The Unstoppable Gospel!

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Whilst flying out from Edinburgh earlier today, as the morning sun gently illuminated small towns and villages below, I found myself despairing.

As I looked down on these tilt-shifted, miniature streets and houses, the question entered my mind – just how many of those people were waking up today in the knowledge and fellowship of their God and Saviour?

How many had rejected Him?

How many had never even heard the Gospel?

All of a sudden I felt very small as I was forcibly reminded of the vastness of the task, of our mission to share the live giving Gospel in this our beautiful country.

My worry and thoughts were self-centred and self reliant, the task is incredible, and the opposition and darkness does grow day by day. The first verse of Psalm 97 came to my mind:
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
    let the distant shores rejoice.

Our sovereign, ever reigning, never failing God has called us to follow and to serve, and He alone will give us the means and opportunities to share the Gospel, all for His Glory.

In Church History classes we looked at the early church, a small assortment of believers, no visible attributes, by all human reckoning they should have gotten nowhere with their ‘new religion’, some words from Plinius Caecilius the Roman governor of Bithynia, as he faced a new problem:

Meantime this is the course I have taken with those who are accused before me as Christians. I asked them at their own lips whether they were Christians, and if they confessed, I asked them a second and third time with threats of punishment. If they kept to it, I ordered them for execution.

The matter seemed to me worth deliberation especially on account of the number of those in danger; for many of all ages and every rank, and even of both sexes are brought into present or future danger.

The contagion of that superstition has penetrated not the cities only, but the villages and country: yet it seems possible to stop it and set it right.

He, evidently, did not manage to contain and stop the ‘contagion’!

Here we are, 2000 years and many more miles away, and the Gospel has not, and will never be stopped.
The task is indeed massive and our calling to serve is serious, but the power of the Word of God remains the same.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
–  Romans 1:16

 

The Gospel and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Intro)

 

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As Christians we are burdened and tasked with the great privilege & duty of sharing the life-giving Gospel. We have to share it wherever God places us, and with whoever God puts in our path.
It perhaps used to be the case that the Christians on the Island wouldn’t normally come into contact with people of other beliefs until they left the Island for education or for work.
The reality now is that walking around Stornoway you can now come into contact with at least five other major religious beliefs.

If we are to engage with those from other faiths, and share the Gospel with them, it makes sense for us to understand how they understand God/ salvation/ sin/ mankind etc.
Otherwise we will find ourselves talking past each other and not really getting anywhere!
We might begin talking to someone about salvation through Jesus alone, we might agree with each others main points, only then to find out that they think Jesus is not the eternal Son of God, rather he is a mere created being – produced by God the father and one of his many celestial wives (as is generally believed by the LDS Church (the Mormons).
We have to do the hard work, we have to prepare and study hard – most JW missionaries (the ones knocking on your door) pour hours of study each week into how to share their gospel with you.

There are a few warnings to take note of before we continue:

– I would not advise or suggest that new Christians or Christians who are going through a hard time in their walk should engage in this type of study. It is essential to have a good grasp of what you believe, before you begin to engage. You are dealing with something that is truly dangerous and that requires the full armour of God. It is never purely academic, this is real spiritual warfare.

– Before you begin any form of study into other religions, start by reading Scripture,  worship, and prayer. Pray that God would keep you safe from what you are about to study. You might accuse me of being far too cautious or dramatic, but we have to be mindful that when we are dealing with false beliefs and sects we are dealing with evil, we are studying ideas and thoughts that have come from the enemy of God.
We should prepare ourselves accordingly.

– Our study of other beliefs should never overtake our own personal devotional life and study. There is always a real danger that we dedicate too much time and thought to the study of these things, and let our own spiritual walk suffer.

– When we engage with those caught up and blinded in other beliefs we have to remember that once we were just and blinded as they still are, that the same God who opened our eyes to the glorious truth is more than able to do the same for them also.

Originally this was going to be more wide ranging, but with the recent increase in activity on the Island from the Jehovahs Witnesses (JW’s) I thought it might be best to take the time to look at what they believe and how we might engage them with the Gospel.
They are currently building a new Church in Stornoway, when it is completed this will more than likely mean that more JW families will move to the Island. What an incredible Gospel opportunity this gives us!
They come to ur doors, let’s be ready to listen to them, to talk with them, and to share with then the true life giving and life saving Gospel.

