Most Dangerous Place to Follow Jesus

North Korea: The Hardest Place To Follow Jesus.
This has been the most dangerous country to be a Christian for 17 years. North Koreans are forced to worship the Kim dynasty, and nothing else. Anyone with links to Christianity is arrested, tortured and even killed. Despite this, the underground church is growing, with an estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea.

 

https://www.opendoors.org.au/persecuted-christians/world-watch-list/north-korea

Advertisements

Thorny Thoughts Related to Grace

Yesterday I re-blogged a post from the Anti-Itch Meditation blog that expressed some of Jeff Weddle’s concerns about the way grace has been misrepresented in commonly held doctrines. I also have a few things I want to say about that topic.

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

People love to quote the PARTS of scripture that seem to support the doctrinal stance they prefer – often ignoring the very next sentences. Therefore, it is common to view the above quote from Ephesians 2 with an emphasis on “not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”. As a result, a passive understanding of “grace” and salvation is developed, promoting the view that grace not only makes works unnecessary, but they are made to seem counterproductive, even harmful, leading to boasting and claiming credit that isn’t ours, and robbing God of His glory.

However continuing on, the next sentence of that quote doesn’t fit with that passive definition of grace. Salvation doesn’t divorce us from works, or make works redundant, unnecessary or even detrimental to our Christian lives. The second sentence of the quote states clearly that our purpose as followers of Jesus is to do the good works that God has prepared for us, not only to do them, but to WALK IN them.

Grace is not intended to lead to passivity, but grace is intended to prepare and equip us to live effective Christian lives. As an example of that equipping, I want to repost the following. It’s something I posted in a slightly different form on this blog in November 2013. .

_____

A few thoughts about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”…

Despite common assumptions, there is no indication that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a health issue – the scriptures describe it as a messenger from Satan sent to buffet Paul.

Paul had the understanding that God COULD remove it and would possibly be willing to remove it and therefore was able to ask for it to be removed.

After seemingly having his request rejected, Paul was open enough to God’s Spirit to seek and hear God’s reason for the non-removal. He didn’t merely assume God wasn’t in the thorn-removal business.

2 Cor 12 spells out the nature of this “thorn in the flesh” and God’s revealed reason for not personally removing it:

“…because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations [given to Paul], a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The reason for the non-removal of Paul’s thorn was because its presence prevented him from becoming conceited (proud) due to the revelation he’d been given.

God told Paul that His grace was sufficient, but sufficient for what? Sufficient for Paul to endure, or sufficient to equip Paul to personally deal with that messenger from Satan?

An interesting parallel dealing with similar issues of pride, humility and Satanic harassment can be found in James 4:6-7. I find a comparison between the two scripture passages suggests a viable answer to my question above about sufficiency.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Receiving grace from God does not lead to passive submission to the world around us or to circumstances, or to the devil or his messengers.

Our starting point is submission – submission to GOD – then God gives His grace. The grace that is sufficient, grace that equips with the power of Christ, enabling us to live the life and do the works HE has prepared for us, freeing us from anything that would hinder us.

We are not saved by grace in order to remain weak, ineffective sinners crippled by  “total depravity”. Salvation by grace brings about change – we are created in Christ Jesus, “a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Created in Christ Jesus for good works.

 

 

 

Grace and Purifying Yourself (Recommended article from Jeff Weddle)

Please follow the link to the full article at the end of this excerpt.

It is just one of many posts from Jeff that I could have re-blogged recently.

Note that after I re-blogged this, Jeff has made a small amendment to the beginning of his second paragraph. It now starts:

“The Bible never says sin is OK to do.  ‘Should we sin that grace may abound? In no way.’”

anti-itch meditation

People who emphasize grace do so while de-emphasizing human responsibility. For some reason, because of grace, people assume everything is OK to do.

The Bible does not say this. “Should we sin that grace may abound? In no way.” Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.

