Responding to the beheading of 21 Christians in Libya

On February 15, 2015, the Islamic State in Libya released another gruesome video of 21 Coptic Christians being beheaded on the beach in Libya. A screen shot below captures the scene moments before the men were beheaded by the Muslim mujahideen. Having watched portions of the video, my emotions are profoundly stirred. I rarely weep. But as I watched this, I wept uncontrollably.

When I wrote Islamic Antichrist 11 years ago, I wrote rather extensively on this issue, hoping to awaken the global Church to what was, and is coming. I say that not as a prophet, but simply as one who believes the words of Scripture.

Copts

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. —Revelation 20:4

The video captures this brother below praying moments before his death. His final words were, “Ya Rab Yesua,” or in English, “Yeah, Lord Jesus.”

Copts 2

What worries me is that from the West, we see these things, and we think not in terms of joining our brothers and sisters in becoming such martyr/witnesses for Jesus (Greek: martus), but more often we respond in fear or anger or in raging for revenge. This is somewhat understandable. But the early Church had a very defined theology of martyrdom. That martyrdom embodied the highest form of witness of God. For as God is presently having mercy in this age towards His enemies, (including we who were His enemies), Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, waiting to make His enemies His footstool. But that time is not yet. Though Jesus could call on twelve legions of angels in a moment, and consume the earth in fire with angels (as He will do), in this age, He has chosen to refrain. This refraining is out of mercy to His enemies, as He said before His execution, “Father forgive them.” Though reviled, he didn’t revile in return. Though he suffered, he didn’t threaten, but continually entrusted His soul to Him who judges justly. So in His martyrdom, he showed the mercy of God. We also, those of us who have inherited the tremendous responsibility of the last days, are also called to imitate Jesus. The Lord is patient, not wanting any to perish, but for all to repent unto eternal life. Why then do we who have received mercy not seek to be witnesses of His mercy? Why are we so often first and foremost bent on revenge? I fear that many, in the name of “righteous justice,” will fail to be the witnesses that He called us to be.

In Revelation 6:11, we see a picture of the souls of the end time martyrs under the altar of God crying out, saying, “How long oh God, until you avenge our death and judge the earth?” It is an apocalyptic picture of the Day of the Lord. They are crying out for, “When is it going to come, when is it going to be completed, oh Lord?” And God tells them to, “wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.” And so we have a view that one of the primary timing indicators for the Day of the Lord is the fullness of martyrs.

At the end of the age, God is going to bring to both culmination and fullness, the witness concerning His mercy to all the nations. And the martyrdom of the saints among all the nations is, and will be His primary method of displaying His mercy. This will come to a cataclysmic head under the rule of the Antichrist at the end of the age. The days are quickly approaching. Let us not merely pray, but also resolve, yeah even plan, to stand firm to the end, remaining faithful like our brothers here who have just gone on before us. To be clear, this is not to say that we do not support military action and a just response again these criminals. I am not a pacifist. But let us resist the fleshly carnal spirit of the age that yearns primarily for revenge. Let us make our highest priority the opportunity to testify, to be witnesses for Jesus.

80 Comments
  • Madeline
    Posted at 14:40h, 16 February

    Thank you for this post! I just heard you speak on Jan Markel’s radio show and just had to visit your site. I have also read Mideast Beast and constantly refer to it for my understanding of end times prophecy. This has so touched my soul, and I have been feeling a stirring in my spirit about all of this. I didn’t know how to respond to all of this evil except to feel rage, anger & yes revenge. And what really gets me is how this is not mentioned in most churches in the West. Life goes on; out of sight, out of mind. Total apathy. What is it going to take to wake up the church? I dare not even mention it. Will we have resolve like these martyrs? Will we stand firm? G-d help us to. I fear many won’t because of all the apathy and “your best life now,” messages in most our churches. But I must also understand that because of this, I must first and foremost be a witness for Christ, & pray like I’ve never prayed for my brothers & sisters who pay the ultimate price, and for those who don’t give this a second thought. Thank you Joel for your courage, boldness, and for sounding the alarm. G-d bless you!

  • Dirk
    Posted at 16:28h, 16 February
  • Debbie
    Posted at 16:29h, 16 February

    My heart is also broken, But I know God is in control and yes we are to pray for the lost as Jesus said we should, and I pray always for the Christain over in The Middle East.

  • Derek
    Posted at 20:02h, 16 February

    Matthew 10 sure comes to mind.

    22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
    28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

  • Nelson Walter
    Posted at 20:04h, 16 February

    Amen, Let us resolve to seek outreach not outrage. Nelson

  • Lilac
    Posted at 22:47h, 16 February

    May their families be comforted in their indescribable grief.

  • Janae
    Posted at 00:12h, 17 February

    I agree with Madeline that the apathy among Christians in the West is very upsetting. How can people ignore these things and carry on with life as if all is normal? I grow weary of not being able to discuss these issues with Christians I know, but I’m thankful for places like this site, which provide opportunities for discussion.

  • Joel
    Posted at 00:57h, 17 February

    I think many alert believers can feel frustrated by the general apathy in many churches. I’m glad that this site provides some sense of belonging. I do apologize that I am not able to facilitate more discussion and rarely have the time to engage myself beyond a brief comment.

    Blessings.

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 01:59h, 17 February

    Appreciate these thoughts; it helps. First hearing about this, I wanted to take some drugs and go numb. Makes me wonder how we’ll make it through the Tribulation when this intensifies and Israel is being slaughtered. God will provide, I know. Reigning with Jesus in the millennial kingdom of peace and righteousness to come will be awesome, yes. Believing for that great day and praying through the present… The Joy of the Lord is our Strength.

  • MeatHook
    Posted at 03:10h, 17 February

    I’ve been a Christian for 16 years now. As I watch the world spiral downward, I face conflicting emotions. I am a soldier who has sworn an oath to protect this country. But as a Christian soldier, I find myself struggling to find the balance between defending the defenseless and vengeance. Oh that I would have an opportunity to take part in the reckoning. Even if I don’t though, I know there is a reason for all of this. Facing the enemy with weapon in hand is nothing compared to facing the enemy on your knees.

    I only hope God searches my heart, and gives me direction in all of this. I long to be a soldier for Him. Not that He needs me, but just to be in His ranks. Thank you for writing Joel.

    MeatHook

  • Bill
    Posted at 04:23h, 17 February

    Brother: Yes, we must not hate no seek revenge. But we must protect ourselves and others against this grave evil called Islam. I see Romans 13 as giving us, that is, the government of the people, the responsibility to protect the innocent and uphold civility and justice. If we cannot defend ourselves in the face of Islam and its barbaric and criminal abuse of the innocent, then how can we justify protecting ourselves against domestic criminals and abusers? If I find myself given into the hands of those who hate Christ and the Trinity and have power over me, then with God’s Grace I will stay faithful until and through torture and death. But, if I can prevent that from happening, even by the use of force, with God’s Grace, I will. As an American Christian, if I cannot defend myself and my family from Muslim Satanic murderers, then was my father wrong in fighting against the Nazis and Japanese in W.W. II?

