The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Archive for the ‘persecution’ Category

Avoiding Persecution at the Expense of the Gospel

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 3, 2016

Ever since I began to read the Voice of the Martyrs magazine* years ago, I have had the conviction that the western Church has much to learn from the Church in the rest of the world, and particularly from the suffering Church. This is not to say that the non-western Church has no errors or weaknesses. We know from reading Revelation 2 & 3 that churches can have both. They need rebukes, exhortations and continual guidance by the Great Shepherd. Sometimes they go so far astray, they are under threat of having their lamps darkened forever.

However the non-western Church has an advantage, in that her faith has survived wars, poverty, social upheaval and persecution. In most cases, she has not learned that persecution must be avoided at all cost, or that Jesus died to give her prosperity and earthly security. Jesus did not lie when He said it was hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, and we in the west are rich. There is a great blindness and apathy that seems to accompany prosperity and ease, unless we are very careful to cast it off. I believe that listening to these foreign disciples–and watching how they live out their faith–is akin to going to Jesus for some much-needed eye medication.  We have much to learn.

With that in mind, I’d like to share a message with you from a Christian evangelist who works in Tyre, Lebanon among 95% Muslims. He was born a Muslim himself, but became a follower of Jesus at a young age, due to the influence of a Christian church in his neighborhood. He lived for some time in the USA, after being flown here when his life was threatened because of his preaching. But he went back, and he opened a mission which openly admits with a sign that it exists to proclaim the gospel.

Mohammad Yamout tells his story and delivers some powerful exhortations to the western Church in the video below. Here is a transcription of part of it:

“Any Christian who thinks he can avoid persecution, I think that is not possible…We’re in the devil’s den. You’re attacking the fortress of the devil. The devil is not going to kiss you if you attack him. He’s going to attack back…

And any time you will try to avoid persecution, you have to do it on the expense of the gospel. You will compromise your stand in order to avoid persecution. I don’t want to compromise my stand. I don’t want to compromise the gospel to avoid persecution.

Many people, under the pretext of wisdom, say, ‘You have to be wise.’ I don’t know how wise you can be. I don’t think you can be more wise than Jesus Christ. He came, and He had to be persecuted. And He had to die. There was no other way.

For the gospel to spread out, and for people to know the truth, we have to die too. For the Muslim people to know Christ, we have to die. There has to be a line of martyrs in the future, I think, before these people understand that there’s a God that loves them. If we’re not ready to pay that cost, I don’t think anything’s going to happen….

Christianity was spread in the first century church by the blood of the martyrs. People died, that’s how Christianity was spread. That’s how we conquered.

Today in order to conquer, we have to be ready to die. People ask me in churches, ‘What makes a good missionary?’ And my answer is always, ‘Are you ready to die?’ If you’re not ready to die, pack it and go home…This was the life theme of every successful missionary–they were ready to die for Jesus.”

I hope you will set aside time to watch the entire video. God bless you.

*Note: While I credit the VOM magazine for helping me to better understand the worldwide church, and I respect its founder Richard Wurmbrand, I can no longer promote the ministry due to some revelations that Richard Wurmbrand’s son brought to light.

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Offering God Service

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 1, 2016

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. (John 16:1-3)

Jesus foretold a time when unbelieving religious people would persecute Christians, throwing them out of their synagogues and even killing them. The crucifixion of Jesus Himself stands as a stark confirmation of His words.

But it’s interesting that these killings will be done in service to God. Think about that.

Jesus said they do these things because they have not known the Father or Himself. They are trying to serve a God they don’t know, or serving a false god.  Beloved, if you ever hear a voice telling you to kill anyone for God, you can know for sure the voice is not the voice of the Shepherd Jesus. I don’t care how politically correct and widely accepted it might be. I don’t care how many churches condone it (to their eternal shame). I don’t care what the justifications are. If a man knows the Father through Jesus, he will not side with the destroyer against other people.

How many killings today are offered as service to God?

When a Muslim shouts “Allahu Akbar!” while killing, he is plainly saying he is killing for God.

When a “Christian” soldier inscribes Scripture on his machine gun, and agrees to use it on other people, he is saying he is killing for God, or at least with His approval.

How many mothers and fathers in the news have killed their little child, claiming the devil was in him. In their demon-possessed madness, they think they did God service.

New Age religion admits that one day all Bible believers will have to be killed, but they too twist their premeditated murder into a service to God by claiming they are in fact saving the Christians they kill.

Demented abortionists claim that God has given them the calling to kill babies. Link here. (Note: I don’t endorse the catholic theology at that link.)

Over the centuries, nation after nation has claimed that God is on its side, while doing the devil’s works for him. False churches have arisen and proudly harnessed the power of the beast to persecute the righteous. The beast and the false prophet like to work side-by-side. And why not?–The same dragon inspires them both.

There have been comparatively few individuals who loved Jesus and obeyed His commands, laying down their lives for others whatever the cost to themselves. But I praise God–there have always been a few! And their testimonies continue to inspire God’s children today, and to bear fruit that lasts.  Dear Lord Jesus, let me be counted among them.

I hope you will take 5 minutes to watch this re-enactment of a true story. Pray for both the persecuted and the persecutor. How will the persecutor know what true service to God looks like, if we aren’t willing to walk in the steps of Jesus?

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Put Up Thy Sword

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 27, 2016

The following is Chapter 18 from Samuel Logan Brengle’s book, When the Holy Ghost is Come.

The Sheathed Sword: A Law of the Spirit
by Samuel Logan Brengle

‘ Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.’

Just as the moss and the oak are higher in the order of creation than the clod of clay and the rock, the bird and beast than the moss and the oak, the man than the bird and the beast, so the spiritual man is a higher being than the natural man. The sons of God are a new order of being. The Christian is a ‘ new creation ‘. just as there are laws governing the life of the plant, and other and higher laws that of the bird and beast, so there art higher laws for man, and still higher for the Christian. It was with regard to one of these higher laws that govern the heavenly life of the Christian that Jesus said to Peter,’ Put up thy sword.’

