(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi, 3/9/96)
As we see the day approaching, we must remind ourselves that the Lord is coming soon. I pray that the Lord will quicken the reader to prepare for what is also coming ahead before the Lord comes.
In 1994, a revival started in certain churches which has been coined "Toronto blessing". I have been following that revival in the internet news closely. There was a vision I received from the Lord awhile back which I will like to interject into this sermon. Sometime ago, I saw a vision whereby myself and my brethren were gathered in a place awaiting a revival, and a dead child was brought to our midst. One of the sisters went and prayed for the child and the child was raised from the dead. Then I was informed in that vision that, that will be a sign to us that the revival we had been waiting for is here. i.e when the dead child is raised up commonly in our midst. That will be a sign that he has begun to do what he wanted to do in our midst.
A few weeks ago, I saw a similar vision whereby a dead child was brought to me and I spake in tongues and prayed for the child and he was revived. I sensed that the long-awaited revival is about to arrive. Let's watch and make ourselves ready for the Lord to use.
What are we being revived for? What is the revival expected to do? Jesus is coming soon to take us away. We are getting out of here! In line with this thought, I will like to bring my exhortation from second Timothy chapter two. (2 Tim. 2:1-3).
When we say we are going to be used by the Lord, we are like soldiers for Christ. As a soldier for Christ, Paul exhorts thus: Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a soldier of Jesus Christ."
I will dwell on the underlined for awhile. We, as soldiers, have got to endure some hardness. There will be some times as a soldier when things will be hard. We often expect someone to part us on the back if we perform a miracle in the name of Jesus. That will not occur all the time! I mean, don't expect a part on the back for performing a miracle. Don't expect people to clap for you because a miracle happen through you. In the bible, there were times when those who performed the miracles were stoned. It happened to apostle Paul in Lycaonia. After the people thought he was a god, and he rejected the praise, he was stoned to death, but revived when the brethren gathered around him. (Acts 14:7-20).
That was hardness! He went further:
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."
Endure hardness as a good soldier for Jesus Christ. In the military, there is a "drill" time. The soldiers are expected to go through some training. They have to run through obstacles, climb walls, jump from masts with parachutes, crawl under barbed wires, and so on. Those are hardness drills, and they are part of the preparations to be a soldier. Why do soldiers have to go through those hard training? Because the profession demands that they be tough. You have got to be tough guys to be able to pass through those training. There will be time in their real profession when bullets will be flying past them left and right and they have to keep moving, but upon their bellies. They have got to crawl underneath the flying bullets. The soldiers are trained and drilled to endure hardness. Similarly in the Christian warfare. Apostle Paul was saying endure hardness as a good soldier for Christ. There will be some hard times. Many believers always wish they get the supernatural power, or the seven-Spirits of God. You have heard many believers ask for prayers that the Lord will give them the seven Spirits of God etc. Yea, it's good to have those seven Spirits of God, to do wonders. You also must remember that most of the time, when you do the wonders and the miracles, people won't clap for you. In fact when the Lord Jesus performed so many wonders climaxed by raising up Lazarus from the dead, after he was in the grave for four days, (Jn.11:17), the chief priests were furious: "Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: ...Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death." (Jn.11:45 - 53).
Folks, it's not going to be "all hail the miracle worker is here!" There was a prophecy that said what God will do in the next move of the revival, even some churches and theologians will say it is occultic. The Pharisees said the same thing about the Lord Jesus Christ. Now when they say something is not from God, you must know they are going to persecute it. That is the hardness we are talking about. It will come folks. "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ." There will be those hard times. We have to prepare ourselves for such times. We know the Lord is coming to do those mighty miracles in the latter rain revival. We must also be well aware that as the true saints of God, the revival will be followed by a serious persecution. Persecution is going to follow this revival. (Rev.13:7).
We always remember apostle Paul mostly with great successes in evangelism and miracles and the letters to the churches. But in second Corinthians chapter eleven, Paul listed all the things which happened to him on his way. From Paul's own testimony we will see that he was going about as a soldier , enduring hardness for Jesus Christ. It was not a very smooth road. We remember the miracles he performed, but all those miracles were followed by persecutions. Persecution is coming to the body of believers. It goes along with revival. In that day when churches will classify what God is doing as occultic, it will bring about the persecution of the true elect of God. We have not really seen persecution yet in this western civilization. But it is part of the plan of God to allow it. Paul stated his afflictions thus: "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep."
Paul said he was beaten with rods, for preaching the gospel. Know therefore that the preaching of the gospel and the working of miracles will bring persecution even from religious groups. Expect it. God is going to allow the great power to follow us, which followed the first church age. But persecution will also follow. Revival will be followed by persecution. Why did Paul go through all those troubles? Enduring hardness as a soldier of Christ! This Christian race goes along with hardness, but let's not forget, Jesus promised that he will always be with us. He has promised that "I will never leave you nor forsake you." In Mark 10, the Lord gave a sure promise that all who have forsaken parents, friends, lands, etc. for his sake and the kingdom shall receive hundred fold in this present world, what they have forsaken. (Mk.10:28) "And Jesus answered and said, verily I say unto you, there is no man that has left house, brethren or sisters, or father or mother, or children or land for the son of man's sake and the gospel, he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time houses, and brethren, sisters and mothers and children, with persecution, and in the world to come, eternal life". Have you thought about why he added "persecution"? He promised not to remove that persecution. You will get back everything you forsook, but with persecution. The persecution is to work something in our life. Apostle Peter wrote that "tribulation worketh patience". We are assured of eternal life though. That persecution should make us to be aware that we have a hope of eternal life. If we are not persecuted, we should doubt our standing in the gospel: "for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you". (Mat.5:12). If you preach the gospel of Christ in a city and the mayor or the king of the city wants you to be honoured with the royal key to the city-hall, I think you should check your preaching. Where is the reproach of the cross?
