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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Our Brothers and Sisters in China and Hong Kong: Suffering and Reward

I had on my heart a desire to start a study on the Book of the Revelation. I am still intent on doing so. And whereas this book is primarily for Israel and certainly specific to an age which is yet to come, we can take some powerful lessons for our own day. We will look at some parallels to the judgments in the Revelation that are found in both the Acts Age and Post Acts epistles (for this current dispensation).

There are some sobering thoughts in scripture in regard to the Lord's examination of our service. Surely, the gift of eternal, immortal resurrection life is indeed a gift. It was fully secured in the death, burial (lack of decay in the tomb), and glorious conquering of death in resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But all of us shall have our service and lives examined beyond that.

It may come as a shock to some, but the Great White Throne judgment is not for unbelievers. It is a judgment of service and loyalty for those in a coming age. We must abandon the tradition of men in regard to this topic and see it in its context. We looked at at the GWT in a previous study, but I hope to bring more clarity to this future event as my own understanding has advanced and come more into focus.

There are elements of our inheritance and certain rewards to be gained and lost in future ages. These may vary among hopes and different companies in the family of God, but in all, service and loyalty to our Master is at the center. We saw some of this in our various studies of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 and 25) dealing with Israel. The weeping and gnashing of teeth in Matthew is in the context of "children of the Kingdom." 1 Cor 6 and loss of inheritance in the earthly kingdom is aimed at believers in that Acts Age epistle.. The free gift of life by grace alone through faith alone is never in question, but suffering loss is a real possibility.

If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. -1 Cor 3:15

Christians all over the world have been suffering increased persecution in these last days. From places like Iran and Nigeria all the way to true believers in the USA, those who hold to Christ alone have come under assault (physically, mentally, and attacks against their families coming from men and from principalities and powers). Our brothers and sisters in Christ in China and Hong Kong, and their suffering for Christ, in particular, have been in the news recently.

This blog has seen and increase in traffic from the far east. I hope they have found the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ exalted above all else. I hope they have found hope in the scriptures shared and the blessed hope of his awaited appearance and manifestation to his own. But to those who may be facing the loss of all in this world, I hope they are filled with the notion of the glory which is to come when the Lord reviews their service and loyalty to him.

In Paul's final epistle, closing out the revelation of God, he shares this thought:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him
-2 Tim 2:11-12

In our multi-post, parallel studies dealing with Walking in the Spirit and Walking Worthy, we realized that Christians who walk in the flesh are capable of some terrible things. We will look at some of those terrible things through the eyes of the Revelation. Even though the judgments there pertain to that coming age, they are reminders of the warnings found in our own epistles.

Walking in the flesh may mean engaging in wicked activities such as fornication and greed and envy, but it can also mean cowardice and unbelief. A fear of the opinions of men can make some deny the Lord in their words. It may mean failing to defend his finished work on Calvary lest we offend other religious traditions (especially those under the umbrella of Christianity).

A carnal life and mind seek the approval of men in the form of what is called "virtue signaling," This involves making statements such as "I'm a Christian and I love all transgender people!" knowing that approval will pour in from the world as we throw scripture and our brothers and sisters under the bus.

Is there anything intrinsically wrong with loving people? Of course not, but love and truth go together. The failure to follow truth with love in fear of backlash or in the hope of approval is wicked. As countless thousands around the world are beaten and killed for their testimony for Christ, seeking approval from people who can't really do us any real harm here in the West is even more detestable.

And I do not just point the finger of guilt at others. I know in my heart I have stayed quiet in fear of rejection or even professional backlash. And such silence is as grievous as vocal cowardice. Part of my hope for this study is to find courage to stand for the Lord despite what men might do. And in light of the real cost faced by Christians in China, Hong Kong, Iran, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Vietnam, North Korea, and all over parts of Catholic-controlled central and South America, my fear of repercussions seems even more cowardly.

Western Christianity wastes a lot of time and energy on arguing about stupid things like music and Bible versions, all the while our opportunities to preach Christ and teach truth slip away. We must exalt Christ and teach Christians how to live in light of Paul's revelation of the current dispensation. How we handled Christ and our obedience to the call to "study to show [ourselves] approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth," shall be judged along with our daily walk and our willingness to suffer with him and for his testimony.

Beware Christian ministries which teach only comfort and riches for believers. These are "the enemies of the cross of Christ" about whom Paul warns us. Their god is their flesh. They seek comfort and discard the cross and its shame in this life. We must embrace the cross. How we handle Christ, the call to suffer, and his Word will be examined by the God of all ages.

I support in a small way (and I wish I could do more) Christian Freedom International. If your place of employment allows you to have something set aside, I'd urge you to consider a Christ-honoring ministry seeking to bring comfort to our brothers and sisters who face true persecution. And be not fooled into comfort, real persecution is coming to the West in the not too distant future. For some who have lost jobs and homes to the mob, it's already here.







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