Monday, January 12, 2004

Persecution and Faith

In the Federalist Papers #1 Alexander Hamilton wrote "in politics as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresy in either case can rarely be cured by persecution." This is a wise and true statement.

No one's heart will be changed by persecution. Cowards and schemers, when persecution starts, will bow to the persecutor, while the honest and brave will suffer and die on matters of principle. This is as things are, and Christian doctrine admits it to be so. Jesus and His Apostles taught that we are to extend the Kingdom of our Lord by the simple preaching of the Gospel and not by physical warfare or force.

We are also supposed to defend the Gospel not by beating up those that mock it, but by answering their erroneous views with solid, informed, bible based answers. Too often these days the average Christian doesn't have an answer for those who argue against or attack the Christian the faith. When this happens it is a poor witness to those around us whom we desire to see come to Christ.

We are commanded in Scripture to always be ready to give a defence of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Doing this takes some work and study on our part. It takes thinking about, and knowing what it is we believe and why we believe it. You can hardly defend the faith if you don't really understand what it is. Some aspects of the faith are very simple, but others are much more involved and takes time and study to grasp and defend.

There are many issues in Scripture that the world around us rages about. One such issue today is the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexuality. This is not popular in our "I’m ok, your ok culture.” Another Christian that has always been hated is the exclusivity of the Christian faith. We are told and then proclaim that "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) That one and only saviour is Jesus Christ. To teach that is seen as unfair and even bigoted in our so-called “pluralistic society.” It is bigoted to deny salvation to non-Christians, like Buddhists, Hindus, Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, or Liberal "Christians" all of whom deny the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith.

We may face persecution someday if we do not bend on these and other issues, to bend on these issues is to deny fundamental aspects of the faith we claim to hold. Even now, many of our Christian brethren, all across the world, are being killed and persecuted because the biblical teachings they hold to are counter to the culture in which they live. Our own ancestors in the faith, faced persecution and death for the same reason. If, God forbid, we are called to suffer for the faith in this country, we must persevere in the faith that has been once delivered to the saints. There is salvation in perseverance. Remember what Jesus said "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matt. 10:22)

There are times when we will suffer for our faith in Christ, but we are still to advance His Kingdom, not by attacking and persecuting others, but with the ability to patently proclaim and defend God's Word. If we fail to do either it is sin.

Coram Deo,

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