Is there unity in the church today?

If you have placed your faith in Christ you are automatically united to other followers of Christ. You are a part of the body of Christ, the church. You have unity with every other believer regardless of the geographical or historical distance that separates you.

However the manifestation of that unity is not always apparent in our current reality. Christians can display ugly divisions between one another. You may think of this problem as a modern phenomenon. But that’s not the case.

In addition to sexual immorality and social snobbery, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to address the serious divisions they were experiencing. Some were choosing one church leader or preacher over another. Church members were suing one another. Even the Lord’s Supper was not sufficient to bring them together in love and unity.

In light of Jesus’ prayer for unity for his church why was this happening? Why was it happening then and why does it still happen today?

I think the answer lies in understanding two important tensions that exist with the Kingdom of God in it’s current state. The Kingdom of God has a “now” and “not yet” aspect to it. The “now” part means that positionally we do have full unity in Christ right now. The “not yet” part is the reality that the perfection of our faith doesn’t happen until we reach heaven. Complete and perfect unity won’t happen until we are glorified.

The truth is we will continue to live in this tension until God’s kingdom fully comes and is set up on earth. I believe this is one of the reasons Jesus taught us to pray, “You kingdom come”. We should pray and anticipate the coming of the Kingdom of God that will bring perfection to all things.

This doesn’t mean we should not work and strive for unity now. We should. We should encourage one another and continue to mature in our faith so that we can display to the world the beauty of the unity of those who claim to call Jesus their Lord. We want the world to know the beauty of the diversity in the church while being unified.

Hopefully understanding this tension will help keep us from becoming too discouraged when we don’t see that perfection in the church now. This way we don’t grow disenfranchised or disillusioned. And hopefully it will encourage us to continue to pursue unity and peace until Jesus returns to set up his kingdom on earth.

Seeking God for Wisdom in Making Decisions

When we pray about decisions in life, we should ask God for wisdom. The bible teaches us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)

It is the nature and character of God to give generously and without reproach. As a loving Father, he never wants us to hesitate in coming to him. He wants us to be persistent in asking, seeking, and knocking. He wants us to have the wisdom for any decision we may be facing.

But one thing I have learned as I seek God for wisdom in decisions, is that is I shouldn’t be focused only on the final outcome of how God answers my prayers. If I only focus on the end result, I will often miss how God is working in my life and guiding me each step along the way.

If I am only honed in on the end result, I may miss the experience of God guiding me each day. I may miss the the wisdom he shares concerning the steps to take to get there and forget how a big God is not too big to be involved in the smallest details of my life.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8 NLT)

God promises to guide us as we make decisions. He promises to advise us. But he also wants to walk with us as we make those decisions. He wants to fellowship with us. There is beauty to be found in the time he takes to counsel us. Especially in the smaller details of the steps we take along our paths.

There is a saying that reminds us that sometimes we can’t see the bigger picture because of the smaller details – “can’t see the forest for the trees”. But I often want to reverse that idea. There are often times when we don’t want to be a person who “can’t see the tress for the forest”.

We don’t want to be so consumed with the final outcome that we can’t appreciate the smaller details as God guides us along our path. We don’t want to miss the beauty of the tress while in the forest. There is beauty to be seen and experienced along the way.

I think you see that beauty expressed in the following verses: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)

The emphasis is that this path we are on is a life long journey and it is a continual gradual process. The process of making our path’s straight will be ongoing over the entire course of our life. It will slowly progresses toward the final goal.

There is wisdom in taking time to enjoy that progression. Enjoy the continual counsel of God as a loving Father in our life. Enjoy the time our dad takes to be with us as he shares his wisdom for our lives.

The beauty of following Jesus is that we get to follow him EACH STEP along the path. Watching him reveal and show us new things each day. Leading us to new ways to trust him greater each day. Reminding us how dependent we are on him.

Don’t miss the trees for the forest.

 

We have distorted what it means to be tolerant

We are constantly told that we need to be tolerant.

Gregory Koukl explains how our modern society has defined what it means to be a tolerant person.

