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Persecution of Christians Around the World

Christians: You Must Deny the Lordship of Christ. It is the Price of Citizenship in this Secular Nation.

So says Richard C. Bosson, one of the justices of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Oh, he didn’t use exactly those words? True, but pretty close, to be sure, as we will see below.

I will have much more to say about this on Tuesday on the Dividing Line, and maybe even before then, if time allows for more writing. But for now, I must help put the word out, as it does not seem this story is getting a whole lot of coverage.

We live in post revolutionary America. Not that revolution, the one that we slept through. Well, most of us anyway. Francis Schaeffer didn’t. A few others. But most of us did. Unquestionable evidence of this reality was offered by Richard C. Bosson of the New Mexico Supreme Court. His words should send chills down the spine of anyone who thinks the Constitution is a protection for Christians in the United States.

Let me summarize for now, and expand upon this on the Dividing Line (or, if time allows, follow up articles here on the blog).

The primary problem with the New Mexico case (where Christian photographers have now been forced to photograph the profaning of a Christian ordinance, marriage itself, or face massive financial penalties) is the law of New Mexico itself, an immoral law. Yes, immoral. That is, not only does it violate Christian morality, it removes moral issues from the realm of morality itself. It says you cannot engage in “discrimination” regarding sexual orientation—and, of course, that is why it is immoral. We all must engage in “discrimination” in such areas. We all do! We discriminate against pedophiles and all sorts of people who engage in sexual perversity. Discrimination simply means making decisions, choosing one behavior over another. But in post-revolutionary America, homosexuality is morally good, unquestionable. No discussion, and if you even ask to have the discussion, even ask to talk about nature, what is life-producing, etc., you are dismissed as a bigot immediately. This is the new moral reality of post-revolutionary America.

Second, in this new immoral land, thought and action are now distinct. You can think what you want, but you cannot act upon your moral convictions. Well, this only goes one direction. It is for Christians, for people of morality. For those on the left, the sky is the limit. They can act on anything they can think of, and we are all simply to give them the space to act out their desires.

Religious liberties have been officially subjugated to homosexual liberties. You can be forced to violate your conscience so as to have to photograph the profaning of marriage, or face the consequences.

I have much more to say about this, but time is limited. Please, take the time to read the following material, drawn directly from the PDF of the New Mexico Supreme Court decision itself. Bold are mine.

{86} There is a lesson here. In a constitutional form of government, personal, religious, and moral beliefs, when acted upon to the detriment of someone else’s rights, have constitutional limits. One is free to believe, think and speak as one’s conscience, or God, dictates. But when actions, even religiously inspired, conflict with other constitutionally protected rights—in Loving the right to be free from invidious racial discrimination—then there must be some accommodation. Recall that Barnette was all about the students; their exercise of First Amendment rights did not infringe upon anyone else. The Huguenins cannot make that claim. Their refusal to do business with the same-sex couple in this case, no matter how religiously inspired, was an affront to the legal rights of that couple, the right granted them under New Mexico law to engage in the commercial marketplace free from discrimination. [Please note: these homosexuals not only easily found someone to photograph their event, they did so at a lower price. There was no denial to them of the ability to accomplish what they desired: they did this as activists, not victims, specifically seeking to damage Christians for refusing to celebrate their profaning of a Christian ordinance].

89 The New Mexico Legislature has made it clear that to discriminate in business on the basis of sexual orientation is just as intolerable as discrimination directed toward race, color, national origin or religion. See NMSA 1978, § 28-1-7(F) (2004). The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of sexual orientation—photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony—than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims. [Here is the full acceptance of the utterly bogus argument that homosexual activity and practice is a civil rights issue, and that homosexuality is as innate as race or color. There is no argument here any longer—the society has closed its mind to reason.]
{90} All of which, I assume, is little comfort to the Huguenins, who now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.
{91} On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life. [Note the severing of thought and action, the demand that Christians, and Christians only, I add, separate themselves from the mainstream of social life if they dare to demand to live out their faith.]
{92} In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.

In other words, the cost of citizenship in post-revolutionary, post-Christian, post-constitutional America? Bow to Caesar. Say Caesar is Lord rather than Jesus is Lord. Celebrate evil with us, or pay the price.

We’ve been here before. But only Christians who know their past even realize it. Wake up, believers. These words are were written long, long ago:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18–21)

And just a little later, in the presence of Pilate, Jesus said,

For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)

One Biblical Reason Why Judgment Day is Not on May 21

The apostle Paul in his first Thessalonians’ correspondence provides a sign-condition that must exist in the world before the day of the Lord’s judgment: the ungodly will be saying, “There is peace and security.” But look around…it is not the case. The opposite is true today. The ungodly are saying, “There is unrest and insecurity.” Therefore, according to the apostle Paul, Jesus cannot come back on May 21 as Harold Camping is predicting.

