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Book Review – Standing Firm: A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution


Book Review – Standing Firm

Recent years have brought an increasing hostility to Christianity and to those who identify with the moral teachings of Christ. Some of this I’m convinced is our own fault. When we decided (in large part) to make politics a central theme of Christianity we lost our passion for the only true liberating force that we have at our disposal- the gospel of Christ. Regardless of how we got here, the fact remains that if we are to remain a people identified by the ethos of the living God, then we will eventually face hostility, and perhaps even persecution.

Standing Firm by Jesse Yow is an attempt to navigate through the pages of scripture to answer the question of how a Christian is to respond in the face of hostility. Simplified to an extreme, there are essentially two views widely held by America Christians. The first is that we, as a Christian people living in a Christian Nation have both a right and a God-given responsibility to ensure that the United States remains a nation under God. As a result, there is a heavy emphasis on transforming culture into the Kingdom of God on earth. This is, in my opinion, too narrowly focused and overlooks the biblical theme of two kingdom living. The second view that is widely held is the belief that Christians are simultaneously citizens of two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man. While our highest allegiance belongs to the kingdom of God and the cross which is at the center of it, we also have a responsibility to live peaceably under the laws that govern whatever nation God has established as our dwelling place. It is from this second view that Standing Firm addresses these issues.

Jessie Yow assumes that the Christian will experience hostility. I think this is a safe assumption given the testimony of scripture. God’s church has always been a peculiar people and has always been a counter-cultural people. The apostle Paul, when describing believers in 2 Corinthians says that we are the aroma of Christ.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.

From this passage it is clear that Christians will be led into triumph in Christ and that we have a distinctive characteristic which is noticeable to those around us. To those are are of Christ, we are a pleasing aroma but to those who are not we are the aroma of death. This creates a visceral reaction in those who oppose us. We should expect this.

So how does the Christian respond? Yow gives a number of possibilities from turning the other cheek to invoking our rights, disengaging, and playing defense. All of these are appropriate in certain situations. However, as Yow points out, this is never at the expense of the gospel. The cross must always remain central in the life of the believer. I appreciated how Yow constantly refocused the reader on the cross and the gospel proclamation. In fact, he makes a good case that biblical example is to do what would best maximize the gospel proclamation.

What also impressed me about Standing Firm is the way Yow framed our response within the context of prayer, self examination, forgiveness, and fellowship among other spiritual disciplines.

There are three appendices in Standing Firm which the reader will find useful. My favorite by far was appendix 2 which is a handful of prayers for those who are facing hostility and persecution. It is right and good for us to not forget our brothers and sisters who are dealing with this to greater degrees than we are.

Overall this is a topic which every Christian should understand and I can’t think of a better book that presents the biblical view than Standing Firm.

Click here to search Amazon for the best price on Standing Firm  OR . . Click HERE to purchase from Christian Books

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Concordia Publishing in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About the Author


Dr. Jesse Yow is a creative technical manager, entrepreneur, and author with leadership experience in mission-driven program development and execution.

Yow holds a PhD from the University of California Berkley. He works in applied science and technology and leads the Environmental Restoration Department at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

An active member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Yow teaches Bible classes at Our Savior Lutheran Ministries in Livermore, California. He also serves as a member of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations

12 thoughts on “Book Review – Standing Firm: A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution

  1. Karl

    This looks like a good choice to read. My wife and I were just discussing the current atmosphere. Issues like do we resist if laws are created against us and do we bake cakes for those unlike us. We came to the conclusion that baking a cake or performing any other kind of service (except marriage) is not endorsing their lifestyle but simply treating them as fellow human beings. But our conscience allows that. Others might not. God never said that as Christians we are entitled to preferential treatment but are to expect to be hated and reviled. Yet we are blessed for it if it is for His sake. We work through the existing legal system I think. And we pray for those in power over us. Remember it was 500 years before God “heard” the cry of the Israelites in Egypt. He delivered them not because they put up a good fight (they didn’t) but because in his sovereignty the time was right. So it shall be for us.

    • Karl from your comment I really do think you’ll enjoy this book. Check it out at the links above or at Concordia Publishing House.

  2. Steven Siegmund

    This is an interesting perspective and not one that I would have guessed you would give credence to. The scriptures do speak of building God’s kingdom as an earthly kingdom for it starts off small like a mustard seeds and grows into the largest of trees in the garden. Therefore our responsibility is to establish God’s kingdom here on earth. It is only then that Christ can return victorious to reign over his saints. When we are faced with persecution or hostility as you call it (is there a difference?) we should not cower to the world but bear the sword against it. We have a duty to establish the law of God as the law of the land and this takes rigorous battling against the enemies of God. So we don’t obey godless laws we rebel against man’s law and in so doing show ourselves to love God’s law. The Lutheran view of two kingdoms like the reformed view only creates passive Christians who allow godless laws to reign supreme.

    • Thank you for your comments Steven. For the sake of clarity I am a reformed Christian and hold a Lutheran-Reformed view of two kingdoms. Maybe you can help me understand your position better by clarifying what you mean by God’s Kingdom. I agree that it starts off small and grows. We both agree on that! However, can you help me understand what you mean by the kingdom? Also, what do you mean by the two kingdom view creating passive Chriatians? Can you help me out by clarifying that and giving examples? Thanks a lot and I look forward to our discussion!

