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COVID-19 and the Final Persecution

Conrad Vine
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Conrad Vine

President of Adventist Frontier Missions

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  • September 12, 2020
    12:45 PM
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Good morning everybody. It's a privilege to stand before you here today on this kind of overcast Sabbath day. But it is good to be alive in good health and strength and that to be able to share with you this morning we're coming aside from a world of work and for many of us a world of worry and as we come to worship a lot on the Sabbath we're asking to step into a world of wonder to come to the presence of Jesus our Lord and Savior and to received assurances once again that he is again he is coming again I'd like to bring you greetings from my wife my 2 kids and. They're down in barren Springs right now and. I think I've preached here once before about 5 or 6 years ago but it's a privilege to stand before you here today we're going to be talking today the sermons and titled covert 19 in the end time persecution which is a topic I believe is timely and as we've gone through this covert crisis it's forcing us to ask some very hard questions so existential questions not just how is the economy doing but who am I where I come from and where am I going and do I know where I'm going and so we're going to be discussing today what the covert 19 is telling us about the final persecution that we read about in Revelation 13 of God's people and vote cheated by heads with me and will open with a word of prayer to Heavenly Father as we gather here today or live in a world where truth is no longer in the public square where we no longer know what to believe and so far that we would hear your voice speak to our hearts today father still the voices of this world may be left outside the walls of this sanctuary and I pray that your spirit will speak through me and to each one of us today I thank you for hearing this prayer in Jesus' name I ask Amen. So we're going to be looking today at what the covert persecution covert is revealing about the end time persecution of God's people are they we are Ok this thing is working. Working with absence from to missions we come into contact with people who have been persecuted for their face persecution is the norm in the world it is not the exception we in America have freedoms today I'm least we we theoretically have some freedoms but the reality is that we need to learn lessons as the Free Church from the persecuted church and we divide the world into you know Muslims Hindus Buddhists Christians and so forth but another way of looking at the world is look at the Free Church and the persecuted church and at these 2 websites up there persecution dot com is from Voice of the martyrs I was established by Pastor Richard Bryant after he escaped from Ceausescu's persecution and open doors USA They tracked the persecution of Christians around the world it matters not whether they are orthodox or Protestant or Catholic but persecution is a very real reality and it's happening even as we sit here today and we won't go through stories today but the persecution is very real it is in human nature to persecute minorities of various kinds if they don't agree with the dominant narrative and so one day those tendencies will arrive on our shores here in the United States let's set some historical context here showing that the Russian empire. Went from west of Russia west of Moscow all Waycross to the to the shores of Japan almost led by the Zaz and the last 20 years of the Russian empire under the Tsars Russia was in a state of philosophical flux a Russia was torn apart by various ideological groups there were the agrarians there were the Arabs to crocs there were the workers there were the Bolsheviks there were the Mensheviks there were the nobility there were those who want to push from the dirty in Russia and now those. To cling to the old ways after 20 years of philosophical flux and you can read about these and say the writings of Dust Off ski you get a glimpse of this philosophical chaos within the nation and there arose a strong regime known as the u.s.s.r. and with the U.S.'s Hakim the persecution of Christians and millions of people died throughout the history of the Soviet Union the imposition of Marxism cost over a 100000000 lives in the 20th century we see the same trend happening within Germany in the 1920 s. Germany was reeling from the impact of the verse I treaty which was a national humiliation in the eyes of many they were suffering with the collapse of the currency there was very high unemployment and on the streets of Germany there were running battles between the fry call between the rich the. Soldiers to come back from the western front between the communists and the socialists there were running battles on the streets Germany was torn apart during the last years of Weimar Republic and it was replaced out of that chaos came a strong man and not of course was at all Hitler in 1903 societies that go through chaos tend to swing to a strong authoritarian leadership. We see the same possibly happening in America now America the land of the free and the home of the brave a nation many I love very dearly but America is now experiencing a state of philosophical and India logical flux would you agree with me we see it in our streets we see on the streets battles between people from the hard left and from the hard right we're seeing in America that pit that the economy is being divided along political lines you have a bike art or a boycott if your company or if your church or if your business or if you personally take a stand on any issue people either buy from you or they will not do business with you we're saying that it is illogical decisions are affecting the impact of consumers in our