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6.6 New birth and backsliding during persecution

New birth and backsliding during persecution
History has shown that the number of Christians has at times grown powerfully during periods of persecution, such as occurred with the early church under Roman persecution. A current example is the underground revival in China, where 50-70 million people have received Christ in just a few decades.

Born-again, and filled with joy, they have begun to walk the narrow path as living advertisements for Christ, despite resistance and even persecution from the authorities. On the other hand, the officially sanctioned, "three-self movement" has stagnated with its 10-15 million members.

The revival in China is truly a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, since the communists tried everything to stamp out Christianity. After their takeover in power, the communists cast out missionaries and placed pastors in prison, besides burning Bibles during the Cultural Revolution.

The Bible maintains that all true Christians must reckon with a certain measure of persecution, since the Devil is still the prince of this world. (II Tim.3:12) Persecution is always painful, but its pain is certainly worst when Christians are persecuted by their own, such as parents, brothers and sisters, relatives or close friends.

Persecution can as well serve a good purpose by revealing those who:
  • by becoming self-reliant in good times, have lost intimate contact with the Savior
  • have become Christians in order to gain something. When the communists began their persecution in China, many so-called "rice-Christians" fell away, since they had become Christians primarily in order to obtain free food from the missionaries.

The advantage of such an open falling away can sometimes be, that it gives the possibility of repenting and beginning again, such as the Apostle Peter did. The situation is worse for all secret backsliders, such as the unwise Bride Christians, who aren't aware of their backsliding before it's too late.

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