Thursday, 28 April 2016

What Should Be Our Attitude Toward Persecution.

Those who haven't followed my posts might say that persecution is only a terrible thing. I agree that it is for now but it has tremendous blessings for today and eternity.

The Apostles understood how to deal with persecution. When persecuted, they asked for boldness rather than a way to escape it. As it says in Acts 4:29-30 (KJV), "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus."

And what was God's reply? The place where they met was shaken and they went out boldly to preach the gospel.

Though we have had two-thousand years of persecution, it's only increasing in intensity. Why? Scripture says in 1 Peter 5:8 (KJV), "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the  devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may  devour:"

Satan wants to tempt people to stop believing in Christ. That's why he uses his minions to persecute us. But we won't be overly tempted. Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV), "There hath no temptation taken you but such as  is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be  tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also  make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

In my next book, I'll outline the way the Devil tries to dissuade us from following the narrow way to heaven. Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Why Must We Suffer Persecution?

 It might be an obvious question to ask but the answer isn't often understood. To put it simply, we become targets when we oppose Satan and his forces.

As I've noted before, Hebrews chapter eleven shows that the followers of God suffered for their steadfast faith in him. Since Satan can't beat the Lord, he attacks his servants. God lets some persecution come our way to strengthen us. When we die, or when Christ returns, we have graduated from Earth's school of hard knocks and need no more training.

The Apostle Paul knew not only how to suffer for Christ but why. He reminded the churches often about the surpassing glory awaiting those who endured to the end. In Colossians 1:24 (KJV)he wrote of himself, "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill  up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his  body's sake, which is the church:"

So all of us who suffer mockings or even violence can comfort ourselves that we will reap a much better reward in heaven when Christ returns. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 (KJV) "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present  time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be  revealed in us."

Though it upsets and grieves me that millions of Christians are suffering and dying around the world, I console myself with the truth that we are bound for far greater things than this world can provide.

In my next book, I hope to show how much more wonderful heaven will be to us who will be there. Watch this space for updates and further Bible teaching.

Friday, 22 April 2016

How May We cope With Persecution?

 In view of the previous post, some readers might suggest that we're just expected to "tough it out" when we're persecuted for our faith. The Father knows what we'll face and won't let us be tempted above what we're able to endure but he'll make a way of escape for us. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

My friend Kay Belantoni reminded me recently that the Holy Spirit has another job beside teaching us. He is also our comforter. Not only does he comfort by consoling us but he also gives us the strength we need when we need it.

The Holy Spirit helps us in prayer as well. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:26 (KJV), "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

The next verse shows that He also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:27 KJV)  "And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

How wonderful it is that when we don't know what to say, the Holy Spirit does. He also is our "go between" so that we are guided to pray according to God's will. Prayer is made all the more joyful as a result.

In my next book, I'll explain in detail about the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelism. This is important to know since so much misinformation is being preached by false teachers.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Are You Ready for Persecution?

My previous posts must sound to some like I'm trying to dissuade people from becoming Christians. Warning people of the cost before following the Lord isn't de suasion but full disclosure of the risks and benefits of belonging to Christ.

The fact is that persecution is the lot of all who live righteously. All through the Bible, faithful followers of God have suffered for their stand. Instead of worshipping false gods or adding the God of heaven into a pantheon of deities, they steadfastly remained loyal to the one and only real God.

The first century was particularly known for persecution of Christians. Jesus warned his followers to remain faithful in spite of what others threatened. In Luke 12:11 and 12 (KJV)Christ promised,  "And when they bring you unto the synagogues,  and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what  thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say."
Whatever happens to us, Christ takes it personally. Look at what he did and said to Saul before he was converted. Acts 9:4 (KJV) reads, "And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?'" The man who was blind spiritually became physically blind for three days.

With the words of Christ, and many other marvellous promises from Scripture, we can endure whatever this wicked world throws at us. Even death isn't a loss but a free trip to our true home. Read Hebrews chapter eleven for more inspiring testimonies of faithful believers.

I hope to be writing a new book soon. It will have the same material as I have blogged here but in greater detail. Watch this space for updates.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Are You Really Committed to Christ?

As I wrote previously, just knowing about Jesus isn't enough to save you from hell. You must become his and he must be your Lord and Master. It sounds extreme to our egalitarian ears but it's what Scripture says.

Furthermore, we must have a total commitment to him. It must be so complete that we must be willing to die for him if necessary.

Mark 8:34 (KJV) reads, "And when he had called the people unto him with  his disciples also, he said unto them, 'Whosoever will come after  me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'" So if it ever comes to the point in your life that somebody wants to kill you, it's no loss but your one-way trip out of this sin-soaked world.

