Error of Unbelief and Not Voting

(© The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., October 26, 2016)

Gospel light is like a rheostat: turn it down, and darkness floods a room; turn it up, and light floods the room. In either case, the rheostat controls light and thus darkness. Likewise, the gospel will dispel the darkness or it will allow the darkness to come in. The Church at large controls the rheostat. By definition, light controls darkness, not darkness the light.

This past week I heard the pastor of a large evangelical congregation in Dallas say on his radio program: “We are not going to prevent America’s ultimate collapse, but we can delay it. We can buy time so that we can preach the gospel. . . .” The context was that we should vote, and that for the less wicked person: Trump. After listening to several of the pastor’s sermons on the Internet, here is what he meant: The Church will lose in the spiritual battle in the USA and the world; Satan will win, but we should at least delay the inevitable destruction by voting for Trump.

If I believed the Church would lose, I would have quit the ministry years ago. Unbelief in overcoming the devil and his fallen angels is one reason evangelicals do not vote, thinking what is the use since this is Satan’s world, and he allegedly cannot be defeated except by muscle (Jesus beats him up at the end). But if all evangelicals did vote, we could control the country. It is primarily our fault that the USA is falling apart morally. Most denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, have fallen prey to liberalism; but those who have remained true to Holy Scriptures, have otherwise generally fallen prey to end time hysteria with its inherent pessimism and defeat of Christ’s Church. This end time fear has paralyzed us. Allegedly, the only way we can win the spiritual battle is to be delivered from this world in a secret second coming called the rapture. Then seven years later, when the Church is once again defeated, there will be the public Second Coming, the real Second Coming that the Creeds speak about.

Now we all believe in the Second Coming, for that is part of the ancient Creeds and is very clear in the Gospels; that is not the issue I’m raising. The issue is whether the Church is impotent and can only retreat, and whether the gospel is impotent. The issue is that many evangelicals use the rapture to do nothing. This defeatism reflects directly on the enthroned Son of God, and whether He can, by His Holy Spirit, change cultures and people. But the problem with many evangelicals is that we think Satan and his “gospel” of darkness is more powerful than Jesus and the true gospel. It is Jesus who is enthroned; not Satan. (We’ll comment on Rev. 2:13 next time.)

Consider this logic. If we Christians obey the Triune God’s commandments, preach His gospel, and live accordingly, we lose. But if the ungodly disobey God’s commandments, preach abortion, LGBT, steal through excessive taxation and printing money with no backing, lie and murder to get their way, they win. But how in the world can pursuing darkness win and pursuing the light lose?

Recall what happened to the children of Israel when they sent the twelve spies into the land and ten came back with a bad report. Essentially, the ten spies were guilty of unbelief, and their bad report lead Israel to regret that they had left Egypt. The two spies, however, responded with belief:

30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:30-33).

The ten spies contrasted themselves with their enemies, concluding they could not defeat them; but Caleb and Joshua contrasted their enemies with the LORD God, who had given them victory over all their enemies up to this point, not the least was the parting of the Red Sea. The LORD God made Israel wander in the wilderness 40 years because of their unbelief manifested in their fear. Will King Jesus make Christians in the USA endure much persecution for their unbelief in facing the enemies of Jesus? Only God knows.

This is what we are facing with most of evangelicalism: unbelief in the face of godless enemies. We contrast ourselves with those in power and conclude it is hopeless, denying both the power of the Gospel and the power of the risen Christ who reigns over all the world by His resurrection and Ascension, where He is seated in victory at the right hand of the Majesty on High (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1). But we must contrast our enemies with the Lord God, the Lamb of God, who sovereignly rules.

When the Lord Jesus gave the great commission, do we think He was giving commands that could never be carried out, that He was just helping the twelve be positive amid certain defeat?

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice Jesus said that He had ALL AUTHORITY, but where?—“in heaven and on earth.” The words “heaven” and “earth” mean the whole universe, using a device called a merism, opposites to mean totality. Considering His having “all authority,” He commanded a few followers to “make disciples of all the nations,” by two means: baptizing in the name of the Holy Trinity, which assumes the gospel, and teaching new disciples all that Christ had taught the twelve. To give them faith that His command to subdue the word by the gospel was not an empty command, He proclaims He will be with them to the end of the age. And He is with them, not just as a comfort in their trials, but to give them victory, for that is clearly the context!

