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Category Archives: Apologetics

The Deception of Hypo-Grace

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Hi there,

As the pastor of Tree of Life Church, we are unashamed of the fact that we are a grace church.  Our heart beats with the sound of God’s unconditional, unmerited, undeserved, unending, unfathomable, unbeatable grace.  Paul said that it is by grace we are saved (Ephesians 2.5) and that it was the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9.8) that led to Him making the monumental decision to become poor and accursed so we could become rich and blessed.

Now, when I read articles like the one doing the rounds at the moment called “The Deception of Hyper-grace” I am interested.  I am interested in what the Bible says about grace, and although the article was clearly arguing against what I teach and what the teachers who have been my spiritual fathers and leaders have taught, I still tried to read with an open mind.

Unfortunately, the article does not seem to start off with an open mind itself, but starts with the strongest of hyperbolic language.  Now I am one for using colourful, polemic language myself – I believe part of being a preacher and a teacher is to create mental images in people’s minds to help them grasp the truth – but tell me: is it open minded to start off by referring to grace teaching as the vomit of satan and a flood of the enemy?  Instantly, any opportunity for helpful and constructive dialogue is lost.

And the reason being is that it is clear as the article is read further along that the intention of the author is not to engage in a dialogue, but to put grace people in their place – as heretics.

Firstly, the author claims that the grace people are arguing that it is a religious spirit that would tell someone to do good deeds.  I am not sure who the author is arguing against or listening to, but I have been listening to those that teach the complete work and would be considered the leaders of the grace movement since 1998.  As the pastor of one of the fastest growing and most international grace churches in England, I have many of these speakers come and minister in our church, and we have for the last three years shut down our church and all gone to the Grace and Faith Family Conference in Telford.

I have never ever heard anything that even comes close to anyone saying that Christians should not do good works or that God’s Word should be hated.  That’s a false argument.  It’s what is called in debating terms a straw man: the author has invented an argument just to knock it down.  It isn’t what grace people teach.  If they did teach that the Word was evil and that Christians shouldn’t live right then I wouldn’t be interested in that message, and nor would my wife and family, and church leadership.

I have no doubt that the author could find an individual who goes to a grace church who believes that Christians should sin and that anyone who says “live right” has a demon, but it’s not what the leaders of the movement teach or preach.  And let’s face it – the grace teachers are not teaching in a bubble.  Joseph Prince and Andrew Wommack are on TV, Arthur Meintjes has hours of free teaching on his website, Duane Sheriff gives away millions of CDs.  The messages are there for this author to engage with – but sadly he hasn’t, and has resorted to what is essentially fear mongering to scare people away from the grace message without ever considering the message of Scripture, the heart of Christ and the love of God!

It is hilarious how the author then reminds us that Paul had to rein in the Roman church and say “What shall we continue in sin then?  God forbid” and now is frustrated that the church today needs the same reminder.  The fact is that the gospel Paul preached in Romans 5 is so outrageously good and shows that God’s love for us and favour on us has zero to do with works and everything to do with His grace, that Paul needs to remind the Romans that grace is not a chance to go and do all those sins because sin is destructive!

The problem in most churches is that the reminder to “sin not” is unnecessary because the gospel that is taught in most churches is so diluted, polluted with legalism and divorced from the truth that we are made righteous freely by God’s grace and have peace with God because of what Jesus did, not because of anything we did (Romans 5.1) that people don’t need the reminder not to sin because they are still being told law not grace.

The fact that a church may need the same reminder to “sin not” as Paul needed to give the Romans isn’t a bad thing, it is proof that that church is finally teaching the same good news Paul taught!  The author shouldn’t be decrying that this is happening but celebrating it.

Then we have the crux of the matter.  Two issues that grace teachers are teaching that the author has a problem with.  Firstly:

Those proponents of the hyper-grace message will tell you that since your sins past, present and future have all been forgiven, there is no longer any need of repentance for the believer.

Wow.  So the author of the article does not believe that all sins are forgiven because of Jesus.  When you plow through the rhetoric and name calling, and depiction of grace people as libertines on the hunt for religious spirits – the spew of satan – and get through the article this is really the big theological point.  The author does not believe that all sins are forgiven.

Now this is a big deal if the author is correct.  If the cross does not provide forgiveness of ALL sins, which ones are missed out?  Which ones are not forgiven?  If the source and basis of ALL forgiveness of sins is not the cross, what assurance could we ever have that sins are forgiven at all?

You cannot add to the cross.  You cannot take away from the cross.  It is perfect.  The Greek word for perfect means a masterpiece that adding anything to, or taking anything from, destroys it’s uniqueness and beauty.  I remember watching an interview with the creators of the Office (the UK version which was 12 episodes, not the American one) and they said they felt to write one more episode, even a brilliant one, would destroy the integrity of the series that they had created.  Even a good thing added to it would be a bad thing because of how good the thing was as a whole!  You may or may not like the Office, but I hope you can see the point.  You cannot add to the cross – even with good things.  Our salvation, our forgiveness, our righteousness has to come 100% from Christ alone – not Christ and our work.

If I sin tomorrow (those who know me would probably rather I said “when I sin tomorrow”), the confidence that this sin has already been dealt with on the cross once and for all, is the only basis I have to believe that I am forgiven!  My confidence is not in Jesus AND my flesh, not in Jesus AND my ability to live right, not in Jesus AND my ability to bring the sin to the cross, not in Jesus AND anything: it is in Jesus ALONE.   Only His grace has forgiven my sin, and if you think that is too much grace you have not yet understood the gospel.

