Sunday, April 28, 2013

Missionaries and persecution

Missionaries and Persecution. I would like to suggest that a true walk with God should lead to persecution. Persecution should not come as a surprise. Neither should it be a heavy burden. Christ writes many verses in the Bible that say it is our joy to experience persecution because Jesus experienced persecution for us. We should rejoice in our sufferings, honored that we can give glory to God. If the world persecuted Christ we must expect persecution as well. If the world hated Christ and his teachings, it should hate us as well. Especially in the end times, the times of persecution will be hard, but Christ calls us to be faithful and promises that in the end he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
1 Peter 3:16 Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
2 Corinthians 4:-12 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
Revelation 7:13-17 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

2 missionaries from the Dark Ages:
John Huss: a martyr for Christ
He denounced the pride, ambition, and corruption of the papacy and was killed for it.

With what face then, could I look toward heaven? How should I look on those multitude of people to whom I have preached the pure gospel? No; I consider that salvation more valuable than this poor body, now condemned to death.
As a crown made by the Catholics that had figures of demons painted all around it was placed on his head, Huss said "I wear this crown of shame for Your sake, O Jesus, who wore a crown of thorns for me."

When the flames started to burn around him, he began to sing, "Jesus Thou Son of David, have mercy on me."
They prepared for the fire as if they were going to a marriage feast. They uttered no cry of pain. When the flames rose,  they began to sing hymns, and the intensity of the fire could scarcely stop their singing.

Huss's example encouraged many people to stand firm in the face of torture and death.

Matthew 10:19-20 "When they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you shall speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."

Jerome rose to defend John Huss and keep the message of Wycliffe's new Biblical truths rising. After being kept in in prison he proclaimed at his hearing:
" He was a most excellent man, just and holy; he was condemned, even though he was innocent.. I am ready to die. I will not turn away in the face of the torment that my enemies and false witnesses have prepared for me. One day they will have to give an account for their deceptions before the great God, whom nothing can deceive. Of all the sins that I have committed since my youth, none weigh so heavily on my mind and cause me such keen remorse as the one I committed in this fatal place, when I approved of the evil sentence rendered against Wycliffe, and against the holy martyr, John Huss, my teacher and my friend. Yes! I confess it with horror that I disgracefully gave in to fear when, through a dread of death, I condemned their doctrines. I therefore beg.. Almighty God to stoop to pardon me my sins, and this one in particular, the most terrible of all. You condemned Wycliffe and John Huss.. the things that they affirmed and which are irrefutable, I also think and declare, like them. What! Do you suppose that I am afraid to die? You have held me for a whole year in a frightful dungeon more horrible than death itself. I cannot help expressing my astonishment at such inhuman treatment toward a Christian."

Jerome proclaimed the truth of the Bible and before long was led to the fire to be killed just like Huss.  He endured through singing, with his face lit up with joy and peace through the fire. Right before he was executed he said "Apply the fire before my face. If I had been afraid, I would not be here."
The execution of Huss started a flame of indignation and horror in Bohemia. The whole nation was outraged. Many accepted the reformed faith. The followers of their teachings became named the Hussites.  The crusades, or deathly battles, were started, but God was with His people. The same God who scattered the armies of Midian and Gideon and his three hundred again stretched out his hands to deliver his faithful children. Finally the Bohemians struck a contract with the papal leaders with the condition of peace for free preaching of the Bible, the right of the whole church to bread and wine, exclusion of clergy from secular offices and authority, and jurisdiction over clergy and laity alike. The Bohemians and Hussites were faithful to the Gospel of Christ.

How then can we prepare ourselves for such persecution? How do we know if we could really die for God when the time comes?
It is easy to think that you would say yes through trials and sufferings, but before you obsess over dying for Christ, are you really truly living for Christ?
If you aren't living for Christ, then what would it profit to die?
To prepare for times of persecution and tribulation, we must be close to God in Bible reading and prayer. We must also practice saying yes to God in the little things. We must stand up for God when our friends say Sabbath school is boring. We must say yes to God when our friends want to listen to secular music on Sabbath. We must not deny God Sabbath worship by focusing on ourself. We must represent Christ to the world in everything we do and say and every small decision. Stand up therefore and do not be afraid. With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world!

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