“The tolerant person occupies neutral ground, a place of complete impartiality where each individual is permitted to decide for him or herself. No judgments allowed. No “forcing” personal views. All views are equally valid” To each his own. Live and let live.

Ironically, Greg points out, “by the modern definition of tolerance no one is tolerant, or ever can be.”

Francis Beckwith calls it the “passive-aggressive tolerance trick”.

Gregory Koukl said that he spoke to a class of seniors at a Christian high school and wanted to alert them to this “tolerance trick”. He also wanted to make them very aware of how much they had already been taken in by it.

He began by writing two sentences on the board.

The first expressed the current understanding of tolerance: “All views have equal merit, and none should be considered better than another.”

All heads nodded in agreement. Nothing controversial here.

Then he wrote the second sentence:

“Jesus is the Messiah, and Judaism is wrong for rejecting Him.”

Immediately hands flew up. “You can’t say that,” a coed challenged, clearly annoyed. “That’s disrespectful. How would you like it if someone said you were wrong?”

The irony in her statement was that she was doing the same thing . She was insinuating that his view was wrong. She was being intolerant of him and the second statement.

What she didn’t see was that the first statement also violated itself.

Greg pointed to the first statement (All views have equal merit, and none should be considered better than another) and asked, “Is this a view?” They all agreed.

Then he pointed to the second statement (Jesus is the Messiah, and Judaism is wrong for rejecting Him.)— the “intolerant” one — and asked the same question: “Is this a view?”

They studied the sentence for a moment. Slowly his point began to dawn on them. They had been taken in by the tolerance trick.

Greg explained, “If all views have equal merit, then the view that Christians have a better view on Jesus than the Jews have is just as true as the idea that Jews have a better view on Jesus than the Christians do; but this is hopelessly contradictory.

If the first statement is what tolerance amounts to, then no one can be tolerant because “tolerance” turns out to be gibberish.”

We have wrongly adopted this modern view of tolerance that says we must: “Be egalitarian regarding ideas.” AND “Be elitist regarding persons.”

In this wrong view of tolerance, to be egalitarian regarding ideas, means that we must agree that all ideas have equal value and worth.

Greg says what happens as a result is that “no idea or behavior can be opposed.”

Think about how ridiculous this logic is. A modern terrorist could be deemed as virtuous as a “Mother Teresa.” And what if someone’s ideas and views allow them to sexually molest children? Kill innocent people? Behead someone who won’t follow a specific religion?

Should we give equal merit and worth to these ideas? I would hope not. Yet we are told this is what tolerance means.

In this modern approach to tolerance, if we dare reject another person’s ideas, we’re automatically accused of disrespecting the person.

Greg points out the logical inconsistency with this thinking. He says, “To say I’m intolerant of the person because I disagree with his or her ideas is confused.” And, “ironically, it results in elitism regarding persons.”

“If I think my ideas are better than another’s, I can be ill-treated as a person, publicly marginalized, and verbally abused as bigoted, disrespectful, ignorant, indecent, and (can you believe it?) intolerant. Sometimes I can even be sued, punished by law, or forced to attend re-education programs.” Isn’t that exactly what we see happening right now? 

Greg stresses, “Most of what passes for tolerance today is little more than intellectual cowardice — a fear of intelligent engagement. Those who brandish the word “intolerant” are unwilling to be challenged by other views or grapple with contrary opinions, or even to consider them. It’s easier to hurl an insult — “you intolerant bigot” — than to confront an idea and either refute it or be changed by it. In the modern era, “tolerance” has become intolerance.”

“In this way, tolerance has gone topsy-turvy.”

The modern view of tolerance says we should, “tolerate most beliefs, but don’t tolerate (show respect for) those who take exception with those beliefs.”

We must must reject this modern distortion of tolerance and return to the classic view.

We should practice this value when it comes to tolerance: “Be egalitarian regarding persons.” AND “Be elitist regarding ideas”.

Being egalitarian regarding persons means you treat others as having equal standing in value or worth because each and every person is created in the image of God.

Being elitist regarding ideas means you acknowledge that some ideas are better than others; and they are.

