By Brannon S. Howse
Like our Christian brothers and sisters in many nations over many thousands of years, we are not immune to persecution. Indeed, it is likely to increase worldwide. Yet I take encouragement from these Scriptures, and I pray you do, too:
2 Corinthians 4:8-9—We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18—Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Philippians 1:12, 20-21—But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…. [A]ccording to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
In his book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Francis Schaeffer warned:
[quote] Something has happened in the last sixty years [1920 to 1980s]. The freedom that once was founded on a Biblical consensus and a Christian ethos has now become autonomous freedom, cut loose from all constraints. Here we have the world spirit of our age—autonomous man setting himself up as God, in defiance of the knowledge and the moral and spiritual truth which God has given. Here is the reason why we have a moral breakdown in every area of life. The titanic freedoms which we once enjoyed have been cut loose from their Christian restraints and are becoming a force of destruction leading to chaos. And when this happens, there really are very few alternatives. All morality becomes relative, law becomes arbitrary, and society moves toward disintegration. In personal and social life, compassion is swallowed up by self-interest…when the memory of the Christian consensus which gave us freedom within the Biblical form is increasingly forgotten, a manipulating authoritarianism will tend to fill the vacuum. At this point the words “right” and “left” will make little difference. They are only two roads to the same end; the results are the same. An elite, an authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go into chaos and most people would accept it. [end quote]
An elite authoritarianism is taking over—the coming religious Reich—and enemy number one will be true, biblical Christians. It will make for a challenging altar call: “Come to Christ and be persecuted.” Today’s false Christianity of Joel Osteen and others who declare that Jesus will give you your best life now is a lie. The real message should be: “Come to Christ to flee the coming wrath of God, and then you will have your best life in glory.” Speaking of persecution, though, inhibits the building of mega-churches filled with goats that enable the hireling to sell millions in books and rake in millions in offerings.
Facing the reality of persecution for true believers brings me to the most important message I want to convey in this entire book: The Gospel alone is our eternal hope. Only because of the Gospel is Jesus Christ our Great Hope. Only because of the Gospel that are we assured the suffering of this present time is not worthy to compare to the glory that shall be revealed (Romans 8:18). Only the glorious Gospel and its assurance of eternal life with the King of kings and Lord of lords relieves the burden that the world is marching toward the religious Reich. Only the Gospel gives comfort, meaning, a future, and a purpose for living, for writing, for broadcasting, for teaching, for ministering, for loving others. Only the Gospel matters in the end.
Ultimately, it does not matter what happens to America or any other nation. It does not matter what happens to our economy. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26). Only the Gospel!
It is precisely because so many self-professing Christians are actually false converts who do not know the real Gospel that they have been captured by the lies of the religious Trojan horse, influenced by the grave influence of radicals, and will march in lockstep with the coming religious Reich.
In books, from the Worldview Weekend platform, and in various articles, I’ve sounded the alarm about the sorry state of the worldview of many evangelical Christians. Numerous studies—perhaps the most stunning of which was done by the Southern Baptist Church of its own youth—reveal that the lifestyles, values, and the resulting worldview of most who attend “evangelical churches” are no different from the world and that a large majority of students leave the Church after graduating from high school, never to return.
While these studies reveal the problem, they don’t explain what has caused it, but I believe I know. The root is that our churches are filled with false coverts. And it’s a problem I identify with all too readily because, despite being raised in a Christian home, taught in a Christian school, and a member of a Bible-believing church, I was a false convert myself into my adult years. And the scary part is that it’s not all that hard to do! I played the Christian “game” (even though I didn’t know I was playing a game). I thought I was saved because I believed in Jesus Christ, had prayed the “sinner’s prayer,” had walked the aisle, and had been baptized. I was “sorry” for my sins, but it was not the kind of sorrow that produced repentance unto salvation. My wake-up call came when I read the book of 1 John and recognized ten clear signs of a true convert but saw very few of those signs manifested in my own life. After searching the Scriptures further, I discovered the source of my dysfunctional attempt at Christianity in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10:
"Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death."
True repentance was missing from my heart and, hence, my life! “Godly sorrow” causes a person to turn and go in the opposite direction of a willfully sinful life. True repentance leads to a change in a person’s life, priorities, and desires, and it produces God-honoring fruit.
Many people say they believe in Jesus, but this does not make them saved. Recall that the Bible says demons believe in Jesus (James 2:19), but so what? It’s not a saving belief.
Too often people say they are saved because they are sorry for the bad things they do, but they continue to willfully practice sin (can you say, “Sunday Christian”?). Yet the 2 Corinthians passage makes clear that worldly sorrow leads to death while godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.
What really caught my attention and caused me to realize I was not a good person, that I was totally depraved and deserved hell, was when I encountered the biblical teaching and doctrine of the moral law—the Ten Commandments. I realized then that only a godly sorrow leading to repentance and salvation would suffice. The moral law revealed my true condition: extreme sinfulness and depravity.
Sadly, repentance is not a Christian doctrine we hear often enough (many churches never teach it), and as a result, the Church is filled with false converts. This dire reality should concern all of us because Scripture is forthright about how important this is:
• The word “repent” and its various forms is used over 100 times in the Bible.
• John the Baptist preached in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is
at hand!” (Matthew 3:2).
• Jesus preached this same message of repentance. Mark 1:14, 15 says, “Now after
John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.’”
• In Mark 6, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples two by two. Verse 12 states, “So they
went out and preached that people should repent.”
Every day, 150,000 people step off into eternity, and a frightening percentage of them fall into eternal judgment. Many who wind up under judgment will likely be shocked when they realize their situation. Many will have thought they lived a good life as defined by today’s standards. They went to church, perhaps even walked the aisle and got baptized. Some even taught Sunday school. But Jesus warned this would happen:
[quote] Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” [end quote] (Matthew 7:21-23)
I thank God someone once spoke doctrine into my life and revealed the true condition of my heart and mind that allowed me to understand I was a false convert. I pray that this presentation of the biblical Gospel will either confirm your salvation or reveal to you the need to repent and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Copyright 2015 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.