  • Kurt J.
    Posted at 05:41h, 17 February

    Amen Joel, and Lord come quickly!

  • Ken
    Posted at 06:01h, 17 February

    Thank you for your column Joel. I am reminded of my most recent experience at Church. I am a Catholic and at Mass we pray for several intentions as a Church before the Liturgy of the Eucharist. I was severely disheartened when our brothers & sisters in the Middle East were not mentioned. I wanted to scream out that we Must pray for them with all our hearts! We prayed for calls to the priesthood, for raising money for the Archdiocese, and even for our own individual intentions. I feel so let down and embarrassed by what took place.

  • Iman Sobhy
    Posted at 09:50h, 17 February

    Im from Egypt.. Watching their simple poor families on media yesterday… Their statement was “they are before the throne now, may ther intercede for us” what a testimony

  • Joel
    Posted at 12:12h, 17 February

    Bill,

    Of course we can defend our families and nation. There is no conflict with this and being a Christian.

    As followers of Jesus however, our ultimate emphasis or focus is not to be like the people of this age who seek only self-preservation. For according to the Scriptures, we are already dead. We have died with Christ, and the life we live, we no longer live unto ourselves, but for Him and His glory. So our desire is to see enemies of God become His friends, even as we were once His enemies. If you live in the US, there are no Muslim armies who are going to come and invade your home. But I believe the Lord is calling an army to go preach the Gospel in Muslim lands, and be willing to lay down their lives to see a few snatched from the flames.

    Blessings

  • Joel
    Posted at 12:14h, 17 February

    Thanks Meathook for serving in the military. It is an increasingly difficult thing these days, particularly for those following Jesus, yet serving under the current administration.

    Many Blessings to you!

  • Greg Maxwell
    Posted at 12:39h, 17 February

    Thanks Joel for your scriptural and heartfelt commentary on this horrible event. I have made it a practice to watch these videos because it helps to engage more deeply in prayer for the peoples of the Middle East. The day is coming when we will all witness such things if we remain faithful to Jesus, and I want to prepare my heart now rather than hiding my eyes from the horror.

    The Church must awaken and prepare, not only for what lies ahead but also to engage Muslims and all people with the Gospel of the cross. From the pre-tribulation rapture to the “global end time revival” doctrine, we have substituted every kind of religious comfort for the clear and plain truth of Scripture- that martyrdom will be the way of overcoming in the last days. “And they overcame the devil by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and not loving their lives unto death.” When the souls of those beheaded are asking for justice, the Lord does not tell them to wait while He sends global revival.

    Let us all commit in our hearts now to remain faithful witnesses to Jesus until our last breath, whenever that may be. May I, a weak man, receive such grace from Him. “Yeah, Lord Jesus.”

  • Joel
    Posted at 13:08h, 17 February

    Greg,

    Thanks for your thoughts bro. Great review of the trip as well: http://theissacharmandate.com/?p=309

  • good4u
    Posted at 13:25h, 17 February

    Since churches are NOT discussing this issue with their congregations and the implications, church leaders are not serving the Body of Christ effectively, imo. When churches permit your “End Times Eyewitness” documentary to be shown within church walls, it becomes a valuable opportunity and a perfect venue to discuss and give direction to believers.

    I am still praying that my Senior Pastor allows the “Eyewitness” dvd to go forward, he has it at his request but as yet no response from him on this issue. I am praying that this dvd showing will be extremely well attended with a lively discussion on how Christians are to respond thereafter.

    I continue to pray that this dvd will be shown.

    Blessings!

  • Bill
    Posted at 14:05h, 17 February

    Brother: I, of course agree that the Gospel must be preached to everyone, including Muslims (Romans 1:16). Paul writes in 1 Timothy that prayers must be made for rulers (i.e. government) so that we may live a “quiet and peaceful life in all godliness.” It is for this reason that I oppose all immigration of Muslims into the U.S. I fear for my children and my grandchildren. Political Islam, as you are well aware, is completely hostile and incompatible with liberty and with godliness and the Gospel that spawns both. Western civilization has struggled for centuries dealing with tyranny versus liberty and now in the name of fairness or multi-culturalism we are in the process of destroying ourselves by flooding our lands with “moderate” Muslims who are the carriers of the antichrist’s political, social and religious order. Domestic political Islam is much more dangerous than the evidently and extreme danger of groups like ISIS.

    Solis Christos

  • Sam
    Posted at 14:30h, 17 February

    Amen and Amen Bill. Woe to many, many more innocent victims if we do not fight against this evil called the Islamic State. They do not have the right to exalt themselves above all other human beings and set themselves up as the standard of perfection, and the only ones deserving life. How do I feel about them and what they’re doing? Angry, very angry, and I think that is the RIGHT response. We should not let them get away with their crimes. They should be vigorously stopped and pursued until every last one is destroyed. They do not have the right to do this to innocent people (children and women, as well as men). Whether we are Christians or not, our first response should be to stop them before they take more lives, and before they grow any larger. Joel, you said “As followers of Jesus however, our ultimate emphasis or focus is not to be like the people of this age who seek only self-preservation.” The men and women who are going after IS to destroy them are not seeking only self-preservation. They are seeking the preservation of all humanity. This is not strictly a Christian persecution issue either. Most of the victims are Muslims and anyone else who happens to disagree with IS, who refuses to exalt them by bowing to them. This is not only about Christians being martyred. This is about evil taking over, evil that must be stopped. It isn’t the first time in the history of humanity evil has threatened to prevail. It is because good men and women responded with a good fight that evil does not prevail, at least not everywhere in the world. It is the same now. I pray every day for the success of the coalition forces and I pray for all of the other smaller groups out there who are fighting to destroy this evil. I pray that they will succeed and that every last one will be taken out.

  • Christopher Mantei
    Posted at 14:41h, 17 February

    Amen and amen brother Joel. May we all be His Witnesses to whatever end.

  • linda keyes
    Posted at 17:29h, 17 February

    Truly if i am around, i pray i will be allowed the blessing of a bullet.
    Talking with a friend, the question was, if our time came, could we say like Paul that we are ready and have fought a good fight? I fear that after an initial jerking, everything will just go back to normal, entertainment and food.

    We ourselves really do have to be the ones to step aside, and seek Him.
    We have time yet to be the anointed ones of our generation, if we seek him with all our hearts, we may well be the ones who Know our God and do exploits.

  • Jose Martinez
    Posted at 17:33h, 17 February

    In the mean time, the deceived “Christian” church still paranoid of a rising Pope-Antichrist-Vatican-beast, that will never happen. Will continue to ignore what is going on!

    They claim “only a few Christians are dying so no need to concern. Only the Pope is what we must be concerned about”.

    Of course, once Iran’s get the prophecied nuke, “a great sword” Rev 6:4 a bankrupt Pope will be the least of their concerns.

    Satan is happily free under the nose of the Pope-paranoid church.

