WARNINGS OF COMING PERSECUTIONby: Elder Lawrence Nelson
Every time I see the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor or see its picture in a book or magazine I feel moisture gathering in my eyes and a heartbeat in my throat. For in America, the land that I love, its citizens even now are losing many of their freedoms. When people lose their freedom, one of the first segments of freedom that is curtailed is their religious liberty, freedom to worship God and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
America is represented in Revelation 13 as a lamb-like beast but we are also well aware that Revelation 13 also pictures America as becoming a persecuting dragon who will, through the papal power, set up and enforce the image of the beast. Soon there will come a time in America when true Christians will lose all their religious freedoms.
There is a growing movement today within the United States for "people control." This is hidden under the guise of such terms as "a One World Order" or "a global government." Most Americans are sound asleep as to the ultimate goals of these movements. Silently the stage is being set by the forces of evil to gain power to persecute those who obey the commandments of God, including the fourth commandment.
Those who teach that Christ's soon coming will end this world of sin and usher in an everlasting kingdom, not on this earth but in heaven above, will be targeted. On the other hand, the nominal churches who believe that when Christ comes He will set up His kingdom on earth and bring peace upon this world for a thousand years, these will not be subject to persecution, for the real issue will be over the Sabbath day.
As the end draws near, under the leadership of the anti-christ, an unstoppable movement is developing to enforce Sunday worship in the place of God's command to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath. Turning to the Spirit of Prophecy I quote, "In this warfare the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will be the great point at issue; for in the Sabbath commandment the great Lawgiver identifies Himself as the Creator of the heavens and the earth." Bible Commentary, Volume 7, p. 983.
In America, laws to exalt the false Sabbath will be passed. "All who will not bow to the decree of the national…laws to exalt the sabbath instituted by the man of sin to the disregard of God's holy day, will feel, not the oppressive power of popery alone but of the Protestant world, the image of the beast." Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 385.
Sunday laws and persecutions will spread over the entire world. "The decree enforcing the worship of this day is to go forth to all the world. As America, the land of religious liberty, shall unite with the papacy in forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the false sabbath, the people of every country on the globe will be led to follow her example. Foreign nations will follow the example of the United States. Though she leads out, yet the same crisis will come upon our people in all parts of the world….All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to worship this spurious sabbath." Maranatha p. 214. In Revelation 13:8 I read, "All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Beloved, before we proceed further we need divine power to comprehend the fulfilling prophecies that are now taking place in preparation to accomplish this hellish goal. Will you join me in prayer for heavenly discernment? O precious Father, we will be discussing the storm warnings of coming persecutions to all who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. We will need the Holy Spirit to guide us that we may be aware of the subtle changes that are now taking place around us, that we may not be caught unprepared but ready to meet coming persecutions in the strength and the power of the Holy Spirit. This we ask in the precious name of Thy dear Son, Jesus. Thank Thee, Lord, for this help. Amen."
Turning to the scriptures now, we will find that Jesus spoke of this end time in which great persecutions would face His followers. In Matthew 24:9-13 we read, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Turning to the scriptures now, we will find that Jesus spoke of this end time in which great persecutions would face His followers. In Matthew 24:9-13 we read, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Then I read in 2 Timothy 3:12, 13 where Paul write, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." Once again, let me quote from the Spirit of Prophecy where she says what the great deceiver says, "Our principle concern is to silence this sect of Sabbathkeepers….We will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority." Testimonies to Ministers p. 472. And again, "It is the purpose of Satan to cause them to be blotted from the earth, in order that his supremacy of the world may not be disputed." Testimonies to Ministers p. 37.
These messages are speaking of the end-time battle between God's true Sabbath and Satan's false, so-called Sunday sabbath which is so soon to burst upon us. Since the first Advent of Christ there have been periods of persecutions directed against the followers of Christ. No sooner had Jesus Christ started His Christian church then persecutions began and continued for the next 300 years.
This was Satan's gigantic effort, through apostate Judaism and pagan Rome, to exterminate Christianity. During these years, thousands upon thousands of Christians were beheaded, buried alive, fed to lions, boiled in oil, crucified and by other means tortured and put to death. Then for 1260 years through papal Rome Satan made his greatest attack yet against Christians. Not merely thousands, but millions, were persecuted and put to death during this long period of papal supremacy.
In the book The Great Controversy by Ellen White, you will find the inspired revelation of the terrible atrocities hurled against the Waldenses, the Hussites, the Lutherans, the Calvinists, and the Anabaptists. You will further discover how the Church of England persecuted the Pilgrims and the Puritans, a people who believed and taught the scriptures, for they were burned at the stake. The inquisition banned the Bible and forbade the people to read the scriptures. Yet, what was the result of all these persecutions? - From Foxes' Book of Martyrs I quote, "Not withstanding all these continued persecutions and horrible punishments the church daily increased."