nation we're seeing in America today that we have special interest groups activist judges Well corporations and media factions all on various water pots and we are seeing the rejection of our Judeo Christian heritage we're seeing coersion take place economically we're seeing employment purges we have cancelled culture for those who disagree with whatever dominant narrative is out there we are seeing physical intimidation on street violence becoming all more altogether more common this is unthinkable maybe 5 years ago but this is happening in front of our eyes and the covert 19 pandemic has revealed to us that the tools are in place for the persecution of gods and time people and we've also seen with the covert 19 and this is a wake up call for us as Adventists is that we have normally thought that the Sunday laws and the oppression of God's people will take place through one of 3 mechanisms either an act of Congress a Supreme Court decision or an executive order from the presidency and what we've seen in America in the last 5 months is that the tools of persecution can be put in place with Nat without an act of Congress without an executive order and without a Supreme Court ruling so the traditional mechanisms we thought would take. Placed that have to take place before the post fusion of God's people takes off we see that they don't actually need those to happen but the society can be closed down so as we look at America it's danger look back at the last 5 years since the covert outbreak here in America we've seen that constitutional rights and religious liberties have been revealed to be little more than than than really a mirage in many cases across America today despite the best intentions of legislatures and governors and mayors of all political stripes as they battle list the terrible pandemic which is real and people are dying from this pandemic there's no question about that but we see that with the lockdowns we see the the suspension of supposedly inalienable rights such as those contained in the u.s. bill of rights for instance office to men rights perhaps inadvertently this pandemic has revealed that all the ingredients are in place for the persecution of God's people and that political leaders across the political spectrum are ready and willing to use them given an opportunity and given an excuse so what are some of the ingredients that we see in the covert 19 scenario that may apply to Adventists at the end of time firstly we see that tragically we have a corrupt national media on all sides of the equation from whom truth has departed. But the corrupt national media pushes a national agenda whereby our civil liberties our constitutional rights now religious freedoms are indefinitely suspended during a state of emergency in and out of this doesn't happen in every state in the United States but if you keep your eyes open you'll realize that churches across America have been closed they've been banned and there is a very famous case just recently where a governor he said churches can open to 25 percent capacity and casinos to 50 percent capacity and so the entrepreneurial pastor promptly booked a room in a local casino and held the had the whole church meeting there at the casino was in fact fine flats I'm not sure why but the point is that governors in America and local cities and mayors have been attempting to close down religious liberty in America with familiar with the police going to things in most Henri to a church thing in a drive in it or in their cars with the windows up socially distance from each other and the police were saying this was caught on video your rights are suspended. And not that church was dispersed on the Sunday gathering we also see in America that social media now is the Giants are restricting in the platforming any voices that question the dominant narrative if you say something that does not meet the community guidelines of Facebook or You Tube or any other social media giant you will be the platform your voice will be cut off in America today we also see in America today that those who want to do dissent to the dominant narrative you are demonized online and in the media and in online mobs and they are ascribed the worst possible motives by national and local leaders we see in America today that join the coven pandemic that gatherings for worship and evangelism are banned in the alleged interest of public safety and deputies are sent by local mess they have been sent by local mayors at different locations in the last 5 months to find and arrest those who gathered for worship even as i minutes before in driving services we also see that in some states in America hotlines have been established in which Americans are being encouraged to report on their neighbors for failing to comply with the dominant narrative this is unthinkable even 5 months ago. My wife was raised in the Soviet Union if you know one thing about the Soviet Union you know that during the time of Joseph Stalin you could write an anonymous letter of denunciation to the k.g.b. about x.y.z. individual There was no trial that and there was a knock at the door at midnight and that person was taken off condemned as an enemy of the people and sent to deeper Siberia and because of the legal system and the Soviet Union off when your 10 years are over you could not come back to your family you have to stay in a penal colony outside the walls of the prison in America we've seen hotlines being established where you can snitch on your neighbors if they don't comply with the dominant narrative this is unthinkable in America we've also soon seen so called track and trace ups I don't have my phone with me now I have a teenage son I wish I had a track and trace Apple for him but we have these track and trace apps that have now been downloaded in a few interviews a Mac an iphone or a droid in the latest updates they've got the enabling software for track and trace