  • Jose Martinez
    Posted at 17:40h, 17 February

    “It must be said that without the preaching of the Gospel, missionary work is simply relief aid. While caring for the poor is an intrinsic part of being a Christian, giving relief is not the same thing as ministering”

    http://theissacharmandate.com/?p=309

    The Sevenths Day Adventists and other churches, had changed the Bible to call God, Allah, while “ministering” in Muslim countries.

    They had become “relief aid” workers while afraid to risk their lives doing true ministry!

  • linda keyes
    Posted at 17:45h, 17 February

    I meant to post this song, i absolutely love it to tears!

    Some may now it, clear the stage by Jimmy Needham, Its a revival call in a song.

    “clear the stage and set the sound and light ablaze, if that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols………”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6smGew7dGto

  • Jose Martinez
    Posted at 17:47h, 17 February

    The reason for the church’s apathy is because to admit that Islam is the Beast of Revelation is to admit they and their founders and leaders had being wrong all this time! Their pride will never allow them to admit such a blunder!

    Better to ignore what is happening and instead keep worrying about a rising bankrupt Pope!!!

    They now even claim that the Pope invented Islam to kill the Jews!!!

    In other words, the Pope dressed up like the Angel Gabriel and grabbed muhammed by the neck and told him to help the Catholic Church by killing the Jews!!! LOL!!!

  • cjk
    Posted at 17:58h, 17 February

    Seems clear to me that the Saints in Revelation want revenge.
    Don’t twist the scripture.

  • cjk
    Posted at 18:04h, 17 February

    I see no New Testament basis for not desiring revenge and evil upon evil people. Paul talks about shoveling coals of fire on their heads in an indirect manner, but none the less seems to be in favor of it. John strongly commands to not even let them step in your house lest you be a partaker in their sins.
    Just two off the top of my head.

  • Joel
    Posted at 20:52h, 17 February

    Sam,

    No one is arguing about not fighting against ISIS. And of course, it is okay to be angry about what ISIS is doing. But are you also willing to lay down your life so that an enemy of God can be saved? If not, you are not following Christ.

  • Joel
    Posted at 21:35h, 17 February

    cjk,

    The Scriptures command us to not seek our own revenge, but to entrust justice to God.

    Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Roman 12:19

    Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you. Proverbs 20:22

    Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
    Psalm 37:8-9

    But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-36

    We are to imitate Jesus, who:

    When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

    See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 1Thess. 5:15

    We must always remember that we also are sinners. God did not save us because we are better than anyone else. He saved us solely because of His mercy.

    And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25

    For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
    Matthew 6:14-15

    For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. James 1:12

    We must also remember that although governments are used by God as agents of Justice, our anger will not accomplish His righteousness:

    “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:20

    Again, for clarity, this is not about being a pacifist. I fully support military action against ISIS. But I would also pray that even ISIS would repent before they are killed. Perhaps the Lord will raise up a Paul the Apostle out of the ranks of these murderers.

    My point in all of this is simply to remind us that if our focus is on revenge or even self-preservations, we are not acting as disciples of Jesus.

    Seeking revenge and desiring divine justice are two very different things.

  • Nelson Walters
    Posted at 00:40h, 18 February

    Joel/Sam:

    Our warfare is spiritual not fleshly as Joel points out:

    “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Rev 12:10-11

    Somehow we will join Michael and his Holy Angels in the casting down Satan himself “by the blood of the lamb, the word of our testimony and that we do not love life even when faced with death.” This is a power evil cannot overcome and a great mystery.

    Yet: “If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.” Rev. 13:10

    Our strength is not in the sword but in the word. This requires great Perseverance and Faith just as John teaches.

    I believe Satan knows all this and is inciting us to react in a fleshly manner because he can overcome fleshly attacks. He has no defense against spiritual self-sacrifice.

  • Peter Hartgerink
    Posted at 01:09h, 18 February

    Excellent post. Thanks.

  • shawn
    Posted at 02:05h, 18 February

    I pray our brothers and sisters stand firm in the faith even when faced with death. I pray I can have the strength to say “yea Lord Jesus” just as our brother did days ago. To me that is a strong testimony for Jesus in that troubled region.

    I saw a couple references to the current administration in some of the posts above. I thought this link would open some eyes as to where this countries government and current administration stand as it concerns islam.
    http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/the-muslim-brotherhood-in-america/

  • cjk
    Posted at 02:12h, 18 February

    It’s obvious to me via the clear wording in Revelation that the Saints want revenge.
    I agree with all the scripture you state, but that same Jesus overthrew the money changers tables and read what I said about the attitudes of John and Paul.
    I see no scripture telling us to forgive those who don’t desire it. It may be a superior attitude as Stephen showed, but he was only personally attacked. He might have felt differently if he saw children being destroyed before him.
    As far as anger goes it is never characterized as inherently wrong My point is that to have a desire to see these fiends destroyed is completely scriptural.
    While I may be commanded to turn the other cheek, that doesn’t mean I sit and watch evil with doing something physically to stop it. If I see a man brutally attacking an innocent child, I am obligated to intervene.

  • Joel
    Posted at 02:24h, 18 February

    Obviously, I agree with defending the innocent. I also agree that anger is a normal response. But would you lay down your life to see your enemies saved? The requirement to forgive is not contingent anywhere on the offender desiring forgiveness. The Lord speaks of being kind and forgiving to those who are present tense, active enemies.

    Also, remember that before he became the Apostle, Paul was Saul, “breathing curses and murders” against Christians, and seeking to murder Christians. Yet the Lord forgive him and used him. The things that Jesus calls us to require a deep sense of our own unrighteousness and the mercy that He has shown us. The call to embrace the cross is largely a foreign thing for the vast majority of us Christians.

  • O. A. Fish
    Posted at 03:15h, 18 February

    I think it is interesting that “beheading” is classical to Islam starting with the prophet Muhammad. I know of no other ethnic group where this is common. Is Revelation trying to tell us something when in (Rev. 20:4 nkj) that the term is used specifically. “…Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image…”

  • Jose Martinez
    Posted at 03:58h, 18 February

    Joel asks “… are you also willing to lay down your life so that an enemy of God can be saved? If not, you are not following Christ.”

    Many will answer “why?”. “We are ‘safe’ in the USA no need to worry about Shariah law in the USA, right?”

    WROMG!!!

    There are many possible ways for Shariah law to come to Europe and Amerucs.

    #1. Iran nukes a major city in America and the Muslim president. Obama, will immediately surrender. Terms of surrender: Change the constitution for Shariah law.

    #2. ISIS nukes Saudi Arabia, via Iran after they both unite, and Iran, then the main oil export, refuses to sell oil to countries unless they implement Shariah law.

    #3. Iran detonates an EMP, electro Magnetic Pulse, making the sofisticated modern advanced electronic and super computerized military totally nonfunctional!

    etc, etc, etc…

  • cjk
    Posted at 04:26h, 18 February

    Would I lay down my life to see my enemies saved. That is not a valid question because it’s not possible. I am commanded however not to cast my pearls before swine.
    Show me the command to forgive without being asked. Maybe i’m wrong, but I can’t see it. Paul is the one who counsels us on how to in effect heap coals of fire on evil people’s heads.

