PERSECUTION OF THE SAINTS
In the very end of this age, the people of God will suffer great persecution and be hated because of their proclamation of the gospel message.
AN UNPOPULAR MESSAGE
The good news is a message of tremendous hope for humanity and it offers the promise of awesome physical, spiritual, and eternal rewards that are almost beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend. However, the good news that Jesus Christ brought from God the Father, which his people now proclaim, is not a popular message.
Although the Father's good news message promises awesome and wonderful benefits of a future containing safety, security, happiness, and prosperity under his loving care and protection, it has never been a popular message. Even when Jesus, the apostles, and the early church preached the good news it was not enthusiastically received; only a few believed this awesome and wonderful truth and made it a part of their life experience.
Four Important Questions
1. Why is this wonderful message not accepted by all who hear it?
2. Why is it so misunderstood and maligned by those who should rejoice at hearing it?
3. Why was Jesus Christ crucified and why were most of the apostles and many of the early church murdered for preaching this dynamic and wonderful message?
4. Why will many be murdered just before the return of Jesus Christ for preaching this truly astounding message?
The answers to these four questions all have to do with true belief in the originator of the message, the original messenger, the message itself, the requirement to change from evil to righteous behavior, and the threat of punishment for non-compliance.
It is not the gospel's promise of great and wonderful benefits that most people have a problem with, and it is not this promise that causes them to dislike the message and its messengers. It is the gospel's condemnation of evil behavior, its authoritative nature, and its demand that people conform to its prerequisite terms and conditions prior to being granted its wonderful benefits. These are the things that most people cannot tolerate about the Father's message of good news.
THE NECESSITY TO CHANGE
There are many reasons why the Father's good news message is thought of by most people as bad news. However, the biggest reason for people's hatred of the Father's good news message has to do with change. In order to reap the benefits that are promised in the good news message, one is required to make many profound changes in one's attitude, behavior, and lifestyle.
The gospel message demands a change from unrighteousness to righteousness as defined by God's word in the Holy Bible. It is this demand and the threat of eternal punishment for non-compliance that is the major cause of most people's hatred of the gospel message and its messengers:
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob [national Israel] their sins" (Isa.58:1 KJV).
"Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be as crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land: But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it" (Isa.1:18-20 Para.).
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities" (Rev.18:4-5 KJV).
Believe and Repent
In order to reap the benefits of the good news message and claim the eternal promises that God made to humanity through the Patriarchs and Prophets, Jesus said that all a person has to do is "Repent" and "Believe the Gospel."
The good news message demands true belief and obedience. It demands a change in attitude and behavior. It demands that people choose good over evil, truth over lies, and righteousness over unrighteousness. It demands a change from rebellion against the Father's laws, precepts, and principles to obedience of his ways:
"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, The time is at hand: repent and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:14-15 Para.). See also Matt.4:12-17; 9:35-38; Lk.8:1.
Although there was much proof available to the Jews during Jesus' ministry that he was indeed the Messiah who came with great power and authority from the Father, there were very few who believed his message of repentance. Very few thought that they needed to change their attitude and behavior toward God and their fellow man, because most of these people thought there was nothing wrong with their attitude and behavior. As many of the scriptures indicate, the Jews were perfectly happy with their spiritual condition and were only looking to better their physical circumstances. This same condition exists today among people of all religions, philosophies, and political persuasions.
Repentance requires a person to change beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in respect to sin (the violation of God's law). A person must stop violating God's law and begin to obey its precepts and principles.
Those who truly desire to reap the eternal benefits that are offered through the gospel message will not consciously reject truth. They will be practicing the precepts and principles of God's law and endeavoring to live by every word of God.
The apostle John was inspired to record,
"Sin is the transgression of the law" (1.Jn.3:4 Para.), and He that says, I know him [the Father], and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1.Jn.2:4 Para.).
Human nature is the opposite of God's nature; therefore, it results in the hatred of the things of God. The way of God is opposite to the way most people want to live. The vast majority of people today do not love truth; they love evil. The conditions of today's world are a direct result of the disobedience of God's laws, statutes, judgments, precepts, and principles that, if practiced, would bring true happiness and prosperity.
The demand for a change from unrighteousness to righteousness contained in the gospel message is why the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus' day hated him—the messenger. He taught the truth of God, and because they were not obedient to this truth, Jesus' life and words condemned them as unrighteous enemies of God.
