Bible prophecy predicts that America, as well as the rest of the world, is headed for a gigantic religious crisis, which will result in losing the religious liberty that we have long enjoyed. History has proven that Bible prophecy has an uncanny way of always turning out to be correct.
The Bible says in Romans 14:12 that all are going to give an account of themselves to God. When the apostle Paul was brought before Felix, the governor in Rome, and had the opportunity to reason with him about righteousness, and judgment, and self-control, Felix trembled. Paul told him of the judgment that was coming in the future when every secret of men would be revealed (Romans 2). Jesus said, “There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known” (Matthew 10:26). At that time, sins that have been covered and unconfessed will be revealed and an account will be required.
Felix realized that if he was to face the judgment with a clear conscience, he would have to confess his sins. To do that would result in severe consequences. After preaching on the subject of confession once, I was told by one man that it made him angry because if he confessed his sins he would have to go to jail. Another woman told me that if she confessed her sins it would break up homes all over town. But friend, whatever the consequences are, those sins will either be confessed now to those we have wronged or be confessed later in the judgment when we must give an account to God.
Though Felix trembled at the thought, he did not yield to his conscience, but put it off saying, he would do it at a more convenient time. That convenient time never came for Felix. How many others will there be like him on the Day of Judgment who planned to become Christians, but waited for that illusive convenient time?
How is it with you? Have you chosen to follow Christ today and be prepared for the coming judgment? Paul said, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 KJV). It does not matter what our background is, what we believe, or don’t believe. All will stand before the judgment seat and give an account of their life.
It is critical to confess and repent of your sins and have them covered by the blood of Christ. The Bible says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Felix neglected to take advantage of the offer of salvation. His tragic story is recorded so that others will not make the same mistake. Felix will not be seen inside the Holy City, but will be on the outside with those who never followed up with what they knew was right.
Concerning the New Jerusalem, it says in Revelation 21:27, “There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of life.” Is your name in that book?
Ironically, two years after Felix had left Paul in prison simply as a favor to the Jews, convinced that he had done nothing worthy of death or of even being in prison, he was removed from his position as governor by the Roman government. Festus, a man who was more competent and morally qualified than Felix was given the job and it was he who was left with deciding what to do with the apostle Paul.
“When Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly. ‘Therefore,’ he said, ‘let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.’ And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought” (Acts 25:1–6).
Both Claudius Lysias and Felix had already declared that Paul had done nothing deserving of punishment. However, the Jews continued to bring their unsubstantiated charges against him. A third time Paul was brought to answer the Jews’ vehement accusations.
“When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, while he answered for himself, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.’ But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?’ ” (verses 7–9).
The Jews, just as before, brought against Paul the same charges of heresy, of treason against the government, and of sacrilege, but they were unable to sustain the charges. They tried to intimidate Festus, but he would not accede to their demands to do something against Paul without a trial. As Festus looked upon this scene he was disgusted with the Jewish dignitaries, the priests and rulers who, although they had scowling faces and gleaming eyes, had forgotten the dignity of their office in reiterating their accusations until the tribunal rang with their cries of rage. This disgusting scene displayed before the governor while in contrast to the demeanor of Paul’s humility and self-possession was not lost on Festus.
Festus realized that he had a difficult situation at hand. If he did not accede to the Jew’s demands, there could be an insurrection. So, he thought to compromise—go down to Jerusalem with Paul for a trial there. Paul knew of the dangerous plot, but Festus did not know that the Jews had planned to kill Paul on the way to Jerusalem.
Paul was weary of strife. He was weary of the fierce reiteration of the same charges, having them refuted and then renewed again. He had suffered repeated delays for over two years. Paul case was the first for which Festus was to render judgment; so he requested of Paul if he wanted to go down to Jerusalem and be tried there before him. “So Paul said, ‘I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar’ ” (verses 10, 11). Today, that would be equivalent to a person saying, “I am appealing to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Then the Bible says, “Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, ‘You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go’ (verse 12)! Festus, oblivious to the conspiracy of the Jews to murder Paul, was surprised at this appeal to Caesar. It was a little bit humbling that the very first case that he should try would get referred to a higher court. Once again, we see that the hatred that is borne of Jewish bigotry and self-righteousness ended up driving a servant of God to turn for protection to a heathen ruler. It was this same hatred that forced the prophet Elijah to flee for help to the widow of Sarepta. It was this same hatred that had forced the heralds of the gospel to flee from Judea and proclaim the gospel message to the Gentiles (Acts 8). And, it is the same spirit that, according to Bible prophecy, the people of God in this age have yet to meet.