In two thousand years, Christianity has grown from a handful to the largest religion of the world, about 2.5 billion, and in every country in the world. Islam cannot boast of being in every nation nor of so many, being about 1.8 billion.

Thus, we must bring to bear His righteousness in every area of life, which means voting. AMEN.

(Next time we shall look at who is Lord of the world, Satan or Jesus, and how that affects voting? Read the blog just before this one to see an answer to voting for the lesser of two evils.)

 

Did Adam lose the world to the devil?

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D. 2016

Some misguided Christians today think that Satan is now the ruler of this world, and that it is not for Christians to have dominion on earth. Perhaps that could be possible when Jesus returns, but not now. They cite such passages as Satan is the “god of this world.” Yet the expression that Satan is the “god of this world” does not mean he is lord of lords, but that he is the god of this world in the sense that many worship him—not that he is almighty. His work is primarily in blinding the minds of people to the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19), but even that blindness is stripped away when the mighty grace of Jesus brings one to belief in Himself (Matt. 11:27; Acts 13:48; 16:14; Phil. 1:29).

Furthermore, that Satan is called by the Lord Jesus “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30) does not mean that there is not a Ruler above him, Who is Ruler of the universe and the Ruler of all rulers. Because there is a governor of Tennessee, do we conclude that there is not also a President of the United States who has greater authority than the governor? Besides, the Lord also stated: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). What else does the expression “Lord of lords” mean except that Jesus is the ultimate Ruler and that NOW?

And was it not true that during the temptation when Jesus commanded Satan to leave Him in Matthew 4:10-11 that Satan did so immediately without a word? Did not the demons obey the Lord every time He commanded them and without hesitation? Where do the health and wealth people get the idea that Satan owns this world? Here is how Frederick K. C. Price reasons.[1] God gave Adam dominion over the earth. This dominion was a legal dominion, much like we would deed someone property. The earth was deeded to Adam by God; it was his [Adam’s] to do with as he pleased. This dominion included not only the animals but also the mineral rights so that he owned all the gold, silver, diamonds, oil, and so forth. When Adam sinned, he gave his property to Satan, and God no longer had a legal right to the earth. Now the planet is Satan’s, and even God must honor this agreement. Redeemed man can reclaim his original inheritance and be rich. Capps agrees: “It’s illegal for God to come to earth and destroy the work of the devil with His divine Godhead powers.”[2]

Yet the truth is that though Adam came under Satan’s dominion to some extent, primarily Adam was under God’s curse for sinning. God never indicated that the land or earth at that time was not His. Indeed, He cursed it to bring forth thorns, but he never gave it up. Kenneth Hagin says: “If God is running everything, He does have things in a mess.”[3] Fred Price is even more blatant:

“God can’t legally do anything in this earth realm except what we allow Him to do.” He also says, “God does not have physical possession of the earth, Satan does,” and “If God came here, He would be arrested as a trespasser.” Price goes on to condition his audience to accept these blasphemies with such statements as these:

“Evangelicals consider this heresy, and they would never say this.” “Tradition and theology reject this.” “I hope you don’t think God is running this world, evangelicals think that.” “If this is an example of how God runs things, I don’t want to go to heaven.” They distance themselves from the evangelical community with such statements (“we” versus the “evangelicals”), thereby separating themselves from the body of Christ, and establishing themselves as a cult.

Price uses two other passages to promote the idea that the world is Satan’s: Luke 4:1-8 and Matthew 9:35-38. The major passage for Price is: “And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish’” (Luke 4:6).

Our first response must be that Satan is a liar (John 8:44). Price says that Satan is telling the truth since Jesus did not rebuke him, which is also a common dispensational argument from this passage. But it is an argument from silence that leads Price to the deafening conclusion that Satan was for once telling the truth. But even if the Lord had not answered the devil, the inference is not valid. In the most elementary logic class one learns that he can conclude anything or nothing from what is not stated. But the Lord did answer Satan: “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (v. 8). The Lord answered the real point behind Satan’s pseudo-offer: worship reveals Who the real God is, and we are to worship the Triune God only. If the Lord had said the kingdoms did not belong to Satan, He would not have been confronting the point of the offer, admitting perhaps he was right. Observe also that Satan instantly obeyed the Lord when He commanded him to leave, which showed Who was really in authority.