The same conditions exist today among most quasi-Christian and Jewish sects. Most will say that they either believe the teachings of Jesus Christ, the entire Bible, the Book of the Law, the Writings and/or the Prophets, yet most do not truly live in obedience to what they profess to believe:
"Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, This people draws near to me with their mouth, and with their lips honor me; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the ordinances of men" (Matt.15:7-9 Para.). See also Isa.29:13; Ezk.33:31-32.
Jesus called the religious leaders of his day "hypocrites, snakes, evil, and corrupt men." He called them these things because they were not teaching the total truth of God. Instead, they were teaching half truths and their own philosophies that were in opposition to the truth of God. See Matt.3:7; 12:33-34.
Rebellion and Self-Will
Mankind is rebellious by nature: Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden; the children of Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness, and they continue to rebel to this very day. It is this rebellion against God and his ways that has caused the world's great ills. See Ezk.20:12-13; Isa.30:9-10; 66:3.
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it" (2.Tim.3:1-5 RSV).
"For as they were in the days before the flood: eating and drinking, merry making, and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah went into the ark, And they did not know until the flood came, and took them all away—so also will be the coming of the Son of man" (Matt.24:38-39 Para.).
It is important to remember that in Noah's generation, people were so evil that God decided to eliminate the entire human race, except for Noah and his family. Noah was found to be the only righteous individual in all of humanity. Jesus said that this same condition would prevail at the end of the age. Just as the people in Noah's day did not listen to the call to repentance and the warnings of God's wrath, neither will the vast majority of people listen to God's servants in the end of this age. See Gen.6:5-13.
Rebellion comes in many forms and always separates the rebellious from God the Father and Jesus Christ. Today's multitude of religions, philosophies, and political/governmental systems are examples of people's desire to obey their own self-will rather than the will of God.
Freedom of Choice
Since the rebellion of Adam and Eve, God has allowed humanity to go its own way in order to teach the lessons that can only be taught through time and experience. God has also allowed the evil being who originally deceived the first humans to have limited control of the earth and its inhabitants for this same reason.
The World Today
The clear facts of history and the existing unacceptable condition of today's world speak volumes about past and present religions, philosophies, and governmental systems, and the evils that they produce. God the Father has brought all of these before his heavenly throne and found them all guilty of being the cause of all the ills of humanity. Yes, there are some good things that have been produced by various religions, philosophies, and governmental systems. However, the end result of these systems is the horrible conditions we see in the world today. The end result of humanity's effort to rule itself has been disastrous.
Humanity has experienced the results of centuries of living in rebellion to God's laws and way of life. And the next phase of God's plan for humanity is about to begin.
In the near future, humans will cease to have their own religions, philosophies and political/governmental systems, because humanity is about to meet the Creator. Jesus Christ is coming back to rule the earth with great power, in order to eliminate the barriers to peace, happiness, and productivity. When he comes, he will provide humanity with the opportunity to learn about God the Father and his way to eternal life.
"And he said to them, You go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; and he that does not believe shall be damned" (Mk.16:15-16 Para.).
All who hear the Father's good news message are held responsible for their response to it. Those who hear the message with understanding and truly believe it will be spared from eternal death; however, those who hear with understanding and turn their back on the opportunity that is offered will suffer eternal death (Rom.6:23).
PROPHECIES OF PERSECUTION
The Bible teaches that the Kingdom of God will not come peacefully. It also teaches that great persecution will come upon those who teach the truth of God prior to the return of Christ. Jesus understood mankind's nature as no other person could. As the Creator God of humanity (Jn.1:1-3; Eph.3:9), he observed human behavior for centuries and knew people would continue to oppose the way of God as long as they had a carnal nature and were influenced by evil. See Rom.8:7. The following scriptures are about this important issue:
"If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (Jn.15:20 Para.).
"I have told you these things so that you will not become shaken in your faith [by what lies ahead]. For they will put you out of the synagogue, and indeed the hour is coming when those who murder you will think that they are serving God, because they have never known the Father or me" (Jn.16:1-3 Para.).
"All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2.Tim.3:12 Para.). See also Mk.13:13; Lk.21:17.