Greg says in the classic view of tolerance, “we don’t treat all ideas as if they have the same merit, lest we run into contradiction. Some ideas are good. Some are bad. Some are true. Some are false. Some are brilliant. Others are just plain foolish.”

You see this in science and mathematics all the time.

Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level; it is never 100 degrees nor 189 degrees, nor 211.

Fresh water freezes at 32 degrees; it is never 23 degrees nor 31.

The sum of two plus two is four, never three-and-a-half.

A straight line is the shortest distance between two points on a plane.

A compass always points to the magnetic north.

As William D. Watkins explains, “All truth is exclusive — it excludes what is false as it affirms what is true. After all, if it’s true that the capitol of the United States is Washington, D.C., then it’s false that the U.S. capitol is any other city on earth. That truth excludes innumerable cities.”

Some ideas simply have merit because they are true and right. Understanding this is necessary if true tolerance is to take place.

Greg adds, “we can’t truly tolerate someone unless we disagree with him or her. This is critical. We don’t “tolerate” people who share our views. They’re on our side. There’s nothing with which we need to put up. Tolerance is reserved for those we think are wrong, yet we still choose to treat decently and with respect.”

“This essential element of classical tolerance — disagreement (elitism regarding ideas) — has been completely lost in the modern distortion of the concept. Nowadays if you think someone is wrong, you’re called intolerant no matter how you treat the person.”

We must return to the practice of “civility”. That is at the heart of the classical view of tolerance. It means we respect those with whom we disagree.

Greg says:

We respect those who hold different beliefs from our own by treating such people courteously and allowing their views a place in the public discourse.

We may strongly disagree with their ideas and vigorously contend against them in the public square, but we still show respect to their persons despite our differences.

We must treat every person courteously with the freedom to express his or her ideas without fear of reprisal no matter what the view while understanding that not that all views have equal worth, merit, or truth.

Greg gives these final practical solutions if you are charged with intolerance.

Always ask for a definition. When tolerance means neutrality, that all views are equally valid and true, then no one is ever tolerant because no one is ever neutral about his or her own views.

Point out the contradiction built into the new definition. Point out that this kind of tolerance is a myth.

Hank Hanegraaff rightly says, “In a world that is increasingly intolerant of Christianity, Christians must exemplify tolerance without sacrificing truth. Indeed, tolerance when it comes to personal relationships is a virtue, but tolerance when it comes to truth is a travesty.”

 

 

 

 

 

Reevaluate what you are being told about Islam

There is a lot of spin happening when it comes to Islam. As this happens, many people are believing the lies being propagated about this religion. Here is what I think people need to know and understand about Islam.

The goal of Islam is world domination. Muslims are taught from the Koran to take whatever means necessary to force everyone to submit to Allah’s commands.

The root word for Islam is “al-Silm,” which means “submission” or “surrender.”

The central message of Islam is that human beings must avoid idolatry (which includes belief in the deity of Christ) and must submit to Allah by making Muhammad the final authority in their lives (4:65, 3:31–32).

Muhammad declared that his followers must recite the creed, pray the five daily prayers, give alms, fast during the month of Ramadan, and take the pilgrimage to Mecca (assuming one is physically and financially able). Muslims must perform these duties out of obedience to Allah.

The modern-day Islamic scholar, Ibrahim Sulaiman, explained, “Jihad is not inhumane, despite its necessary violence and bloodshed, its ultimate desire is peace which is protected and enhanced by the rule of law.” The so called peace of Islam is achieved by forcing others into submission to Allah when necessary through bloodshed, just as we are seeing every day around the world.

The Qur’an not only calls Muslims to submit to Allah, it also commands them to subdue people of other religions until they are in a full state of submission to Islamic rule. This has inspired the aggressive history of Islam and its success in conquering other cultures.

This all began with the founder and “prophet” of Islam – Muhammad.

How Muhammad received his “divine” revelations are interesting to say the least.

Muhammad supposedly began receiving revelations in the cave on Mount Hira. His first impression was that he had been possessed by a poetry demon.