Jesus said to Pilate, ‘ My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight’ (John xviii. 36). The natural man is a fighter. It is the law of his carnal nature. He fights with fist and sword, tongue and wit. His kingdom is of this world and he fights for it with such weapons as this world furnishes. The Christian is a citizen of Heaven and is subject to its law, which is universal, wholehearted love. In his Kingdom he conquers not by fighting, but by submitting. When an enemy takes his coat, he overcomes him, not by going to law, but by generously giving him his cloak also. When his enemy compels him to go a mile with him, he vanquishes the enemy by cheerfully going two miles with him. When he is smitten on one check, he wins his foe by meekly turning the other cheek. This is the law of the new life from Heaven, and only by recognizing and obeying it can that new life be sustained and passed on to others. This is the narrow way which leads to life eternal, ‘ and few there be that find it’ or, finding it, are willing to walk in it.

A Russian peasant, Sutajeff. could get no help from the religious teachers of his village, so he learned to read; and while studying the Bible he found this narrow way and walked gladly in it. One night neighbours stole some of his grain, but in their haste or carelessness they left a bag. He found it, and ran after them to restore it ‘for ‘, said he, ‘fellows who have to steal must be hard up.’ And by this Christlike spirit he saved both himself and them, for he kept the spirit of love in his own heart and they were converted and became his most ardent disciples.

A beggar woman to whom he gave lodging stole the bedding and ran away with it. She was pursued by the neighbours, and was just about to be put in prison when Sutajeff appeared, became her advocate, secured her acquittal, and gave her food and money for her journey.

He recognized the law of his new life and gladly obeyed it, and so was not overcome of evil, but persistently and triumphantly overcame evil with good (Rom. xii. 2 1). This is the spirit and method of Jesus; and by men filled with this spirit and following this method He will yet win the world.

He came ‘ not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many’ (Mark x. 45) His spirit is not one of selfseeking, but of self-sacrifice. Some mysterious majesty of His presence or voice so awed and overcame His foes that they went back and fell to the ground before Him in the Garden of His agony, but He meekly submitted Himself to them; and when Peter laid to with his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus said to him, ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? ‘ (John xviii. 11). This was the spirit of Isaac. When he digged a well the Philistines strove with his servants for it; so he digged another; and when they strove for that, he removed and digged yet another, ‘ and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth (room); and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. . . . And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed’ (Gen. xxvi.22, 24).

This was the spirit of David when Saul was hunting for his life; twice David could have slain him, and when urged to do so, he said, ‘As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed’ (I Sam. xxvi. I 0 I I).

This was the spirit of Paul. He says, ‘Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat’ (I Cor. iv. 12, 13). ‘The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men ‘ (2 Tim. ii. 24). This is the spirit of our King, this is the law of His kingdom.

Is this your spirit? When you are reviled, bemeaned and slandered, and are tempted to retort, He says to you, ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath.’ When you are wronged and ill-treated, and men ride rough-shod over you, and you feel it but just to smite back, He says, ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath.’ ‘ Live peaceably with all men’ (Rom. xii. 18). Your weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, now that you belong to Him and have your citizenship in Heaven. If you fight with the sword; if you retort and smite back when you are wronged, you quench the Spirit; you get out of the narrow way, and your new life from Heaven will perish.

An officer went to a hard corps, and after a while found that his predecessor was sending back to friends for money which his own corps much needed. He felt it to be an injustice and, losing sight of the spirit of Jesus, he made a complaint about it, and the money was returned. But he got lean in his soul. He had quenched the Spirit. He had broken the law of the Kingdom. He had not only refused to give his cloak, but had fought for and secured the return of the coat. He had lost the smile of Jesus, and his poor heart was sad and heavy within him. He came to me with anxious inquiry as to what I thought of his action. I had to admit that the other man had transgressed and that the money ought to be returned, but that he should have been more grieved over the unchristlike spirit of his brother than over the loss of the five dollars, and that like Sutajeff he should have said, ‘ Poor fellow! He must be hard up; I will send him five dollars myself. He has taken my coat, he shall have my cloak too.’ When I told him that story, he came to himself very quickly and was soon back in the narrow way and rejoicing in the smile of Jesus once again.

‘But will not people walk over us, if we do not stand up for our rights?’ you ask. I do not argue that you are not to stand up for your rights; but that you are to stand up for your higher rather than your lower rights, the rights of your heavenly life rather than your earthly life, and that you are to stand up for your rights in the way and spirit of Jesus rather than in the way and spirit of the world.

If men wrong you intentionally, they wrong themselves far worse than they wrong you; and if you have the spirit of Jesus in your heart you will pity them more than you pity yourself. They nailed Jesus to the Cross and hung Him up to die; they gave Him gall and vinegar to drink; they cast votes for His seamless robe, and divided His garments between them, while the crowd wagged their heads at Him and mocked Him. Great was the injustice and wrong they were inflicting upon Him, but He was not filled with anger, only pity. He thought not of the wrong done Him, but of the wrong they did themselves, and their sin against His heavenly Father, and He prayed not for judgment upon them, but that they might be forgiven, and He won them, and is winning and will win the world. Bless God!

‘By mercy and truth iniquity is purged,’ wrote Solomon (Prov. xvi. 6). ‘ Put up thy sword into the sheath ‘, and take mercy and truth for your weapons, and God will be with you and for you, and great shall be your victory and joy. Hallelujah!

‘HAVE YE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BELIEVED? ‘

Posted in "Christian" Zionism, Christian Life, nationalism, persecution, Suffering | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 21, 2015

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. (Isa. 11:6)

Watch as 10 yr-old Miriam gives her edifying testimony of God’s love and faithfulness, in spite of the fact that Isis has made her homeless. Look at her thankful spirit and her contagious joy. See how readily she forgives her enemies without the slightest hesitation! Weep as she sings a song of love to her Savior, Who, motivated by love, came to restore her to righteousness. Pray that your faith and your heart can be as pure as hers if you are ever tested in the ultimate way!

