Every year, we have been able to hold a Valentine Day Season Bible Study (or do one when someone invited us to) in the month of February since our ministry’s inception, more times than not as God enabled us to. Crucial Bible Truths on the intimate matters with regard to sex, love, marriage, porn, etc. were brought out frankly through these studies. In February 2006 when our ministry was launched, Duke spoke on True Romantic Love from the book of Song of Songs to a crowd of 500 in Youth Alive, New Life AG Church, Secunderabad. In Feb 2008, Duke brought Principles for Wise Life Partner Choice from Genesis 24, the chapter in which Abraham’s servant hunts for a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac (again a message for about 500 youth in Youth Alive). In February of a particular year, Duke was in Delhi at the invitation on Rev. Dr. Y. D. Jeyaseelan speaking about The Bible On Sex and Sexual Sin (the video of which is among those with many hits on our channel, http://www.youtube.com/visitduke). In February 2010 Duke gleaned sex, love, marriage lessons from the book of Ruth for a group of working professionals in a meeting held at his home-base. In February 2012 Duke preached a message titled, When Moses Gave Roses….(a message from the Zipporah-Moses story). In February 2013 Duke shared a message on Thinking Black and White About Sexual Ethics Living Among The Fifty Shades of Grey Generation (in a meeting held at our rented ministry base). During February of a particular year, Duke preached a practical summary of the book of Song of Songs using the very name of the book as an outline for the message. It was a house-full Bible Study, that time. Duke often jokes, “Just because so many people came for the book of Song of Songs Bible Summary Study, I cannot summarize Song of Songs each time we do Bible Study. I have to cover other books too!” (Of course, all the 66 Bible Books were summarized eventually, a process that took 7 years). In February 2014 Duke preached a message titled, Handling Romantic Rejection…
In February 2015 Duke preached a message titled What the Longest NT Passage on Sex Love Marriage Teaches The Google Generation. In February 2016 Duke preached a message titled…The Greatest Book on the Most Hottest Topic [When Jeremiah (the Bible’s longest book in terms of number of words) Used Sexual Images In His Book: Bible Lessons from those….]. The same year, we studied on the subject, Which J Are You In Love With?, in a Bible Study at Praveen-Girisha’s home in Kondapur (a study of Ahab’s marriage with Jezebel). In February 2017 Duke preached a message on What Husbands What…What Wives Want to Corporate couples in a meeting in Bangalore following Pastor Ashley’s warm invite. In February 2018 upon the invitation of Pas Peter Samuel, Duke preached a message titled, Falling in Love With The Trinity…
In Feb 2019 Duke and Evan combined to preach on Ingredients of an Incredible Marriage following Rev. John Samuel’s invitation to married couples in Hyderabad. In February 2020 upon the invitation of Rev. Moncy Thomas Duke preached from the life of the inseparable NT couple, Aquila and Priscilla to a group of working professionals…. All these messages are in this playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2z1uBimInexnUtzBhJQlGGSMGz1X5eom In February 2021 (this month) on the 14th (which happened to be a Sunday), Duke preached a message title, The Whore Or The Bride? A Study from Revelation Bible Book, to a Zoom audience. You can listen to the audio of that message here:
Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission) is an independent ministry founded by Duke Jeyaraj to bless present-day people. It is supported by Indians who have been blessed by the writings and preaching-teaching ministry of Duke Jeyaraj.
We at G4 Mission, wish you a very happy New Year 2014. We praise God for the wonderful way he has led us in 2013.
It was a year of SPIRITUAL BLESSING: My wife and I had intense times of intercession through the year. During May and in November we had specially good week-long times of intercession. God taught us from His Word. We were part of the RZIM National Conference where we learn encouraging, edifying and enlightening truths from Dr. Ravi Zacharias and his speaking team during Sept 2013. While driving our car during 2013, we listened to Uncle R. Stanley’s message, Arrows of Discouragement, which was a blessing. We have been blessed by the preaching of our local pastor, Sis. Arlene Stubbs. Her series from the book of Hebrews enabled us to learn fresh lessons.
It was a year of MATERIAL BLESSINGS. In 2013, the Lord graciously added very useful things. We don’t do ministry to get things. But things are useful to do the ministry in a more efficient way. We were blessed with a Yellow Vespa Scooter in April 2013. We were blessed with a Benq GP 10 projector this year. As the icing in the God-given cake, we were blessed with a 20 20 Dell All-in-One Personal Computer this December. All the three gifts were given by Indians friends of our little work for the Lord. Three Indians made a single offering/donation/bank transfer for us to be able to buy these. “This is the Lord’s doing and its marvelous in our eyes!”
It was a year of FINANCIAL BLESSINGS. God moved the hearts of Indian folks of our ministry and as a result they made that online transfer, sent that money order, sent money through Western Union, etc, to us, this year. And as a result, every ministry is paid and all our needs were taken care of. We had offerings sent to us from those living Tinsukia to those in Tirunelveli! There were those who sent Rs.200 Rupees, those who sent Rs.2000 rupees and those who sent Rs.20,000 Rupees, this year! And for each of those sacrificial givers we praise God! Even those in full-time ministry were moved by the Spirit to send us an offering this year! Like we always do, we too have given more than a tithe of what we received to ministries we believe the Lord lead us to support, this year. It was a year of MINISTERIAL BLESSINGS. Because I am in the final phase of working of my Doctor of Ministry project, I did not take up too many preaching assignments this year. Every month of this year, we were able to have a Bible Study for a small group of Google Genners at our home. These message were audio and video recorded and made available in http://www.soundcloud.com/shoutaloud (audio) and in http://www.youtube.com/visitduke (video) for a larger audience. Duke summarized the message of the books of 2nd Peter, John, I John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelation this year. Each time he used the name of the relevant Bible book as a summary for its message. Duke taught on Sexual Ethics, Fasting, Discipleship and Starting Small Group Fellowship, Intercession, etc, as well to small groups of Youtube Youth, this year. From June 2013, we have had the FOUNTAIN OF TEARS AGAINST MOUNTAIN OF FEARS fasting prayer every month to encourage the Facebook Folks to seek God’s face. It was a blessing to intercede for the lost, the leaders and nations before praying for personal needs amidst us. Duke and Evan ministered in a camp for corporates in Bangalore, this year. Duke encouraged the believers of a large AG church during their lent season fasting prayer with two messages, this year. Duke spoke in the Sunday Services in towns as diverse as Trichy, Kolkata, New Delhi and Chennai this year. One of his most-remembered messages was from the Bible character of Uriah. He used this character to call the church believers to become faithful soldiers for Jesus. Duke even addressed the married women of a leading church telling them ways from the Bible as to how to understand typical men better, this year. Both Duke and Evan were involved in direct counselling, internet counselling and phone counselling this year. Marriages broken-down, questions about porn-watching, masturbation, sex, relationsihips, life partner choice, etc were answered, biblically and frankly with compassion. Young people were constantly told what they should hear, not what they wanted to hear. Duke’s writing ministry continued this year. Through Facebook updates (http://www.facebook.com/googleduke), through blog posts (http://www.purposespot.blogspot.in), through continued to wrap Bible Truth around contemporary events Jesus style, even this year. We continued to publish our magazine that does that, The Days of Your Youth, this year as well. Not only that. We printed two of our Gospel tracts for the Google Generation this year. The Bubbly tract and the Dhoni tract were given in 10 different locations during 10 different months by G4 Mission volunteers (including Duke) this year. A fellowship in Singapore ordered 300 copies of the Bubbly tract this year. A medical college student fellowship ordered 1000 copies of the Bubbly tract this year. This year Duke made fully online his two books – Straight Talk & Good News for the Google Generation – in his scribd account – http://www.scribd.com/duke_jeyaraj. We continued to distribute our two books. Eight copies of our twin books were ordered by students of Angola origin in the month of December 2013. A young woman living in Jharkhand wrote to us saying, “I have already both your books. When are going to write your next book?” Plans are on the anvil for two more books of Duke. God is blessing our ministry. Our children pray everyday, “Oh God of Isreal, please bless me, expand our borders, let your hand be with me and keep me from evil!” God is answering this prayer.