It always concerns me when people say “the cross hasn’t dealt with future sins” because every sin I ever committed as a believer and unbeliever was AFTER the cross.  The truth is that every sin was dealt with on the cross because 1 Peter 3.18 tells us that Christ died for sins ONCE AND FOR ALL.  If Christ only died for sins once, then it is safe to say that they were all dealt with.

To call this hyper-grace is to fail to appreciate the beauty of the cross.  On the cross, Jesus became sin with our sin, so we could be made the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21).  He took all your sin, all my sin, all the sin of the millions and billions of people on the earth into His own body and died in agony.  Then after rising on the third day, He arose a life giving spirit and now can freely pour His righteousness, life and peace into anyone who believes.  It’s that simple.  It’s a done deal.

Sin is not and will never be a barrier to our relationship with God again.  Any sin you have committed, that you are right now committing or will commit in the future – that was laid on Christ on the cross.  The cross reaches across all of time and space and drew all judgment for sin onto Jesus so there is now no more judgment for sin – no matter if you did it yesterday or today or tomorrow.  It is dealt with.  Jesus was the propitiation not just for our sins, but for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2.2)!

If it is hyper-grace to believe that all sin has been dealt with on the cross, then guess what: I am hyper grace.  Hebrews 9.28 says that Christ cannot come and deal with sin again.  Why?  Because the original work was so perfect, so wonderful, so complete.  It once and for all dealt with all sin in all people at all times in all places.  It’s a done deal!  It’s complete!  It’s done!  This needs to be shouted from the rooftops and should not be muffled because someone misrepresents grace and says (without any Scriptural warrant) that Christ only died for SOME sins!  Ignore those who seek to minimize the cross, and preach what Paul preached: our hope, our life, our forgiveness, our healing, our power comes from Christ and Him crucified – and not our works!  Now you will have to make the same course correction that Paul made and remind people sin kills, but if you never have to clarify that, you have not preached the New Covenant gospel ever!

But only does the author fail to grasp the full magnitude and greatness of the work of the cross, they also fail to grasp what is necessary to benefit from the cross, saying:

Repentance, they claim, is the acknowledgment of a sin that has already been forgiven. Why put back in the ledger what has already been erased? So the reasoning goes.

So, the second problem the author has is that grace people fail to recognize repentance.  For the author repentance is feeling sorry for your sin and also – as stated clearly in the article – that repentance is necessary for forgiveness. In other words if you don’t say sorry for your sin – and say sorry and mean it – then you will not be forgiven.  The author leaves it to our imagination as to whether that means that the Christian who does not say sorry for their sin ends up in hell, or just a dark place in heaven, but the point is made: the author thinks it is wrong to say that sin is automatically forgiven.

To be honest, that point of view is so far from the New Covenant, it is hard to work out where to start.  Our salvation does not depend on our ability to say sorry.  That is a lie.  The complete forgiveness of our sins is based on His propitiation not our sorrow, not our repentance, not our ability to craft a well-intended, well-meaning sorry.  The prodigal son never went home because he felt bad for treating his father so terribly, he went home because he was hungry and fed up.  When his father sees him, he does have a well-rehearsed apology, but the father doesn’t care.  He is just so happy to see His son, He rejoices and killed the fatted calf.

That is the nature of our Father.  The moment we believe the good news that Christ paid the whole price for our salvation and our peace with God, He turns on the jukebox, puts on a happy songs and starts dancing over us and rejoicing over us.  He paid the price so we could be free and at peace, not so we could grovel on the floor before him thinking of the right words and hoping we were sad enough and strained enough for Him to find pity on us enough to let us into the kingdom.  That is a total under-estimation of how good grace is!  That’s why I called this article the deception of hypo-grace.

Hypo- and hyper- are both Greek words, and they are actually exact opposites.  They are both prepositions which mean that they go before words to alter their meaning.  Hypo- means to go under (a hypo-dermic needle goes under your skin), and hyper- means to go above (a hyper-active child has above average activity!).  The author thinks we have made the mistake and are hyper-grace, when the truth is that he is hypo-grace because he erroneously believes that grace is not enough: it needs our pitiful, half-hearted attempts at an apology and our fiery insistence that we will live right to activate it and make it work.

Did you know that Peter’s sins were forgiven before he even sinned them?  Jesus prophesied Peter would sin and betray him, but in the same prophecy (in Luke 22.32) Jesus also tells Peter that when he is converted (i.e. after the sin) that he must strengthen his brothers.  From Jesus point of view the sin was totally forgiven before Peter even committed it!

Hypo-grace people can’t grasp that.  Their picture of grace isn’t big enough.  The idea that Peter would deny Christ and seven weeks later preach at the biggest Christian conference that had even happened at that time is anathema to them.  Their picture of grace isn’t big enough.  They are hypo-grace people, and because their picture of grace is too small, they keep polluting grace by adding our works, our effort, our holiness.

Paul wrote to the Galatians who were trying to add circumcision to the grace because the Galatians were hypo-grace Christians.  They thought you started in the spirit and continued in the flesh – Paul said that was witchcraft!  Paul is saying here that if you believe that Jesus forgave your past, but that His grace hasn’t forgiven your future and you have to do that in your own work then you are preaching and teaching witchcraft.  That’s strong stuff, but it is exactly what Paul says.  That’s why I am raising the bar here and making this point.  For those of you who think that language is too strong, remember the article I am responding to started off calling grace people the vomit of satan!  I am just using the language Paul used for the Galatian church!

And as for Paul, the question we have to ask is this: was Paul a hyper-grace person – an abundant, more than enough grace person, or was Paul a teacher of hypo-grace, that grace was not enough.