See also Who is my Neighbor
Early Church Writings on Christians and Violence

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Obtaining the Promise

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 4, 2015

Speaking of Abraham, Heb. 6:15 declares:

And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Note that he did not obtain the promise immediately, but only after he had patiently endured the hardships of this life.

We must also continue in a faith like that, as the writer of Hebrews speaks again:

But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (10:32-39)

These early saints “endured a great struggle with sufferings.” They endured their own tribulations, and brought even more suffering on themselves by compassionately aligning themselves with other persecuted Christians. They were instructed to continue enduring, for only after enduring in the will of God could they obtain the promise. This is fully in line with Jesus’ teaching, “He who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22)

There is such a thing as not believing to the saving of the soul, or falling away in time of testing. This is a faith that refuses to endure hardship in the present life. Because it refuses to suffer now, it forfeits the Promise. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:17)

And what was/is the Promise? Is it a happy and care-free life on this earth? No indeed! The Scriptures are clear that the Biblical saints lived as pilgrims, like Christ, having no place to call home.

Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy, yes, with utter destruction. (Micah 2:10)

This world is not our rest. We are forbidden to love it or be a friend to it, precisely because it can never be our rest. It is defiled, and it will be burned!

Recently I’ve seen many Christian brothers and sisters having health problems, financial problems, and of course relational problems as they are cast out by those who claim to be their brethren. The whole creation is groaning, waiting for the sons of God to be fully and finally revealed. Is anyone groaning more than the true saints?

It is easy to fall away in times of testing, and these are most assuredly times of testing. It is tempting to think God has forsaken us; or that His giving us over to the slaughter, as it were, is unfair. It is tempting to reason that our doing good has only brought us harm, and to envy the ease with which the wicked sail through life claiming to be “blessed.” But we must consider not only what is happening now, but what will be the latter end for both the righteous and the wicked. We must see things with spiritual eyes rather than carnal eyes, lest we complain against God and fall in the wilderness, never entering into the rest which remains for His people. We have tremendous need of endurance if we are to finish this difficult race with a steadfast faith.

Please be encouraged if you are suffering as a Christian. God has chosen the poor of this world to inherit the riches of the next (James 2:5). God has chosen the weak of this world through whom to manifest His strength, and He has chosen to declare His Name through those who are despised (Psa. 22). If you walk by your spiritual eyes rather than your carnal eyes, you can endure like Moses (Heb. 11:24-27)–he was able to endure the wrath of this world’s elite and powerful, because he looked to the Invisible One, who would soon crush satan under his feet. He esteemed the reproach of Christ as the true riches compared to all that he could have had in Egypt (the world).

Our brother, who was crucified, wrote the following:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (I Pet. 5:8-10)

Until that day that He has perfected, established, strengthened and settled us, let us remember that the entire brotherhood of Jesus is experiencing sufferings with us. Let us be vigilant to guard our hearts against the devil’s schemes to get us to turn away from the Lord Jesus. No one else has the Words of Life; there is no where to go but to Him. We will suffer “for a while.” I know it can feel like our troubles are unending, but they aren’t. Our suffering is temporary and it will end. If we do not draw back to perdition, we will obtain the Promise, and He will wipe away every tear.

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High Above All Nations

Posted by israeliteindeed on December 27, 2014

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. (Deut. 28:1)

This promise opens a whole chapter which plainly teaches that obedience to God’s voice brings blessing, while disobedience to God’s voice brings a curse. Yes, to the earthly Israel was given a promise that IF-IF-IF they obeyed God’s voice, they would inherit blessing and be “high above all the nations on earth.”

When we consider how this chapter has played out in history–all recorded in Scripture for our learning, it should become obvious that some in the nation obeyed the Lord’s voice, and some did not–all the way up until the vineyard was taken from most of the original tenants of the land and given to others who would produce its fruit (Matt. 21:33-46).

In other words, of the original tenants, some DID inherit the promises, and they WERE set high above all the nations on earth. Those who did not obey, forfeited everything.

Look at this promise given to Jeremiah:

Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day SET YOU OVER THE NATIONS AND OVER THE KINGDOMS, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” (Jer. 1:9-10)

Not only was Jeremiah set over his own nation as a prophet and spiritual judge, he was also set over the surrounding nations. In the flesh, we see only a lowly prophet who was considered a threat to national security, thrown in a well, and/or largely ignored. In the Spirit, he was over all the nations, and none could dislodge him so long as he obeyed the voice of the Lord. Certainly, Jeremiah inherited the conditional promises of blessing.

God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. (Psa. 47:8)

For the kingdom is the Lord’s, And He rules over the nations. (Psa. 22:28)

This kingdom, which rules over the nations, was preached by Jesus and His disciples and apostles (Lk 8:1-2; Mk 1:14-15; Acts 20:25, 28:30-31). This is the kingdom into which we must all press if we are to be saved. Those who will inherit this kingdom are described in Matthew 5, in what is commonly called “The Beatitudes.” Strangely, many professing Christians deny that the Beatitudes have any authority over how we behave with relation to the nations. Instead they choose the ways of the world–exalting themselves through lies or violence or both. A textbook example would be the Crusaders fighting the Muslims over Jerusalem, claiming to be serving the Lord by their evil, but there are many other such examples in our modern times. Such may appear to be ruling over others for a time, but they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Those who inherit the kingdom, like Jeremiah, may appear to be the biggest losers while this earth still stands in its present form. Yet, they are promised to reign with Christ.

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. 19:28)

Some see this verse as still entirely future. But the Son of Man is already seated on His throne of glory.

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56)

Stephen was essentially testifying that Jesus was already on His throne with the Father, confirming Jesus’ earlier testimony that all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). John also testified that the Lamb (Jesus) could be seen “in the midst of the throne” (Rev. 5:6). See also Psalm 110 & Daniel 7:9-14.

I believe that all men who have been regenerated (born again) are already seated high above the nations in the kingdom of God, as Paul wrote here–

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-6)

Paul was clearly speaking by the Spirit about spiritual things–things which are very real, even if we cannot see them with carnal observation.

