Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

—Matthew 24:36

If we know that Christians in the past have suffered persecution, if we know that Christians around the world are now suffering persecution, and if we know there is a time coming in the future when every believer will suffer persecution, then doesn’t it make sense that we who live in America are also going to face a time of persecution? The Bible tells us that the last seven years of earth’s history will be intense persecution for every believer in the world. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:36. Jesus said, talking about His return, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” There is a day and an hour fixed on God’s calendar when the Lord is going to return. And that means that every second that passes is moving toward that great climactic event. Every second that passes, we are moving toward this time of great tribulation and persecution against believers on the earth.

I think it’s important to define what we mean by “persecution.” When I refer to persecution I’m talking about any negative consequences we experience for being salt, that is, restraining evil, or by being light, which is trying to share the gospel with other people. Now, obviously there is a spectrum of persecution that people experience. That spectrum can range from not being invited to a dinner party because you are too opinionated, all the way to being tortured and even executed because you will not recant your faith in Jesus Christ. The degree to which you as a Christian will experience persecution depends on two factors.

First, the intensity of your conviction will determine the intensity of the persecution you face. The pastor who never preaches against homosexuality or abortion or talks about the exclusivity of the gospel will never face ridicule from the media. The Christian student who refuses to challenge his non-Christian professor’s erroneous teaching will never have to worry about a lowered grade. A believer who decides not to offend his non-Christian parents by sharing the gospel with them will never risk experiencing their disapproval. The intensity of your conviction will determine the intensity of the persecution you experience.

Second, the extent of the persecution you face is determined by the spiritual climate of the culture in which you live. Someone asked me, “Pastor, do you think this world is getting worse?” I said, “Worse than what?” I mean, is our culture more ungodly than the Roman Empire? Well, no. But is America more ungodly than it was 100 years ago? The answer would be yes. America is more hostile toward Christianity now than at any other time in our nation’s history. Since that negativity and hostility is more likely to increase than to subside, we ought to get ready for persecution.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When Persecution Comes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.