Upcoming posts:

1- JW Beliefs Basics 1
2- JW Beliefs Basics 2
3- The Most Common Passages
4- Sharing the Gospel 1
5-  Sharing the Gospel 2
6- What we need to Know

 

As always, comments & thoughts always appreciated.

 

 

Do I REALLY care for the Gospel?

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“Give me Scotland, or I die.”

These were the words of John Knox, one of the most famous Christians in Scottish History. At a time when the true Gospel was obscured behind the man-made religion of the Roman Catholic Church, Knox was among those that were seeking, above all other things, to have the true Gospel heard again in Scotland [See here & here for more about the life and ministry of John Knox]

In these few short words Knox isn’t arrogantly demanding from God some piece of land or power.
What we see here is a plea from a man who wanted, above all things, to see God glorified in the spread of the Gospel in Scotland.
In other words he is saying ‘Lord, I am desperate that this nation would all come to worship you and know you’.

Knox was willing to give up comfort and his freedom to serve the God he loved.
These few simple words of Knox have really convicted me the last few days.
They’ve made me question my passion for the Gospel; can I say with a heart full of conviction:
“Give me my Lewis, or I die”
OR
“Give me my village, or I die”
OR
“Give me my family, or I die”
Do I care enough for the glory of God and the spread of the wonderful Gospel that I am willing to work relentlessly for His cause?

Not that God needs us to accomplish His work, He doesn’t! But, in His infinite wisdom, He calls us to act. To be the candles in this dark world. To share the beautiful, simple Gospel.

Knox was not just offering up some inspiring words, this simple but powerful prayer came from a man who was willing to work hard for the sake of the Gospel. His zeal & passion for serving God was matched in his actions.

That God would keep us full of love and passion for Him, and that our action would match our words.

Let’s see what Paul [a man who knew what it was to suffer for the sake of the Gospel] says concerning our daily walk as Christians (emphasis mine):
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,g serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
-Romans 12: 9-16

Bethel: A man-centered gospel

[< CLICK HERE TO READ THE INTRODUCTION]
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[Note: This is not an attack on the beliefs of my Charismatic Brothers and Sisters, although we differ – our differences are secondary issues. The issues addressed here are something completely different to normal Charismatic church practice. A different Gospel is being shared here. I do apologise for not making this clear when I first posted this.]

This is going to be a long one folks, but please take the time to read it carefully. Go make yourself a cup of tea &  grab some biscuits and let’s tackle this together.

Quotes are taken mainly from Bill Johnson (B)[“When Heaven Invades Earth”] and Kris  Vallotton (V)[“School of the Prophets”], as well as material from various Bethel sermons and this article in Charisma Magazine.
Bill and Kris are essentially the main leaders in Bethel. It’s a bit of a long history, but essentially Bill & Kris and their spouses are heavily involved in the leading and teaching of Bethel.

I have tried to approach this academically as possible, displaying the evidence and letting you, the readers, decide for yourselves how Biblical the teachings of Bethel really are.
As a younger believer, I was taken in by this teaching, I believed most of it – I tried to offer prophecy, I believed I could speak in tounges etc.
To the praise of God, he took me out of that, and I left it all far behind me.
I recently took the time to read and re-read several of their books, and listening to countless sermons and lectures, it has been a real struggle. To be honest, my soul is hurting, hurting as I have seen the wonderful Gospel completely tarnished and twisted for nothing else than monetary gain and pride. A gospel of Self, Want, and Me; being so widely propagated in the place of the real truth that it is all about God, and not about us.

You might well say that this is an exaggeration, that they do proclaim some truth. I won’t disagree with you, much like the proverbial broken clock, they do hit on some Biblical truths every now and then.
Let’s not forget that the devil often comes as an ‘angel of light’, half-truths packaged as the pure truth have lead many to eternal destruction.
‘A spoonful of truth helps the false-teaching go down…’ – and oh, how much I wish this was only Mary Poppins level makebelieve.

