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CSK won the IPL 2023 finals because of four different cameos from four different players! Shivam Dube made 31 off 21. His twin sixes off Rashid Khan made the sky-rocking asking rate manageable. Ajinkya Rahane made 27 off 13 even as he hit two base-ballish sixes. Ambati Rayudu went 6,4,6 against Mohit Sharma, the tournament’s best death bowler perhaps, to make a 19 ball off 8. His cameo should be credited for converting a typical T20 asking rate into a typical ODI asking rate as Dhoni came to bat with 22 required off 14. Alas, Dhoni did not play a cameo. He went for a first-ball duck. The superstar finisher failed. But Dhoni’s failure became an opportunity of a life-time for Ravi Jadeja, who the CSK fans wanted to get out so that they could watch Dhoni bat through the tournament. When 10 was needed off 2 balls, Jadeja hit a six down the ground and swung one behind it to win it for CSK with a last-ball four!
The priceless, trophy-winning cameos from these 3 Rs – Rahane, Rayudu, Ravi (Jadeja) – and Shivam Dube in the IPL Final of 2023 is comparable to the cameo by Mike Veletta who “scored 45 not out off 31 balls, taking a faltering Australia to a defendable total for their first World Cup win (in 1987)” (Sidharth Monga’s words in ESPNCricinfo Cricket Monthly, January 19, 2012 edition).
These cameos also remind me of the cameo that Ananias played in the life of Apostle Paul. In obedience to God’s command, this unheralded disciple of Jesus met with Paul (Saul) who just had been converted on the road to Damascus. God used him to heal Paul (Saul) from blindness caused by the Divine light he saw – an instant healing (Acts 22:13). God used him to make Saul (Paul) understand that the supreme need of a believer is to “know his will” and be a “witness for him to everyone” (Acts 22:14-15). God used him to initiate Paul into the Christian rite of Water Baptism (Acts 22:16). And post that he disappears from the records of the rest of the New Testament. Paul wrote so many letters but there is no more mention of Ananias. Perhaps he died young. We don’t know. But what we do know is this – he played a cameo for Christ and went into eternity!
Would you be willing to do that? Would you also play a cameo for Christ and pass onto eternity? Would you be willing to give Gospel tracts even if you do not get a chance to preach to 5000 people in a posh mega church? Would you be willing to ground a new convert to the Christian Faith via prompt Word-filled WhatsApp messages and replies?! Willing to play a cameo for Christ in the one life you have?
(Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this piece, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more by Whatsapping him via 918886040605. This ministry is a reader-supported Indian ministry).
In 2014, a movie released in India titled, PK, Amitabh Varma’s Hindi Lyrics featured in a particular song from that movie went this way (translated into English loosely):
(Boy to girl)
Looking at you, continuously
I keep on listening to your jibber-jabber
Forgetting all my work
I keep on just following you
This is a waste of time
Love is a waste of time
Still I have thought to myself
That once in my lifetime
I can go for ‘this waste of time’
Love is a waste of time…
Young people fall in love, at times, very well knowing that falling in love is a waste of time.
But it is also true that we love ‘wasteful’ things.
The greatest command in the Bible is of course this command: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Matt. 22:37-38).
The tragedy of our time is this: we love many-a-thing, but we don’t love God! We love what we should shove! That’s sad!
The Bible talks about people loving the wrong thing on various occasions. Let us journey through the pages of Scripture to figure this out, so that we would be wary of these ‘waste of time’ loves.
The Love of Silver
Michael Douglas, in the 1987 movie, Wall-Street, said this: “Greed, for the lack of a better word is good. Greed is right. Greed works.”
Yes, we live in a world where the love of silver, the love of money in other words, is considered good. But the Bible is categorical when it says, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (I Tim.6:10).
How do we exhibit love for money as a believer? We skip our quiet time with God to work extra-time in our workplace so that we could make some more money! That is love of money in action! How do we show-forth love of money as preachers? We preach things that tickle the ears of our listeners so that they would give us big offerings instead of preaching the unadulterated Word of God!
Do you love gold instead of God? Don’t. Do you love silver instead of the Savior? Don’t. Don’t love what you should shove! Don’t love what you should loathe!
The love of STONES
Prophet Jeremiah explains this strange love of the people of Judah. They say, “I love foreign gods and I must go after them” (Jer. 2:25, NIV). Which foreign God did they love? They loved Baal, the Prophet Jeremiah had clarified just two verses above (Jer. 2:23). Instead of worshipping the living God who called the Rock (I Sam. 2:2), the people of Judah not just worshipped stones, but loved these lifeless objects as well.
Anything that takes the place of God in our life is an idol – we know that. Do we love such stones in our lives? These stones could be the gadgets we own, the gardens we have planted, the ministry we do! Let us not love what we shove! Let us not love what we should loathe!
The love of SENSUALITY
The naughty boy was told this by this flirty aunty: “Come let’s drink deep of love till morning; Let’s enjoy ourselves with love!” (Prov. 7:18). This woman’s husband had gone for a long trip and would not return in a hurry (Prov. 7:19,20). So, she filled her loneliness with a sinful love for sensuality. But the problem is this: you will never find in sin, what you entered sin to find (as someone said)! After the experience of sensuality is done and dusted, a gaping vacuum soon envelops the heart – does it not? Do you love to obey whatever you body says you must do because you are lover so sensuality? For example, when your body says, “Watch porn when you are alone”, do you obey your Body even after knowing that what you do will displease the Lord because you have read 2 Samuel 11:27?
The first thing that David did in 2 Samuel 11 was watching ‘live porn’ – the bath of a woman not his wife. And that displeased the Lord!
Let’s not love what we shove! Let’s not love what we should loathe!
The love of your UNSAVED SWEETHEART
Let’s talk to King Solomon. Let’s interview him. “Solomon, whom did you love in your first phase of life as a king?” He would reply this: “The Lord! Have you not read I Kings 3:3?” That verse goes this way: “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according the statutes of his father David”. One note-worthy statute for the kings of Israel was this: they must not take many wives lest their hearts be led astray (Duet. 17:17).
But as the second phase of his life dawned, the Bible has this to say about King Solomon: ‘King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love..’ (I Kings 11:1-2).
Do you stubbornly love your unsaved sweetheart with a plan to marry her/him soon hoping that she/he will become a believer though your influence? Stop! I Corinthians 7:39 is clear: a person who is already a believer, marries a believer!
