Never Hold Your Peace

Matthew_5_13If you’ve ever attended a wedding, and stayed awake until the end, you may have heard the phrase “speak now or forever hold your peace.” Unfortunately, Christians have made a habit of holding their peace instead of speaking up. According to the Bible, this is a serious problem.

Revelation 21:8 says that “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Yes, that’s right, cowards don’t go to Heaven. What’s a coward? In James 4:17, we read that “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” In other words, anyone who doesn’t do the right thing for fear of consequences is a coward.

Sure, it’s more polite to stay silent, but the Bible says nothing about being silent in the face of evil. Now, some people will say “But aren’t Christians supposed to turn the other cheek?” We most certainly are (Matthew 5:39). When people insult us, we shouldn’t insult them back (1 Peter 3:9). When people wrong us, we shouldn’t seek revenge (Romans 12:17-21). Yet, we shouldn’t ‘turn the other cheek’ to sin. Quite the opposite, Jesus said “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24). We’ve been commanded to judge correctly, and the standard of judgment is the Bible.

Certainly, you’ll be called a few nasty names for basing your judgments upon God’s Word. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sin is rebellion against God, and it’s what the world is all about (1 John 2:16). This is why the Bible says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15). You can’t love the world and love God. Like Elijah said “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). There’s no place for fence-sitters in the Kingdom of God, and if you’re more interested in being liked than following Christ, you’re not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:37-38).

Unfortunately, many people fear what people think instead of what God thinks. This isn’t wise, because God has all the power (Matthew 10:28). Of course, fearing God doesn’t mean you spend every waking moment terrified of Him. On the contrary, it means you love Him so much you don’t want to displease Him. Truly, if you fear God, you’ll fear nothing else. Psalm 27:1 defiantly states “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” We’re supposed to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God, and avoid being squeezed into this world’s sinful mold (Romans 12:1-2). There’s no time for silence, and no place for neutrality (Matthew 12:30). We all must choose who we will serve. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, I’m going to love, cherish, and obey the Lord. Oh, and the best part? Death will never part us (Romans 8:31-39).

No Take-Backs

Titus_1_2If you’ve ever read through the Bible, likely skipping certain genealogies to save your sanity, you’ve probably noticed that God has made a lot of promises. Most of these promises are conditional. For example, the most famous verse in the Bible says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In other words, if you meet the condition (belief), you’ll receive the promise (eternal life). Yet, every now and then, you’ll find an unconditional promise. Those things are pretty serious, because the Bible is clear that God can’t lie (Titus 1:2). So, if God unconditionally promises to do something, He’s going to do it. This should scare the enemies of Israel, because God made several unconditional promises to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob.

Indeed, God told Abraham that “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8). God reaffirmed this agreement to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5), and to Isaac’s son Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel (Genesis 35:10-12).

What about those poor Palestinians? For starters, there never was a Palestinian state. In fact, the land wasn’t even called Palestine until the Romans renamed it as a slight to the Jewish people. Palestine comes from Philistia, in honor of the Philistines, Israel’s bitter enemies from back in the day. After the fall of the Jewish monarchy, the land was either fully or partially controlled by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Maccabees (who were Jewish), Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Turks, British and finally the Jewish people again. Of course, there were always Jewish people in the land during this time.

In addition, the West Bank and Gaza were under Jordanian control from 1948 to 1967 and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964. Curiously, a separate Palestinian state was never created. This is probably because the Palestinian state is Jordan. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British promised the entire Palestinian Mandate to the Jewish people for a homeland. In 1922, through the Transjordan Memorandum, the British used most of the Palestinian Mandate to create the Arab state of Jordan.

Regardless, a lot of people want to kick Israel out of their land, and it’s not just Palestinians. What’s so great about a tiny slice of land in the Middle East? Clearly, it’s not about the land. It’s about God’s promise. Satan hates God, and He wants to make it so that He can’t fulfill His promises. He won’t succeed. As for the enemies of Israel, whether they’re firing rockets or divesting from companies that do business with Israelis, they won’t succeed either. God always keeps His word (Hebrews 6:13-16).

Question Authority?