Me, Me, Me

As you delve into the sermons and literature from Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, the truth is that the standout feature is a theology that is simply not God-centered, but it is purely focused and based on man:

In redeeming man, Jesus retrieved what man had given away … We were then to be completely restored to His plan of ruling as a people made in his image. And as such we would learn how to enforce the victory obtained at Calvary…

It carries on:

We were born to rule-rule over creation, over darkness-to plunder hell and establish the rule of Jesus wherever we go 
[B,pp.32-33]

The first sentence seems like it could be heading in a good direction, if it had defined what man had given way was his standing before a Holy God, then we could move on quite happily.
But no, instead we are told that what we gave away was our place as a “ruling people” – in fact, that we were made to rule over creation (not even going to go into the Mormonism alarm bells that statement rings). Not only creation, but also darkness, and to “plunder hell”, whatever that actually means? [Rom3:23]
Yes, we were made to have “dominion over the earth”, but that is where our territory and ruling ends. At best we are here as caretakers of God’s creation, to look after it, not to rule over it. [Gen1:28]

Jesus did not redeem us so that we could regain our rule on the earth, this is not just missing the target, this is not even firing the arrow.
We’ll touch on this more in a second, but Jesus came (as far as our redemption is concerned) to save “a people for  himself”, so that he would save his people, bear the punishment meant for them, wash them clean,  forgive their sin, and one day take them home to himself. Nothing to do with us ruling over anything, it is all to do with His incredible work.
[1Pet2:9/ 1Pet2:24/ Jhn14:3]

This next quote is  a question from the devotional book that is for use with “When Heaven meets Earth” (I have it on Kindle, so cannot give a page number, it’s found in ‘Day 3’) :

Who do you relate to the most, Gideon or Peter? What ability do you find in Jesus that makes up for you inability?

I’ll be honest, this question really did hurt. It further confirms and helps to summarise the attitude that is found towards Jesus in much of this teaching. Ultimately he is some great vending machine that will provide us with what we are lacking. Like a wee kid asking Santa for presents we come to Jesus to fulfil for us what is lacking in our life.
The Gospel truth is that I am totally and completely unable to do anything, ANYTHING. I don’t come to Jesus hoping he’ll help me with the gap in my otherwise sorted life. I come to Him as He is the only one who provides us with all our ability, all our meaning, and all our purpose.
[Col2:10/ 2Cor12:9/ Jhn14:27]

We can now tackle one of the saddest and untrue statements I’ve ever read:

Likewise, salvation was not the ultimate goal of Christ’s coming…Without accomplishing redemption, there was no hope for the ultimate goal-was was to fill each born again person with the Holy Spirit. [B,pp.69 ]

I had to take a break after reading this section, it is nothing short of a simple lie. This is not some minor difference in point of view. No, this is simply going against very clear Scripture, we can go through a whole list of passages, for example:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” – 1 Timothy 1:15

&

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

We could look at pages more of biblical quotes all saying similarly. When your teaching is directly in opposition to the clear words of Christ, something has gone badly wrong.
The beautiful message that Jesus came to save us from our sin, that any who come to him will be saved, twisted into meaningless words.
This shocking lie is simply just a continuation of our point , that ultimately it’s all about us. All done so that we may benefit in the here and now. When in  reality, it’s all about God and his glory.

JESUS THE MIRACLE MAN?

The following two quotes are from Johnson (I added the underline), the first from the Charisma magazine article that he wrote (2014), and  the second from his book (2003):

While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divine powers and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God. 

If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us.

&

He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us.

Whilst Johnson claims that he believes that Jesus is eternally God, he then goes on to contradict himself in the same sentence by stating  that Jesus emptied himself of all his divine powers, that he achieved all he did on earth as a man, and not as God.
He uses Phil2:7, to back up this incredible claim. What we are about to see is nothing short of a master class in twisting Scripture.
Let’s see this verse from Philippians placed in the context of the verses that surround it:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of aservant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross.