  • cjk
    Posted at 04:31h, 18 February

    If the current false teaching which pervades the Church were correct, I would expect the Saints in Revelation to be saying ‘Oh Lord how long before you show these people the way to repentance and have patience on them’. ‘Give them some more time and opportunities oh Lord please!’. No they want to see them destroyed.

  • cjk
    Posted at 04:34h, 18 February

    Jesus never says forgive your brother 7 times 70 without the context of your brother asking for that forgiveness.

  • BJ and Alisa
    Posted at 10:50h, 18 February

    Paul tells us after the restrainer is removed Satan will have power over the saints. Satan knows he can’t stop Jesus from returning, so his main focus will be to test the saints loyalty to Jesus. You will have to renounce that Jesus is the Son of God and worship the beast or you will die. Nowhere does it tell us to lay down our life for the beast, in doing so we are guaranteed the Lake of Fire. The people under the altar were not volunteers, they were murdered for their loyalty to Christ. Why else would they be asking for vengeance? The Bible tells us Satan knows his time is short, so expect the wrath of Satan to move quickly.

  • Joel
    Posted at 12:12h, 18 February

    cjk,

    What you are doing is rejecting the consistent call throughout Scripture for us to pray for the will of God, which desires that indeed “all” men repent.

    The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

    In this present age, we are to cry out for “all” to repent. In the final hour, as Day of the Lord and the justice of God looms, then we may pray the imprecatory prayers which asks God to bring about His righteous judgments and to bring an end to the suffering of our brothers and sisters. But to reject praying for the repentance now for others is simply self-righteousness, while latching on to the prayers of the righteous martyrs as the model now is just wrong. Self-righteousness is as vile as pornography or murder before God. I would truly council you to repent yourself.

    I’ll share a story here that I would not normally share. I hope it helps.

    Many years ago, a few years after I came to faith, a close friend of mine was brutally murdered by a group of punks who were literally out beating people up for their on entertainment. The police call it “wilding.” He was picking up his girl-friend from work in front of a sub shop when they surrounded his vehicle. When he got out, he was stabbed in the face with a broken bottle and they beat his head in with a baseball bat. Later some of them bragged about feeling his skull breaking.

    A day or so later, as his mother held his broken 21-year-old body in her arms, they unplugged his life support machines, and he died. She was quoted as saying, “I held him when he came into the earth, and I will hold him when he leaves.”

    I flew home from Bible school to attend his funeral. Now, I was a punk before coming to faith. Sitting around with my friends who were not Christians, one of them suggest going to where these other kids congregated and doing a drive by shooting. He had several guns. A few of the kids were actually the children of cops, and believe it or not, they had not yet been arrested. But we knew where they congregated. As a Christian, I was so filled with indignation, I was very seriously contemplating doing a drive by shooting. I wanted revenge and was willing to kill.

    Now, obviously, we didn’t carry it out, but in my heart, I was angry at God for what I understood to be His call on my heart to forgive these punks who murder for fun. I felt as though He basically didn’t understand. I felt the calls in Scripture were almost naive or wimpy.

    I attended the funeral and went back to Bible school in the Midwest. One evening during prayer, I was thinking about the words of (Ed)’s mother. I thought about the pain she must have felt, and I said to the Father, “Lord, those kids deserve hell!” And never before in my life have I heard the voice of God so clearly and so powerfully. Call it a vision if you will. He showed me the mother of Jesus holding Him in her arms, in nearly the same way as Ed’s mom, after they took Him down from the cross, weeping to heaven. “Why did they kill my innocent son?” She cried out.

    Then the Father showed me that the pain that she felt was only a fraction of the pain He felt at that moment. The Father’s heart was broken. Then in an instant, I saw the murder of my friend. The murders thrusting the bat into his head. My whole body was trembling. Then instantly, the vision shifted. Suddenly I was the one holding the bat and instead of Ed being murdered, it was Jesus. I heard the words, “You killed my son. It was your sins that killed Him! You deserve hell!” The Lord essentially pulled a Nathan and David on me. The story of the neighbors sheep. It was at that moment that I realized that I am as much of a sinner and murderer as these reckless punks who killed my friend. I deserve hell just as much as they do. I am saved by His grace and mercy, not because I am better than they are. We need to come to that place if we are to be honest.

    I prayed for their forgiveness and repentance and I even had the came to share the gospel with one of them months later in the courthouse during the trial. He was quite broken and seemed to receive what I shared. Who knows?

    I just wanted to share that. Perhaps you will brush it aside. But as the clash of civilizations continues, there will be ample room for Christians to take a self-righteous stance and not take Jesus’ commands to heart. Its going to become more an more difficult as things get worse. We need to be on our knees and listening to what the Father is telling us. The voice of this world, even from within the Church will become louder and louder. But we need to hear His voice.

  • Joel
    Posted at 12:19h, 18 February

    Its not possible to lay down your life for those you consider your enemies? You would not take the time to risk your life to proclaim the gospel among those who you consider your enemies or the enemies of the people of God?

    You said: Show me the command to forgive without being asked. Maybe i’m wrong, but I can’t see it.

    And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Matthew 11:25

    No qualifiers here. Forgive anyone who YOU have something against. Otherwise, your refusal to forgive others, i.e.. your self-righteousness will result in the Father not forgiving you. This is a profoundly solemn warning.

    “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; Luke 6:37

    and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Luke 11:4

    Again, no qualifiers.

    And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”fn And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34

    Needless to say, they were not asking for forgiveness as they killed him. Yet Our Lord, our master, our model, payed that they would be forgiven. Of course that can only come through repentance. So we pray for the repentance of all men. On the Day of the Lord, justice will come. We may rest in that.

  • linda keyes
    Posted at 12:29h, 18 February

    In forgiving we release ourselves from the root of bitterness, whether or not it is asked for,ultimately our forgiveness helps keep our hearts in tune with Christ, (though not always the easiest of tasks).

    Paul speaking of pouring coal on peoples heads, i don’t think it was his desire, more that thats how our kindness would be received, as their actions did not provoke us to evil.

    I think of wicked king Manassah, he truly proves that God seeks the wicked to repent, we have to have a heart to do the the same,even if they dont, Ezekiel tells us that God takes not pleasure in the death of the wicked.

  • Nelson Walters
    Posted at 14:52h, 18 February

    Wow, Joel, powerful story. We are all deserving of wrath except for the mercy of Christ.

    cjk, you quoted “70 x 7” as the number of times we are to forgive. This is a reference to Daniel Chapter 9 and the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. This prophecy ends with the triumphant return of Christ. It is at that point forgiveness ends, not until. The Wrath of God is at that point poured out on those who don’t repent.

