Category Archives: Persecution


Because of the incredible blessings you have received

1 Peter 1: 3-5 (ESV)[1]

A. Introduction

What would happen to your faith if you were one of the survivors in the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and some of your family died in those house ruins?[2]

Christian people were overcome by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.[3] How does faith survive among such devastation?


(photo Indian Ocean tsunami courtesy Wikimedia Commons)[4]

It’s hard to imagine how a Church can survive in Communist North Korea. According to Open Doors, a ministry to the persecuted church, there are about 400,000 Christians living in that country . . . and they desperately need our prayers and support.

North Korea is [considered to be ] the most oppressive nation in the world. There is no freedom of thought, speech, expression, movement or religion. It is the utmost restricting and punishing place on the planet.

Being a Christian in North Korea is extremely dangerous and difficult to conceal. One in three people [is a] government [spy]. If you don’t regularly bow down to a statue of Kim Il Sung, it’s noted [by these spies].

About 200,000 prisoners are serving life sentences in labour camps. . . . Prisoners work for up to 18 hours a day. Anyone who talks risks 8 days in solitary confinement in a 0.6m x 1.1m cage. . . . Torture, executions and experiments occur daily.

Many thousands of prisoners are Christians. “Christians are the most severely abused,” testifies Soon Ok Lee, a former prisoner. “In seven years I saw many believers die, yet they never denied Jesus”.[5]

What is it that keeps these persecuted North Korean Christians firm in their faith? (400,000 of them in a country of 23 million, with such severe persecution)

It’s the same kind of faith you will need when you are ridiculed for your faith in Australia. It’s the faith that you need when the going gets tough.

In First Peter we find why Christians stand firm in the faith when the trials come.

We hear so little of what is happening to the small Christian church in Iraq. I read recently “that Christians and churches are being seriously affected by the internal turmoil across the country. Not only are foreigners being hijacked, but indigenous Iraqi Christians are also disappearing. [Open Doors] contacts stress that in most of these cases, the kidnappers are not Islamic extremists, but more often are young people trying to make some easy money.”[6]

We find it difficult to identify with persecution like this. What did Jesus say about this kind of situation? “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 also keep yours” (John 15:20 ESV).[7]

Let’s get to our text in First Peter.

B. Why did Peter write this first epistle?

clip_image004 It is a very warm pastoral letter with lots of encouragement for Christians who are scattered and persecuted. I Peter 5:12 states, “I have written to you briefly, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it”.

clip_image004[1] Peter wrote this epistle to believers who were experiencing these kinds of things:

clip_image006 1:6, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials”.

clip_image006[1] 2:21, “For to this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

clip_image006[2] 3:13-14, “Who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled”.

clip_image006[3] 3:17, “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

clip_image004[2] Do you get the picture? Peter wrote this epistle so that these early believers would “see their temporary sufferings in the full light of the coming eternal glory. In the midst of all their discouragements, the sovereign Lord will keep them and enable them by faith to have joy.”[8]

clip_image004[3] This is a very practical and relevant message for us in Qld. in the 21st century.

As we look closely at I Peter 1:3-5, we are taught to

“STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH: Because of the incredible blessings you have received.”

That’s the title of my message today. 1 Peter 1:3-5 teaches us to stand firm in the faith…

Firstly, because of the incredible blessings you have received in Christ; and

Secondly, because of your inheritance as believers.

Let’s deal with the first major reason.

I. STAND FIRM IN YOUR FAITH because of the incredible blessings you have received (vv. 3-5)

In I Peter 2:9, Peter uses this kind of language about the people of God: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (ESV). Through God’s “great mercy”, these early Christians had received blessings beyond anything your boss could offer. Marriage will not give you what God has given.

A business woman’s multi-millions of dollars will look like chicken feed when compared with the blessings of the people of God.

It’s appropriate that Peter begins v. 3 with an exhortation to praise, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Conservative Lutheran commentator, Richard Lenski, writes this: “There is too little contemplation of God, too little praise of him in our hearts, especially in our earthly distress.”[9] Would you agree or disagree? Do we praise God enough? Do we know how to praise Him?

The psalmist did and he encourages us to praise like this:

Psalm 103:1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits –

3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed (NIV)

There is so much to praise God for. Let’s not be slack about it. Peter calls us to praise:

clip_image008 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter is singing the true glory of God when he meditates on God’s great salvation through Jesus Christ. When Peter thinks on the blessings of salvation, he has nothing but praise for God the Father.