out you don't have it yet the app on your phone but the enabling software is already in place and in Britain the government is rolling out track and trace up so that if you are defeat or diagnosed with Cove it they can look at your phone and see who is in close contact with you track and trace apps give the government unprecedented intrusion into your privacy we also see that smart tools such as Siri and Alexa Amazon's echo dots and Google's nest mini They used in millions of homeowners across America and they're very convenient I get not but they do have the ability to record every word that you speak and if you wonder are they listening to you when you think I'm a paranoid not case up here this morning I'm not paranoid but I do know this if I talk to my wife about 2 or 3 times tomorrow morning about I'm thinking of that we should get a new food processor. Within about 24 hours in your social media feed you will have adverts for food presses showing up in your feet in the houses that happen if the only person spoken about it to is your wife and you don't do a google search All right so we have these smart devices in our homes that have the ability to record every word you ever speak we see that in the krona virus that the full force of the admin should have stated a state level has been used to threaten the livelihoods of families we've seen the threats of children being removed from their homes the homes of business owners who refused to comply with a compliant with the dominant narrative this is been happening not in all the states but it has happened in a number of states that your children will be removed from you for failing to comply with the dominant narrative we've seen different states attorney generals have arbitrarily revoked business license and registration Zz denying individuals their ability to buy to sell to a bank or to make a living this has been happening even here in Michigan we have had some businesses had their licenses revoked for failing to comply with the dominant narrative we also see that international travel has been brought to a shuddering halt at the stroke of a pen and a net I've been strung to missions some of our missions are stuck overseas they can't get home for their fellows and some people who are preparing to launch they can't launch because there's no planes where they're supposed to be going it's all very well if your family lives in America what happens my mother in law lives in Russia which is thankfully is a long way away but in the crisis we I cannot get to see her and she cannot get to see me maybe a silver lining you might say but my parents they live in England and if my parents there in their seventy's my father was ill he want to go to hospital if he were to die I cannot get back for a funeral. And so families are separated and there is no knowledge of when you can be reunited with your loved ones we also see that during the crisis when it came upon us in much most us colleges and churches were ordered shut again in the interests of public safety now thankfully and by the grace of God Andrews is now opening we can gather heads together like this but that is not the case across the United States some universities are open some are closed some schools are open some are closed and I used to walk by p.m.c. in March and April horrified that all that life had just come to a close at the stroke of a pen not my own volition our big church is just standing empty we also see that in the public sphere truth has been declared dead in many cases it is now declared to be hate speech and spin driven from the public square this is what's been happening here in the covert $1006.00 perience it hasn't happened maliciously I believe as our governors have tried their level best to battle a pandemic but our governors have discovered executive in almost all for a Tarion powers to rule by the stroke of a pen without any input from the legislators effectively here in Michigan now we have a governor who rules by executive order and declares she can do it indefinitely as long as she declares that to be an emergency and the legislature that is our representatives have no say in what happens in Michigan right now so truth has been declared hate speech in much of America today if you try and preach about biblical principles of for instance marriage or human sexuality as I've experienced you'll receive a lot of feedback and some of that feedback is not something you want to share with your children. So what happens when it comes to the end time persecution we read in our scripture reading thank you set about God and freedom for us when that persecution comes our way what we've learnt is that it doesn't require Congress or the Supreme Court or the presidency to put this persecution these tools of persecution in place what we realize as we read Revelation is that we may face real persecution from the government without all these normal mechanisms being in place and all it requires is a political excuse to make it happen that's all it requires is a political excuse so what may happen to Adventists based on what we've seen in covert 30 covert 19 well we're going to see that our civil and religious liberties will be revoked we've discovered so far in coverts that your constitutional rights are hardly worth the paper they're written on our constitutional rights will be revoked the 1st Amendment to the freedom to worship God or not to worship God will effectively be rendered meaningless doesn't require an act of Congress we're likely to see the closing of all watch earch buildings our colleges our conference our unions our divisions supporting ministries all Adventists institutions may well be closed. We'll discover that evangelism will be particular to be hate speech it is already happening in some parts of the world the more secular but the proclamation of the Gospel the call to repentance is a repudiation of the doctrine of safe spaces