After his experience in the cave, Muhammad became suicidal, and tried to hurl himself off a cliff. Muslim sources report that his wife Khadijah and her cousin Waraqah, who weren’t in the cave and had no idea what he encountered, persuaded him that he wasn’t possessed—he was a prophet of God.

When Muhammad delivered the 53rd chapter of the Qur’an to his followers, it contained verses allowing Muslims to pray to three pagan goddesses (al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat). Muhammad recited these verses and bowed down in honor of the new revelation.

A little later, however, he told his followers that the so-called “Satanic Verses,” which he had delivered as part of the Qur’an, weren’t really from Allah; they were from Satan. Muhammad removed them from the Qur’an and replaced them with the words we find in chapter 53 today.

At one point late in life, Muhammad said he was the victim of a magic spell that lasted about a year. According to multiple sources, one of Muhammad’s enemies stole his hairbrush and used it to cast a spell on him. Ibn Ishaq tells us that Muhammad was bewitched during this time, and Bukhari adds that the spell made him delusional.

And when we look for divine confirmation of Muhammad’s message, we are immediately confronted by an incredibly strange argument (“My poetry is better than yours, so it must be from God”). Yet as soon as we dig deeper, we find significant disconfirmation of Muhammad’s teachings and lifestyle.

The life of Muhammad hardly serves as a noble pattern of conduct.

There are, to be sure, many instances in Muhammad’s life when he was kind, generous, or courageous; and the advent of Islam did put an end to certain heinous practices (such as female infanticide).

But consider two categories of Muhammad’s moral example: sexual ethics and violence.

Despite the Qur’an’s prohibition against marrying more than four wives (4:3), Muhammad had at least nine wives at one time (after he received in 33:50 a special revelation giving him, and him alone, the right to violate the four-wife limit).

Islamic sources report that one of Muhammad’s wives, a girl named Aisha, was only nine years old when the marriage was consummated. This is why we see Islamic groups still practicing this today. They are simply following the example of the prophet.

Although Muslim men are limited to four wives, Muhammad allowed them to possess an unlimited number of captives and concubines (see Qur’an 23:5–6; 70:22–30).

Muslims are not required to marry their captives in order to have sex with them, and they are permitted to have sex with captive women whose husbands are still alive (4:24).

Muhammad even allowed his followers to practice a form of prostitution (called “Muta”), according to which a Muslim could pay a woman for sex, marry her for a short time, and then divorce her after having sex with her.

Modern Muslims often claim that Muhammad only killed when his enemies attacked him, but history shows that he murdered numerous people whose only crime was writing poems criticizing him.

Sounds similar to his followers killing twelve people in Paris, some of whom worked for the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which attracted attention for its depictions of Muhammad.

Those who decided to leave Islam fared no better, for Muhammad commanded his followers, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion…kill him.”

Based on Muhammad’s repeated commands to kill those who abandon Islam, all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, along with Shia schools, agree that male apostates should be killed. There is some disagreement, however, as to whether female apostates should be executed or imprisoned and tortured until they return to Islam.

That helps us understand this next truth.

The violence and murder we are seeing by Muslims around the world are not expressions of RADICAL Islam but rather expressions of AUTHENTIC Islam.

There is no doubt that many Muslims are peace loving people. Many Muslims reject terrorism of any kind.

Lassana Bathily, a Mali-born French Muslim, is an example of a true peace loving Muslim. If you haven’t heard of Bathily, he works at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. He was there when terrorist Amdey Coulibaly stormed in last Friday. Without hesitation, knowing that if caught his own life would be in danger, Bathily led six customers down to the freezer rooms, out of the sight of the gunman. He is a hero. He is a peace loving Muslim.

He said, “I am a devout Muslim, I even pray in the store. We get on excellently, the Jews and I, and the terror attack has hurt me,” Bathily says. “I have been in shock since it happened.”

The media seems to rush to share these stories, which are good, but do so while skimming over the reality of the facts surrounding the Muslims who followed the teachings of the Qur’an and murdered innocent people. They are quick to promotes stories like Bathily to show that Islam is a peaceful religion.

