~ Blessed Assurance or Tragic Surprise? ~
We reflected on the problems and beauties of Biblical translations before. These are not just linguistic challenges but cultural ones as well. For example, how do you translate "ice" or "snow" in the languages of people whose countries or primitive living in tropical lands never provided the experience of ice or snow? Psalm 51:7 prays "… wash me and I will be whiter than snow." In Isaiah 1:18, God says of sins, "… they shall be as white as snow." Job 6:16 refers to overflowing streams "darkened by thawing ice." So missionaries needed to translate Isaiah as "Your sins will become white as the inside of a coconut." The Inuits and others living in the arctic lands have over thirty words for snow. Which word should be used? It does make a difference to them!
More serious is the social and political culture of a people. Communism, with its atheistic and socialistic indoctrination, was in power in the former USSR long enough to affect the world view of three generations, particularly the one growing up just after World War II. Most couldn't understand how, in Jesus' parable of the lost sheep, one man could own a hundred of them. The sheep were owned by the "people" or the state and raised on collective farms. In the vineyard parable the owner was regarded as counter-revolutionary and his workers had the duty to take the enterprise by force to stop exploitation of the proletariat and make it part of the state's collective. And how could Jesus be a King? Like the former czars, all kings were evil tyrants so Jesus must be like them. This thinking was a result of communist education and state imposed ideology. How far are those of us in "free" nations away from adopting a world view in harmony with the agenda and ideology of the anti-Christ of the prophesies in Daniel and Revelation? Just one generation or less is needed!
In recounting history, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand has probably provided a chilling prophecy. Some would agree just due to the saying that history repeats itself. But this repetition will be the first on a global scale. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, the US ally Communist Russia occupied Romania and soon held a national conference in the parliament of Bucharest. This "Congress of the Cults" was attended by 4,000 religious leaders of all denominations, who elected Joseph Stalin, who killed at least five times more people, Jews, Christians, and his own Russian patriots, than Adolf Hitler, as honorary president. All of Romania, by radio, could hear church delegates and religious representatives praise the new government, promising their allegiance, and assuring their people that communism and the Gospel of Christ would be happily married. Although many knew better, challenged by his wife, only Wurmbrand took the podium to speak the truth of the incompatibility of the terroristic atheistic ideology of communism in all nations with the Good News of Christ. Soon after, Wurmbrand and thousands of other faithful Christians suffered imprisonment and systematic tortures, most of which Wurmbrand said could not be described verbally or in print.
The message and love of Christ and the holy and wondrous faith and fervency of Christians were kept aflame by the rise of the Underground Church, first in Russia then throughout all Eastern Europe. This power of God is still a feared and targeted enemy of the governments of Vietnam, China, Laos and thirty-seven other oppressive nations.
These saints join Jeremiah in proclaiming, "But if I say: I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name, His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." (Jeremiah 20:9, NIV) And Jeremiah speaks for the courageous Underground Church as he continues, "I hear many whispering, ‘Terror on every side! Report him! Let's report him!’" (20:10a)
Let our still free churches and our still free nations recognize and spread the word that there is a Christian holocaust in progress right now! In the Middle East 400 Christians are martyred daily! In Sudan alone millions of Christians have been crucified, drowned or hanged. (Our source is Voice of the Martyrs, www.persecution.com.) We may find this genocide difficult to believe. But why? Because our secular news media and our churches are silent. Our news media was silent about the Nazi genocide, although our government and churches knew of it. The silence occurred again during the Stalin genocide, although many in the west knew about it. We, the people, learned the profound depth of human depravity and evil years later, through the courageous living martyrs who survived and could still summon the will and fortitude to speak about the unspeakable and not back down under the threats of political powers or the mocking disbelief of those who call these martyrs liars or exaggerators. Shamefully, free nations and their churches will not know of the Christian genocide, one that is not restricted to the borders of a few countries as with other persecutions but is world-wide, until the genocide is "history."
However, I made this previous statement deliberately incorrect this genocide will not be “history,” to emphasize a reality: God told us through Christ and our prophets that the Christian holocaust will continue until the end of our age, when the Christ will come again. The blood shed by the murderous tyrants of history will be a drop in the sea of Christian blood and those who resist the final murderous tyrant, the anti-Christ.
I heard a respected and prominent preacher provide this argument that Christians will be "raptured" or rescued into heaven before the Great Tribulation: He explained that Christ's Second Coming will be in "two stages." (I found this to be clever since it avoids the problem of needing a "Third Coming.") The Church or followers of Christ have already been atoned and our punishment for our sins already taken by Christ. Therefore it makes no sense that God would allow the Church to be punished during the tribulation.
