Many of you probably know someone who is a, "Prepper". Someone who is preparing for economic, social, or military chaos in the future. In the world in which we now live, there is much logic behind this mindset. But as a Christian, the changes that are occurring in our society at this moment, and the increasing rate in which these changes are happening, will soon cause more of us to fall, in a much more serious way, than any event that prepping could prepare you to face.
A spiritual chaos has already begun in this country, and even around the world, which has the potential to take away far more from each of us, than any other threat—physically, socially, and especially spiritually. And the problem is that no one seems to be prepping for this one event that is inevitable—Biblically and literally.
Let me ask you an honest question: "Do you sometimes get tired and weary of living the Christian life?" I pose that question in terms of: 1) Tired of the struggle in marriage or relationships when you see others just quit and move on when it is too tough for them 2) Tired of having to continually defend or justify your beliefs against an accusing, condemning, and ridiculing society 3) Tired of being painted the "bad or judgmental" person in every social issue 4) Tired of the struggle to do right, and sin less in front of a Righteous God that you often feel is not happy with you 5) Tired of having the same difficulties as all of the "non-believers" around you, even though you are trying hard to serve God—I could not agree more at times. But, here is our dilemma: (Let's take a moment for a reality check) Are things getting better or worse for us as Christians today? Obviously, quickly, worse. So, will your struggles and frustrations get any easier in the future, or will they very probably get much worse? If we maintain the outlook and attitude that many of us have right now (me included)—what will eventually happen? Our discontentment and frustration will worsen, and many will eventually give up or burn out.
About a year ago, we talked in detail about the difficult and brutal times that Christians of the 1st century had to endure.
But right now in many parts of the world today the cost is still just as high, the times are just as hard. Christians are now the most persecuted group in the world. "In North Korea, the practice of Christianity is illegal. Owning a Bible is a crime, and any person caught with one is sent – along with three generations of his or her family – to prison."
In spite of all of [this], there are many serving Christ in these areas with fully devoted, undivided hearts. Although these are horrific places and times, the devotion and strength of Christ's believers grows beyond anything most claiming Christ have here, simply because the cost of discipleship doesn't allow pretenders. There is a clear line that must be crossed, which requires one to be sold-out from the beginning. But now, listen to a time in history where this exact situation began to turn the tide. In the Roman Empire, just following the terrible times of persecution for the Christians... A major legal change occurred: In AD 311, Emperor Galerius who once tortured and imprisoned Christians, and destroyed Manuscripts—issued "The Edict of Tolerance" on his deathbed—declaring tolerance for Christians and their faith, and asking Christians to pray for the well-being of the Empire in return. Then, in AD 313, "The Edict of Milan" granted not only tolerance but welcomed equality for the Christian religion and any other religion, causing the government to return goods taken in past persecution, allowing government pay to bishops and preachers, proclaiming Sunday as an official government day of rest. The Emperor of that time, Constantine, chose Christianity as his own religion, caused a major preference swing by the people, bringing orthodox Christianity into the light as the sole official religion of the Empire by the end of the fourth century. Although this freedom allowed a great growth and spread of Christianity, it also became one of the worst things that ever happened because it became popular and advantageous to be "Christian." Laws favored you, people accepted you, and it was the expected course of life. Therefore, a fake, half-hearted, political, and uncommitted church body began to grow. Now listen and compare what was just said, to our position in this country. In the past 240 years in America, it has been advantageous to be a Christian because laws support your beliefs. It has been easy to cry unfair when freedoms have been infringed upon. People look at you more favorably for your lifestyle. Societal structure and public life has been based around your belief system. Speech and actions based on your beliefs have been without repercussions or penalty. As bad as the persecutions of the early Christians were, which era had a more pure, passionate, true church for Christ? The Early Persecuted Church, or the Christian Empire? The Persecuted Church. Well, let's get the big picture of what is happening today. We are actually experiencing a reversal of what we just explained. We have lived in a happy, comfortable, easy-believism world much like the Christian Empire for generations; to the point that I sometimes cringe when we are grouped in with the term Christian today. But in our day, today, we are seeing an obvious, and fairly quick shift from Christianity as an "official religion" of our times, to most persecuted. And as we experience this shift, you will have to make a solid decision about your faith, because it is fast becoming more and more impossible to remain "under the radar" if your faith is real. And since we have come from a "comfortable" season of Christianity, we are faced with a serious time of choice as the church is purged once more by increasing pressure and discrimination. Though we are nowhere near the level of persecution of other countries, there is a definite, growing cost to proclaiming Christ as your Savior.
We have talked about this persecution in depth in previous services, but today we are going to look at a different facet of these changing times. As the pressure is increased more and more all around us, there is an ever-present push to go one of several ways: 1) to turn our backs on God's Salvation, God's Plan, and God's Words altogether—and embrace the world-view, 2) to change everything about His Word and Plan to be sure we don't challenge or offend anyone with a God they don't like, 3) to maintain our true love and conviction for Jesus Christ no matter the ever-growing consequences. If you are one of those who will truly continue to stand firm for Christ in the days ahead—one that will survive the outright attacks against everything you say that you live for today—there are a few ways, Scripturally speaking, that God absolutely expects us to become, "spiritual preppers."
We are Christians who have been lulled into comfort, and peace through generations of prosperity; who are now being thrust into serious and growing adversity. If we are not prepared mentally, emotionally, doctrinally, and spiritually, many of us may be those who fall away, and draw back in the troubles to come. We have to decide what we believe and get serious in our actions. We have to become preppers right now, or we will lose everything soon. Will you be ready? Hebrews 10:35-39. It’s time for a real and serious time of recommitment to Christ. If not now, then you are already beginning to fall away.
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