Are You Persecuted?

Image result for picture of Apostles being persecuted

In the old Biblical times the word persecution usually encompassed stoning, crucifixion, flogged, or any other means of physical abuse. But today we know that this persecution is less severe physically yet no less emotionally and mentally troubling. In other words today’s suffering of God’s people is more discreet and less open than days of old, but nevertheless just as serious spiritually.

In  2 Timothy 3:12 we read,

 “Indeed, some who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Ah, did you catch that? We inserted a false word in there — “some” for the Word of God — “all”.

But to the vast throng of our people, we as Adventists,  it might as well say “some” because many do not believe it means all. The word all in our dictionary is —

“the whole of, every, any whatsoever, …” –

Now there is no doubt that God’s Word says ALL who live Godly SHALL suffer persecution. This Word my brethren is vast and far-reaching in our lives today. Let me begin first by giving my own example of how this subject came alive to me personally.

In early 2009 I came into the truth of God’s Commandments, specifically the Sabbath. This changed my whole heathen life style. In short order I was on the path to knowing more about God. Who He was, what He stood for, and what He requires of us.

The knowledge of the things of God became my whole focus. God became real to me as I witnessed one sign after another. He showed me clearly He was alive and He was personal. But as I read more and more of the Scriptures, I found a reference that made me ponder, it was —

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

I had been a SDA member for a good year already and when I read that , I wondered to myself, “Um, I do not suffer any persecution. Maybe this is not really applicable for us today.” Yet that idea came into my belief that God’s word is truth and means what it says. So I put it away in my memory bank for another time.

Fast forward a couple of years. I came into the message of our Lord’s final message of Elijah by listening an online audio sermon of the subject of the 144,000.

It struck me hard. Because a short time prior to listening to it, I had driven by one of our local SDA churches during the course of my work day and the Spirit had told me to inquire of one of the retail businesses on this church property.

I was led to call and ask this Chiropractor shop whether they were open on Saturday. They responded, “Yes we are would you like to make an appointment?” This devastated me and I broke down right then and there. Keep in mind , up to this point I was growing in faith with my church. Thinking firmly that we were God’s people, not perfect but striving to keep His Commandments as a corporate body. Yet, here I saw that we were gigantic hypocrites! We teach that God’s true day of worship is the seventh day, the Sabbath, yet right there in front of the world for all to see we were letting people “within our gates” work and break His Sabbath!

But as I mentioned, this sighing and crying was seen by our Lord and He guided me to that audio sermon to awake my soul to what His plans were for purifying His people, His church. In other words, I soon saw that He knows all about this hypocrisy and will do something about it. Soon I was in deep into this “new light” and my soul was truly filling up with the “bread” from heaven, His words of life.

The whole Scriptures came alive as if Someone had anointed me with “eyesalve”  to see (Rev. 3:18). Thus, being excited of these new truths I was very zealous and anxious to share them. I had been a frequent pre-Sabbath school speaker in our church,  well received as well,  and after learning of the Elijah message, I shared some new insights to the church. Much as a man who found gold in a field would want to share the news to his family, I too wanted my church to know these marvelous valuable things.

BAM! What is going on??  Before I knew it a couple of weeks later I was called into the pastor’s office. “Rob, are you a believer in the Shepherd’s Rod?” They asked.  “Sure” I said, thinking they too loved the truth and this was God’s truth because it passed the test–to the Law and to the Testimony.

Long story short, I was told that if I did not relinquish my faith in the Rod, I would be demoted from Deacon to regular member with no rights to leadership roles in the church.

Soon it dawned on me and the Lord reminded that I had finally learned the personal meaning of “all” shall suffer persecution! This now was understood! To no longer be able to contribute to the discussion of the Lord’s word from His house was a big disappointment and an injustice. Persecution indeed!

“No man can be true to principle without exciting opposition.” Desire of Ages p. 356.

We mentioned that today’s persecution is not yesterdays, but nevertheless it exists, as can be seen by my personal testimony, it came in the form of demotion, murmuring against  and slandering. It also may include dis-fellowship which our last prophet , Victor Houteff experienced.

