Prepare for Persecution: A Message From Billy Graham

In the event of a national catastrophe, much confusion, terror and consternation would reign. What would the Christian do? What should our attitude be? Which way would we turn if the country in which we live were suddenly wrecked and all the props gone?

As a whole, our nation does not know what privation is. We do not know what sacrifice is. We do not know what suffering is. Suppose persecution were to come to the church in America, as it has come in other countries.

The immunity to persecution that Christians in our country have experienced in the past two or three centuries is unusual. Christ strongly warned Christians that to follow Him would not be popular, and that in most circumstances it would mean cross-bearing and persecution.

The Bible says that all who "desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus said that as the time of His return draws nigh, "They will seize you and persecute you" (Luke 21:12). We have no scriptural foundation for believing that we can forever escape being persecuted for Christ's sake. The normal condition for Christians is that we should suffer persecution. Are you willing to face persecution and death for Christ's sake?

What Would You Do?

Since we have experienced little religious persecution in this country, it is likely that under pressure many would deny Christ. Those who shout the loudest about their faith may surrender soonest. Many who boast of being courageous would be cowardly. Many who say, "Though all others deny Christ, yet I will never deny Him," would be the first to warm their hands at the campfires of the enemy.

Jesus, in speaking of the last times, warned, "Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake" (Matthew 24:9). The Scripture says, "because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12).

The apostle Paul, referring to the coming evil day, said, "Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).

Here are five ways to fortify yourself so that you will be able to stand in that day.

1. Make Sure

First, make sure of your relationship to God. Amos the prophet saw the Day of Judgment fast approaching for Israel. He warned the people to prepare to meet God. The word preparedness should be a key word for everyone.

It is strange that we prepare for everything except meeting God. We prepare for marriage. We prepare for a career. We prepare for education.

But we do not prepare to meet God. Even though most Americans see the storm clouds gathering on the horizon, by and large we are making few preparations to meet God. This is a time for repentance and faith. It is a time for soul-searching, to see if our anchor holds.

Have you been to the cross where Christ shed His blood for your sins? Have you had the past forgiven? Have you come by faith, confessing that you are a sinner and receiving Christ as your Savior? I tell you that this cross is the only place of refuge in the midst of the storm of judgment that is fast approaching. Make sure of your relationship with God.

2. Walk With God

Second, learn now to walk with God in your daily life. Abraham walked with God and was called a friend of God. Walk with God as Moses did on the back side of the desert; when the hour of judgment fell upon Egypt, Moses was the one who led his people to freedom. Walk with God as David did as a shepherd boy; when the time of crisis came, David was prepared to meet it. Daniel and his three young friends walked with God in Babylon, and when trouble came, God was beside them—whether it was in the lions' den or in the fiery furnace.

However, God does not always deliver His saints from adversity. God says in Hebrews 11 that others were just as faithful as Abraham, Moses, Daniel or David. They, too, walked with God—but they perished. God has not promised to deliver us from trouble. 

But He has promised to go with us through the trouble. Stephen was a young man "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:5). They stoned him to death, but his was a triumphal entry into heaven. If you are not strengthening the inner man or woman by daily walking with God now, when a crisis comes you will quake with fear and give in, having no strength to stand up for Christ.

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