NOT OF THIS WORLD
Before Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, he said some things about his disciple's existence on earth that seemed very strange to them:
"You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what the lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you. You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: That whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that you love one another" (Jn.15:14-17 KJV).
Jesus expressed his deep personal affection for his disciples and their mission. He also told them of the power to which they would have access and the love that they should have for each other. After this, he revealed the kind of beings they would become after conversion:
"If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (Jn.15:18-19 KJV).
Jesus was not speaking philosophically to his disciples about their earthly status. He said they were alien to the other human life-forms on earth. He spoke of the New Creation that they had been chosen to be a part of as if it were already a reality at that moment in time. This is yet another reason that people do not understand the elect of God. The elect of God are not only different in their world view, they are different in their spiritual make-up; therefore, the world cannot relate to them as they do to their own kind. See our study paper concerning the new creation.
Hated by the World
The apostle John records that Jesus said the elect of God would be hated by the world at large:
"I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth" (Jn.17:14-17 Para.). See also Matt.10:34-35; chp.24; Mk.chp.13; Rev.5:9-10; 11:15; 20:4-6.
Unless Jesus Christ was a false prophet, the world at large will surely come to hate and then persecute the people of God for preaching the true gospel message just prior to his return.
Why are the elect to be hated by the world? The answer is really quite simple when one understands that Satan has deceived the whole world into following his religious and governmental systems that are in opposition to the Father's religion and governmental system.
The Bible clearly shows that all of humanity, except the elect of God, have come under the deceptive influence of this incredibly powerful and evil being and his evil worship systems, philosophies, and political/governmental systems. See Rev.12:9; 2.Cor.4:4.
Most people are deceived, not because they were predetermined to be deceived; they are deceived because God has allowed Satan, evil spirits and/or their own desires to deceive them.
Evil is Good and Good is Evil
While recording God's condemnation of the behavior of the Israelitish people throughout the centuries, Isaiah was inspired to say:
"Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isa.5:20 KJV).
People's own natural inclination for self-gratification, along with the influence of Satan and his evil cohorts has done such a thorough job of deceiving people, that in today's world, most people honestly do not know the difference between good and evil.
This is yet another reason why those who proclaim the true gospel message will be hated, persecuted, and murdered:
"And indeed the hour is coming when those who murder you will think that they are serving God" (Jn.16:2 Para.).
Sincere people who believe that they are worshiping the true God will continue to hate, persecute, and murder those who are, in reality, true sons of God. They will continue to do this because they are deceived and do not know that the god or gods that they worship are in reality evil spirits who oppose the true God.
The ways of God are opposite to the way most people want to behave toward him and their fellow man. Jesus was murdered for teaching the truth of God, and John the Baptist was beheaded because he spoke out against Herod's sin of adultery (Mk.6:17-28). It is no different today. Most people do not like to be told they are living in sin and they usually dislike people who tell them of their evil condition.
THEN AND NOW
There were a number of warnings that Jesus gave to his disciples as he sent them out to proclaim the gospel message. Because everything in the Bible is recorded as instructions for the elect of God, these warnings are also for our time:
"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matt.10:16 Para.).
Jesus thoroughly understood the treachery and evil that people were capable of and the dangers his followers would have in dealing with humanity; therefore, he warns them to be wise. Although Jesus' instruction to be harmless certainly pertains to the general behavior and attitude that the elect should have, it also pertains to the use of tremendous physical and spiritual power that Jesus had authorized his disciples to use at their discretion.
This instruction to be harmless does not mean that those who will be authorized to use physical and spiritual power during the gospel age cannot use this power for destructive purposes as Elijah did. (2.Kgs.1:3-5). During Christ's ministry, it was not appropriate to destroy life and property in order to proclaim the gospel message (Lk.9:52-56). However, during the beginning of the early church, it was appropriate to use the power of the holy spirit for a destructive purpose (Acts 5:1-10; 13:8-12), and it is appropriate and necessary during the end of the age to use this power in a manner that will show the seriousness and validity of the gospel message (Rev.11:3-6).
Beware of Men
"Beware of men, for they will deliver you to the councils, and they will flog you in their synagogues" (Matt.10:17 Para.).