In the ministry of Grabbing the Google Generation from going to Gehenna, Duke Jeyaraj +91-8886040605 (Whats App Number)
A teaching that is called “Hyper-Grace” is sadly lapped up by unsuspecting believers world over (including those in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Singapore and literally world over). A google search on “Hyper-Grace” would throw up the prominent Hyper-Grace teachers in the world, presently. This is an unbiblical teaching that is, at best, a half-truth. But then, a half-truth is a full-lie (as someone said)! Hyper-Grace teachers are in the GRIP of “G-R-I-P”, I noticed. Let me explain:
G-GRACE GRAMMER GOOF-UP!
What I mean here is that, the Hyper-Grace Teachers tell us that a believer’s past, present and future sins stand automatically forgiven when he gets saved. This is simply not true, according to Scripture. A “brother” (that is, a believer) who had regular sexual relationship with his own mother was not considered “forgiven” or “righteous” but as a “evil person” by Apostle Paul (I Cor. 5:1,11,13). David Ravenhill wrote, “The fact is that the provision for my cleansing was completed at the cross but the process of my cleansing is conditional upon my repentance.” I agree.
Hyper-Grace teachers tell us that Repentance merely means changing one’s mind – it does not involve action. Some Hyper-Grace teachers unashamedly say, “I don’t preach on repentance (turning from sin), anymore!” Paul clearly taught in Acts 26:20 that the Gentiles should repent, turn to God, “performing deeds in keeping with repentance”. This was the description given in the book of Revelation about those condemned to eternal hell: “they did not repent” (Rev. 9:20, 21; 16: 9,11). All of us have a choice, Jesus preached: to repent or to perish in hell (Luke 13:1-5; Rev. 21:8). Some hyper-grace teachers are very quick to reject any so-called “pre-cross” statement of Jesus like the one I just quoted. But they do quote portions from the sayings of pre-cross Jesus which they think squares up well with their deceptive theology. For example I have heard them quote from Luke 9:53-55 (where Jesus rebukes his disciples, James and John, who wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy Samaritans). They should make up their minds to accept ALL the words of Jesus or NONE of it. And they should not forget, “ALL” Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for “teaching” (2 Tim. 3:16).
I-INCESSANT IDENTITY INSANITY!
The way Hyper-Grace teachers will invariably begin their messages is this way: “Today, I will tell you who you are in Christ – your identity in Christ!!” While it is good to know our identity in Christ, we must not forget the “responsibility” of holy living that Christ calls us to (I Thess 4:3 which says, “It is God’s will, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality”). Hyper-Grace teachers, call those who preach on holiness/progressive sanctification, as ‘hypocritical legalists’/’mixed-grace preachers’. But the Scripture does teach progressive, day-to-day sanctification. One of the 16 fundamental doctrines of the Assemblies of God is (progressive) sanctification which is expressed by these words: “Sanctification is realized in the believer by recognizing his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and by the faith reckoning daily upon the fact of that union, and by offering every faculty continually to the dominion of the Holy Spirit.” We chose to live holy using our free-will, enabled by the Holy Spirit’s power(Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:13). Therefore we have nothing to boast about, except that we have been enabled by His Grace.
P-PERMANENTLY PLEASED POP!
The teaching they systematically spread is this: “God, your loving father, doesn’t see you in your failures and short-comings; He sees you in Jesus’ perfection and loveliness, always.” If that were true, Jesus, when he saw the failures and short-comings of the Revelation churches would have said, “Rejoice! I do not see your sin!” But, instead, he said “Repent!” (because he did see their sin, post-cross!) He said that six times (Rev. 2:5,16, 21,22; 3:3,19). We must not exalt one image of God found in the Bible at the expense of other images, leading to a blunder that could land us in hell. In Hebrews 12, we read that God is both these “CFs” – a Compassionate Father (verse 5) and a Consuming Fire (vs. 29)! God is not just a Father who dotes over us, he is a Master whom we must obey, the Scripture tells us repeatedly (I Cor. 6:13; Col. 3:24; Jude 4; Gal. 6:17; I Thess 1:6-8). He is not just a loving dad but also a faithfulness-expecting and purity-expecting Bride Groom (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:27). We are saved by Grace, for good works and holy living (Eph. 2:8-10). Let us not forget that.
Let’s get busy with the work of rescuing those friends of ours in the g-r-i-p of the hyper-grace teaching before it is too late. Let us boldly go to places where false doctrines like hell-taking hyper-grace teaching is taught and “charge” people not to teach any doctrine that is contrary to Scripture (See I Tim. 1:3).
Only Matthew records that Jesus wanted BOTH the MOTHER DONKEY and it’s COLT (the Kid Donkey) (Mt 21:2). A person would be sitting on the back of that untrained colt for the first ever time, it looks like. Therefore, Jesus perhaps felt the presence of the parent would calm the colt’s nerves when a person (Jesus) sat on it. Do we cooperate with God’s plan for our kids the whole-hearted way this MOTHER DONKEY apparently did with Jesus’ plans for it’s kid donkey? Parents should encourage their born-again children to serve God. Parents do not ask generally kids, “Is it God’s Will?” when their kids say, “I want to go to the US to study and settle down there!” But when their kids say, “Mom/Dad, God has called me for full-time ministry to such and such a place in India itself!” most parents pour cold water on their enthusiasm by asking, “Are you sure, it is God’s will?” What a wicked double standard! How we show step-motherly treatment for the things of God! The Lord is watching this with deep sorrow and anguish. His anger may be triggered by our worldliness and money-mindedness. The message that comes to us from the Palm Sunday Matthew narrative is this: encourage the younger generation in your family to get involved in God’s Work, whole-heartedly!
(Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of G4 Mission. Find out more at www.dukev.org. This is a reader supported ministry. Reach him via WhatsApp at +91-8886040605)
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj on the ‘CR’s from the Bible We Need To Recall When Life Plays Football With Us!
I was in Allahabad, North India, studying a college course (B. Tech., Agricultural Engineering) when I heard first about this beautiful actress from Nepal in Mumbai. Her name? Manisha Koirala. She won a tough battle against cancer recently. She said, “I think cancer helps to transform a person. It affected me so much that it enabled me to grow!” (I read this in Outlook mag). She is not a believer to the best of my knowledge. But I was amazed that she was able to see something positive in suffering. Though the Corona pandemic has caused many inconveniences to Corporates, churches, individuals, etc., can anything good come out of this? What are the blessings that come out of this pandemic?
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer, popularly known as CR. Using the acronym CR, I have outlined my message which captures the biblical CRs we need to keep in when life plays football with us. These CRs will keep us playing the game of life with a positive attitude despite setback such as the Corona Pandemic. When life plays football with us – that is when we suffer – we will do well to remember these biblical CRs!
CHARACTER REFINEMENT (CR NO. 1 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
Job is one of the earliest books of the Bible and it has a lesson on suffering. Job experienced untold suffering – loss of his children, loss of his wealth, his wife encouraging him to curse God and die, acting as Satan’s agent (She repeated Satan’s words to God about Job that he would curse God when his worldly blessing are removed). Job 23:10 says “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” God does not contradict himself. From the Old Testament to the New Testament God says the same thing in a progressive way. I Peter 5:10 says “after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” The suffering which is only for a while confirms us, strengthen , and establish us. Our character gets refined in a mysterious way. It does not matter who caused it but blessings will come out of this pandemic.
COPYBOOK (BIBLE) REFLECTION (CR NO. 2 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
If a shotput hits your head during game time in school, you might lose your memory. You might say crazy things. But no shotput ball hit the author of Psalm 119. He was in-fact directed by the Holy Spirit when he wrote Psalm 119:71.
Psalm 119:71 says “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
Generally our tendency is to waste our time and be addicted to the screen. We like to go down the easy path and are like water that flows wherever there is a way. Usually we are always in a hurry but this lock down time has given us unhurried time to study the word of God.
Suffering should not just turn our attention to Scripture. But also make us obey Scripture. I say this because I have read Psalm 119:67 – “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your Word!”