(1) Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. (2) For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. (3) Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. (1 Thess 5:1—4).

By the time of the New Testament era, the two terms for “times” and “seasons” (chronos and kairos) were synonymous, so one should not read into this any temporal distinctions. It is a literary feature called a hendiadys, which is an expression of two words that express a single idea for emphasis (we have similar expressions in our contemporary English, e.g., “nice and easy”). Paul’s statement, “you have no need for anything to be written to you,” indicates two things:

(1) a question arose about the times and seasons of Christ’s return.

(2) they have previously been instructed on this matter (e.g., 2 Thess 2:5).

On a surface level, it is often assumed by interpreters that Paul is rebuffing their question about the timing of the Lord’s coming. For example: “Paul, what day is Jesus coming back? Dear Thessalonian church, I cannot tell you since he is coming back as a secret thief.” This is a careless reading of the context. The Thessalonians are not asking for some specific calendric year-day-hour timing of the Lord’s return. This is a misguided interpretation, for Paul’s answer reveals that they are asking not about a calendric “when” but a conditional “when.” In other words, Paul will answer that Jesus will come when a particular spiritual condition is met in the world.

He gives the reason why he does not need to write them about the times and seasons: “For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.” Apparently, Paul had already used this thief simile at the time he planted the Thessalonian church, but they did not grasp the full implications. The thief simile is common in the New Testament concerning Christ’s return (cf. Matt 24:43; Luke 12:39—40; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15 ). We should not erroneously import into this thief image the theological system of imminence. One will look to no avail to find anything in any thief passages that teaches imminence. In addition, interpreters have wrongly read into the thief image meaning “unpredictability,” but verse 4 contradicts this notion. Instead, the image conveys a warning for spiritual readiness. If you are not spiritually ready for Christ’s return it will come upon you suddenly, with negative consequences. Obedience eliminates the possibility that our Lord’s return will be as a thief to those who are watchful. We belong to Christ, so we are to live with an attitude of expectancy—spiritual watchfulness—not imminence.

In verse 3, Paul teaches that the result of the Lord’s return as a thief to the ungodly will be sudden destruction. He is summarizing the beliefs of unbelievers when he says they will say, “There is peace and security.” He consistently notes a peace and security (albeit a surface-level quality) that will precede the day of the Lord. But this peace and security is illusory, a false security, for unbelievers because unforeseen sudden calamity will come on them just as unexpected labor pains on a pregnant woman (cf. Matt 24:37—39; Luke 21:34—36).

This condition does not exist in the world right now. And for Paul, to cite this condition it must be real, and not some subjective environment. In my futurist eschatology, I believe that an Antichrist figure one day will come on the scene to provide the ungodly with this “peace and security.” But that day has not come. Nevertheless, right now, the world is not saying, “There is peace and security.” Therefore, judgment day is not coming upon the ungodly until the condition exists. Persecution upon the entire global church will come first before the day of the Lord’s wrath when He will punish our wicked persecutors.

As You Worship Today…

Remember the persecuted church. Give thanks for your freedoms as you enter comfortable, safe places of worship and instruction this Lord’s Day, and remember what a tremendous blessing it is you have been given.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, September 30 (CDN) — Islamic extremists killed a Christian lawyer, his wife and their five children in northwestern Pakistan this week for mounting a legal challenge against a Muslim who was charging a Christian exorbitant interest, local sources said.

Police found the bodies of attorney and evangelist Edwin Paul and his family on Tuesday morning (Sept. 28) at their home in Haripur, a small town near Abbotabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (previously known as the North-West Frontier Province, or NWFP), according to Haripur Station House Officer (SHO) Maqbool Khan.

The victim and his wife Ruby Paul, along with their five children ages 6 to 17, had been shot to death.

(source)

An Image That Touches My Heart

I subscribe to the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, and the cover picture of this month’s issue really touched my heart. I have become more and more convinced over the years that one of the primary signs of regeneration is found in a person’s obedience to, love for, and respect of, the Word of God. Christians long for Scripture. They long to read Scripture, possess Scripture, meditate upon Scripture. And there seems to be an inverse relationship between how much we love it and how much access we have to it. We in the West take it for granted, and as such, our passion is often pathetically tepid. But here you have a sister in Laos reading a burned, tattered Bible. God’s enemies have tried to destroy it, but it is still the Word of Life to her. Oh, may God grant to His people a renewed love for His Word in the face of the hatred of the world!

“If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
For by them you have given me life.”
(Psalm 119:92—93)

Pray for Our Brothers and Sisters in Pakistan

This article from the AP reminds us that as we enjoy God’s blessings, we have brothers and sisters living under the threat of violence from Muslims in many lands. Let us all take time to pray for them, that God would protect them from the hatred of the world.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. (John 15:18-23)