It was another terrible terrorist act like so many we have seen lately. But there was something different that caught my attention. The February beheading of 12 Egyptian Christians by Isis on a Libyan beach was clearly an act of war against the cross of Jesus. The terrorists released a graphic video of their barbaric act and titled it, “A Message Signed With Blood, To The Nation of the Cross.” They called their victims “the people of the cross” who had been “carrying the cross illusion.” In other words, they killed those men because those men loved Jesus.
Before their deaths, the men cried out in unison, “Ya Rabbi Yasou,” which means, “O my Lord Jesus!” Walid Shoebat, a terrorism expert who is a former Muslim and now a Christian, said their cry is evidence that the men refused an offer to save their lives by denying Jesus.
Pope Francis called the men Christian martyrs. Franklin Graham said, “We’d better take this warning seriously as these acts of terror will only spread throughout Europe and the United States . . . . The storm is coming.”
The Apostle Paul wrote that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18, NIV).
Jesus said these times would come. “All men will hate you because of me,” He said (Matt. 10:22, NIV). “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20, NIV). “You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me,” (Matt. 24:9, NIV).
In His vision to John, Jesus wrote to the church at Smyrna: “You will suffer persecution . . . . Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life,” (Rev. 2:10, NIV).
We Christians in the U.S. have been shielded from religious persecution but that is likely to change in the days ahead. We no longer live in a land where the majority accept Christianity as good and right, even if they don’t embrace it themselves. These days Christianity is seen by many as a religion of hatred and exclusiveness. The cross has become offensive even in this nation we used to call Christian.
As David Platt says, “Our culture has shifted, and it seems that right and wrong are no longer measured by universal truth but by popular opinion.”
This year’s Secret Church theme is “Christ, Culture and a Call to Action.” What an appropriate and needed study for those of us who are “people of the cross” in a world that is growing in its hatred toward Jesus.
I hope you will join me and others for this study the evening of Apr. 24 at Heights Baptist Church in Liberty.
It will be useful to you, I know, because now — before the persecution comes — now is the time for you to nail down the absolute truths of God’s Word and prepare yourself “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand,” (Eph. 6:13, NIV).
When that day comes, I want to be like those 21 believers on the beach who refused to deny the Jesus who took up His cross for them. I want my final words to give testimony to the Jesus who saved me.
Wanting to be found faithful,