Are you in love with an unbeliever?
Let’s not love what we shove! Let’s not love what we should loathe!
The love of SLEEP
We loathe what we should love, and love what you should loathe! What a sad route we have taken in life! There are those who love Sleep as the Proverbs Pen Man records, “Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; Stay awake and you’ll have food to spare” (Prov. 20:13). Late-rising, Sleep-Loving King David eventually fell into sexual sin (I Sam. 11:2). Matthew Henry, the ace Bible commentator wrote, “The bed of sloth is very often the bed of lust,” so wrote the Great Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry. Let’s not love what we shove! Let’s not love what we should loathe! If I had not sacrificed sleep, many of my Bible-teaching articles would have never been written (including this one)!
The love of STRIFE
One of the writers of the Psalms, writes about another kind of love, the kind that God hates, this way: ‘The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked; his very being hates anyone who loves violence” (Psa. 11:5). Are we not like the people of Ephraim? In Judges 8:1 they pick up a fight. In Judges 12:1 they pick up yet another fight. They use these uncouth words in their angry rant here: “We will burn your house over you with fire!” This tribe seems to be always fighting! They love strife it looks like! Let us not love what we should be shoving like them! Let’s not love what we should loathe, like the folks of Ephraim! Instead, let us strive to be peace-makers! Instead, let us get involved in the ministry of reconciliation! Instead let us proclaim the Gospel of Peace (Eph. 6:15).
The love of STORIES
Prophet Jeremiah talks about the people of Judah who were “story-lovers”, that is, lie-lovers! He writes, ‘The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and mypeopleloveitthisway. But what will you do in the end?’ (Jer. 5:31). What lies did the prophets of Jeremiah’s time, utter? They lied about the length of the exile. These ‘story-tellers’ said that the exile would last the length of just two years (Jer. 28:11,15,16) when God had clearly said it would be for 70 long years (Jer. 25:9-13).
There are false teachers in our time who also tell us stories. Stories, such as these: “hell punishment is not forever!; Lies such as these: “You can cross-over from hell to heaven!” Deceiving words such as these: “Grace is there, so keep sinning!” What is worse is this: some people love such stories. What is appalling is this: some believers love such lies.
Let me refute just one lie from the above-mentioned list of lies: the lie concerning the length of hell punishment. Read Romans 16:26 and Matthew 25:46. Both the verses have the word ‘eternal’. In Romans that word is prefixed before the word ‘God’ and in Matthew the same word is prefixed before the word, ‘punishment’. If you say that punishment of hell won’t be eternal then you also have to say, “God is not eternal!” But that is not possible! So, God is eternal! And Hell torment is eternal!
We should not love the ‘story’ (lies) of false teaching, even if seasoned men of God teach it!
And it is a folly to love what you shove! And it is stupidity to love what you should loathe!
The love of SLIPPING STUBBORNLY
Jeremiah’s painfully true words express the final ‘S’ in this list of things we unfortunately perhaps love, instead of loathing: This is what the Lord says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet.So the Lord does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins” (Jer. 14:10). The people of Judah to whom Jeremiah ministered, loved to wander away from Yahweh! In the time of Judges, the people of Israel demonstrated their sickening love for slipping away by repeating the seemingly endless cycle of sin, bondage, deliverance following repentance, and peace!
This attitude of loving backsliding is dangerous. Why? There is no surety that we will ever come back to God if we choose to go away from him. Both Judas and Peter went away from Jesus. Only Peter chose to come back. Judas did not come back, mind you. He chose stubbornness along with his sin. And that proved to be catastrophic for him! Let’s not love what we should loathe! Let’s not love what we should shove!
It is my prayer that you freeze your love for the wrong thing this Valentine Day season! Instead your love will be the love that Prophet Isaiah had for the Living God. Prophet Isaiah called God his Well-beloved (KJV)/my Greatly Beloved Lord(AMP)/the One I Love(CSB)/My Darling(WFC) in Isaiah 5:1! Let’s copy him! Let’s love the Lord! Apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!” (I Cor. 16:22). Not loving the Lord truly is so serious – it can land us in hell!
(The article by Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj appeared in the February 2023 edition of Aim magazine of Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a listener-supported ministry. You can support this ministry should you choose to using this link: https://razorpay.me/@g4mission)
Since the Bible has 1189 chapters in total (approx 1200 chapters) you will have to read approximately 6 chapters a day to complete all of it in just about 200 days (nearly Seven months).
STARTING on the first of the year (OR ANY GIVEN DAY), we can through all of the Bible, a little differently. We will read from different sections of the Bible, each day – Sandwich System of Sustained Scripture Study, as I call it – the 5S method.
We have 6 different sections in the Bible.
The Law Books Section – Genesis to Deuteronomy – 5 books – 187 chapters in total
The Old Testament History Books Section – Joshua to Esther – 12 books – 249 chapters in all.
The Poetry Books Section – Job to Song of Songs – 5 books in all – 243 chapters in all.
The Prophetic Books Section – Isaiah to Malachi – 17 books in all – 250 chapters in all.
The New Testament History Books Section – Mathew to Acts – 5 books in all – 117 chapters in all.
The Letters Section – Romans to Revelation – 22 books – 143 chapters in all.
That makes it a grand total of 1189 chapters, that includes 929 from the OT and 260 from the NT.
Let us read 1 chapter each from one different section of the Bible, every day! For example: On a January 1, we will read, Genesis 1, Joshua 1, Job 1, Isaiah 1, Mathew 1 and Romans 1 (6 chapters from six different Bible sections)! Once we exhaust one section, we will go back to the start of that section.
The OT Poetry section has 243 chapters. So we will need 243 days to finish it. The OT Prophetic section has 250 chapters in all. This will take a maximum of 250 days to read as per this system of Scripture study.
When one section gets over, start again!
The Bible will taste as a tasty six-layered sandwich when you use this method of studying it! Also, you acknowledge that ALL Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) by attempting to read ALL of the Scripture, not just the parts of the Bible you like! False Teachers, wolves in sbeep clothing, cannot continue to fool you by quoting only convenient-to-their-hell-populating-theology Bible verses, that too taken out of context from cherry-picked parts of the Bible, anymore, as you now will be become familiar with all the sections of the Bible on a DAILY basis!
