Tag Archives: Persecution

Marked

[Christ] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

When you were born, the hospital staff (assuming you were born in a hospital) employed a system of identification for you and your parents to prevent confusion of parent and baby. One such system uses four identical wrist bands with identical numbers. One band goes on the mother, one on the father, and the baby gets one on the wrist and one on the ankle. Such a system ensures that the baby goes home with the correct set of parents. A birth certificate also records the baby’s name, date and time of birth, weight, length, gender (a biological fact), and the names of both parents (normally). The document is sometimes “sealed” or stamped with the baby’s footprints. From then on, that baby will know to whom he belongs even if unforeseen circumstances separate him from his parents.

When you were born again,[1] Paul tells us that you were “sealed” (our starting verse above) with the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated “sealed” is sphragizō and it means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation,” Thayer’s Greek Definitions gives this definition: “to set a seal upon, mark (emphasis mine) with a seal, to seal; for security: from Satan; in order to mark a person or a thing; in order to prove, confirm, or attest a thing.” Jesus said, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27, emphasis mine). Born again believers are sealed/marked by God making us secure from Satan, and proving that we belong to Him. The Holy Spirit that indwells us is the “mark” or “seal” that proves we belong to Him. You either know this to be true or not; I do not know how else to explain it. For me, I know it is true; I have no doubt.

Being marked by God has some distinct advantages. Jesus taught what function the Holy Spirit would play in our lives. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Comforter”[2] and “the Spirit of Truth.”[3] So, He reveals the truth of God’s Word to us and comforts us with God’s Word. The Holy Spirit teaches us from God’s Word and helps us recall God’s Word when we need it.[4] The Holy Spirit gives witness (testifies) of Jesus.[5] He reproves (convicts) “the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment [to come].”[6] The Holy Spirit guides us “into all truth” from God’s Word and of “things to come”[7] as taught in Scripture. He gives the glory to Christ, not to Himself.[8] One sure way to distinguish a true Christian from a false Christian is in the way they glorify Christ. If they hold Christ in low esteem, the Holy Spirit is not in them because the Holy Spirit gives glory to Christ.

Another benefit of God’s mark on believers is His special protection on His children. Jesus referred to believers as His “sheep.” He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:27-30, emphasis mine). The security of which He speaks is eternal security, but eternity, for the believer, begins at the moment He accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Bible says that “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36, emphasis mine). Note the present tense of the verb “hath” (has). It does not say “will have eternal life,” but rather “has eternal life.” So, the security the Christian has in the future can be enjoyed in the present, along with all benefits of God’s provision and protection.

The “mark” provides protection. In Revelation, a scene appears to John, the author, of 144,000 Israelis, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes, being sealed/marked by God.[9] The sealing of these “servants of God” follows sometime shortly after the “sixth seal” of the scroll is broken,[10] and they witness until sometime after the midpoint of the Tribulation. Their witness results in the salvation of a great multitude of people during that time. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis mine). Apparently, God protects them from being killed until they accomplish their task, before being martyred. At their next mention, we see them in heaven. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads … And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:1, 3, emphasis mine).

No harm befalls God’s children who have His mark upon them, unless He wills it for His purpose and for His glory. I recently found another example of this in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Ezekiel had been taken captive to Babylon in the second stage of Babylonian captivity around 597 BC. He was contemporary with Daniel who was taken captive in the first stage. While there, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the third and final siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians which resulted in the destruction of the Temple and the razing of the city. In his vision,[11]  God showed him six men (angels). Five were dressed in battle array, and one was dressed in white linen (probably the pre-incarnate Christ) having a “writer’s inkhorn.” “And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 9:4, emphasis mine). Jerusalem had sunk into the depths of depravity, yet there were many there who were still faithful to Yahweh and were grieved by the sins of Judah. These God said to mark. “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” (Ezekiel 9:5-6, emphasis mine). Ezekiel’s vision represented what took place in Jerusalem. The Babylonians finally breached the walls of the city and brutally killed young, old, men, women, and children. However, those whom God had marked were spared and were taken alive to Babylon. The Babylonians did not know whom God had marked, but God knew and they were spared.

Almost twenty years ago, I took a graduate course on the subject of Islam taught by a professor that came out of the Muslim faith. In the process of the course, the class viewed videos of actual stonings of Christians who had converted out of Islam. The victims were “judged” by their persecutors. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and a canvas sack was placed over the upper half of their bodies. Then they were lowered into a pre-dug hole that was about waist deep and the hole was filled in around them. With that done, judgment was pronounced and the victims were pelted with huge rocks until their limp bodies fell lifelessly forward, The pelting continued until the executioners were satisfied that the victims were indeed dead. I was in shock as I witnessed the savage inhumanity of the act. What gripped me most of the horrific scenes was the calm with which these Christian martyrs went to their death. They did not protest. They did not cry out for mercy. They did not struggle to free themselves from their captors. They did not renounce their faith, which would have spared their lives. They went quietly to their death. “How is that possible?” I wondered. As I pondered the question, it occurred to me that their calm spirit was a supernatural gift from God, just for such occasions. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). These martyrs were marked by God. They belong to Him and even though He did not spare their lives, He gave them His peace to endure to the death. Then, the moment their spirits departed their lifeless bodies, Jesus was there to meet them at the gates of heaven with open arms.