Those who are born again are presently seated with Christ in His kingdom! And from this safe place, no kingdom on earth can hurt them. Because their life is hid with Christ in God, they too are “high above all nations.” This is why we are not to fear those who can kill the body, but cannot touch the soul. (Matt. 10:28) The two witnesses were slain in the body, but their souls were safely caught up to heaven. Even the martyrs are found where?–in a safe place, resting, comforted by the Lord (Rev. 6:9-11).

It requires spiritual eyes to see and embrace these truths. One who isn’t born again cannot even see the kingdom. One who doesn’t come humbly, as a child, cannot enter it. God Himself lifts up the humble of the earth and sets them at His table, in a city made by His own hands. In this city there is neither Jew nor Gentile, nor any other proud faction. There are only the Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. They are the lowly of the earth who put their trust in Jesus, and in nothing else. These, God has lifted up and made His children.

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What if We Really Loved our Enemies?

Posted by israeliteindeed on October 19, 2014

When the subject of obeying Christ’s command to love our enemies comes up, invariably someone will respond with, “Well what would you do if someone broke into your house and was about to rape and murder your wife/husband/child?” It is assumed that our innate love for, and desire to protect, our family will override any silly compulsion we might have had for turning the other cheek. Otherwise you are just a rotten human being, even loveless.

First, this is not a scenario that happens every day. It is unwise to imagine the most tortuous thing possible as a means to extricate ourselves from Christ’s commands.

Second, there are many things one could do in response besides kill. Hopefully, our first response would be prayer. And if that isn’t our first response, maybe we don’t really know or trust God. After prayer, we have to trust that the Spirit of God would show us what to do or say next. And I know that whatever that would be, it would in no way contradict any of Jesus’ teachings. If we have already hidden God’s Word in our hearts, it will keep us from sin when the pressure is on.

Third, I have to repeat the question in the title of this paper. What if we really loved our enemies? I mean really loved them.

Imagine for a moment that your own 20 year-old son (or daughter), whom you had rocked in your arms and raised up under your own roof, fell in with some bad people and decided you were his enemy. One day he pulls a weapon on you and tells you he is going to kill you in cold blood. What would you do? Would you instantly pull out your own gun and fire away, then tell the world, “I had no choice. Self-defense.” Would your story be lauded all over the internet and shared on social media–“Brave father kills son in self-defense.” Probably not. Many people, even unbelievers, would be shaking their heads. How could a father do that to his own child?

But what is the difference between a stranger and that prodigal son?

The difference is that you love your own son. And because you love him, you don’t want him to die, especially in the spiritual state he is in. You would probably be wondering how in the world he ever got this confused. Most likely, your mind would be working overtime to create a way to diffuse the situation so you could help your son. You would likely plead with him, remind him that what he is doing has dreadful consequences to him spiritually. Perhaps you would start weeping with a broken heart for what is happening to him. And whatever else you would do (call the police, try to restrain him, run away), it is very unlikely that you would riddle him with bullet holes to solve the problem.

Now, let’s talk about the stranger. Why do people find it so easy to kill strangers, whether it is the stranger from their own town committing robbery, or the stranger overseas who happens to have a target on his chest due to some political struggle? They find it easy because they do not love him. And because they do not love him, they choose not to remember that he is created in God’s image and likeness. They find it easy to forget that he has a mother and father who may be devastated by his death. They choose to have a hardened heart toward his spiritual state, rather than a broken heart willing to make a personal sacrifice to help him.

The western church has cleverly dreamed up myriad ways to explain away the teachings of Christ, so that she can respond to the challenges sin brings just as the world does, and continue seeking all the things the Gentiles (unbelievers) seek (Matt. 6:25-33). To respond to those challenges as God did in Christ simply costs too much. She wants to be perfect, but she doesn’t want to enter the fire to be perfected. And because of this apostasy and departure from love, she is now plagued with fear.

We have fear of people who practice false religions, fear of terrorism, fear of which way the political games are headed, fear of losing what we have worked so hard to achieve for ourselves. We are no longer seeking first the kingdom of God–that kingdom which is not of this world–that kingdom which we must enter through tribulation. We are no longer seeking His righteousness, a righteousness that overcomes evil with good (Rom. 12:14-21). We are no longer willing to follow in Jesus’ suffering steps (I Pet. 2:21).

When Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, He meant it. He will never change what He said. His commands will never be outdated because of some new and more serious threat. Neither are they burdensome (I John 5:3).

What He commands, He also facilitates for those who abide in Him. He is not simply telling us to treat our enemies as if we loved them. He wants us to actually love them, the way we love our own children. Is that possible?

It is. He showed us the way, and His life flowing in us (if we are abiding in the Vine) makes it possible. While we were still His enemies, Christ died a violent death to save us (Rom. 5:8-10). Such a love makes no sense to the natural man, and he can’t receive it. The world doesn’t operate this way; and those who love the world can never choose this way because they are too invested in the world.

But those who truly die to themselves in order to know God even in His sufferings, even in conformity to His death (Phil. 3:10), will find that they are debtors to everyone, even the barbarians (Rom. 1:14). Being a debtor means you owe them; they don’t owe you anything! This is how the early church gave up their lives–being imprisoned, stoned, beheaded and crucified–for the gospel. This is how they were content to live in the caves of the earth as outcasts. This is how they so easily parted with lands and goods to see that others were fed. It wasn’t that their times were so much easier. It was that they were so closely connected to Jesus and so willing to follow in His steps (out of love for Him), that His love flowed through them and they were empowered to love their enemies from their hearts. They weren’t pretending; a game of pretend doesn’t have that kind of endurance. Their minds were being renewed to love as God does; their hearts were tenderized until they saw themselves as debtors to every man. Was it easy? I don’t think the cross or tribulation are ever easy. Every man cares for his own flesh and wants to see it flourish, but love makes impossible things possible.

