We greet you lovingly in the name of Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel at
this very critical but exciting period of human history, and as we move towards
His return to reign in glory. Philip
writes about that return, while I concentrate on our Christian duty to serve
one another in love.
Signs of the end of the age 5
Christian children in a hostile world
Turkey the rising power
Serve one another in love
Signs of the end of the age 5 - Hated by
all nations [PW]
Jesus is coming again. There is nothing more certain about the future
than His return. But when He comes what will this world be like? Will Jesus be
welcomed by cheering crowds and celebrations? Will there be fireworks and
street parties? Will the rulers of this world willingly stand aside and let the
King of Kings take over the reins of power?
There are many who believe and teach that this is how it will be. They
believe that the church in our time will be the catalyst for ushering in an age
of peace. Does the Bible endorse the idea that Christians will bring in God’s
kingdom on earth? It doesn’t take an extensive reading of scripture to conclude
that it doesn’t.
A world in rebellion
“Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and
the rich and strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves
and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains fall on us
and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath
of the Lamb; for the day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Revelation 6: 15 – 17. The above is one of many passages which confirm that
Jesus will return to a world which is in rebellion against Him.
For the Christian the coming of the Lord is our blessed hope. For the
world it is the worst thing that can happen. The gospel is to be preached to
all nations. But when Jesus returns it is to a world which has rejected the
gospel. That rejection will be displayed in the persecution of the church.
Jesus is coming to bring judgement on a rebellious world.
Jesus recognised two types of people. “This
is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the
darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who
does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his
deeds will be exposed.”John 3: 19,20. There are those who are of the light
and those who are of darkness.
Those who walk in the light have no fear of God. Their sinful deeds have
been confessed and forgiven. The Holy Spirit has entered their lives to cleanse
and renew them. When meeting Jesus there is nothing to fear because there is nothing
They hate the light
Those who walk in darkness seek to hide their evil deeds. When Jesus
comes again everything that they have done will be exposed [Luke 12: 1-3]. Of
course the idea of Jesus coming to judge this world is dismissed as naive
nonsense by those who hate the idea of being held responsible for their
actions. It is only when the earth is shaken and the sky split apart that they
will be confronted with the reality of His return.
Until that day their hatred of the light will be directed towards those
who walk in the light. Jesus said that just as the world hated Him it would
hate His disciples [John 15: 18-21]. We should expect no better treatment than
that received by our master. This has been true since the birth of the church.
Persecution has been the lot of true believers down through the centuries. The
end of the age will be no different.
In this article, in the
series on the signs of the end of the age, we move the focus from Israel to the
believing church. We ask the question, whether hatred of those who walk in the
light is to be a particular feature of the end of the present age.
"Then they will deliver you to
tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account
of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one
another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will
mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will
grow cold. "But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. And
this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness
to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” Matthew 24: 9.
If believers are to be hated by all nations it
has to be at a time when there are believers to be found within every nation.
The above statement is set at the time when the Gospel has at last been
preached in the whole world. It is also, as the passage above states, to be a
time of falling away from the gospel, internal divisions within the church,
false prophets and lawlessness.
Therefore we conclude that the final years of
this age will be marked by a final thrust to take the gospel to the nations. In
response there will be a rejection of the gospel coupled with a universal
hatred of the followers of Christ.
Condemned by righteousness
In his first letter John says, “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world
hates you”. 1 John 3:13. John refers back to Cain who killed his brother
Abel, because his deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
Noah also was an example of righteousness in
an evil world. “By faith Noah, being
warned by God about things not
yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by
which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is
according to faith”. Hebrews 11: 7. Because of Noah’s faith the world at
his time had no excuse. If he could hear from God and obey so could everyone
else. They ignored the word of God and were taken by surprise by His judgment.
Jesus said that the time before His return would be just like the time before
the Flood. Like Noah we who are faithful to Christ and believe in His return, by
our faith, condemn the world. For this reason we will be hated.
As this age draws to a close the rebellion
against God will intensify and be focused in one man. He is called the man of
lawlessness who opposes even God [2 Thess 2:3 – 9]. His appearing will be
linked to the falling away. All who have not loved the truth will be caught up
in this delusion. They will hate those who have not bowed down to the lie.
