Jesus has done for us, but I do not think "proclaiming" the Gospel is the same as a worldwide revival of people coming to Christ. There is definitely a hope fo that result, and if by "revival", they mean the Body of Christ rises up to do what it is supposed to have been doing all along ... healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and preaching the gospel, then I can hope for that, too.
But we cannot ignore the warnings about persecution, because it is here! The Christian Post website reported that China's persecution of Christians intensified in 2020, and the Communist Government is working to more fully control "religion". The website revealed "that schools in China have been teaching children that Christianity is an “evil cult,” while children are being taught to oppose religion, encouraged to question the beliefs of family members and report those closest to them to authorities." As our culture becomes increasingly "woke", and as we see "critical race theory" further dividing the American people, how long before religious and political persecution takes root in America? We are already seeing a "One World/Universal" religion spreading its false teachings throughout the world and within our denominations. Those who choose to proclaim Jehovah Adonai as the One True God will undoubtedly come under fire.
As Believers in this 21st Century, we must set our minds on the truth of Scripture and be prepared to endure during persecution. Will we see a remnant thrive and revive during these anti-Christ times? Of course! The Father's purpose for End-Times believers will never be thwarted! But if we truly believe that every word of Scripture is true, we know that we will be rewarded with Eternal Life with our Savior. What a victory! But before that victory, there is a reality that we cannot ignore. The Book of Revelation holds nothing back. The sixth chapter reveals the storm that is coming before Christ returns: Satan will empower a conqueror to wage war and take peace from the earth "so that men would slaughter one another; and a great sword [of war and violent death] was given to him". The 13th chapter says, "It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him". The 17th chapter tells us, "And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus".
I believe these are the souls under the altar in Heaven crying out for Justice; those who had been slaughtered because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained [out of loyalty to Christ]. There will be martyrs for Christ, just as there were in the first century after Christ's crucifixion. In 1974, Corrie Ten Boom wrote, "In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation,” but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation". Can you honestly say that Satan has backed off his plans to defeat Christianity in the last 47 years?
I know that many don't want to contemplate persecution or tribulation; it is much more pleasant to think on the mercy, grace, and victory of Christ. And I recognize that Satan uses fear to keep us from thinking we are strong enough to be a martyr for Christ. But we need to understand that if that time comes, we will receive the strength we need to glorify the Lord in that moment of our refusal to deny Him. We will be able, like Stephen, to testify of His presence in our lives and of His power in the world. We will confidently cry out, “Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit!”
So, how close are we to this controversial Biblical prophecy? No one knows for sure. But the signs are all there. The birth pangs are getting sharper and lasting longer. The Enemy is longer working in secret, but operating right out in the open for discerning minds and hearts to see. He thinks he has control of the whole earth, and is putting his plan into effect. A global pandemic, famine, earthquakes, and rumors of war are all in view. And I wholeheartedly desire revival in the lives of every Christian on earth, with millions more joining our family of God. But I believe it is a personal revival; perhaps one person at a time. And I welcome that! So let us encourage each other and help each other get ready. We have a purpose to fulfill! And let us approach each day knowing that no matter what happens to us, we will not endure this day alone. Our Lord will always be with us, in and out of persecution; in and out of tribulation; until one day we stand before Him and receive the Crown of Life. Praise Him, for He is worthy to be praised!
2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who delight in pursuing righteousness and are determined to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be hunted and persecuted [because of their faith].