These verses are from a wonderful section in Philippians chapter 2 (v5-11), where Paul is writing to the Church and is really bringing them back to the basics of their faith.
He explains to them that in order for Jesus to come to earth he had to become like us, he had to be born as a man. Now Johnson here claims that when Jesus did this he completely “emptied himself of his divine powers”. In the context of these verses, is this really what Paul was trying to say?
No, of course not, it’s clear from the second half of v7, that Jesus emptying himself is nothing to do with somehow losing his “divine powers”, instead it is all to do with him humbling himself. The NIV perhaps offers a clearer translation of the verse:
“he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
In v.8 we this being confirmed to us, he was found in human form, he felt our emotions, he felt pain, he felt and experienced the world as we do (all without sinning). But he was ‘fully human and fully God’, he did not, for once second, ever ‘loose’ any of his power. He never ceased being God. To say otherwise is go against clear Scripture [click here for a further explanation] For further study, look into “Kenosis Theology”.

So why would Johnson even begin to sate anything otherwise? Well as he said:
“If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us.”
Because Bethel teaches that we can all still perform miracles today, to agree that Jesus did all that he was able to do because of his divine power; well, that sort of ruins the self-worship party a bit.

So instead the alternative narrative has to be created, one where Jesus acted as just a man, implying that if we try really had we can one day become like him in all our works.
Again here we see the core of all Bethel teachings, that we are so amazing that we can even perform miracles like Jesus did.
Even the newest Christian understands that we do not have the power that Jesus has, to even entertain that thought is nothing sort of complete senselessness.
He is, was and always will be God, never losing or letting go of His divine attributes for one second. [Hebrews 13:8] If He did He would no longer be able to be called God, and His work, and ultimately our salvation, would all be totally meaningless.

My friend, has your soul sunk as you are reading this, does this not just hurt so much? The perfect work of our perfect Saviour being lost in the confusion of man-made beliefs, that do nothing but hide the true Gospel from eyes and ears  that desperately needs to see and hear it.

SIGNS AND WONDERS

Bethel are perhaps best known for the supernatural goings-on that they claim happen on a near daily basis. I have struggled on how best to do this section, I think the best way is to simply share with you the evidence and you can judge for yourself the validity of their claims. I will link a wide variety of videos, images and quotes – just to give you a taste of what goes on.

It does not take any level of Biblical maturity to see these miracles, signs, and prophecies for what they really are. Not one of these videos, quotes, images have any Biblical backing and are purely man-made creations.

I leave these here for you to watch and come to your own conclusions, compare what is being shown and said to the simple Biblical teachings.


A Bethel Fire Tunnel
Fun story: As a younger Christian I was quite keen on the teachings of Bethel, and sometimes attended a Church that promoted their teaching and beliefs. I went once to C.L.A.N., and there I experienced a Fire tunnel. In fact, I was prophesied over: “Your smile will bring joy to the nations” – Yup, never did follow my career dream as a travelling nomad dentist…

“Why are they jumping around like that?”, to be honest I have no idea. Whatever else it may be, it is definitely not the Holy Spirit.
This video explains one possibility. I am not saying I agree with it 100%, but it is certainly interesting.


Leg growing ‘miracle’ at Bethel

What’s happening here? Think of it like playing “I’ve got your nose” with a kid, expect it’s a leg, and it’s making a total mockery of God.


‘God’s glory’ appearing in Bethel (as glitter?)

Here is Bill Johnson further explaining  this ‘miracle’
Yeah, the creator of the universe and all that it contains, the one who numbers the stars, and who knows the very hairs on our head, decided to show up in Bethel, as some glitter coming through air-vents. God’s glory is not something that gets swept up and binned at the end of the night. They also experience feathers from the “wings of God” (no, not joking) and money also falling from the ceiling.


 Grave Soaking

Necromancy


Seriosuly, I’ve got nothing to say, quite simply “Eh?”