By way of application:

Please pause a moment, and think of what you have been saved from. You know your past and what you did and were when in rebellion against God. What did it take for you to be turned around? Could you change yourself? Of course not, if we are talking about deep inner change! Let’s pause a moment for you to praise God for who he is and the salvation that he has brought to your life.

You may have a family member who is:

clip_image008[1] Threatening suicide;

clip_image008[2] Rebellious children who run away, wag school and abuse parents.

clip_image008[3] Parents who are guilt-ridden because they can’t control their kids, kids on drugs, stealing, vandalising, etc.

clip_image008[4] Adultery, broken families, talk of legalising homosexual marriage;

How do you survive as a Christian in these circumstances?

You don’t have to be going through such extreme conditions. You may be persecuted for your Christian convictions. For you, this first epistle of Peter has some exceedingly good news.

Just in case you haven’t remembered what God has done for you through Christ, Peter summarises some of the blessings for us. Surely these are enough to convince us to hold to our faith firmly.

Never forget these blessings that are taught in I Peter 1:3-5.


Look how this inner change is described.

1. Firstly, he has given us new birth

Or, as the ESV translates it, he has “caused us to be born again.” This language is so familiar to many of us who are evangelical Christians that we just gloss over it. Please don’t. What has happened to you, if you are born again, is like going into your mother’s womb again and coming out a totally new person, from the inside out. The image baffled Nicodemus (John 3:3-9). It still puzzles those who have not experienced it.

You have been given new birth because the life of God has been implanted in your soul. This is the whole Trinity in you to give you a new life and a new view of the world. Your heart is filled with new powers, new motives, new thoughts, and a new desire. You are not the same.

It is ours because of God’s “great mercy” (v. 3). God saw us in filth, need and rebellion. He was moved with compassion. Eph. 2:4 says He is a God who is “rich in mercy.” Mercy is God’s compassion for the helpless that results in action to bring them relief. “Mercy is a word specially used in the New Testament of God’s kindness in bringing in the outsider and the unworthy, the Gentile and the sinner, to share in His salvation, and in the glories or riches of His Christ”[10] You can read about it in Rom. 11:30-32; 15:9; Eph. 2:1-7; Titus 3:5.

Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the hungry crowd. But he did more than that. He provided them with the bread and the fish to eat (Matt. 15:32). That’s mercy.

God saw our wretched state, aliens who would rather shake our fist at God than move towards him. We were rebels. In mercy, he offered us new birth through Christ’s death.

It is a new birth that gives us:

2. Secondly, a living hope (v. 3)

We live in a “no hope” world. If we want to put a person down, we call him a “no hoper.” Just think of what has happened to hope during the last century. Two world wars, Hitler’s gas ovens and the deaths of 6 million Jews, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the atomic age ushered in with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Vietnam War; the killing fields of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. The slaughter in Rwanda, Zaire, Port Arthur, the war in Iraq, and the rebellion in the Middle East. The Indian Ocean tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti.

Some of the adults and young people I counsel, who are contemplating suicide, tell me they see no hope in the future. They say life is hopeless, meaningless.

A former federal minister of education wrote to The Australian newspaper back in 1997. He said this:

The thematic currency of youth suicide is our failure to transmit a sense of belonging and meaningful purpose to young people. . . . We have created a culture in which young people frequently feel they have nothing other than themselves in which to believe. The mesh of values that held Australian society together 30 years ago – God, king and country – has been systematically dismantled. . . leaving only a vacuum. . . The price of our shallowness is being paid by our children.”[11]

The hope that people had in the optimism at the beginning of the 20th century is dead in the ashes of wars, crime, violence and high unemployment. When you glory in what human beings can do and achieve, you will be bitterly disappointed, even shattered.

For the believer we have a “living hope.” The opposite, “a dead hope,” is what we would call hopelessness. For the Christian it is a living hope because it is in what God has done. Verse 3 makes it clear what God has done. It is a living hope ONLY . .

3. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (v. 3).

What’s the big deal about the resurrection? If you read the 643 pp of this book, The Birth of Christianity by John Dominic Crossan,[12] you will learn that

clip_image010The resurrection of Christ was an “apparition.”[13] An apparition is a ghost, spirit, phantom or vision. His view was:

clip_image010[1] “Bodily resurrection has nothing to do with a resuscitated body coming out of its tomb. . . . Bodily resurrection means that the embodied life and death of the historical Jesus continues to be experienced, by believers, as powerfully efficacious and salvifically present in the world.”[14]

So, there was no empty tomb for Crossan. It was a phantom experience, an apparition and is only a religious experience for believers in the present world.