on our college campuses the doctrine of safe spaces on college campuses means that nothing can be allowed to question or cause some discomfort your personal lived experience and so we create safe spaces on our college campuses and the call to repent is no longer welcome on many college campuses because that is a denial of your safe space and so evangelism preaching the everlasting gospel will eventually be declared to be hate speech because the call to repentance implies that your subjective lived experience is not valid the implication we will be defamed the platforms on social media and cancelled from public culture this is not happened in America yet but I see that some person members in his congregation here I know some of you come from former Eastern Europe and you know what it is like that Christians and Adventists were hot were persecuted they were locked away they closed the churches were closed down and sooner or later it's going to come our way and we will be the platforms on social media now voice taken away from us our bills he to buy sell bank and travel would be suspended probably for all time until Jesus comes again we've seen that happening right now over covert and one day those tools can be turned on God's people and we'll discover that your Ira your bank account your credit card will be worthless in the Final Crisis it will mean absolutely nothing. We may find that our savings I raise investment accounts will be frozen never to be used again will be unable to pay our mortgages or our rents thus will be forced from our homes not possessions will be gone bit by bit the world will take away the things that many of us hold very dear will be demonized across the political spectrum and in all media as Jesus himself told us you'll be hated by all men for my name's sake Mark 13 and verse 13 we also see that the way anticipating this is not a prophecy but this is based on what we see right now if you are on the streets and you don't comply with the dominant narrative what happened in Poland recent you can be shot down in the streets all mobs will attack you this isn't a political statement this is a statement of fact and the state bureaucrats drunk on the powers of emergency did directives can make all kinds of rulings against you and you have no way of appealing those track and trace apps on our phones will trace our every movement on our smart devices will record every word that we have or utter our children may indeed be forcibly removed by child protective services to be prepped placed within protective custody within the foster system you say oh that could never happen I served for 12 years in the former Soviet Union I met many devoted Adventists bobbish because by then they were Baba schools grandmas whose children were taken from them they were forcibly divorced by the k.g.b. precisely because they were Adventists I met one lady who hadn't seen her children for 45 years when the Soviet Union collapsed she tracks and downs the city of Rostov on Don It was a glorious reunion to see her children again I don't think that governments will not take the children of those who disagree with the government on religious grounds it's happened throughout the Soviet Union and one day it may happen in our shores the only thing that remains. As a political excuse for politicians to turn all these tools of oppression on God's faithful remnant and if you're kind of depressed about this well yeah I'm kind of depressed about it as well but the good news is Jesus is coming again and if you look at the statue of Daniel 2 we don't have time to look at it now the very When when when Daniel c. talks about the dream we focus on the interrupt ation of the head of gold in the chest noms of silver and so forth but the 1st thing that Daniel says about the Texas is I saw this dream and this this image in the dream and it's that the image was terrifying we miss we kind of scared so for the phrase Daniels says that the image is terrifying which means that all our 3 powers from Daniel to the coming of Jesus have a terrifying element to them no matter what we may say about our nations where we come from earthly Nations when push comes to shove have a terrifying element about them so how do we prepare for such persecution a strip treating talked about this the the final persecution of God's people ose who will not receive the mark of the beast in their had and their head around this or in their hands how do we prepare for this and that challenge we have is Adventists is the when we talk about the final persecution we tend to talk about timelines. We like to talk about some put on the screen there we tend to focus on the sequencing and the road map when it's a little time of trouble going to happen when is the closing of probation going to happen when is the ceiling of the saints when is the time of the end or the end of time you know if we have acronyms for these things in theological books we talk about the t. ot the time of the end and we talk about the o.t. the end of time and we differentiate between them based on on certain aspects of Daniel revelation and we love to sequence out what the plan final persecution is going to look like and you know I like going through with people Amelle whites book and time events is a powerful little book and it's a beautiful study guide to that I encourage you to go through it and that we love to analyze when is Jacob's time of trouble what is Jacob's time of trouble how do we know it's Jacob's time of trouble and so forth but these are the wrong questions because it's going to come anyway more important is are we ready for it there are 2 very commonly heard statements when it comes to persecution The 1st is our persecution will never happen here and the 2nd is but we never thought persecution would come here you hear this in many parts of the world our Don't be a naysayer persecution will never come to bear in springs or really well