Fox’s Book of Martyrs testifies of Christian martyrs of the past who were burned at the stake, drawn and quartered, hung, or beheaded. In every instance, the victims went to their death quietly refusing to recant. Such an act comes not from human bravery, but from a supernatural strength that only God can provide those who are marked by Him.

So, what’s the point? We live in a world full of uncertainty. Our economy is falling apart. Our enemies are circling our camp. The Chinese virus has the world hiding in fear and willing to trust in an unproven vaccine for their health. Even with that, health bureaucrats maintain the fear level by reminding all that the vaccine is not the panacea everyone thinks; all must continue masking and social distancing to ensure against the Wuhan Bug. Sadly, Christians get sucked into all the hype and are equally fearful along with the rest of the hopeless world. This ought not to be because as Christians, we are marked by God. We are assured of His provision and protection in EVERY situation. Even when things seem to go wrong from our perspective, we can be assured: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the [marked] according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine). Those who live in fear should be those whose only hope is in this life; that should not be Christians. Christians should be living a fearless, victorious life, knowing that we are marked by God. He is our Father; we are His children.

Reader, if you do not have that assurance, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 3:5-8

[2]  John 14:16

[3]  John 14:17

[4]  John 14:26

[5]  John 15:26

[6]  John 16:8

[7]  John 16:13

[8]  John 16:14

[9]  Revelation 7:1-8

[10]  Revelation 6:12

[11]  Ezekiel 9

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Get Ready!

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

Get ready! The days of easy Christianity are gone. The Demonrats have taken the reins of power in the government and they intend to punish those who supported President Trump. These include registered Republicans, Conservatives, and Christians. A group calling themselves the Secular Democrats of America sent a letter[1] to Joe Biden demanding a clamp-down of conservative Christians, removing them from public office, and “re-educating” Trump voters. They insist that the “Biden administration must ‘educate the American public,’ particularly those identified as the ‘religious right,’ on the need to keep their “religious dogma” to themselves. The document calls for a purge of social conservatives from all levels of government, labeling them as ‘white nationalist’ and ‘conspiracy theorists.’”

How that will affect Christians[2] remains to be seen, however, the sentiment is there, and it is strong. I do not believe I am hyperbolic when I say the Democrat Party is satanically motivated. It is also not fair to paint all Democrats with the same broad brush. Surely, a small handful exist that do not lean hard left, but the majority do. Hence, the moniker I have given them, “Demonrats.”

It will not be long before the persecution of Christians begins in America. In some ways it already has. The question is how will “pudgy” American Christians stand up to persecution? Our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world suffer persecution now. What makes us think we are exempt?

I believe Christians will escape the coming seven-year Tribulation. However, we cannot know when Jesus will come to Rapture His Bride, His Church, out of this world. We will not suffer the full horrors of the Tribulation, but we may need to endure some persecution before that time comes.

Get ready! Arm yourself with the Word of God. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) The first piece of armor is the support belt of truth. The belt supports your abdomen and back to help you stand straight. It is composed of “truth” that comes from the Word of God, who is Christ (John 14:6). Next comes the breastplate, i.e., body armor, meant to protect your heart. That piece is made up of righteousness, i.e., “right living,” a “right attitude,” a “right outlook.” That too comes from the consumption of the Word of God. After that, you need sturdy footwear to help you stand when the terrain gets rough. That comes from “the Gospel of Peace.” You will have to carry the shield of faith to deflect the incoming missiles the devil will send your way. You need to protect your head, your mind. For that, you need the helmet of salvation. That comes from having the assurance that you are saved and that your Captain has your back. All of these are defensive “weapons” that you need to keep in good working order. Finally, you need to take up your only offensive weapon, he “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Jesus encouraged us not to worry about what to answer when questioned. “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:19-20, emphasis mine). If you were paying attention you would have noticed that all the pieces of armor are anchored in one way or another to the Word of God. If you are not daily in the Word, you will run out of ammo very quickly. Get ready!

This weekend I listened to Jan Markell’s interview with Pastors Tom Hughes and Mark Henry. They have a timely message to prepare us for what is coming. I hope you will take the time to listen to it all the way through. Get ready!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZg_cRa3AYc

Notes:


[1] https://drrichswier.com/2020/12/16/democrat-document-surfaces-demanding-biden-clamp-down-on-conservative-christians-remove-them-from-public-office-and-re-educate-trump-voters/

[2]  When I say “Christians” I am referring to true, Bible-believing, born-again believers and not necessarily those affiliated with mainline. liberal Protestant denominations.

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