If Lucifer could get the early church to implode through persecution, he might impede or stop altogether the spiritual progress God was making in the world. If Lucifer could not defeat Jesus at Gethsemane and Calvary, he might defeat God through these early Christians by intimidation and fear. But God countered this evil strategy of Lucifer by empowering the unwavering and steadfast witness of the Christian’s faith in the face of this persecution. Today we (in the wealthy and developed nations of the world) look back at the faithfulness of these early Christians with pride and celebration, yet their uncompromising courage and faith are difficult for us to relate to in our present-day, more normal pursuit of a peaceful and productive life.
If the modern-day Christian church is not raptured pretribulation, and experiences persecution in the last days, Lucifer may pull out of his bag of lies this old lie that worked so well against Christians in the first centuries of the faith. Christians may again be unjustly blamed for the problems of the world, this time by refusing to go along with everyone else and accept the mark of the beast. This acceptance of the mark of the beast will be considered so reasonable and sensible by the world, in order to solve whatever political or economic problems exist at that time that the stubborn refusal of Christians to go along will again be viewed as anti-social and subversive.
The mark of the beast will be a fallen, corrupted, worldly counterfeit version of the true spiritual unity between believers when we are “in Christ.” The Christian’s discerning choice of the higher unity of the bond of the Spirit in love, and the rejection of the lower worldly counterfeit solution of the mark of the beast established through coercion and threats, will not be understood nor embraced by the world.
There must be some motivating rationale for the whole world hating Christians as described in Matthew 24:9 “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” This scripture cannot be addressed to the early Christian church, because the next verse says “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24:10). This did not occur among Christians in the first three centuries. History tells us for the most part, at least up until the Decian persecution of 250 A.D. and the Great Persecution of Diocletian from 303 to 313 A.D., that Christians remained faithful to one another during the periods of intense persecution under the Roman emperors. The bonds of friendship, loyalty, and love between Christians often grew stronger during times of persecution.
This backdrop provides historical context for a critique of one important cross-related scriptural problem with the concept that the Christian church will be raptured pretribulation.