Our primary mission with this website is to draw the unsaved to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to obtain everlasting salvation. One of the ways we do this is to point visitors to the many descriptions of the “end times” in the Bible and particularly the “birth-pangs” preceding Jesus’ second coming – we believe “end time” events are imminent and as Christian’s, we are instructed to be watching the signs so that we are not caught off-guard! One of the most powerful ways to authenticate the Bible is its amazing track record of precisely laying out events before they happen – this can only be possible through a Creator God who exists outside of time and uses prophecy in order to draw us to Him!
Whilst it is heart-rending to hear of the despicable acts taking place in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State (ISIS) group, there are also subtle clues that we are indeed in the end times. When we read accounts of what is happening in Mosul we are simply left in shock and disbelief. We simply cannot imagine the terror these Christian’s (and many others) are experiencing in the Middle East as they are used as a blood sacrifice to Allah. Words cannot describe the incredible courage and faith of these dear brothers and sisters in remaining faithful to the Lord Jesus knowing their heads will be removed (including those of their children) on account of their faith.
The only way we can be vaguely positive when we read accounts such as this report by the gospel herald is to rest in the knowledge that the Bible promises special blessings to those who are martyred for their faith. The verse that leaps out to us when we read accounts like these is:
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4, emphasis added)
Whilst we believe this verse specifically refers to the Great Tribulation, isn’t it amazing the Bible anticipates the execution method of Christian’s some 2000 years ago?! The fact that this is happening right now is a good reason to be confident of the soon fulfilment of this passage. It is no accident that this execution method is often adopted for Christian’s – this grizzly practice has been used in the past and as the “times of the Gentiles” draws to a close, we know the opponents of the gospel will continue to massacre Christian’s in the same way.
The are many other references in Revelation to Christian martyrdom such as:
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9-11)
This can be of comfort to the relatives and friends left behind -a special reward described as the “Crown of Life” is promised to those who endure persecution and suffering unto death – read these encouraging words:
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10, emphasis added)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12, emphasis added)
We find ourselves deeply disturbed by the surge of persecution that afflicting many Christian communities across the world and particularly in the Middle East. We do not feel it will be too long before more overt persecution will affect Christian’s of Western nations such as the UK. Jesus warned us that this would the be case and in many ways, the Church in the UK needs this – Western mainstream Christianity needs to be severely shaken out of its slumber. When persecution arrives at our door, the many true followers of Jesus Christ will be revealed and this will be the time to display strength and courage and to trust in the faithful promises of our Lord Jesus:
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
It is crystal clear throughout the New Testament that following the Lord Jesus will be costly and persecution should be expected. We must pray for our dear brothers and sisters who are suffering such extreme persecution under ISIS and pray that through their witness, the perpetrators of this evil will see the light of the gospel shining through this carnage, drawing them to Christ. We must also pray that if/when we are subjected to the persecution we will be faithful witnesses, and before then, that we train ourselves in the faith so that we can be strong if our faith is ever tested in such extreme circumstances.
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13)