Standing firm in the face of persecution: Look to God, not the world

Standing firm in the face of persecution: Look to God, not the world

Standing firm in the face of persecution: Look to God, not the world

Being a believer is the highest calling one could endeavor, but it is no simple one. It’s a call to life and life abundant, but it’s also a call to suffering, sacrifice, and, in numerous cases, solitude.

Sarah Holliday
Sarah Holliday

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:7-8, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.”

This is a crucial reminder in an age desperate for acceptance and tolerance. Of course, that cry comes from an assembly that demands acceptance and tolerance regarding their beliefs, but woe to any who dare disagree with them.

Particularly, those who follow Christ are scolded for not bowing a knee to the mutilation of gender, the obstruction of marriage and the family unit, and the killing of innocent children in the womb. For not submitting to these evil acts and ideologies, the world classifies us as the bigots, oppressors, and enemies of freedom. Meanwhile, as they seek to slaughter truth, their souls are tightly shackled by sin.

As such, believers ought to adhere to the words of 2 Timothy 1 and be unashamed of the gospel, for salvation in Christ Jesus is the only route to broken chains. Faith in the Lord is the only means of freedom from sin and eternal punishment. That is why we push this good news out into the world, for it is the only news that can save. We are called to be bold, not overcome by a spirit of fear, but overflowing with the spirit of power, love, and self-control to render truth to a world in desperate need.

But what happens when we do become fearful? What happens when the church becomes sensitive and vulnerable to slander from the world? How are we supposed to navigate through these muddied waters of hatred and hostility? Being a believer is the highest calling one could endeavor, but it is no simple one. It’s a call to life and life abundant, but it’s also a call to suffering, sacrifice, and, in numerous cases, solitude.

In his new book, “Midnight in America,” Pastor Phil Hotsenpiller unveils the dangers of a church that caves to a secular society. As the book description reads, “Hotsenpiller sheds light on the detrimental effects of seeking acceptance from the world, which has inadvertently weakened the church’s impact and compromised its mission.” The central message is that the church is not called to fear but to courage, and we must be able to “stand firm in the face of persecution,” not back down.

“Unfortunately, too many in the church have adopted a spirit of fear, with some even believing that appeasement is better than courage, and conformity preferred to obedience,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on a recent episode of “Washington Watch.” The discussion the church ought to have, Perkins emphasized, is “how Christians can confront fear and embrace courage, a message that I love,” and the message Hotsenpiller conveys.

“I really am encouraged,” Hotsenpiller shared on the air with Perkins. “I know a lot of people go, ‘How can you be encouraged?’ Well, because I believe in a sovereign God.” Perkins agreed, “And when you’re abiding in Him, you draw your strength and power from that.” He added that what “Midnight in America” highlights is that the church has become “so hungry to be accepted by the world that it has relinquished its power, it’s forfeited its birthright, and accepted its place as non-essential.”

In light of this, Hotsenpiller articulated that the church is starting to look to the world for acceptance because, really, the church is “starved for solid leadership that would stand in the middle of struggles and difficulties.” He continued, “Leadership is critically important. And without leadership that stands strong, what do you really have?” Perkins added, “[I]f we want the people in the pews to do certain things … it needs to be modeled in the pulpit. … [I]f we want believers, rank and file, to be courageous, the leaders have to be courageous.”

FRC’s president continued, “As a pastor, being involved in modeling what we want Christians in America to do” is necessary, namely, “to be informed, to be engaged.” FRC uses the phrase, “Pray, vote, stand,” Perkins noted. Which means we must “pray for our country … vote of biblical values that God has given us in His Word, and … stand for those values no matter what.”

“And when we stand,” Hotsenpiller implored, “we’ve done all we can.” As Ephesians 6:13 states, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Ultimately, as Hotsenpiller explained, standing firm is the first step to allowing God to step in and perform miracles only He can.

Matthew Henry, an English minister widely known for his “Commentary on the Whole Bible,” once said, “No man needs to be afraid nor ashamed to suffer for the cause of the gospel. Good men often suffer many things for the best cause in the world. They need not be ashamed, the cause will bear them out.” And our cause, to glorify God and serve His kingdom, is a cause worth suffering for. Truly, we must understand, as James 4:4 inquired, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” This disciple went on to write that believers cannot serve two masters, and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Pastor John MacArthur expressed it well when he said, “Our job is not to make alliances with the world and think in doing so we can advance the Kingdom, as if Satan were coming alongside Christ to aid Him in the building of His church.” Beloved, the point I wish to labor is that the mission of the world and the mission of God’s Kingdom are polar opposites. 2 Corinthians 4:4 asserts Satan is “the god of this world,” and he “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

And so, while Satan will continue his undertaking of blinding the world and his attempt to deceive believers, we shall adhere to the calling of Ephesians 6:

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (vv. 14-18).

No matter our circumstances, no matter our adversity, may we open our mouths “boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” and the glorious truth determined by God Almighty — Creator, Redeemer, Savior, and Friend.

This article appeared originall here.

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