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THE PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS
– A SIGN OF THE END!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, October 5, 2008

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).


“Saturday Night Live” and other media programs have attacked Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin repeatedly for her outspoken evangelical Christian beliefs. I am not endorsing her. I am merely stating the facts. Both candidates for Vice President have admirable qualities, and each person will have to make their own decision who to vote for in November. But I can’t imagine any candidate being criticized so heavily for their religious beliefs prior to this election. It seems to me that this could be a partial reflection of Christ’s prediction,

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).

Today there seems to be a growing world-wide resentment against Christianity and Judaism. And I believe this is one of the signs that the end of this age and the Second Coming of Christ are near. The Disciples had asked Christ,

“What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).

Jesus gave them not one, but many signs that would characterize the end of this age.

One of the prominent signs He gave was persecution and discrimination against those who follow Him.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24:9-10).

Please turn to Luke 21:16-17. Let us stand and read these two verses aloud.

“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:16-17).

You may be seated. We are now entering an era of unprecedented religious persecution – against Christians and Jews, in particular. Jesus said that this is a sign that the world will come to an end very soon, and that Christ will come to set up His Kingdom.

The Los Angeles Daily News featured a quarter-page news story from Associated Press titled “Discrimination Persists.” I am going to read you several paragraphs from that news story.

      Washington – A number of Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, show little tolerance for religions not sanctioned by the government [especially Christians and Jews], a State Department study said Thursday.
       The study also said…Belgium, France and Germany stigmatize certain religions. A department official also expressed concern over a [new] French law that would ban the use of…yarmulkes and [crosses] in public schools [in France].
       The report covered the status of international religious freedom worldwide. It said the Chinese government permitted free religious expression only to organizations approved by the [Communist] authorities.
       “Members of some unregistered [Christian] religious groups were subjected to restrictions, leading…to intimidation, harassment and detentions [in jails and prisons],” the report said. [Remember this report did not come from a Christian organization. It was put out by the U. S. State Department recently].
       Overall, the study found religious oppression to be widespread.
       [The report said] “Much of the world’s population lives in countries in which the right of religious freedom is restricted or prohibited,” the report said. “Millions of persons live in totalitarian or authoritarian regimes determined to control religious beliefs and practices.”
       In Saudi Arabia, the report said, “Freedom of religion does not exist.” Non-Muslim worshippers, it said, risked “arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation, and…physical abuse.”
       Religious minorities also suffer in Pakistan, the report said, asserting that the government tolerates “societal forces hostile to those who practice a different faith [than Islam].”
       Meanwhile…Jews, Christians [among others] suffered varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, including intimidation, harassment and imprisonment, the study said.
       In North Korea, the report found reports of executions, torture and imprisonment of religious persons. And in Cuba, it found surveillance, infiltration and harassment of religious groups are common.
       Belgium, France and Germany were said to discredit certain religions.
       [For instance] In Belgium, the Helsinki Federation of Human Rights asserted that the country had not taken any effective measures to [stop] the hostility of discrimination suffered by groups depicted as “sects” [including Protestant evangelistic churches].
       The Council of Europe has invited France to reconsider a law which tightens restrictions on [Protestant churches] and provides for the dissolution of [church] groups under certain conditions (Associated Press story, Los Angeles Daily News, Saturday, December 20, 2003, p. 16).

The intense discrimination against Christians and Jews around the world is an astonishing fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy,

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).

“Afflicted,” often killed, “hated of all nations” – that is Jesus’ prediction for believers at the end of this age.

But I don’t see them persecuting people who just say they are Christians! Oh, no! They persecute good Christians who come to church every Sunday no matter what comes up. They persecute those who refuse to miss church to study for an exam, who budget their study time and don’t miss church on Sunday. In other words, they persecute only good Christians. And that’s part of the cost of discipleship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book titled, “The Cost of Discipleship.” The Nazis put him in prison and executed him for his faith. Bonhoeffer said that you have to give up something to be a real Christian. You have to be in church. You have to sacrifice that time. There is no other way to become a good Christian! I pray that you’ll take the narrow road, the lesser traveled path, and begin to live as a Christian.