I heard a strange noise, and I opened my eyes just in time to see Jesus walk through the wall and stand in front of me! I sat up in the tub with a sense of awe surging through my being like electricity. I looked up into His face, and I could see the world in His eyes. Then, to my surprise, He began to speak to me.
“I have called you to be a prophet to the nations. You will speak before kings and queens. You will influence prime ministers and presidents. I will open doors for you to talk to mayors, governors, ambassadors and government officials all around the world. You will be a father to many nations, and you will guide many nations into prosperity, freedom and peace. I will put My words in your mouth, and the nations will know that there is a God in heaven who loves them, leads them and guides the affairs of men!”
The vision lasted for about half an hour as Jesus told me many other things that would happen in my life. I sat there in the tub, speechless, my mind swirling with thoughts, while my heart trembled with some sort of awesome fear, excitement and wonder all mixed up into one tumultuous emotion.
Finally, the Lord turned His back toward me to leave the room. Then He suddenly stopped, turned back around and pointed right at me. He said in a serious tone, “History will tell us if you believe Me!” A moment later He was gone.
– Kris Vallotton, School of the Prophets, pp.23.

Can’t find Scripture to back-up your teaching? No worries, according to Kris he hears dorect from Jesus anyway.



Someone should really tell John the Baptist, “He must become greater; I must become less.” – John 3:30
…me, me, me, me, me, me, me… ad infinitum


This is from Beni Johnson, Bill’s wife. She deserves a whole other series of posts, dedicated to her varied completely new age/mystical/spiritual teachings.


We could continue looking at these posts for a hundred more pages, they are all taken from their own official Facebook pages. I hope this gives you an idea of the pure nonsense that is created and shared as wonders and miracles from God.
At best they are nothing more than pagan/new age quotes and cheap magic tricks, at the expense (sometimes literally), of needy souls.

IN CONCLUSION

Firstly, if you’ve managed to stay this far, well done. I almost gave up halfway when writing it, so gold star for you!

How can we summarise what we have just seen? The sad reality is that I have barely scratched the surface, there are so many other areas of teaching that I have not even touched.
What we have looked at is  quite simply not the Gospel, what Bethel offers is, at best, a completely distorted version of the Gospel. It does not portray Jesus as He portrays himself, instead, they have made Him into nothing more than a means to an end. That end being our own benefit and glory.
The true Gospel is that Jesus came to save us from the destruction that we had created for ourselves, to bear the punishment for our sin, to wash us clean, to make us His people. He did not to come to make us a better version of ourselves.
I short, if you are involved with the teachings of Bethel, please stop. It is not teaching  the Gospel, it’s not even teaching anything close to the Gospel. It is teaching a man-centered theology that appeals to the ego, and that does not glorify God.
Like all other false teachings, because they are manmade, they are ultimately man-centered.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!10For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. – Romans 5:8-11

If you have been involved with this teaching and want to share your story, get in touch via “beholdourshield@outlook.com”, completely anonymous.

Bethel Church: The Sad Reality (Introduction)

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“Error, preached as truth, has contributed to the delusion of multitudes who are lost”
– Iain H. Murray

The Church today (as has been the case since the beginning) faces attacks from all angles. We can easily see the attacks of those from the outside, the attacks of atheists and from other religions. These attacks do require our attention, we must defend the Gospel and it’s wonderful truth.
The truth is though, that we often are blind to the most dangerous attacks of the enemy, those that come from ‘within’, from those that call themselves brothers and sisters, but that follow after a very different gospel. [Matt7:15]

False teaching is often hard to spot, and often when it is spotted those who are opposed to it are accused of lacking in love.
False teaching often starts small and slow, but gradually gains traction, until it clouds over the true Gospel message; and instead replaces it with a nice, shiny, man-made replica, that will please many, but saves none.

We, out here in the remoteness of the wild Atlantic, are not any safer than the rest of the church. As far as I can see, one of the biggest dangers facing the church today,  especially us younger Christians, are the teachings of Bethel Church and Jesus Culture (the “global movement” which shares the false teachings via undeniably catchy tunes)

Bethel (as we will look at in the next few posts) teach a gospel, that initially sounds like the real deal, but once you dig even a little into what is being taught, all that you see are old false-teachings, repackaged, rebranded and shared as the true life-giving Gospel.

DISCLAIMER
This is not an attack on any churches or individuals, I will only mention by name the Church of Bethel and those that are its main leaders and teachers.
I am writing this for no other reason that it is with deep sadness that I see the Gospel message being compromised and replaced by an inferior, man-made and man-centric message that twists  the words of God.
I have no special qualification to write this other than I share in the words of Calvin:
“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent”.