These following examples are what happened to brother Houteff while simply attending church and trying to inquire of Truth–

“At the close of a service conducted by a field secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist in one of our city churches, Brother Houteff was asking the speaker of the evening a question on some statement which he had made from the pulpit in opposition to the teachings of The Shepherd’s Rod.  Without warning or conversation of any kind, a man approached  him from the rear, took him by the neck and shoulders, and thrust him from the building. 

But what was worse, the offender was not even an Adventist; in fact, his mother said he was not even a Christian!  Now what incited this poor man to commit such an unprovoked and unlawful act?  What, if not the false accusations from the pulpit,  made against Brother Houteff?  For up to that moment Brother Houteff had never met the man or even spoken to him, and there had been no excitement whatever, but only quite friendly reasoning on the part of the conversers.

   “Shortly after this experience, Brother Houteff and I, along with another brother, attended a Sabbath service in another one of our churches, and this time the president of the conference spoke in opposition to The Shepherd’s Rod.

“At the close of this service, a lady approached Brother Houteff and spoke to him as he stood with a number of others in front of the building, and before he had time to reply to her, a young man, also whom Brother Houteff had never seen before, rushed up to him, rolled up his sleeves, and threatened to smash the glasses off his face if he did not stop talking to his mother!  But some one led him away, and his mother, too, said he was not an Adventist.  What could have put such hatred in the heart of this young man?  What except the sermon which he heard from the pulpit?  For up to that moment neither one had in all his life seen or spoken to the other!

   “A third incident very similar to the ones related above came to my attention, all within a period of four weeks.  This time the president of the Union Conference, had on Sabbath afternoon called a large congregation together, many miles away from either of the churches mentioned above, to hear him refute The Shepherd’s Rod.  During the service, he conducted himself in such a way as to instil in the hearts of all his hearers hatred for the author of the message  contained in The Shepherd’s Rod series of books and tracts. 

After the meeting closed, a group of young people were gathered around Brother Houteff outside the church, near an embankment.  Suddenly a young man rushed up to the crowd and thrust himself as hard as he could upon the one nearest Brother Houteff in an effort to knock him over the embankment.

And he would have verily succeeded had Brother Houteff not been quick enough to catch himself in time to avoid pitching over head-long!

   “Again we are led to inquire, What put such hatred into the heart of this young man who also had never met Brother Houteff?  What, save the sermon he had just heard?

   ” ‘Satan’s attacks against the advocates of the truth will wax more bitter and determined to the very close of time.  As in Christ’s day the chief priests and rulers stirred up the people against Him, so today the religious leaders will excite bitterness and prejudice against the truth for this time.  The people will be led to acts of violence  and opposition which they would never have thought of had they not been imbued with the animosity of professed Christians against the truth.’ ” — Gospel Workers, p. 324. (Tract 7, p.58-60)

SOP imports counsel here–

“We have far 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. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.” ( 1 Selected Messages, p.122)

So we see that Satan hates the Truth and those who proclaim it. It is those indeed who are the “all” of which the Word speaks of. In fact SOP gets directly to the point in the following —

“Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed!

Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God’s sealing approval. They will fall in the general destruction of the wicked, represented by the work of the five men bearing slaughter weapons. Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those “that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done” in the church.

Their love for purity and the honor and glory of God is such, and they have so clear a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that they are represented as being in agony, even sighing and crying. Read the ninth chapter of Ezekiel.”(Testimonies, vol. 3, p.267)

Who is working for Satan? Those who oppose those who are against sin and sinners in the church! These are who get persecuted. The ones who stand up for the right based on God’s word.

So this is where some soul-searching must be made. Each “believer” must ask himself the following.

  1. Do I have courage to stand for the right within my church, or do I fear to because it will affect my church relations?
  2. Am I experiencing any trouble from “within” due to proclaiming His truth within our church?
  3. Do I experience absolutely no “persecution” as in today’s application?

There is a sure reward for those who stand for the right and receive persecution.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)

In closing brethren the Lord said –all– and that means all. And if we do not live Godly we cannot experience the truth of His word. Satan is watching those who dare take a stand for the Lord’s truth, and if you do , be sure that you will experience the fulfillment of this word.

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