Jesus told his disciples to be especially wary of those who practiced Judaism, because they would use deceptive practices to betray them for the purpose of doing them bodily harm. Today, this warning should include people of all religions and even some within the body of Christ. See 1.Tim.4:1-2; 2.Tim.3:1-5; 4:2-4; 2.Pet.2:1-2.
Brought Before Civil Authorities
"And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my name sake, for a testimony to them and to the nations. But when they deliver you up, do not be anxious about what you should say or how you should say it: for the things you are to say will be given to you at that time. For you are not the one speaking. It is the spirit of the Father that speaks through you" (Matt.10:18-20 Para.).
"But when you are arrested and stand trial, don't worry about what to say when you are questioned. Just say what God tells you to. For the words will not be yours, It is of the holy spirit" (Mk.13:11 Para.).
During the proclamation of the gospel by Jesus, the apostles, and the early church, the religious leaders were no longer able to stop those who preached the gospel through their influence with the people. So these religious leaders resorted to false criminal accusations in order to bring those who proclaimed the gospel before the civil authorities. They did this with the hope of having them convicted of some crime against the government, which would silence them. This is how the Jewish leaders dealt with Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others of the early church. This is also one of the ways the elect of God will be persecuted in the time of the end.
It is easy to understand the extreme physical danger involved in this kind of treachery; however; when this happens, the occasion will be used to further the proclaiming of the gospel through the power of God the Father's spirit as noted in verses 18-20 above.
"But brother will betray brother causing them to be put to death, and the father will betray his child, and children shall rise up against their parents and kill them" (Matt.10:21 Para.).See Jer.9:1-6; Mic.7:1-6.
“And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father the child. And children will rise upon parents, and will put them to death. And you will be hated by all on account of my name: but the one enduring to the end, that one will be saved. . . For there will be affliction in those days, such as has not been the like from the beginning of creation which God created until now, and never will be" (Mk.13:12-19 Para.).
It is almost unimaginable that a close family member would betray another over a religious matter and cause them to be put to death. However, this has happened in the past and will happen again. What is even more horrible is that children will murder their own parents or cause them to be murdered because of the parent's religion. Nevertheless, it has already happened and will happen again.
"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple to become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they call the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more those of his household?" (Matt.10:24-25 para.).
Jesus said that the elect of God can expect people to treat them in the same manner as they treated him. It is interesting to note that the word 'household' in verse 25, is translated from the Greek word 'oikiakoi', which has a technical meaning of being members of a household of a government official (i.e., the official's staff).
During Jesus' lifetime, he was the highest representative of the Kingdom of God on earth; however, the Jews accused him of being possessed of an evil spirit and even of being Beelzebub, the prince of evil spirits. Jesus said that all those who truly represent the Father and Kingdom of God as his servants would also be perceived as evil and accused of being possessed of and/or influenced by evil spirits.
It is a fact of history that after Jesus' death and resurrection, Jewish religious leaders and later quasi-Christian leaders did persecute the early church. They called them servants of a great and powerful evil spirit, just as the Jewish leaders of Jesus' lifetime had leveled this accusation against him. This is also a prophecy for the future. Only this time, it will not only be the religious leaders who level this accusation at the elect; but also all who are affected by their preaching of the gospel and the announcement of the return of Jesus Christ:
"I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you, And you shall be hated of all for my names sake" (Jn.15:19-20; Mk.13:13 Para.). See also Matt.24:8-14; Lk.21:16-17.
THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS
Matthew 24:8-12 Paraphrased
After listing many of the earth-shaking events that will announce his eminent return to conquer the earth, Jesus says, "And these are the beginning of sorrows" (v8).
Verse 8 sets the time of this prophecy very near the return of Christ, which is during the time when the elect of God will be an organized body of believers who proclaim the gospel with great spiritual power.
For My Name's Sake
"Then they will deliver you up to affliction: and will kill you; and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake" (v9).
Hated Because of Jesus' Name
Notice that the reason for this hatred being directed against the elect of God is that they truly believe in the name of Christ and the authority and power behind his name. Notice also that eternal life is promised to those who endure to the very end of their physical life.
"And you will be hated by all on account of my name: but he that endures to the end shall be saved" (Matt.10:22). See also Mk.13:13; Lk.21:17; Jn.15:20.