That is what President Obama tells us and the world repeatedly. During his address to the United Nation’s General Assembly in September, he made it a point to stress how Islam is a religion of peace. “Islam teaches peace. Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice.”

But the truth is Muslims condemn Islamic terrorism not BECAUSE of the teaching of their religion but rather IN SPITE OF the teaching of their religion. 

This is something I was trying to explain to my teenage daughter this past week. She bought into the lie that I see many people buying into. She believed and argued that since many Muslims are peaceful, Islam is a peaceful religion. This is what we are hearing at every turn.

I told her that wasn’t true. While it is true some Muslims are peaceful, Islam is anything but peaceful. It is an violent religion based on its clear teachings and founder Mohammad.

Once again I had to clarify to her that the people who identify themselves as Muslim may not be evil and violent, but the doctrines and teachings of Islam are evil and violent.

I think a lot of people miss this distinction. Many of the people may not be violent who claim to be Muslim but the religion is. I believe millions of people are being held captive to the false teachings of the religion and need our help to get them out. They are trapped.

I explained this distinction to be my daughter by telling her that while there are several passages in the Qur’an that appear to promote peace toward non-Muslims, most do not.

The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding.

Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.

Here are a few of the true teachings of the Koran. These commands abrogate any earlier teachings calling for peaceful coexistence with unbelievers.

“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” Qur’an 5:33-34

“O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other.” (5:51, Shakir)

This has probably given way to the traditional Arab proverb, “After Saturday Comes Sunday (Arabic: min sallaf es-sabt lāqā el-ḥadd qiddāmūh‎). Translated to English it says, ‘When Saturday is gone, one will find Sunday’. This is understood to mean on “On Saturday we kill the Jews, and on Sunday we kill the Christians.”

On his deathbed Muhammad said, “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians, for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets.”

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day.” (9:29, Ali)

“Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain.” (9:111, Shakir)

“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.” (9:123, Shakir)

“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.” (48:29, Hilali-Khan)

“They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.” Quran (4:89)

This is why those who are killing and attacking others are the expression of an authentic Muslim.

Think about it:

  • The recent Nigeria Killers were Muslims. (over 2000 people killed including women and children)
  • The Charlie Hebdo Shooters were Muslims
  • The Shoe Bomber was a Muslim
  • The Beltway Snipers were Muslims
  • The Fort Hood Shooter was a Muslim
  • The underwear Bomber was a Muslim
  • The U-S.S. Cole Bombers were Muslims
  • The Madrid Train Bombers were Muslims
  • The Bafi Nightclub Bombers were Muslims
  • The London Subway Bombers were Muslims
  • The Moscow Theatre Attackers were Muslims
  • The Boston Marathon Bombers were Muslims
  • The Pan-Am flight #93 Bombers were Muslims
  • The Air France Entebbe Hijackers were Muslims
  • The Iranian Embassy Takeover, was by Muslims
  • The Beirut U.S. Embassy bombers were Muslims
  • The Libyan U.S. Embassy Attack was by Musiims
  • The Buenos Aires Suicide Bombers were Muslims
  • The Israeli Olympic Team Attackers were Muslims
    The Kenyan U.S, Embassy Bombers were Muslims
  • The Saudi, Khobar Towers Bombers were Muslims
  • The Beirut Marine Barracks bombers were Muslims
  • The Besian Russian School Attackers were Muslims
  • The first World Trade Center Bombers were Muslims
  • The Bombay & Mumbai India Attackers were Muslims
  • The Achille Lauro Cruise Ship Hijackers were Muslims
  • The September 11th 2001 Airline Hijackers were Muslims

While some Muslims may be peaceful people, Islam is not a peaceful religion in its core beliefs and doctrine. This is why we continue and will continue to see violence and murder from many of those who follow the Qur’an and Muhammad.

Muhammad’s own martial legacy – and that of his companions – along with the remarkable stress on violence found in the Quran have produced a trail of blood and tears across world history.

Yet our president and much of the media use rhetoric to mislead us about the evil found in Islamic teaching and the Koran.