Grace changes you. But grace’s change is not automatic. We are told not to take the grace of God in vain–to take grace to no profit, to have it do you no positive good.

That would be dumb.

If grace is as great as everyone keeps saying it is, why is our obedience to God so pathetic?

Because we’re not learning grace the way the Bible teaches it. We think grace means my sin is OK, change isn’t necessary, good works might even be opposed to grace! “If it’s grace…

View original post 370 more words

“All Israel Will Be Saved”

I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

 

_____________

 

I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward.

The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them.” ’

“Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name — after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid.

When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord God.”

 

Covenant and Controversy part 3

We need to interpret the modern return to the land of Israel and the constitution of this modern phenomenon called the State of Israel.

We need to view this not as the fulfilment of eschatological prophecy, but we need to view it as the preliminary requirement that sets in motion the fulfilment of eschatological prophecy. Meaning that now they are in the land, these events can unfold. Now that they’re in the land these things can take place.

Because how do you flee Jerusalem if you are not in Jerusalem?
How can you be banished from Israel, if you’re not in the land of Israel?
There’s all of these verses about eschatological, apocalyptic expulsion and exile from the land that presuppose a Jewish presence in the land. (Dalton, Thomas, Covenant and Controversy part 3)

This is the third of a series of three videos. The other two parts have been posted previously.

The videos can also be accessed and downloaded via the vimeo site by clicking on the “vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I have downloaded the films from that site onto a USB stick, I find that format makes it easier for me to watch half an hour at a time rather than have to find time to watch it all at once.

I think the films are very well written and produced and I highly recommend them.

Informed By “Unsanctified Optimism”?

Dalton Thomas quote from Covenant and Controversy III: The Great Trouble (video scheduled to be posted to this blog on 29th May). First two highly recommended episodes have already been posted.

We Christian Zionists, in our generation, have made a grave mistake. We have interpreted the victories of Israel over the last generation with an unsanctified optimism.

We saw these victories and we said we’re going to go from glory to glory. Now that they’re back in the land it’s only going to get better and better and better.

Look! The dry bones of the holocaust are coming together and now the State is back together, so flesh is being put on the bones and then God’s going to breathe into the State and its going to be amazing, and if anyone tries to oppose it, God will crush and destroy them.

We’re reading Israel’s victories onto the text and we’re not looking at the text and saying what does the text say.

Because what the text says is that if those days were not cut short, no flesh would survive in Jerusalem.

Zechariah 14 says that half of the city of Jerusalem will be taken into captivity and the other half will be absolutely pummelled.

Women raped. Houses destroyed. Goods stolen.

That’s the context of Jerusalem, and I can tell you this, Jerusalem will be the last stand.

If Jerusalem is on the verge of collapsing. If Jerusalem is about to fall, then you know the perimeter of the nation has been violated.
Meaning, that in order to get to Jerusalem via the plain of Megiddo, you have to get through the Golan heights.

And if you got through the Golan Heights, it means this, the Israeli military, the Israeli security forces have been neutralised. Their lines have been broken. They are unable to defend themselves against the onslaught.

The overwhelming emphasis of the prophetic, apostolic, eschatological texts related to Jerusalem at the end of the age, is that it is a final showdown and everyone is huddled into that city for the final climax of the age.

It’s not going to be on the heels of this progressive improvement of the State of Israel, where they’re growing and getting better and better and better and stronger and stronger.
It’s cataclysm.
It’s crisis.
It’s suffering.
It’s death, burial and resurrection.

The way that Jesus walked is the way Israel will walk.

Covenant and Controversy part 2

 

This is the second of a series of three videos. Part one has already been posted. The other part will be posted later.

The videos can also be accessed and downloaded via the vimeo site by clicking on the “vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I have downloaded the films from that site onto a USB stick, I find that format makes it easier for me to watch half an hour at a time rather than have to find time to watch it all at once.

I think the films are very well written and produced and I highly recommend them.