the persecution and suffering of saints past

SUFFERING & THE CHURCH

jesus_empty cross on blu bkgr So much has been written about the Rapture of the Church, but little about suffering for Christ. Don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly gotten the impression that most believers today do not expect to suffer persecution or hardship for their faith – ever. Most have been lulled to sleep by what I call ‘an easy street gospel,’ which is that since Christ bore our sins, griefs and sorrows, all they have to do now is sit back and live their little self-centric lives while waiting for His return and/or, their rapture off the earth. The focus of this study isn’t the Rapture or its timing, but suffering for Christ, which every saint is called to do, 1Pe 2:21 For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps:

I believe the Church has succumbed to the fantasy, taught by hireling shepherds who preach prosperity and the ‘ear-tickling’ message, that she’ll never have to suffer persecution for the cause of Christ. Those shepherds conveniently leave out the unpalitable reality that all true believers will suffer on account of the Faith. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” 2 Timothy 3:12. How many believers take it to heart though? My guess is not many. Makes me wonder if the twenty-first century, western, Church has the ‘grit’ or fortitude of its fathers in the faith, men like William Tyndale [1] (murdered for printing the bible in English) along with thousands of other martyrs who were tortured and/or murdered for their faith. A good resource detailing these events is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs [2]. Torture devices were very common in Roman Catholic medieval Catholic tortureChurch dungeons. Is the Church willing to suffer intense persecution, torture or even death, as did the first century Church, or has it succumbed to the fairytale that it will never have to face such suffering?foxe-s-book-of-martyrs-c1780-hand-col-print.-burning-at-newbury-guernsey-[2]-27473-p

Since the Scriptures are peppered with examples of the sufferings, persecutions, and hardships of the church from the beginning and continuing throughout the ages – how can we in this church age, expect to escape these things just because we’re in the ‘age of grace?’ What about the millions who suffered burning at the stake, beheading, deboweling, and dipping in molten oil, by the monstrous Catholic Crusaders throughout the Middle Ages and beyond? Here’s a partial time line of these historic facts:

1096 Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter half the Jews in Worms, Germany.

1098 Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter almost all of the inhabitants of the city of Antioch.

1099 Roman Catholic crusaders massacre 70,000 Muslims and Jews when they capture Jerusalem.

1208 – 1226 The Albigensian Crusades in southern France. Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter approximately 20,000 citizens of Beziers, France, on July 22, 1209. Albigensian Christians and Catholics were slain. By the time the Roman Catholic armies finished their “crusade,” almost the entire population of southern France (mostly Albigensian Christians) has been exterminated. During the six centuries of papal Inquisition that began in the 13th century, up to 50 million people were killed. Read what J. A. Wylie’s The History of Protestantism has to say about the Crusades against the Abigenses.

1236 Roman Catholic crusaders slaughter Jews in the Anjou and Poitou regions of western France. The Catholic crusaders trample to death under their horses 3000 Jews who refuse baptism.

1243 Roman Catholic mobs burn alive all the Jews in Berlitz, Germany (near Berlin).

1298 Roman Catholic mobs burn alive all Jews in Rottingen, Germany.

April 26, 1349 Roman Catholic mobs burn to death all Jews in Germersheim, Germany.

1348 – 1349 The Jews are blamed for the bubonic plague. Author Dave Hunt tells us, “Accused of causing the ‘Black Death’ Jews were rounded up [by Roman Catholic mobs] and hanged, burned, and drowned by the thousands in revenge.”

1389 Roman Catholic mobs murder 3000 Jews in Prague when they refuse to be baptized.

1481 – 1483 At the direction of the Roman Catholic inquisitors, authorities burn at the stake at least 2000 people during the first two years of the Spanish Inquisition.

1540 – 1570 Roman Catholic armies butcher at least 900,000 Waldensian Christians of all ages during this 30-year period.

1550 – 1560 Roman Catholic troops slaughter at least 250,000 Dutch Protestants via torture, hanging, and burning during this ten-year period.

Apostle Paul’s sufferings alone are enough to make our heads spin, our hands shake, and our knees quake! Paul suffered stonings, whippings, hardships, and imprisonment for Christ. If any one of us today were called upon to suffer what he did, we would probably faint (fall away from the faith).