Many assume that Jesus was loved or at least liked by most people of his day, and that he was only hated by the Jewish religious leaders. But, this is not true. Although many came to hear him teach, see him heal people, and work miracles, very few believed what he said. The general population of Jesus' day did not truly understand the word of God or the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Because of this, they were easily influenced by their religious leaders to disregard the teachings of Jesus. The evidence that the religious leaders were easily able to sway popular opinion against Jesus is found in the events that surrounded his trial and crucifixion.
Because of a lack of a true understanding of the word of God and an unwillingness to obey the truth of God, Jewish sects and quasi-Christians of today, also hate Jesus' teachings and those who teach this truth through Jesus' name and authority.
Another reason for the hatred of God's people by this evil and perverse generation is the punitive nature of the gospel message's warning and witness to the world. It is really no wonder that the elect of God will be hated by the majority who hear the message that they proclaim.
In Matthew 24:9-10 and Matthew 10:27-28, Jesus speaks of those who are hated for being his true servants. These are those who represent him and his Father's values by believing, practicing, and teaching what he taught. The vast majority of religions today are deceived and consequently have no love for God's people.
Just as the Jews of Jesus' day professed to believe in God and hated Jesus for what he taught, so is it in this age and so will it be in the future. Some of God's people will be hated, persecuted, and murdered for practicing and teaching truth as taught in the Bible and by Jesus (Jn.17:14).
The One to Fear
"Then they will deliver you up to affliction, and will kill you: and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake" (v9)
"Therefore, you should not fear them, for nothing is covered, that shall not be uncovered; and hidden, that shall not be made known" (Matt.10:26 Para.).
The Father and Jesus Christ are actively involved in the lives of the elect of God, the process of salvation for humanity, and world events: nothing is hidden from them. Therefore, one should be encouraged by the fact that all will turn out well in the end.
"What I tell you in darkness [lack of spiritual understanding], that speak you in light [spiritual understanding of God's word]: and what you hear in the ear, you preach upon the housetops. And do not fear them that can kill the body, but are not able to kill the spirit: but rather fear him [God the Father] who is able to kill both spirit and body in fire" (Matt.10:27-28).
A child of God should not fear being killed by people for representing the Father and Jesus and teaching the truth of God (Acts 6:1-15; 7:1-60). Conversely, a child of God should fear spiritual death at the hands of God the Father for rebelling against his command to teach his way of life and proclaim his gospel.
The physical death of the elect of God is only a beginning; it is not the end, as it may be for those who reject God during this lifetime. For the elect, physical death leads to the beginning of immortal and eternal life in the Father's family and kingdom. See Phil.1:20-26.
The understanding of the good news message from the Father has been revealed to the elect of God who live in a world that is almost totally devoid of the truth of God. The elect of God are told to preach this awesome truth with zeal and without reservation, regardless of the danger associated with preaching it and the real possibility of being murdered for believing and preaching it.
Lack of Conversion
Verses 10-11 of Matthew 24 speak of those within the church (those called to salvation) who lack true conversion because of their own conceit, pride, vanity, self-will, self-importance, unrepentant attitudes, or character flaws that they have not allowed the truth of God to correct in their lives. Therefore, they fail to grow toward spiritual maturity:
"And then many will be offended, and they shall betray one another, and will hate one another" (v10).
For whatever reason, some people will feel that they have been unjustly treated and they will become offended and allow the love they once had for God and their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to turn to bitterness. Because of this resentment, they will seek revenge on all those of the church (the elect) who they feel are responsible for their plight.
False Prophets and Teachers
"And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness shall have been multiplied, the love of many will grow cold" (vs.11-12 Para.).
Others of the elect will fail to pray, study, commune with God, and do the things necessary to keep themselves separate from the evils of the world and in good standing with the Father and Christ. Because of this many will become apathetic in their walk with God and lose the zeal that they once had for his way of life.
These people lack the strong spiritual foundation that is necessary in order to endure to the end. Many of them will fall prey to those who teach false religious concepts and they will loose out on eternal life.
Both Peter and Paul warned that people teaching heresies would rise up and that many would follow them and their false teachings:
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many [the majority] shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of" (2.Pet.2:1-2 Para.).
"Now the spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1.Tim.4:1-2 Para.). See also Matt.24:11,14; Gal.1:6-9; 2.Tim.4:2-4.
Even some who have embraced the good news message will be seduced by false teachers into believing a false message—another gospel.