Already rejected the truth
That final period of lawlessness is still
future. But we should note that God allows it to happen because men did not
recognize the truth [2Thess 2:10 – 12]. They have already turned their back on
Jesus. We are to expect that as the end of the age draws near there will be a
hardening of attitudes against believers.
The particular feature of the end of the age
will be the universality of the hatred. At other times and in different places
there have been periods of persecution of the church. But it has never before
was a time when in the historically Christian countries, such as the USA or UK,
it was possible to agree to differ. Opposing views were respected. That has
changed. A fanatical opposition to all things Christian has developed. In other
parts of the world persecution of Christians by members of other religions has
intensified during the last few decades. Still other countries are under the
sway of oppressive political regimes that see Christians as a challenge to
their despotic rule.
It is remarkable how opposing atheistic,
religious, and political ideologies all combine when their objective is to
attack Christianity. This should come as
no surprise as each is the product of the darkness which blinds people to the
Therefore a fifth sign that we are approaching
the end of this present age is the hardening of opposition to the gospel into a
global hatred of Christians.
Promises to the persecuted
Some of those reading this article will feel
that life is hard enough as it is without the prospect of persecution. Jesus
looked at it differently. Those who suffer for Christ in this life will receive
an eternal reward. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of
righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people
insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because
of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the
same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5. 10-12. He also left us with a promise, “Lo, I am
with you always even to the end of the age”. Matthew 28: 20.
Christian children in a hostile world [PW]
An article in the Pakistan Christian Post in September drew attention to
the dangers faced by the children of Christians, Hindus and other minority
groups. With the growth of Islamic militancy the old precautions are no longer
adequate. In the article a 30-year-old Pakistani woman said her Christian
parents taught her formula answers to keep from falling prey to accusations
under the blasphemy statutes. She was taught not to discuss religion. If
pressed she would say, “I am a Christian, I can only tell you about
Christianity.” She also said that, “We knew never to get into religious
discussions with others.” Therefore, “We had them at home – our parents would
put us through the drill of asking us tough questions to see how we answered.
Only now do I realize that was practice for school.” In this way, she was
imbued with the fundamentals of the Christian faith and at the same time
learned that she should discuss it only with her parents.
Under Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy” laws even children are at risk.
Christians, Hindus, and other minorities, say that protecting their offspring
is getting harder and harder because of institutional discrimination and
growing Islamic militancy in Pakistan. Today, minorities, constantly face
questions like, “What do you think of the Quran, do you like it?” and “what do
you think of Muhammad?’” In the past a simple saying that they could not read
Arabic was enough but today times have changed and it is getting riskier for
children from non-Muslim backgrounds
Christian children are required to take Islamic studies in school. If
they write anything or misspell anything to do with the prophet Muhammad, they
can be in serious danger. As part of their studies they are made to answer
questions saying what a wonderful man he was.” Christian kids in predominantly
Muslim areas don’t have friends to play with, as even a game of cricket can be
Persecuted for a spelling mistake
Recently Barnabus Fund, reported an incident which
highlights the pressures faced by Christian children. A Christian schoolgirl
was expelled and her family evicted from their home after an innocent spelling
mistake in an exam led to an absurd accusation of blasphemy.
Faryal Bhatti, an eighth-grade pupil (aged 12/13) in
Havelian, was scolded and beaten by her teacher on Thursday (22 September) when
she accidentally misplaced a single dot in a word while answering a question on
a poem about Muhammad; her error turned the word naat, which refers to praise of Muhammad, to laanat, which means
As news of the incident spread, enraged Muslims rallied
in the streets, demanding that Faryal be expelled from the area and a criminal
case be registered against the youngster. Defiling the name of Muhammad carries
a mandatory death penalty under Pakistan’s “blasphemy
laws”. Muslim leaders also called, in their Friday sermons, for action to be
taken against Faryal and her family.
Despite her apologetic explanation that the misspelling
was an error with no malicious intent, Faryal was expelled from her school, and
her mother, a nurse, was transferred to another hospital around 40 miles away.
The family have also been forced to leave their home. They have received
threatening text messages, raising fears of Muslim reprisals among other
Christian families in the area.
A number of Muslim leaders have, however, come out in
defence of the youngster, saying that she should be pardoned because her
actions were unintentional.