To the contrary, Dr. N. T. Wright, a British evangelical and former Anglican bishop of Durham, wrote the 817 pp of his book, Resurrection of the Son of God,[15] to refute theories like Crossan’s apparitional view of the resurrection. Wright believes the Bible and is convinced that:

clip_image012 The resurrection of Jesus “was the single event through which the world, and Israel, were changed for ever.”

clip_image012[1] “In particular, Luke insists on the bodiliness of the risen Jesus.”

clip_image012[2] In Luke 24:36-42, “Every line, almost every word, in this scene demonstrates the point. For Luke, the risen Jesus is firmly and solidly embodied, able to be touched, able to eat.”[16]

So, for N. T. Wright, there was a bodily resurrection of Jesus. The tomb was empty and you could touch the resurrected Christ.

For Crossan, Jesus resurrection was an apparition, a phantom, a vision. What happened to Jesus’ body for this scholar? It “did not undergo resurrection (no Easter) and after his execution, was probably eaten by wild dogs”.[17] That’s what he says.

There is a battle raging in scholarly circles over the resurrection of Jesus. But for many of us ordinary Christians, Christ’s bodily resurrection from the grave needs to be emphasised.

If there was only Golgotha, we would have a dead Jesus, rotting in the grave. It is because of the resurrection that we have a living Saviour and you can become a new person in Christ. It is a hope that will not die because of the one who conquered death. It matters what the resurrection was.

As Bill & Gloria Gaither’s song puts it:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because He lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know who holds the future

And live is worth the living just because He lives.[18]

A person once said to me, “I’m going to live it up for all I can get now because I’m going to be dead a long time.” He was dead wrong! You’ll be alive a mighty long time—for eternity—but where you will be, heaven or hell, will be determined by how you respond to the resurrected Jesus in this life.

For what do we hope? What are we looking forward to?


This is why we stand firm when the going gets tough.

This was familiar language for Jewish readers. They had heard lots about the inheritance that God had for his people. Canaan, the Holy Land, was their portion. They were wanderers in the wilderness after coming out of slavery in Egypt. They looked for the Promised Land. After being brought back from Exile in Babylon, they were looking for their inheritance in the Land God had provided.

But the “land flowing with milk and honey” didn’t fulfil Israel’s hopes. They were soon into idolatry; there was strife between tribes; the land was overrun by invaders. Surely there was something more than this for an inheritance! Was there any lasting hope?

We have seen lots of great things for those of us who live in the ‘Lucky Country’ of Australia. We have wealth beyond measure. Our natural resources are something to behold. The technology in the land is amazing. The sunburnt country has so much beauty. We have one of the best welfare systems in the world.

But in the midst of this splendour, there is so much ugliness. Surely there is more to yearn for than this land of Australia!

Australia or Israel is not the inheritance that the true Church is expecting. Verse 4 says it is an inheritance that

1. Is imperishable

Moths and rats will not eat it up. It will not rust. Thieves will not break in and steal it. No destructive force, natural or made by human beings, will injure it or take it away.[19] “Unlike any inheritance in this world, it is not exposed to destruction.”[20]

It is an inheritance that

2. Is undefiled

It can never spoil. No stain or stink of sin will be there. It is so pure and lofty. Imagine an inheritance that is worth more, much more, than gold. No contamination from anything related to sin. There will be no brothers and sisters fighting over the will to get their share. It will be unspoiled wealth. The believers’ inheritance cannot be “defiled from outside.”[21]

This inheritance

3. Is unfading

The idea behind this word, says Richard Lenski, is that it is

“never withering, (never) disappointing, (never) becoming old and worn. The delight of it will never lessen or grow stale… Our inheritance will never lose anything through age or sickness on our part or through any damage to itself; it will never be marred by impurity; and it will never lessen in delight because it has been enjoyed for so long.”[22]

Unlike a physical inheritance in this world, it cannot “decay from inside.”[23] But there is more. What makes this inheritance even more remarkable is that the security system is out of this world.

4. It is “kept in heaven for you.” (v. 4)

Literally, it has always been kept and is presently being guarded and will be kept there until you reach glory. God is guarding you. He keeps you safe. What a blessing this is!

Please note that this inheritance is:

5. For you through faith (v. 5)

Faith is not to be thought of as some way for earning your inheritance. Never! However, faith in Christ must surely be our response to God’s mercy and love.

