The enormous upheavals described in this month's lead article will test the mettle of every person on this planet. Many of those who are willing to seek the praise of God rather than the praise of men may go through unimaginable trials and persecutions. They will certainly need a high degree of courage and fortitude.
These are qualities possessed by nearly every great biblical leader and most genuinely great men and women in secular leadership positions as well. Courage is something that may come naturally to some. But it can also be developed to a high degree by sincere and persistent effort. Courage is a quality which all of us truly need in the years just ahead if we are to follow the true Christianity of the Bible.
For Jesus said, "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also'" (John 15:20). And again, "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).
Jesus Christ also stated in Matthew's gospel: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword…. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:34, 38–39). And the Apostle Paul specifically warns all true Christians. "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).
Have you learned to think through and "pray through" what you would do in a situation when obeying God might cost you your life? All of us need to do this and we need to "feed" on things that will tend to build courage and fortitude in our basic character. We need to think about courage, read about courage and pray for courage.
One of the most inspiring examples of courage in modern times was set by Sir Winston Churchill— Prime Minister of Britain during her darkest hour near the beginning of World War II. For at that time, Britain was outgunned, outnumbered and every indication was that Britain was close to her end as a free nation. Following are some of the words Winston Churchill spoke to the British people during those trying times.
To the House of Commons on June 4, 1940:
Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of the Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight in the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air; we shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be.
Again, to the House of Commons on June 18, 1940, Churchill stated:
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, "This was their finest hour."
And on July 14, 1940, Churchill spoke to the entire British nation by radio:
And now it has come to us to stand alone in the breach, and face the worst that the tyrant's might and enmity can do….
We are fighting by ourselves alone; but we are not fighting for ourselves alone. Here in this strong City of Refuge which enshrines the title-deeds of human progress and is of deep consequence to Christian civilization; here, girt about by the seas and oceans where the Navy reigns; shielded from above by the prowess and devotion of our airmen—we await undismayed the impending assault.
Perhaps it will come tonight. Perhaps it will come next week. Perhaps it will never come. We must show ourselves equally capable of meeting a sudden violent shock, or what is perhaps a harder test, a prolonged vigil. But be the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley; we may show mercy—we shall ask for none.
My friends, the time may come when we also may have to "stand ALONE in the breach." We may also have to say, as the original apostles said when threatened for their very lives by the entrenched religious hierarchy of their day, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
As we read the inspired accounts of men and women of God in ages past, we should think and meditate, "Let us be like this"!
For our Father in heaven commands us through His Word, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13). After the death of Moses, when Joshua had to carry on in his place, God told Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous…" (Joshua 1:6–7).
Just how will you and I measure up in the years ahead? Will we weaken? Will we compromise in various situations? Will we even join the bestial system described in Revelation 17 in order to "save our hides"? In spite of God's warnings, will we accept the dread "mark of the beast"? (Revelation 13:16–17).
Just how deep is our conviction of the REALITY of God and of the absolute truth of His inspired Word?
Again, before the coming darkness falls, each of us needs to absolutely PROVE to himself or to herself that God is, indeed, the very real Spirit Personality who created and who now RULES over the universe. We need to be sure. We need to know—and to know that we know—the basic truths about God and His purpose.
Through the pages of Tomorrow's World magazine and our booklets, our tapes, our extremely helpful Tomorrow's World Bible Study Course and other means, we will try to assist you in coming to "know" the true God. We will assist you in building an unshakable FAITH in the God of the Bible—the God who will SOON intervene in human affairs and send His Son to this earth as King of kings.
But in the years before that glorious event, we may indeed need to "stand ALONE" at times. We will need a depth of faith and COURAGE beyond human strength to hang in there and keep the faith. So now is the time to build that powerful relationship with the Living God and, through His Spirit, to develop the courage and fortitude to go through the trials and tests ahead, which we cannot now even fully comprehend.