“You will be…put to death…because of me.” Mt 24:9 NIV
Jesus said to His disciples: “You will be handed over to be persecuted…put to death, and…hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (vv. 9-12 NIV). Notice the words “put to death.” Heaven is filled with those who have already fulfilled this prophecy—and hatred of Christians still abounds. Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian agency that defends religious liberties, contends that more of Christ’s followers have been killed for their faith in the last century than in most of the previous centuries combined. The global evangelism movement reports an average of 165,000 martyrs a year, more than four times the number in the past century. Today countries that facilitate religious freedom are experiencing increasing anger toward Christians. Professors publicly mock Bible-believing students. TV talk show hosts denigrate people of faith. We can expect the persecution to increase, and when it does, fragile convictions will collapse and “the love of many will grow cold” (v. 12 NLT). The half-hearted will become the cold-hearted. Spiritual stowaways will jump ship. Many church attenders will be exposed as faith pretenders. They’ll not only leave the faith, they’ll make the lives of the faithful miserable. When these things begin to happen, Jesus counseled, “See to it that you are not alarmed” (v. 6 NIV). When the outlook is bleak, the “blessed hope” (Tit 2:13) of Christ’s return calms our fears.