Suffering For Righteousness
Connie W. Adams
Paul assured Timothy that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:12-13). Notice that there is a connection between the increase of wickedness in evil men and the persecution of the godly.
In the face of it all the Christian cannot give in to the notion that says, "if you cant whip them, join them." Paul instructed Timothy to "continue thou in the things thou hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:14-17). As evil men worsen, as society becomes more ungodly, the Christian must adhere closely to the God-breathed Scriptures which will help us meet every contingency. They are relevant to human need in good times and bad.
Peter, who himself had weakened and denied the Lord in the face of a hostile courtyard crowd, later, in his maturity as a veteran in the Lords service, said some things to help us all in difficult times for the righteous. 1 Peter 4 deals with the servant of God in bad times. Look at verse 3. (Go ahead, get your Bible.) They had already lived long enough in ungodliness. That belonged to the past. In verse 4 he instructs them as to how their former companions may regard them. They are "strange" to these people. Verse 5 points to the judgment to which all, the good and the evil, must come. Verses 6-11 urge the saints to cling to the hope of deliverance from the Lord, to remain sober and watchful, to show their love for each other, using hospitality and ministering to one another. Christians always need each other, but especially in times of stress from a corrupt society. Through it all there is to be a faithful devotion to "the oracles of God" (v. 11) as they glorified God in using the abilities which he gave them.
Verse 12 admonishes them not to be surprised at trials. It is not really unusual for the godly to be persecuted by the ungodly. Verses 13 and 14 show that suffering identifies us with our Lord who suffered so much for us. He is now glorified and glory awaits us.
Verse 15 urges the righteous not to join in the evil of the age and suffer for wrong doing. But, in verse 16, if suffering comes from doing right, there is no shame in it. God is glorified. Verses 17-19 point to final judgment when both the righteous and the ungodly shall give account. If the righteous are to be saved through their suffering, what shall be the end of those who are described as "ungodly" and "sinner(s)"? Let the godly sufferer entrust his soul to his Creator.
The Days Are Evil
For many years subtle changes have taken place in American culture. Now the changes are blatant and occurring with such rapidity and in such magnitude that many are baffled. In a nation where marriage was once held in honor, disdain for this holy estate is abundantly evident. Laws have encouraged sin in this regard. From Social Security payments which penalize the married, to aid for dependent children so structured as to discourage marriage, to proposed tax laws which place a much heavier tax burden on a married couple than it would on two single people just living together. The message being sent from the government is that the married will be penalized. This constitutes discrimination against those who honor Gods marriage law.
Since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, nearly 30 million unborn children have been killed legally in their mothers womb. The "Freedom of Choice Act" now before Congress would end waiting periods, parental consent, "in-formed consent" for women about to have abortions and would overturn every abortion law in every state in the nation. If you destroy the egg of an eagle, the fine is $5,000. But under the proposed new law a baby can be aborted up to five minutes before birth and even kept alive long enough to "harvest" body parts.
The penchant for "political correctness" has so saturated the great educational institutions of the nation that genuine freedom of information is outlawed. Under the guise of "multi-culturalism" the agenda of radical feminists, socialists, environmentalists, and homosexuals has been advocated to the exclusion of alternate views, and especially those that have anything to do with biblically-based morals. For example, the University of Michigan has a "student guide to proper behavior" which lumps racist threats with "failing to invite someone to a party because shes a lesbian." At Pennsylvania State University 10,000 incoming freshman in 1990 were advised that they might be assigned a homosexual room mate, and if so, they would not be allowed to object. Whatever happened to "free speech"? Many state universities have become breeding grounds for beer bashes, alcoholism, drug abuse, unwanted pregnancies and abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. All the while God, the Bible and godly behavior are ridiculed and professing Bible believers are treated as objects of pity for their ignorance. Many godly parents have come to look upon public schools as public enemy number one when it comes to the faith and morals of their children. Many are opting for private schools (at great financial sacrifice) or home schooling to educate their young without making infidels and moral reprobates out of them.
The entertainment and news media have long held nearly anything in the name of Christianity up to scorn. Pat Oliphant, a cartoonist, recently depicted "fundamental Christians" as rats dragging a Republican elephant into a mission with a "Jesus Saves" sign above the door. What other minority group could be so publicly ridiculed without creating a firestorm of protest that would rattle the windows in the Oval Office and reverberate in the halls of Congress?
In some areas zoning requirements and environmental restrictions ranging from "wetlands" to "potential habitats" for certain types of birds have made it so expensive, and in some cases impossible, for churches to build new and needed houses for worship.
Christians in business are subject to legal reprisals for refusing to hire, or for dismissing a homosexual employee. The moral and religious convictions of the employer do not count.
On ABCs "20/20" Hugh Downs likened those who stress family values to the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, to Adolf Hitler and his emphasis on motherhood, and the Hezbollah. He said, "As warriors, fanatics censor the thoughts of others and love to burn books. In the modern United States, new proponents of family values continue this tradition of fear and intolerance." There was a time when you could announce that you were to preach on the family and you could pack the house. But now, teaching the values about family which the Bible presents, is not "politically correct" for it runs into the feminist agenda, opposes the libertine morals of the day, teaches that marriage is for life, that children are to be obedient to parents and that the word of God is the last word in determining decisions which have to do with all of family life. Right now, a Christian in the state of Florida who lays a hand on a child who misbehaves in a public place (including a church service) is subject to having that child taken away from the parent under the guise of protecting the child from "child abuse."
Christians, we are now a despised minority. We need to help and encourage each other. It is not time to reduce the amount of gospel preaching we do, rather, we must increase it. We must work hard to save our own. Sometimes I hear it said that in our meetings we are just talking to ourselves. That is not true, but if so, do we not need to exhort one another to be faithful in the midst of these trying times? When the world is growing darker that only enhances the brightness of divine light reflected in the lives of our Lords people. This is no time to hide your light under a bushel. It is not the time to let your salt lose its savor. But it is time to say with the Hebrew writer, "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Heb. 13:6)
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 14 p. 3-4