On October 1, 2015, 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer shot and killed nine students and one teacher on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
Students quoted in the media said that the gunman asked his victims, prior to shooting them, whether they were Christians. If they answered,”yes,” he told them, “Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.” He then proceeded to shoot them in the head. Although the gunman shot non-Christians, his online profile showed that he did not like “organized religion,” basically Christianity, according to media reports.While we hear about Christians being persecuted in other countries, Believers in Jesus Christ who live in the United States of America must come to the realization that persecution of Christians is taking place right here at home. In June, another gunman shot and killed nine people, including the pastor, who were attending a Bible study in their church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Persecution comes in different ways. We often see Christians in other countries being burned alive, shot, hacked or stoned, and their homes and churches destroyed. While believers in the United States do not face this type of persecution, God’s Divine protection has lifted from over our country and the flood gates are now open for other forms of persecution to take place against Christians.
Because of the potentially fatal situations we may find ourselves in, we must pray that we will have the courage to say, “I am a Christian” (like the Umpqua students did). But before we can say we are a Christian, we must know for a fact that we have truly made Jesus Christ Lord and Savior of our lives and believe in the basic tenets of Christianity. Ask yourself the following questions and be truthful about your answers:
- Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth?
- Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Do you believe He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified for our sins, died and was raised again so that we can be reconciled to God and spend eternity with Him?
- Do you believe in the Holy Spirit of God, who indwells those who believe in Jesus Christ and leads and guides them into the truths of God?
- Do you believe the Bible is God’s Holy Word?
- Do you believe that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”? (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)
- Do you read the Bible on a regular basis?
If you hesitated in answering any of these questions, ask yourself, “why?” Then stop and ask God to show you why you do not believe or why you are doubtful and how you can strengthen your faith in Him. We have various articles on our New Levels in God website that you can explore, including a Daily Bible Reading Schedule, to help you get started in answering those questions and declaring your faith, hope and belief in God and Jesus Christ, His Son.
It’s imperative for leaders of Christian churches to realize that the days of delivering feel-good, cotton-candy, gimme-gimme, fluff messages on Sunday mornings are over. Church leaders must deliver the pure, unadulterated (complete and absolute) Word of God to prepare their church members – as well as themselves– to stand for Christ in the face of persecution, which could include having their heads in point-blank range of a rifle.
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of All Comfort, provide His mercy, grace, healing and comfort to those who mourn in Roseburg, Oregon and beyond.