Buy a highlighter pen (green in color or pink in color or whatever color). Highlight atleast one verse from each chapter you read that speaks personally to you. You may share that verse or a thought from that verse on social media – Facebook or WhatsApp or Twitter or Instagram. Or simply put it in a good quality notebook. Or even on the side margins of your Bible. This way you will not lose track of what you read.
If you download a Bible App such as ESV Bible App, you have the option of listening the chapters to be read for that particular day to you. As plan B you can do the relevant search on YouTube and hear audios of the chapters for any given day.
So, let us enjoy reading from every section of the Bible, every day! Reading God’s Word, the Bible, which is compared to honey, repeatedly, would be a tasty experience – as tasty as eating a six layered sandwich! Sandwich and Scripture are connected. Like Patriach Job let us consider the Bible as our ‘necessary food’ (Job 23:12). Did not the Lord Jesus say, “Man shall not live by bread alone?” (Matt. 4:4)!
(The author of this piece, Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission, a Indian ministry to presentday people. This is a reader-supported ministry. Reach us via WhatsApp +918886040605 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org for more details).
WOWED BY A WIDE-LENS VIEW OF CHRISTMAS BY A STUDY OF THE REFERENCES TO CHRISTMAS/INCARNATION OF CHRIST BY OTHER NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS APART FROM MATTHEW AND LUKE
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
Different writers of the Bible used various styles and imagery to describe the Christmas story. Using Holy Spirit-inspired colors they painted the Christmas Story in a wide range of colors! Yes, Matthew and Luke narrated the historic Christmas story. But other New Testament writers – notably Paul, John and the Hebrews-author – go back to the same Christmas event and explain its theological meanings and implications. Let us look at Christmas using a wide-lens, taking into account the writings of as many different New Testament writers as possible!
Not just Luke and Matthew. Paul, John, and the Hebrews-writer talk about Christmas! We have a mention of Christmas even in the book of Revelation! This article focusses on the non-Matthew, non-Luke stories of Christmas!
Paul described Christmas this way: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman..” (Gal. 4:4). For Paul, Christmas was all about the impeccable TIMING. Jesus came to the planet at the time designed by the Trinity. If God came to the earth as a sinless, perfect human at the right time, he knows the right time to remove that sickness you are presently enduring and give you the promotion you are eagerly expecting! We must learn to salute the Sovereignty of God who is always “on time” when it comes to working miracles on our behalf even though, at times, he may be “four days late” (John 11:39) (as one song-writer memorably put it).
The miracle that God has planned for you, will come at the ‘right time’ – God’s time!
John portrayed Christmas this way: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling (tabernacle) among us…” (John 1:14). For John, Christmas was about the TABERNACLE. This world is not our home and we just tabernacling – passing – through this world! As Jonathan Edwards put it, we go about our earthly tenure with ‘eternity stamped on our eyeballs’.
The Hebrews-writer envisioned Christmas this way: “Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil…” (Heb. 2:14). For the Hebrews-writer, Christmas was all about TERROR-REMOVAL. Jesus was born so that he would die and rise again and thereby open the door to remove the commonest fear among humans – the fear of death. And to die, he needed flesh and blood like us, humans. And during the first Christmas, he chose to cloth himself with flesh and blood! So no fear needs to grip us – the fear of an examination, the fear of a job-loss, the fear of another crippling pandemic, the fear of not being up-to-the-mark in the responsibilities given to us, the fear of …. !
Christmas happened that our fear of death will be gone! Hebrews-writer’s point!
John wrote again about Christmas choosing another thing to focus upon in 2 John. He wrote there: ‘For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist’ (2 John 7). For him, here, Christmas was all about TRUTH-GAURDING. By being born in the flesh – born as a baby into our planet – Jesus was showcasing the importance of the human body. The one who filled the universe would now live inside the body of a woman – her womb! And once he came out of her womb, he would exist in a human body coping with all its restrictions of having to be in one place at one time (something that was strange for the God who was everywhere present)! The human body cannot become a playground for sexual immorality. If you did not believe in Christmas – God’s coming in the flesh – then it would not be a big deal for you to indulge the flesh! So, if you really believed in Christmas, you will motivation to live a sexually pure life! That was John’s point in 2 John.
John was not tired of writing about Christmas time and again! He kept coming back to Christmas to expound the theological implications of Christ as the Spirit of God prodded him to. He gives us a peek of Christmas in Revelation 12, I believe: the Sun-clothed woman’s baby was about to be devoured by Satan the moment he was born (Rev. 12:4). Remember how Herod tried to finish off the new born baby Jesus? This Revelation 12 male child, obviously Jesus, was “destined to rule the nations” (Rev. 12:5). Satan also was keen on waging an ongoing battle with the “rest of the children” of the sun-clothed woman (Rev. 12:17). The rest of the children of the sun-clothed – symbolic of believers and Christ-followers – were to hang in there for 1260 days in the wilderness (Rev. 12:14). 1260 days! Does the number ring a bell? It certainly rang a bell among the original readers of John’s letter! They knew that was a code word used by the apostles often to remind believers of those days to become more and more like the One who ministered on this earth for 1260 days, i.e. three and half years – even Jesus! So, the call of Christmas, from John, from Revelation 12 is that of a TRANSFORMATION – a call to be transformed in character like Jesus’ character, more and more in our “wilderness” journey!
The Sun-clothed woman story narrated in Revelation 12 is a Christmas Story, according to me, calling us to become more and more like Jesus!
Using the “flood” from his mouth Satan (see Rev. 12:15) will try to drown believers. That reminds me of the “flood” of false teaching Satan has unleashed using the mouths of false-teachers who have surrendered their mouths to him. Using those Satan-inspired mouths the teach hell-populating teaching like hyper-grace, immortality on earth, hyper-supernaturalism, etc. to drown believers. John writes, ‘But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth to swallow up the river that had poured from the dragon’s mouth’ (Rev. 12:16). This is simply another way of saying that one day the earth will open up and swallow Satan-inspired false-teachers the way it opened up and swallowed Korah and his rebellion gang in the Old Testament. It is an imagery of judgment: earth opening up and swallowing. It points to the hell-destination of false teachers and those who buy their theology, I believe. So understanding this seemingly-complex-yet-simple imagery of Revelation 12 brings us back to the message of TRUTH-GAURDING. Obeying the commands of God – holding onto the written Word of God and making it our basis for all matters of belief and behaviour – and holding onto our testimony – testimony via life and lips – is what enrages Satan, John writes he wraps his ‘Christmas’ commentary in the book of Revelation (Rev. 12:17). Let’s celebrate a Christmas where the focus is not on being ENTERTAINED by SANTA CLAUS but on ENRAGING SATAN!