In this western world, preachers have almost apologized often times for the gospel they preached, not wanting to offend the sinners. If you preach the true word of God and not political opinions you ought not to apologize, but be ready to be persecuted for it. Of course if you digress from the truth and were preaching fables, you ought to apologize.
When our Lord Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and preached, the congregation was angry, but he did not apologize for speaking what he said. He did not change the tone of his speech. They rose up and grabbed him and drew him to the top of the cliff, intending to cast him off the cliff. They were more or less saying "we will show you where you ought to be preaching your strange doctrine; down in the bottom of the cliff, and not in our synagogue." Jesus had to use supernatural power to blind them while he loosed himself from their grip and went through their midst.
Persecution is part of the package, folks. The Lord will allow persecution to prepare the saints for the rapture. There are things of this life which happen to everybody. Those must be distinguished from persecution. In all those trials the Lord said "because I live, ye shall live also." God has given us peace concerning those things in the world, such as sicknesses, diseases, accidents, and so on. He has promised to be with us in trouble. Those are not to be classified as part of hardness for the gospel, unless it is caused by our ventures in the gospel. For example people can go on a misson field to foreign lands and thereby get into accidents or sickness. In such cases yes, it is part of the afflictions for the gospel. Apostle Paul was travelling as a prisoner towards Rome, and the ship ran into a serious storm on the sea. In his case, it was part of the affliction of the gospel, but not for the rest of the people on the same ship, even if there was a christian among them who was travelling for his own private business. If an armed robber comes against a christian, he has not come against the christian just because of being a christian, but very likely he wants to get the money or the car which the christian has. In such an evil confrontation, the Lord is at liberty to intervene supernaturally to protect his saints. However if a christian preaches to a gang of boys about the evil of their ways and they are enraged and are ready to beat up the preacher, the Lord may allow the attack on his saint. That will be classified as persecution. Apostle Peter wrote that "for what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." (1 Pet.2:20). God allows the spirit of men to be free to choose when they hear the gospel. Sometimes we can "bound" the evil spirits behind the persecution, but we cannot bound the men who have chosen to persecute the gospel. God allows them to persecute, to seal their own doom by persecuting the church of the living God. Of course, often times God will still resist the persecutors according to his own will. When the King of Israel sent a captain and fifty soldiers to arrest Elijah the prophet, and Elijah called fire upon them twice in a row, that was also in response to persecution. It was persecution because Elijah rebuked the king as directed by the Lord, and he was being arrested for it.
For the gospel's sake, the Lord said, "be harmless as a dove". The body of Christ needs persecution to bring forth the divine love which is lacking. The body of Christ needs persecution to force them to love one another. That is one of the reasons why "it was given unto the beast (antichrist) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.' (Rev.13:7). When people are suffering on the same level, it kind of brings a togetherness in suffering. In the book of Daniel it was stated concerning the same antichrist that, "when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, then all these things shall be finished." (Dan.12:7).
We can look around us and say there is need for the believers to come together in unity. We may try many methods of bringing people together and still be not successful. But the unity will come by force, when persecution is mounted against the believers, worldwide. Those who believe the same thing about Jesus will have to stand up for what they believe in the end. That is why the scripture says "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ". Along with the power of God which will be poured out upon christians at the latter-rain revival, will be followed a wave of persecution. "He that endure to the end shall be saved".
When the matyrs in heaven shall stand to give their testimonies of how they endured persecution, may we be able to also have a testimony of enduring hardness for the cross of Christ.
"Seeing that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.
Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy
that was set before him endured the cross." (Heb.12:1).
Persecution will make us to have patience. One of the fruits we need in the face of persecution is patience so that we do not curse the persecutors. The bible said "bless those that persecute you". We need supernatural patience by the Holy Ghost to have such attitude. That is what we should pray for. We should set our eyes on the joy that is set before us in heaven, if we can overcome, like the Lord Jesus did when he endured the cross.
"For consider him that endured such contraction against himself,
lest ye be weary and faint in your mind. For ye have not yet
resisted unto blood striving against sin."
Nobody is threatening us yet with death for preaching the gospel, why then will we be afraid or ashamed to tell people about Jesus? Let the Holy Ghost take control of what you say. The Lord said do not premeditate what you will say. The Spirit of God will bring the words to our mouth. Our own part is to be bold and not be afraid of their faces.
Like physical soldiers, they are trained to be tough. For the gospel, "fasting" is another training of hardness. Fasting may be hard to do, but, as the scripture said, endure hardness as a good soldier for Christ.
In summary, the body of Christ needs divine love which persecution will bring about, compulsorily, before the rapture. Let's endure hardness for the cross. If persecution starts today, a lot of Christians will give in to the persecution. That is why we need to pray for the body of Christ. If many are threatened to choose between Jesus or their neck, some so-called christians will give in to persecution and save their neck. But Jesus said "he that saveth his life shall lose it, andhe that loseth his life for my sake, and the gospel's shall keep it unto life eternal."
May the Lord give all of us the grace to pray for our persecutors, to bless, and curse not, even in the face of persecution. Amen!
Bro. Julius Adewumi, Gospel Distribution Ministry,