No sense to him is nonsense to God. He was speaking to an audience of comfortable, spiritually smug Christians who never knew real persecution. Of course he was applauded for this great news which has become an established doctrine in most mainstream Protestant denominations. Suppose, however, he was presenting this argument to an audience of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrands, saints whose bodies and souls, like that of St. Paul, bore the deep scars of unspeakable tortures lasting not the seven years of the Great Tribulation, but ten or twenty years? Would his argument make sense to them? Would they have applauded?
But what about Wurmbrand's prophesy that he may not have recognized? Just change the scene of his historical account. Instead of Parliament Hill in Romania, church leaders are connected by satellite telemonitors and the public with real-time internet monitors to the Central Capitol of the new global government. Like post World War II Romania, the entire world has been liberated from all tyranny and is unified under the New World Order, the new, superior ideology of all time. One economy, one political system, peace everywhere, even between Palestine and Israel. The NWG or New World Government is able to see all its citizens through the World Wide Web, but that isn't secure enough. For this utopian world to truly harmonize, the NWG explains the need for all citizens to be painlessly injected in the hand or forehead with a microchip. No more need for money or cards or memorizing long numbers. Children can't get lost or kidnapped. Crime could not happen. No need for keys to homes or cars. The people agree this is great and, of course, would only succeed if everyone got "stamped." One couldn't even drive a car without his or her personal microchip mark with which to start the programmed engine. Cash or credit cards would be obsolete and could not be used to buy anything.
The NWG needs the cooperation of the churches that hold power over many. The NWG will enable the churches to function more effectively than ever. Like all citizens, church leaders will have their profession coded on their microchip. The world's harmony will extend even among all religions. As in Romania, one by one, church leaders tell the world citizens that the Gospel of Christ and religious teachings are in complete harmony with the New World Order ideology, and that Christ Himself is pleased with the great achievement of humankind of world peace and security for all.
They pledge their allegiance to the NWG. The prophesized reign of the anti-Christ has peacefully and seductively begun. He speaks and acts with miraculous power, from the NWG seat in the most appropriate place on earth: The newly built temple in the now defiled city of Jerusalem. Jesus and the prophets had a powerful term for this: The abomination of desolation.
We have never argued or taught denominational doctrines in these Weekly Reflections. As worshippers and lovers of the only God, Yahweh, we lovingly reflect together on His wondrous mysteries. Will the Body of Christ witness the abomination "spoken of by Daniel"? Can Christians lose their faith in Christ? Wurmbrand and other martyrs tell of once strong people of Christian faith dying while denouncing the name of Christ. Some would assert these were people never saved or of Christ from the start. Who can prove or disprove that? But what about St. Peter? Didn't Jesus say a denial of Him means a denial from Him? So we reflect on the Scriptures. St. Paul writes that "Some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits…" (Timothy 4:1)
Can one abandon a faith that one never embraced? Hebrews 6:4-6 explains, "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace." (NIV) Clearly this is not a description of a "false teacher" or "false believer."
In the Book of Revelation, St. John is instructed by Christ to write this to a spiritually weak church: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (3:15-16, NIV) We previously mentioned the many insightful meanings lost in translation. Many versions use the more pleasant word "spit" rather than the more gut-retching original Greek word and image of "vomit." The difference is spiritually significant, however. Spitting means that one can hold something in the mouth without consuming it. But vomiting requires that item to have been ingested as part of your body. Christ is saying He is about to expel from His Body a church, which He willingly once took into Himself. What does that say to you?
Whatever conclusions you reach upon pondering these verses and questions, there is an unavoidable realization. Lukewarm Christians and churches are a liability to the Body of Christ, the Church, His Bride. Lukewarm Christians are churches who sold and are now still selling their souls to the devil, atheistic and anti-Christic systems like communism and fascism and religious zealots who persecute Christians, as St. Paul once did. Whether or not you will be here during the Great Tribulation, Christians will be, as the Revelation and Jesus declare in Matthew 24. Whether or not you know it, Christians are suffering global, profane persecution right now. And the worldwide Underground Church is hot and powerful in the Holy Spirit because of it.
The most tragic surprise imaginable would be to hear the words from Christ, "Leave Me. I never knew you." A notch below that would be to hear, "I am about to vomit you out of Me." But that needs no imagining. Christ has already said it to the lukewarm, part-time Christians. How can any of us leave ourselves in such a terrible state?
The seductive prostitute and the loving saint who would take your place in a torture cell speak the same words: I love you. But we must "discern the spirits," and the spirit of the anti-Christ is the second most seductive in this world. Lukewarm hearts will fall for it faster than even cold ones. The most wondrously seductive words are those of our Beloved Christ who calls for your invitation while knocking on the door of your heart. Those words are the invitation to the mystical union of spiritual marriage with our Creator. Those are words of passion and spiritual fire. There is no other way to be when you are in Christ. And that is blessed assurance!
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
Spiritual Resource Services © August, 2001
Bible quotations are based and taken from "God's Word," a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations Bible Society. Used by permission.
Responses are welcome at: Reflections@prayergear.com
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