While our inheritance is kept in heaven for us by God, we, as faithful believers, are living on earth,

6. “Who by God’s power are being guarded” (v. 5).

Did you grasp what I just said? Your inheritance is guarded by God’s power. God has not left the church without protection in this hostile world. God continuously “guards” the church. Yes, even this church. “Guarded” is an old military term meaning “to garrison.”[24] A garrison is a military post that is permanently established and stays on guard 24 hours a day.

The church is guarded by God’s power every moment of every day.

The psalmist reminded Israel: “[The Lord] will not let your foot slip—he, who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Ps. 121:3-4); Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

The power of God guarded . . .

clip_image014Daniel in the lions’ den;

clip_image014[1]Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo in the fiery furnace.

clip_image014[2]It set boundaries around Job when he was afflicted;

clip_image014[3]It freed Peter from Herod’s prison;

clip_image014[4]It preserved Paul when he was surrounded by dangers, hardships and persecutions.

clip_image014[5]The faith hall of fame in Hebrews 11 tells us that, through faith, God guarded those who “were tortured and refused to be released. . . . Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned” (vv.35-37 NIV).

clip_image014[6]However, others were guarded until God took them to heaven: “They were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated” (Heb. 11: 37).

What does it mean to be guarded for us?

7. The coming of salvation: ready to be revealed in the last time (v. 5)

We have salvation now that makes a radical personal difference in our lives. But Peter is reminding the church of the final deliverance that will come at the end of the age. There will be horrible persecution and sorrow in the days ahead and just prior to the return of Christ, from Satan’s final assault. Revelation ch. 12 speaks of Satan being cast out of heaven and filled with fury “because he knows that his time is short” (Rev. 12:12).

Famous theologian, H. Richard Niebuhr, was on the streets of New York City when he was approached by an evangelist with this question, “Are you saved?” Niebuhr always took people seriously. He paused a moment and gave this thoughtful reply, “I was saved by what Christ did; I am being saved right now; I shall be saved when the kingdom comes.”

We don’t know what the evangelist said. But Neibuhr stated so well what Peter is trying to get across to us: “Salvation spans time. It is grounded in the past; it is experienced in the present; it culminates in the future.”[25]

Without a doubt, we, who believe, have begun to experience a true and great salvation now (Luke 19:9), thanks to Christ’s death on the cross. The joys of salvation come through our daily discipleship (2 Cor. 6:2). However, the absolute wonder and the full dimensions of salvation will not be known until the crowning day of our salvation when Jesus comes again.

When Jesus returns, the church will receive the great deliverance. Salvation will be accomplished then.

What a God we have and what a blessing to know that we are guarded by the power of God in this way—in life and through death.

After listening to all this heavenly emphasis, maybe you are tempted to say what Karl Marx said. This is pie-in-the-sky stuff. Isn’t Christianity the religion that is the drug that the ruling classes are using to keep the under-privileged satisfied with their lousy lot? Isn’t this keeping your heads in the clouds so that you don’t have to become involved in solving some of the problems of today’s world?

Of course, this Christian hope can be abused and misunderstood—and it has been. However, it has been the Christians whose hopes have been in heaven who have made a dynamic impact as the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” Where would we be without committed, evangelical Christians such as William Wilberforce who helped to eliminate slavery from the British Empire. It was George M?ller who helped the orphans in England and lived by faith to receive funding for his ministry.

Another John Howard, besides Australia’s former Prime Minister, influenced by the Wesleyan revival, brought about prison reforms in England. Elizabeth Fry continued his work.

In 1774, [John Howard’s] evidence to a House of Commons committee [in the UK] led to two Acts which aimed to improve conditions in gaols. His published writings on the subject were widely read and his detailed accounts of inhumane conditions caused dismay.

He advocated a system of state-controlled prisons in which the regime was tough, but the environment healthy. In 1779 the Penitentiary Act authorised the construction of two prisons in accordance with his own theories.

He advocated a regime of solitary confinement, hard labour and religious instruction. The objective of imprisonment, he believed, was reform and rehabilitation, not just punishment.[26]

William & Catherine Booth founded the Salvation Army and its ministry to the needy has a continuing international reputation.

David Wilkerson went to New York City to work with the junkies and help them be delivered from their drug habits through Christ and established Teen Challenge. Where would the welfare of our country be today if the church withdrew its ministry to the hurting people?

Those who have a living hope and know their inheritance is in heaven, never to be spoiled, have most often got their hands dirty in the real world of people and their problems.