Christian girls kidnapped
The British Pakistani Christian Association reported the
following comment in August. From Watson Gill, in Holland, we have news of
another kidnap at gunpoint from the street in broad daylight of a Christian
girl. The report names the victim as Mehak Masih, 14 years old, and the chief
perpetrator is Tayeb Butt, who led four friends in the attack.
The report mentions that not a single one of the increasing number of
murders of Christians have been resolved, and that abducting and selling
Christian girls is like a legal business for the perpetrators. Over the last month the rate of kidnap and
forced conversions of Christian girls has reached one a day! It happens
especially in Punjab due to the influence of the Taliban and other wicked
groups, and the government - as ever - does precisely nothing!
Children are a precious gift from the Lord. He cares for them and
entrusts us with the responsibility for their upbringing. We are not to be
fearful but should be aware that they need our constant prayers for their
protection. They also need our guidance on how to live in an increasingly
Turkey the rising power [PW]
In this newsletter, we have commented on a number of occasions that if
you want to understand what is happening in the Middle East keep your eyes on
Turkey. A report on www.debka.com stated
that the reason Washington was not able to deflect Mahmoud Abbas from his
application to the UN for recognition of Palestinian statehood was due to
support from Turkey. Abbas met Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in Cairo in
September. At the meeting Erdogan assured that any reduction in US aid
following the application would be compensated by Turkey. He also promised
Abbas that the Turkish navy would take steps to pen the Israeli navy within its
12 mile territorial waters. There is a growing worry in Washington that Turkey
is about to engage on a policy of military brinkmanship in the Eastern
Mediterranean. This will pose an especial danger if another flotilla is
Turkey is becoming an increasingly influential player in the new Middle
East. In our news media Turkey is still portrayed as a model for a moderate
democratic Islamic state. It is hoped that it sets the example for the nations
which will emerge from the current turmoil. Western diplomacy in the Middle
East often fails. This is due to our not understanding Islamic mind set. Back in 2006 I quoted Charles Colson, “It was
all so foreseeable. Once you rule religion a private matter, and declare all
religions alike, no one in this country could understand the dimensions of a
great religious struggle. No one understood the clash of civilization or the
evils of Islamofascism. We didn’t even have the language to describe religious
beliefs any more. Destruction was inevitable”.
Islam is both a religion and a political ideology. Leaders such as
Erdogan believe that Islam’s time has come to take the leadership of the world.
Their vision does not see the future in terms of free western style
democracies. They long for a united Islamic world under one universal leader, a
leader who will bring the whole world into subservience to the god of Islam.
one another in love' [Gal 5:13] [KK]
This familiar text presents us with a few problems, but I want to use it
to show that serving one another is one of the most liberating, fufilling and
joyful experiences we can have as Christians.
Problem 1 image problem
However you disguise it, serving has an unappealing image, especially in
this country: ask anyone who works in a service industry: a servant is almost
by definition someone socially inferior and poorly paid: to do servant's work
is to take a menial, lowly position. To
do so hurts our pride and damages our dignity.
That's the way the world thinks, and the way I thought until I found out
who it is I'm serving. For Jesus says,
in the parable of the sheep and the goats, 'In
as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to
me' - and serving became a joy and delight. When the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon's
court, and saw the unimaginable splendour of it, she said (in words taken up by
Wesley in a lovely communion hymn) 'How happy are your servants..' If you were a young person in Jerusalem in
the days of King Solomon, your one ambition would have been to be a servant at
the king's court. Jesus says of the
incident 'a greater than Solomon is here’.
Moses at the end of his life is reverently described as ‘the servant of
the Lord’ – [Deut 33:5] an honourable title.
How can it be degrading to serve the King of kings - what an honour and
a privilege. There's nothing demeaning
in serving one another in love - when you saw Mother Teresa cuddling one of
those scraps of babies, you think 'How wonderful' not 'how dreadful'!!
Problem 2 Christian giving
The world's attitude to giving is
simple - if I give I lose. If I give you
£5, I am -£5 and you are +£5. And
whether we are asked to give money, time or compassion we resent it as an
obligation and a duty, an intrusion into what we want to do. Well, I've learnt a quite simple spiritual
truth, which if you can receive it will transform your attitude to giving - you can never outgive God: God is no man's
Jesus makes this clear when the disciples come to him with the
impertinent question -'what's in it for us?' at the end of Matthew 19; Jesus
replies that anyone who has given up anything for My sake will receive a hundredfold
more in this present life, and in the world to come eternal life. Give and it will be given to you, good
measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over...