    Also you point out the Fifth Seal of Revelation with a vision of the martyrs beneath the altar. Yes, they are anxious for God to pour out his wrath. Of course they are; this is understandable. Notice how the Lord responds to the martyrs, however. He is waiting for two things. One, that the total number of his servants is reached. This shows that unrepentant will yet be saved at that point. Some of these will have to be from among those harming the church or God would not delay. The second is that the set number of martyrs ordained by God is reached. This is strange to the modern Church. It is because we do not understand the place of our martyrdom and sacrifice in the spiritual war with Satan.

  • Taryn
    Posted at 15:21h, 18 February

    As Stephen was stoned, he prayed: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). It is my belief that only this kind of radical love-the love of God through us-can ever defeat such evil. I pray for the saints around the world, that all of us may be granted this holy courage. May He strengthen the ones who are put to the ultimate test with His peace and the power to endure all manner of harm with peerless excellence.

  • Kathy
    Posted at 15:53h, 18 February

    cjk, you mentioned the heaping of hot coals on heads in the context of seeking revenge on our enemies. But the quote actually says: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing thou shall heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21. In those days if your fire went out you could go to a neighborly neighbor and be given hot coals to restart your fire. It is a metaphor for doing kindnesses, not for seeking revenge.

  • cjk
    Posted at 15:58h, 18 February

    Scripture must be compared with other scripture to be correctly interpreted. You are only looking at the marshmellow side to everything. When Jesus uses the qualifier of one asking for forgiveness there is a reason for it. The 7X70 verse is much more explicative of the ‘doctrine’ of forgiveness than Matt:11:25.
    Of course I believe we should be kind and forgiving, but you and others seem to forget all the other qualifying scripture on the other side.
    Don’t cast your pearls before swine.
    I will stand on the whole of scripture which includes both sides of our argument.
    What exactly did Paul mean then?
    What exactly did John mean then?
    What exactly do the Saints of Revelation mean?
    What does Jude mean?
    What was Christ doing at the Temple?
    These questions seem to be just shrugged off with out a second thought.
    This is another false doctrine of the End Times akin to the Pre-Trib rapture, but this is even more destructive.
    The Spirit within me pushes me to expose this heresy.
    THOSE SAINTS WERE PLEADING FOR JUDGEMENT AND VENGEANCE. I didn’t see them interceding for mercy.
    You need to pray about this subject.
    Hopefully this can open your eyes a bit.

  • Dave
    Posted at 18:20h, 18 February

    One reason the Church thrives during persecution is that it tends to quickly separate the true believers from those who merely pay lip-service to God. The Coptic Church has been living in a state of persecution for centuries. Those brothers from Egypt had already been tested and had already built their resolve to die for Christ if necessary. I can’t help but smile knowing that our Egyptian brothers were lifted up in glory for their testimony. We need to similarly build our resolve in this society as well. The time for us to commit one way or the other is coming.

  • Joel
    Posted at 21:05h, 18 February

    cjk,

    I feel profoundly sorry for you that you have taken the position that you have. As I said, your self-righteousness is as pornography before God.

  • Gabe Caligiuri
    Posted at 23:45h, 18 February

    Hi CJK:

    It would appear that the brother and mother of 2 of the Coptic martyrs would disagree with your position. Please watch this and let me know if their response is heretical.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yCmnyzYeW8&feature=youtu.be

    Gabe

  • Joel
    Posted at 23:58h, 18 February

    Thanks so much for sharing this bro.

  • Gabe Caligiuri
    Posted at 00:15h, 19 February

    You are MOST welcome.

  • Jose Martinez
    Posted at 04:44h, 19 February

    Dave said “One reason the Church thrives during persecution is that it tends to quickly separate the true believers from those who merely pay lip-service to God.”

    It is beautiful when a Christians talks so lovingly about other Christians with total disregard to their “DOCTRINE!

    If you were Adventists you woukd not defend Catholics in their sacrifice to God. If you were Jehovah Witness you would not give elogy to a Mormon’s death on the hands of Islam.

    Only a TRUE Christians KNOWS it is NOT about church, doctrine nor religion. Islam is against ALL of us. Against ANYONE who believe in Jesus.

    If only the churches knew that! They might show the love you show for them too!

    United brothers in Christ’s agaist a common enemy – ISLAM.

  • James West
    Posted at 12:16h, 19 February

    Don’t forget Luke 17:3, which was written after Matthew on the subject of forgiveness. Repentance is an element in forgiving others. Forgiving others means to give up the right of vengeance to God while seeking to be a blessing to the offender. This, however, does not absolve one of the responsibility to protect the innocent and the weak. We must seek a balance here. I tend to think that Meathook, Bill, Sam, and cjk have struck a balance. If a government’s duty is to defend its citizens, and it is, then a citizen of that government owes his allegiance to the same high, moral principle. Christians cannot shirk this duty with the excuse that they are willing to die for Christ. Dying for one’s faith is noble, but seeking martyrdom is not biblical. Some early Christians sought martyrdom because they thought it would qualify them for special rewards in heaven. In a spooky way, it sounds like why some Muslims want to die for their faith. Both are wrong. Just as noble is the willingness to die to protect others. “Greater love has n o man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Anger is wrong when it is sinful, but Jesus showed anger when it was righteous to do so. Christians should not think it is ungodly or un-spiritual to get angry about evil. If a person looks on evil, such as that perpetrated by ISIS, and responds by saying, “Oh, poor souls, they are so misguided. We should pray more for them,” that is an anemic response to evil. It allows evil to keep working its hurt upon others. A Christian should pray, yes, but he should also do what is possible to stop the evil. If Christians of former ages hadn’t acted to defeat evil, Hitler would have ruled the world. It took more than prayer to defeat the regime that was burning Jews by the millions in their devilish ovens. Pacifism in the face evil is a second evil.

  • Joel
    Posted at 12:35h, 19 February

    James,

    Again, no one is arguing against protecting the innocent. No one here is talking about pacifism. No one. Nor is anyone saying that righteous anger is wrong. It seems as though some have missed my final comments that I support violent, military action against these criminals.

    The discussion here concerns what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Cjk says that laying down his life for his enemies is impossible. He said that forgiving ones enemies is, “marshmallow.” This is to literally call Christ a wimp. I understand that there are plenty of wimpy morally neutral folks today who have zero moral clarity or resolve to do what it right, or to use violence when necessary, but this is not what we are talking about here.

    The notion that we should not seek martyrdom as you said, is profoundly unbiblical, if you understand what martyrdom really is. The word martyr simply means witness. If you are not making it as a priority of your life, your highest goal to be a witness, even at the risk of losing your life, then you are not being a disciple of Christ. You do not go looking to be killed of course, but if you ar not willing to lose your life, then Jesus said you cannot even be a Christian. There is nothing contradictory about supporting military action and resolving in ones heart to risk one’s life, and lay it down (if necessary) to save an enemy of the gospel.

    To be frank, what I see in some of the comments I’ve allowed, and much more so in many that I have deleted is fearful or self-righteous flesh, looking for any excuse to continue to act out of self-preservation, and a refusal to embrace the cross and actually follow Jesus.