Even in this letter of First Peter, Peter has some urgent things to say about life in the present. In chapter 2 he deals with how we are to relate to government and our bosses. Marriage and family come into focus in chapter 3. Chapters 3 & 4 deal with how we should respond to suffering for doing good. This is very down-to-earth stuff for those who are chosen people and a holy nation.

So, what has Peter taught us from I Peter 1:3-5? We know that for persecuted believers, for those of us experiencing very hard times, we can stand firm in the faith because of our incredible blessings. They are:

clip_image016 You have been changed from the inside;

clip_image016[1] You have an inheritance.

You have been changed from the inside by being

a. “given new birth in Christ”

b. And a living hope.

What is that new inheritance that will help you to stand firm? It is the salvation that

a. Can never perish;

b. Never spoil;

c. Never fade;

d. Kept in heaven for you;

e. Through faith;

f. Shielded by God’s power.

Please note v. 3. It is given to believers, not because they deserve it, but because of God’s “great mercy.”

And this salvation that we are now experiencing will be fully revealed when? V. 5, “In the last time.” This will be at the glorious unveiling of our full salvation at the Second Coming of Christ.

It has often been said that many Christians are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good. That’s not biblical Christianity.

Here in I Peter, those who are sure of their inheritance in heaven and have a living hope that longs for their eternal reward, are most actively involved in this present world — through evangelism and practical ministry. You might ask, “Should we focus on this world or the next?” I think the question is wrong. Rather, it should be, “Does your future belong to a human being’s pride and resources or to God’s grace?” Since our future belongs to God’s grace, our lives ought to demonstrate “Christianity with its sleeves rolled up” to the needy – wherever and whenever.

“Vietnam’s tribal Christians are under physical and spiritual attack. Two brothers tell us their story, and ask us to stand with them through prayer.

“‘Who is teaching your class? Who else studies with you? Why do you believe in this Jesus?’ The policeman barked his questions at Nate, [the policeman’s] eyes filled with disdain and fury. ‘Help me, Lord!’ Nate prayed, pleading for the strength to keep quiet and not give away any details of the secret Bible classes.

“After the interrogation came the second beating – worse than the first. When he’d arrived at the police station, he’d been taken to a room and hit with a wooden club. When Nate refused to talk, the policeman struck out at him again. ‘They hit me over and over again with the club and told me they would beat me to death. One of them kicked me in the groin and then I was hit on the head,’ recalls Nate. I collapsed, falling unconscious to the ground.'”

Troy tells a similar story.

“Nate, Troy and other “Galilee [Bible School]” students from their J’rai tribal group have resolved to keep studying God’s Word. ‘The Holy Spirit has comforted me and helped me to stand firm without fear,’ explains Nate. ‘I am so blessed to be part of the Bible class because I am getting to know Jesus more and more. I will keep studying – even if it leads to my death.”[27]

What is it that keeps these persecuted Vietnamese Christians firm in their faith? The same inheritance that is yours and mine in Christ, through His vicarious atonement and resurrection. It’s the “living hope” that we have, through Christ’s death and resurrection.


(Street in Vietnam, courtesy Open Doors)[28]


[1] Preached by Spencer Gear at Gin Gin Baptist Church, Gin Gin, Qld., 11 July 2004; it also was preached at Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church, 24 June 2007; and at Maryborough Presbyterian, 7 Feb 2010.

[2] See “2010 Haiti earthquake,” Wikipedia, available at: (Accessed 21 January 2022).

[3] See details at Wikipedia, “2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami,” Wikipedia, available at: (Accessed 21 January 2022).

[4] Available at: (Accessed 21 January 2022).

[5] Open Doors, Australia, “The most punishing place on the planet. . . North Korea,” letter, January 2006. Available from PO Box 53, Seaforth NSW 2092;; email: [email protected]

[6] The Door Openers Club, Frontline, June 2004, Open Doors Australia, P.O. Box 53 Seaforth NSW 2092. Website:

[7] Unless otherwise stated, all scriptural quotations are from the ESV (English Standard Version).

[8] Edwin A. Blum, 1 Peter, in Frank E. Gaebelein (gen. ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (vol. 12). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981, p. 213.

[9] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg publishing House, 1966.30.

[10] A.M. Stibbs, The First Epistle General of Peter (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries). London: The Tyndale Press, 1959, 75.

[11] Dr. Brendan Nelson, The Weekend Australian, January 11-12, 1997, 20.

[12] 1998, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. I studied the book for my PhD dissertation.

[13] Ibid., p. 550.

[14] Ibid., p. xxxi.