Secondly, God the Father made the same offer to Christ. Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, using the name “Messiah” in verse two (sometimes translated “anointed”) and the word “Son” in verse twelve. In verse seven the Son quotes the Father:

“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’”

This verse is quoted several times in the New Testament of the resurrection of Jesus. The Father raised Him from the dead, and, to the consternation of the nations (vv. 1-3), He made Jesus King of kings. In other words, even though the nations did not want Him ruling over them, and even though they sought to cast off His “bonds” (vv. 1-3; bonds=His law, see Jer. 2:20; 5:5), the Father laughed and made Him King over them anyway. In light of this, the Father says to His only Son: “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (v. 8).

Now who has made the genuine offer of the world to Jesus, the Father or Satan? Who is the liar, God the Father or the devil? Who really owns the world and could offer it to Jesus, the Father or Satan? In the verses that follow the Father’s offer, it is obvious that the Son did ask and the Father gave Him the nations, for He shall rule them with a rod of iron (v. 9), and the rulers must repent (vv. 10, 11) or perish under the Son’s wrath (v. 12). The Lord Jesus emphatically stated that “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” at the resurrection (Matt. 28:18; see also Dan. 7:14).24 Of course, all these things are speaking of Christ in His Messianic office, not in His essence. In His essence as God, He has always had dominion over the earth (Ps. 24:1).

We Christians have already won, now let’s face down our ancient foe in the NAME of our eternal Savior who rules by omnipotent power not only inherent in Himself but also inherent in the words of the Gospel. AMEN.

[1] 04/27/92 broadcast, WPTY-TV Memphis, TN, 12 p. m.

[2] Charles Capps, God’s Image of You (Tulsa: Harrison House, 1985), p. 50.

[3] Kenneth E. Hagin, The Interceding Christian (Tulsa: Faith Publication Library, 1991), p. 13

Social Experiment: Redefinition of Marriage

(© 26 June 2015, Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

We in the USA have been involved in social experiments for a long time, almost 200 years. If we count the Puritans, it would be 300 years. Christians have been the holdup for negative social change, but that problem is solved: We are now completely irrelevant to the culture. The Supreme Court, yesterday and today, ruled against Christianity. Yesterday, the continued theft of taking from those who have to give to those who have not, was upheld in Obama Care. It did not matter that it passed under fraud: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.” It did not matter that Jonathan Gruber apparently lied about how to promote it and said that the American People were stupid. It did not matter that Nancy Pelosi said to the House that they must pass the bill to see what was in it. Lying is the norm now. It did not matter that when Harry Reid, former Senate majority leader, was asked about his blatant lie to the Senate that Mitt Romney had not paid income tax for the past 12 years, and he responded, “Well, he didn’t win, did he?” Reid did not want Romney to win the 2012 Presidential election. In other words, lying is fine if you can get what you want.

Now, add in Roe v. Wade that was passed by an activist Supreme Court in 1973 (55 million babies slaughtered and counting, making Hitler look like a dress rehearsal), Obama Care also passed by an activist Supreme Court, and today, 26 June 2015, a hyper-activist Court passed the redefinition of marriage as any two people, and we have a country raising its fist with middle finger extended to Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It will be the miracle since creation if we can dig ourselves out of this moral hole with repentance, the likes of which has never been seen, and by “WE” I mean we Christians, the Church. We control the rheostat that controls the light. Once we turn the light on, the darkness vanishes; but we’ve been turning the light off for over 100 years, or more. We’ve been having too much fun breaking marriage vows, having sex outside marriage, teaching our kids about sports but not about the Triune God and His law, giving them cars, smart phones, and other toys and expecting them not to sin with those things, which are not wrong in themselves, buying all kinds of toys and that on credit. I’m about ready to join the Amish.

When I say “WE can dig,” I mean the Church, not the culture. The culture is doing what it does—sinning. The Church has not been the watchman on the wall (Ez. 33:1-11) to warn its people of God’s judgment. WE—pastors—have not given the warning to our people to repent of our worldliness, but we’ve wanted to entertain our parishioners about the rapture rupture. We scream about the antichrist, who he is, and when he is coming,  but give precious little about Christ. We have not cared much for young women exploited by abortion. We have not ministered to LGBT but just condemned them instead, though at times that is necessary in love. We have not visited those in prison. We have not helped the poor very much. Now, the Triune God is cramming our sins down our throats, and some have the audacity to think that the great Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, will rapture us out of this mess. That makes my blood boil. However He judges us, we deserve it.