Well, we find his answer in 1 Tim. 1.14 which says “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant”.  If you dig into the Greek, when Paul says that the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, the Greek word is hyperpleonazō, which translated means above-abounding, or overflowing, or overabundant.

Paul saw that grace was hyper.  It is more than enough.  It is above and beyond anything you could ever dream of.  It has forgiven you already, even for the sins you haven’t even committed. It doesn’t need your works, your sorrow, your effort, your strain and your passion added to it to make up for it’s shortfalls – it has no shortfalls.  Grace needs nothing added to it; it simply needs to be believed and received.

Cave Men – In the Bible!

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Cave men—in the Bible

by David Catchpoole

Photos by Tas Walker

Residents at the opal-mining town of  Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen,  comfortable furniture and modern lighting.

Residents at the opal-mining town of  Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen,  comfortable furniture and modern lighting.

Residents at the opal-mining town of  Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen,  comfortable furniture and modern lighting.Residents at the opal-mining town of Coober Pedy, Australia, live in caves like this, complete with kitchen, comfortable furniture and modern lighting.

Evolutionary stereotypes of the first humans as primitive “Stone Age” cave men who had not yet evolved agriculture just do not square with the Bible’s account of history. The Bible says that in Adam’s day, people “worked the soil” (Genesis 4:2—following the events of 2:15 and 3:17), forged bronze and iron tools (4:22) and made and played musical instruments (4:21). There never was a “Stone Age”!1 (Nor the evolutionary-defined “Bronze Age” or “Iron Age” for that matter.)

So what are we to make of the abundant evidence of human cave-dwellers in the past, such as caves with campfire ash, meal leftovers and charcoal etchings on cave walls?

Firstly, we can note that the caves we see in the world today are all post-Flood. In fact, their very existence—i.e. their formation and worldwide distribution—can really only be satisfactorily explained in terms of conditions generated by the global Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6–9).2

Secondly, we see that the Bible itself refers many times to people in caves (post-Noah and post-Babel). However, these are not the “cave men” of evolutionary stereotype. Rather, they are “fully human”—i.e. the descendants of Adam (and Noah)—who for one reason or another3 spent time in caves.

These included Sodom and Gomorrah’s only surviving refugees—Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30), the five Amorite kings hiding from Joshua (Joshua 10:16–18,22), and Samson in the cave at Etam (Judges 15:8).

When David left Gath he escaped to the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1), and later he and his men were in the back of a cave at En Gedi when Saul entered (1 Samuel 24:1–4). Others who spent time in caves were Elijah (1 Kings 19:9,13), Obadiah’s one hundred prophets (whom he supplied with food and water—1 Kings 18:4,13), the ‘men of Israel’ when the Philistines were camped at Micmash (1 Samuel 13:6), and the Israelites at the time of Gideon (Judges 6:2).

These and the many other people in history who found it convenient to live in caves at various times4,5 (and even today—see photos) were not “primitive”, “prehistoric”, “Stone Age” sub-humans, or some such evolutionary stereotype. They were descendants of the first man and woman, created in the image of their Creator (Genesis 1:27), with an in-built capacity for intelligent thought, speech and creativity.

The Lord has said that there will be people occupying caves at some future time, too, as they try to hide themselves from him.

As an outlet for their creative urges, and a welcome distraction while holed up inside a cave, they could have whiled away the time drawing charcoal figures on the walls, or composing poetry. Two of the Psalms, for instance, were written by David when he was ‘in the cave’ (Psalms 57,142—see titles), a poignant record of his crying out to the Lord.

The same Lord has said that there will be people occupying caves at some future time, too, as they try to hide themselves from Him (Isaiah 2:19,21; Revelation 6:15), unsuccessfully (Jeremiah 23:24).

References and notes

  1. See also: Niemand, R., The Stone Age a figment of the imagination? Creation 27(4):13, 2005, <creation.com/stone>. Return to text.
  2. Silvestru, E., Caves for all seasons, Creation 25(3):44–49, 2003; <creation.com/all-seasons>. Also see Emil Silvestru’s DVD presentation: Geology and Cave Formation—A Post-Flood Story”. Return to text.
  3. In at least some cases the trigger might have been a traumatic event (e.g. displacement by war or natural disaster), with a concomitant loss of community expertise (e.g. knowledge of construction and agriculture). See: Catchpoole, D., The people that forgot time (and much else, too), Creation 30(3):34–37, 2008; <creation.com/all-seasons>. Return to text.
  4. Other references in the Bible include Jeremiah 49:8,30, Ezekiel 33:27 and Hebrews 11:38. Return to text.
  5. See e.g., Mizzi, J. and Matthews, M., The amazing cave people of Malta, Creation 26(1):40–43, 2003; <creation.com/malta>. Return to text.

(Available in Indonesian)

How Lucky It Is for Our Politicians That Americans Do Not Think (John W. Whitehead)

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How lucky it is for rulers,” Adolf Hitler once said, “that men cannot think.” The horrors that followed in Nazi Germany might have been easier to explain if Hitler had been right. But the problem is not so much that peoplecannot think but that they do not think. Or if they do think, as in the case of the German people, that thinking becomes muddled and easily led.

Hitler’s meteoric rise to power, with the support of the German people, is a case in point. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany in full accordance with the country’s legal and constitutional principles. When President Paul von Hindenburg died the following year, Hitler assumed the office of president, as well as that of chancellor, but he preferred to use the title Der Füehrer (the leader) to describe himself. This new move was approved in a general election in which Hitler garnered 88 percent of the votes cast.