[15] 2003, Fortress Press, Minneapolis.

[16] Ibid., p. 657.

[17] In Crossan, J. D. 2000. A long way from Tipperary: A memoir. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco., p. 133.

[18] Words and Music by William J. Gaither; Recorded by William and Gloria Gaither; ©1971 BMI All Rights Reserved. Words available at: [24th August 2004].

[19] Lenski, 33-34.

[20] A.M. Stibbs, 75.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Lenski, 34.

[23] Stibbs, 75.

[24] A.T. Robertson, Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume VI (The General Epistles and the Revelation of John). Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1933, 83.

[25] Lyman Coleman and Richard Peace, Study Guide for the Book of 1 Peter (Mastering the Basics). Littleton, Colorado: Serendipity USA, 22.

[26] UK Parliament, “John Howard and prison reform.” Available at: (Accessed 21 January 2022).

[27] Open Doors Newsbrief, July 2004, p. 1

[28] Available at: (Accessed 21 January 2022).

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 January 2022.

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Nobody knows what happens after death!

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I do some Internet blogging and met this fellow who stated:

There are no answers, and there never will be for the living. And there is no difference in dogmatism of those who say that there has to an after life and those who say there is not. Nobody knows.[1]

I responded: Do you understand your hypocrisy? You claim there is no difference between the dogmatism of those who affirm an after-life and those who don’t. Then you give us your dogmatism: “Nobody knows.”

Meet someone who gives evidence for life-after-death.
Let me introduce you to somebody who knows what happens after death.

Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power (1 Corinthians 15:22-24 NLT).

This same author, the Apostle Paul, writing under divine inspiration, affirmed: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 NIV).

This kind of evidence led to this statement in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”

“Nobody knows” is arrogance.

I know you won’t like the evidence I’ve provided, but your “nobody knows” position is one of ignorance – even arrogance.
What was Jesus’ view? He said to Martha at the time when her brother, Lazarus, was raised from the dead by Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die [i.e. will never die forever]. Do you believe this?”(
John 11:25-26 NET)

Meet the One who knows what happens at death.

There is most definitely someone who knows where you will be one minute after your last breath. He is the crucified, resurrected and returning Jesus Christ who is alive and well. He is the only one who has provided assurance in life and after death.

You must count the cost of following Jesus with much thought.

  • Salvation is absolutely free.
  • So is joining the army; you don’t have to pay to get into it. Everything you need is provided.[2]
  • Following Christ is like joining the army. It will cost you daily. It will cost you freedom, family, friends, doing things your own way (autonomy), and possibly even your life.[3]
  • I must tell you, a prospective believer, the full truth and nothing but the truth.

See a more extensive discussion on the Gospel and discipleship in, The Content of the Gospel . . . and some discipleship.

Romanian pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, spent 14 years in a communist prison – three of these years were in solitary confinement. Later, he was able to say,

We prisoners have experienced the power of God, the love of God which made us leap with joy. Prison has proved that love is as strong as death. We have conquered through Christ. Officers with rubber truncheons came to interrogate us; we interrogated them, and they became Christians. Other prisoners had been converted… The Communists believe that happiness comes from material satisfaction; but alone in my cell, cold, hungry and in rags, I danced for joy every night… Sometimes I was so filled with joy that I felt I would burst if I did not give it expression… I had discovered a beauty in Christ which I had not known before.[4]

Will you join me in confessing your sin, seeking God’s forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ?


(VOM refers to Voice of the Martyrs, founded by Richard & Sabina Wurmbrand. Image courtesy Persecution Blog, VOM)


[1] On Line Opinion, “Death and the Lords of the Universe,” Peter Sellick, 18 January 2021. Sellick is a liberal Anglican deacon. Posted by ttbn, Monday, 18 January 2021 4:38:24 PM (Accessed 19 January 2021).

[2] John F. MacArthur Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Milton Keynes, England: Word Publishing, 1993, p. 253.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Richard Wurmbrand, In God’s Underground (Diane Books), in David K. Watson, How to Find God. Wheaton, Illinois: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1974, p. 65.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 04 September 2021.

Crooked Lines Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

They don’t give a journalistic hoot about persecuted Christians!


(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

The Bible Society Australia has drawn attention to this absence of reporting Christian persecution by publishing this article by Patrick Sookhdeo in which he stated: ‘In a world where mainstream media largely ignore the plight of Christians, we must make sure we stay informed. We must advocate politically for believers in need, and we must share with them the material blessings God has given us. Above all, we must pray continually (1 Thess 5:17)’ (‘A prayer for the persecuted church’, 28 December 2013).