The USA has been involved in social experiments for about 200 years. Robert Owen (1771-1858),[1] in the early 1800s bought property in Indiana and set up a colony (New Harmony) whereby he would create a perfect environment. Owen thought that if he eliminated three evils: traditional religion (attack against the Church), conventional marriage (attack against the family), and private property (attack against free citizenship)—especially private property—that man’s so-called sinful problems would disappear. (The Eighth Commandment gives us the right to own private property, the Seventh Commandment to have one wife, the First Commandment to worship the Triune God.) But as soon as the colony was established and a constitution was written, it fell apart. Owen thought that since man was allegedly born good, controlling the circumstances and educating him would lead to utopia. But he could not get the people to attend his schools without compulsion, which violated his view of the autonomous, good individual who would do right once he knew it. The colony self-destructed in no time, and he returned to his native Britain, having used up his considerable fortune trying to establish other colonies elsewhere with the same results, and died disillusioned and penniless. He discovered that man cannot be his own savior, a lesson that the president, Congress, and the Supreme Court need to learn, but one we Christians should know.

From the assumption that man is born good, modern day liberals, following Owen, believe that the problem is external, in the environment. Change that and man will be changed, saved from his own problems. Thus, the means to such change is education, for if man is good, he only needs to know the good to do, and he will choose it. Authority is basically not needed in education; each student, being good, is his own authority. The modern educational system, therefore, seeks to save us by getting rid of traditional religion with its parental authority, redefining marriage and sexuality, and promoting the idea that the government owns all things, which means no private property. Government and man are the only saviors, with the government claiming to be god. It is telling that virtually every man-made alternative to God’s salvation includes some form of sexual deviance from His norm as given in the Seventh Commandment: one man and one woman in marriage for life. Today the High Court has redefined of marriage. We will have the same result as Robert Owen, only it will take longer since we are not dealing with a small colony but a large nation. It was George Santayana (1863-1952) who said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Here we go again.

Today the USA has joined Sodom and Gomorrah, officially. Here is the way godly authority should work. If a murderer is punished by the government, judgment stops with the murderer; but if government does not punish murderers, or just spanks them on the hand, that is an official challenge to God’s authority. The government, and the whole nation by extension, is challenging God’s authority. If the government punishes LGBT persons, those persons bear their own punishment; but if the government sides with wickedness, then the whole nation is guilty. This is precisely what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.

These two systems (godless government and the Church) are mutually exclusive and are at war spiritually, and only one can be the final winner. We know that Christ is that winner, for Jesus is Lord of all!

(Go here for some booklets on these matters.)

(I can’t read the mind of God, and I can’t extend this blog much more, but I would strongly urge people to read my book, NOT Ten Suggestions, especially Part 3, where I discuss in some detail that God’s judgment on American is now, and increasing daily. I spell out some of the judgments. Chapter 20, God’s judgment on our families, is especially pertinent regarding today’s Supreme Court ruling. One I missed—and hope never comes—is one I’ve seen several high ranking military officers warn about on the news in the past few months, which is EMP, electro-magnetic pulse. A lone missile or plane could send a silent blast into our power grids, and we would virtually be history: people killing each other for food, water, medicine, etc. Too detailed to explain, but if you’re interested, send me an email (cicrenshaw@gmail.com), and I’ll send you some details. May take a few days to get it to you, and then only sent by email.)

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law (Prov. 29:18 ESV).

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Pro 14:34 NKJ).

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chron. 7:14 NKJ).

Lord in wrath, remember mercy (Hab. 3:2).

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Psalm 2:1-4 ESV, study the rest of this Psalm.)

AMEN.

[1] Alan Jacobs, Original Sin, pp. 173ff.

Creation, the Media, and Lordship

(© Very Rev. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

11 March 2015

bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5)

How many times have I heard media persons say: “But that is a religious statement.” Or, when some atheist debates a theist on TV, he will say: “You can’t use religious statements because they are unscientific.” In other words, man is autonomous and sovereign over his own thoughts and how to interpret the world. There are compartments in our thoughts, and Jesus is allowed in some areas (mainly the church, for now) but never in the culture as a whole.

With secular people, and especially enlightenment thinking people, the Triune God takes second place (or last place) to humanist thought. God has created us in His image, and we are returning the favor.

