This world is working to draw its net around Christians who hold to the truths of God’s Word, and many Christians are denying clear scriptural teachings to sidestep the trap. We seem to see more and more Christians and Christian institutions failing to stand firm when the opposition to biblical sexuality comes to their door. To deny such clear biblical teaching on human sexuality and gender is a significant denial of the word of God.
Yet, as easy as it is to point fingers, we can all understand the pressure. Laws and policies forcing Christians to conform or be fired, or shut down their businesses, are growing daily. They are even trying to police our language by telling us which pronouns we must use. Now is not the time to be a fainthearted Christian.
We are not without encouragement in times like these, and sometimes the call for endurance comes in ways that seem strange to the contemporary churchgoer who has enjoyed religious freedom all their lives. Revelation 13:10 is one of these peculiar calls to endurance. It says,
If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity, he goes.
If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword, must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Simon Kistemaker points out in his commentary on Revelation that the “anyone” referred to in this passage are Christians facing persecution. The scripture follows those two hard statements by saying, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” It may seem strange to say, “some of you are going to be locked up, and some of you are going to die,” and then use it as a word of encouragement—however, two sources of strength flow from this verse.
The first is that when the world comes against us, making accusations and using force, the first thing we will think to ourselves, and many other Christians will say of us, is that we did something wrong. Perhaps we were not loving enough or winsome enough. Maybe we were too judgmental. The accusation in all of this is that the church is hated because we are not Christlike enough. As if the world loves Christ.
The first encouragement in these verses is that even if you do everything right, some of us will still be imprisoned or put to death. It is not our imperfections they despise, though we have many. It is Christ within us they detest. Please do not believe the lie that it is our fault when they come against us. Have endurance and faith.
The second encouragement is found in the certainty in these verses that some of us will be persecuted. These verses are not statements of vague generality but specificity. They are statements of divine sovereignty. Not only will some face imprisonment, and others will face death, God knows exactly who these people are, and his sovereign will cannot and should not be thwarted. “If anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword, they must be slain.” The word “must” speaks volumes. We see in these verses that we are not outside God’s will when they come for us. We are in the exact center of it. God is accomplishing his purposes.
When the world’s system is drawing its net around Christians, using policies or other regulations to force us out of our employment or shut down our businesses if we do not comply, realize it is appointed for some of us to be fired. And when we are threatened with mistreatment, we are to stand firm in the faith. We must also stand in solidarity when other imperfect Christians are condemned, not point fingers.
Here is a call for endurance and faith. If or when this oppression comes to us personally, we have not done anything ungodly; on the contrary, we are doing exactly what scripture has called us to do. It is all part of God’s plan to advance his Kingdom. Stand firm. He has written our names in the book of life, and they can never be removed. Do not waiver in the faith; we will stand with the Lord Jesus on the last day.