“Indeed, all who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
What do we notice with this word of God? We see a –promise. Notice it doesn’t say “may suffer” it says, “shall suffer”. I remember when I first became a SDA member I read that verse then I began to ponder. I thought ”Um? That really doesn’t apply to my life. I mean I really don’t have anyone or anything “persecuting” me. My walk is rather pleasant. I am trying to live a good Godly life, yet how come I don’t see any of that in my life, what am I missing?”
I seriously contemplated this. Little did I know I would indeed find out later with full understanding, just what this truth is and how it works. Let us look into this important aspect of our walk with Christ.
As I pondered this aspect of my walk, I thought, “Well the only thing close to me being persecuted is maybe my online debates with Sunday keepers, as they would deride me and say that I wasn’t right with Christ, etc.” But this was a big stretch.
Our Lord gave some direct words about what He thinks about this subject, and they are very clear. “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Luke 7:23) We’ll explain how this verse ties in with suffering persecution later in this post. Next we see one of the most direct and plain Scriptures on our subject.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
So after reading so far, we can ask, “Ok this is all plain but how does this really fit in today? How can we who are professing Christ, really suffer much, in our religious free society? Aren’t those days past? And if we aren’t suffering persecution for Christ in some aspect, are we living Godly, despite what His word says?” There is only one true answer– no we are not. His words must stand as they read, and the truth said must apply.We must dig deep to ask –What can we do to live Godly?
How does one’s life today, within our Seventh Day Adventism cause our people to want to exclude us, mock us, to demote or cast us out from their company? It can only be when we decide to boldly proclaim the Lord’s message of the hour, the straight testimony. Ellen White explains ” Now as in former ages, the presentation of a truth that reproves sins and errors of the times will excite opposition.” ( Great Controversy, p 458). ”We have more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world.” (Review and Herald, March 22,1887).
The different forms of persecution can be mocking, derailment, slander , false accusations, and of course physical abuse. And as we look at the history of our church, the ones who suffered persecution were the ones who “stepped up to the plate”. Each of the prophets suffered as they spoke the straight unpopular truth.
So this brings me back to how I learned what it meant to be persecuted. When I came into our SDA church I learned that our church was indeed the “remnant church of God”. We are the ones professing the Commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus (SOP). But as I was not content to sit on this knowledge, I searched Scripture and EGW writing regularly and prayerfully. Then on one fateful Sabbath around the end of May, 2011, I found an online audio sermon called “The 144,000, who are they?” This was no accident, for the Spirit of Truth was indeed guiding.
I listened spellbound to the truths said (from Scripture and EGW) and I thought “Wow! Why haven’t I been taught this in our church?” So I undertook a serious study into the new truths I learned and it caused a complete 180% change in my understanding of our Lord’s plans. As I mentioned before, the Lord’s last prophet expounded on the Old Testament writings and Revelation, so that clear light began to flood my mind and soul.
I had become a semi-regular pre-Sabbath school speaker and went up for maybe 20-25 minutes each time. Each time, I talked on the “straight truth” despite the church custom of the normal “peace and safety” message. Surprisingly I received mostly a heart warm response from several in our church.
Do you remember what our prophetess said above? “..the presentation of a truth that reproves sins and errors of the times will excite opposition.” That is exactly what happened. Some could not bear the testimony and soon a couple complaints went to the higher-ups. “Many visions have been given to the effect that we must..occupy a position to stir up the people of God, for they are asleep in their sins (Test. for the Church, Vol. 1, p.247).
So let’s fast forward to the last few months. I was called into the pastors office a few months ago and asked if I was a “Davidian”. I answered affirmatively. ”Blessed is he who is not offended of Me”(Luke 7:23). Then after the 3 against 1 meeting was over, I got demoted from the deacon position I had. Then a couple of months later the church council held a church meeting to discuss “Davidian” topics. I was there.
As the meeting later progressed the “head elder” came up front and began his monologue on “his take” on Davidians and their beliefs. I silently listened and held my peace as he uttered falsehood after falsehood. Among other things he said “I want you to know that the teachings of the Davidians have been studied by our church, and found to be in error.” Although another falsehood, I remained silent until he said ‘This brother came into our church and got baptised and didn’t tell us he was a Davidian”. At that point I had to speak up against the lies. I let him and the rest know that this was not true, for I accepted the message about one year after I was baptised.
Anyway to make the story short, I received at least 4 or 5 un-solicited statements from church members that night, backing up my character and basically supporting my church contributions. So I went home that night shaking my head in amazement, I thought “I now know what it’s like to be slandered and derailed.” Church persecution had riled its ugly head and I now look back and understand the words said in (2 Tim. 3:12).
So that brings us to the most important question. In our SDA church today, what message will most likely get you “persecuted” ? Only one really stands out, it’s the Elijah message of the Shepherd’s Rod. If you can take the time, you will find in many of brother Houteff’s writings, the history of many believers in the message being persecuted, and sadly it still happens today. Why is this? The Elijah message is one of revival and reformation, and how to get sealed before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Where’s the evil? Where’s the basis for all the incidents of abuse upon our courageous members who have spoken the truth?
It can only be traced to the king of evil-Satan. He knows beyond doubt that, as brother Houteff said, “..For Satan well knows that if he loses now, he loses forever.”(General Conference Special, p.6).
One thing is so very clear, now is not the time to sit back and say “Oh yes, the Elijah message is true, but I’ll let others proclaim it, I don’t want to be unpopular or get in trouble with anyone.” Let me ask you, when the approx. 1 million people came out of Egypt, how many made it to the promised land over the age of 20? TWO. How many were there that were lukewarm toward the two courageous men, Joshua and Caleb? Don’t you think that there were hundreds if not thousands that QUIETLY supported and respected the courageous actions of those two? I would most definitely say there was indeed-many! Did the Lord spare them for “thinking” about supporting them? No, he did not.
He saved only those two who –stepped up to the plate! Our Lord gave them vocal cords and they used them! And what is the cost of us stepping up to the plate? We shall be persecuted. But you will find yourself on the most powerful One of the universe’s side. And those who persecute you? ” Those who rise up against warning and reproof..to make no effect the plain words of reproof prompted by the Spirit of God, will find, in the great day of final reckoning, an account against them which they will not wish to meet (Signs of the Times, Oct. 4th, 1883).
In closing my dear brethren, let us not shrink back from our duty today. God is calling each one to do something. Start small and just where you’re at. Then as the Holy Spirit guides you, you’ll find a clear path to guiding and warning your particular sphere of influence. Let’s not fear opposition, for as we have learned, a Godly life will always meet opposition.Do we care enough for our brothers and sisters to warn them of the upcoming church disaster?(Mal.3:1-3)
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot (Rev.3:14-16)…Laodiceans..are neither cold nor hot; they occupy a neutral postition..The True Witness hates lukewarmness. He loathes the indifference of this class of persons (Test.for the Church, Vol. 4, p.87).
Our Lord is near the door, and it’s the church door He’s about to enter, let’s be prepared and go to work!