I don’t know if it is intentional or unintentional. I can’t weigh their motives. But the bottom line is we are being deceived constantly by the terminology and rhetoric used when discussing Islam.

Howard Dean, the former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, told MSNBC last week that it is wrong to describe the attackers (in Paris) as Muslim terrorists.

Dean said: “I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They’re about as Muslim as I am. I mean, they have no respect for anybody else’s life, that’s not what the Koran says. And, you know Europe has an enormous radical problem … I think ISIS is a cult. Not an Islamic cult. I think it’s a cult.”

From every angle and sound bite our politicians and news commentators keep saying the actions of a few extremists are a radical fringe of Islam. They are extremists. They are radicals. They are terrorists.

But again, the violence and murder we are seeing by Muslims around the world are not expressions of RADICAL Islam but rather expressions of AUTHENTIC Islam.

That leads me to how we should respond to all of this. Another Crusade is not the answer. Some use this example to say that Christians have killed more than Muslims.

Unlike Muslim attacks around the world today however, the Crusades were a real example of people hijacking a religion for their own means. 

Here is the difference. Muslims who kill today and who seek to force people to submit to Islam are following the direct teachings of the Koran. They are doing exactly what their prophet Mohammad and their holy book, the Qu’ran teach them to do as mentioned above.

Looking back in history at the Crusades you will find the violent beginnings of Islam. From approximately A.D. 200 to 900, the land of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey was inhabited primarily by Christians. Once Islam became powerful, Muslims invaded these lands and brutally oppressed, enslaved, deported, and even murdered the Christians living in those lands.

In response, the Roman Catholic Church and “Christian” kings/emperors from Europe ordered the crusades to reclaim the land the Muslims had taken. They were responding to the evil actions of the actions of Muslims much like the allies responded to Hitler and Nazi Germany in World War II.

Throughout the 11th through 13th centuries A.D. they sought to reclaim land in the Middle East that had been conquered by Muslims. The crusades were brutal and evil. Many people were forced to “convert” to Christianity. If they refused, they were put to death.

The actions by those involved in the Crusades of conquering a land through war and violence in the name of Christ was completely unbiblical. Many of the actions that took place in the crusades were completely antithetical to everything the Christian faith stands for.

And that is where the difference lies. The life and teachings of Jesus were completely opposite of the life and teachings of Muhammad.

Jesus spent the bulk of His three-year ministry caring for the needs of others. When challenged to perform miracles to satisfy His own hunger (Matt. 4:3–4) or to bring Himself instant personal glory (Matt. 4:5–6), He refused.

Yet He never turned away the blind, the deaf, the ill, the disabled, or the hungry. He defended social outcasts while condemning the self-righteous (Luke 7:36–50). He commanded His followers to love everyone (Matt. 5:43–45) and to harm no one (Matt. 26:52). When complaints arose, Jesus was so confident in His integrity that He could say to His critics, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46).

Beyond this, Jesus set the ultimate moral example by laying down His life for others. After warning His disciples not to exalt themselves, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Jesus last words on the cross were, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Due to Jesus’ sacrifice, countless Christians have given their lives for others, whether preaching the gospel in hostile areas or caring for the sick in disease-ridden territory.

That is how how we should respond today. We should respond to Islam by preaching the gospel with an passion and intensity without fear.

We need more people who are not afraid to speak the truth and share the gospel like Joel Richardson.

Headshot New Small 777

Joel’s heart is thoroughly missional, with a special love for all the peoples of the Middle East, and passion to see Jesus known throughout the region. Joel travels and teaches on the gospel, living with Biblical Hope, and the return of Jesus. He is the author, editor, or director of the following books and documentaries:

  • End Times Eyewitness: Israel, Islam, and the Unfolding Signs of Messiah’s Return
  • The Global Jesus Revolution: Israel, Islam and the Gospel at the End of the Age (July 2015)
  • When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says About Israel in the Plan of God (March 2015)
  • Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist
  • Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth About the Real Nature of the Beast
  • God’s War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy & the Bible
  • Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out

And if we can’t go we need to support organizations, churches, and people who will go. People like Joel Richardson.  