Jesus knew that the vast majority of people would find it easier to follow false teachings than to follow him and the message he brought; hence, he gave the warning to his followers who truly believe in him.
Those Who Endure
"But the one who endures to the end, that one will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the earth for a testimony to all the nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt.24:13-14 Para.).
"And you will be hated by all on account of my name. . . : but the one enduring to the end shall be saved" (Matt.10:22 Para.).
Jesus said that, during this time of trouble, his followers will be persecuted, killed, hated by all peoples, betrayed by their own families, friends, and fellow believers who forsake God and make foolish decisions concerning the truth.
HATED BY ALL PEOPLE
Hated by Popular Christianity
There are over 20,000 different groups and organizations that profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. All of these feel that their particular interpretation of Jesus' teachings and the Bible is acceptable to God.
Because both the Old and New Testaments record that there is only one faith and one method of worship that is acceptable to God, logic tells us that, if any one of these thousands of differing groups is correct in their worship of God, then all the others are incorrect and stand condemned as worshiping a false god(s).
Those who truly follow the teachings of God the Father and Jesus Christ teach that there is only one way to worship the true God and only one way to obtain salvation, and that those who teach another way of worship and salvation are worshiping a false god(s).
Again, it is very easy to understand why popular Christianity would hate those who truly believe in God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Hated by Judaism
Those of the various Jewish sects, for the most part, believe that Jesus Christ was a prophet or a good man, but none believe that he was the Creator God or the Son of God, nor do they believe that he was the Messiah. However, a major part of the gospel message teaches that Jesus Christ is the Creator God and the Son of God, and that God the Father sent Jesus to cancel the first covenant with national Israel and replace it with a new one.
Both the Old and New Testaments and the words of Jesus condemn Judaism as a perversion of the original writings of the word of God. Therefore, it is no wonder that those of the various Jewish sects feel that any who believe in and/or follow the teachings of Jesus are their enemies and worshipers of a pagan god.
Christianity and Judaism
Quasi-Christians and people of Jewish sects who profess to worship the true God but whose lives and teachings are not harmonious with the truth of God always have a great deal of disdain and hatred for those who actually worship God in truth, love, and obedience. Jesus says these individuals who hate his followers are evil and corrupt:
"Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, This people draws near to me with their mouth, and with their lips honor me; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the ordinances of men" (Matt.15:7-9 Para.). See Isa.29:13; Ezk.33:31-32.
"For the tree is known by its fruit. O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? for out of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matt.12:33-35 Para.). See Matt.3:7.
Jesus called the religious leaders of the Jews, "hypocrites, snakes, evil and corrupt men," because they were not teaching the total truth of God. Instead, they were teaching half-truths and their own perverted philosophy that was in opposition to God's word. The same can be said for the quasi-Christian and Jewish sects of today. Both claim to be obedient to the word of God; however, their actions and the results of their teachings are far different from what the Bible says they should be, if they were truly worshiping the true God and living according to his way.
"But I say to you, That every idle word that men speak, they shall give account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you are justified, and by your words you are condemned" (Matt.12:36-37 Para.).
The words of those who only pretend to worship the true God condemn them for what they really are. People can fool other people as to their true beliefs and intentions, but they cannot fool God. Hence, Jesus gave his condemnation of the religious leaders of his day who were, in reality, only pretending to worship the true God:
"Why come to me and call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?" (Lk.6:46 Para.) See Lk.6:43-45.
The elect of God are to speak out as Jesus did and condemn those who falsely claim to worship the true God. This is yet another reason that the elect of God will be hated and persecuted.
Hated by all Religions
Those who truly believe in the biblical record is the printed word of God should also believe the biblical teaching that there are only two religions in the world: The religion of God the Father who is Sovereign of all that exists and the religion of God's enemies that are separated into three basic divisions: Quasi-Christianity, Judisim, and all other religions.
Because of this belief, it is little wonder that those who truly believe that they are the only true worshipers of the only true God and his Son will be hated by all religions of the world today. It is interesting that this is the same basic reason that the ancient nation of Israel was hated and persecuted by other nations.
Hated by Governments
Remember that Jesus was not persecuted by the Roman government; he was persecuted by those who said they were worshiping the one true God. After Jesus' death and resurrection, the early church existed for many years without being persecuted by the Roman or any other government.
