Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Be Prepared for Tribulation, not Rapture

KEY TEXT: 1 Peter 5:6-10 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

KEY THOT: Suffering for the name of Christ should not surprise us: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12).  In fact, it is a common experience of true believers everywhere: "the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" (1 Peter 5:9) Such relentless persecution of Christians because of the name of Christ they bear is demon-inspired: "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (v.8). The world hates Christ and so hates his followers: "the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18). And Satan is the god of this world: "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel" (2 Corinthians 4:4). 

Satan is the power behind the worldwide persecution of Christians for more than two thousand years since Pentecost (Acts 2). But in these last days, we will see an increase in his fury against the church because he knows his time is up.

When we are being persecuted as Christians, we must remember who our real enemy is: it is not ISIS, nor your boss nor your colleagues but the devil himself. Therefore, we should direct our resistance against the devil in prayer: "Resist him, firm in faith" (5:9). Satan instigated non-believers to persecute believers because he has control over their mind, their emotions and their will. He is the anti-Christ spirit that is present in the world: "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18).

One of the signs that we are living in the "last hour" is the increase in persecution of believers: "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake" (Matthew 24:9). It won't just be ISIS and Al-Qaeda who are persecuting Christians. The devil is now stirring opposition to Christ through secular humanists and far-left liberals. They are attacking anyone who dares stand up for faith and for Christ.

The only way to resist the devil in his attempt to devour believers is to stand firm in our faith and never to compromise or deny Christ till the end: "And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death" (Revelation 12:11).

In the meantime, Peter encourages those who are undergoing suffering for their faith to "humble yourselves...casting all your anxieties on him for he cares for you... be sober-minded; be watchful" (v.6-8). We mustn't let down our spiritual guard, for persecution can come suddenly without warning. As believers, Jesus has warned us to always stay awake and alert in the last days.

Father God, grant us the grace to humble ourselves in the these last days and to resist the devil and stand firm in our faith when we are suffering for our faith. Amen.

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