You may well disagree with what I am about to say, and that is fine. But I do please ask you before you dismiss what is said. Look and see if I have fairly portrayed the teachings of Bethel, and if so see for yourself how they compare to the Biblical truth .

Rather than deal with a wall of text, we can split it up into 5 separate posts, which should be posted in the coming couple of weeks:
1- The teachings of Bethel
2- Bethel Church: it’s impact and reach
3- The true Gospel

Steadfast Global

An interview with Malcolm Macleod from Steadfast Global

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself
Thanks for asking! My name is Malcolm MacLeod. I’m forty something, married, a father of two grown-up children and I walk with Jesus.

2. How did you come to know Jesus as your saviour?
Through my teens I resented the church and had no interest in Christianity. All that changed one evening when I was about 20. Life wasn’t quite what I’d hoped it would be and as I reflected on where I was I spoke with God asking for an indication that he was there and that he could change my situation. I got it, gave my heart to Jesus and walked in a new direction. There have been many ups and downs since that day but the one sure fact is that I have found God to be faithful, forgiving, challenging and satisfying!

3. When/how did you start serving the persecuted Church?
Until about 17 years ago I had absolutely no idea that Christians were being persecuted just for being Christians. A speaker came to the church we were attending from an organisation called CSW. The stories he had, had a huge impact upon me and from that moment on we did what we could to support the work of that group. Ten years later, I found myself in Canada and in full time ministry serving the Suffering Church with a mission called The Voice of the Martyrs Canada. I left that post in 2008 to return to Scotland to establish Steadfast Global.

4. What is your role in Steadfast Global?
Steadfast is still a small but thriving ministry which means I wear many hats! I lead the ministry on a day-to-day basis speaking about the work wherever and whenever we can. I also look after the newsletter making sure we get it out to our supporters every month; another key aspect of my role is to visit persecuted Christians to let them know they’re not forgotten and also to develop projects to help them get back on their feet. There are challenges in the role but without any doubt, my I love doing what I do!

5. What is the mission of Steadfast Global?
The mission of Steadfast Global is very simple: we exist to glorify God by building a bridge between the Church in Scotland and persecuted Christians across the globe.

6. How is Steadfast Global putting this mission into practice?
We do this simply by standing up and opening our mouths! The analogy of the bridge is perfect as a description of what we do. Bridges allow two-way traffic; we take the love, concern and support of the Scottish Church across to those who suffer, we share it and then we return with their message for us!

7. Which country is the worst for the persecution of Christians?
Recent activities in countries like Nigeria, Syria and Iraq make this a difficult question to answer with accuracy. If we are thinking about persecution through state-sponsored suppression of religious freedom, then I think North Korea retains its place as one of the worst places on earth to be a Christian; if on the other hand, I am basing my answer on systematic physical persecution which seeks to eradicate Christianity altogether I would have to point to Syria/Iraq where the, so called, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) have displaced tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in their sweep across the land. They have created a culture of absolute terror and hopelessness through their programme of killing, maiming and enslaving. The situation for Christians in this region is critical and they need our help.

8. How have you seen the work of Steadfast help the persecuted church?
I wish it were possible for all of our supporters to come along with me to meet those we have helped since the work started. Our activities to help have included providing funds to enable Christians in imminent danger of being killed flee to safety, the provision of resources to help rebuild and equip churches in the aftermath of persecution and facilitating places of safety. As well as these immediate interventions, we believe in building capacity for the future – this basically means that we aim to support projects that lead to independence. We do this by providing micro-loans to Christians who want to start small businesses to support their families and ministries.

9. What are the future plans for Steadfast Global?
Our firm belief is that Steadfast Global is God’s mission; he appointed us, he is allowing our growth and we are quite sure we’re here for the long-haul! Our vision as a Scottish voice for persecuted Christians is to see every faithful church across our land stand for and with those who suffer for their faith. Our plans therefore involve pushing onwards and outwards!

10. How can we here in Scotland help the persecuted Church?
This is a good question and I wish more Christians would ask it! You can help by making persecution a priority: in prayer and in practice. Please be informed of what’s going on so you can pray effectively – we issue a weekly e-update and a monthly newsletter, both of which we’d be happy to send to anyone who asks. In practice, we never solicit funds but the work we do involves expenditure. Why not prayerfully consider partnering with us?