CROWNING OF OUR ROCK (CR NO. 3 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
By the phrase, ‘Crowning of our Rock’ I mean the ‘the glory of God our Rock’. John 9:1,2 speaks of a blind man from birth. “What is the cause of his blindness?” asked the disciples of Jesus. Was it his sin or the sin of his parents? He was born blind in order to display glory to God; raise the glory of the Lord in a mysterious way, the Scripture says in John 9:1-2. How does a black buffalo eat green grass and produce white milk? I don’t understand. But I drink milk and give my kids milk to drink! How can the corona virus situation bring glory to God? I don’t understand. But I do not doubt the goodness of God even in this situation! We are living in times of inexplicable suffering and inconveniences/lock down. During, the times of suffering we must keep praising for our creator. The Lord’s name must be glorified even during the time of suffering because suffering brings glory to his name according to John 9:1-2.
CHRIST ‘REPROGRAPHICS’ [COPYING] (CR NO. 4 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
We become more like Jesus during suffering. When we suffer with a positive attitude we copy Christ. Apostle Paul writes, “that I may know the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). We become like Him in death. Suffering with a positive attitude helps us to imitate Jesus. We become more like Him. That is God’s ultimate purpose for us (Rom. 8:29). We look for different models to imitate. Teens tend to imitate famous movie stars. The only model completely worthy of imitating is Jesus. Job 5:7 says “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” If we are human, suffering is unavoidable according to the Old and New Testaments. Acts 14:22 says that we must go through many hardships in our day to day life till we enter heaven by our death or after the return of Jesus.
We get our salvation through the suffering of Jesus but He is also a model when it comes to suffering. We must copy the attitude of Jesus when we suffer. How did Jesus suffer?
Jesus saw suffering as something allowed by God enroute to the Cross. Jesus prayed this model prayer at Gethsemane: “Take this cup of suffering from me but yet not my will, but your will.”
We too must understand that times of suffering are allowed by God.
When Jesus suffered, He forgave those who made him suffer. That’s why he prayed while hanging on the Cross this: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do!”
In the Old Testament when someone cursed David, David felt God gave him permission to do that (2 Sam. 16:11). The Son of David, Jesus, also said in similar vein: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
There may be financial difficulty coming, terrible health issues, and untold trouble during this pandemic. There is a gripping Malayalam movie “Virus” about the Nipha virus outbreak which broke out in the Indian state of Kerala in 2018, but the Corono virus is more deadly and global. God has allowed it to happen (though we aren’t sure who is the cause for this)
And when we exhibit a Christ-like attitude during this time of suffering – saluting the Will of the Father, forgiving whoever may be involved – God will be pleased! And we will become Christ-like!
COSMOS REDEMPTION(CR No. 5 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
The most relatable example of how God can use our suffering as a channel of blessing for others (the cosmos) concerns the Old Testament hero, Joseph. Genesis 50:20 says “ye thought evil against me but God meant it unto good.” Those are Joseph’s words to his brothers who were super-mean to him when he met them after he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph undergoes sufferings on multiple occasions. I preached a message on the sufferings of Joseph when I was invited to preach in a Baptist Church earlier this year (2019). That message on the ‘arrows’ launched against Joseph is found on YouTube. But despite these arrows, Joseph’s bow remained steady. He believed God had a plan in allowing his brothers to be envious of him. The envy of Joseph’s brothers was caused by Satan, of course. But Joseph saw that as God-allowed for the greater blessing of his family, the nation of Israel. Read Genesis 45:5-8. Count the times Joseph says there, “God sent me….”. He says it three times! Joseph did not feel that his brother’s envy sent him to Egypt but he came to Epypt because of the God’s good purposes! Joseph was not bitter when he suffered (via his brothers, Mrs. Potiphar, Mr. Potiphar, the forgetful cupbearer, etc.) but he thought differently. Great people think differently. He saw God’s hand in allowing these folk to make him suffer so that a grander plan can be executed for the blessing of many people.
Government restrictions for travel keep us home. Our international travel may have cancelled. The World’s finances may be in disarray. But Believe that God allowed this virus to go beserk for a good purpose.
By saying this I am not justifying envy or any sinful thing. If the Corona virus was manufactured in a lab as a weapon for bio-terrorism, whoever responsible for that must be punished. God will judge that person either on this side of eternity or the other side of it (if the concerned does not repent). Was that act wrong? Absolutely.
Joseph was in a position to bless so many people even though he was the second youngest sibling in his family as he grew up. He became an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ! What a blessing!
Graham Staines was an ordinary missionary in the interior parts of Orissa. He was burnt alive along with his 2 sons when he stayed in his jeep following a meeting in a village (January of 1999). But this has inspired many to take up medical mission, to respect humanity, and pursue truth. Jim Eliot, worked among the Aucas in Ecuador, South America and was killed in 1956 at the age of 29, amidst remote tribals. His life inspired many people to labour for Christ and go to other countries to share the love of Jesus. In mysterious ways all this resulted in cosmos redemption.
CONTRAST AND REVERSE-APPRECIATION (CR No. 7 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
Read I Peter 1:6,7 (we already read it earlier in this message). Twenty-one day lock down may seem long. When you compare our time of suffering here and now with eternity, is such a short time. When we understand the fleeting nature of our suffering here and now, then only we will be able to appreciate the reverse – the time of everlasting joy in heaven. For example, a tiny kidney stone can cause much excruciating pain, even though temporary. I have experienced hours of kidney stone pain twice in my life (a pain that is said to be close to the labor pains a woman experiences). When I go through a pain-free day, I praise God even more with delirious joy because I recall those two terrible bouts of pain. Eugene Peterson, an American Presbyterian Minister, says hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us (in his contemporary English translation of II Corinthians 4:17,18). We have light and momentary troubles (to use another version’s rendering of the same set of verses).
Sometimes we feel our suffering is so gigantic but when compared to the suffering that Jesus underwent, it is very light. God has a grand, glorious plan when he allows anything. God had foreknowledge of this pandemic and this is not a surprise for God. He already knew about it.
Read Acts 2:22,23; Acts 4:27,28. Different people became united. The religious leaders of the time and common people, Jews and gentiles schemed together, came against Jesus who is the only one who did not deserve any suffering (as he never sinned and yes, suffering first came into the world because of sin – check out John 5:14; ofcourse not all suffering is because of sin – John 9:1-2 teaches that). We may not understand the intricacies but something good will come out of this corona virus pandemic. The teaching that we will not have to suffer here and now on this earth because Jesus suffered for us on the Cross is a false teaching. We suffer because Adam chose to disobey and we also commit sin and disobey. Hebrews 13:12,13 is clear that even though Jesus suffered on the cross, we have to suffer as well – especially when we take a stand for Jesus in this pluralistic World and in this prosperity-false-doctrine embracing backslidden church.
This world is not our home. We are just passing through looking for a new heaven and earth.
Let me reproduce a story from my article that provides a practical summary of the book of Job titled “Why me?”
MARTIN AND GRACIA BURNHAM STORY VIA A NAT GEO TV PROGRAM
My wife and I tucked our kids to bed and settled to watch the National Geographic channel program called, “Locked up Abroad!” in September 2008. It featured the story of a missionary couple by the name of Martin and Gracia Burnham.
They were American Missionaries who served God in the country of Phiippines. They had met and married each other with a singular purpose of serving God together in the mission field he would send them to. God had blessed them with three children all of whom were born in the mission field.
On their eighteenth wedding anniversary, they had gone to a beachside island resort in the same country to romance each other afresh and to celebrate their wedding anniversary minus the children.
That’s when a terrorist group led by Abu Sayyaf linked with Osama bin Laden kidnapped them and took them away in a speedboat along with 18 others. In this group of 18, there was only one more American, apart from the Burnhams. This missionary couple was chained to two terrorists. They kept moving in the dense forests as the Philippine Army tried to track them down.
