Six Reasons Why Persecution Can Bring The Greatest Hour For the True Church

By Brannon S. Howse

As frequently as I am asked “How did America find herself where she is today?” I am asked by Bible-minded and committed Christians throughout America, “What can we do in response to what is happening to America?” This book—and more specifically, this chapter—is my answer. 


Our resurrected Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 commands all of His converts to make disciples who will follow Him. Many in the Church think the Great Commission is a call to evangelism, but is it not—it is to make disciples. Evangelism is the first of a four-step process. 


First we must evangelize or proclaim the reason for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and call people to faith and repentance in Him. Jesus Christ tells us in verse 20 that we are to teach converts to observe all things that Christ commanded or taught His disciples.

Jesus spoke on many issues, including creation, family, civil government, servant leadership, marriage, economics, law, history, education, social issues, doctrine (the will of God for our lives), theology (the character and nature of God), and much more. Yet countless studies reveal that many Christians are still drinking milk instead of eating meat. They still need teachers when they should be teaching others. They don’t even know how to defend essential Christian doctrines and cannot readily discern right from wrong. Hebrews 5:12-14 speaks of this and says those who have been Christians for a long time and yet still find themselves unskilled in teaching others need to get their act together and be obedient to what Christians are commanded to do. 


Hebrews 5:14 indicates that those who are spiritually mature can discern good from evil, but one of the biggest problems in the Church today is lack of discernment. Ephesians 4:14 warns that spiritually immature believers are like children who lack discernment and will be blown here and there by every wind of doctrine and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Matthew 7:15 says many will appear to be Christians—some will even be pastors—but they will be wolves in sheep’s clothing.


The Church in America has been greatly weakened and in some cases completely compromised by false teaching and a false gospel. As a result, the Church is more a reflection of the culture rather than a reflection of Jesus Christ. 


We are called to be in the world but not of the world, and there is a great need for Christians to mature and carry out the responsibilities of a disciple: 

• Proclaim truth to the unbeliever—evangelism; 

• Live the truth—be a disciple and make disciples;
• Defend the truth—apologetics;
• Instruct in the truth—worldview training.

We have already discussed evangelism and discipleship, but what about apologetics and worldview training? Apologetics is the defense of foundational Christian doctrines such as original sin, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, how we know Jesus is God, and how we know the Bible is true. Engaging in apologetics fulfills the Biblical mandate to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), to be ready at any moment to give a reason for the hope we profess (1 Peter 3:15).

Worldview training involves teaching yourself or others specific Biblical principles for how Christians are to live in this world. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us the Bible was written by God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. Righteousness means “right living” or “how to live right” according to God or in a manner consistent with God’s character and nature. The Bible reveals God’s character and nature. So, by studying God’s Word, we develop a comprehensive, Biblical worldview. Scripture is the lens through which we see the world. Regardless of whether the subject is law, science, economics, history, family, social issues, education, law, doctrine, or theology, we will know how to think and, therefore, how to live. 


Once a person surrenders his or her life to the lordship of Christ, we are to teach the essential Christian doctrines and how to defend them. Then we are to teach specific Biblical principles for living the Christian life (worldview training). Once a Christian is mature in faith, we are to encourage the believer to go out and make disciples of Jesus Christ. 

So why is this perhaps the greatest hour for the true American Church? Let me give you six reasons. 


(1) The emptiness of materialism


The late Francis Schaeffer said that when the dull ache of the human soul could no longer be filled with material prosperity people would begin to look for a substitute. America is quickly losing its world status as a superpower, and one major reason is our nation’s financial crisis. As more people can no longer buy “dream” homes, big screen TVs, cars, or take lavish trips, many are turning to spiritualism. Children of the 1980s and 90s, they watched as the materialism of their parents did not guarantee happy homes or prevent the breakup of their marriages. Having experienced firsthand the reality that money does not buy happiness, many turn to spiritualism over materialism.