one day we're going to be saying we never thought that persecution would ever come to our shores how do we prepare for persecution will the apostle Paul says this and 2nd printings $13.00 through hall he says Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation who consoles us in our affliction. Paul is talking from the perspective of they persecuted church and he's talking to a church yet to experience persecution that's the context here then he says so that we that is the persecuted church may be able to console those who are any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God Paul is saying this that the Free Church needs to learn lessons from the persecuted church we don't just pray for those going to go through persecution is our spiritual responsibility to learn lessons about how do you go through persecution how do we respond as individuals and as a church family to the reality of persecution you see intellectually as Adventists we know we're going to fix parents' persecution but spiritually Are we ready for it and from a pastoral perspective as a pastor you want snow you prepared your congregation and your family for when you are gone we have an advantage transmissions you work in a country in Southeast Asia I won't say which country it is right now but we have a local leader she works for us and she's a very gifted lady and that church that that country has had significance and sustained persecution against Christians in general and Adventists in particular and back in the seventy's her father disappeared he was a local pastor he disappeared nobody knew where he was 8 years later he reappeared to where were you I was held in a prison cell without charge no communication to the family this happens if you spend time in China you'll realize that hundreds of thousands of Christians as we sit here are in labor camps for their faith this is very real brothers and sisters and so as we talk about persecution we need to think not only what's going to happen to me but if I go into jail or on taken away what happens to my family are they prepared can they survive without me to they have the spiritual roots the deep enough to withstand the storms of life. And so these are important questions for us to ask there are certain medical responses to persecution I want to go through those now with you these are responses that we find models within the Bible and they are they are physical they are given to us by God to provide us options for how we deal with persecution and the general principle persecution is given us by Jesus in Luke 6 he said but I say to you who listen love your enemies do good to those who hate you bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you perhaps the hardest teaching in the entire Bible is to love your enemies you can make a case that's perhaps the hardest teaching the Bible to love your enemies you can love your family you can forgive your family you want to forgive your family but your enemies those who want to destroy you those who want to tell your life apart this is perhaps the hardest teaching of Jesus but if we are to be his disciples today we cannot live our lives filled with anger and rage maybe the 2 dominant emotions in America stay off fear and rage and neither of those should characterize God's people when we see these things happening we are least lift our heads up high because I know they are damaged and draw nigh and we are not have rage against anybody or any political party anybody on the streets would have love for them because what we see in the anger on the streets our souls that have no hope and they're seeking for meaning and so they pour their lives into this is a more that idiology and so the overall the overarching principle rich responding to persecution is to love those who hurt you maybe the most that many examples in the Bible but think for a moment about the case of never you could never never you couldn't as a was by today's standards a monster in the ancient times when they conquered nations it was not a pretty sight. If you ever want to read ancient conquest was like 80 Jones wrote a 3 part history the General Conference kind of sense morphed into exile many years ago and he did a world tour and they can try to get him out of their hair for a bit and while on that world tour he wrote 3 books called one because empires of the Bible and in the 1st book was on the early Assyrian Empire which lost over a 1000 years then he talked about down the statue Daniel 2 and then he talked about ecclesiastical Empire was his 3rd book the brilliant books I encourage you to reach them I think they're published by teach so verses but in the 1st one he describes that the writings of the Syrian kings when they conquered a city they talk about holocausts they would burn all the people and make them run around the whole field or the whole with soy oil make them run around that whole insulator exhausted and push them in there be burnt alive there's what happened to Auschwitz it wasn't new it happened by the ancient Assyrians you read the writings of us Abana Pollan as a hard on the 3rd and so for these new Assyrian kings who lived in the time of the kings of Juda they were absolute monsters and that he could never himself in many ways followed in their tradition when he conquered Nineveh when he conquered in-car commission the north of Syria when he conquered all way down to Egypt those conquest were not pretty and yet how was never you couldn't as a brought to conversion in Daniel chapter one and if you can as a policy s. that means he believes in many Gods and he comes across suffering Hebrew boys Daniel Shadrach Meshach and Abednego they don't curse him they don't hate him they don't bring up they don't pray for God to bring that prosy upon this man they don't pray for scurvy to fall on him no they serve him in his court and Chapter one now because it is a more a policy ist in Chapter 2 Daniel