They starved for most part of their 377-day captivity. While they fainted physically, spiritually they did not. They kept believing God and kept serving him by sharing the gospel with their captors. When they did eat something, dysentery was the result. Though the food came out of their bodies like water, their faith during this time was rock solid. Their bodies were cut. Blood oozed out. But their faith in Jesus did not fizzle out. Their captors demanded $1 million for their release. $330,000 was given to them, yet they did not release them. 3 men in that group of 18 were beheaded. Even after these horrific incidents, this missionary couple in captivity did not want to kick their Christian Faith from their hearts and heads. The terrorists married four women in the group against their wishes and sexually violated them. Even this incident did not force this determined duo to divorce their faith from their life during the time of extreme trail. On June 7, 2002, during a cross-fire between the Phippine Army and the terrorists, a bullet pierced the chest of Martin the soldier of the Cross, and he died. Yet, the faith of his wife, Gracia, did not die. She continued to serve God with a steely resolve. Injured on her leg in the same cross-fire, she was finally free from her captors – nearly 400 days in horrific captivity.
Max Lucado writing about this incident memorably asks a series of questions you may have wanted to ask as well as you read this true story: “Why didn’t God block the bullets? Why did he let her get shot? And why God let him die?…She was a widow, and we are left to wonder why. Is this how God honors his chosen? How do we explain this tragedy? And as you’re thinking of theirs, how do you explain yours? The tension at home. The demands at work. The bills on your desk or the tumor on your body. You’re taken hostage, but aren’t you occasionally taken aback by God’s silence? He knows what you are facing. How do we explain this?”
Gracia Martin, the dead missionary’s widow, answers this “why” question in an interview she gave: “During the 10th week of my captivity, this Bible truth I had taught others all-along strongly came to me: life’s not all about me getting my way; it’s about Him getting His way. I decided that I was going to believe God was good, no matter what…. It seemed like God would answer every prayer but to get us out of there. I think we realized that He wanted us in there for a reason. Our prayers really changed at that point – we just wanted God to be teaching us.”
Today, Gracia Martin, is stronger in her faith after having gone through such a harrowing experience. She leads a ministry that uses aviation for mission work that involves getting the Gospel to those living in closed Islamic countries. The terrifying trails she underwent being a captive to a dreaded terrorist group for close to 400 days helped in mysterious ways to demonstrate the glory and power of God in her life!
This Corona Virus Pandemic and consequent lock down time will also be for our ultimate good! I am sure of that!
There was a time when Apostle Paul was chained to a roman soldier. He considered that as an opportunity to share the Gospel. The chains that bound Apostle Paul caused him inconvenience. But he say that as an occasion to advance the Gospel (Phil. 1:12). This is one obvious reason and purpose. In their discussion with God, Satan tried to tell God that Job loved Him because of all the gifts He gave Job. God said that Job loved Him because of genuine love and had no ulterior motives. The reason that Job had for loving God was love for God and nothing else. As a popular secular romantic song goes, “Love me for a reason. Let the reason be love!” We must love God for no other reason, but love! And if we do, this pandemic time will become a purposeful time for us!
Prayer: Thank you Lord for helping us understand from the Bible why there can be a mysterious blessing even via this Corona pandemic. Bless our time of lockdown and suffering so that we will continue to learn your word, raise Your praise, share your Gospel , and grow in character. In Jesus name. Amen.
[Transcribed by Mrs. Malini Prabakar voluntarily from a devotional that Duke Jeyaraj shared via video on 29 March 2020. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this piece, is the fouder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, a listener supported Indian Ministry. Find out more at www.dukev.org. You may choose to subscribe to www.youtube.com/visitduke and like www.facebook.com/dukebook. You can reach Duke via WhatsApp at +91-8886040605. If you send a message via this number we can send you the PDF of the magazine that Duke publishes called, The Days of Your Youth, with the article, ‘Why Me?’ (summary of the main lessons of Job put in outline j-o-b o-f u-z)]
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj – 22 nd March, 2020 (A Video Message Shared Online Via Facebook and Youtube)
We thank you Lord for this day, March 22,2020 when we are home, worshipping you in accordance with your sovereign plan; also for the privilege and freedom to broadcast on social media (You Tube and Facebook).Thank you for the opportunity to teach and share your Living Word that touches and transforms the lives of people watching globally .
May hearts be warmed by the Holy Spirit’s leading, bringing illumination, revelation, and life transformation. Amen.
The recent Economist Magazine reports that governments are trying to get a grip on this deadly pandemic – COVID -19. On March 16, reliable medical research published by epidemiologists (Imperial College, London) predicted that the virus would affect 80% of British population within 3 to 4 months if not arrested by the government or population.2.2 million Americans and 500,000 people in U.K. would be affected. No one really knows what will happen in nations like India.
I want to use the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to teach what the Bible, God’s own Word, has to say about plagues and pestilences.
C – CREATOR CAUSED PLAGUES
The Bible repeatedly attributes the origin of plagues and pestilences to God. If the Devil causes a plague (In Luke 13:16 Satan causes a disease which could have been a result of a viral attack on the human body – See also Mark 9:17; 9:25 and Acts 10:38) he needs to get God’s permission. God can permit the devil to operate. God’s sovereignty is a major doctrine of the Bible and no one can question him with a WHY (Dan. 4:35)?
The first reference to the plague is found in Genesis 12:17 when the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house in Egypt because of Abram’s wife Sarai. (Genesis 12:10 – 20)
The next reference is Exodus 8:2 where the Lord plagues Egypt with frogs because Pharaoh would not release the Israelites from their bondage. (Moses was their leader and he wrote the first 5 books of the Bible.)
In Exodus 9:3, it is the plague on livestock caused by the hand of God. In verse 14, we read that God sends all plagues on the Egyptian people to proclaim that “there is none like me(God) in all the earth.” In all, there were 10 plagues that affected the Egyptians.
Exodus 32:35 states that God sent a plague because Aaron made a golden calf which the people of God, Israelites, worshipped. They worshipped the CREATION rather than the CREATOR.
Numbers 11:33 tells us that even before the Israelites had consumed the flesh of the quail, God sent a plague because their perpetual complaints and ingratitude triggered God’s anger.
(One theory regarding the origin of Corona virus is that it came from a wet market which sold exotic meats, including the meat of winged bats, the likely original host of the Corona Virus, in Wuhan, China).
In Numbers 16:46, Moses tells Aaron to carry a censer, take fire from the altar and use incense as an atonement for the congregation since God’s wrath had caused a plague. The Bible is a library of 66 books and as we comb through it, we come to Numbers 25 where we read of the religious prostitution with Moabite women in the temple of Baal and Baal worship of the Israelites.
Balaam, in Numbers 31:16 counselled the Israelites to worship the idol Baal-Peor in-effect (by dancing with the women of Moab) using his seemingly prophetic powers and the consequence was a plague that killed 24,000.
Deuteronomy 28:59 records the farewell speech of Moses to Israelites before their entry to the Promised Land where he repeats the law and warns them of the fearful plagues that will affect their children and will last long and afflict them with sore sicknesses. In Deuteronomy 32:24 God warns the disobedient people that he will send hunger, heat, beasts, and poisonous serpents as agents of destruction. At the beginning of creation, the serpent is Satan’s slave and speaks to Eve. However, in Matthew 10:16, God says “be ye therefore as wise as serpents.”
Joshua 22:17 is a reminder of the plague on the congregation by sexual immorality. Joshua 24:5 states, “I plagued Egypt.” I Samuel 4:8 tells us how even the pagans realized God’s protection over the Israelites when it came to plagues.
Psalm 78:50 speaks of a pestilence that God delivered his people to. In Zechariah 14:12, the plague will affect those who war against Jerusalem; verse 18 of the same chapter speaks of the Lord smiting the heathen with a plague that do not observe the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths.
The Feast of Booths/Tabernacles is a Jewish Festival which is symbolic of the Israelite journey through the wilderness in temporary shelters. It is a call to repentance. It is also a symbol of our spiritual journey through this world as aliens, strangers, travellers, and as Peter says “sojourners “ (I Peter 2:11). The world offers prosperity, sinful pleasures, immortality on earth before Second Coming and we can choose to be worldly! But we should remember that we are passing through, to reach a city with no plagues. As Jim Reeves sang, “this world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”
In the New Testament, Revelation 18:8 speaks of God’s judgement on establishments that are anti-God. Babylon is symbolic of this. The plagues will come in a single day – death, fire, famine. Revelation 22:18 warns with clarity that in response to people’s rebellion, God can choose to send plagues.