Speaking now of our day, you may be surprised that the day in which we live, millions of Christians have been and are being persecuted and many martyred by the enemies of Christianity. This is happening in communist countries such as Red China, Cuba etc., and socialistic regimes in Africa, in Islamic fanaticism.
In a book just published in 1999 entitled Storm Warnings by Don McAlvany, on page 10 he states, "Today millions of Christians are being persecuted, imprisoned or martyred in communist China, while 2.1 million Christians have been martyred in southern Sudan by the followers of Islam in the 1990's alone. Over a million Christians have been martyred in Burundi, the Central African Republic and in the Marxist front-line states of southern Africa in recent years. (And listen to this) About 1,000 Christians a day are being martyred somewhere in the world today - the greatest number since the beginning of the Christian church."
The reality of such a truth should be very alarming. I have received word that Christians who recently emerged from such persecutions in Russia are now preparing to go back to underground organizations in order to serve God. The hundreds of letters that I receive from around the world reveal that great changes are sweeping the entire globe.
From the Adventist Network of February 1, 2000, page 7,8 I quote an evidence of persecution of Seventh-day Adventists in Mexico where thousands were baptized despite on-going persecutions. In Chiapus, Mexico, "thirty-three pastors baptized more than 3,600 people in the ocean off Puerto Madero, on Sunday, January 23. The Adventist church leader in this region, reports that the baptisms were the result of a week-long evangelistic campaign held in the area in mid-January. At least 10,000 people from across the region crowded on the shore to watch the event.
"The baptisms come at a time of increasing difficulty for Adventists in the nearby village of Plan de Ayala. Since 1994, ongoing conflict between different Christian groups in the region has forced at least 20 Adventist families to leave the area and ten Adventist homes have been burned down. The current dispute results from plans from the five remaining Adventist families to build a new church in the village on land donated by a church member. The General Assembly, a local governing body, has refused to allow the building to go ahead and is threatening to evict the Adventists from the village. In spite of the persecutions the brethren have continued to spread the gospel, while working to establish better relations and mutual respect with the locals who have persecuted them for their belief."
And here in America, the prosperity that has been ours since the end of World War II has caused millions of professed Christians to believe that the good life will continue forever. But a small remnant have not succumbed to this deep sleep. They are aware of a growing political power of anti-biblical sentiments that is taking control of our country. Christian standards and beliefs are ridiculed and belittled on the television and in the movies. Christianity is being attacked in popular books and even by the media in newscasts.
Here is another statement from Storm Warnings p. 23, 24. Please keep in mind that the author is a non-Adventist. "The decline of America should be obvious to any thinking American. The explosion of crime, gang warfare, and drive-by shootings in our cities; the disintegration of the American family with proliferating divorce, infidelity, child abuse, single parent families, and teen-age rebellion; the explosion of drug usage - the highest in the world - the rampant spread of promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, and sexually transmitted diseases; the gross immorality and corruption at the highest levels of US government are all irrefutable evidence of a country whose culture, morality, traditions and spiritual life are in a free-fall."
Faced with this reality, is it any wonder that the judgments of God have been steadily increasing, especially in the past two decades? God is endeavoring to awaken the inhabitants of our country to their sins and their need of repentance. We have become so used to hearing and seeing on TV the results of earthquakes, storms, fires etc. that I feel it necessary at this point to get a picture of a summary of the catastrophic events that have taken place.
Beginning in the early 1980's America suffered a terrible drought followed by severe flooding in the Mid-West and California which destroyed huge amounts of crops. Then came Hurricane Hugo in 1989, striking South Carolina, causing great damage. Soon after, in 1992, a most powerful earthquake rocked San Francisco, followed by four powerful earthquakes in California – one being 7.6 in magnitude.
Next came Hurricane Andrew striking southern Florida, with a most expensive disaster in our nation's history – some $33 billion dollars in damage. This was followed, in Los Angeles, by the worst rioting in our country since the Civil War. Then in 1993 another record storm hit the east coast, followed by the worst terrorist attack in American history striking the World Trade Center [February 26, 1993]. This was soon followed by the bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City which killed scores of innocent men, women and children.
Incredible disasters continued in 1994 with temperatures their lowest since record began in 1890. A vast portion of the Midwest sustained a wind-chill of 90 degrees below zero. Next the state of Pennsylvania was hit by the strongest earthquake ever recorded in that state, centering in Redding. And two days later, a 6.6 earthquake struck Los Angeles creating some $10 billion in damage and leaving thousands homeless.