And so I challenge you to put in place of that faceless, nameless “enemy” –someone you love. Don’t dehumanize the enemy; that is the world’s way. Humanize him with the face, the life story, and the value of one you dearly cherish. Now ask the Lord Jesus to help you love your enemy in the way you love that person precious to you. Because I truly believe the gap between how we would respond to an only son and how we would respond to a complete stranger is the gap between our love and His love. And it’s not enough to say, “I’m only human.” It is God’s will that His love be perfected in us.

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. (I Jn. 4:17)

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:7-14)

Have you not yet attained? Are you not already perfected? Begin by counting your worldly gains as loss for Christ. Many are stumbled right here and never get this first step nailed down. Oh, but you must! For where your treasure is, there your heart is also! (Matt. 6:19-21) And then you must desire, with an undivided heart, to know Jesus and to be like Him, even if closely following Him draws you into the fellowship of His sufferings. Forget those things which are behind and press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I’m on the same journey you are on. Let us not fear those who kill the body, but only fear God.

God bless you.

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Do Not Give in to Fear

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 31, 2014

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (I Jn. 3:13)

It seems today that the western church is marveling and fretting because of the hatred of the world toward Christians. But what does Scripture say this will lead to?–

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psa. 37:7-8)

Instead of going the route which will only cause more harm, let us take the road Jesus set before us–the road of resting in Him and waiting for Him. Remembering this:

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 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 keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. (Jn. 15:18-21)

Contrariwise, if the world is accepting of you because you look and act like the world, then you have a problem (and need to repent.) If you are loving what the world loves and fighting in the world’s battles for the world’s treasures with the world’s weapons, the world will accept you. If you are willing to hate your enemies and only love your friends, the world will approve. But when you begin to make the words of Jesus the rule of your life, and your allegiance to His kingdom trumps your allegiance to the world’s kingdoms, everything will change. The world only loves its own. Those who count its countless man-glorifying schemes and monuments as worthless will themselves soon become regarded as the scum of the earth. Jesus said such people will be killed, and that’s not all–in a terrible twist of irony, they will often be killed in the name of God!

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. (Jn. 16:1-4)

The world is very religious, but it does not know God. We are to expect opposition so that we don’t stumble when it comes. Jesus said “WHEN the time comes” not “IF the time comes.” The time is coming and is already here! The world hates and pursues the lovers of God in myriad ways. We WILL have tribulation, but–

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (Jn. 16:33)

Is it possible to have peace here when the hatred is escalating and people are being beheaded and panic is rising? Yes! You can be “where satan dwells” and still be faithful (Rev. 2:13). This is the glorious, overcoming power of our God. In fact, we are not called to arm ourselves carnally against the growing threats and cower in fear, (figuratively) turning to Egypt or Assyria for help. We are to face the world filled with the Spirit and sanctified by the Truth, spiritually armed and ready to overcome evil with good. Our mission is to turn many to righteousness. God has made sure this mission cannot be thwarted by the violence of satan (Matt. 16:18). When the pressure is on, let us not defect to the enemy’s side by choosing his ways.

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (Jn. 17:14-18)

Jesus SENDS us out into the God-hating world as sheep among wolves. He sends us with the instructions we are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16). Wisdom is in short supply in the western church today, and harmlessness is ridiculed as either impractical or cowardly. There are pastors (widely praised) calling for actual Crusades and the killing of our enemies (one example here). These men work up their listeners into a frenzy of fear, warning them that their wives will be raped and their children killed before their eyes unless they choose the world’s ways. These men may stand in pulpits and use the Lord’s name, but they do not serve the Lord Jesus. They are not faithful to the Word, and they increase among their listeners a carnal, self-serving attitude that is indignant in the face of the tribulation Jesus promised. They further the apostasy! We need to get away from these peddlers of fear, even if some of what they say (concerning the escalating evils in our world) might be accurate. While in a haze of fear, many evils can seem justified. This is why we are commanded to stop fretting because it only causes harm.

Jesus never hid from us the possibility of our suffering violence. But His instructions regarding how we are to respond are very clear. And these instructions are being largely ignored today by professing Christians. The apostate church today is an adulterous woman (fornicating with the world) astride the beast. She is harnessing the powers of satan’s violent children, hoping to preserve her place in this world, and claiming God approves. She proudly refuses to suffer. But here is what the faithful saints will be careful to obey:

Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. (Matt. 10:21-26)

Many calling themselves disciples want to be above their Teacher. But Jesus said “it is enough” to be like Him.

When you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (I Pet. 2: 20-21)

Are we satisfied with being like Him and following in His steps? Or do we demand a fairer wind and an easier road? Unless we settle it in our hearts now that we are content to be like Him, we are likely to stumble. But we could die a violent death?! Yes, we could. Are we content to be like our Master, or aren’t we? We need to count the cost long before the day arrives when hard choices must be walked out. Do not fear them, says Jesus. He doesn’t say this because bad things won’t happen. He says this because they will.

Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:27-31)

What kind of faith do we have? Do we have the kind of faith that wilts in the face of a true threat? We need an enduring faith to win the prize. We need a faith that says, “I will obey Jesus to the end, no matter what it costs me.” We need a faith that looks past the persecution Jesus allows to the sure promise that awaits us if we endure. We need the kind of faith that rejects the voices of strangers and false shepherds who urge us to be like the world and to be driven by fear. The voice of Jesus always says, “Do not fear them!”

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Lk. 12:32)

Isn’t it amazing how Jesus speaks peace to His seemingly defenseless sheep, many of whom will die at the hands of violent men? We don’t need to seek what the nations of the world seek after, but only seek the otherwordly kingdom of God (Lk. 12:30). He will give us the Kingdom if only we keep our eyes and hearts fixed upon it, not allowing our affections to wander and embrace what is temporary and vain.

God bless you as you follow in Jesus’ steps, being content to be like Him come what may. God bless you as you choose faith and reject fear. And may God put a witness in your mouth that the very gates of hell cannot overcome.