In fact, John MacArthur's recent radio shows have featured sermons on how death is no terror to Christians. Not only are we taken straight to heaven but we no longer have the pressure of sin nagging us every second of the day and night.

Look at what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:55 and 56 (KJV). "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is  thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin  is the law." Jesus beat both sin and death at his resurrection Therefore we need fear no Murderers since we do but go to meet our Lord.

You Think You're Going to Heaven? That's the title of my next book. One's eternal destination is thee most serious question in life. Make doubly sure you know where you will be after death. After all, there's no second chance after the grave to change your mind.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Do You Really Know Christ?

In past posts, I've mentioned that we must have a personal relationship with Jesus in order to be saved and go to heaven. But some folks might sincerely think they know the Lord without really knowing him.

How can this be? The word "know" has an additional meaning in the Bible which isn't found in the world's literature. To know somebody in the biblical sense of the word means to have intimate relations with that person.

A good example of this is when Adam and Eve were created. Genesis 4:1 (KJV) says, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, 'I have gotten a man from the LORD.'" It's obvious what happened there.

Jesus called his followers his sheep. He said in John 10:14 (KJV) "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." Knowing Christ then means a spiritually intimate relationship, not merely knowing about him.

Just as in marriage when a man and a woman become one flesh, so we must give ourselves to our Lord and Saviour. And just as couples grow in love with one another, barring disagreements and fights of course, so we grow in our love of Christ.

How glad I am that I know Jesus for who he really is. A sick house church minister taught me lies about the Godhead to the point where I turned against them for nine lonely years. How I Was Razed shows how the heavenly Father gently guided me to proper Bible teachers. What a wonderful difference knowing the Saviour makes!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

What About All the Good I Did?

Bearing in mind what I've written here in the past, some folks might still be puzzled about which works God will judges by. After all, millions of people are kind and helpful. Doesn't that count for something?

Certainly there are many sincere folks doing charitable work. But why are they doing so? We only see their exterior but the Lord sees their motives clearly.

When Israel tired of being ruled by judges and demanded a king, it grieved Samuel. He was the last judge of that nation.

Saul, Israel's first king, disobeyed the Lord so Samuel was told by God to find another. Below is what he said  to him about the next king.

(1 Sam 16:7 KJV)  "But the LORD said unto Samuel, 'Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.'"

So it's our motives which the Lord judges us by, not how good we appear to others. On Judgement Day, he will judge our deeds according to our desires, as the two verses below describe.

(Daniel 7:10 KJV) "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened."

(Revelation 20:12 KJV) "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

All other religious systems believe that we mortals can work our way to heaven. Only in Christianity is the price for our sins paid in full. We have but to surrender our lives to Jesus who bought our freedom from God's wrath.

I'm in the process of writing a new book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? People need to realize that their works, no matter how seemingly noble, are as filthy rags in God's sight because of selfish motives. I'll be posting more on this subject as the book comes together. So far, I'm on chapter two.

Monday, 4 April 2016

What Does Working Out Our Own Salvation mean?

 I've written before that salvation is a gift, not something people can earn. Even so, some folks might remind me of Philippians 2:12 and 13. "So then, my loved ones, as you have at all times done what I say, not only when I am present, but now much more when I am not with you, give yourselves to working out your salvation with fear in your hearts; For it is God who is the cause of your desires and of your acts, for his good pleasure." Doesn't this indicate that God wants us to work to be saved? Not at all and here's why.

Among the admonitions in Paul's letter to the church in Philippi, he told them to, for lack of a better word, unpack the ramifications of their salvation.  Just as an unzipping program takes files out of a compressed folder and restores them to readability on a computer, so we must apply the reality of our salvation to our lives.

For example, how do we respond to those who insult us? We know that we must be humble and that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Therefore we don't beat the stuffing out of the person who insulted us but we  pray for that person. In fact, being maligned for Christ's sake should make us glad that we suffer for the sake of our saviour. That was the attitude which the disciples had when persecution arose against them after Pentecost.

Unzipping salvation in our lives governs every aspect of our affairs. It means that we work as if we're working for Christ, even in the most dead-end of jobs. It means we make no under-the-table deals. Neither do we practice any sort of licence in secret since God sees all.

Applying God's law of love is an intuitive process. We need no mile-thick rule book for every possible situation when we place the good of others and the honour of Christ ahead of petty gain.

As for me, I had plenty of unzipping to do. You can read in my How I Was Razed memoir how the Lord providentially led me out of cultic bondage and into his glorious truth. It's available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm in paperback.