Published October 20, 2015

Paul's Epistle
"Faithful Unto Death"

It's happened again. Unfortunately.

As you've heard, just a few weeks ago a troubled young man entered a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He was known there – he was a member of the class.

But then things turned ugly. He pulled out weapons and shouted at the students, "Are you a Christian? And if you're a Christian, stand up!"

Nine of them stood up.

Then, according to survivors, he said, "Because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second." And then – one by one – he shot and killed those who confessed to being Christians.

He wasn't done, though. He shot and wounded seven others before taking his own life as police arrived.

Interestingly, the shooter left a note saying, "I will be welcomed in hell and embraced by the devil." I doubt that he got what he expected. But it does show who inspired his hateful acts.

If you were in a similar situation – and were asked to acknowledge unequivocally that you were a Christian – knowing what would happen – would you?

Think about this. As the mother of one of the victims noted, because there were nine Christian students killed, eight of them saw the gunman shoot at least one of their Christian friends – one at a time, going down the line – for confessing Christ. And they clearly knew what was coming for them in a matter of just a few heart-pounding seconds.

So... Would you be so bold in your confession?

It's a question our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East face on a daily basis. Recently in Syria, ISIS captured eleven indigenous Christian workers near the town of Allepo. These Christian workers had willingly and purposefully stayed in the area, even though they had been urged to leave. They knew what might happen, but wanted to minister to others.

When captured, they were ordered to renounce Christ and return to Islam — or die. They refused. They said they would never renounce Christ.

For their stand, some of these were brutalized – the 12-year old son of a pastor had his fingers chopped off while his father was forced to watch – and then they were crucified. Yes, crucified. Others were first beheaded – and then their headless corpses were hung on crosses with signs reading, "Infidel!"

These ISIS thugs were clearly serving the same master as that Oregon shooter, half a world away. Clearly, Satan knows his time is short (Rev. 12:12).

Would you have the faith to be so bold as those Christian students in Oregon or those Christian workers in Syria? Would you be so bold as to acknowledge Christ in the face of certain, imminent death?

I know I've been writing a lot about this lately, but I really believe Christians today must take a stand for what they believe, acknowledging it at every opportunity, steeling ourselves for what's ahead. And what Christians must believe is what is firmly rooted in Scripture, not in the opinions of wayward liberal preachers who preach only what people want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3) and make up their own rules while disowning God's rules.

Jesus says, "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven" (Matt. 10:32-33).  How's that for clarity?

If your life were to depend on it, would you willingly acknowledge that you are a Christian? Would you acknowledge Christ? Would you be faithful to Him?

The last word, appropriately, comes from Christ Himself: "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).

- Paul

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