It was the year, 1994, when America crossed the line and went from the world's largest creditor nation to the world's largest debtor nation. Almost one and one-half million personal bankruptcies took place in 1998 alone - a record since the great depression.
Now friend, don't miss the facts by looking at this total picture. I believe God is permitting these tragic events to happen because America is following and tolerating a life-style in which the Bible clearly states removes God's blessings - sins, such as fornication, adultery, sodomy, sexual perversions and the shedding of blood of the unborn. Do you realize that America aborts 1.6 million babies a year; that since the ruling in 1973 some 40 million children have been killed in the womb? This fact is taken from Storm Warning page 30.
Morally this nation hit the bottom with its 1998 Gay/Lesbian celebration at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I am quoting from Storm Warning p. 41: "A review of the gay days '98, scheduled events was amazing. On June 3 from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. was an event titled "Who's Your Daddy?" The description of the event followed a leather, latex and bondage party featuring live flogging and spanking, masters and slaves, plus living piercing sponsored by the "Absolute Leather BD and SN of Florida". There were two events called "Seductive Dancing." There were male strippers and female impersonators. Gay Days ended on June7 with a Sunday gospel brunch from 10:15 a.m. till 3:30 p.m.; an event titled 'Sin Tonight; Repent Tomorrow,' and wonder of wonders, the President of the United States sent a letter of congratulation for events like this."
Listen, friend, America cannot continue in this direction and remain a great nation. Proverbs 14:34 reads, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." I totally agree with the following found in Storm Warning p. 46, "The Bible states that 'if the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do?' Psalm 11:3. The foundations of America have been destroyed. The husband-wife family unit which is ordained by God is being replaced with the term 'domestic partners', and homosexuals are being allowed to adopt children. America is becoming unglued. The nation is full of violence as innocent blood is being shed from coast to coast. It seems every week a mass murderer kills several people. This was virtually unheard of before 1963. The violence that started against children in the womb has now spread like a cancer throughout the entire society. It is truly ironic that America has developed the technology to allow men to walk safely in space, yet in most of our cities it is unsafe to walk the streets."
The Bible speaks, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20.
And now Ellen White speaks, "The earth groans under the burden of accumulated guilt, and everywhere dying mortals are compelled to experience the wretchedness included in the wages of unrighteousness. I was shown that men have carried out the purposes of Satan by craft and deceit and a dreadful blow has recently been given. It can be truly said: 'Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.'…In some of the free states the standard of morality is sinking lower and lower. Men with depraved appetites and corrupt lives have now an opportunity to triumph. They have chosen for their rulers those whose principles are debasing, who would not check evil or repress the deprived appetites of men, but let them have full sway. If those who chose to become like the beasts, by drinking liquid poison, were the only sufferers, if they alone would reap the fruit of their own doings, then the evil would not be so great. But many, very many, must pass through incredible suffering on account of others' sins. Wives and children, although innocent, must drain the bitter cup to its dregs.
"Without the grace of God, men love to do evil. They walk in darkness, and do not possess the power of self-control. They give loose reign to their passions and appetites until all the finer feelings are lost and only the animal passions are manifested. Such men need to feel a higher, controlling power, which will constrain them to obey. If rulers do not exercise a power to terrify the evildoer, he will sink to the level of the brute. The earth is growing more and more corrupt." Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, p. 362.
And what about communism which has caused much brutality and wickedness in past years? Don't be misled. Communism, even in America, is not dead, but much alive. Mikhail Gorbachev is still one of the most powerful leaders of the New World Order and he has headquarters in the Presidio, formerly the US army or government military base in San Francisco, California. That's amazing.
There are literally scores of organizations with papal cooperation who are pushing for a New World Order or a global government. When this happens freedom will be a thing of the past. Never forget, it was through the 1260 years of papal rule by cruel persecution, that the papacy once controlled the nations of earth.
One way to accomplish this goal again would be the passage of laws to punish "hate crimes." This would mean anything derogatory that might be said of religious groups, races, lifestyle etc. The word of God identifies the Roman religious system as an enemy of the law of God and of His holy Sabbath day. If a law against hate crimes should be passed, then if one were to teach Bible truths regarding this power, or if he should pass out a book like The Great Controversy, written by Ellen White, or other literature which would identify the papacy and expose her sins and aims, he could be accused of breaking the law. He might be imprisoned and fined for simply sharing God's Word.