I've known those words from my Sunday School days, but I learnt the truth
of them when I was asked by the Church to help to send the wife of a Ghanaian
student and his family to Canada. I gave
the sum somewhat grudgingly, and mentally kissed goodbye to several hundred
pounds. Three months later I was advised
to cash in a policy which still had six years to run to maturity. The actual yield was over twice the expected
yield, and the difference was more than
I'd given away.
There is the story of a Devon farmer who was much more successful than
the other farmers in the area, despite his outstanding generosity to anyone in
need. When a friend asked him the
reason, he said - 'Well, it be like this - I shovels it out, and God shovels it
back, and Im's got the bigger shovel.'
The author of the book of Proverbs writes about that man - 'There is that scattereth yet increaseth'. There's no balance of payments crisis in
heaven - God in the Psalmist's memorable phrase owns the cattle on a thousand
hills - and he is able to supply all your needs according to his riches in
glory by Christ Jesus.
In Israel there are two lakes - the Sea of Galilee receives fresh water
from Mount Hermon at one end, and lets it flow out into the Jordan at the other
: the lake is alive, and full of fish.
The Dead Sea, by contrast, has no outlet. Water comes in and stays in - there's no
outlet and no life. We're meant to share the good things God has given us with
others, and in giving them away we find we open ourselves to receive more. It's that simple. ‘Love is something if you give it away : you
end up having more.’
: 'I can't ...'
I'm not made that way : I find it hard to give. To anyone who says I can't, God has a
surprising answer - you're just the person I'm looking for. It's a spiritual principle in scripture that
God never calls anyone, or ever gives a command without providing all the
resources that they need. Look at Moses,
Gideon, Saul, Jeremiah, Isaiah - or the
many more who said I can't - then read 1 Cor 1 and see who it is that God
chooses; not the great or noble or talented, but the weak and the foolish. I'm a good example.
When I first tried to serve the Lord in my late teens, I was told 'God
has forgiven all your sins - now go out and live for him' and of course I
couldn't do anything in my own strength but prove the truth of Jesus' words to
his disciples - 'without me, you can do nothing', and for 25 years like the
disciples without Jesus on the lake I toiled all night and caught nothing.
Then I learnt the simple truth of one word from Jesus in John 20:21 ; As
the Father has sent me : in just the same way as Jesus was sent, so we are sent
to serve one another in love : and that can only mean that God makes available
to me all the resources He made available to Jesus - it wouldn't be fair or
just of God to do otherwise. In Gal 4 we
read - first, God sent forth his Son, then God sent forth his Spirit - two
sendings with two different purposes. He
sent Jesus so that we might become children of God : then He sent the Holy
Spirit so that we might live like children of God, with all the abundant life
that Jesus promised us, and so advertise the Kingdom. Someone has described the Holy Spirit as the
executor of the will of Jesus Christ on earth.
An executor's job is to ensure that the legatee receives all that the
testator has willed. Put it another way
: we've all sung about being changed from glory into glory: it’s a quote from 2
Cor 3:18 where Paul makes it clear who is doing the changing. As we contemplate Jesus, so the Holy Spirit
forms the likeness of Jesus in us : it's like a Xerox machine, in which a band
of light passes over the original and forms a perfect copy.
What Jesus wants is not for us to do things for him, but for Him to do
things through us as he lives in us by the power of the Spirit , so that when
people meet us, they meet Jesus. That's
why He says 'my yoke is easy and my burden is light'.
The sweet savour of Christ
In 2 Cor 2:15 we read about 'the sweet savour of Christ'. I've known many Christians in which that is
evident as soon as you meet them. There
is a special valley in Nepal, and if you walk through that valley at a
particular season of the year and then go into someone's home, they know where
you've been - because the valley is full of roses. You cannot walk through that valley without
picking up the scent of roses on your clothes.
The Sanhedrin faced with the boldness of Peter and John 'took knowledge
of them that they had been with Jesus'.
That's what it means to serve one another in love - to take Jesus
wherever we go, so that HE IN US can do the serving. And he'll give you the words to say to those
who don't know him, the love to show to the friendless and lost, and the
compassion to reach out to the wounded and needy.