We can see this in Scott Walker in England recently (he’s running for president of the USA), having to answer a media question “correctly” about evolution. He said something like this: evolutions is “a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.” In other words, he was fearful of their response if he confidently stated: “I am a creationist.” If I were in his shoes, I tell myself I would say, “I just can’t believe in something as unscientific as evolution.” Of course, I would be laughed out of the presidential race. It would seem that the “intelligentsia” require a Creedal answer, the Creed being what I have coined as The Chaos Creed, which may be conceived this way:

“I believe in god the chaos almighty,

random maker of heaven and earth;

but not in Jesus Christ His only Son,

because of the Virgin is not a real birth.”

 And notice how embarrassed some Christian scholars have become over Genesis 1:1-2:4, the creation history account. Even some of the best, conservative Christian scholars are intimidated by that passage that allegedly is unscientific. Then the historic theology of the Church has to be further compromised. Who then is Lord over Genesis 1:1-2:4 and its interpretation? It is not the Bible itself, the real Creator, true science, or the historic Church but secular thought. Creation is a watershed doctrine, and if we deny it, here are other dominoes that will fall: Incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, Ascension, and enthronement of Christ as King of the Universe. I read where one scholar (name escapes me) said that if we can get passed the first verse of the Bible (“God created the heavens and the earth.”), all else is downhill. So true.

The Openness of God movement is an example of embarrassed Christians. They are beyond Arminian, not holding to the sovereignty of God in any meaningful way. They say that God only foreknew who would believe, but that He did not determine it. Problem: if God knows all things, then He knows who will believe and it is still certain (but now man determines the certainty). Thus, they need to get rid of a God who knows all things. They say that God is in process, just like us, not knowing all things. Now we’re back to the chaos god ruling all things, ruling our thoughts, even God’s thoughts.

Moreover, the word-faith movement also despises the sovereignty of God. Their whole theology—if one can call it that—assumes that man is in control of his own destiny, and if he has enough faith he can speak positive words into the air and bring prosperity and health. In other words, faith without cash is a dead faith. It one has enough faith, he can even make his own providence.

Most Christians today are Arminian, believing in the sovereignty of God as long as it does not interfere with their plans and “free will”; otherwise, they become angry. I’ve seen otherwise good Christians become red faced and shouting angry if their pretended sovereignty was challenged. These Christians are embarrassed that God predestined His universe, especially evil. But consider that God uses the sin of His creatures to accomplish His goals yet without being the Author of sin:

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:24 ESV)

He even determines who will believe:

Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

Here is what is presented as intellectual and scientific, even though none of these things are true science, which is repeatable and observable:

  • Life came from non-life; life-came from non-life only once since all life is allegedly related.
  • Protozoa (one cell animals) gave rise to Metazoa (many cell animals).
  • Invertebrates (no back bone) gave rise to vertebrates (animals with backbones).
  • Sea animals gave rise to land animals.
  • Molecules in motion just before the alleged Big Bang gave rise to the immaterial laws of science; they also gave rise to the immaterial, invariant, and universal laws of logic that we all use.
  • Moreover, how can the non-personhood of chaos give rise to personhood?
  • Then think how convenient it was to have both male and female evolve at the same time and that each knew how to use their sexual “plumbing” to get pregnant, to carry the baby nine months, and to deliver it.
  • Moreover, though there is variation within a species (Chihuahua to Great Dane), there are no examples of one species becoming a new species.
  • Then consider the complexity of the human body. What parts could we live without until everything evolved to working order? Moreover, as Michael Behe, a micro-biologist, has said in his book (Darwin’s Black Box), there must be an irreducible complexity for everything to work together. In other words, you can’t have part of an eye; it must all be there and functioning.

The point is that once the assumption of chaos enters sinners minds, they think they can do what they please because there is no final judgment. They can create their own meaning. But they are frustrated because the new lord cannot account for persons, for relationships, for new species, for ethics, or any kind of order. To try to create our own order from chaos is to be our own lord. Welcome to the 21st century.

The arrogance of the modern scientist who thinks he is the measure of all things is rebellious to the Triune God. The idea of an alternative view of creation that is really “design” by random chance is so ridiculous that one hardly knows what to say. We are in a war over the minds of creatures, and who will be Lord over our thoughts. As John Dryden once said, who was the 17th century English Poet:

 “For those whom God to ruin has design’d,

He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.”

