Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Murdered for an "old book"?

Lately, I've heard some interesting statements about the Bible.

One "big-time" pastor, for example, has referred to it as "a bunch of 2,000-year-old letters". Someone else -- a professing Christian -- referred to the Old Testament as "a book of Jewish stories" that was made obsolete when Jesus came.

This morning, I woke up with an image in my head: the grainy screen-grab of yet another video from IS. This one showed about 20 Coptic Christians, kneeling in front of a row of black-clad IS hoodlums, each hoodlum holding his knife at the ready.

Also today, there is a report that over 250 more Christians have been kidnapped by IS in Syria, and other news reports that an American missionary had been kidnapped in Nigeria.

In other words -- keeping this in focus -- thousands of people are dying for the sake of that "old book". But rather than get dragged into an argument with people, we need to remember what we're supposed to do, and that includes waiting for the Holy Spirit to give us the words we need if we have to defend our faith. Satan has been saying "Hath God said ...?" for thousands of years, and we can't allow ourselves the luxury of responding or else we'll be hopelessly side-tracked from the work we're supposed to do as Christians.

What this boils down to, in fact, is variations on the tired old theme the enemy has been using since the Garden, "hath God said ...?" The object is to sow doubt (Matt. 21:21) and make us lose our resolve to follow the Great Commission. If we can turn on one another and fight over what the Bible says or even whether it's the Word of God, so much the better.

After all, the outright promotion of atheism is one thing, but we're seeing cases in which people with lots of followers are being outed as lukewarm Christians, as Jesus chastises in Revelation 3:15-19.

But consider Nehemiah 6:9, with the enemies of the Jews trying to subvert the rebuilding of Jerusalem: "... all were trying to make us afraid, saying, 'Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.' Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands."

That's where we're at now: the enemy is trying to make us afraid and is confident that we'll be weakened as we continue to promote the Gospel in the face of the ongoing assault on the Word. But we can't overpower that ourselves: we need to call on God to strengthen our hands in this work.

And it's written that this resolve brings results: "And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it [that the wall had been rebuilt in 52 days], and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.(Emphasis mine.)

So we need to hang in there. Keep focused. Don't lose our resolve to spread the Gospel, heal the sick, bind the brokenhearted, love our enemies (especially love our enemies) and remember that the Word has always been and always will be. And part of the payoff is this: when we persevere and our own "wall building" project is complete, the naysayers, the lukewarm ones, will see that the work is done by our God, and -- who knows? -- they'll embrace the Truth, themselves.

We need to keep pressing forward, not listening to the barking cur of doubt, but praying with all supplication for the saints (Eph. 6:18), that is, both those who dismiss the Word of God and the people overseas being kidnapped, tortured and killed for its sake. We need to focus on spreading the Gospel, and most importantly, living the Gospel, so that people will see our good works and glorify God (Matt. 5:16).