answers the King's question about what the dream was and by the end of Daniel Chapter 2 Now you can as has moved as you see in his prayer from being a polytheist to a hen a theist which means he believes there are many gods but he recognizes the God of Israel as supreme above all other gods. Daniel Chapter 3 he sees 3 Hebrews in the final fiery furnace to once again he's confirmed the God of Israel supremum of all the other gods and finally Daniel for his has a dream about the tree and Daniel speaks to him and Daniel doesn't say to the king opening he said this this dream is that God is going to chop you down and good riddance and you deserve it because I've spent my life as a slave in your court he doesn't say that he appeals to the king to show mercy to the oppressed and he can as it does not lessen the ego has a 7 years of madness at the end of that chapter and then you can as the check says I lifted my eyes of the heavens and my reason returned to me and by the end of that chapter and then you can as is a monotheist he's gone from policy ism to henotheism to monotheism in 4 chapters and in each stage of that journey it was the oppressed to a gracious to him who helped him along that spiritual journey the spiritual path and so just see an example of maybe can as a great example that loving your enemies they may not be converted today but so sooner or later it works upon their hearts and we see that an example of Paul as he was persecuting people that was the Holy Spirit was preaching is hot but there are some other Biblical responses to persecution and one of them here is to flee we think well I'm not going to leave my home I'm not going to leave my job I'm not going to leave my loved ones for the reality that is in the world today there are hundreds of millions of displaced people for various reasons. And many of them are displaced for no fault of their own and we find in the Bible that an angel commanded Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt to protect the child. Christ from that the hands of the anger of Herod we also see that it's biblical to hide Rahab hid the 2 spies many modern day Christians are forced to hide in times of persecution many years ago back in about 9697 I was in Tajikistan there was a civil war the communist government against Japanese from Afghanistan one of those jihadi leaders decided that he was going to up his political profile in the country and the best way to do that was to kill a Westerner at the time there about maybe 100 Westerners in that country nobody wanted to go to attach it to stan it was a pretty vicious vicious civil war so these you had these are coming to the offices of aid agencies trying to find them to kill them so what did I do that I stay in my office No I was a young man I was 23 I didn't want to die and so I hid and an old Adventist man who lives in an old Russian apartment block one room apartment I think some motion of didn't somebody lives and so you know what I'm talking about this is a very small fact it's so small that the top when you go to the toilet which is of the main living room you open the door you sit on the toilet and the front of the toilet is flush with the door we know that means don't you you sit down in the toilet the door is wide open for everybody to see in a one room apartment there's no privacy for 3 months I stayed with a dear old man while they came to my office that you had these couple times where the guy who lives works here we don't know where he isn't true they didn't know where I was but for 3 months I had to hide out waiting until one day the government announced at this jihadi had been killed and everybody could come out of hiding again it is Biblical to hide it is not a shameful thing sometimes you have no option but other times so we can remain in the world as assaults on the lights of the Worlds. If you open your Bibles so the Beatitudes Matthew chapter 5 most of us have Bibles that have paragraph divisions most of us we don't use Bibles just have solid text and Matthew chapter 5 my Bible has the Beatitudes here and then there's a paragraph break and then it says salt and light that your Bibles say the same as anybody out there can see yesterday but we have the best use of Matthew 5 and then you come to the end of the 1st 12 the end of the attitudes and then there's a paragraph break Does anybody have that Yes and what comes after that after the Beatitudes What's the 1st thing Jesus talks about after the last beatitude is about Blessed are you when people persecute you on my account now take out the paragraph break and the next thing Jesus says is you are the salt of the earth and you are the lights of the world the paragraph break breaks up the stream of Jesus' teaching we lose the emphasis and the point is this that if you have a candle if we light a candle here now and it sits here nobody really sees that light you know that it's there but you don't see it because there's so much light around but when the darkness of persecution descends or midnight comes this century and that candle is still shining there that candle that didn't seem to give out much light at midday everybody can see it in the room at midnight and so the teaching of Jesus that you are the lights of the earth the lights of the world and the salt of the earth make sense in the context of persecution just bearing the name of Christ in times of persecution is a massive witness I was baptized in the rain Ians and I said to them why why do you want to be baptized because when you go back to Iran in the next 24 hours or so you will face persecution they said We know that but we want to bear the name of Christ just bearing the name of Christ will incur the wrath of the government to come down upon us but we want to bear the name of Christ. We were firm in a nonviolent response to cycles of Jesus we place our pain in our desire vengeance which is real at times in the hands of God who