Will You Stay Silent?

After watching “The Insanity of God,” my sincere and pure devotion to Christ is called into question. It is a documentary on the persecuted Church created by Nik and & Ruth Ripken; missionaries who travel to some of the most dangerous countries for Christians in order to interview the persecuted. After seeing an entire generation of believers killed in Somalia while doing missions work there, they were feeling ill-equipped and wondering, how do other persecuted Christians do it? How do believers in other countries exist in hostile environments and survive under such intense opposition? And not only survive, but thrive?

The film is filled with story after story of people who were severely beaten, tortured physically, mentally and emotionally, separated from their families, and suffering greatly for the cause of Jesus Christ—paying prices we couldn’t even fathom for the Gospel. For those in the film, it all boiled down to one question: Is Jesus worth it? Is He worth every cost, and can God ask this of me? At times, they were overwhelmed and felt it was too much, too high a price, but in the end, they discovered He really was worth it. Jesus is worthy of, and worth every-thing. No price is too great. Not even their own lives. They discovered this personally for themselves. The Bible wasn’t just a book to them, the promises of God were for them.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” –Revelation 12:11

In the film, there was a story of a man in the Soviet Union who went to prison for 17 years. He was the pastor of a house church. When his fellowship grew to be too large, they arrested him. In prison, this “Man of God” would face east every morning and sing his heart song to Jesus with hands held high. The hardened criminals around him would throw old food and feces at him, mocking him, trying to silence him, but he still daily continued. He would not stay silent.

Any time he found a scrap of paper and a pencil, he would write down as many Bible verses and scripture songs as he could, as tiny as he could, and stick the paper as high as he could reach on a damp wall post in his cell. He did this as a scripture offering to God. Every time he would do this, the guards would take it down, rip it up, and beat him mercilessly, trying to silence him, but he would not stay silent.

At one point, the guards deceived him into believing that they had his wife, and they tortured her for 3 days and killed her in ear shot, just down the hall from his cell (in actuality they did this to a criminal woman). At this point, he was in total despair, ready to give up. He called the guards and said, “I will sign whatever you ask me to. Go and prepare your document.” They wanted him to sign a document denouncing Jesus, and if he did so, he could go free. They said they would return with it the next morning. In the night, however, the Holy Spirit visited him and allowed him to hear the voices of his wife, and children, and brother praying for him. They were all safe and well. The next morning, with conviction and fire, the Man of God recounted to the guards what had happened in the night and told them to leave his cell, he wasn’t signing anything.

Two weeks later he found a piece of paper and pencil in the recreation yard. He went back to his cell and again, wrote down every Bible verse and scripture song he could, as tiny as he could, and placed it as high as he could on the post in his cell. The guards saw it and with vehemence ripped it up and began to beat him. They said, “Don’t you know this is why you are here? This imaginary God of yours? You see that pole outside? In 5 minutes you will be on it and in 15 minutes you will be dead.” As they dragged him out of his cell and to his execution, 1500 hardened criminals faced east, raised their arms, and began to sing the Man of God’s heart song. The guards looked at him with fear and amazement, tremblingly they said, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am a son of the living God, Jesus the Christ.” Shortly after this, he was released. After 17 years, he was not silenced. He still was offering praise, thanks, and his very life to God.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” –Romans 12:1

What do I offer to God? What am I withholding that He is asking me to offer? Am I willing to offer…everything?

There was another story of a man who remembered as a young boy, the day his father, who was a pastor, gathered the family around the table one morning and told them he was going to prison tomorrow. He said that if he heard in prison that his wife and children had been hung to death for holding steadfastly to their profession of faith in Jesus Christ, he would be the most proud man in prison. They would not stay silent.

For these people, persecution is like the sun rising in the east. It happened to their grandparents, to their parents, to them, and it will happen to their children.