It cannot be said that the German people were ignorant of Hitler’s agenda or his Nazi ideology. Nazi literature, including statements of the Nazi plans for the future, had papered the country for a decade before Hitler came to power. In fact, Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, which was his blueprint for totalitarianism, sold more than 200,000 copies between 1925 and 1932.

Clearly, the problem was not that the German people did not think but that their thinking was poisoned by the enveloping climate of ideas that they came to accept as important. At a certain point, the trivial became important, and obedience to the government in pursuit of security over freedom became predominant.

We see this same scenario being played out in America today where analytical thinking has given way to a steady diet of mindless entertainment and endless distractions. Rejecting community in favor of self-gratification and isolation, we have in essence become an atomistic society, a characteristic of an emerging totalitarian society.

Connected to all our technological gadgets, we are increasingly disconnected from each other. Even when physically crowded together at entertainment spectacles such as concerts and sports events, we fail to truly communicate with one another. As author Alex Marshall observed, Americans live “in one of the loneliest societies on the earth.” All the while, with little outcry from the citizenry, the government has erected a surveillance state, slowly transforming itself into a centralized, authoritarian bureaucracy that is gobbling up our civil liberties on a daily basis.

Woefully ignorant of the freedoms given us by our forefathers and their subsequent erosion by our government of wolves, Americans rarely come together to strategize on how to maintain our freedoms. Indeed, most Americans do not even engage in meaningful discourse about pressing issues of national and international significance. And as studies show, Americans know much more about trivia (such as the names of the Simpsons and the Three Stooges) than they do the Bill of Rights. For example, less than one percent of adults can name the five rights found in the First Amendment. And, as one study recently found, only three percent of high school students can pass the U.S. Immigration Services and Citizenship exam. Incredibly, of those from foreign countries aspiring to be American citizens, some 93% who took the same test passed. However, as those who wrote the Constitution warned, a citizenry ignorant of their rights would lose them.

Plain and simple, American educational institutions no longer teach children about their freedoms and how to exercise them. But it gets worse. America currently spends well in excess of $40 billion annually on public education. Yet the numbers are undeniable: in comparing the literacy level of adults in seventeen industrialized countries, America was number ten on the list. And 16- to 25-year-olds underperform their foreign counterparts as well. Moreover, they do so to a greater degree than do Americans over 40. And with the loss of literacy goes a critical ingredient in maintaining freedom–citizens who think analytically.

Thus, ignorant of the very basis of citizenship and overwhelmed by the informational glut of modernity, it is little wonder that many, ostrich-like, are allowing an out-of-control government to move forward unimpeded. Yet while most may feel snug and secure in their technological wombs, they are only temporarily keeping the wolf at bay. Hiding from reality is not the solution. In fact, non-participation by the citizenry only makes matters worse. “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote,” the drama critic George Jean Nathan once remarked. I would add that bad officials will run roughshod over citizens who are clueless.

Thus, for whom does the bell toll? It tolls for us. Everything America was founded upon is in some way being challenged. At stake is the very foundation of the American democratic system. And while it may be easy to fault a particular politician, event or the media– television, in particular–for the state of our nation, the blame, as the renowned CBS newscaster Edward R. Murrow once noted, rests with us. Amid the Red Scare of the 1950s and the Joseph McCarthy era, people were often afraid to speak out against the paranoia being propagated through the media and the government. Fear and paranoia had come to grip much of the American population, and there was a horrible chill in the air. But with great courage, Murrow spoke up. On March 9, 1954, on his CBS television show See It Now, Murrow said the following–a statement very apropos for today:

We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies, and whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create the situation of fear; he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

Who Will Take the Son? (Ray Bevan)

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“Who Will Take the Son?’


There was a very wealthy man who, with his young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they travelled the world, adding to their collection. Priceless works adorned the walls of the family estate. But the day came when war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few weeks, his father received a telegram that his beloved son had been killed while carrying a wounded fellow soldier.
On Christmas morning a knock came at the door of the man’s home and as he opened the door he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. He introduced himself by saying, ‘I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in? I have something to show you.’ ‘I’m an artist,’ said the soldier, ‘and I want to give you this.’ As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of his son. Though the art critics would never consider the work a piece of art, the painting did feature the young man’s face in striking detail, and seemed to capture his personality.
The following spring, the man became ill and passed away. According to the will of the man, all of the art works would be auctioned. The day soon arrived, and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the most spectacular paintings. The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. ‘Who will open the bidding with $100?’ he asked. Minutes passed with not a sound from those who came to buy. From the back of the room someone called out, ‘Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s forget it and go on to the important paintings.’ There were other voices, which echoed in agreement. But the auctioneer replied, ‘No, we have to sell this one first. Now, who will take the son?’

Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. ‘I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it. I will bid the $100.’ ‘I have a bid for $100,’ called the auctioneer. ‘Will anyone go higher?’ After a long silence, the auctioneer said, ‘Going once. Going twice. Gone.’ The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone was heard to say, ‘Now we can get on with it!’ But the auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, ‘What do you mean it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old man’s son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars’ worth of art here! We demand that you explain what’s going on!’ The auctioneer replied, ‘It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son… gets it all.’

‘He that has the Son has life.’  How many overlook Jesus as irrelevant to life not realising he is God’s only son, sent as a gift to humanity.  Receive him and you get it all.  Purpose, love, security, meaning, eternal life.  What more do you want?

What God’s Word Says About Abortion (Lynn Copeland)

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God speaks very clearly in the Bible on the value of unborn children.