Today’s financial crisis will bring many to the end of themselves. Their value can no longer be measured by possessions or income. When many go looking for peace, we can introduce them to the Prince of Peace. 

(2) The vanity of pleasure

Hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure, has left millions, and will leave millions more, empty and numb. G. K. Chesterton put it this way: “Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy.”  And Dr. Ravi Zacharias offers this perspective: 

[quote] When the pleasure button is repeatedly pressed and can no longer deliver or sustain, the emptiness that results is terrifying. Surely, the loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it has let you down. Several have expressed this, either in its impassioned form or in an honest confession of the pursuit of meaning. [end quote] 


King Solomon was the richest man in history. Yet after serving God, he was led away from God and sought meaning and happiness in the pursuit of pleasure. The description of his homes, wives, concubines, horses, stables, barns, business, hobbies, servants, and employees makes Bill Gates or Donald Trump look like paupers. But in the end, Solomon declared it all to be vanity and that only serving God would bring true and lasting peace, contentment, and meaning. 


Many frantically push the pleasure button each day but find it no longer works. Christians have the answer, and Jesus Himself said He had come so that people would have life and have it more abundantly. He means that Christians can have a life deep in meaning, purpose, and spiritual security. 

(3) The desire to be spiritual

Secular Humanism has failed. It proclaimed that truth could be found through human reason alone, but this did not work out so well inasmuch as atheism led to two world wars and the deaths of more than 500 million people. The bloodiest of all centuries happened because of atheism. 


In denying the spiritual world and man as a spiritual being, Secular Humanism shows itself bankrupt of satisfaction for a generation desiring a spiritual experience. People today hope at least to find some kind of spiritual salve for a guilty conscience. They are seeking truth, but the postmodern world tries to tell them truth is subjective. While they may not be seeking the truth, they do want some truth.

Christians should explain why the seekers feel guilty: Tell them Who created the conscience, how it is stamped with the moral law, and that it is a reflection of God’s character and nature. We must give them hope in that their guilt reveals their sinfulness and the need to repent. We can introduce them to the Truth, the Person Jesus Christ Who is the only Way, Truth, and Life.


(4) The personal God

Many who have been following a cult or a false religion find Christianity very compelling when they learn about our personal Savior. Muslims are coming to salvation in Jesus Christ, for instance, because He is a personal God Who became a man while yet being fully God. He laid down His life as a ransom for the sins of the world. This is very impressive to Muslims, for they’ve known only a god who is impersonal—one who may ask them to lay down their lives for him, but certainly not the other way around. 

(5) The answer to evil

The unbeliever cannot understand or explain why there is so much evil and injustice in our world. This is one of the main criticisms skeptics and critics offer for their lack of belief in God. They cannot understand why a loving God would allow so much evil, suffering, and injustice. But for Christians skilled in defense of the faith, this issue is our opportunity to explain God’s original plan, man’s sin, and God’s ultimate answer to this universal problem of evil. Sin is what it is because God is Who He is. John Newton, the slave trader turned crusader for Christ, proclaimed that he was a great sinner, but Christ is a greater Savior. 

(6) The offer of mercy from judgment


America is indeed being judged by God, and as this judgment is likely to increase drastically, we have an opportunity to take what is happening and explain the consequences of sin and of rejecting God. We can use God’s judgment of our national sins as an opportunity to explain to the unbeliever what sin is, why God must judge sin, and that the judgment nations experience in this life is nothing compared to the eternal judgment unrepentant individuals will receive in the next world. We can share with them that grace and mercy are extended only to those who repent, that Jesus has provided the way for us to pass from judgment into life. 


Even Persecution Can Bring Our Finest Hour:


Untold numbers have come to Jesus Christ though the faithful commitment of Christians who refused to deny their Lord even in the face of persecution. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the living testimony of the early disciples of Jesus Christ that continues to this day: 


• Paul and Matthew were beheaded;

• Barnabas was burned;

• Mark was dragged to death;

• James, the less, was clubbed to death;

• Peter, Philip, and Andrew were crucified;

• Thomas was speared;

• Luke was hung by the neck until dead;

• Stephen was stoned.