AMEN. Ὡ

Christians and the Middle East

© Very Rev. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D. (Feb 2015)

I can recall every major event in my life to the month and year, and often to the day. May 10-12, 1968 is one of those dates. It was when our company and our mortars (mortars were my duty) were flown into dense jungle next to the Laotian border. We were the backup for the Green Berets, though usually they were our backup. When we exited the C-130s, 82 mm mortar rounds from the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) were coming down on us furiously. For three nights and days, we were under heavy attack. Several times I could have been killed, and several times I should have been killed, except the merciful providence of God. The enemy mortar rounds landed all around me; one at my feet with me looking right over it. It should have blown my head off, but only the 81 mm mortar barrel I was holding was dented. Rounds landed just outside my trench, right on the lip; another two inches and it would have landed on a pile of our mortar rounds. I would have been vaporized. I was to leave on the third chinook; the first two loaded with our men, took off, and were shot down. That was not a good precedent! At the last minute, after being hit with small shrapnel, I jumped on. There were no anti-aircraft guns that went off, and in about two minutes, we were clear. Of course, we lost the Vietnamese war, not to mentions that battle. Did you ever wonder why the Lord put you somewhere? There seems to be no rhyme or reason for it. You’re just a cog in an acre of wheels.

We Christians in the West have not heard much about Christians in the East, and one reason may be that we like our isolation. We tend to think that we are the epitome of Christian orthodoxy, and that others do not have much—if anything—to teach us. But that is a arrogant.

What do you think of the 21 Coptic Christians that ISIS beheaded in the last week or so? Do you think they are an offshoot of Christianity, someone we can ignore, that they need us to teach them the basics of the faith? Coptic Christians originated in the great city of Alexandria, south of Jerusalem, during the time of the Apostles. “Coptic” means “Egyptian”; they are Egyptian Christians. Early tradition says that John Mark–the writer of the Gospel of Mark– founded the church there; thus they are apostolic. They hold to the basics of the faith, such as the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Son of God, His death on the cross, bodily resurrection, Ascension, forgiveness of sins through Christ, the one Church, and so forth. (By the way, if you hear that no two Christian bodies believe the same, challenge that. We all believe in the Nicene Creed, the basics just given.) My point is that these Christians are historic, in the line of the Apostles, both by ordination and by belief.

Moreover, when I was in seminary (in Dallas, TX, 1972-76), I met a fellow student named Isaac John from India. I asked him how he came to know Christ, was it through missionaries? He said, “No.” Was it by broadcast from a ship? No. Did someone give him some literature to read? Finally, he said, “I was raised in a Christian home, and grew up in sound church.” I was floored? I asked where his church came from, thinking they might need our Western help. He said, “The Apostle Thomas established our church.” With a tone of disbelief, I retorted: “You gotta be kidding me.” He kept affirming it. Finally, I went to the head of the church history department at this large evangelical seminary and asked him about it. To my utter astonishment, he affirmed the same. My church went back to Ryrie, Dr. Pentecost, and John Walvoord, all 20th century, but his church was from the Apostle Thomas! Most don’t know that there is a part of India that is Christian, not Hindu.

In 1992, my wife Ruth and I were invited to setup up a book table in Virginia for Laszlo Tokes (pronounced TÕ-kesh), who was a bishop in the Presbyterian church (Yes, that is not a typo, a bishop in a Presbyterian church!). He had written a book, The Fall of Tyrants, chronicling the fall of the Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. Tokes was a pastor under that regime (later became bishop), and had long been persecuted. Everything was coming to a head with Ceausescu’s minions coming to arrest him at his church, most likely never to be seen again. He was waiting for the soldiers when they came to get him, and to his surprise, virtually everyone in his church, and many outside his church, also showed up. They did not have weapons, but stormed the gates of heaven, asking the Lord to intervene. He did, and Ceausescu was overthrown, tried for many murders, and executed.

Somehow, people I knew in VA had invited him over. I had already read his book so I was anxious to meet him. Ruth and I enjoyed his fellowship for about a week, and found him to be humble but strong in faith. He and several others spoke about what they experienced and how the same tyranny could (and probably would) come to America. Here is my point. At the question and answer time, someone asked Bp. Tokes what we (Western Christians) could do for him. With humble spirit and gentleness, he said something like this: “We Christians in Romania are strong in faith; the Christians in the West are weak. Maybe we could do something to help you.”

