Christian Duty Under Persecution

Religious persecution all across the world has been capturing the news headlines as of late and as time races on, it is inevitable that it will climax to a fever pitch.  Students of prophecy are not ignorant of the fact that as we near the close of probation, Revelation 13 paints a brutal closing scene coming upon America and then worldwide of persecution, mandated by lawmakers, of those who uphold the law of God and testimony of Jesus.  Prayerfully contemplate the words of the following article as the Holy Spirit guides you into a spiritual preparation for a terrible time that is soon to come upon all who choose to remain loyal to God.

I rise at 2 a.m. to write a few words in regard to those of our people who are being thrust into the chain gang and forced to work on the Sabbath. It is the spirit of antichrist that inspires this oppression. Men are inspired by Satan to execute his purposes against God. The Lord has said, “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations.” None should disobey this command in order to escape persecution. But let all consider the words of Christ, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” If it can be avoided, do not put yourselves into the power of men who are worked by the spirit of antichrist. If the payment of a fine will deliver our brethren from the hands of these oppressors, let it be paid, rather than allow them to be forced to work on the Sabbath. Everything that we can do should be done, that those who are willing to suffer for the truth’s sake may be saved from oppression and cruelty.

We have the history of religious persecution from the fall of Adam down to the present time. How much of cruelty, perfidy, and corrupt intrigue is revealed. Satan is still leading men to strive for the mastery over other minds, and all this striving is designed to counterwork a “Thus saith the Lord.”

Christ died a victim to the mob spirit created by the religious prejudice of His own nation. Others will suffer in like manner. But they will not have to stand under the curse of the transgression of the law of God, as did Christ in behalf of the sinful world.

By suffering the penalty of death in man’s behalf, Christ made it possible for man to obey the law of God, and all who believe in Christ and obey His commandments shall receive the gift of eternal righteousness. They will be abundantly rewarded.

The experience of Christ, who could have saved Himself from all the ignominy, the shame and disgrace poured upon Him by men who were dependent upon Him for life, shows the corrupting power of the husbandmen, who would kill the Son of the Householder because He came to receive the fruit from His vineyard. Thus are the corrupt sentiments of antichrist working in the children of disobedience to their ruin in this our time.

When men under conviction resist light, follow their own inclinations, and regard the favor of men above the favor of God, they do as did many in Christ’s day. “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

“And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word which I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting; whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

Christ is our example. The determination of antichrist to carry out the rebellion he began in heaven will continue to work in the children of disobedience. Their envy and hatred against those who obey the fourth commandment will wax more and more bitter. But the people of God are not to hide their banner. They are not to ignore the commandments of God, and in order to have an easy time go with the multitude to do evil. They should be careful not to condemn their brethren in the faith who are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

The Lord encourages all who seek Him with the whole heart. He gives them His Holy Spirit, the manifestation of His presence and favor. But those who forsake God in order to save their lives will be forsaken by Him. In seeking to save their lives by yielding the truth, they will lose eternal life.

Natural affection for relatives and friends should not lead any soul who sees the light to reject the light, to dishonor God the Father and Jesus Christ His only begotten Son. Every possible excuse for disobedience will be framed by men who choose, as many did in Christ’s day, the favor of men rather than the favor of God. If one chooses wife or children, father or mother, before Christ, that choice will stand through eternal ages, with all its weight of responsibility.

The fruit borne upon the tree is not seen in good works, but in perpetuation of transgression and sin. It is not alone one’s own soul and his own hope of eternal life that are sacrificed. He has influenced others. And all the influence he failed to exert in behalf of righteousness and truth, all the stumbling blocks laid in the way of other souls, will be charged against him in that great day when the Judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened and every one shall be judged according to his deeds.

The soul that has had light in regard to the Lord’s Sabbath, His memorial of creation, and to save himself from inconvenience and reproach has chosen to remain disloyal, has sold his Lord. He has dishonored the name of Christ. He has taken his stand with the armies of antichrist. With them at the last great day he will be found outside the city of God, not with the loyal, the true and righteous, in the heavenly kingdom.

All who have genuine faith will be tested and tried. They may have to forsake houses and lands, and even their own relatives, because of bitter opposition. But “when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another,” Christ said; “ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel until the Son of man be come.”

The greater man’s influence for good, under the control of the Spirit of God, the more determined will be the enemy to indulge his envy and jealousy toward him by religious persecution. But all heaven is on the side of Christ, not of antichrist. Those who love God and are willing to be partaker with Christ in His sufferings, God will honor. Antichrist, meaning all who exalt themselves against the will and work of God, will at the appointed time feel the wrath of Him who gave Himself that they might not perish but have eternal life. All who persevere in obedience, all who will not sell their souls for money or for the favor of men, God will register in the book of life.

“Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law. Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”1White, E.G. (1900, January 26). Our Duty Under Persecution. Ms9

References   [ + ]

The Watchman

The Watchman

In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light - bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import, - the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. Evangelism, p. 119

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Words of Life

Reverence should be shown for God’s representatives—for ministers, teachers, and parents who are called to speak and act in His stead. In the respect shown to them He is honored.

— Ellen G. White, Education, p. 244