“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Heb 10:23–25 (ESV)
This verse is famous for its use in sermons encouraging the people to not neglect their church attendance. It is an exhortation to not neglect to attend a fellowship of like believers where you can learn from each other, be encouraged from each other, and not lose hope. By fellowshipping together we “hold fast the confession of our hope.”
But this is not the only application.
Recently I wrote about persecution and my belief that it is coming to the West. It is on the horizon. The one thing that I believe will help us weather the storm is by being in unity.
“The faithful Underground Church…In formerly Communist Russia, no one remembered anymore the arguments for or against child or adult baptism, for or against papal infallibility. They were not pre- or post-millennialists. They could not interpret prophecies and didn’t quarrel about them.” ~ Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ.
Persecution has a way of bringing the body of Christ together. During Communist Russia, many Christians were imprisoned for their faith. In the prison, there were no denominational lines that separated them. They came together as one, preached to each other, shared scriptures, and sang hymns to one another.
Should we wait for the persecution in order to come together as one body?
Hebrews tells us to “not neglecting to meet together.” This is not just for your local church, but for all local churches. This is meant for the whole body of Christ, all the local churches, to meet together. This is how we will encourage one another. This is how we will build each other up. For when the storm comes we will lean on each other and our love will get us through.
“ Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” Jn 15:20. (ESV)
Is the American Church ready for persecution? Some people scoff at the idea Christians will see persecution. Some say persecution will never come. We have the Constitution to protect us. There is no way our rights can be violated.
Recent history has shown us the gap that is between this world’s religion and our own faith, Christianity. Several cases have come up that have pitted Christian faith against the laws of this land. And many times the cases have gone through the courts siding on the side of the law and special interest groups against the religious freedom of the defenders. It wasn’t until the case went to the Supreme Court did we see some respite.
The Gospel Coalition has an article that comes out of Australia. The events there are not dissimilar to our own. Campbell Markham argues, in light of certain people losing their jobs over their faith and their beliefs regarding marriage, the church needs to prepare itself for more persecution. He is calling all churches in Australia to prepare their people for persecution. I’d suggest you read the whole article. It paints a picture not only of the grim reality we live in but also of the glory of keeping the faith even during trials and persecution.
I expect, within the remainder of my lifetime, that Christians will be legally restricted in their ability to speak out and live out their faith in the public sphere. ~ Campbell Markham pastors Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Hobart.
Even though Markham is speaking to Australia specifically, I think he speaks to all the Church in the West. We’ve not seen the persecution that the Church has endured in its history. The promise of Jesus is we will see persecution. We in the West have been blessed not to see what our forefathers witnessed and endured.
Will this blessing turn into a curse? Will we bend to the will of our state, our tormentors, when they demand we turn away from our faith, the teaching of our Lord? Will we endure losing our jobs for our faith? Our homes? Our church buildings?