God’s Word says that He personally made each one of us, and has a plan for each life: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5). “Even before I was born, God had chosen me to be His” (Galatians 1:15). “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb…Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13,16). “Your hands shaped me and made me…Did You not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life” (Job 10:8–12). “This is what the Lord says—He who made you, who formed you in the womb” (Isaiah 44:2). “Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One form us both within our mothers?” (Job 31:15).

Because man is made in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27), each life is of great value to God: “Children are a gift from God” (Psalm 127:3). He even calls our children His own: “You took your sons and daughters whom you bore to Me and sacrificed them…You slaughtered My children” (Ezekiel 16:20,21).

The Bible says of our Creator, “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being” (Job 12:10). God, the giver of life, commands us not to take the life of an innocent person: “Do not shed innocent blood” (Jeremiah 7:6); “Cursed is the man who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person” (Deuteronomy 27:25). “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

Taking the life of the unborn is clearly murder—”He didn’t kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave” (Jeremiah 20:17)—and God vowed to punish those who “ripped open the women with child” (Amos 1:13). The unborn child was granted equal protection in the law; if he lost his life, the one who caused his death must lose his own life: “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined…But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life” (Exodus 21:22,23).

Life is a gift created by God, and is not to be taken away by abortion. God is “pro-choice,” but He tells us clearly the only acceptable choice to make:

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”(Deuteronomy 30:19).

Pic. One day’s work in a Canadian abortion clinic

Source:
http://www.100abortionpictures.com/Aborted_Baby_Pictures_Abortion_Photos/

The National Right to Life Sunday was observed this month, along with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since 1973, approx. 52 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out through abortion!

Warning–not for children
For the many of you who have been saying that the photos on the above site are not real, please take a minute to watch “The Silent Scream.”

http://www.silentscream.org/

There you will see graphic video of a baby being aborted.

Mission Turkey (by Matt Smith)

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Mission Turkey:

Why The Church Needs To Evangelize Turkey

Islam and Geography

No one can ignore the threat Islam poses to our world today especially the Christian missionary.  It is interesting to note as well that the many unreached people for Christ are under the Islamic curtain.  According to Olson Islam is:

…the most widespread of the world’s religions and is found significantly on two continents and expanding into others.  It is the largest of the world’s religions (other than Christianity) with over a billion adherents.  It is unique among non-Christian religions in that it not only claims to be the only true religion, but it has followed up that claim by a sense of world mission that the other religions lack.[1]

This means that if we as the church Universal are able to focus on any area with zeal and organization it ought to be a Muslim area.  Olson follows the above statement with the argument that Islam cannot be addressed as a geographical phenomenon but a global one.[2] This means that there is no geographical area to focus on but instead a sense of world mission to Muslims.  While this is important to be committed to it does not preclude the fact that ideas have their source.  Mormons are influenced and encouraged everywhere but predominately in Salt Lake City Utah.  If I were intent on really making a difference in the Mormon world I would want to win Salt Lake City to Christ and let newly converted Mormons lead Mormons to Christ.  In the same vein, win Muslims to Christ and set them free to reach their own people and we will see a third of the world evangelized.  This is simplistic logic at best but in attempting to pinpoint any area of need in missions it seems important to address the places where people are in numbers.  In this case Islam is the center of the unevangelized.   It is the job of any sending agency to ascertain where that center is.  It is the contention of this paper that Turkey is the best spot to focus on in terms of Muslim outreach that can literally impact the globe.

There are essentially three schools of thought when it comes to reaching Muslims for Christ.  One idea is to race against the sword of Islam to reach areas that have not been reached or affected by this group. The second school of thought is to ignore and avoid Muslims in giving the Gospel thinking that they are just too hard.  These two ideas seem to be the modus operandi of the church for the last bunch of years.  The third idea is to engage Islam at the source and see converts from the heart of the system that could then affect change from the inside out.  Paul took this approach in that he went to the cities and not simply villages to ply his evangelistic mission.  The idea was that the people from the cities would spread and consequently spread the Gospel with them.  This is precisely what happened and what can still happen today.  Paul also challenged the major religious systems of the day at the highest forums possible going directly to the source.  Though he was in chains he went to the very seat of power in the Roman Empire and gave the gospel.  Today in thinking about evangelizing Muslims Paul’s approach seems best.  Where then should we focus?

There is an interesting book recently released by a secular geopolitical historian named George Friedman.  In his fascinating book called The Next Hundred Years, he lays out from a purely geopolitical, secular perspective where he believes the seat of Islamic power will reside.  The point of his book is not focused on this subject but instead is focused on the subject of examining history according to geographical realities and broad global trends and patterns to examine and lay out a possible scenario of the next hundred years.  Friedman has from a purely secular perspective laid out the geopolitical realities, a sort of forest rather than trees outlook, of the movement that is Islam.  He makes the case that Iran and Iraq are merely spasms that are the result of the fall of the communist Soviet Union.[3] His basic argument is that the Soviet Empire held the warring Middle East in check and inadvertently created a sort of stalemate in this area.  What we are seeing today, according to Friedman is the result of unintended consequences.  His point is not that it is unimportant but in terms of geographical history it is inconsequential.  The real threat from Islam he believes will come from an Islamic superpower.  He examines three possible areas for this super power to rise up.  According to Friedman:

Indonesia, the largest Muslim state in the world, is in no position to assert itself.  Pakistan is the second largest Muslim state.  It is also a nuclear power.  But it is so internally divided that it is difficult to see how it could evolve into a major power or, geographically, how it could spread its power, bracketed by Afghanistan to the west, China and Russia to the north, and India to the east.  After Indonesia and Pakistan there are three other major Muslims nation-states.  The largest is Egypt with 80 million people, Turkey is second with 71 million people, and Iran is third with 65 million.[4]

He rejected Egypt as a potential superpower based on it recent failure to become leader of the Islamic world under Gamal Abdel Nasser who consequently antagonized key players like the Saudis.[5] Given its insularity, isolation and poor economy it is hard to see Egypt as a major player on the world stage.  Iran is summarily rejected based on bad geography, being surrounded by opposing forces and by a general bad reputation by the United States.  In short if one were playing the game of Risk, Iran is in a bad spot to be a power in the long term.