Like our brothers and sisters in Cuba, China, the former Soviet Union, and many Muslim nations, we are not immune to persecution. Indeed, it is likely to increase here. I take encouragement from these Scriptures, and I pray you do, too:


2 Corinthians 4:8-9—We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.


2 Corinthians 4:16-18—Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Philippians 1:12, 20-21—But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…. [A]ccording to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.


In his book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Francis Schaeffer warned:

[quote] ….Something has happened in the last sixty years [1920 to 1980s]. The freedom that once was founded on a Biblical consensus and a Christian ethos has now become autonomous freedom, cut loose from all constraints. Here we have the world spirit of our age—autonomous man setting himself up as God, in defiance of the knowledge and the moral and spiritual truth which God has given. Here is the reason why we have a moral breakdown in every area of life. The titanic freedoms which we once enjoyed have been cut loose from their Christian restraints and are becoming a force of destruction leading to chaos. And when this happens, there really are very few alternatives. All morality becomes relative, law becomes arbitrary, and society moves toward disintegration. In personal and social life, compassion is swallowed up by self-interest…when the memory of the Christian consensus which gave us freedom within the Biblical form is increasingly forgotten, a manipulating authoritarianism will tend to fill the vacuum. At this point the words “right” and “left” will make little difference. They are only two roads to the same end; the results are the same. An elite, an authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go into chaos-and most people would accept it. [end quote] 


The chaos is growing, and politicians will seek to make it worse so they can justify bigger government, fewer freedoms, and more power and wealth for the elite ruling class. Are Americans waking up too late? Are the numbers of Americans who understand the threat—or even care—too small? If the answer to these two questions is yes, then the only question left to ask is what will happen to those of us who refuse to accept it? 


If America’s fate is sealed, then this one thing I know: future generations in America will ask the same questions that post-World War II generations asked about the Holocaust of Germany. Where were the people of the churches? Why did they let this happen? Why did they compromise?

Albert Einstein, who was exiled from Germany because he was a Jew, noticed the faithfulness of the remnant in Germany. Einstein reveals why the Church must respond when a government and its leaders become evil, promote injustice, and become tyrannical:


Being a lover of freedom, when the [Nazi] revolution came I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in the days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.

In standing for what is just, righteous, and true, we are standing for Jesus Christ, because justice, righteousness, and truth are reflections of His character and nature. This is a powerful witness for the unsaved and unbelieving world. Even in the face of death, the world will see that we are so committed to the cause of Christ that we are willing to lay down our lives for Him.


Wise Fools? No, Just Fools:


Romans 1:22 says that “professing to be wise, they became fools,” which is to say they became vain, useless, and futile in their thinking. This clearly describes Karl Marx, John Dewey, John Maynard Keynes, Aldous Huxley, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Alfred Kinsey, Margaret Sanger, and the other influencers we’ve discussed in this book. Among these “leading intellectuals” are child molesters, drug users, family deserters, and at least one who went insane, but the flood of their combined thinking overwhelms much of what we treasure in America. 

Pastor Martin Niemoller was one of some 800 pastors who tried to stop Adolf Hitler. After surviving a concentration camp, he said that if the 14,000 evangelical pastors in Germany had merely stood up to Hitler’s ungodly regime, the numbers of dead might have been as little as 10,000 instead of 11,000,000. A few good men and women can make a very big difference. Yet I fear America’s days are numbered because most do not understand—much less expose—the worldviews of those who control us from their graves.


Those who share the worldviews of these enemies of our constitutional republic and Biblical worldview do not want their agenda and its consequences to be revealed. Above all, they do not want us to equip and train our children and grandchildren with a Biblical worldview by which to recognize, reject, and fight against their seductive and destructive lies. But enough courageous Christians can still make a difference.

Please join me in making this the finest hour for Christians in America.

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