“In the cross of Christ, as in a splendid theatre, the incomparable goodness of God is set before the whole world. The glory of God shines in all creatures on high and below, but never more brightly than in the cross, in which there was a wonderful change of things—the condemnation of all men was manifested, sin blotted out, salvation restored to men; in short, the whole world was renewed and all things restored to order.”—John Calvin (via thewaythetruththelife)
In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
The Assize Court of the province of Gilan, in Iran, has officially charged Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani with denying that Mohammed was a prophet. The court stated that this resulted in apostasy because Nardarkhani believes in Jesus and has shared his faith with others, according to The Voice of the Martyrs.
The indictment, which was issued by a public prosecutor in the presence of a jury, stated, “He has frequently denied the prophet hood of the great prophet of Islam and the rule of the sacred religion of Islam. … He has proven his apostasy by organizing evangelistic meetings and inviting others to Christianity, establishing a house church, baptizing people, expressing his faith to others and denying Islamic values.”
According to court documents, when Pastor Youcef was asked about his faith, he told authorities, “Since I was born in a Muslim family, I was Muslim until I converted to Christianity at the age of 19.” He openly acknowledged accepting Jesus Christ.
The court also stated that the apostasy charge was determined a crime according to Islamic theologians.
Pastor Youcef’s defense attorneys have entered a not guilty plea to the charges, arguing that “since there is no punishment specified in the Islamic judicial system of Iran and other penal laws [on apostasy] … their client has not committed a crime to deserve a punishment.”
The indictment, however, stated that as an apostate, Pastor Youcef will be executed. His lawyers have 20 days to appeal the indictment. The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to continue praying for Pastor Youcef and his family. Pray that his appeal will be successful and that he will be released.
I am writing with an urgent request and a call to immediate action.
Sayed Mossa is a new believer in Afghanistan who is in jail in Afghanistan because he decided, of his own free choice, to follow Jesus. In this letter he managed to smuggle out through the hands of a Westerner, he describes daily beatings, torture, and sexual molestation. He stands to be executed for his decision to follow Jesus next week. He has a wife and 6 children, one of whom is disabled.
Part of me flushes with anger when I consider the price America has paid to help Afghanistan escape from the Taliban, and think that this is how the new government treats its own people. Is this what we sacrificed to produce? Is freedom of conscience and freedom of speech not a fundamental right of human beings everywhere?
Here is what I am asking you to do:
Pray. Like the early church for Peter in Acts 12. Summit Church, this is our brother. This is a father with children. He is being imprisoned and faces execution for doing what we do freely each Sunday. Pray that Sayed will be released and that he will not falter under persecution.
Write your Congressman or Senator. Put feet to your prayers. President Obama and our government can put pressure on President Karzai to release him. That was worked before. As this article explains, all it will take is a nod from President Karzai and he would be released. You can contact the White House or write to your state representative. This past Sunday was the national Sunday to pray for the persecuted church; this is a good way to put that into action.
To my Muslim friends who may be reading this blog, can I ask that you do what you can to call for a stay on this execution and full religious freedom in Afghanistan? I was with several of you last week at the Global Faith Forum in Keller, Tx, where you were clear that you cherished the freedom of religion we all enjoy in America. You said that you wished that majority Muslim nations enjoyed the same freedom. I believed you when you said that. Now would be the time for you to do something about that. It is one thing for Christians to call for a stay on this execution; it would be even more powerful if you would do it. His life is in your hands.
“God, give us tears for our sins. Forgive us for being so shallow in prayer, so thin in our grasp of holy verities, so content amid perishing neighbors, so empty of passion and earnestness in all our conversation. Restore to us the childlike joy of our salvation. Frighten us with the awesome holiness and power of Him who can cast both soul and body into hell. Cause us to hold to the cross with fear and trembling as our hope-filled and offensive tree of life. Grant us nothing, absolutely nothing, the way the world views it. May Christ be all in all… Humble us, O God, under Your mighty hand, and let us rise, not as professionals, but as witnesses and partakers of the sufferings of Christ. In His awesome name. Amen.”—John Piper (via mindfulcreation)
Following Sunday’s cathedral attack which killed more than 50 people, al-Qaida has threatened more attacks on the Christians in Iraq, in a statement carrying a warning that Christians would be “extirpated and dispersed” from Iran. The statement said: “All Christian centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhajideen wherever they can reach them. We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood.”
Please pray for courage and strength for our partners in the gospel. That this persecution would increase their faith even more and that those who are the children of God would cling to the cross and seek refuge in Him. Pray that they may know the day of true justice will soon be upon us, and that they will be revealed for what they are.
“When the merciful Father saw that we were being oppressed through the Law, that we were being held under a curse and that we could not be liberated from it by anything, he sent his Son into the world, heaped all the sins of all me upon him, and said to him: “Be Peter the denier; Paul the persecutor, blasphemer, and assaulter; David the Adulterer; the sinner who ate the apple in Paradise; the thief on the cross. In short, be the person of all me, the one who has committed the sins of all men. And see to it that you pay and make satisfaction for them.” Now the Law comes and says: “I find him a sinner, who takes upon himself the sins of all me. I do not see any other sins than those in him. Therefore let him die on the cross!” And so it attacks him and kills him. By this deed the whole world is purged and expiated from all sins, and thus it is set free from death and from every evil.”—
– Martin Luther on Galatians 3:13
Quoted by Timothy George in, “The Atonement in Martin Luther’s Theology,” The Glory of the Atonement (274-275)
“The main reason God has given us minds is that we might seek out and find all the reasons that exist for treasuring him in all things and above all things. He created the world so that through it and above it we might treasure him.”—John Piper, Think: The life of the Mind and the Love of God(Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 15.
Next time you pray for healing for either yourself or someone else, instead first pray that you or they would treasure Christ as supremely valuable even over and above physical health. Our God is a jealous God, he wants us to want Him more than physical healing. When it comes to asking God for…
We are not here to possess. We are here to lay up treasures in heaven.
This world matters. But it is not ultimate. It is the stage for living in such a way to show that this world is not our God, but that Christ is our God. It is the stage for using the world to show that Christ is more precious than the world.
So it is with voting. We do not withdraw. We are involved—but as if not involved. Politics does not have ultimate weight for us. It is one more stage for acting out the truth that Christ, and not politics, is supreme …
… We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.
Search the Scriptures and vote your biblically-shaped conscience today. Give candidates your vote. But not your hope.