Turkey is a different story altogether.  Having the seventeenth largest economy in the world with a GDP of about 660 billion it is a force to be reckoned with.  Turkey is not only a major world economy but also the largest in the region giving it the ability to grow without threat on the borders.[6] Again using the Risk analogy it can move in many different directions and can remain off the radar of the United States because it poses no threat to us.  It does not, like Iran, have to devote resources to protect and defend against the United States and so it can grow and reemerge in its old role, as the dominant force in the region.[7]

There is one more factor making Turkey a viable candidate for the global super Islamic power and that is its history.  According to Wikepedia.com:

The Ottoman Empire or Ottoman State (Ottoman Turkish: دولتْ علیّه عثمانیّه Devlet-i ʿAliyye-i ʿOs̠māniyye,[3] Modern Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu or Osmanlı Devleti), also known by its contemporaries as the Turkish Empire or Turkey (see the other names of the Ottoman State), was an empire that lasted from 1302 to November 1, 1922[4] (as an imperial monarchy) or July 24, 1923[5] (de jure, as a state.) It was succeeded by the Republic of Turkey,[6] which was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923

At the height of its power (16th–17th century), it spanned three continents, controlling much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. The Ottoman Empire contained 29 provinces and numerous vassal states; some of which were later absorbed into the empire, while others gained various types of autonomy during the course of centuries. The empire also temporarily gained authority over distant overseas lands through declarations of allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan and Caliph, such as the declaration by the Sultan of Aceh in 1565; or through the temporary acquisitions of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, such as Lanzarote (1585).[7]

The empire was at the centre of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. With Constantinople (Istanbul) as its capital city,[8][9] and vast control of lands around the eastern Mediterranean during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520 to 1566), the Ottoman Empire was, in many respects, an Islamic successor to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.[8]

Friedman says that today Turkey is an internally complex society, containing a secular regime protected by a military charged with keeping peace as the culture moves towards Islam.[9] It is precisely this fact that causes the United States to taut Turkey as the model of Islamic democracy a dubious term that ignores the real threat that is Islam.  Ultimately however the subject is not the government of Turkey but its future center of Islamic power.

The Future Radical Ottoman Empire

As we see today, even though Turkey is run by a secular government granting “religious freedom,” the reality is quickly changing.  Turkey is becoming daily more radical and is less and less the model of tolerance our government promotes.  Turkey is beginning to radicalize and is perfectly poised to spread radical Islam to the whole world.   One blogger commented on the radicalization of the government of Turkey with these words:

The Turkish military has announced joint military maneuvers with Syria. That means a NATO ally is working more closely–and to some extent revealing military equipment and tactics–to a country that sponsors Hamas, Hizballah and the Iraqi insurgents killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq; orders terrorist attacks in Lebanon to assassinate political and military figures there; wages war on Israel, and just got caught building a covert nuclear weapons’ building installation in conjunction with North Korea and Iran… Turkey’s regime has moved toward Iran, ignoring international sanctions, in no small part due to energy needs. Yet the improvements of relations go well beyond that. The latest step in rapprochement with the Iran-led alliance is the announcement that Turkey and Syria, Iran’s ally, will stage joint military exercises for the first time, April 27-29….     While Turkey is a NATO member, Syria is an Iranian bloc member and a sponsor of terrorism in its own right. This is one more step in the erosion of any serious effort to build an alignment against the growing power of the Iran-Syria alliance and should be treated seriously. Unfortunately, Western enthusiasm about Turkey as the perfect example of a Muslim-majority state being a democracy and illusions about Syrian moderation will prevent this from happening.[10]

This is significant on a geopolitical scale but it is the regular person on the street commentary that paints a clearer picture.  Daniel Blake, from Christian Today had this to write:

The three Christians who were martyred in Turkey last week were horribly tortured for three hours prior to being killed, Christian Today has learned, as details continue to emerge.

According to the Washington-DC based human rights group International Christian Concern, the three were put through a horrific ordeal which included multiple stabbings before finally being killed.

An ICC statement tells: “As difficult and sorrowful as it is to learn more, we believe that we must expose the truly hellish nature of this attack for what it is.”

On Easter Sunday, five of the killers had been to a service that one of the victims, Pastor Necati, had arranged in the city of Malatya. The men were known to the believers as “seekers”.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam, ICC has learned.

“Tarikat membership is highly respected; it’s like a fraternity membership,” ICC has stated. “In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat.”

On the day of the killing, the young Muslim men had arranged to meet the Christians at 10 am to learn more about the Bible.