Could you imagine the following newsworthy story appearing without Christians contacting a secular newspaper or news outlet here in Australia (my home country) or in the country where you live? What will it take to get the news media to quit their biases against reporting the abuse that is happening to Christian minorities worldwide?

What about this travesty of justice?

Christians forced to convert to Buddhism in rural Nepalese village

This report comes from the Barnabas Fund, 12 February, 2015:

A Buddhist monk visiting the predominantly Christian Borang village in Nepal’s Dhading district forced all the Christian villagers to convert to Buddhism and ordered them to stop all Christian worship. Two of the church’s leaders refused to obey the orders and were attacked in response.

clip_image004Nepali Christians gather to worship
stewie811 / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Commissioned by a political leader from the RPP Hindu nationalist party, a Buddhist monk came to the village to preach Buddhism. All of the Christian villagers were locked inside a hall and forced to listen to the Buddhist teachings and to accept Buddhism. They were asked to bow down before a statue, go around the village carrying Buddhist scriptures on their heads, and to place Buddhist flags on their houses.

Refusing to obey the orders, the pastor and elder of the church were attacked. Although the church elder managed to escape, the pastor was captured and beaten for three days. He was then forced to place his finger print on a document stating that he would stop running the church and that he would not report the incident to police authorities or leave the village.

Led by the Buddhist monk, a group of assailants attacked the church on 1 February. They destroyed the furniture and church building and tried to set fire to it. They also attacked the pastor’s home, cutting off the electricity and phone lines. Not allowed to use the phone or leave the village, the pastor is still in Borang. Local Christians told Barnabas Fund today that they are particularly concerned about the health of the church pastor since there is no information about his current condition. The church was unable to meet the following Saturday, the normal day for worship services across Nepal.

Although local police were sent from Setung to the village to find out what happened, the locals, under pressure from the attackers, reported that there had been no problems. The police then returned to Setung without reporting the incident.

Although Nepal is over 80% Hindu, Buddhism holds close ties to the majority religion; the birthplace of its founder is said to be in Lumbini, southern Nepal. Dhading district, however, has the highest number of Nepali Christians, with some villages almost entirely Christian.

Can you imagine that kind of story appearing in our Australian secular media without a Christian prompt? I’ve been so concerned at this lack of coverage that on 23 January 2015, I sent this letter via email to the editor of the Brisbane Times .

Dear Editor,

I read the Brisbane Times online every morning and I’ve read plenty about the Charlie Hebdo magazine terrorism and the killing of 12 people in Paris. But I’ve not heard the same kind of news coverage about what else is happening in other countries as a result of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Muhammad. It could be that I have missed your coverage because I could miss some of your news stories. However, could it be that Zinder and Niamey, cities in Niger, are not as large on the news radar as Paris?

However, I think it’s time that you gave extensive coverage to the violence that is happening in other countries as a result of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon. Here is but one example that has reached me via email.

In two days of targeted riots that began on 16 January 2015, violence across the northern African country of Niger has left ten people dead and over 70 churches are reported to have been destroyed. The rioters were protesting against the publication of a cartoon of Muhammad on the front cover of the French Charlie Hebdo magazine in France. More riots and protests occurred across many Muslim-majority countries, including many former French colonies.

Following Friday prayers on 16 January, hundreds of mainly young Muslim extremists took to the streets in Zinder, Niger’s second largest city, burning and destroying all of the city’s churches, as well as the homes of Christians.

The next day, more than 55 churches, pastors’ homes, Christian schools and Christian organisations were burned or destroyed in the capital city, Niamey, as rioters targeted Christians and French-related businesses.

Ten people have been killed in the weekend attacks, one of whom was burned inside a church. And more than 200 Christian families are now being housed in military camps. The army has been deployed and the homes of Christians have been identified and secured. With the authorities overwhelmed by the scale of the violence, Christians have been told to stay together, just in case.

I obtained this information from the Barnabas Fund. If you want further details, including an interview, please contact:

PO BOX 3527,

I also gave him the phone and fax numbers and the email address.

No response

Perhaps it is not surprising that I did not receive a response to this email from the editor and a search by Google has not found any of my letter published online. Reporting of the persecution of Christians around the world does not seem to be a favourite topic for the secular media.