  • BJ and Alisa
    Posted at 13:22h, 19 February

    The ultimate fulfillment to Christianity is not being murdered. Jesus does not espouse martyrdom. When the pharisees wanted to murder Jesus in John 8:44, He tells them that murder is of the Devil. Jesus said Satan was a murderer from the beginning, it was Satan then and it’s Satan now. In John 10:10 Jesus says, the thief comes to kill but I come that you have life. Anyone who is martyred for their belief, he/she is being murdered by Satan.

    Nobody martyred Jesus, He laid His own life down only to pick it up again by His own authority.

  • linda keyes
    Posted at 15:02h, 19 February

    I suppose its about not only knowing the Written word, but about truly knowing Him. The depths of the fathers love surely has no boundaries, it isn’t weak to not seek vengeance, its Christ like. Joel is right,it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross, only He has the right to appoint justice, we have to throw ourselves on His grace with tears and ask for a right heart, knowing that he is more hurt than we are.

    Without saying much, my only brother was brutally murdered at school, and yes
    like Joel i felt all the negative emotions, It would be a lie to say otherwise, but as so many would testify, when we look to our Father, he supplies the Grace, and enables us to not to give evil for evil. It isnt about emotion though it may be involved, its about Decision.

    There are lawful consequences for crime, and so there should be, but the consequence for rejecting Gods forgiveness is eternal, if we truly have known
    the Fathers love, we should be praying for God to lengthen men’s days that they might come to repentance, in accordance to his will.

    May we seek a Deeper experience of the Fathers heart.

  • Jeanne
    Posted at 16:06h, 19 February

    Disclaimer: I am a supporter of the liberties outlined in our Constitution, including the Second Amendment. My husband is retired military and defended our country. We both own firearms, we both have concealed carry permits, and we both carry our firearms most of the time when we walk out the door of our house, whether it be to the grocery store, the mall, or walking the dogs, going to a restaurant, night or day. If we can help it, we do not patronize businesses that do not allow their customers to carry in their establishments. We would not choose to live in a state that is unfriendly and hostile to the Second Amendment. I am not a pacifist, and in fact believe that pacifism is completely unbiblical and contrary to God’s Word. Furthermore, all repressive regimes disarmed their citizens.

    Then there is the opposite side of this coin. We know of a couple in our Sunday School class who don’t understand why we carry firearms. In fact, the wife once commented to me at lunch, and these were her exact words: “I almost hate to say this, but I’m uncomfortable when we pray for our military in church, because they kill people.” I’m not kidding, that is exactly what she said. In my opinion she is very naive and living in a fantasy world. I’d like to tell her to visit Arlington National Cemetery sometime and see the graves of all the men and women who died fighting for America.

    Secondly, God has given us government in order to keep law and order. And God does not oppose those who join the military. Yeshua did not criticize the Roman soldier who came to him for being a soldier, in the Roman army, no less. As Americans, we are privileged and blessed to live in a country such as the United States. Never in the history of the world has there been a place of such freedom and liberty. Never. I can never thank God enough in allowing me, or others on this thread, to be born in this country. The United States is an anomaly in history. There are very few countries in the world that allow their citizens to defend themselves. The only other country whose citizens are well armed, and probably more well armed than Americans, is probably Switzerland.

    But I also must agree with Joel. Although Yeshua willingly laid down his life, He did this as an example for us, did He not? He also rebuked Peter for acting in the flesh by cutting off the ear of the soldier who came to arrest him, because He knew His time had come. And one day, our time will come as well. I believe we are going to see the time when our liberties are going to be taken from us, and all of our guns will not do us any good. We must be prepared for that.

    Frankly, some of the comments here, while well intended, are an insult to our brothers and sisters who are suffering unspeakable atrocities. We should instead be identifying with their suffering, and praying for them that God would give them the endurance they need to be faithful to the end. They have no option of defending themselves.

    We read in Revelation of the saints who “loved not their lives unto the death.” Yeshua told us to expect to be treated just like Him for His name’s sake. He said we would be hated for His name’s sake. What do we believe that means? We are reading every day of the atrocities being committed against Christians in Islamic countries. They are being publicly humiliated, just as Yeshua was. But persecution and martyrdom has been the pattern throughout history for followers of Yeshua. Yeshua told us this would be so.

    Suffering and persecution are unthinkable concepts to most Americans. Most of us on this thread are surely disturbed by the direction this country is going, and by the lawlessness of the current Administration, and understandably so, but we still do not really know what it is like to live in an oppressive regime, or to have war on our homeland. I cannot imagine a time when I may have no liberties at all, when I may actually be hunted down, and betrayed by family and friends, for the sake of Yeshua. Do I want this to happen? Of course not! But I, we, may very well live to see it happen, and very soon.

    Our faith is going to be tested as it has never been before, and we will have no place to hide. How are we preparing for that now?

  • James West
    Posted at 19:00h, 19 February

    SEEKING martyrdom is definitely NOT biblical. Being willing to die for one’s witness is quite another thing. Early Christians sought to stay alive as long as possible to continue witnessing for Christ. They fled persecution (Acts 8:1-4). Paul pled his rights as a Roman citizen to escape punishment so he could continue witnessing if possible in Rome. Joel, I think your article confused people by your insistence on martyrdom as the pinnacle of Christian witness. Then you reacted to the questions and criticisms by adding that you were not against a militant response to violence used against the innocent and this only raised further questions. You provoked the impression that you were promoting pacifism. Then you had to address this by saying that you stood for the protection of the innocent. Here is a biblical position: (1) Believers are to be a witness for Christ under all circumstances, even to the point of death. But they are not to seek martyrdom, since it is noble and Christ-honoring to evade persecution as much as possible in order to continue witnessing as long as possible. (2) Believers have every right and responsibility to support their government, which God has ordained to punish lawbreakers and violent people, and in this way to protect themselves, their kin, and their fellowman. The Bible is replete with examples of God’s ordering and blessing this activity. Starting Holy Wars to defend Christianity against other religions is certainly inconsistent with the teachings of Christ.

    From one who has spent 44 years witnessing for Christ among many nations (and yes Muslim nations by radio), and from one whose life verse is Phil. 1:20-21, I understand the importance of standing up for Christ against opposition. This is our calling as believers in relation to the heavenly realm from which we take our marching orders. I also believe that, as we are citizens on earth as well (we live in two kingdoms at present), we have the moral obligation to defend righteousness and fight against tyranny and murder in society. We are “salt” as well as “light.” If I were a police officer or a soldier, I would have no qualms about carrying out my duties to use the “sword,” yes that “sword” that Jesus said his disciples could utilize on certain circumstances.

  • Adamant
    Posted at 19:11h, 19 February

    I am thankful for the discussion between CJK and Joel, because it helps me to discern and confront some things in myself.

    Something in me resonates strongly with what CJK writes, and desperately wants to believe it is true, and wants to act accordingly.