With the help of the above references, we understand that the plague is CREATOR CAUSED. Yes, Satan can be given permission by God to cause plagues/diseases. But even then, the buck for causing a plague, for reasons known to him, stops with God as he chose to give permission without which no plague could have occurred – including the Corona Virus Pandemic – in the first place!
We are using the outline C-O-R-O-N-A to understand what the Bible has to teach about plagues. C for Creator-Caused Plagues. O is the next letter under consideration!
O-OBLITERATED BY THE CROSS ON WHICH JESUS DIED? IS THAT TRUE ABOUT PLAGUES?
Obliterated means cancelled. Does the Bible teach that none of the believers will be attacked/affected by the virus? Is there such a theology in the Bible? This is the question. Exodus 12:13 speaks of the blood as an anti-dote for the plague. In Exodus 30:12, the Lord asks Moses to take census and number the Israelites when there is non-existence of plague among them. Revelation 18:4 refers to Babylon, which is symbolic of the system of evil and sin. We should say bye-bye to satan , come under the blood of Jesus, and join the spiritual church. Should we as believers never experience a plague? Plagues are not for God’s children says Numbers 8:19. Can Numbers 8:19 be applied to believers of today?
Psalm 91:10 is assuring – “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Revelation 18:4 says this: “be ye not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” So, the question is this: will a believer who lives a holy life be spared from the Corona Virus infection as Revelation 18:4 seems to suggest?
Accelerated, passionate, cultic preaching, originally from South Africa, also echoed in Sri Lanka, India, propagated immortality which said that if you believe on Jesus, you will not die. Is this teaching correct?
There are 4 things that the believer which the human race deals with: defilement, disease, death, and demonic attack.
DEFILEMENT: By His first coming, Jesus gave us power over defilement. Being away from defilement does not allow us to use angry/ abusive words. We gain complete victory over every kind sinful habit (I John 3:5-6).
The Bible reiterates 300 times that Jesus is coming again. II Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus has already made us righteous. But I John1 :8 states we are not righteous. James 3:2 says that we (believers) stumble in many ways. It is a paradox. We are “already” holy, but “not yet” holy! This is what is called the ‘already but not yet’ theology – a theology that we must understand!
Grace is not a credit card to sin. We are not perfect and we do sin, but must come back to Jesus in genuine repentance and confession (Romans 2:4-5; I John 1:8-9). Only after the Second Coming (which takes place in Revelation 19:11) and in the New Heavens and Earth will there be complete absence of sin (Rev. 21:27).
So till the Second Coming we must put to death the acts of the flesh empowered by the Spirit (Romans 8:13). So, in a sense, we are already holy but not yet holy!
DISEASE: The ‘already but not yet’ theology is also seen in the area of diseases.
Even though God has worked out the solution on the Cross, the provision for our healing, some do not get healed for mysterious reasons. Isaiah 53:5 – With His stripes we are healed. I Peter 2:24 – By whose stripes ye were healed. Yes, after the first coming Jesus made provision for our healing at the Cross. However for some mysterious higher reason not all of us are healed here and now II Timothy 4:20 – Paul left his fellow labourer Trophimus at Miletus sick, even though he had healed sick and possessed people, with handkerchiefs/aprons.
Matthew 8 :16,17 records that Jesus healed all that were sick in a particular area fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5. This is in line with Exodus 23:25 which says, “I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.”
Let us hit rewind button on the characters of Elijah and Elisha.Elijah had performed 8 miracles – shut up heavens, caused drought, multiplied oil and flour to the widow, raised her son, defeated prophets of Baal with fire, brought rain to end drought, destroyed 51 with fire, destroyed another group of 51 with fire, parted the waters at River Jordan and he was taken in a whirlwind to heaven. Miracle after miracle and healing after healing but one day, he was taken in a whirlwind to heaven.
Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and he performed 16 miracles – parted waters of Jordan, purified waters of Jericho, Caused a flood, made Israelites to foil the Moabiltes, gave a flow of oil to the widow, gave fertility to the woman of Shunem, raised her son from death, purified the poisonous stew, multiplied barley loaves, healed Naaman of leprosy, healed Gehazi his servant, floated the head of the iron axe, struck Arameans blind, prophesied end of Aramean siege, prophesied death of Benhadad and rise of Hazael and prophesied Israel would defeat King of Aram.
Yet, Elisha, the mighty miracle-worker died of sickness – II Kings 13:14. This is the story of many of our loved ones.
We know of the apologist Dr.Nabeel Quereshi who was working with RZIM Ministries died of an illness at the age of 33. God released healing in the Old and New Testaments but here and now there is sickness, suffering, and pain. Plagues and pestilences fall in that category of suffering. They keep us humble. We are not in-charge of the earth. The Sovereign God is in control.
Paul , the author of many New Testament books, had a thorn in his flesh – some kind of ailment causing pain. He pleaded three times with God. II Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I Peter 2:24 reiterates that we are healed by His stripes. Infirmities humble us.
If I can do everything, then I will be God but I am human. I depend on God and others and this ushers in a beautiful, mutual dependence, and a spirit of team work. The area in which I am weak may be the strength of another person.
While I Peter 2:24 teaches that Jesus has ‘already’ made provision for our healing, passages such as Romans 8:23 (which says that we await redemption of our bodies) teach that we are ‘not yet’ healed. After the Second Coming of Jesus (recorded in Revelation 19), there will be a time when there will be no more pain – no more disease (Rev. 21:4).
We have talked about Defilement in terms of the already but not yet paradigm. We have talked about Disease in terms of the already but not yet paradigm. Now to the next topic – Death.
DEATH- There are 2 stages in the coming of Christ – the first coming. If Jesus had planned to finish all his work with regard to us (like defeating death) in the First Coming itself, he would not have told that us that he is coming again. But he told us that he is coming again! First coming helps us overcome the ‘fear of dying’ (Heb. 2:15). Second coming helps us to overcome death itself (Rev. 19, Second Coming becomes a reality; Rev. 21:4 no more death in New Heaven and Earth). The fear of death is released. The first coming of Christ deals with one dimension of death but the second coming deals with death in all dimensions. Only post his Second Coming we will receive a glorified, death-free, immortal body (I Cor. 15:23). The reward for giving up all and loving Jesus supremely is “Eternal” life (a deathless life) and this blessing is only available in the “life to come” (Luke 18:30) – not before that! We have “already” overcome fear of death (Heb 2:15) and but “not yet” experienced a total win over death as death is the last enemy which Christ will defeat “at his coming” (I Cor. 15:23,26).
Some cult false teachers quote John 11:25,26 to teach immortality on earth. When Jesus said that those who believe in me will not die, we must check the context to understand the meaning of the word ‘death’. If we say ‘Sunny’ – it could mean the weather, or it could mean the Indian Cricket Opener (Sunil Gavaskar), it could mean the Nissan Car model, or it could me a porn star! The context will determine what “Sunny” means! In the same way the context of the word ‘death’ as Jesus used in John 11:25-26 indicates that he was talking about spiritual death. In Luke 9:20 Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead!” He was referring to the spiritually dead people who will refuse to follow Jesus because they await the actual physical death of their parents! In Luke 15:24, 25, Jesus referred to the alive-physically post repentance but once upon a time, dead-spiritually prodigal son. So, John 11:25-26 cannot be talking about immortality on earth (if you look at the context of these passages and map those the rest of the Bible, you cannot believe in immortality on earth here and now). It is talking about overcoming spiritual death and ultimately escaping second death which is hell punishment (Rev. 21:8). Romans 8:1 – There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. There is no danger of second death when you believe and abide in Christ Jesus!
We are talking about the ‘already’ but ‘not yet’ theology of the Bible with regard to Defilement, Disease, Death and finally, Demons!