knows everything and who will one day execute perfect justice if you're not following the persecution around the world and vital to open your eyes to this reality as an example Nigeria on a weekly basis maybe a couple 100 Christians are burned some hacked to death by the jihad is coming down from the north this is not politically correct to say it but it's true those Christians are those villages are razed to the ground by certain tribal groups and they're destroyed because they are Christians there is a cry to God for for justice sometimes we are called to lay down one's life this is indeed a legitimate response to persecution and the God promised a Special crown is reserved for those who lay down their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ we are also able and corn to the Bible's exercise our legal rights the apostle Paul was willing repeatedly to use his legal rights as a Roman citizen to defend himself when he was captured by the mob in Jerusalem in Acts 20 and the Roman soldiers rescued him and they took him inside but saw him and they were going to scourge him he said to them is it lawful to to ask o.j. Roman citizens out 1st being condemned and all the soldiers pulled back from him because it was illegal to to imprison a Roman citizen and to tie him up unless he was 1st condemned and so it is really it is Biblical to usual legal rights to defend yourself a bigger response to persecution is we should not be surprised. The apostle Peter explicitly counsels disciples to not be surprised when facing persecution and when when we need disciples of Jesus in parts of Asia or Africa one of the most important lessons we have to teach them is this if you follow Jesus you will face persecution it is not a theoretical possibility this is a reality in many parts of the world today so we should not be surprised as American Adventists when persecution comes our way rather we are commanded in Scripture to rejoice we are commanded to rejoice in the good times and in the bad times and this not kind of Haha happiness is the deepest surance that in the midst of your pain Jesus is with you he walked with the Hebrews through the fiery furnace before they were delivered from the fiery furnace we ought to pray with thankfulness as the Apostle Paul commands us in the lecture Philippians written from prison in Rome we are to pray in all situations and this includes praying for our fellow sufferers and also for persecutors Ecclesiastes chapter 4 and says that Solomon says I saw there was much suffering in the world he said in the 1st couple of verses he said those who are facing our oppression have nobody to comfort them and we see a man true and then Solomon says and those who are oppressed those who are oppressing others they have no one to to comfort them as well the God sees both sides of the a coin and often those who oppress are driven by fear of what the oppressed would do to them were the circumstances to be reversed just look at the Arab Israeli conflict the Israelis are hard on the Palestinians on the West Bank but they know that if the Palestinians have the upper have the upper hand and there's a thirst to slit the throat of every Jew in Israel today so a lot of this is driven by fear people are afraid we are to refuse to be ashamed it is a privilege to bear the name of Christ and when you bear the name of Christ your witness goes a long way. And in a country many years ago a country of Azerbaijan I used to visit the prime minister every month we prayed together he was a communist and I got access to him because I was one of 3 Christians in that republic at the time 3 Christians and he wanted to know what is a Christian because I've spent my life imprisoning them now I get a chance to meet one face to face and so we should not be ashamed of being Christians and we should not be ashamed of following Jesus and his sufferings and never forgetting that we are being persecuted not because of who we are but because this world has rejected Jesus Christ by and watch we trust in God's abiding presence nothing can did can separate us from the love of God and God will never allow persecution to become unbearable on a personal level we see that in 1st Corinthians 10 and verse 13 then so what do we these are physical responses to persecution and they are they're all they're all found in the Scriptures how do we respond as Adventists So how we responded historically well in the coven line 1000 lockdown we've all responded in different ways would you agree some people wear masks to church some people don't I know some people haven't left their home since much that food is delivered to them everything they buy is delivered to them they are terrified of leaving their homes and some of them that their immune systems are compromised they have good reason to be afraid other people say add the whole thing is a fake or it's a political conspiracy and you have the whole spectrum of views within the Adventist church it's a reality that we have not responded to this persecution with any sense of unity historically Adventists have never responded to persecution with unity in World War One the Kaiser wanted to conscript the young men of Germany and the Adventist church down the middle over the question of should all young men serve in the Kaiser Wilhelm zombies. And out of that split we have the reformed Adventist church today and the split is still present they have their own general conference they should learn some school lessons if you pick up one of their summer school quarterlies and read it through you think oh this is this quarter stop us all courtrooms we look at who's publishing it think oh no this is the reformed Adventist Church where did they come from we split in Germany in 1917 and that church has never recovered all the way through communism Adventist split the question was do you send your children to school on the Sabbath the official Adventists send their