Revelation 12’s thrust about Christmas brings us to this: Christmas is not about being ENTERTAINED by Santa Claus but about ENRAGING SATAN by safe-gaurding ourselves from false teachings he brings via false teachers/pastors/brothers!!!
This wide-lens view of Christmas is wow, isn’t it? This Christmas take time to read, meditate, chew, non-typical Christmas chapters such as Revelation 12, 2 John, Galatians 4, John 1, etc.!
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, a Agri. Engineer turned M. Div. Gold Medallist and Doctor Of Ministry Graduation Speaker, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a para-church ministry to present-day people functioning from Chennai. God has graciously opened doors for him to preach in over 20 Indian states and in a few other nations right from the first time Duke preached, as a school boy of 16, in the year 1991. He has authored three books: Straight Talk (Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, Phone Addiction, married-sex, etc., – what the Bible says), Daniel in Dell (practical study of the book of Daniel for modern working professionals), Goodnews for the Google Generation (the Gospel presented the way Jesus did in Luke 13 and the way Paul did in Acts 17). Reach him via email@example.com or WhatsApp, +91-8886040605, in case you want to buy these or have a question. Duke is married to Evangelin, a Odisha Missionary’s daughter, and this couple are blessed with two children – Dale, 19, who is a student of St. Stephens College, Delhi, and Datasha, 15, who studies Class X. This article was published in the December 2022 edition of Aim magazine of Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke’s ministry, the G4 Mission is a reader-supported ministry).
Thankfulness & Triumphing Over Satan Are Connected
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj
That we be thankful is God’s Will for us. Apostle Paul wrote, ‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1 Thess. 5:18). He also warned that in the ‘last days’ the gang of the ‘ungrateful’ will grow big and we must not join that gang (2 Tim. 3:1-5). The writer to the Hebrews writes that must be thankful (Heb. 12:28). This thankful attitude will result in our worship of God with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28-29).
The command to be thankful is repeated in various ways in the Old Testament. I counted that it is repeated a total of 47 times! In the book of Psalms alone we are told to give thanks to God, 37 times! In Chronicles 16 alone we are told to give thanks four times! When we cross over to the New Testament this command is repeated through various ways another 16 times at least! I am trying to think hard which other biblical command is given so much of emphasis!
When we give thanks we copy Jesus gave thanks to the Father regularly during his earthly ministry. I counted that he did that at least three times during his earthly ministry (Matt. 15:36; 26:27; Jn. 6:11,23). And to become more and more like Jesus is the ultimate goal of our life (2 Cor. 3:18).
It is easy to give thanks when everything is fine in our life. But Job in the Old Testament (Job 1:20-21) and Anna in the New Testament (Luke 2:36-38) gave thanks, praised God and worshipped Him even during difficult times such as the loss of a loved one.
The sin of not acknowledging God or thanking Him can put us in a place where we are in the danger of being judged by God! Romans 1 warns us about this! Romans 1:21 talks about the sin of not giving thanks to God with the consequence being mentioned in Romans 1:24 and Romans 1:28 – a consequence of the work of the Spirit being effectively withdrawn from the lives of thankless people eventually so that they would further slide into unprintable sin and finally into the place of unimaginable torment, hell!
We must specifically thank God for the people he has placed in our life – our spouses, our children, our pastors, our ministry team members, etc. Paul did that (Rom. 16:4; 1 Thess. 1:2).
In the above paragraphs I have combed through what the Bible mentions about thankfulness. But I am not done yet. The most important thing about thankfulness, I believe, comes in Revelation 12:11 though the word is not specifically mentioned. There, it is written that through the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony a group of people overcame the Devil. Through the blood of the Lamb we are forgiven of sin. So when Satan reminds us of our sin we defeat him and his plans for us by saying, ‘I am already forgiven – thanks to the Blood!’ But there is another way to overcome Satan this passage speaks about. This way is call the ‘Word of their testimony’! What is that? We can overcome Satan when we testify about God’s goodness upon our life. We can defeat Satan when we start to thank God daily, say for the blessings we receive from him. Mention the five or ten or fifteen or how many ever blessings God has graciously blessed you with to God and thank Him profusely! Not just that – acknowledge to the people around me the blessings he has given you! This way the Devil will be defeated!
I know this way of beating the Devil works! Every month, a small group of people from different parts of India and beyond join my wife and I on Zoom at 11:45 pm on the last day of the month. And we take time to praise God for the blessings he gave us that month before everyone. The Devil is put to shame that way. And we enter the new month with praise in our lips. While the new month is never problem-free we experience unusual victories over Satan! Yes we have to deal with Satan till the return of Christ or till our death! But this praise method of putting Satan on the back foot really works, I can tell you that!
The month-end midnight prayer we had on 31 October from 11:45 pm to 12:15 am (half-hour) over Zoom! People gave thanks to God for the blessings they received! That way, the Devil was defeated and put to shame!
On the other hand, grumbling or complaining is like inviting the Devil to keep working in our life even more! And what is more, grumbling angers God. He sent death before the Promise Land entry for people of Israel who were stubbornly into the sin of grumbling (Num. 14:26-30). Paul reminds New Testament believers of this incident so that it serves as a stern warning, even during the post-Cross era (1 Cor. 10:10).
(This article was published in Evangelical Fellowship of India’s magazine, Aim, in the November 2022 issue; Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This ministry is reader-supported. Duke lives in Chennai with his family).
