Jerome thought that Rome equals the Church. So when Alaric sacked Rome in AD 410, he lamented, “What is to become of the Church now that Rome has fallen?” Today, American Christians lament that America, “a Christian nation,” has also fallen. But Augustine saw that “the City of God” has not fallen, because this “city” is Christ’s Church, not Rome. He knew Christ’s promise, “the gates of Hades will not prevail against [the church].” And America was never a “Christian nation.”
Now, all true churches in America will be under siege, as when the seven churches in Asia were in the first century. The Apostle John wrote to them to encourage them to “conquer” their persecution and suffering, because to the “conqueror,” Christ promises, “I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev 2:26-27).
However, there will certainly be many supposed-to-be sound churches who will toe the LGBT line for a variety of reasons, whether fear, financial concerns, loss of membership, or being labeled as hateful bigots. For example, megachurches with expensive properties will be pressured to give in because of these concerns. Some already did.
To those who are faithful and willing to suffer for Christ, he comforts and strengthens them, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested…” (Rev 2:10).
But Christ commands unfaithful churches to repent of their sexual immorality and idolatry, “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Rev 2:20). Many churches are even lukewarm and complacent in their riches, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev 3:17). If they don’t repent, he warns, “I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16), and “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev 2:5).
For the next two centuries, the early church suffered unspeakable persecution and martyrdom from the mightiest empire in the world. But through this fiery test, the early church was not only strengthened, but also purged of dross, those who renounced Christ in the face of persecution.
Sovereign LORD, may your Church stand the test of persecution today and in the years to come, for we trust in your eternal Holy Word:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:35, 37).