For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves justice, and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it forever. (Psa. 37:9-11; 27-29)

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In the Service of the Beast, Part 1

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 24, 2014

Introduction

I realize there are many ways that Christians interpret the book of Revelation. I don’t profess to be an expert in all matters of prophecy, nor do I think that understanding all mysteries is more desirable than being a Christian who truly loves. Nevertheless, in the light of what I see happening in the Church today, one theme has been coming back to me–and that is–the beast. The very beast which is mentioned in Revelation. I have decided to write about this beast today, with some trembling. I pray the Lord will help me to keep my words true, and that I won’t overreach into matters which are too difficult for me. I will strive to only speak the things which I believe the Lord is showing me, without being dogmatic about things I can’t fully see. Those of you who have learned to interpret Revelation through the lens of dispensationalism or some other “ism” may disagree with what I write. But I pray that anything from the Spirit will leave its impression on your heart, and God will help you–and me–to both know Him and walk in Him. This is what matters most.

You can read Rev. 13:1-10 here.

The Power of the Dragon/Devil in the World

There are 2 beasts mentioned in Rev. 13, but we will focus on the first beast in this writing. The first beast is given power, a throne, and authority by the dragon (13:2). Rev. 12:9 is clear that this dragon is the devil and satan, the very one who took 1/3 of heaven’s angels to earth with him in that first rebellion, and later attempted to destroy the holy Seed of Abraham (Jesus) as soon as He was born (12:4). So the first beast has power, a throne and authority that comes directly from satan.

Let us recall that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by satan, He was offered these very things–power, a throne and authority.

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matt. 4:8-10)

Satan offered Jesus “all these things” or “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” if only He would worship satan/the dragon. The offering was “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” The price was worship or service to the dragon/devil.

Jesus had come into the world to be a King who would bear witness to the Truth, and those who heard/obeyed His voice would become the born again subjects of His heavenly kingdom (Jn. 18:37). This kingdom was “not of this world” and would not be defended by servants who would carnally fight (Jn. 18:36). Since the kingdom was “not from here” according to Jesus, there was no reason to fight the kingdoms of the world for it–for none of them could hinder its advance. The kingdoms of the world were all perishing in their lusts and violence and self-glorification, one over the other. Their glories–the glories of man–were all steadily coming to nothing. King Jesus had not come to advance their material and proud causes, but to translate people into His kingdom–a kingdom in which men would no longer behave “like the Gentiles” seeking to rule over one another, but instead would voluntarily stoop to wash one another’s feet.

Jesus was to come into His kingdom as the King of all kings, and the One who would forever sit on Mt. Zion judging the nations. But the Father had chosen that the path to His eternal throne would be a path marked by tribulation, rejection, and suffering. Satan tempted Him to circumvent the lowly way of the cross and get earthly power directly from him. “Just serve me [satan], and I will give you the earthly kingdoms and their glory.” Satan could not offer Jesus the “kingdom not of this world” but only “the kingdoms of the world.”

Some think satan could not have given to Jesus any power over earthly kingdoms, but I disagree. Satan is called the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) and a prince of the power of the air who works in those who disobey God (Eph. 2:2). As the dragon who gives power to the beast in Rev. 13:2, he is the source of the beast’s power over “all the world.” (Rev. 13:3)

The beast who receives his power over and in the world is energized and empowered by satan. And as there are many antichrists in the world (I Jn. 2:18), I believe there are likewise many members of this beast who rules by satan’s power. I believe the kingdoms of this world are, in fact, “the beast.” And those rulers who yield themselves to be used by satan are part of this beast. As satan has taught through his evolution lie, the world system operates by a “survival of the fittest” (or most brutal) mode. Over time, true earthly power has been consolidated in the hands of a comparative few, which is what satan wants. The more power he can get in the hands of a few wicked men, the more he can overrule and attempt to destroy the witness of the righteous.

Throughout history, Christians have tried to figure out who the beast is or will be. The early Christians certainly looked at the nations who were putting them to death as a manifestation of the beast. Reformation Christians looked to Papal Rome as the beast, and with good reason.

Today many American (professing) believers look to Islamic countries, the EU, or something else, as the beast. Rarely do they look to their own nations, especially “democratic” nations, because they are blinded by a lethal mix of patriotism and apostate religion which has skewed their thinking. Largely educated and sedated by their television sets, they swallow enormous amounts of propaganda with the rest of the citizenry. Because of the doctrines of Scofield and others, the watchmen in their churches have become dumb dogs who cannot bark out a warning about the Christian’s duty to be separate from the machinations of favored nations, including the USA, which they believe is blessed by God so long as it sends more killing aparatus to Israel. Could the USA and Israel be part of the beast which is empowered by satan? It is a difficult pill for western believers to swallow. Ex-military believers are especially loathe to consider this, for they would have to examine their “service” in a whole new light, a light which would require brutal honesty and humble repentance. But I submit that if we (the church) had been taking Jesus’ teachings seriously up til now, we would not be in such a state of confusion. If we hadn’t brushed aside the commands to love our enemies and overcome evil with good, then “just war,” and our involvement in such an illusion, would have been unthinkable. The deception has come about because Truth was first despised and abandoned.

I think the predominate view of American Christians about the beast is narrow and self-serving, and lends itself to an “us against them” earthly Crusadism fueled by self-righteous patriotism (“my nation is better than others”). The reality is all nations are sinful and anti-God. The true battle is between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of men (satan’s beast) which are doing their best to extinguish it (thankfully they will fail). Is the USA a Christian nation? We know that it is not, though up til now many have contented themselves with blaming “the left” and imagining “the right” is still right. It is all a sham, dear friends. From the beginning, we have been a people who glamorized sin, and the “freedom” to pursue it. And what are we today? Isn’t the USA persecuting those who are truly obedient to Jesus, and robbing and pillaging weaker nations year after year? It is, and its persecutions are becoming more noticeable. Is not modern day Israel persecuting the faith of Jesus? Is it not devouring innocents just as other wicked nations do?–it is. Please understand that I am not anti-America or anti-Israel. I am pro Jesus, and I know that the world hates Him. While I have a debt to the world, and compassion for the world, the world cannot ever be home to me. Not even the so called favored nations.