Virat Kohli was unceremoniously sacked from his position of ODI Captain of India and his position was given to Rohit Sharma in Dec 2021. Earlier on, he himself gave up his role as the captain of the Indian T20 team. The reason for his demotion was not hard to find. While he had one of the best ever win-loss percentages in ODIs among modern captains (over 70 percent), most of those wins came in bilateral series. In multi-team tournaments, like the ICC World Cups, India could not win the Cup when Kohli captained. In short, Kohli could not lead his team to wins in important games. ‘Chasemaster’ and Captain Kohli became ‘choker’ and the-cause-of-pain Kohli when he scored 5 off 9 when India chased 339 for a win in the Champions Trophy final versus Pakistan in 2017. That’s not all. He made 1 off 6 when India chased 240 for a place in the World Cup ODI Final 2019 versus New Zealand. We are not done yet. He made 13 off 29 balls in the crucial second innings in the World Test Championships Final 2021 after India and New Zealand scored almost equally in the first innings. However his counterpart Kane Williamson made 52 runs to take his team, New Zealand to the Test World Cup win. Kohli made underwhelming 9 off 17 when his team depended on him to reach a match-winning first innings score in the crucial T20 Super 12 game versus New Zealand in the World Cup T20 2021. So, Kohli has had a sub-20 score in four crucial innings for India as a Limited Overs Captain (a far cry from his average as a ODI Captain which is nearly 73 runs per innings). This analysis tells the story clearly: when the game gets big, Kohli as Captain underperforms as a batsmen very badly. When his team needs him the most, that is when Kohli would get out early. Hence this unceremonious sacking and handing over of mantle to Rohit Sharma, an accomplished captain who is known to take the team he captains to big tournament wins (He has led Mumbai Indians to five IPL Titles already while Kohli has never led his team RCB even to a single title win).
Kohli reminds me of Samson of the Bible. While Samson was so keen to keep ritualistic laws as a Nazirite he was not not that keen to keep far more important laws which concerned his personal holiness. He would often talk about not having his hair cut (see Num. 6:1-5 and Jud. 13:5) but he did not cut off his sexually immoral relationship with many women (a violatation of two of the 10 commandments given to all including the Nazirites – ‘You shall not commit adultery’ – Ex. 20:14; ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife’ – Ex. 20:17). What was easy to do – ritualistic purity part – Samson did with great consistency till one point. What was even more important – moral holiness is, see Micah 6:7-8 – Samson blew it. Are we like Samson?
Empowered by the Spirit (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16), let us please God in key matters such as sexual purity (I Cor. 6:18b). When we sin sexually we directly oppose God’s clearly expressed will (I Thess. 4:3) which is one the same important level as his will to welcome everyone for salvation (3 Peter 3:9; I Tim. 2:4). When we live stubbornly in sexual sin we will go to hell (Rev. 21:7-8). But that is not God’s desire for us! God’s desire is that we overcome sin when sin’s allurments come knocking!
(Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this article is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission, a reader-supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Or WhatsApp him via 91-8886040605. )
Do you call yourself ‘Christian’? Do you brand yourself as a Christian?
What does that word mean? To answer that question we must turn to the Bible – the book which used that word first. In the Bible, the word ‘Christian’ is used three times. When we study those three instances we get to see three characteristics that cannot be separated from any true ‘Christian’ – a biblical Christian.
Let’s race to passage number one: Paul stands before King Agrippa as a prisoner. His crime – preaching Jesus. Paul gives Agrippa a blow by blow account of his conversion experience: the ride on the road to Damascus… his passion to persecute followers of Jesus… the blinding light from heaven… the voice that said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!”…. his U-turn… his repentance…etc etc.
After having shared his terrific testimony Paul did not stop. He did not shut up. He went on. He got a touch personal with King Agrippa. He posed a personal question to him: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe!” You see, Paul was not just trying to save himself from further imprisonment by sharing his testimony – he wanted to save King Agrippa from going to hell too! After this abrupt and daring invasion of his private space by Paul, King Agrippa said, “In a short time, would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28). There you bump into the word we are trying to understand the meaning of – the word ‘Christian’. Ask King Agrippa what he meant when he used the word ‘Christian’. This would be his answer: “To be a Christian for me is to be someone like Paul – to be someone with a CONVERSION experience!”
Yup, the word Conversion and ‘Christian’ go together. A Biblical Christian cannot be a Christian without the conversion experience. Absolutely. Do you call yourself a ‘Christian’ without an experience of conversion?! If so – forgive me for being blunt – you simply are not a Christian. You are just pretending to be one! You don’t have to hire a horse and ride on the road to Damascus to make this experience your own. Right now, I invite you to kneel down by your bedside with a repentant heart and ask Jesus to forgive you and come into your heart and life. If you have done that, you too are converted! You too are a Christian!
Let’s talk about yet another time the Bible used the word ‘Christian’: The setting now is the city of Antioch. A new preacher is sent to this church from the church in Jerusalem – the headquarters. His name? Barnabas. What was his message? “Remain faithful to the Lord!” In other words, he was trying to help believers graduate from merely being a believer into a disciple. One believer he searched out and discipled was Paul. For one full year, Barnabas preached messages that typified what his name meant: encourager. He preached messages that encouraged wobbly believers to become solid disciples. Who could be called Jesus’ disciples? Those who remain faithful to Him – no matter what the cost is or how challenging the condition is. Such COMMITTED folks were nicknamed Christians by the folks in Antioch (Acts 11:26)!
Are you the sort that will desert Jesus at the slightest provocation – such as in times of a tantalizing temptation or perturbing persecution? Then you can’t be called a Christian according to the Bible. Christians, according to the Bible, are those who stay committed to Christ, even when the going gets tough!
Christian or a celebrating Christian?!
This aspect of being a Christian was so important that another Bible writer also talks about it. Yes, Peter also brought together these two words: commitment and Christian. He did by writing his first letter thus: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name!” (I Pet 4:15, 16). If you have carefully read those two verses you will grasp that Peter’s understanding of the word, ‘Christian’, goes one step further than that of Luke – the author of the book of Acts, the source of our first two references for word, ‘Christian’, in the Bible. Here is how: a Christian is someone who CELEBRATES God even while suffering because he stays stubbornly COMMITTED to Christ! Yes – a Biblical Christian is someone who glorifies God even when the going gets rough and tough! Are you that sort of Christian? Are you a complaining Christian or a celebrating Christian?!
Stop. Think. Introspect. Look inwards. Are you a Christian merely by name? I pray that after you have read this piece, your understanding of the word ‘Christian’ is never the same! Would you surrender your life to Christ so that He will change you into a Biblical Christian? Would you do that, right now?!
(This article was published in the Aim Magazine – October 2021 edition. Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke’s messages at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).
Over 50% of the world is now online, reported a reputed magazine, The Economist, in 2019 itself. Atleast 726 million people came online in the years 2017 through 2019 with ‘much of the rise coming from poorer places, notably Africa and India’ (the same report said). Mobile data usage per smartphone was the highest in India among all the countries of the World (according to a Ericsson report of 2019). From these numbers come a missionary call!