“They had gathered guns, breadknives, ropes and towels – they knew there would be a lot of blood – ready for their act,” ICC said.[11]

The violence that is seen today in Turkey mirrors perfectly the Koran which begins by calling for tolerance of the Christians and Jews but ends with the cutting off of their heads.  Literally by the end of Mohammed’s life it was said of him that he met no person that he did not either kill or convert.  Further even in the United States what most people are not aware of is the threat moderate Islam poses.  There is really no such thing as moderate Islam because the doctrine of abrogation, a doctrine stating that later suras are to override and supercede earlier ones, means that the peaceful loving sections are abrogated with the calls to “kill the infidel.”  This is an obvious fact for any religious Muslim and leaves the Muslim either believing in a violent religion of war or a bipolar religion making no sense.  This fact was brought out during a Fox News interview with the Son of Hamas, a man recently converted to Christianity who is speaking out against Islam and Hamas.  Further, in the ecumenical stage that is being set here in the United States and Europe many have no idea that the Muslim spokespersons can lie with a clear conscience to the infidels giving them incentive to promote the peacefulness of Islam which is simply not real.  When Islam is followed the people that have religious freedom will see themselves under attack.  Take the following shocking example:

In a bizarre show of Turkish nationalism, a young Muslim here took a Christian Turk at knife point, draped his head with the national flag and threatened to slit the throat of the “missionary dog” in broad daylight earlier this week.  Yasin Karasu, 24, held Ýsmail Aydýn, 35, hostage for less than half an hour on Monday (Aug. 3) in a busy district on the Asian side of Istanbul in front of passersby and police who promptly came to the scene.  “This is Turkey, and you can’t hand out gospels,” he yelled, according to the daily newspaper Haberturk. “These godless ones without the true book are doing missionary work.”  About 99 percent of Turkey’s population is at least nominally Muslim, and in the popular mindset the religion is strongly connected with being Turkish.  Karasu threatened to slit Aydin’s throat if anyone came near him and commanded those watching to give him a Turkish flag. Within minutes, Aydin told Compass, bystanders produced two flags. Karasu, who has known Aydin for a year, wrapped the larger of the two flags around Aydin’s head, making it difficult for him to breathe in heat that reached the low 30s Celsius (90s F) this week.  “Do you see this missionary dog?” he yelled at the crowd. “He is handing out gospels and he is breaking up the country!”  Karasu placed the smaller flag in Aydin’s hand and commanded him to wave it.  “Both flags came at the same time,” Aydin told Compass. “The big one he put very tightly over my head, and in the heat I couldn’t breathe.”  The whole time Karasu held a large knife to Aydin’s throat.  “You missionary dogs, do you see this flag?” he said, commanding Aydin to wave the flag. “This is a holy flag washed in the blood of our fathers.”  Aydin said he told Karasu, “Yasin, in any case this flag is mine as well! I’m a Turk too, but I’m a Christian.”  Karasu insisted that Aydin was not a Turk because he had betrayed the Turkish flag and country by his evangelism, according to Aydin.  Aydin said he told Karasu, “No, Yasin, I’m a Turk and I’m waving this flag with love. This is my flag. I’m a Turk.” He said Karasu replied, “No, you can’t be – you are breaking up the country, and I won’t allow it.”  Police managed to convince Karasu to put down the knife and release Aydin, telling him that if he killed the convert Turkey would be ridiculed around the world, and that as a last resort they were authorized to shoot to kill him.[12]

It is clear that Turkey is central in its power and radical in its movement.  With 98 percent of the country being Muslim it seems clear that this is an area of great evangelical need.

Missions in Turkey Today

In light of these stories is difficult to ascertain the realistic mission work going on in Turkey today.  For example, when the story of the young Muslim from Hamas previously mentioned came public with his story there were assurances passed around in the Southern Baptist circles that “we have stuff going on in turkey right now shhh.”   This is all well and good but it leaves one with the real problem of not knowing what impact if any that is being felt there from the missions work.  One evangelical spokesman in turkey had this to say:

“Actually, the state might be secular, but it’s not making that distinction in its activities,” said Isa Karatas, spokesman for Turkey’s perhaps 80 evangelical Protestant churches.  Until religious minorities succeeded in changing the law, Turkey required Christians and Jews to study Islam in the religion classes that are compulsory in Turkish schools from the fourth grade. The state has confiscated hundreds of church properties, only recently returning portions under pressure from the European Union, which Turkey is trying to join.  With perhaps 100,000 Christians in a population of 70 million, Turkey officially tolerates and protects faiths other than Islam. Unlike Afghanistan, which last month threatened to execute a Christian convert, the country has no laws barring Muslims from leaving the faith or against attempts to lure them away.  Yet Turkish police charged 293 people with “missionary activity” from 1998 to 2001, a state minister told parliament recently. People who place calls to Christian groups operating inside Turkey are warned against uttering the word “missionary” on an open phone line.[13]

Olson brings light to the fact that the problem faced in these areas is whether to try to reach Muslims through the dead Armenian, Coptic, or Syrian churches or whether to start over.[14] Today with many missionaries going into the region as “tentmakers” there is word of indigenous churches starting but again this is hard to quantify.  Regardless of the specific numbers it is clear that this is an area not being impacted for Christ.

What Can Be Done?

The irony of the whole contention of this paper is that one of the very places Paul began, Ephesus, is where this paper believes we ought to begin again. Ephesus which is located near the Aegean Sea in modern day Turkey, was one of the great cities of the Greeks in Asia Minor and home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  Today, the ruins of Ephesus are a major tourist attraction, especially for travelers on Mediterranean cruises.[15] According to the Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary:

Paul first visited Ephesus on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19). He also spent between two and three years of his third journey in Ephesus (Acts 19:8–10; 20:31). He left the city during a riot caused by silver craftsmen who felt their religion and trade were being threatened (Acts 19:24–28; 20:1). Paul later visited with the Ephesian elders at Miletus on his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:17–38).