Thank you Malcolm

 

 

 

 

“the hope that you have”

Gaelic is a notoriously difficult language to learn, this is partly due to it’s grammatical structures, take, for example,  this common phrase:
“Alba gu bràth” = Scotland forever
That’s all well and good, if not a bit cheesy, but countless times I have seen it written as:
“Alba gu brath” = Scotland (for) spy/ Scotland (for) treachery

More than a slight difference!

And its all down to that little stroke above the à. That little stroke is called a grave and it appears above the vowels in various words of the same spelling, it’s appearance can drastically change the meaning of the word, and indeed the meaning of the whole sentence or text.
It’s a very easy mistake to make, and in a glance it makes no real difference to the phrase, it still pretty much reads the same. Only  on more careful inspection do you notice the difference, and only once engaged in a deeper study do you see the massive difference it has made to the text.

Countless times in Scripture we are told to carefully study the word of God, the study of this word guides our steps (Psalm 119:105), it helps to keep us from sin (Psalm 119:11), it is a weapon that can outperform any other (Hebrews 4:12),  it nourishes us (Luke 4:5) and it is part of the armor of the Christian (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not just part of the armor but it is our only form of attack – it is our sword. And like a fighter with his word, if we are not well practiced in it’s use then we will not fight effectively with it.

Since  bible is our sword, our  form of attack, this makes it a prime target for our enemy. The enemy is expert at trying to twist the and turn the sword so much that it becomes of no use to us.

We can see this right back when our first parents fell into sin, what tempted them to sin ?
Well it was of course Satan twisting God’s words, “Did God actually say…”, iIn Genesis 3:1-5 we see the first time the enemy twists the words of God for his own ends, we see it again when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness –  Satan came to him with parts of scripture, attempting to make Jesus sin. How did Jesus stop Satan ? He answered his twisted scripture with Scripture.

It’s no different in our world today, there are plenty groups willing to twist the word of God to their own ends. If we don’t know  One example is to be found in the New world Translation, this is the scripture used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, if you take a brief glance through it it looks just the same as any other Bible translation, but like our Gaelic phrase, on closer inspection there some small changes that in the text that completely shift the meaning and purpose of the Gospel. A subtle, but incredibly important, difference is to be found in their translation of John 1:1 :

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

One extra letter and Christ is robbed of his divinity, his special place at the right hand of the Father is gone. He is now just one god among many. One letter changes all that we believe Christ to be, and if he was not who he claimed to be, he was a liar, and if he was a liar then we have no hope for salvation.
By that small twist in the word of God we see the whole plan of salvation collapsing down. There are plenty of examples of this throughout the book.

Our reading and study of the Bible cannot just be glancing or superficial, if we are to grow and if we are to stand strong and be able to defend our faith, we need to know and understand what Scripture says.
If someone challenges or asks us why isn’t the New world Translation right, why not the Qur’an why not the book of Mormon?

We have to be, as Peter wrote, “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”(1 Peter 3:15). And as Paul wrote to Timothy, “be ready in season and out of season; [to] reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.“(2 Timothy 4:2)

What is this hope that the Christian has?
It is the sure hope that we are not our own, we were bought with a price (1Cor6:20), that we worship a saviour who knows our afflictions and weakness yet is himself sinless (Heb4:15), that we worship the King who came down out of Glory to die at the hands of his own creations(Col1:16), we worship a saviour who promises to one day come back and collect his church to be with him for all eternity.(Matt24:31)

That is our hope.

Without Scripture, without the word of God, we would know none of this. So since we do have access to the very words of God we should take more care in the study of them.
Of course we wont understand everything we read, in fact, if in our reading we have no questions at all then maybe our reading isn’t going very deep.
We have to pray that the Spirit would open our eyes to what is being read, after all he inspired the writers on the first place. This is also one of the reasons that we have the Church, so we can, as brothers and sisters, discuss these passages with one another, and together grow stronger in the use of our only weapon.

“The more you read the Bible; and the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished with it.
– Charles Spurgeon