THE INTERNET MINSITRY CALL FROM GOD’S PAINFUL QUESTION
Why do I say that? Because I have read the last verse of book of Jonah which goes this way: “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:11 NIV). Those are the words of the Father God. The huge numbers of poeple in the city of Nineveh who did not know left hand from right hand concerned God. Bible Scholars , explain the phrase ‘did not know left hand from right hand’ this way: the people of Nineveh were morally confused, so much so, that they called what was wrong as right, and what was right they called wrong. It was akin to people of a contemporary city applauding for crimes such as rapes and showing utter distain for acts of love such as dressing of a leper’s wounds by a nurse. The numbing numbers of people that were present in Nineveh with horrendous moral confusion made God concerned about them. The huge numbers of people online any given time of the day and a vast majority among them using data for porn consumption or fuelling illicit relationships outside marriage bonds using the convenience of certain dating apps should move us to being concerned as well. The God who was disappointed with Prophet Jonah who had turned a deaf year to the missionary call from the numbers of evil-embracing people, will he be also disappointed with us as well?
Why not we become imitators of our missionary-hearted God we read about in the book of Jonah? We not we get involved actively in Internet Evangelism and Online Disciple Building efforts?
THE INTERNET MINISTRY CALL FROM APOSTLE PAUL’S POINTED OBSERVATION
Apostle Paul talks about people in the city of Rome who “always (were) thinking up new ways to do evil” (Rom. 1:30, CEV). The internet has provided the convenience and the platform to do just. During the pandemic, online classes were the order of the day for students (they still are as I write these words in January 2021). And when it came to online exams, students were quite inventive when it came to cheating. While the older generation would hide chits that would provide hints as they wrote the exams in their socks and shirt sleeves, the Google Generation, creates WhatsApp/Telegram/Signal groups to unfairly seek help as an online exam is on. Why should the internet only fuel new ways of doing evil? Why can’t it fuel new ways of sharing the Gospel and winning the lost?
THE INTERNET MINISTRY CALL FROM THE LOCATION THAT JESUS CHOSE TO MEET THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
Jesus did not wait for the sinful Samaritan Woman to come to a synagogue. Instead, he went to a non-sinful place which she frequented – the city’s well. And there he met her. And he began conversing with her. He did not wait for her to start the conversation (Read John 4 and find all about it). Pretty soon, this marriage-hopping woman became a soul-winning woman! Jesus’ approach gives us a clue as to how we must evangelise: We must be in non-sinful places which the unsaved frequent! And the place which the unsaved frequent the most these days is definitely, the internet. So, we must be available on the internet to meet with them and share the Gospel!
Well, we have seen the “why” of internet evangelism so far. Now to the “how”. I believe that should be left to the individual believer’s choice. Some are good at video production. Some are good at responding quickly to chats. Some of good at voice calls. We need to examine what activity we enjoy doing while we are online and use that very channel to build God’s kingdom. You may not be able to carbon copy someone else way of doing internet evangelism. The key is to see your smartphone as a tool for evangelism – not a toy for self-gratification.
In our ministry, the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, we have a team of internet volunteers. Vikas Yadav cuts my long youtube messages and makes them short, adding titles at the start and at the end. He includes a back ground music as well. These shorter videos are viewed by more people. Lijo John receives audio messages from me via WhatsApp that bring Bible truth wrapped around contemporary events. He finds pictures from the internet that represent my words and strings together a video which inturn blesses many as it gets forwarded on WhatsApp. Sunny Karumanchi using his high tech camera that God has given him shoots ‘short videos on hot topics’ from the Bible with me behind his lens. Gipu James, Harsha, Ferry, John and Lamuel, help design posters for the events I preach God’s Word in. This list is not exhaustive.
What about you? Will you get involved in internet evangelism after reading this? You must!
(This article was published in the Aim Magazine – February 2021 edition; Aim is published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. The author, Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org or by subscribing to http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).
Duke Jeyaraj’s practical study of the word ‘annual’ found in the Bible
An annual master health checkup is recommended by many. What the things that God’s Word says we must do year after year?
The word yearly or annually occurs quite a few times in the Bible. Some of these Bible references give us indications about things that the Lord wants us to do on a yearly basis. These would give us a clue as to what kind of New Year resolutions we should be taking. These Bible passages talk about the priorities we must have as believers year after year.
THE YEAR OF GOD-WORSHIP
This New Year we must resolve to worship God more. Judges 21:19 which tells us that there was an annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, gives me the specific inspiration for this New Year resolution. It was in that festival that a dance was a noted feature (Judges 21:21). The people of Israel could not sit in one place when they thought of the good things the Lord had done for them. They, especially the women, had to get up and dance in the Lord’s presence! In this year, we must resolve to be people who worship God!
A devotional reading from Our Daily Bread reading made this fabulous suggestion which will help us practically execute this New Year resolution: During daily family prayer each family member could talk about the blessings God gave them on that day. This could be jotted down in a small sheet of paper. On a typical day, a family may have four or five points for praising God, if each family member spoke up. Each such point should make into a fresh chit of paper. These chits should be rolled and tossed in a ‘thanks giving bowl’. An empty fish tank bowl can be used. This should be done daily through the year. And when 31 December comes you can fish out these chits from the bowl and read them out in mega family thanksgiving prayer once again, praising God for the wonderful way, He graciously took care of us in that particular year! If Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom was a believer, and if he wrote out these kinds of thanksgiving chits, this would been an entry on the April 30, 2020: ‘God enabled the company I founded, Zoom, to jump 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019, to 300 million’ (Time, December 21-28, 2020, p.72).
