That no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.
1 Thessalonians 3:3
I have heard many who call themselves Christians blithely say that when it comes to the world the great tribulation they will be enjoying the Lord, who would come to rescue them secretly. I would not dare to say so. If the Lord wants us to protect from the tribulation, praise the God! But if we are persecuted and troubled by the name of Jesus, also praise the God! No need to worry if we suffer tribulation, that we are appointed to this, as the Scripture says.
It is unfortunate that many modern preachers do not talk about the possibility that we are persecuted and pass tribulations. In order to gain followers, some preach that Jesus Christ is the solution to all human problems. It’s emphasized that sadness, lack, loneliness, lack of employment, among other things, will disappear automatically when we become Christians. No wonder the German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke asks: “Has reduced the gospel to a promise of sugar, seasoning and all things nice?”
In the same way the American preacher Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963) was expressed when he said: “The Christian message of these times is watery or distorted to fit what is fashionable in the world, and the aim is to make the Gospel acceptable to the public.” The downside of all this is to fool people with a false gospel all you get is to bring down a path of destruction. Pleasing people preaching what they want to hear is not to love them enough because we would be closing the doors of the Kingdom of God to them.
Temporary problems of this world are nothing compared to the terrible problem of spending eternity in hell. The New Zealand evangelist Ray Comfort (1949- ) said: “Instead of preaching that Jesus ‘improves their flight,’ we should be warning sinners that one day they will have to jump from the plane.” What Comfort means is that Jesus is our parachutes we take because the plane of our lives will fall when we die. Without Christ we would end up in the vacuum of hell, we will have eternal life with Him.
The early Christians suffered and endured many afflictions because they had all this suffering for the name of Jesus was not in vain. Also they knew that the Lord had already warned they would have tribulations, as Matthew 24:9 says: Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. Probably many of those who have been drawn to Christ with a false gospel would run against what it says Matthew 24:9.
In the first centuries of our era, many Christians were persecuted, imprisoned, killed and suffered the cruel affliction. However, the persecution did not diminish the growth of the church. The American pastor Paul Washer (1961- ) has said about it: “The persecution has never hurt the church, prosperity does.”
Many modern Christians have lost the essence of what it means to follow Christ. We do not follow because we will be more successful or happier, but because besides Him there is no salvation. What happens to us in this world is not so important because when we put our faith in Him, we will live although we are dead. God bless you.