DEMONS: Matthew 12 :28 – Devils are cast out by the spirit of God. When this happened in Jesus’ ministry the Kingdom of God has been established and Satan has been defeated. When Jesus died on the Cross the Devil was “already” defeated and shamed on the Cross. Read Col 2:13,14,15. Jesus defeated the devil on the Cross. But the final defeat of the Devil is still in the ‘not yet’ category. It is pending. The devil is still active deceiving people and nations (I Peter 5:8). “Already but not yet theology” tells us that the work of God is inaugurated in His First Coming but completed in the Second Coming. Matthew 25:1 – Kingdom of heaven is likened to 10 virgins with their lamps. Matthew 25:31-34 speaks about the separation of people and nations just as a shepherd divides the sheep and goats (judges both believers and non-believers) as a King on the throne. God will complete the establishment of the kingdom of God after the Second Coming. So, His kingdom is still coming, in one sense. Luke 23:42,43 is a reference to the dying thief who says “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” and Jesus responds “You will be with me in Paradise today.” The Dying thief rightly say the ‘already but not yet’ theology in Jesus’ teachings and made the right request.
Satan is still active and can cause us harm if we are not alert and will only be sent to hell after the Second Coming of Jesus [Rev. 19:11 (Second Coming), 20(hell for the miracle-working False Prophet and AntiChrist and Rev. 20:10 – hell for the Devil)]. Note that we must not get carried away false teachers who say, “Look at my miracles!” because the ultimate False Prophet, one who is part of the False Trinity will also work miracles!
There is a group working with missionary zeal on social media that circulates teaching that we have victory over disease (so you can’t have diseases), death (so you can’t die now), and demons (and Satan poses no danger to you now). In the light of the above paragraphs, what they teach is hellish false teaching. I wonder why this group does not say, “Jesus died for our sins on the Cross, so we must not sin anymore!” But they say, “Jesus died for us on the Cross and we must not die anymore!” Their shallow, double-standards-embracing arguments tells the larger story of how they love “Balaam’s wages” and so will only preach a message that will “tickle” people’s ear! [Of course, the right teaching is this: Jesus died for our sins on the Cross and we can have power over sin (I John 3:5-6), though only Jesus is sinlessly perfect (I John 1:8)!]
Balance Psalm 91:10 (no plague shall come near thy dwelling) with Hosea 13:14 where the prophet, alive before the first coming of Jesus, foretells the future time after Second Coming where-in a Psalm 91:10 protection will be a reality! In the absolute sense, Psalm 91:10 (no plague shall come near thy dwelling), will be true only in the New Heaven and Earth (Rev. 21:4) post the Second Coming of Jesus (Rev. 19:11) and not before that.
We are using the outline C-O-R-O-N-A to learn what the Bible teaches about Plagues.
C-reator-Caused plagues; O-bliterated by the Cross plagues here and now (absolutely not!); now for the third letter in this acronym, R….
R – REDEMPTION FROM THE PLAGUES
What can be humanly done to stop a plague (knowing ultimately it is God’s prerogative to do so)?
Sacrificial entry into God’s presence:
In II Samuel 24, we read about David’s pride and arrogance when he wanted to count the troops instead of counting on God. God sends a pestilence and 70,000 men died. A sacrifice had to be made in a particular piece of land for the plague sent by God to stop. That piece of land was available for free for King David. But he wanted to pay for it. “I will not offer to the Lord, burnt offerings that cost me nothing!” – he said (2 Sam. 24:24). Then finally the altar was built. The sacrifice was offered. The Lord answered the prayer and then the plague stopped.
We have to increase our prayer time and kneel instead of watching different screens all day and night (I am talking about the phone, pad and the TV). Spend time with family around His word, in prayer. We can fast and pray and say “NO” to the things we love with a sacrificial David-like spirit; we can give sacrificially and support missionary organizations. Then, God may chose to stop the plague!
Numbers 16:21 onwards speaks of the grumbling against Moses, the rumbling, and the humbling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The earth swallowed them up and their houses. A fire consumed 250 men that offered incense.14,700 died from the plague. Moses begged for mercy. Aaron offers incense as an atonement which is symbolic of the prayers and intercessions of saints. Revelation 5:8 speaks of golden vials full of odours which are the prayers of saints.
[We have a monthly fasting and prayer time with intercession named “Fountain of tears against Mountain of fears” when we pray for nations (for Corona-hit Italy/Iran), our nation (India), the google generation (which goes porn-again!) and for the tensions of those who come (for a job, for a baby, for peace in marriage, etc)].
Separation from the world:
Revelation 18:4 warns us not to partake in sins and be subject to plagues. When we live a life of holiness and separation, then God may choose to stop the plague!
Others use foul language, we too use foul language. Others watch soft porn via Netflix, we too do the same! This CAN’T be! For the plague to end, we must choose holiness and separation from the Bible. Then God may choose to end the plague!
Proclamation of the standards of God’s Holiness:
We should preach the truth about God’s holy standards from His Word taking the cue from Phinehas. In Numbers 25, we read of Phinehas and how he removed evil and stopped the plague which killed 24,000. He killed people involved in sexual immorality. We should turn away from filthy thinking and adultery. God’s word is the sword which divides holy and sinful people. Psalm 106:29 speaks of the outbreak of the plague. “They provoked him to anger with their inventions.” Phinehas literally sent a spear into a couple that was into sinful Baal worship through sexual intimacy inside the privacy of a tent (Numbers 25:6-8). As New Testament believers we will not kill people physically that way. Instead, we will use the sharp sword of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12) and preach it to people so that their hearts are “cut” (Acts 2:37). My book, Straight Talk, brings such frank Bible teaching on sex, love, marriage, petting outside marriage, homosexuality, porn, etc. We are now working on edition 3 as I write with vols 1 and 2 sold out.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
O – ORDERLY QUARANTINE HAS TO BE MAINTAINED DURING THE PLAGUE:
The laws of quarantine set by the local government have to be followed. Leviticus 13:36 speaks of social distancing and isolation. As long as they have the disease, they have to separate themselves from others and stay outside the camp. We must obey in order to stop the spread of the disease. Read Leviticus 5. Cleanliness can be marred by having an issue, leprosy or touching the dead – Numbers 5:2
Leviticus 15:6,17,18,32; Deuteronomy 23:10,11; II Kings 7:3; 15:5. Read these Scriptures that vote for orderly quarantine during times of plague or contagious disease long before medical science was as advanced as it is during our time!
In II Samuel 24, we read about David’s pride and self-sufficiency. God sends a pestilence and 70,000 men died. In II Kings 15:5, the king becomes a leper until his death and lives in a separate house. II Chronicles 26:21, Uzziah the king was a leper till his death and lived in a separate house. Read Leviticus 22:14.
Romans 13:1 teaches that we must obey the Government when it comes laws passed by it that does not contradict the written Word of God. The 21-day quarantine period and consequent ‘stay-at-home’ order by the Government needs to be obeyed for the larger good of the people.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
N – NEARNESS TO THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS:
“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” – Luke 21:11
Many signs of Jesus’ second coming are seen. From 1981, 35 million lives were lost due to the HIV pandemic; 1.4 billion were infected globally by the Swine Flu in 2009. 11,325 died and 28,600 cases reported in the West African Ebola in 2014; in 2015 the Zeke virus caused by mosquitoes affected South and Central America and in 2020 we have the Corona Virus globally. Many lives have been lost in China, Italy, U.S.A., Iran. In Deut 23:10,11, we read about an unclean man who has to cleanse himself.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. God can help us to be clean! Clean husbands will please wives and vice-versa!
The Lord’s coming will be like a thief at night (I Thessalonians 5:2) and we must be ready for it any-second.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
A – ALIVE DURING THE TIME OF PLAGUE AND SO WE MUST….
Amos 4:10, Luke 13:1-5 instruct us to repent or perish; repent from pride and prayerlessness. Pilate had mingled the blood of some Galileans with sacrifices.18 people died because the tower of Siloam fell. These people did not die because they were worse sinners than the others. We are all living with the virus of sin and this plague situation is a call to REPENTANCE. Hebrews 11:25 warns us of the passing pleasures of sin. May be prayerlessness and porn watching? If we are alive today, then we should eagerly expect and wait the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior who died for us. Without repentance, we will perish. We need to repent.