THE YEAR OF FAMILY-WOWING
The New Year should be a year in which you resolve to be a more responsible family person. The Lord has graciously added the New Year into our life so that we can take good care of our families. When I read this portion of Scripture, this New Year Resolution inspiration came to me: ‘Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD—a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him when she went with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the LORD give you children by this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the LORD.” Then they would go home’ (I Sam. 2:18-20). We know that Samuel’s mom, Hannah, was barren for many years. And God did a miracle and gave her a son. After Samuel, Hannah’s son, was weaned, he was left in the house of the Lord. He assisted the priest Eli in God’s house. Every year, Samuel’s mom made a little robe, travelled to where he was and gave it to him. Wow! This act of Hannah inspires each one of us who are part of a family to unselfishly do loving acts that will put a smile on the faces of other family members. As husbands, we must resolve this New Year to do something special for our wives! As wives, we need to resolve this New Year to do something special for our husbands! As children, we need to resolve this New Year to do something special for our parents! As siblings we need to resolve to do something special for your other siblings! Taking good care of our families must be part and parcel of our annual New Year resolution list! Why not place a carefully planned and cheerfully executed family holiday in the list of ‘to do’ things this year? We can learn from Virat Kohli in this regard. He decided to take paternity leave early in 2020 should the time of his wife Anushka’s delivery come even during an important Cricket tour!
THE YEAR OF SIN-BEATING
What are pointers in God’s Word when it comes to New Year resolutions? The New year should be a year of Satan-beating! The God-given New Year should be a year when we win over Satan!
I get the inspiration to form this resolution from the book of Esther. Here we read the following: “Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to all the Jews in all the provinces of King Xerxes, both near and far, to establish among them an annual celebration on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the days on which the Jews gained rest from their enemies and the month in which their sorrow turned to joy and their mourning into a holiday” (Esther 9:20-22). There was an enemy of the Jews. His name was Haman. Haman tried to harm the Jews, because of his negative experience with one Jew – Mordecai. But the enemy of the Jews, Haman hung in the nearly 23-meter-high gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:9). God turned the tables on the behalf of the Jews, the apples of his eyes (Duet. 32:10; Zech. 2:8). This event eventually led to the passing of this decree where “letters the king (of Persia) permitted the Jews in each and every city the right to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province hostile to them, including women and children, and to plunder their possessions” (Esther 8:11). “Each and every year” this celebration of God-orchestrated miracle victory over their enemies was done among the Jews (Esther 9:24-27).
Our primary enemy is Satan. We sometimes think a certain individual is our enemy. We do not think of Satan who is perhaps behind that individual, instigating that individual to act against us and discourage us (see Math. 16:23). Satan often uses human instruments to work against us. Our main agenda in the New Year that God has graciously added to our lives, should be to win over Satan. Satan’s main agenda is this: to make us sin! So, our New Year resolutions should involve a plan and program to have victory over sin! In the New Year we must, enabled by the Spirit of God, seek to win over the “sin that so easily entangles” – the sin that we often feel like repeating, be it porn-watching or outbursts of anger or whatever (Heb. 12:1). Our New Year may not be pain-free, but it can be porn-free! Our New year may not be agony-free, but it can be anger-free (I am talking about sinful anger here). So, in the New Year, we need to win over sin. This can be done when we have an ongoing cooperation with the Spirit of God who enables us to put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13).
What should be our priorities in the New Year? The book of Leviticus gives us another clue. If a well-off foreigner who lived in Israel hired a slave from Israel, the people of Israel needed to pay money to the foreigner to have him released, even if the year of Jubilee when all slaves would be eligible for a free release was still far away. Why? God’s children cannot be slaves year after year. This I understand from my reading of Leviticus 25:47-53.
We must get involved in the work of releasing people from bondage to sin through our giving of our time, talents, treasures and truth. We must make this task a priority in the New Year that God has graciously added to our lives.
What I have talked about in this essay should be our priorities, year after year! Do a review at the end of the day/week/month/year as to how much time you have given to the activities that God’s Word is saying that we must make as our priority “year after year”.
(This article by Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj was originally published in the Aim Magazine published by Evangelical Fellowship of India in its January 2021 edition. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org.)
November 16 is the International Day of Endurance.
A prominent worship leader with a popular worship band said that he was leaving the Christian Faith. That was just barely three weeks after a popular author of a best-selling book that called generations of Americans to sexual purity (‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ was the book’s name) did the same.
Are you, my believer friend, tempted to give up faith? Don’t!
There is a cure for those who won’t choose to endure! What cure? It is to learn once-again in a memorable way what the Bible teaches on spiritual endurance!
Do you know that the Bible calls for spiritual endurance, repeatedly? It does so using three approaches:
COMMANDS THAT CALL FOR ENDURANCE
The New Testament writers call believers to endure in their salvation using a POSITIVE approach in the following Scriptures: ‘But all of you who endure to the end shall be saved’ (Math.10:22); ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples’ (John 8:31, RSV); “When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is dead wood, gathered up and thrown on bonfire” (John 15:56, MSG); ‘Keep your eyes open for spiritual danger, stand true to the Lord’(1 Cor. 16:13); ‘ For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end’(Heb. 3:14); “Don’t quit, even if it costs your life. Stay there believing. I have life-crown sized and ready for you”(Rev. 2:10); “Keep tight grip on what you have ,so one distracts you and steal your crown” (Rev. 3:11). Starting from 1 Corinthians 10:12 – ‘So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’ –
How do we persist in our salvation? Systematic Theologian J. Rodman Williams explains: We do so by our abiding (1 John 2:24-25; Heb. 2:1,3.Jn 15:3-4,6,7), we do so by our continuing (Col. 1:21-23; Rom. 11:11,22; 1 Tim. 4:16), we do so by our enduring (2 Tim. 2:10-12; Heb. 10:34-39,Matt. 24:12,13), we do so by our firmness (Heb 3:1-6, 2 Pet. 1:10-11,5-7;2:1,20,21) and we do so by our faithfulness (Rev. 2:10, 2:4-5, Heb 3:1-6, Heb. 6:4-8).
We are not talking about salvation by works here. We are talking about guarding our salvation by continued faith, exactly the same way we were saved by faith in the first place. I learnt truth from Apostle Peter who wrote: “who (those born again, v.3) by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’ (I Pet. 1:5, ESV). We are saved by faith. And we guard our faith by faith. Yes, we are saved by faith and not works. But if that faith is alone and does not propel us to endurance, that faith is not real, saving faith (the message of the book of James is this very thing – James 2:20,26).
There is another way this very same truth is taught in Scripture. Let me explain: Without holiness no one will see God (Heb. 12:14). And nobody can live holy – say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions – unless they are enabled by the grace of God (Titus 2:11,12). So a grace-enabled life helps us to live holy and endure in our salvation!