More information from Dr Patrick Sookhdeo


Dr Patrick Sookhdeo (public domain)

Dr Sookhdeo is the international director of the Barnabas Fund. He has a range of articles dealing with persecution of Christians on his own website: Patrick Sookhdeo. In his article, War on Christians (1 Peter 5:8-10), Dr Sookhdeo states:

The world has stood by and looked on. Leaders have condemned but procrastinated. Now the call is to arms: to bomb, to obliterate the Islamic State. But what of the Christian community? They have met with much sympathy. Many politicians and media commentators have expressed their concern for Christians, but still no decisive action has been taken to save them. The real problem is that the Christians have no power, and because of this they are deemed irrelevant. They have no weapons, therefore they are deemed to be no threat. They have no oil, so they have no economic weight. For some politicians it seems better that the Christians should leave the Middle East, for then at least they would not be a complication in the situation.

Patrick Sookhdeo did get mass media coverage in 2004 with The Age newspaper, Melbourne, ‘Islam, the West and the need for honesty’ (October 16). Part of this story, read,

Both sides face hard choices if further slaughter is to be prevented, an outspoken Anglican cleric and authority on radical jihadists tells Tony Parkinson.

According to Patrick Sookhdeo, it is time for plain speaking. If the world is not to become a sectarian slaughterhouse, Western and Islamic societies need to address with honesty the hard choices they face.

“I think the West has made a strategic mistake in seeking to distinguish al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden from the rest of Islam, by arguing they are extremists, and therefore cannot be authentic Muslims,” he says. “This is highly questionable.

“Bin Laden and his people come from an Islamic tradition where jihad is a cardinal principle in the fight against unbelievers. The fact is they have had tremendous backing from Muslims worldwide, many of whom regard bin Laden as a hero.

“In dealing with Islam, you have to tell the truth, and you have to meet it head on. You have to expose and confront the twisted interpretations that encourage, for example, suicidal terror.”

Sookhdeo is an Anglican clergyman based in Britain. He is also an international authority on jihadist ideology, a former Muslim, an author and a lecturer to British and NATO military officers on radical Islam. With many Muslims claiming their religion is being distorted by terrorists and the West, some of his views are controversial, or easily distorted. But during a visit to Australia this week, Sookhdeo insisted that honest dialogue was essential and the need for change urgent. Modern Muslim societies must rethink the more literal interpretations of the Koran, he argues, particularly the elevation of the 7th century edicts of Muhammad at Medina over the prophet’s earlier and more peaceable revelations at Mecca.

What about the Christian community? What will it take for Christian leaders to get off their procrastinating backside and act to deal with what is happening to the Christian communities that are being persecuted?

When will the Australian secular mass media determine that abuse of Christians (persecution) cannot be tolerated any longer and that they will expose this abuse whenever possible, whether it is in Niger, Pakistan, India or Kenya?

pink-arow-small Patrick Sookhdeo, ‘Yes, I criticise certain aspects of Islam, but don’t call me a bigot’ (The Guardian, 27 October 2011).

pink-arow-smallPlight of Middle Eastern Christians’, Rebecca Armstrong, ABC North West Queensland’ (17 October 2013).

pink-arow-small Patrick Sookhdeo, ‘The myth of moderate Islam’ (The Spectator, 30 July 2005).

Please pray for the persecuted church but don’t forget to act for them

snowflake-bronze-smallChristian-run rehab centre in Kazakhstan fined and shut down for three months’ (12 Feb 2015);

snowflake-bronze-smallFears of increased anti-Christian violence as Nigeria’s presidential election looms’ (12 Feb 2015);

snowflake-bronze-smallConditional release for Iranian Christian convert’ (10 Feb 2015);

snowflake-bronze-smallWestern procrastination could put Iraqi Christian lives at risk: comparable with 1939 Jewish refugee refusal’ (5 Feb 2015).

How many of you have contacted your local federal MP to ask what he or she could do in parliament to deal with the persecution issues in many countries? What could the Department of Foreign Affairs do? Imagine a debate on this issue in the Australian federal parliament? Or am I dreaming?

In a comment on the ACL (Australian Christian Lobby) site, Craig Kirk wrote:

Christian Persecution is certainly a world problem, I do a little bit presenting topics on the Persecuted Church in my church on a monthly basis. The persecution is pandemic and in some countries is genocide, unfortunately our liberal press do very little covering this Human Rights Atrocity, in many ways apathy in the West is a shame. The Situation is similar to the atrocities suffered by the minorities in Europe during the 1930- 1940’s while the West remained quiet (‘Persecution of Christians: Dr Patrick Sookhdeo speaking at Barnabas Fund event in Sydney’, 25 Sept 2012).

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 August 2020.