The spirit of unrelenting hatred against the heralds of the gospel that was manifested by the Jewish nation in the first century is the same spirit that God’s people in this day and age have yet to meet, according to Revelation 13, and the same spirit that the people of God in the last days will go through. They will then become better acquainted with the experience of the apostle Paul.
Today, among the professed followers of Christ, there is the same pride, the same formalism, the same vain glory, the same selfishness and oppression, that existed then in the Jewish nation. Before the warfare is ended and the victory is won, God’s people will experience trials similar to those of the apostle Paul. They will encounter the same hardness of heart, the same cruel determination, the same unyielding hatred.
Read Revelation 13, especially the last several verses. Men professing to be representatives of Christ will take a course similar to that taken by priests and rulers in their treatment of Paul. All who would fearlessly serve God according to the dictates of their own conscience will have to have moral courage, firmness, not only a knowledge of God and His word, but they will have to determine to stand, because persecution will be kindled against those who are true to God. Their motives will be impugned, and their best efforts will be misinterpreted. Their names will be cast out as evil.
And then what Jesus said will come to pass: “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:1, 2). Anyone who attempts to destroy the faithful will think that he is doing God’s service. Then it is that Satan will work with all of his fascinating power to influence the heart, to becloud the understanding and to make evil appear good and to make good appear evil. Jesus predicted that “false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2, verses 9 to 12, concerning the very last days: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
It’s coming, friend. Jesus predicted it many times. We read it in Matthew 24 and in John 16. Paul predicted it in 2 Thessalonians 2. John the revelator predicts it clearly in Revelation 13. God wants you to be prepared for the crisis that is coming upon this world. But whether you are prepared or unprepared, you are going to meet it. Only those whose characters are thoroughly disciplined to meet the divine standard will be able to stand firm in that testing time.
Remember, when there are enemies on every side watching them for evil, the God of heaven will be watching His precious jewels for good. When the time comes, when secular rulers unite with the ministers of religion to come between God and the conscience of His people, then those who cherish the fear of God will be revealed. When the darkness is the deepest, then the light of a noble God-like character will shine the brightest. When every other trust fails in this world, then it will be seen which people have an abiding trust in God. The stronger and the purer the faith of God’s people, the firmer their determination will be to obey Him, and the more will Satan stir up the rage of those who claim to be righteous while trampling on the law of God.
In this coming emergency rulers and magistrates will not interpose in behalf of God’s people. The apostle Paul could at least appeal to Caesar, appeal to a heathen ruler to get justice. But in the coming crisis, rulers and magistrates will not interpose in behalf of God’s people. There will be a corrupt harmony with all who have not been obedient to the law of God. In that day all timeservers, all who do not have the genuine work of grace in the heart, will be found wanting. It will require the firmest trust and the most heroic purpose to hold fast the faith that was once delivered to the saints, but the Bible predicts that there will be a group of people who will stand that test. It says in Revelation 13 verses 16 and 17, “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on the right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name’ ” (Revelation 14:9–11).
Those who receive the mark described in Revelation 13:16 and 17, in spite of the warning that is given in the third angel’s message, will receive, first of all, the seven last plagues, because it says in Revelation 16:2, “So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.”
At that time, the Bible predicts that there will be some faithful people who will refuse the mark. They will not be able to buy or sell; they will not be able to even buy food unless the Lord works a miracle to preserve them. Even so, they will stay true to the worship of God regardless of the cost.
“I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God” (Revelation 15:2, 3). These people refuse to worship images (Exodus 20:4). They refuse to worship the beast, or the image to the beast, or receive the mark. Revelation 14:12 describes them this way: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
In the very last days of earth’s history the whole world will be brought to a decision. Everyone will choose, some to receive the mark of the beast and others to receive the seal of God—marked for destruction or marked for salvation. Which mark will you receive?
In Revelation 22:14 it says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”
Friend, life is serious. This life is very short compared with eternity, but it is in this life where the decisions you make determine your eternal destiny. The choice is yours. What will it be, eternal life or eternal death?
The scripture says, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (verse 17).
God offers eternal life if you are willing to listen, if you are willing to follow, and if you are willing to obey. You must make this decision for yourself; your eternal destiny is up to you.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.