We just saw how the New Testament calls the believer for endurance using a POSITIVE approach. The New Testament also calls us to endurance using a NEGATIVE approach:
2. CAUTIONS THAT CALL FOR ENDURANCE
We can think of several Scriptures in this regard:
2 Peter 3:17 says, “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall your secure position.” Peter couldn’t have stated this better.
2 Peter 3:18, in fact, expresses the same warnings in the positive terms: ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ If there was no real possibility of a believer permanently backsliding, that one has to admit Spirit-inspired writers of scripture were joking here or I dare say, lying! But they were not. They were calling each one for spiritual endurance by writing these words! In a discussion like this, we cannot leave out the famous passage in Hebrews 6:4-8. Commenting on this key text, Grant R. Osborne says, ‘In conclusion we must say there is no more powerful or detailed description of the true Christian in the New Testament, yet one has to be stone-blinded not to note that they were in the real peril of falling away.’ Osborne further points out that if this passage was found in Romans 8, it would be considered as the most eloquent summary of the blessings of a believer! He summarizes brilliantly the danger of apostasy so persuasively and passionately presented in the book of Hebrews this way: Pay attention, lest you drift away, 2:1-4; do not harden your heart, lest you fail, 3:1-19. Fear not lest you fall short, 4:1-13; Press on, lest you fall away, 5:11-6:12; Hold fast lest you die, 10:19-39; be careful, lest you fall short, 12:1-17.
After having called the believe to endure spiritually, using both a positive as well as negative approach, the New Testament goes one goes one step further. We will discuss that in the next point.
3. CHARACTERS WHO SHOWED NO ENDURANCE
In the parable of the Sower, Jesus spoke of those ‘who believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away’ (Luke 8:13). Jesus clearly predicted, ‘At that time many will turn away from the faith. The love of most will grow cold’ (Matt. 24:10, 12). 1 Timothy 4:19 is blunt: some have shipwrecked their faith! Demas – a fellow-preacher in Paul’s ministry team – deserted Paul and perhaps even the faith for ‘he loved the world’ (2 Tim. 4:10). Peter described some teachers in the church who had known the way of righteousness yet turned their backs on the sacred commandment that was passed on to them (2 Peter 2:20-22). If they had turned their backs of the sacred commandments then without a shadow of doubt they had their faces set on the commandments – they were believers – once upon a time! But they became apostate. Finally, Revelation 22:19 shows that some believers can have their names removed from the book of life. Another example of actual apostasy could be Ananias and Sapphira. F.F.Bruce writes, “We cannot be sure that they were not believers, unless we are prepared to say that no one who is guilty of a deliberate deceit cannot be a true Christian. The thrust of the Simon the Socerer narrative in Acts leads us to conclude that there was a possibility of serious sin by the members of the church which could lead to their exclusion from eternal life, but at the same time there was a possibility of their repentance and restoration. In the Bible the root word for faith and faithfulness is the same. One can’t have one without the other.” Yes, Simon the Socerer is another real example of a New Testament believer character who did not endure. Acts 8:13 is very clear – Simon himself believed and was baptized. But as he had become ‘captive to sin’ (Acts 8:23), he needed urgently repent before it was too late (Acts 8:22).
But these characters who did not endure are matched by those who did. Stephen endured. And Church throws up more names in this regard: Polycarp, Tyndale, etc. Some recent additions have been: John Allen Chau (North Sentinel Island Missionary Martyr), the Coptic Christians slain by the ISIS (you have seen a WhatsApp video of their slaying – haven’t you?)
4. COUPLED WITH PROMISES ARE ENDURANCE CALLS (if you carefully notice)
As I bring this essay to a close, I want to encourage you by saying that Jesus has prayed for your spiritual endurance! Jesus prayer was that the Father would “keep” the disciples (John 17:11, 15, 24). The very fact, Jesus is praying for them is proof that Jesus understood the real danger of them being lost for otherwise they would not need to be guarded through Spirit-enabled, grace of God-enabled endurance. According to Howard Marshall, John 17 should not be seen in isolation from John 15:16 and John 16 which warn the disciples about ‘falling away’.
The promise of John 10:28, 29 that no one can pluck us from God’s hand should not be divorced from John 10:2 where Jesus gives the condition for this promise: “my sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.” It is to be noted that all the verbs in this verse – especially ‘hear’ – is in present indicative sense in Greek original. Robert Shank notes, “The honest characteristic of the Greek present indicative is that it denotes the action is in progress.” There the incredible promise – “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them away from me” – is only of whom Jesus can say, “My sheep keep listening to my voice, and they keep following me!”
Wuest’s translation of John 5:24, where-in he correctly retains the present tense (‘having eternal life’) argues powerfully against using it as a text against spiritual endurance: “Most assuredly, I am saying to you He who habitually hears my word and is believing the one whom he has sent me, has life eternal …..” David Pawson brilliantly flows along this thought-line when he preached from Hebrews, that “these people [the Old-Testament believers of Hebrews 11) was still living by faith when they died”(Heb. 11:13). This clearly shows that faith should be a present possession for a believer – in other words, the believer must endure – in order to make the wonderful eternal security promises found in the New Testament work for him.
Apostle Paul wrote these glowing words of confidence: “I know him in whom I have believed and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I committed to him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). This did not mean that Apostle Paul did not believe in ongoing spiritual endurance. The same Paul wrote these glorious lines of promise which certainly indicate while he was certain that God would keep him, he also never forgot his responsibility to endure enabled by God’s grace. I Corinthians 9:27 talks about how serious Paul was when it came to exercising Spirit-empowered self-discipline with regard to ongoing, sexual, bodily purity (a stubborn failure in this, meant disqualification for Paul). Paul also worked out his salvation – needless to say, enabled by the Grace of God – with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). The Paul-penned sure promise of salvation in I Corinthians 3:15 – ‘he himself will be saved’ – is not absolving anyone from the need to endure. Otherwise why would there be a warning for those who fail to endure right below that promise, penned by the same Paul (See I Cor. 3:16,17; 6:13; 9:27).
The second last verse of Jude read this way: “Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault” (Jude 23 NLT). What a glorious promise! To whom was this given? It was given to those who “keep (themselves) in the love of God” (Jude 21). Yes, the ‘God-can-keep-you-from-falling’ is for those with a Spirit-empowered willingness to endure in the love of God!
(This article was published in Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Aim magazine, November 2020 issue. Duke is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, G4 Mission. This is a reader supported ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org).