Jesus tells us about the ten lepers in Luke 17:12. They were healed. Jesus comes close to us and heals us though we are affected by the virus.
The question He asks is if we will allow His touch. He came in search for us. He wants to come close, touch, and perform a miracle in our lives. Those affected by leprosy had to stay outside the city and could not touch anyone. Corona is causing social distancing but sin is a greater virus than this. We live in a living hell and go to a literal hell because of sin. Intercede for the lost and affected. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. God can help us to be clean and ready for His coming and not left behind. He will lead you and give you a purpose.
Prayer of repentance.
Dear Lord Jesus, I am sorry for my sins. I have a virus deadlier than CORONA, the virus of sin. Wash me with your blood that you shed on the cross. Cleanse me right now from this. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for rising again. Thank you for being willing to be my friend, a friend closer than my brother.From this day onwards, I want to relate to you, love you, and follow you.
Thank you for cleansing me, washing me. Thank you that I am born again. In your name I pray.
Amen. We ask for God’s healing by His nail-pierced hand and experience miracles, testimonies, and healing and pray for closed doors to open. Let us continue to lead balanced lives and pray for the hurting world. When times return to normalcy, we should not forget God. God consciousness should remain. Let us plunder hell and populate heaven. God does more than we ask for or imagine and we have to follow Him and hold on to His Word.
(The Author of this piece is Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj. He is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at www.dukev.org or at www.dukewords.com. This particular article was transcribed from a message that Duke Jeyaraj preached via Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f25tnCjBJ3s) or Facebook on 22 March 2020 by Mrs. Malini Prabakar).
Jesus loved being “young”, like most of us do – the time of our lives when our prettiness/handsomeness is at an Himalayan high and our energy-levels at an Everest high. Why did I say that Jesus loved being young? Here’s why – follow the line of my argument carefully: Jesus had the power to choose when he could die (John 10:18); He chose to die when he was in the prime of his youth; He was about 30 when he started his ministry – Luke records (Luke 3:23); John, the Gospel writer, talks about three Passovers which Jesus took part in (John 2:13; 6:4 and 11:55); Since the Passover was an annual festival for the Jews (Lev. 23:1-8; I Sam. 1:3, 21), we know Jesus’ ministry on the earth lasted for three years, before he was crucified and buried; He rose again as a young man, three days later. And he ascended to heaven as a young man of 33; He sits at the right hand of the Father as a young man; In all these years, his glorious body has not aged – I believe – because the Bible says “the same” young Jesus whom the disciples ascend into heaven will return back to this earth (Acts 1:11).
Young people, Jesus can understand you because he is God who is all knowing. Not just that. He can stand you(th) because he is young even right now!
Jesus also loves meeting young people. In his earthly ministry, Jesus met several youth and ministered to them. However, the Gospel writers were moved by the Holy Spirit to give details of Jesus’ interaction with three different youth (only these three persons whom I will refer to are explicitly called ‘youth’). Let us take a long look at those biblical incidents when Jesus met youth and draw lessons for the youth of today.
WHEN JESUS MET A COLD YOUNG MAN
Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian Fast Bowler, has a nick-name. He is nicknamed “Bootlace Bomber”, because of his ability of bowl yorkers accurately and high speed. Jesus can be given a nick-name. Jesus can be called “the Funeral Spoiler”! He is seen disrupting three funerals at various stages of increasing difficulty – one which took place in a home, the other when the body was being carried from the home to the graveyard and still yet another when the body was buried in the graveyard! He disrupts the funeral of the young man who was being carried to the graveyard. He was the only son of his widowed mother (Luke 7:12). And he was being carried to the grave! This is what happened according to Dr. Luke: He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” (Luke 7:14). That young man rose again from the dead and Jesus gave him back to his mother (Luke 7:15).
Have you touched dead bodies? I have. I recently touched the dead body of my maternal uncle who passed after battling Parkinson’s Disease for 25 years. Dead bodies are cold. I want to draw an analogy here. Are you cold, spiritually speaking? Are you cold in your love towards the One whose love for you is warm? There was a time when you used to pray for long hours without looking at the clock. There was a time when you would witness without any second thoughts. There was a time when you fled from temptation and enjoyed the fleeing because you knew sin’s pleasures were, at best, fleeting. But not any longer. Now, prayer times have become a drag for you. You do not witness for Jesus at all. And you run towards temptation feeling super-excited. You need to repent. You need to come back to Jesus. You must come back to the “first love” you had for Jesus (Rev. 2:4). Your love for Jesus needs to be warm.
WHEN JESUS MET A HALF-COMMITTED YOUNG MAN
Matthew records the conversation of a “young man” (Matt. 19:20,22) of “great wealth” (Matt. 19:22) had with Jesus. He had the right question – “What must I do to get eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). He wasn’t talking about earthly things but things of eternal value. So, in that sense, he asked the right question. Having read the full Bible we know that we do not have “do” anything to get eternal life. All we need to do to be saved is to believe in the Lord Jesus who died and rose again for us with a truly repentant heart (Acts 2:37-38; 16:30-31 – two passages where we read the question of unbelievers, “What shall we do now?”). The rich young man not only asked the right question, he exhibited the right posture. Mark records that this young man “knelt” down before Jesus when he asked that question (Mark 10:17 ESV). This tells me that he respected Jesus and wanted to express that respect by the posture of kneeling. But the rich young man who asked the right question with the right posture responded wrongly to Jesus. Jesus, who knew everything as God (John 2:25), knew about his greed and love for money problem. So, Jesus touched that aspect of his life in response to his question. But he did not do that in an angry tone. He did it lovingly. Mark records that Jesus looked at this young man and “loved him” as he gave his response to his question (Mark 10:21). Jesus loves young people. But he does not desire that young people stay in their sins – be it pride or porn-watching or peer-pressure yielding or prayerlessness. So he lovingly calls youth to repent – especially of their “pet” sins. If you are given to the secret habit of shooting and sending nude selfies via WhatsApp Jesus would say this to you, looking at you in a loving way: “Yet one thing you lack. Surrender your WhatsApp life to me!” (Read Mark 10:21 to understand what Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler). Here is the message we need to get: Jesus loves us just the way we are, but he won’t leave us that way. He would woo us with his love, wow us with his love. He love when truly experienced will transform our life. But if we keep rejecting his love, a time will surely come when the Holy Sprit may stop talking to us and we will land in eternal hell (Rev. 21:7-8; Gen. 6:3; Romans 1:18-24).
So do not be half-committed, when it comes to your commitment with Jesus! The rich young man walked away “sad” when he took a U-turn from Jesus and walked away because he was unwilling to repent of his love of money in a practical way by selling all his possessions, giving what he got to the poor, and following Jesus (join Jesus’ ministry team) [Mark 10:21]. He level of commitment to Jesus was not 100%. He kept some parts of his life for himself, for sin, for Satan. This young man wanted to serve Jesus and Money. And that led to sadness. Double-mindedness leads to delight-loss – this was James’ message (Whoever wavers in his mind is troubled in all his ways – James 1:8, Aramaic Bible in Plain English). Don’t lock a corner of your life secretly to porn by watching nudity via streaming platforms like Netflix. Don’t make room in your heart for a little pride in the name having good self-esteem. Give up “all” sin and surrender your “full” life to Jesus (note Jesus’ stress on the word “all” in his response to the young man who was rich in Mark 10:21). Then, the lasting joy which the young rich man missed will be yours (Mark 10:22; Matt. 19:22). When you surrender your life to Jesus without holding anything back – I repeat without holding anything back – you are sure to experience the joy which the world cannot give, money can’t buy (the rich young ruler should have known this) and Satan cannot take away. I can testify to that!