Two of our members recently heard a prominent news person infer that if anyone should make a demeaning reference about a certain well-known religious leader whom he admired, that would, in his eyes constitute a hate crime. The near future could very well bring such persecutions upon God's people. Yet, we have the divine commission to teach all the truths of God's word to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
In Revelation 13:15-18 God foretold that terrible persecutions would be executed under the reign of the image of the beast. "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
Concerning this time, Jesus warns, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." Matthew 24:9 "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." John 16:2.
Now let us conclude by reading the inspired instructions that God has given to His remnant, those that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, as found in The Great Controversy, chapter 35 entitled "Liberty of Conscience Threatened." "In the movements now in progress in the United States to secure for the institutions and the usage of the church the support of the state, Protestants are following in the steps of papists, Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she has lost in the Old World. And that which gives greater significance to this movement is the fact that the principle object contemplated is the enforcement of Sunday observance - a custom which originated with Rome and which she claims as the sign of her authority. It is the spirit of the papacy--the spirit of conformity to worldly customs, the veneration for human traditions above the commandments of God--that is permeating the Protestant churches and leading them on to do the same work of Sunday exaltation which the papacy has done before them.
"If the reader would understand the agencies to be employed in the soon-coming contest, he has but to trace the record of the means which Rome employed for the same object in ages past. If he would know how papists and Protestants united will deal with those who reject their dogmas, let them see the spirit which Rome manifested toward the Sabbath and its defenders….
"Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendancy, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy. The opinion is gaining ground, that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which had been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery, and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed (and may I add here, even by some of our own church leaders).
"The defenders of the papacy declare that the church has been maligned; and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of to-day by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of the barbarianism of the times, and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.
"Have these persons forgotten the claim of infallibility put forth for eight hundred years by this haughty power? So far from being relinquished, this claim was affirmed in the nineteenth century with greater positiveness than ever before. As Rome asserts that the church 'never erred; nor will it, according to the Scriptures, never err,' how can she renounce the principles which governed her course in past ages?
"The papal church will never relinquish her claim to infallibility. All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas, she holds to be right; and would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented? Let the restraints now imposed by secular governments be removed, and Rome be re-instated in her former power, and there would speedily be a revival of her tyranny and persecution….
"The constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX., in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: 'The absurd and erroneous doctrine or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience, are a most pestilential error – a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.' The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1964, anathematized 'those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,' also 'all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.'"
I ask you, did you get that? "That the church may not employ force?" Now back to quoting from The Great Controversy. "The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O'Connor: 'Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.'…The archbishop of St. Louis once said: 'Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.'…
"Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: 'Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord (the pope), or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.'" These words were taken from that chapter, "Liberty of Conscience Threatened" in the book The Great Controversy.
And what about the attitude of John Paul II? We should note that it is not really different from the above testimony of the archbishop of St. Louis when he said that heresy and unbelief are crimes. John Paul's grand design is set forth by Malachi Martin in his book titled The Keys of This Blood. This book, published only ten years ago, reveals John Paul's grand design is to bring the whole world under his control.
Martin refers to this as the coming global government. On page 287, Martin explains John Paul's attitude. He writes thus: Those that believe and "defend every person's right to be wrong," sets them apart from John Paul. He continues by saying, "It is axiomatic for John Paul that no one has the right – democratic or otherwise – to a moral wrong; and no religion based on divine revelation has a moral right to teach such a moral wrong or abide by it."
Now listen to me carefully. Is not Martin actually saying here that according to the present pope no one, including Seventh-day Adventists, have the right to believe or teach a different doctrine than taught by the Roman pontiff? And is it not echoing the sentiment of the archbishop of St. Louis as documented in The Great Controversy? Frightening, isn't it? Should not such a statement as this awaken us as to what the purposes of Rome really are? Obviously that includes his beliefs concerning Sunday vs. the Bible-Sabbath issue.
Prophecy shows the great day of God is right upon us. "It hasteneth greatly." Can we not see that even now the deadly wound is almost fully healed? Soon the pope will be in a position to persecute those whose understanding of the scriptures differ from his own.
Turning again to Great Controversy p. 581 I quote, "God's word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectingly she is strengthening her forces to further her own end when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever shall believe and obey the Word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution."
And so beloved, let us not wait until it is too late to escape her snare. We must understand what her purposes are now. Right now.
Let us pray. O God, thank Thee for awakening our slumber. Please continue to daily impress us with the need of preparation for this coming crisis of persecution. Fortify our minds with Thy Word and the Spirit of Prophecy that we may be ready to be obedient to all Thy commands. For this help, we thank Thee, in the name of Jesus, Amen.