    However, my mind and conscience tell me through what I know of the bible that Joel is right. No matter how I feel about it, no matter what my “natural man”, indeed my “fearful and self-righteous flesh”, wants to believe.

    May Jesus grant me the grace that I shall act according to what I know to be true when what my flesh fears really happens.

  • Joel
    Posted at 22:26h, 19 February

    James,

    Thanks for your comments. My article concludes with a fairly clear statement:

    To be clear, this is not to say that we do not support military action and a just response again these criminals. I am not a pacifist. But let us resist the fleshly carnal spirit of the age that yearns primarily for revenge. Let us make our highest priority the opportunity to testify, to be witnesses for Jesus.

    If folks did not read this, then I cannot assume blame for any misunderstanding. I’m far from a pacifist. But what I see today among many of my fellow conservative Christians is a frustration so deep with the trending of our nation (which I share) that they seem far more bent on carnal and fleshly responses than Christ-like responses. This article was my effort to remind us of the call to embrace the cross and place the gospel as our highest priority.

    Thanks so much for serving on the mission field faithfully for so long.

    Bless you.

  • Joel
    Posted at 22:28h, 19 February

    Jeanne,

    I own firearms and would not hesitate to use them to protect my sheep. So please be assured that this is not an issue for me. But I also would not hesitate to risk my life going to places where I risk being killed so that some might be saved. I hope the “balance” that I am trying to convey is clear. I have not written a single article about Muslims either here or on WND where one or several have not said that the only answer is to reduce the Middle East to a sea of glass. These comments come from those who claim to be Christians. When I read this, not only do I grieve, I also fear for these individuals on the Day of Judgment. I trust you understand. God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. Neither should we.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Bless ya.

  • Nathan Graves
    Posted at 07:53h, 20 February

    Joel,

    You have done a great service to all of us with this article. The first lines reveal the great love you have for the Savior and for the plight of our brothers and sisters who are suffering. I wonder how many others shed tears for them.

    You friend,

    Nathan

  • Alan Bender
    Posted at 13:36h, 20 February

    This is new territory for most Christians in the US. We may have our opinions, things read in books,influence from media or just our natural temperament but what will be necessary is a living encounter from the Lord so it is no longer what another has said but I have heard from Him myself!
    We will know when it is time to know and those that lay down the old hat they are wearing and seek Him will find Him.
    I read Fox’s book of martyrs about 30 years ago and only one story remains with me but it has remained with me all these years and so far up to now it has been enough. It is the story of an older man to be burned at the stake and a younger man saying he doesn’t know if he could go through with it if it was his lot to do so. The old man said when I lift my hands together in the air know God’s grace is sufficient. So the old man having his hands tied to the stake behind his back lifted up his hands together in the flaming fire as a testimony that God’s grace enabled to commit his life to a Faithful Creator.
    This article and comment has got my attention as it is now time for me to be before the Lord to prepare me to have an answer to help those who are not clear or are clearly wrong. Just for thought, there is a very influential man on radio who has a large following of which many are believers. This warning sense has been with with for years to be careful lest you find yourself following him unknowingly for one day I am going to take a right in the fork and he a left. You can not help but have respect for a lot of Americans in leadership roles who are passionate about this country and how it is being betrayed but as Christians we need to be examples and witnesses and this comes far,far above our thought. The Living God will lead us in paths that make the way clearer in these days of gross darkness.

  • Joel
    Posted at 13:45h, 20 February

    Nathan,

    I’m grateful for all that you do brother.

    Blessings to you!

  • BJ and Alisa
    Posted at 14:20h, 20 February

    The will of the Father for us and the will of the Father for Jesus are not the same. In Luke 22:42 we clearly see that this is the will of the Father for Jesus. Jesus was about to be crucified for the sins of man. The Bible tells us Jesus was in agony just thinking about it, but He knew it was the will of the Father. We were never asked to emulate this nor could we. When Jesus ask us to lay down our life, He is not referring to a physical death He is referring to our will. The will of the Father for us is in Galatians 5:16-25.

    So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

    There is a difference,I hope this helps.

  • Jeanne
    Posted at 14:42h, 20 February

    Joel,

    Thank you for your comments. I agree with you 100 percent, and appreciate the balance you have brought to the discussion.

    Nathan and Alan, excellent comments as well. thank you.

    Proverbs 8:36 says, “all they that hate me love death.” Satan loves death. The terrorists love death, and they have told us so.

    No one here is promoting martyrdom or the idea that we should “seek” it. I agree that we should not “seek” martyrdom as the Muslims do in following Satan. But the fact is, what the terrorists are doing is not true martyrdom. Islam always inverts the truth. The terrorists are not, in fact, martyrs, but murderers. Only a false religion would encourage its adherents to seek death. An ideology that promotes and glorifies death and murder of others can only come from Satan.

    Muslims praise the early followers of Muhammed for protecting him and and being willing to die for him while he escaped danger. Yeshua, however, never deliberately put his disciples in harms way. He took the ultimate “hit” for us on the cross. Muhammed did not lead by example in that respect. He sought to save his own skin by putting followers in harms way.

    http://unravelingislam.com/blog/?p=348#comments

  • David NYC
    Posted at 17:33h, 21 February

    I do not think Joel is espousing Martyrdom or pacifism. Joel is saying we are to witness to those who need to hear. If we are to preach the gospel to the unsaved in the MiddleEast, though, is to expect possible Martyrdom. There’s a difference. I will possibly die one day preaching the gospel and die as a martyr. But, I will not purposely go and stand in the middle of a public square somewhere hostile just to boast that I can die as a martyr. Again, I don’t believe this is what Joel is saying. But, there are many places in the world where preaching is synonymous with martyrdom. Should we shy away from bringing the light to dark places because it will possibly lead to certain death? No. If I were in the that position, would I allow myself to be captured just because Paul say to “Live is Christ, to die is gain”? No. I would evade capture, but accept my fate if captured and place my trust in Jesus and die victorious.

    “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” – Matthew 7:6 If I were to understand this verse as CJK hints, I wouldn’t even bother preaching to the unbelievers in the Middle East. Nor would I encourage anyone else to. I would then be forced to agree with commentators on Joel’s website and WND have stated: ” to reduce the Middle East to a sea of glass” Again, I doubt this is in line with Jesus’ teaching “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” – Matthew 28:19 This is our calling. This is our purpose.

    The disciples faced these difficult questions, about what to do with the enemy. Here’s a good example:
    54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them ?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village. – Luke 9:54
    Jesus rebuked them. The disciples wanted vengeance and fire simply for rejection! “52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.”

    Imagine what they would’ve wanted for persecution at this early discipleship time. But, Jesus REBUKED them.

    Now, we cannot gloss over the verse about vengeance. Spin it anyway you’d like, but the verse says ” Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” – Romans 12:19

    And, again: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:35

    The souls under the altar can rightly ask for vengeance from the One who will repay. But, we are called to bring the Good News, to forgive, and to leave room for God’s wrath, not ours.