Discrimination and persecution against Bible-believing Christians and Jews is also taking place at an unprecedented rate in the United States and other English speaking countries. The Ten Commandments have been taken away from federal buildings and courthouses. Prayer has been banned in our schools. Fifty-one million children have been slaughtered by abortionists in America. Young people in secular colleges are bombarded by constant attacks on Christ and the Bible. Serious Christians are often singled out for ridicule from their relations and co-workers. Christians who won’t work during the traditional hour of Christian worship on Sunday are often passed by when it comes time for a promotion. Many are not hired in the first place, or they are fired under a pretext. I have seen this happen repeatedly to many people in the last few years.

The increasing pressure of secularization makes it very difficult to live the Christian life in America and other parts of the Western world. Persecution and discrimination against Christians is growing in our culture, and throughout the world, and it is one of the signs Jesus gave that we are approaching the end of history as we know it.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).

The hatred we see expressed toward believers throughout the world today should teach us three important lessons.

I. First, hatred toward Christians shows that there is a Devil.

Yes, I do believe in the Devil. I do believe in demons. The Bible says that these malignant spirits are real. And the Bible says that they are our true spiritual enemies. The Bible says,

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

This verse tells us that we are in constant spiritual combat with the Devil, and with various classes of demonic forces. I believe in demons and Satan because the Bible teaches that they are our enemies.

But, secondly, I believe in these evil beings because we see so much evidence of them attacking Christ and His followers today. The Bible says,

“The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12).

The Devil knows that he only has a short time left to attack the work of God. He knows, better than we do, that his days are numbered, and that he hasn’t got much time left. As a result, he hurls his furious anger at Christians in many parts of the world.

“Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake”
      (Matthew 24:9).

The Devil is attacking Christianity throughout the world, as never before in history. The horrible persecution of Christians in many parts of the world shows that there is indeed a Devil. The discrimination true Christians often experience in school, at home, and in the workplace are proof-positive that we have a spiritual enemy – and his name is Satan.

One of the ways Satan attacks people is by brainwashing them. Jesus said,

“Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).

When you hear a sermon like this, there is a feeling in your conscience that tells you the Bible is right, and that you should seek to enter into conversion by the strait gate, and be converted in Christ Jesus. That’s God’s Spirit speaking to you. But there is another feeling in your heart. The second feeling comes from Satan. He tries to pluck the Gospel preaching you have heard “out of” your heart, to prevent you from believing and being saved. The Devil will put all kinds of thoughts in your mind, thoughts full of temptation and unbelief – as he attempts to take your mind off of what you heard in the sermon, as he attempts to keep you from coming back to the church. That’s what happened to the Disciple Judas. The Bible says,

“Then entered Satan into Judas…being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them”
      (Luke 22:3-4).

Satan will do the same thing to you. He will attempt to get you to betray Christ and continue in sin. He will do all in his infernal power to keep you from coming back here to church and being truly converted.

“The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12).

Yes, hatred toward Christians shows clearly that there is a real Devil – and that he will do everything he can to keep you from Christ and from coming back to church. That’s the first reason that Jesus told us,

“Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake”
      (Matthew 24:9).

II. Second, hatred toward Christians shows that mankind is depraved.

Did you ever wonder why a clean and good man like President Reagan is often held up to ridicule and hatred, even today, while an old reprobate, who was responsible for a young girl being drowned, like Senator Kennedy, goes on year after year with the applause and praise of the secularist press? The answer is simple. Jesus said,

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world…therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

After the Roman governor arrested Jesus, the governor offered to release a prisoner, which was the custom at the time of the Passover.

“Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:17).

“They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22).

“Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified”
      (Matthew 27:26).

They desired that the murderer be released, and they said that the Son of God should be crucified (Matthew 27:17). They wanted the murderer Barabbas to be set free. They wanted the Son of God to be crucified.

