“Clinging to the One Who Is Faithful”
A member of HOPE has a copy of The Voice of the Martyrs sent to me monthly. Each month I read story after story of persecuted Christians around the world, about their faith in the midst of crisis, terrorist attacks, radicals killing family and friends because they are Christians, as well as their perseverance and strong faith, enough at times, to even forgive their attackers. This month’s edition was no different. The headline on the front for October 2019 was titled: “Nigeria - Christ in the Crisis”.
When I read about these accounts of strong faith in the midst of crisis, in the midst of poverty, in the midst of heartache and disease, in the midst of persecution only because you are a Christian, I cry and marvel at the same time. I cry for my brothers and sisters in the faith and at the same time marvel at how they remain strong and faithful in the midst of trials. God’s Holy Word tells us trials, persecutions, tribulation will come to the believer. Here are but a few verses:
Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2 Corinthians 12:10
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Thessalonians 1:4
…therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.
2 Timothy 3:11
…persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!
Who will separate us from the love of [m]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
So I read these verses and grasp the fact that in this world you and I will face hardship, persecution, sickness, trials, etc, but the message is to hold on to our faith, for Christ is with you. He has overcome the world and you will too. It may be in glory, but as the Apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:8 “…we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” Hallelujah!!!
And then today I read about another proclamation from the “prosperity gospel” folks that lack of faith causes poverty, sickness, disease, etc. and I just have to shake my head. Let me give you a definition of the “prosperity gospel” doctrine just in case you don’t know what that is. See what you think.
Prosperity theology, referred to as the prosperity gospel, the “health and wealth” gospel is a controversial religious belief among some Christians. These hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Prosperity theology/gospel views the Bible as a covenant between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, He will deliver security and prosperity. The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, saying that it is God's will for his people to be blessed. The Doctrine of the Atonement is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession.
So I want to say to these folks, how does your doctrine line up with Alice of Nigeria who lost her husband to radical Muslims because of their faith or James, Marvelous, and Melody, his daughters, of Nigeria who lost a wife/mother to radicals because they would NOT renounce their faith (from The Voice of the Martyrs -Oct. 2019). This doctrine is wrong and in my opinion sick in and of itself. God is faithful and with us in all circumstances in this lost and fallen world. One day it will be made perfect, but until then remain faithful to the One who is faithful and experience the joy of your salvation regardless of the trials. Being a Christian does not guarantee health and wealth, but it does guarantee eternal life, everlasting life with Christ. I am going to hold on to that!!! How about you?
Pastor Marty - HOPE Church Raleigh
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