We need to let people know that Muhammad was a false prophet like Jesus warned about.

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves”. (Matthew 7:15) False prophets like Muhammad twist and pervert the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Muhammad is a false prophet because he denied the core doctrines of the gospel. The Qur’an says Jesus was “no more than a Messenger” (Qur’an 5:75, Ali).  He taught that Jesus couldn’t have died for anyone else’s sins, both because He never died on the cross (4:157–158), and because “no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another” (39:7, Ali).

The Apostle Paul boldly said this in response to handling false prophets and their message.

“Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. (Galatians 1)

The true gospel is unchanging. We should actively reject the false teachings of Islam and the Koran. We should embrace, share, and teach the liberating message of the true gospel:

  • “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
  • “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures … he was buried. . . . The third day he rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures . . . and he appeared.” (1 Cor. 15:3-6).
  • “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb. 9:28)
  • “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
  • “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

There are millions of people today who are being held captive and oppressed by Islam. Jesus came to set these people free. He came to open their eyes to the truth so that they may see.

We need to make sure that we continue to carry out the mission of Jesus and share the gospel vigilantly to those trapped under the weight and burden of Islam.

(Sources for this article came from:

  • http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/myths-of-islam.htm
  • http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-crusades.html
  • http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/09/25/obama-praises-moderate-muslim-who-called-for-slaughter-of-us-troops-n1896533
  • http://streaming.integrationworks.com:3000/archive/BAM20150108.mp3

What you do matters

I am big believer in the sovereignty of God. I believe nothing happens outside of God’s control. Nothing. Not even a hair on your head that falls out. Or a sparrow in need of food. (Matthew 6)

Job went through some very difficult circumstances. Nine of his children died at once. He lost his health and wealth. And his wife told him to curse God and die. Through all of this Job questioned God’s management of the world.

Finally God answered Job. “Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. (Job 38:3 NLT)

God proceeded to ask Job questions he could not answer. In the end Job said, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.” (Job 40 NLT)

Job finally said this to God, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” (Job 42:2 NLT)

Job learned this through all his tribulations and conversations with God. God is sovereign and his purposes and plans will prevail for our lives and our world.

Throughout all the Scriptures God is constantly teaching and reminding us that he is in control of all things. Our circumstances. Our relationships. Our work. And even the bad events and choices others make that impact us. All of it has to pass through his sovereign control. Nothing is going to happen outside of his plan for the future.

All of this should give us comfort and assurance that we can completely trust him with every detail of our lives.

But there is an extreme reaction we can have in response to God’s sovereignty. The overreaction is to believe that what we do, doesn’t really matter. To become fatalistic. Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined so that we are powerless and what we do… doesn’t really matter. This belief causes a lack of effort or action in the face of difficulty. This is unhealthy and unbiblical.

The Scriptures are clear that what we do… does matter. Every decision. Every word. Jesus said, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.” (Matthew 12:36 NLT)

We also read in Romans 2:7 that “He will judge everyone according to what they have done.” We will be rewarded on the last day for the actions we have done in his name and for his kingdom.

If we are not careful how we understand the practical side of God’s sovereignty we may fall into wrong thinking. And wrong thinking leads to wrong behavior. It is wrong thinking to believe it doesn’t matter what we do since God will do whatever he wants anyway. This thinking can cause us to be careless in our words, thoughts, and actions.

And if we cease to take action because we think what we do doesn’t matter, we are going to deprive ourselves of eternal rewards. Just because no one notices or no one cares doesn’t mean our actions don’t matter.  In fact it is better if no one sees or notices except God. Jesus said, “Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:4 NLT)

This means:

  • The small acts of kindness you show to a stranger.
  • The time you take to spend with your children.
  • The sacrifice you make of your time to serve others.
  • The gift you give anonymously.
  • The word of encouragement you give to someone in need.

All of it matters.

Every. Single. Action. Matters.

So while God controls the events that happen in our lives and world, our decisions and actions really do matter and there are eternal rewards for them.

So in the words of Isaiah – “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” (Isaiah 1:17 NLT) Because it all matters.