John_3_21A little while back, a science teacher in Atlanta showed a cartoon to her students which favorably represented creationism. It didn’t go over well. In a 52-slide presentation which seemingly endorsed evolution, a single slide with a cartoon favorable to creation caused outrage. I’m surprised the instructor wasn’t forced to give an insincere apology.

Regardless, the hostile reaction merely confirmed what pro-evolution philosopher Michael Ruse once said: “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today” (Ruse, M., “How evolution became a religion: creationists correct?” National Post, May 13, 2000, pp. B1, B3, B7). Sure, we’ve been told there’s “a wall of separation between church and state,” which incidentally is found nowhere in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or any Constitutional Amendment, but religion is definitely taught in public schools. The religion is atheism, and its creation myth is evolution. Matter is all there is, it’s taught, and if you don’t accept it you’re branded a heretic. Why do public schools endorse the atheistic view of how we got here, but they refuse to teach the Christian view of how we got here?

Every now and then, you’ll see a car with a “Question Authority” bumper sticker. Since I’m a Christian, I’m all for it. After all, the Bible says “be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). Yet, most people who claim to question authority rarely follow through. Indeed, how many people question evolution? Yes, it’s taught as fact in public schools, but how do teachers know nothing created matter? This violates the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states matter and energy can’t be created or destroyed, so how did it happen? How do teachers know non-living chemicals created a single-celled organism, considering the Law of Biogenesis says life can only come from life? Obviously no one was there to see these events take place, and we can’t recreate the Big Bang or Abiogenesis in a lab. Likewise, how do teachers know natural selection created more complex life on this planet, when natural selection reduces genetic information over time? These are all good questions to ask, and they clearly reveal that evolution is based on faith. It’s certainly not “scientific,” because it violates known scientific laws and processes. So, why isn’t faith in evolution questioned?

The Bible says “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The god of this world is Satan, and if you don’t belong to Christ, you belong to him (John 8:44). He does a pretty good job of keeping people distracted in sin. Jesus said “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Many people fear Jesus, and they scurry away from anything that brings Him to mind. But, for those willing to question authority and embrace truth, they will come to the Light (John 3:21). Given that eternity is on the line, I’d say the truth is worth a glance.

Fiddling While Christians Burn

worthyYou’ve likely heard the phrase “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” before. Of course, I wasn’t there, so I have no idea what Nero actually did while Rome went up in flames. Maybe he danced. There’s simply no way to be sure. Regardless, Nero’s response to the fire was viewed as useless and ineffective. Likewise, the lackadaisical response of American Christians to global persecution of Christ-followers has been disappointing.

For instance, Christians in a northern Iraqi city are being forced to pay the Jizya tax by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with the Koran. After all, Muslims are commanded to “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day…(even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Koran 9:29). Typically, if the non-Muslim doesn’t pay up, they die. How delightful.

In other not-so-cheerful news, church buildings and crosses have been getting demolished in China, and the government “threatened church members harm if they talked to the media or petitioned Beijing.” This hasn’t stopped Chinese Christians from boldly speaking out against the anti-church campaign. American Christ-followers should be applauding and standing with them in any way possible, but how many of them are even aware this is going on? If they knew, would they actually care?

It’s tough to say. Indeed, it seems like many Christians in the US are far more interested in supporting sin than supporting persecuted Christians. For example, the United Methodist Church reinstated a pastor who performed a same-sex “wedding,” and the reinstated gentleman claimed “Today’s decision shows that the church is moving toward love over legalism.” Quite the opposite, it shows that the UMC is so full of cowards that they refuse to lovingly preach the Gospel to all sinners, which includes unrepentant homosexuals, because they fear what other people think. There is nothing loving about cheering people to Hell, and there’s nothing remotely charming about sticking your head in the sand while your brothers and sisters die for the very faith you claim to hold.

People like comfort, and they’re comfortable playing church every Sunday. They don’t want to hear about unpleasant things happening to Christians around the world, and Heaven forbid they offend someone! Well, I’ve got news for people who are strictly in the pew-sitting business: you’re not worthy of Christ. There’s a reason compromising churches are losing members at a breakneck pace, despite their friendship with the world: God’s not there. He isn’t going to endorse churches which don’t fully endorse Him. Don’t believe me? Jesus said “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39). All of us must choose the course we will take, but may I make a suggestion? Let’s be worthy of the One who died to set us free.