Sunday, November 2, 2014

Would I deny Jesus if faced with death?

Do I want to be a martyr? No. Honestly, the life that I dream of living is one that includes growing old with my husband, watching my children and grandchildren grow up, and dying in my sleep. Essentially, isn't that what every human being dreams? BUT, that's not the end God has in mind for all those who believe in Him. I'm not saying it'll be my end, but with stories like this (warning, it is graphic) all over the news or the countless stories that VOM shares, Christians must face the reality that they may be asked to deny the name of Jesus Christ and endure the consequences regardless. We must then be able to answer the all important question, Will I be able to stand firm in my faith even if I face death because of it? 

Reading stories like that has forced me to put myself in these situations and honestly ask myself, if I was facing a beheading, what would I say? 

I really, really believe that we cannot ignore what's happening around the world. There's three specific reasons why:
  1. Reading these stories comes a testing of one's faith. Do I really believe that Jesus lived, died, was buried and rose again? Do I believe what Scripture teaches about Him? And if I do, would I be willing to die for those beliefs? 
  2. Extremists like ISIS are desperately trying to invade American soil and have threatened our livelihood on numerous occasions. We cannot be so wrapped up in pride and arrogance by stating or thinking that will never happen to us. Scripture has proven over and over and over again that God has a way of humbling the mighty and making the lowly victorious.
  3. As Christians we are called to live in unity with Christ. If we are united in Christ we must stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Only together can we stand firm "... against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12) In the book of Ephesians Paul is telling the saints in Ephesus to understand the mystery of Christ which is that, "... the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (3:6) We are called to walk in a worthy manner (4:1), not to walk as the Gentiles do (4:17), to walk in love (5:2), to walk as children of light (5:8), and to walk in wisdom (5:15) together, so that together, we stand firm as one (4:4) against the schemes of ISIS, Buddhist monks, corrupt governments, Boko Haram, or anyone killing, kidnapping, incarcerating, or persecuting those of Christian faith. Although we are half a world away, American Christians especially have the freedom and the means to support these martyrs through prayer, financial support, or otherwise. Pray. Support. Contribute to their needs. Help them stand firm even if they're facing a beheading.  
By praying for these individuals or by sending an action pack or by sharing their stories here, my faith is constantly renewed and rejuvenated. I find encouragement in their faith and as a result can truly live in a state of thankfulness for the freedom to read my Bible every day, go to church without fear, talk about what I believe, and teach God's Word freely. By doing those things I may be risking much in this life and gaining so much more in eternity. I earnestly hope and pray that if faced with the demand to deny Christ or lose my life, that I'd stand firm in my faith. And I know the only way I can truly be encouraged in that statement is through unity with my fellow believers, being fervent in prayer, and constant time in Scripture: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4) 

Quite frankly, writing that means I'm basically saying it out loud, and it does scare me. But if I can't say that I'm willing to risk everything for the sake of the gospel, then in reality it really means nothing to me. So would I deny Jesus if faced with death? I earnestly pray that God give me strength and remembrance of the hope found in Scripture through the grace found in Jesus Christ alone if that day ever comes. I cannot do it alone. I need HIM. I need you. I need prayer. I need Scripture. And so do others. 

If you want to read what I've shared about the persecuted church over the last 2 years follow these links (and I highly encourage you to participate where you can):
Here's an excellent sermon by John MacArthur called "Hated Without a Cause" (Part 1 and Part 2) that will help you understand (according to Scripture) why a persecuted church exists.

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