The Apostle Peter said,

“Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses”
      (Acts 3:14-15).

That sort of love for the wicked, and hatred of Christians, goes right on today. Killers like O. J. Simpson and Senator Kennedy go free, while good Christians like Governor Sarah Palin and Bob Jones III are hated by the secular media. Nothing has changed.

Mankind’s unconverted heart is twisted and perverted. The Bible says,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”
      (Jeremiah 17:9).

The heart of unconverted men and women is so depraved that they love the wicked and hate the Christians! Nothing proves the lost, ruined and depraved nature of the human race more clearly than this – they love the wicked and hate the Christians.

When you decide to become a Christian, remember that the Devil and all his demons will be against you. The depraved natures of relatives and friends will also be against you. If they preferred a murderer to the Son of God, don’t think they will act any differently toward you!

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world…therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).

Mankind in general is so sinful, and ruined, depraved, and in rebellion against God, that

“Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake”
      (Matthew 24:9).

III. Third, hatred toward Christians shows how important the Bible is.

The Associated Press news story I just read shows that there is a growing sentiment against true Christianity throughout the world. A. M. Rosenthal was a good man. Writing in the New York Times, Rosenthal said, “One of the shocking untold stories of our time is that more Christians have died in this century simply for being Christians than in any century since Christ was born.” And yet Dr. Paul Marshall points out that

Despite persecution, Christianity is growing rapidly in the world…undergoing its largest expansion in history (Paul Marshall, Ph.D., Their Blood Cries Out, Word, 1997, p. 8).

Writing in the third century, Cyprian said, “We are actually multiplied and increased by afflictions.” In the fourth century, Jerome said, “Persecutions have made the church of Christ grow.” In the second century, Tertullian said, “The more often we are mown down by you, the more our numbers grow. The blood of Christians is seed.” Tertullian pointed out that those who persecute Christians are made to think about what we believe and “Who, after inquiry, does not embrace our doctrine?”

In China, many of the Communist leaders themselves are becoming Christians. And the Protestant reformer Martin Luther said,

We should not fear harsh treatment…nor should we fear the wisdom of the world, for it can do us no harm. In fact, the more the wisdom of the world rises up against the truth, the purer and clearer the truth becomes…If the devil were wise enough to be silent and let the Gospel be preached, he would sustain less harm. For when the Gospel is not attacked, it rusts and has no opportunity to reveal its power…The more they rave, the more they harm themselves and help us!

When Christians endure discrimination and persecution, it makes unconverted people realize how important Christ really is! C. S. Lewis said, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.”

When people see that they cannot turn you away from Christ, or stop you from coming to church, then they may take the message of Christ seriously! Then they may see how important Christ is!

Please turn to Acts, chapter four, verses one through four. Let us stand and read these four verses aloud.

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold [in jail] unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand”
      (Acts 4:1-4).

You may be seated.

Five thousand men became Christians when they heard the Gospel, and saw that the Apostles were willing to go to prison for Christ.

You have heard about Christians all over the world who are suffering for their faith. Will their courageous example cause you to come to Christ and be converted? John the Baptist said,

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Look to Christ! He died on the Cross to pay for your sin! Look to Christ! He rose from the dead to give you life! Look to Christ! He ascended back to Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, praying for you! Look to Christ! He will save you from the penalty of your sins!

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 24:3-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Faith of Our Fathers” (by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS
– A SIGN OF THE END!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).

(Matthew 24:3, 9-10; Luke 21:16-17)

I.   First, hatred toward Christians shows that there is a Devil,
Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:12; Luke 8:12; 22:3-4.

II.  Second, hatred toward Christians shows that mankind is
depraved, John 15:19; Matthew 27:17, 22, 26;
Acts 3:14-15; Jeremiah 17:9.

III. Third, hatred toward Christians shows how important the
Bible is, Acts 4:1-4; John 1:29.