kids to school the Sabbath their kids completed their education the Adventists who would send that shields kids to school and Sabbath became the underground Adventists all across parts of the Soviet Union and their children could not complete their education when communism collapsed which side of the church provided leaders for the Adventist Church the official church because that could finish their educations and that gets an assist 11 some parts of the former Soviet Union Adventists do not respond with unity to persecution and I want to suggesting today that in the end time persecution we will probably fracture along multiple lines as well just as we have all responded differently to the covert 19 pandemic that we are still unsure in today some are going to excuse it and even justify the persecution of the troubles of Israel others are going to accommodate for the persecution of the Adventists will reject it and hunker down and simply wait for the 2nd coming nothing in our history indicates that we will have a unified response to persecution if you don't believe me you don't know your Adventists history coven 1000 brothers and sisters is a wake up call there is much for us to be thinking about on this type of day are we uniting in prayer. Are we putting down roots in the Word of God Do we know our scriptures are we treasure in the scriptures in our hearts for one day when we no longer physically have a copy of the Bible in front of us are we sowing the seed of the Word of God while we have the freedom to do so and while our liberty is lost are we building kingdoms and empires on Earth or are we serving the kingdom of God are we laying up treasures on earth or are we laying up treasures in heaven above is anything in this earth overriding our fidelity to have any father and maybe more importantly is our message clear to our dying world if we are living in a world that is increasingly rejecting the moral foundations of scripture as Adventists we traditionally champion the separation of church and state but what is happening in America is much more fundamental we are seeing the separation of Jesus Christ from America is a much more fundamental challenge we're now facing America is not we're not talking question of separation of church and state it's God from America as increasingly secular elites are imposing a secular utopia upon us and is our message clear in a nation that is increasingly rejecting the moral foundation of scripture I want to challenge us today to recommit to tick through proclaiming a certain message with a loud and clear voice there is no other foundation Let's go back here there's no a foundation for the Body of Christ in Christ alone there is no other gospel in the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is no other way to God than through Jesus Christ there is no other mediator between God and humanity than Jesus Christ there is no weather being worthy of our worship than our creator God and I have any father there was no was a day that's going to replace the Sabbath as a day of worship there is nowhere the hope than the blessid hope there is no other name by which you humanity may be saved is this what people know about us. If people would look at our Facebook feeds would they hear a message of hope or they have a lot of you know the nonsense that goes on on Facebook these days and I think I've been to social media and I don't want anybody who's thinking about becoming an Adventist to read some of those message boards frankly speaking that brutal absolutely savage What message are we giving to the world are we giving a message that Jesus is coming again and His Kingdom is a kingdom of justice and righteousness and making them is based on the principle sacrificial love and we are called to love each other a model of principles as Kingdom today or do they see that we are as divided as the world around us I want to challenge us today the Jew did the Judeo Christian foundations of America of foster roading the sexier elites are seeking to impose a brave new secular would be utopia and we are seeing as inevitable result social and political moral chaos within our nation I've only been in America for 13 years and I've seen America change a lot in those 13 years those of you been here longer than me you can say that America is very different to the fifty's or the sixty's of the seventy's we're almost at the edge of a precipice as a nation in Starlin's prison camps when you enter the camp the gods would often allow you one personal item one personal item it could be a pencil it could be a comb something personal a picture of your wife maybe Now why do they do that because they knew that if you're going to be a prisoner for 10 years in that camp they could guarantee your full compliance through the threat of taking that one personal possession from you that's all it took to get by human compliance a pencil a comb a picture of your wife the human heart can be captured by one measly thing that's ask ourselves today. Are our hearts captivated by the ways of this world. Is there something in our hearts today that holds us away from the kingdom of God is there something in my life today that actually comes between main Jesus Christ and not give up anything except that one thing as a prayer when to put upon the board here but my Power Points go on this day a father I confessed today that false gods have infiltrated my heart my heart like Lot's wife is captive to this world please Heavenly Father today during the Sabbath ows remove those false gods from me today take away their hold on my heart I may my whole being be captive to you and your word alone Amen made up be our experience today Jesus is coming again he will have a people ready and waiting for him and when he comes there's a promise of eternal life is not a code or a picture or a pencil. Meet our whole lives Jesus Christ. 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