    That having been said, this does not in anyway conflict with Government’s role.
    “But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:4

    So, here we see God’s wrath or punishment enacted not spiritually coming down from a cloud. God’s instrument of wrath is many times physical and overt. Government. Rulers who bear the sword. This, though, is not the calling of the Church. We are called to bring the good news, government is entrusted with protecting the people. This is also not conflicting with Christians in the military. You can be part of government, do your duty, and still continue with your primary directive of praying for your enemies and preaching the Gospel.

    There is nothing “marshmallow” about prayer. Let us not pretend that prayer is “just prayer.” There is NOTHING weak about seeking the all-powerful Creator to handle business. I’d rather be found depending on the might of my God than the might of a human army.

    Again, nothing “marshmallow” about taking Jesus at his word: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45a).” If Jesus tells us flat out “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES and pray for those who persecute you” (eh hem, ISIS, ‘radical’ Islam, etc)… I’ll take Jesus’ suggestion over yours CJK, thank you.

  • BJ and Alisa
    Posted at 20:06h, 21 February

    Joel,

    I must be misunderstanding your thoughts, you said in your article:

    “And the martyrdom of the saints among all the nations is, and will be His primary method of displaying His mercy.”

    Do you think God the Father is killing his own children? How is being martyred by Satan displaying God’s mercy? Please explain.

  • Joel
    Posted at 03:06h, 22 February

    BJ and Alisa,

    First, your question feels to me to be very accusatory toward God. Everyone dies. But I would encourage great caution in expressing the idea that God is killing them, as if He is some type of murderer. While you could certainly argue that God is sovereign and thus He is responsible for all deaths, I think a more proper way to ask the question is:

    Will the Father allow many of His people to be killed / martyred as part of His plan to testify to a wicked world of His great love and mercy toward them? Will the Last Days be a time when He gives one final very glorious call unto repentance to all the nations, just before the time when all men stand before the judgment set of Christ?

    So to answer your questions: First, God desires all men to repent. The very reason He is withholding His righteous judgments in this present age, is because He is patiently allowing time for men to repent and come to Him:

    The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. —2 Peter 3:9

    Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? —Ezekiel 18:23

    Second, the Lord will allow the Antichrist to successfully break His people. This is made clear in several passages. Let’s consider just a few examples. Speaking of the Antichrist, the Scriptures state:

    the LORD’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning … the trampling underfoot of the LORD’s people?—Daniel 8:13

    The Antichrist is also called:

    …a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. … He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. —Daniel 8

    Elsewhere, we learn that:

    “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. —Daniel 11:36

    During this period, we are told that

    “Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days…. Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time. Daniel 11:33-35

    Remember those words. Also, speaking of the last days martyrs, despite being killed, the Scriptures say that they:

    And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. —Rev 12:11

    Elsewhere, we see that in heaven, they will

    … call out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. —Revelation 6:10-11

    Notice that the Lord has a full number of martyrs that must come in before He completes His testimony to the peoples of the earth.

    So to answer your question, Jesus died not merely for atonement for our sins, but as a living message concerning the mercy of God to sinners. Instead of killing us, he allowed His own son to be killed. He actually poured out His wrath on His own son. He crushed His own son. (Isaiah 53) But Jesus said yes to all of this.

    We as the disciples of Jesus are called to imitate him in loving not our lives even unto death, but to testify to the wicked world concerning the mercy of God for sinners, God-haters, and even Christian murderers such as the apostle Paul.

    “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” —1 Peter 2:21

    How does the martyrdom of Christians display or reveal the mercy of God? I think if you listen to the video above of the bother of two of the martyrs, you will have your answer.

    We are called to testify concerning the coming Day of Judgement in which no man can stand apart from repentance and being covered by the blood of Jesus. When we are willing to risk our lives to preach the Gospel of the mercy of God that is available to all, then we are truly His ambassadors and truly followers of Jesus. I am reminded of the story of Stephen:

    They cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:58-60

    I hope this brief answer begins to answer your questions.

    Blessings,
    Joel

  • Simon
    Posted at 05:03h, 22 February

    Fantastic Joel!

    I think you’ve done a wonderful job throughout your responses in revealing the beauty of God’s patience and mercy – I am astounded again and again at just how holy God is and how far my own heart is from total agreement with him, especially on this issue. I begin to understand why Isaiah cursed himself upon seeing God.

    The Father is reaching out longingly to even the most sadistic and unrepentant sinners and that reach extends so far as to allow Christians to die – but how incomparable are the deaths of our brothers and sisters to that of Christ, whom the Father chose to die in our place.

    While IS is abominable, we are their equal in that Christ’s incomparably precious blood is on our hands – God’s mercy is that the blood we spilled washed us clean rather than ushered in our immediate and deserving destruction.

    Praise the Lord that the world will get a powerful witness in the martyred saints, and if we are blessed to give our life with them, then may the wicked repent and receive the mercy God longs to give!

  • BJ and Alisa
    Posted at 12:52h, 22 February

    Joel,
    I like your idea of not calling God a murdered. I’m glad you’re giving credit where credit is due. I knew you knew this all along. I just needed you to dig a little deeper.

    Thanks for making this more clear, BJ

  • DANIEL a DUDLEY
    Posted at 22:36h, 22 February

    Joel,

    I appreciated your explanation to BJ and Alisa. Yes, we see God’s mercy on unbelievers and willingness to permit the Beast to kill believers for a full 42 months (Rev. 13:5-7), the second half of the tribulation. I have theorized that the two witnesses may be the last of these martyrs (Rev. 11:3-7) filling up the number of “their fellow servant and their brethren who were to be killed…” Rev.6:11

    And God does continue to allow opportunities to repent as late as the 6th trumpet Rev. 9:20-21, and the 4th and 5th bowl, but “they did not repent” Rev. 16:9, 11.

    Finally, after all these plagues or inducements to repentance are complete God’s final judgment falls on the unbelievers.

    I have appreciated your two books and am sharing these revolutionary ideas with all who will listen.

    In His service,

    Dan

  • shawn
    Posted at 02:01h, 27 February

    Hi Joel,
    What is the significance of the orange jumpsuits? Does it have some sort of meaning? Just wondering.

    Shawn

  • Joel
    Posted at 03:02h, 27 February

    They are treating them as prisoners, like we did with the prisoners at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

  • James
    Posted at 12:26h, 28 February

    Joel,

    I want to honour you for your courage and strength in holding to biblical values over this issue. I may not agree with you all the time but you are defending the true gospel here against the spirit of this age.

  • Daniel Simeroth
    Posted at 06:39h, 03 March

    We must be ready in our hearts and minds to profess Christ and not deny Him if we are put in these same circumstances. That decision needs to be made now and not just left to a future possibility. I pray that the Antichrist’s power will be limited to just one part of the world but we must be willing to suffer with our brothers and sisters in Christ and we must put ourselves in their shoes as martyrs. And we should expect the possibility that we may be put to death someday for our confession of Jesus as our Lord. Come Lord Jesus Soon. Gives us strength.

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