The city ranked with Alexandria and Antioch of Syria as one of the most important cities of the eastern Mediterranean Roman world. It was a port city located on the Cayster River, three miles from the Aegean. It was an important city commercially as the starting place of a great overland trade route to the east.

Ephesus was the worship center of the Greek goddess Artemis (Diana in Latin). The temple of Artemis was 340 feet long, 160 feet wide, and richly decorated with 100 columns more than 55 feet high. The city was the guardian of the sacred image of Artemis, which was believed to have fallen from heaven (Acts 19:35).[16]

When Paul began making converts in numbers he saw them burning their books of magic in the streets an act literally turning Ephesus upside down (Acts 19).  This paper is not arguing specifically for Ephesus as the exact spot but the idea that Paul went to the center of power in Turkey and spread the Gospel from there to the rest of the world.  This is the same technique he used in reaching the world from Rome and today it remains the best way of reaching the many unevangelized Muslims.  Begin the center of influence and spread the furthest the fastest.  Interesting Paul describes the conflict in this area for the Gospel and in Revelation we see Paul praise this church for standing doctrinally strong in the midst of serious cultural pressure to depart.  Where is the Ephesian church today?  This paper believes it remains to be planted!

What is the solution?  Planting churches through Muslim converts who are equipped prayed for and encouraged.  One of the best ways to spread the Gospel in Turkey is through mass media like television and radio.  Currently Muslims in areas like Turkey are accepting Christ in large numbers secretly.  The problem is that Islam is a way of life and these secret believers are afraid to come out about their faith.  According to Mosab Hassan Yousef the son of one of the founders of Hamas Islam is crumbling from the inside out.  He claims that Islam has no ability to argue for its own merit but by the sword.  The regular Joe Muslim cannot even read the Koran.  For starters it is written in Old Arabic a language not spoken today and so many in the Islamic faith get their belief much the same way that those in the middle ages received theirs, priests told them what to believe.  For the past fourteen hundred years Islam was able to hold its believers captive by keeping out any influence from the outside but today almost any modern Muslim can turn on their computer and get just about any information they want.  At this point the lack of coherence in Islam is being exposed for what it is and the perception of strength is just that.  In fact, according to Yousef, a personal friend, Islam is being torn apart from the inside out by its own inconsistencies.  The polarizing of the Islamic community is a reaction to this and must be seen in some ways as the death throes of a false religion, he claims.  If a Muslim comes out about their faith they could face persecution of many types and this is truly a scary prospect.  It is imperative however that Muslims stand up about their new faith and face what comes.  At this point those having the ability to support Muslims through their lives and witness ought to be willing to stand with them.  To begin Muslims here in the United States ought to be encouraged to tell their families of their new faith in Jesus and they must be accepted publicly and without fear by local churches wherever they are found.  The church cannot hide it must be public in its stand and light.  This paper is radically calling for the possible persecution of many but it is the very way Martin Luther King sought to change things here in the United States.

In many respects this whole issue needs to be on the minds and hearts of Christians from America because it is from here that so many of the world’s missionaries are sent.  If the common American Christian is not really aware of the real need for prayer and financial assistance needed they cannot be expected to mobilize.  It is then the job of Pastors and sending agencies to be bold in their cry for Muslim outreach.  Turkey is ripe for the harvest are we willing to go?

Romans 1.20

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For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Last verse we discussed that every human knows that there is a God because there is a conscience within them that tells them this is the truth.

This verse lets us know a second reason why every human knows that there is a God: creation.

The invisible things of God: His power, His nature, His goodness are clearly seen in the creation of the world.

If you can see the creation of the world, you can see what God is like. It is not a perfect picture because creation is fallen since Adam sinned, but it is a picture that is good enough for any single human to know there is a God.

You can tell that God is powerful from the creation of the world. Anyone claiming to believe in evolution is a fool, because you can tell from creation that it was designed and made.

The phrase in this verse “things that were made” is simply one word in the Greek: poiēma. It means craftsmanship, design, creative work. If you cannot see craftmanship and design and creativity in this world you must be blind.

A wonderfully appropriately named marine biologist called Frank Fish was once looking at the sculpture of a humpback whale fin. He was amazed at the bobbled edge and assumed the sculptor had made a mistake. He found out the sculptor was right and that humpback whales have a bumpy leading edge. Up until then conventional wisdom was that smooth leading edges are far more streamlined.

Frank Fish, together with a team of scientists from Harvard, did some tests and found out that the bumps on the leading edge meant that the humpback whale creates vertices and is 8% more efficient than any human designed system.

Frank has developed the design and started a business selling the design to appropriate companies that develop turbines and fans. There is now a ceiling fan based on his research, and the technology might be utilized on helicopters! Frank is hailed as a great designer – but you would have to be a fool not to realize that God is the super designers and Frank is just smart enough to copy God.

A whale fin is better designed than the most intelligent scientists in the world have ever been able to design! This was not the result of random process, but proof that there is a genius of a designer behind it.

This is why everyone is without excuse when God holds them accountable for their sin. They know there is a God because their conscience and creation lets them know there is a God.

You should this week learn some things like Frank Fish’s research. I recommend this week learning three stories like this. Use a website like www.answersingenesis.org (Frank’s story is at http://www.answersingenesis.org/arti…2/whale-design) and find out a couple of things to point out to people.

When you find out your three stories about the wonder of creation, practise with a friend telling them quickly in a way that can easily be understood. This will increase your confidence and make you bolder in witnessing.

Give the Holy Spirit things to work with! Telling stories like this aid in awakening someone’s conscience and making them think about the God of this universe.
If you have any more stories like this why not add them to the bottom of this blog post as comments…

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

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