But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29
Things are changing rapidly in our culture. We have hit a tipping point. For years movements like the LGBT have been preaching equality and winning over society. Sexual freedom is glorified more and more. The idea of waiting to have sex until marriage has become taboo. Tolerance is being rammed down our throats at every turn. It is no longer enough that these lifestyles be allowed in our culture. They have become bolder in their demands. There is a demand for it to be accepted.
People are losing their jobs for speaking out against these lifestyles. Christians are being seen as bigots because they are unwilling to accept what they consider to be immoral actions. Society will not allow Christians to love them without agreeing with them. Yet, this is our calling. People don’t like feeling guilty so the rise in anger increases in order to try and shut the mouths of Christians. Here is the reality. Persecution is coming.
More and more momentum is building to tolerate every group but Christians. It is ok for you to do about anything you want and it be accepted anymore. Morality has been replaced with anything goes mentality. The loud voice of our culture preaches toleration for everyone except those who disagree and take a stand. That will not be tolerated. It can’t be. If someone disagrees hey might have to face the possibility it is wrong. That will not be allowed.
The tipping point is here. It used to be just angry dismissal of Christians. Now if one speaks out publicly, their job is on the line. Very soon society will demand churches conform or there will be consequences. Government will bow to the pressure of the majority and begin to take freedoms away from the church. It might be our tax exempt status or a censorship of sermon topics or forcing ministers to marry those of LGBT community. It might be all of these. Is there a day coming when Christians will face jail time if they don’t conform? I think it might.
So what are we to do? Stand up. Count the cost. Hold firm to our conviction. Trust Jesus to the very end. We don’t want to start a war but we are already in a war. We can’t compromise. We can’t lose faith.
And while they spit at us and call us names we are to love. Not retaliate. We are to pray for them and show them kindness even if they seek to destroy us. It is what Jesus did.
We must obey God rather than men!
Israel Needs You Church
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Psalm 122:6
God chose them to be His people. Jesus was born among them. The nation of Israel was at the forefront of God’s plan. Yet, they were embattled and persecuted by every Supreme Power throughout history. Today there is an ever growing call from within the church to support the nation of Israel. To defend their sovereignty against those who oppose them. To be there for Israel in their time of need.
I couldn’t agree more! They need the church to rally behind them. Israel is important to God and part of His plan of redemption. Problem is, what in the world is support for Israel look like? Do we send them soldiers or saints? Do we offer treasures of this world or treasure eternal? Saying we support them is not enough. We need to know what that support looks like in accordance to the will of God.
A few facts to consider in making a strategy of support:
- 2 percent of Israel claims to be Christian. Consider there are 8.5 million people currently in Israel. 2 Percent is 170,000 out of 8,500,000.
- Now consider, 80 percent of those who are Christian in Israel are Arabs! That is 136,000 of the 170,000.
- That means only around 34,000 of the 8,5000,000 people who are true Israelites claim Christianity.
- Only 20 percent of those 34,000 are Evangelical. So 6,800 of 8,500,000 are Evangelical Christian Israelites! This .08 percent of the population.
- For perspective, we run 2,000 people at our church at Heartland Worship Center. That would be 2 people out of 2,000 that are Evangelical Christian! McCracken County is around 65,000 people. That would mean 52 are Christian! There are around 322,000,000 people in the United States. This would mean 257,600 would be Christian. This would be like the city of Lexington being the only Christians in the whole Unites States!
So consider this scenario. The church rallies behind politicians who support Israel. The church prays for Israel’s relations with those who hate Israel and want to terrorize it. We fly the Israel flag at our church and educate our people on the importance of Israel as the seed of God’s future city. We do all of this and things get better and Israel prospers and over 8,000,000 of them eventually die and go to Hell without Jesus.
