Something Worth Fighting (and Dying) For

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I recently received a small book in the mail a few days ago and began to read it. The book is called “Tortured for Christ” by Rev. Richard Wurmbrand. This book was first published on the year I was born (1967) and it actually sat in my home as I grew up. I remember my father telling me about it when I was young, but I can’t remember for sure if I read it back then or not. Rev. Wurmbrand grew up as an atheist in Romania. By the grace and power of God, he became a Christian and then even a Pastor. When the Nazis took over in World War II, he suffered much persecution by their hands. Then, when the Russians kicked the Nazis out, Communism was implemented in Romania and the persecution became far worse (in the West, many of us forget that our country signed off on this travesty…that our agreement as a nation with Russia after World War II resulted in the persecution and martyrdom of countless Christians). Rev. Wurmbrand suffered a total of 14 years of torture in prison for his faith in Jesus Christ under the Communists. However, during that time, he loved his Communist persecutors with the love of Christ, winning many souls for the Lamb! Eventually, his plight became well known in the West, and his release was negotiated. He moved to the United States to raise awareness, prayer and support for the persecuted church. Although he passed away in 2001, his ministry, “Voice of the Martyrs” continues today (the ministry is actually located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, which is about 45 minutes north of Tulsa).

I highly recommend this book, it is so powerful! I believe it will change your life. Yes, I believe that something deep will happen when you read it, although I’m not even sure I can describe it. It is a deep work of the Holy Spirit that happens in the heart. At the end of this article I will put a link that will allow you to receive a free copy of the book, and to order a few more for your friends (as well as learn more about this ministry).

I believe that the timing of when I picked up this book and began to read it is a God thing. We have seen persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ for over 2,000 years. John the Baptist was beheaded. Jesus Christ hung on a cross. Stephen was stoned to death. Yes, eleven out of the twelve disciples followed Jesus in pouring out their lives and dying as martyrs! History even tells us that they also attempted to kill John, but could not kill him. Since the time of Christ, an estimated 40-70 million Christians have been martyred for their faith. Does this still happen today? Yes! As I read the news just today, one headline tells of Islamic military groups demanding of Christians in Syria, “Either convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded.” This is not an isolated incident. Open Doors (another great ministry that supports the persecuted church) states that about 100,000,000 Christians in 60 countries currently face persecution! It is estimated now that there are approximately 200,000 Christian martyrs each year…and the rate of martyrdom continues to increase!

You may ask, “Will this ever happen in my country?” The answer, no matter what country you live in, is YES. Persecution will continue to increase until it reaches ever tribe, people and nation. It will continue to increase until the God’s appointed number of martyrs is reached (Revelation 6:9-11). All of this has already been prophesied in the Bible. It is written there as a warning to prepare us, but also points to great and powerful promises and opportunities for the believer! Let’s take a look at what the Bible says:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God. ~Revelation 7:9-11 (NKJV)

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat” ~Revelation 7:13-16 (NKJV)

In these verses, we see the end result. We see the good news, and actually more good news. First, we see that “a great multitude” of Jesus worshippers were gathered from “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.” How is that possible? Right now about 40% of the world, almost 3 billion souls, have yet to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ! Yet, these verses show that what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:14 will come true, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” How far away can this be? Well, we don’t know. However, many major missions organization predict that every tribe and tongue can be reached with the gospel by 2020-2025 (and for the first time I can remember, these estimates are staying put, or growing shorter, instead of growing longer!)

The “more” good news may not seem so good at first. But as with Jesus, the disciples, or any follower of Christ (John 15:20), one of the results of all these people of all these tribes and tongues receiving the gospel, will be a backlash of great persecution. It will be the largest harvest of believers in human history, and also the greatest resulting backlash of persecution in human history. You may ask, “What is good about that?” I would respond: Purification, refining and rewards:

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. ~Revelation 20:4 (NKJV)

This verse refers to the “image” which is the “Abomination that Causes Desolation” that will be set up in the Temple (yet to be rebuilt), that will cause the great tribulation, the most difficult time in the world’s history. Yes, those beheaded for holding on to Christ, and not worshipping the image of the beast, are promised thrones. This time, described in both the Old and New Testament, will last 3 ½ years. Jesus says that the time is kept short for the sake of the believers. There will be much wrath poured out during this time on the Antichrist and his followers, fueled by the prayers of the believers. As the Antichrist and his followers are experiencing God’s wrath, believers will be experiencing God’s protection, but at times will also experience persecution and some will experience martyrdom. We have seen many pictures and types of this throughout history. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Nero, Hitler, Stalin, the current North Korean regime…just to name a few. In North Korea today, it you do not bow down to worship the images of three of Kim Jong-un’s ancestors, which must hang on the “best” wall of each person’s home, you can be thrown into prison indefinitely. Neglecting proper care of these portraits is a capital crime. Beloved, these are all examples of the antichrist spirit. The difference is, when we see the final version of this unfold, it will be the biggest and most powerful occurrance in human history. Jesus warns of the severity of these times:

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” ~Matthew 14:14-21 (NKJV)

But all of this sounds scary! Shouldn’t this mean that we should all run and hide? Jesus does give some allowance for taking cover (at least for those living in Judea at the time). However, our work will not yet be complete! In the scriptures it is revealed that this time will also be the church’s greatest hour! In Daniel we see, as we do in Joel, that the believers will still be working in great power during the most difficult of circumstances. I believe that the “greater things” Jesus said would happen, will take place in the time of the greatest need in human history! Matthew 10:7-8 will have no greater meaning than in the end times, for the kingdom will surely be near…and there will be many struck with fear for us to love, many sick with plagues (that baffle science) for us to heal, many demonized for us to deliver and scores of (emotionally, spiritually and physically) dead people to raise!

And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. ~Daniel 11:31-35 (NKJV)

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” ~Joel 2:28-32 (NKJV)

In summary, I have written this today both as a warning and also as encouragement. In the Garden of Eden, humanity was given the choice of life or death in the tree of knowledge or the tree of life. God presented the choice and then provided encouragement to Adam and Eve to make the right choice. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve choose death and Satan. However, God in His mercy has made a way for us through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross…and by His great grace we get to choose life once again! During the times we are entering, like the times of many of those who have suffered before us, we must hold fast to Jesus. Ultimately the choice will be between keeping the seal of God on our foreheads versus rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ and choosing the mark of the beast.

In the beginning, man chose incorrectly and let Satan have dominion in the earth. However, Jesus is encouraging us to hold fast to the seal of God, endure, overcome, finish strong and labor alongside Him to reverse the curse! This time, we may lose our lives in the process, but we will prevail in kicking Satan off of the earth, and gain everlasting life! Read these words of Jesus on this topic and also the prophets. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His Truth to your heart! Follow Jesus! Don’t ever quit, don’t give up, don’t stop, and don’t ever look back!

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” ~Mark 8:35 (NKJV)

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ~Revelation 2:7 (NKJV)

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ~Revelation 2:11 (NKJV)

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ~Revelation 2:17 (NKJV)

“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.” ~Revelation 2:26-28 (NKJV)

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” ~Revelation 3:5 (NKJV)

“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” ~Revelation 3:12 (NKJV)

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” ~Revelation 3:21 (NKJV)

“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” ~Revelation 21:7 (NKJV)

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” ~Revelation 12:11 (NKJV)

With Love in Christ,

Stu

Receive a free copy of “Tortured for Christ” by Rev. Richard Wurmbrand here: https://etools.ncol.com/a/tfc/bg_vomtfc_persecutioncom-tfc-flash_346.html

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