  3. Steven Siegmund

    Yeah sure. I don’t mind. So God’s kingdom is his rule on earth. It is here now and is growing and includes the church and secular culture. Two kingdom people like yourself forget to include the secular world in God’s kingdom and see it as different from God’s kingdom but there is really just one kingdom and Jesus is king over it all. That’s the first part I think. Second part you asked what I mean by passive Christians. Here’s what I mean. If you don’t see God’s kingdom as including all of creation then you have no motivation to reclaim it for God. It belongs to the world so let it go to hell in a hand basket. But if you see it as God’s then you will work to reclaim it for him and transform culture into a Godly culture. This is through the dominion mandate where we are commanded to take dominion by putting all things under subjection to Christ.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think you’re the enemy. I just think you only have half the picture.

  4. Thanks for the clarification Steven. Just out of curiosity, how did you come to the conclusion that the kingdom of God includes the world as well as the church? Can you help me to see how the kingdom of God includes things such as government and education outside of the presence of the professing church? Also, how do you come to the conclusion that we are to take dominion over (for instance) the government and Institute God’s law as you said in your previous post. Lastly, would you agree with me I saying that all things are (in some ways) under Christ’s subjection and in other ways not yet under his subjection? Related to this is the question of WHO puts all things under his subjection. Thanks again Steven. I appreciate your willingness to patiently spell these things out for me as I try to understand your position.

  5. Steven Siegmund

    Well because if didn’t include the entire world it wouldn’t really be a kingdom. So the growth of the kingdom is the gradual influence of the gospel and reconstruction of culture/society according to Biblical principles.What else can it be if not worldwide? It’s not that it is outside of the presence of the church but that it is transformed into the church. Society becomes Christianized and therefore it is the kingdom. This is why we take dominion over all of life because if we didn’t then society wouldn’t be reconstructed according to Biblical law. I agree that there are some ways in which everything is under Christ’s rule. Yes. I agree with that because where there are true believers Christ rules in their hearts. God will put all things under Christ’s rule through his people who are working to put all things under his subjection.

  6. Thank you Steven. I should probably re-phrase my question a bit. When I ask about how you came to the conclusion that the kingdom includes the entire world I specifically mean the entire world in the here and now. I too believe that the kingdom will one day encompass the entire world but in the new heavens and new earth . . . so I place it in the eschaton rather than now. Or maybe more accurately I should say that it is here now but not in its fullness. The fullness I think will be in the age to come while it is growing gradually as the presence of God in the hearts of his people. So I would say there is an already and not yet aspect to the kingdom.

    I am a little confused about one thing you said. You mentioned that we must work to put all things under his subjection yet Ephesians 1 says that God has already put all things in subjection under His feet. Maybe I’m not understanding what you are saying, maybe you can help me clear this up . . . but if God has already but all things in subjection under his feet what is left for us to do?

  7. Quick question Aaron with no need to respond right away. Congregation here is getting stressed with the resent standoff nearby and Donald Trump making everything fear ridden. How do I best address this? There is growing hostility right now from the community that is making it hard on the people and adding to their confusion. Any advice? Also do you happen to have contact info for the author? I think an LCMS voice might be good right now.

    • Hello Ryan. Good to hear from you again. My answer may be too simplistic given all the complexities going on in that area, but I really do believe that taking them back to the cross and to Christ is the answer. In there we find our divine brother in our distress. He is the supreme example of one who was being crushed by the circumstances surrounding him and yet did not waiver in His trust in the Father. Point them to the cross again and again.

      I’m not sure about how to contact the author to be honest. I do not know him personally. You can always try the publisher (Concordia ) or perhaps social media as long as you don’t come across as a stalker! I’m praying for you guys Ryan. You have a tough assignment over there with a lot of hurting souls.

  8. Steven Siegmund

    Oh, yes because Jesus is reigning in the here and now. He is crowned and in heaven on his throne not in the future but now. Also Jesus says there will be tares in with the wheat in the kingdom. If this was a future kingdom in the new Earth why would there be tares? That’s my thinking at least.

    I don’t have a good reason for saying we put all things under His subjection. It looks like I was just wrong. But still I think there is a way to connect the dominion mandate to establishing of the kingdom. We don’t just sit idly by and do nothing right? The dominion mandate is pretty important in understanding how this all fits together.

    • Is it possible that Christ’s words about the wheat and the tares refer to the church? Not the elect of God, but those who have joined to the church and proclaim to be Christian?

      I have some thoughts on dominion as well but mostly just questions. Like when the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 8, he frames it in a Christological context. This seems to indicate that the mandate in Genesis which Adam failed to keep, and which Noah failed to keep, was accomplished in Christ in His resurrection. In Hebrews 2 he clarifies the dominian mandate by saying although all things are now under his feet (he is already ruling in the church) we do not yet see everything under them. But we do see Christ and one day (the ‘not yet’) we will see them under his feet. But note that the ‘not yet’ appears to be contrasted with this age. This makes it difficult for me to see that the kingdom will be realized before Christ returns.

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