Is our goal to support Israel by defending its sovereignty as a nation or evangelize its people so they won’t be condemend? As the church, who yearns to spread the gospel and make the name of Jesus famous, what we need to pray for and use our resources for is the spreading of the gospel to Israel, a nation without Christ. That is the greatest support we could ever offer Israel.
A fascinating read is Justin Martyr’s First Apology (considered the first Christian Apologist after the apostles) written to Roman Emperor Antonius Pius in AD 150. Before you think this is a boring historical read, place yourself in Justin’s shoes (or sandals). Imagine writing a letter on behalf of millions of Christians to the most powerful person in the world at that time. This Emperor, who holds in his hand the power to stop the immense persecution taking place towards Christians at this time. Imagine the effort, the tears, the blood, the prayer you would put into this letter. Now read what the Emperor read from the pen of Justin Martyr:
Since you are called pious and philosophers, guardians of justice and lovers of learning, pay attention and listen to my address. If you are indeed followers of learning, it will be clear. We have not come to flatter you by this writing nor please you by our address, but to beg that you pass judgment after an accurate and searching investigation. . . . As for us, no evil can be done to us unless we are convicted as evildoers or proved to be wicked men. You can kill us. But you cannot hurt us.
To avoid anyone thinking that this is an unreasonable and reckless declaration, we demand that the charges against the Christians be investigated. If these are substantiated, we should be justly punished. But if no one can convict us of anything, true reason forbids you to wrong blameless men because of evil rumors. If you did so, you would be harming yourselves in governing affairs by emotions rather than by intelligence. . . . It is our task, therefore, to provide to all an opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings. . . . It is your business, when you hear us, to be good judges, as reason demands. If, when you have learned the truth, you do not do what is just, you will be without excuse before God.
You see quickly that Justin Martyr wanted to remind the Emperor who was really in charge. You don’t sense a desperate plea but a calm spirit. That is a sign of great trust in God. Justin writes his letter to the Emperor without fear or worry. He leaves the rest up to God.
Justin Martyr was eventually beheaded in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Justin had refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods. He told the Prefect to do as he wished. Christians do not sacrifice to idols
Read Acts 8:1-8 today. It starts with, “On that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem.” It ends with, “So there was much joy in that city.”
It hit me, how could there be joy where such great persecution existed? I think it is all about perspective. If you see persecution as personal suffering without a greater end then you will avoid it like the plague. You will do anything, including giving up your faith, to make it stop. But what if you saw persecution as a way God uses to spread the truth of Christ. What if you saw persecution as a way that God displayed his power in the church and in the world. God is Sovereign and he makes persecution serve his greater purpose. Persecution advances the kingdom, it does not thwart it. Persecution opposes complacency in our life. It forces us to take serious our faith and to not take for granted the blessings God has given.
John Piper said about persecution:
- God makes persecution serve the unstoppable mission of the church—your mission, your ministry.
- If your faithfulness brings trouble to the church (like Stephen’s did), you will be honored and not blamed—at least by the godly.
- Your worst critics can become your precious comrades by the power of Christ’s converting grace.
- And the very Word—the gospel—that brings persecution sometimes, brings joy always and forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not praying for persecution but I do see the benefits of it and I want God to do whatever it takes to be honored in my life. That is a scary prayer but one that I pray.
Barna Report Indicates that Christians Are Interested in Persecution
A new Barna Research Group report indicates that 74 percent of Christians are interested in hearing about the worldwide persecution of Christians, though only 48 percent of pastors want to introduce the topic in their churches, reports ASSIST News Service in reference to the Open Doors USA.
“This gap in interest shows that many Christians in America have a desire to hear more about persecution around the world, but have not been introduced to the topic in their churches,” says Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA. “The Bible says so much about persecution. The early church faced widespread persecution. It is still prevalent today. Only 10 days ago a suicide bomber detonated eight pipe bombs outside a church building in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia which wounded 20 church members. We cannot ignore what is happening to our suffering fellow believers.
http://www.christiantelegraph.com/issue14118.html for full article.