The person who asked the question did not mean to sound arrogant, and most likely meant how may we financially help, but Bp. Tokes was saying that money is a problem only if it dominates our perspective. I was greatly humbled, and tears ran down my face. What a man of God he was, and what weaklings we are. It is not that money is evil or righteous—we all need it as a tool—but where does our trust really lie? Are we possessed by possessions, or are we possessed by the Creator who made everything and will give us what we need (Matt. 6:33)?

Another matter. I don’t like to suffer, and I bet I can “prophesy” about you: you don’t like to suffer either. We do not know that suffering puts us into hyper-growth mode spiritually. Our faith is built strongly during those times. Do not think that Romans 8:28 is only for “normal” times, and it is not just for individuals, but that “all things work together for good to those (plural) who love God, to those (plural) who are the called according to His purpose.”

Just as the sufferings of Christ have meaning for us, so our sufferings are sanctified to us by His grace. We grow in hyper-mode during those times as the great Lord of the Church makes us grow in grace and knowledge, whether we want to or not! Notice the opposites in these verses:

 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory18 while we do not look at the things that are seen, but at the things are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:15-18)

Now, what about those Christians who are being martyred by ISIS, what happens to them, their families, and to the countries that persecute them? The irony is that we Christians win at every level. Those who are martyred go home to be with Christ. (By the way, those 21 Christians whom ISIS recently martyred said as they were dying: “Jesus, help me.” That sounds like faith to me.) Their families suffer their loss for a little while, but as C. S. Lewis once said, “Christians never say goodbye to Christians but see you later.” We must get over the Hollywood syndrome that death is the end. You can see it in their movies when a hero is killed–all hope is gone. They lament that they will never see their loved one again, which is patently false for Christians. Other actors in the movie will say such nonsense things as, “I know he sees me. I can talk to  him all the time.” Heaven and hell are left out. Why do we not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead? When I go to or preach a funeral, I walk up to the casket and say, “Death, you don’t win. Jesus won at His bodily resurrection, and He won for us. (Call deceased by name) I’ll see you later.” If the person was not a Christian, then I can’t say that. I just don’t say anything, but we Christians must get over the defeatist attitude that death has conquered us. He sanctifies to us our deepest distress because His sufferings were meaningful, both for Him and us. Death is home-going for the Christian, nothing less. Believe the gospel! One of the deepest verses in the Bible and most encouraging to me, is this:

who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (Heb. 5:7-8)

May the Holy Spirit burn His words just quoted into our souls. Here are some verses on death and the Christian.

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Heb. 2:14-18)

May the Holy Spirit burn His words just quoted into our souls.

Thus, in persecution, we individual Christians win, whether we live or die, we are His and nothing can separate us from His presence and love. Christians never die alone.

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:32-39)

As for the Coptic Church that was so numerous in Iraq and Syria, they have diminished by about 80% as they are martyred and leave their country for safer places. Is that not a defeat for the Church in that area? Not really. The church is like a gas fire: stomp it, and it spreads; leave it alone, and it burns out. The Coptic Church will be strengthened, in the long run, and their faith will grow greatly.

But does that not mean that ISIS has won? Not really. They are removing the light from their countries, so they will fall ever more into darkness and self-destruction. They are removing the salt, so they will become putrid that much quicker. One cannot prosper by disobedience to God’s law (murdering others) but will self-destruct. They will turn on one another. Moreover, we don’t know what the Ascended Sovereign Lord will do, but He could grant ISIS either a great revival or some kind of devastating judgment. He is only limited by His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. (For the slow of wit, that means He is not limited!)

Do we really think that the King of all the ages and His Holy Spirit are losers in history? How incompetent do we think Christ is? Do we think that He cannot lead His people to personal and corporate victory and destroy our enemies? Is disobedience to the Triune God successful while obedience leads to destruction? Have we forgotten that He said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church (Matt. 16:18)? Remember that gates were a defensive structure around a city to keep the enemy out, which means the Church is on the offensive to conquer Satan and his minions (Rom. 16:20, look it up). The devil is defensive. Under the King’s authority, as we truly worship and serve Him, we are invincible! In life, we win. In death, we win. Individually, we win. Corporately, we win. Our enemies think death is the end for us, but we know better. We switch locales, from earth to heaven, but we still win, and we still pray for victory:

 9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:9-10)

Heads we win; tails they lose.  AMEN. Ὡ