Slain for the Word of God

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.” (Revelation 6:9–11, ESV)  

(Note to my readers: when I started this communications ministry, I was still "patient" with dispensationalism... but that has passed. [Click here to see my article on why this is so.] I've decided to leave this article on the site to demonstrate that you should change your stand when the biblical data warrants it... and that a person's historical stands represent a journey, not the front end of a flip-flop. EP)

Faith is cheap in America... so far. But the horrors foretold in the book of Revelation will soon visit every corner of the globe, not just the Middle East, and America's muscular isolation will do her no good in those days. Do not misunderstand me, the Bible is silent about America, and I'm not claiming to have a particular vision of her future, but right now we do live in a relatively peaceful place — but it's a place that will be turned upside down with the rest of the world during the period known as the Seven Year Tribulation.

As of today, no one has broken down my door and dragged me off to be beaten for preaching Christ. I haven't been imprisoned for joining a church, nor have I been tortured for merely naming his name. And if you live in America, you have probably not suffered those things either. But many of our foreign brothers and sisters in Christ do suffer those things and worse! — for their choice of following him. I'll have to confess that when I meditate upon their plights and pray for their relief that I do not feel worthy to stand under the same sun as do these brethren... but stand I do. Where will you stand on that day?

With my emphasis on that day, it would be easy to lose sight of the current suffering going on in the world, but even that suffering will get worse during the Tribulation — for most of what we know as good will be taken away when the Christians are taken away. Evil will remain, however — but with a new vigor! It will barely be restrained in those days.

Perhaps the notion of Christians being taken away by Christ sounds foreign to you, but the next event on God's prophetic calendar is commonly called the Rapture of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thesselonians 4:13-18), but since the word Church means something different in the Bible than in common usage, we should examine its scriptural meaning before we proceed.

The Church is not an organization — it is an organism — with Jesus Christ as the head (Colossians 1:8) and all true Christians as its members. So, every true believer in Jesus Christ who has ever lived is a member of the Church (Ephesians 5:30) — but membership is limited by time. The Church began taking in new members (and explosively so!) on its birthday in Acts 2, and it has continued in a more steady growth throughout the millennia — but it will cease taking in new members at the Rapture. Every believer of this era (about 2000 years now) is a member of the Church, and no one who dies outside of this era is a member. But of all its members, we who are alive today have a special hope: If Jesus comes back in our earthly lifetimes, we will not experience bodily death! We will be taken up to meet Jesus in the air — and we will be with him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Concerning the Church, note this well: No religion on earth is the Church (no matter what they tell you!) Since the Church is composed of every Christian who will have lived throughout its time, it is, by earthly standards, an eclectic mix. Its members may or may not belong to an organized church, they may or may not look particularly holy, they may or may not understand doctrine, but they do all have one thing in common: Every member of the Church is born-again! They have been saved by Christ alone — and through the agency of faith alone and quite apart from any efforts to gain God's favor, even with lives of piety and sacrifice.

The Rapture will signal the beginning of a seven-year hell-on-earth for those who remain. Although those who remain on earth may still be saved, the price shall be terrible as compared to today. So, with these immanent horrors in view, I offer four reasons to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior immediately:

First, at the Rapture of the Church, membership in the Church will be closed — and membership has its privileges. Although any people who are saved during the Tribulation Period will still be saved (as all people have always been saved) through the blood of Jesus Christ, we pre-rapture Christians will (and do) enjoy an eternal relationship with him — a relationship that will be unique forever — in heaven and beyond.

Second, God himself will send a strong — nearly irresistible — delusion upon the earth, making it so much more difficult for those who have already heard the gospel to find the Christ during that time (2 Thessalonians 2:11). This is a special punishment (and one that fits the crime) for a generation who will have had every opportunity to find the Christ, but who have snubbed him. God will not so much be causing any hardness of hearts — but he will honor the people's choice by fixing their hardness in place.

Third, persons who come to Christ for salvation during the Tribulation Period shall very likely be put to death for that decision. Our key verses show these tribulation saints pleading to Jesus that their deaths should be avenged.

Fourth, Jesus could return at any moment, and you cannot say whether or not your next breath will be your last. If you die without receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, you shall go to hell for all eternity ... and no one gets a pass. You cannot opt-out of everlastingness. Everyone will spend eternity somewhere — and your ability to choose where will end at your bodily death. After that, you will live-out the results of your choice with no chances to amend your decisions.

So you see, faith is cheap today in America — and choice is easy. Sure, we Christians suffer some social persecutions at the hands of the ungodly elite, but these sufferings cannot be compared to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and certainly not to the future sufferings of those who will name the name of Christ during the Great Tribulation Period. Do you find this disquieting? Take steps today!

“...[Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, ESV)

Jesus will save all who come, and he will keep them forever... no matter what.

For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at ep@mainsailministries.org.