I warn my fellow Christians to be very careful with your doctrine, lest you wind up working for one facet of the beast against another. Both Jihadists and Crusaders believe they kill in God’s honor, but Jesus commands His followers to love their enemies. That command has never been retracted, and we are all accountable to it. If God is speaking to us through His Son Jesus today (Heb. 1:2), do not deceive yourself that you can disobey His teachings and still please God. Do not say you love Jesus while casting His words behind your back. Do not seek out someone to convince you that Christians can operate under “just war theory” to the glory of God. There is a huge apostasy in the church, and the church’s taking up the carnal sword against flesh and blood to win earthly prizes from the devil, is just one of the symptoms of its massive betrayal of Christ. Be ready to stand alone, like the Hebrew boys standing resolutely before the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. Do not bow to the beast, even if God doesn’t rescue you.

What does worship/service of the beast look like?

“Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Rev. 13:4) The beast is a winner when it comes to warfare! Beast worship includes marveling at his ability to make war against others. As an American I have heard such sentiments many times about our American military, how we have the best such-and-such in the whole world, and how we cannot be dominated by other nations (supposedly because God is blessing us). The minds of nationalists are amazed and dazzled at their country’s ability to make war. They appreciate it because they want security and happiness and material things, and would rather not consider what price is being paid to have these things. They don’t know everything that is playing out in private rooms and faraway places, and for the most part, they don’t care. They are content if the beast tramples other people they don’t even know, and do not realize that the beast will also use and trample them once it gains enough power. Be careful what you admire, Christian!

The Beast’s Hatred of the Saints

1. The beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God–His Name, tabernacle and those who dwell in heaven (Rev. 13:6). He is against God even though he invokes the name of God, or claims that God is on his side. He blasphemes the tabernacle (those who are the Body of Christ), the same people who “dwell in heaven” (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 12:22). And so the beast is against both God and His people (Psa. 2:1-3). Satan desires and receives the worship that is given to the beast (through patriotism, nationalism, racism, and militarism); but these heavenly minded saints are not impressed by the beast’s ability to dominate by force. They have discovered the more excellent way. They have realized deep in their hearts that the meek will inherit the earth. They see the beast for what he is–a usurper demanding the allegiance which is due only to God, and one who is empowered by none other than the devil. They have chosen to follow the Lamb of God wherever He goes, even though the path He walks goes THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, where affliction and a cross must be borne with perseverance. Just as their King rejected earthly trinkets of “power” offered by satan, so these reject the same.

In some countries (Israel being one of them) conscription into the army is mandatory. Those who refuse to fight or kill others on moral grounds often wind up in prison. Even in countries where fighting/killing is voluntary, it is always highly esteemed by men (but take heed to Luke 16:15.) Early Christians were put to death for refusing to sacrifice to Caesar or fight in the military. Likewise, peaceful Christian Americans were persecuted by militant Americans–many of whom also claimed to be serving God–during America’s rebellion against England. Their allegiance was to Jesus Christ and His commands, and the world had no more use for them.

Today peaceful Christians are often called parasites and ridiculed even by those professing to serve Christ. Their service to their country through willing obedience to civil law, prayers, being a good neighbor, and continually holding out the word of Truth is regarded as nothing. It seems what is desired is the burning of incense to the image of Caesar, with the acknowledgement that his works are always just and worthy of blind (and often violent) support. That is something the slave of Jesus Christ can never give, and so they are despised in the eyes of the world. But Jesus promised the world will hate His followers because we don’t belong to the world (Jn. 15:18-19).

2. It was granted to him [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:7-8) Please notice “all who dwell on the earth” are worshiping the beast, while the heaven-dwellers of 13:6 are not. Is your citizenship in heaven, dear reader, or is it on the earth? (Phil. 3:20) Those who are of the earth and carnal abide in death. They worship and serve the beast because they think the beast is taking care of them. They trust in the flesh and are cursed. But those who are in the Book of Life are not “making flesh their strength” (Jer. 17:5). They trust only in God, and this is why they risk everything to obey Jesus, even if His commands seem to be the opposite of “common sense.”

The saints are physically overcome by the beast. Are we not sent out like sheep in the midst of wolves, and commanded to be harmless as doves? (Matt. 10:16) Didn’t the Lord say clearly, “They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you” and “whoever kills you will think that he offers God service”? Wasn’t Jesus physically overcome by the beast when Rome and the Jews collaborated in His death? Wasn’t Stephen? Weren’t many early Christians physically overcome by the beast of Rome? Wasn’t Andrew killed by the beast of Greece, and Thomas killed by the beast of India? Aren’t many Chinese believers suffering at the hands of the beast today? Yes, it is granted to him to make war against and overcome the saints.

Let us not fall into the trap of thinking this beast is one country or person, and that we can stand militarily with a different country/person (disobeying Christ’s commands) and somehow overcome the beast by participating in earthly wars. For “You will be hated by ALL nations for my Name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9) “but he who endures to the end [obeying Christ despite persecution] will be saved” (Matt. 10:22). If you take up the carnal sword to kill another to “offer God service,” you will find yourself on the wrong side of the Truth, and in direct disobedience to the Word/the Sword of the Spirit. That Sword will find you and expose your disobedience, and as you have lived, so will you die. (Matt. 26:52)

Exhortation & Warning to the Saints who are Persecuted by the Beast

Concluding Rev. 13:1-10, which described the first beast for us, we have this exhortation and warning to the saints who will be overcome by the beast:

He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

This is a reminder that even though tribulation is guaranteed, because the beast will hate and persecute the saints, we must continue to be faithful to Jesus and His commands. Do violence to no man. Let your patience be exceedingly patient, and your faith the kind that does not turn back (Heb. 10:38). Our Lord is good, and none who trust in Him will ever be ashamed. Though, in the flesh, they perish like sparrows crushed in the jaws of a destroying beast…they are not unseen or forgotten. The hairs of their heads are numbered, and in their patience, they possess their souls. By refusing to allow the world to squeeze them into its mold, they overcome the world. Their sleep is the sleep of rest, not of extinction. The world is not worthy of them, and they are removed from its evil (Isa. 57:1), never to suffer again.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Rev. 14:13)

Summary

I believe the first beast of Rev. 13 is equal to the kingdoms of this world–not one or two kingdoms which we could self-righteously single out, but all of them. I believe its power and authority are directly from satan, and its primary claim to fame in the eyes of its worshipers is its ability to make war and overcome others by force. Its ultimate objective, as a tool of satan, is to destroy the saints. All nations will be used to accomplish this objective, but “the patience and the faith of the saints” will be to endure all things with a continued obedience to Christ’s commands.