Last but not least, Jesus Christ suffered beating, scourging, mocking, and crucifixion unto death for Man’s sin. Joh 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you;

“There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution.” – Corrie Ten Boom, born April 15, 1892 in Haarland Netherlands, near Amsterdam. Corrie was a born again believer who’s family hid Jews during the Nazi takeover of her country. Betrayed by a Dutch citizen, her whole family was imprisoned in a Nazi death camp and murdered, but she survived and shared her story in a book titled The Hiding Place. She ministered to concentration camp survivors after the war ended, and began a worldwide ministry. She died on her birthday in 1983. [3]

Does the Church have what it takes to endure suffering for Christ? The Church needs to ‘gird up its loins,’ and brace itself for persecution and suffering which is surely coming. It’s inevitable if you’re a true believer and follower of Christ – “Truly, I say unto you, If they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you….” The ‘easy street’ gospel, as I call it, isn’t the TRUE gospel of Christ, and is misleading many believers, lulling them into a deep slumber. We want to believe that we’re exempt from the kinds of suffering and torture that Christians have undergone in times past, but it isn’t true. It’s time for us to put away our ‘rose-tinted glasses’ and pray for the keen vision of an eagle, so that we might see that our true destiny in Christ is to suffer as He suffered, walk as He walked, and love as He loved! Anything less is an empty profession of faith; a mirage without substance and unacceptable to God!

“It would be years later at The Voice of The Martyrs conference that I would come face to face with my distorted understanding. I heard stories from all over the world of suffering happening to Christians. The first evening I listened as a man from Pakistan explained the hardships the Pakistani church endures, and then described the torture and eventual murder of a young Christian boy. This young man died at the hands of his torturers simply because he was a Christian. For the first time in my life I contemplated the possibility that God does not intervene in every situation and take the suffering away from His people.” Suffering – the Mark of the Church [4]

The true Church of jesus Christ is called to suffer hardships and persecution for their allegience to Him and to His Truth! The true Church of Jesus Christ is called to endure hardness like a soldier and endure sound doctrine versus the false ‘prosperity and easy street’ doctrines which compromising, hireling shepherds teach and preach to their flocks. Woe to those who compromise the truth or who teach only the palitable parts of it. Our Lord Christ doesn’t sanction teaching only part of the truth or half truths. It behooves every believer in Christ to study the Bible for themselves, to dig out the truth buried sometimes deeply in its pages. We must learn how to feed ourselves and quit being lazily content to eat left-overs and regurgitated food! Real faith makes certain demands on us, like ‘studying to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed…’ 2 Tim 2:15. We’re to study the words of God for ourselves, and prove whether the things we’ve been taught, line up with His words or not – Act 17:10 & 11.

We need to OPEN our spiritual EYES. If you can’t see these things, then pray and ask God to open your eyes so that you may. The times we live in are dark and we need the Light of God’s wisdom and truth more than ever before; far more than material wealth and possessions. Most of Christ’s disciples lived in poverty or had only their basic needs met; most weren’t wealthy and yet they thrived on what’s more important. They lived not by (physical) bread alone, but by every word (rhema) which came from the mouth of God – Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4, and they had the LOVE of God and the love of His whole counsel (truth) BURNING IN THEIR HEARTS! – Luke 24:32

THAT, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, IS WHERE WE NEED TO BE AGAIN! We need to get back to a place where THE most important thing in our lives is following Christ, bearing His truth to the world, winning souls, and living HOLY lives before Him in HUMILITY (not in pride and arrogance).

So, therefore, let us HUMBLE ourselves in these dark days, SEEK His face in prayer and supplications with many FASTINGS – and WALK IN OBEDIENCE to ALL His instructions, not just the ones we like. If we ‘purify our hands and our hearts’ – “Purify your hands ye sinners, and sanctify your hearts…” maybe we’ll escape the dark schemes of the wicked to deceive and lead us into disbelief coming upon the whole world, and ”stand before the Son of Man WITHOUT SPOT, WRINKLE OR ANY SUCH THING….” James 4:8, Lk 21:36, Eph 5:27

Since we’ve all been called to SUFFER for Christ, walking in His footsteps, then it makes sense that we PREPARE our hearts and minds beforehand to endure to the end when it comes.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” – Revelation 12:11

Debra R. Stout, March 10, 2016  *[caps, bold, and italics are mine].

Endnotes:

1] http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1501-1600/translator-william-tyndale-strangled-and-burned-11629961.html
2] http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/home.html (book is online to read for free)
3] http://www.biography.com/people/corrie-ten-boom-21358155#synopsis
4] http://www.persecutionblog.com/2014/09/suffering-the-mark-of-the-church.html