There was another story of a pastor, who recalled as a young boy, his father (who was also a pastor), being arrested and tortured by the KGB. After a year of not knowing if his father was even alive, he and his mother were allowed to visit him. The guards brought a bundle of what appeared to be blankets, and plopped it on the table. He barely recognized his emaciated and beaten father inside. He said, “Father, I’m so proud of you.” His mother then tried to slip a pocket New Testament to her husband, but she was not quick enough. The guards seized it and screamed at her, “Woman! Don’t you know it’s because of your God and this book that your husband is here and in this shape?! Don’t you know that I can kill him, I can kill you, and I can kill your son and I will probably get a promotion for it?!” She replied to him, “Sir, you can kill my husband, and you can kill me, and you can even kill my son, but you can never separate us from the love that is in Jesus.” For her, Romans 8:38-39 was real. Her actions proved it. They didn’t stay silent.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:38-39

Is the Bible that real to me? What kind of Christians are these? “Where did they learn to live like this? Where did they learn to die like this?” –Nik Ripken

There was an especially impactful interview with some Christians in China. Besides the fact that they said, “Prison is our seminary,” (which speaks to the regularity and intensity of the persecution as well as the power given them to prevail), they said, “Every day, we can choose to either identify with believers, or with their persecutors.” The way they determined whom they identified with was whether or not they shared Jesus. If they kept silent, they were identifying with their persecutors, if they shared Jesus, they were identifying with fellow believers.

After seeing the film in its entirety, I am left with one question: Will you stay silent? The Devil wants to keep you silent. Keep you from sharing the Truth. He doesn’t care how he has to make this happen, as long as you don’t open your mouth—don’t open your mouth and communicate that Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Savior, and eternal life is found in Jesus. Satan goes to great lengths to keep people silent, to prevent them from uttering their testimony of Jesus Christ. Whether it is a seen or unseen adversary, physical torture, or mental and emotional torture, there is only one way to overcome: by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. Do not stay silent, no matter what.

“And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing].” –Revelation 12:11AMPC

When you aren’t afraid of dying, you have nothing left to lose.

What parts of my life am I holding onto? Where am I afraid to die? What am I afraid of losing? Am I willing to die for my witnessing?

Will you stay silent? Will you identify with those who are suffering? Or with those who are inflicting the pain? Christians in persecuted countries are given the same Holy Spirit. They are as equally equipped as we are. It’s whether or not we choose to lose our lives for Christ’s sake in order that we might gain them. Whether or not we yield to the Holy Spirit and let him totally occupy our beings. Whether or not we really count it all garbage, in order that we may gain Christ (Phil. 3:8). Jesus promised us persecution. Surrender all, always. This is the life of a true believer. It’s easier to surrender all when you’ve got nothing but garbage and sin. But what about when God gives you a good life and He still asks you to surrender all? Will you love the Giver more than the gifts?

These are the questions I’m left with that I will also leave with you:
What kind of Christianity am I really living out?
Do I die daily? (Rom. 8:36; 1 Cor. 15:31; 2 Cor. 4:10-11)
Will I die so I can live? (Mt. 10:39, 16:25; Mk. 8:35; Lk. 9:24, 17:33; Jn. 12:25)
Do I believe in the resurrection? (1 Cor. 15:1-33)
Have I really been crucified with Christ? (Gal. 2:20)
Am I seeking to please man or obey God? (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; Acts 5:29)
Is my heart purely devoted to Christ? (2 Cor. 11:2-3)
What would I give up for my King? Is He really my King? Or do I still sit on the throne in certain areas?
Are the promises of God real to me, or are they just comforting words?
Do I identify with believers, or their persecutors?

Will I share Jesus or stay silent?

Will you?

Watch The Insanity of God.

•••

What kind of Christianity am I really living out?
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:8‬

Do I die daily?
“As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.””
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:36‬

“I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:31‬

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:10-11‬

Will I die so I can live?
“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:39‬

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:25‬

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭8:35‬

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭9:24‬

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:33‬ ‭

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭12:25‬

Do I believe in the resurrection?
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:14

Have I really been crucified with Christ?
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭

Am I seeking to please man or obey God?
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:10‬

“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭

“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭5:29‬ ‭

Is my heart purely devoted to Christ?
“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:2-3

What would I give up for my King? Is He really my King? Or do I still sit on the throne in certain areas?

Are the promises of God real to me, or are they just comforting words?

Do I identify with believers, or their persecutors?

Will I share Jesus or stay silent?

…Will you?

Watch The Insanity of God

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