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ISIS, Suffering with Those Who Suffer, and Following Jesus

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 14, 2014

My heart goes out to the Christian victims of ISIS.  They are suffering greatly. It is my hope that many more will be rescued. To be honest, I feel almost guilty that I can sit here in my living room and type out these words without fear of a threat on my life.

 

Yet I cannot hope or ask that someone will bomb their tormentors. This is not of the Spirit that lives in me. I know that He is angry with the wicked every day, and that He will judge in righteousness. But today my hope is that their tormentors can also be saved, and that, like Paul, they too can become the bondservants of Jesus. 

 

It seems that this emergence of ISIS has revved the American Right’s terror of Islam into high gear. Can I say right here, in the beginning, that I believe the American Right–which claims to be Christian–is spiritually adulterous and thoroughly leavened? True Christians, please beware of being swept away in its tide.

 

Islam is a false religion, a religion that was sown with the seeds of violence from the beginning.  It’s more radical adherents are indeed terrifying. But the American Church has been led by fear for so long, and I have to wonder why. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion (Prov. 28:1).

 

I think the American Church is fearful because the American Church is apostate.  I think she is a friend of the world and an enemy of God.  I think she has taken up carnal weapons because she has become a stranger to the real weapon–the Sword of the Spirit. 

 

The American Church has joined with the world for many years in using carnal weapons and warfare to “crusade” against “the enemy”–and the enemy was always flesh and blood.  Because of her adultery, she did not see how the world was able to lead her and use her to pursue its own questionable goals. She is a woman astride a terrible, destroying beast, thinking she has some control.  Once the world and its god is through using her, it will turn against her.

 

In the meantime, she is always fearing lest “the enemy” gain the upper hand. Fearing “the enemy” could bring an abrupt end to the quickly fading American dream, which she holds much more dear than the kingdom of God. Fearing, fearing, fearing. But also hoping–

 

Hoping that she can live by the sword without dying by the sword. Hoping Christ didn’t mean what He so plainly said. Hoping she doesn’t have to love THAT neighbor. Hoping she can turn the other cheek only when there is little at stake, and He will understand. Hoping that by manipulating politicians (if that is even possible), she can create for herself a safe fortress in which to love only those who love her. 

 

And for all this crusading, the violence of “the enemy” has not been stilled. It has not even been lessened. It has only gotten worse. 

 

There is a way to overcome this world. Jesus is that Way, and Jesus demonstrated that Way. His Way is so powerful, that by it He disarmed principalities and made a public spectacle of them, and overcame even death and hell for those who would follow Him. His children lose even their fear of death (Heb. 2:15).  Jesus calls us to that Way, but most refuse to get on that Way because it’s not comfortable to deny yourself and take up the implement of death-to-self. We like to speak of such things only hypothetically, always hoping that actual violence and pain and suffering never show up on our doorsteps and bring before us that terrible choice between self-preservation and Jesus. 

 

But the reality is that many, many have already made that choice. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by loving NOT their own lives to the death. They did not overcome by twisting Jesus’ words into oblivion. They did not overcome with a secret stash of weapons, or by saving their lives in this world (Matt. 16:25). 

 

We should hurt with those believers who are hurting. We should remember them as if suffering with them (Heb. 13:3). They are body parts in the same Body we belong to, and if they hurt, we also hurt. We need to pray for their peace and their endurance under trial. 

 

But at the same time, we should remember that–like the members of ISIS–we were once blind and without God in this world. We too were once the tools of satan, and through us, he hurt many people–we ourselves hurt many people.  We were enemies of God and alienated from Him in our minds because of our wicked works. But Jesus came to save that which was lost, and He died for us WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS. There is hope even for murderers and people following false religions. 

 

Let us love Jesus and obey His commands. Let us come out from among false, self-centered and earthly-minded religion, which has caused so much harm. Let us return to the simple Way of denying ourselves and obeying all Jesus’ teachings. Let  us not explain them away any more, lest we be condemned with those who “take away from the words of this Book.”  Let us think of no one as unworthy to hear the gospel from our lips, for we are sent to “every creature.”  Let us be the good samaritan, no longer justifying ourselves caring for one and hating another.  Let us be willing to suffer with Christ in this life, and commit ourselves to Him that judges righteously. Let us pray fervently that Christ may give us boldness and confidence under trial, and that His love will be perfected in us so that we do not fear those who can kill the body–but only Him who is able to destroy soul AND body in hell. 

 

As iniquity abounds more and more in this nation, and as our grande illusions of freedom and self-determination crumble into dust, the love of most will grow cold as paranoia and desperation set in. Hopefully some in the church will repent and gather fully with Jesus;  those who do not will be scattered.  The world will be judged, but judgment begins in the House of God.  The Father will examine every branch in the Son, and those which are not producing good fruit will be cut off. TODAY, let’s examine ourselves, our actions, and our motives. Let’s judge ourselves honestly, and change if necessary, lest we be judged!  Never forget that lovers of the world have made themselves enemies of God. The saints shall be hated by ALL nations for Jesus’ sake. But he that endures to the end shall be saved.

 religious 3 Isis

Posted in Apostasy, persecution, Suffering | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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