During the time of the apostles and the early church, persecution always came from the Jews or other religions. It was only after the Romans and other governments perceived the followers of God as a political threat, that they began to persecute them.
During the time of the end, the elect of God will claim to be the only ones worshiping the true God, and they will also claim to be the only true representatives of the Government of God on earth, as did Jesus and the early church. The elect will believe and preach that the government of God is about to begin its rule over all the earth. This will cause them to be hated by governments as well as the people of other religions.
Hated by all Israel
The nations of Israel have always been a rebellious people who have seldom heeded the warnings of God's prophets and servants. As the end of this age approaches, and the elect of God proclaim the gospel along with its warning and witness to the Israelites scattered throughout the world, they will respond to God in the same way that they always have in the past.
The prophet Isaiah was inspired to record the harsh reality concerning the attitudes and mind-set of the people of Israel toward God. The comments God made about his chosen people are as true today as they were when Isaiah recorded them centuries ago:
Isaiah 30:1-15 LPB
"Woe to my rebellious children, says the Lord; you ask advice from everyone but me, and decide to do what I don't want you to do. You yoke yourselves with unbelievers, thus piling up your sins. . . Now go and write down this word of mine concerning Egypt [symbolic of sin as well as a literal nation], so that it will stand until the end of time, forever and forever, as an indictment of Israel's unbelief. For if you don't write it, they will claim I never warned them. "Oh, no," they will say, "you never told us that!" For they are stubborn rebels, They tell my prophets, "Shut up—we don't want any more of your reports!" Or they say, "Don't tell us the truth; tell us nice things; tell us lies. Forget all this gloom; we've heard more than enough about your 'Holy One of Israel' and all he says" (vs.1-11).
It should not come as a great surprise that all of the politicians, military leaders, and governmental officials of every level of the Israelitish nations scattered around the world will hate the elect of God, because the elect of God will be preaching the same message of repentance that God's prophets have always preached to Israel.
"This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel: Because you despise what I tell you and trust instead in frauds and lies and won't repent, therefore calamity will come upon you suddenly, as upon a bulging wall that bursts and falls; in one moment crashes down. God will smash you like a broken dish; he will not act sparingly. Not a piece will be left large enough to use for carrying coals from the hearth, or a little water from the well. For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved; in quietness and confidence is your strength; but you will have none of this" (vs.12-15).
Another reason for the Israelitish people's hatred and persecution of the elect of God in the end of the age, is that the elect of God also teach that God the Father is now punishing the descendants of Israel throughout the world for their continued rebellion against him and his physical and spiritual laws of behavior. The elect also believe that God will give them the power to bring destruction upon the Israelitish people as a witness and warning of more destruction to come if they and the world at large will not repent of their evil ways and peacefully come under his rule. See Isa.29:9-14.
Why was Jesus Christ crucified for preaching the gospel message? Why were most of the apostles along with many of the early church martyred? And why will many be murdered just before the return of Jesus Christ for preaching the truly astounding message that Jesus taught?
Jesus gives the answer:
"If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (Jn.15:20 Para.). "And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2.Tim.3:12 Para.). See also Mk.13:13; Lk.21:17.
The persecution of the elect of God is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because of their obedience to the command of Jesus to proclaim the gospel message. The elect of God will be hated and persecuted because they will be doing as Jesus instructed. They will be preaching and teaching the good news message of repentance from evil, true belief in God the Father and Jesus Christ and the soon-coming Kingdom of God.
The gospel message that Jesus brought from the Father is a message that is so dynamic, so powerful, and so diametrically opposed to what has been taught by this world's religious leaders and philosophers that the vast majority of people will reject it when they hear it and hate and persecute those who live it and teach it.
Jesus says to let one's light shine (Matt.5:14-16). When one does this, one cannot help but bring persecution upon one’s self.
Today, just before the return of Jesus Christ to conquer the earth and establish his Father's religion and government over the earth, the true servants of God must proclaim the good news of God the Father just as Christ did centuries ago.
The basic reasons for the persecution of the elect are not complex or difficult to understand. Revealing the true condition of the world and laying the blame at the feet of those who are responsible for these horrible conditions will indeed bring persecution.
By B.L. Cocherell, file b1w11