WHEN JESUS MET A COWARDLY YOUNG MAN
There was a young man who followed Jesus enroute to the Cross. But when the Roman Arrest party closed-in on Jesus he had to choose between suffering with Jesus or scooting from Jesus. He chose the later option, for lack of courage. You can read about him in Mark 14:51 – ‘A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he [v]pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked’ (NASB). When this young man had to choose being naked in public and being nerveless in public, he chose the former. He was a coward. He was curious about Jesus (that why he followed Jesus). But he could not make up him mind to be courageous for Jesus. He was exactly the opposite of John Chou, the young American who went to North Sentinel Islands to proclaim Jesus, pretty well knowing that his life was at risk at the hands of the untamed, javelin-wielding, tribal people who lived there in 2018. He sure lost his life. But great will be reward on the other side of eternity. Do you know in the list of people who will go to hell even “cowards” are mentioned? (Rev. 21:7-8). The book of Revelation was written as an encouragement for people who were being persecuted. The message of that book is simple: “Endure”. Revelation 13:10b read this way: ‘Here is a call for the perseverance and faith of the saints.’ Revelation 14:12’s message is also the same: ‘This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.’ When Revelation 21:7-8 places even the ‘cowardly’ in the list of people who will go to hell, we understand this way: those who repeated, stubbornly, deny Jesus through their words and actions for the fear of a repercussion (repercussions like ‘my friends will make fun of me, if I refuse to drink along with them’, ‘if I say no to sex when this girl is offering it offering to me, she will think I am not even a man!’, ‘if I question my pastor about this false teaching he is preaching, he will not have me on stage as a worship leader in this church’, etc) are in the real danger of going to eternal hell.
So, in your campus life, show people that you have a backbone. In your corporate office, let people know that out of that popularity contest. Live for Jesus courageously!
Note: This article was published in the August 2019 issue of Aim Magazine published by Evangelical Fellowship of India.
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is a trained Agricultural Engineer [B. Tech from SHIATS, Allahabad], who did not pursue a career in the line of his education but nevertheless enjoys growing cacti in the balcony of his flat, during his spare time. He could have been a cricket commentator but prefers to wrap Bible Truth around cricket magic moments and other interesting-to-Google Genners contemporary events. God’s call upon him made him utterly restless and he obeyed that call to by founding the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission to finally find serenity after having served as a pastor/missionary/editor. G4 Mission is not a church but an inter-denominational ministry to present-day people, a ministry which Duke works fulltime for, as an itinerant presenter/preacher since 2008 putting to use the formal theological training he received from a reputed Bible College in Bangalore [M. Div & Doctor of Ministry from CGLD-SABC]. Duke is called ‘dad’ by Dale (15) and Datasha (11) and ‘hubby’ by Evangelin and calls Hyderabad his adopted home. In case your curiosity is triggered by reading all this, you may checkout dukewords.com [if you are the reading plain text type], soundcloud.com/shoutaloud [if you are part of the audio-listening tribe] and youtube.com/visitduke [if you group yourself with the video-steaming generation]).
New Zealand (called Kiwis in the Cricketing World) crash-landed Indian flight, “Dream-Liner World Cup 2019” on 9-10 July 2019 ODI at Manchester, England. Here are some life lessons/Bible lessons from that stunning defeat that India faced.
The first reason for India’s defeat was the shrewdness of Kiwi Captain Kane Williamson. When he arrived at the pitch following the cheap dismissal of Martin Guptill, he conducted a pitch assessment. He knew it was more of a 250 pitch than a 300 plus pitch. So he adjusted accordingly and instructed his team to play that way. That was why Ross Taylor was running twos instead of trying to hit sixes in the last few overs of the New Zealand innings. Jesus commanded us to be “shrewd as snakes” (Matt 10:16). We must be willing to start with points of interest of those we are sharing the Gospel with before we moving on to points of possible conflict (like the uniqueness of Jesus/day of judgment/eternal hell), as wise and shrewd Apostle Paul illustrated in his Gospel presentation in Athens (Acts 17).
Dropping Mohammed Shami, the man who kept picking up wickets whenever he got to play, including a hat-trick, was a huge blunder. He could have played instead of Y. Chahal. What’s wrong in going in with four fast bowlers and a spinner – your best five bowlers as per form – for a knockout game? There is no rule that for a balanced attack you need to have two spinners along with three spinners. Chahal leaked crucial runs (He gave 18 runs in a pathetic over). Kohli needed to be daringly different when it came to team selection. He could have even tried Mayank Agrawal (who has not played a ODI for India, but is a solid player with the right technique) as the opener for the semis. Rahul could have batted at Number 4. Dinesh Karthick could have been dropped. It takes guts to hand a debut to a player in a World Cup SemiFinal, but that brave, hat-ke (different) decision would have given India the match. Spiritual Lesson: Be different. Joseph was not like his brothers. One brother slept with Father’s wife. Another with his daughter in law. But Joseph was different. He did not follow the crowd in doing wrong (Exodus 23:2). He became Prime Minister of Egypt. He became a picture of Jesus.
Rohit Sharma, India’s stand-out batsmen of the Cup, got an unplayable ball and got out for 1. But sitting in the balcony, he signaled to Jadeja during the dying moments of India’s chase. “You have strength. You can do it!” – he conveyed using goosebumps giving gestures. That was team spirit at its very best. Rohit should be given the responsibility of leading India in the 2023 World Cup/2020 T20 World Cup. Kohli cannot win you a Limited Overs tournament, unless something changes dramatically. Checkout his record for RCB, Bangalore. He became captain of RCB in 2013. He has not won an IPL Trophy till 2019. Check his record in the Champions Trophy 2017 and the 2019 World Cup. He lost both. Coming back to Rohit (He had the tears in his eyes when Dhoni got out. When was the last time you cried? Have you wept for the lost? Jeremiah wept for the people before he whipped them with words of scorching warning). You may have failed, but you can still motivate your team-mates, like Rohit did in the semifinal. Paul was a Team Player. The New Testament scholars talk about 60 people who were part of Paul’s team during his ministry. Are you part of a ministry team? Do you encourage your team members?
Virat Kohli’s poor run in knock-out ICC World-Stage ODI games continues – 9 (vs Pak in 2011 Cup Semis); 1 (vs Aus in 2015 Cup Semis); 5 (vs Pak in Champions Trophy Final 2017); 1 (vs NZ in World Cup Semis 2019). When the stakes get higher, the super-star should be at his very best. When the important moment comes, you must be incredible! The Kohli tactic of playing the Semis as another game failed. When Rohit got out, Kohli should have defended as if his life depended on it like Dinesh Karthik later would at the start of his innings. Once he was set, he should have gone for his shots. Kohli should have ‘surrendered to the needs of the team situation’ instead of playing his natural game. The purpose for which He came to the World Cup – to win it – was defeated when he played his natural game (He did the same in the 2015 World Cup Semis too, when he top edged a pull/hook, a needless aggressive shot at that time). When the important moment of his life came – the time to die for the sake of the sins of the world – Jesus prayed. He stayed in touch with His Father. He yielded to the will of his father. While all others failed – his disciples ran helter-skelter – he did not. He fulfilled the purpose for which he came by focusing on what he came to do through the discipline of prayer!
Young Rishabh Pant got out, having got worked up for no reason. After four dot balls, he goes for an irresponsible shot only to be caught. He and Pandya were going well. Instead of ensuring the match went to his pocket, he sends a rocket because of four continuous dot balls, he was forced to play. Lesson: Don’t fret. Don’t panic. Stay calm. Cast your burdens onto Jesus. Then the peace that passes all understanding will be yours. The 21-year old Pant missed the opportunity of a lifetime to take India to a win in this semi-final. Do not spend the strength of your youth on sinful living but make your one life count for Jesus. It was a privilege for me to start a ministry at the age of 31 and quit my job with an international bank at the age of 34 to do fulltime ministry with the organisation I started. I have no regrets.
Hardik Pandya who lectured Pant with his eyes when Pant got out, got out in similar fashion – sending a rocket into the heavens which fell into safe hands of the New Zealand Captain, Kane Williamson. Practice what you preach. Don’t be like the Pharisees. Be like Jesus. He spoke about prayer’s importance in Gethsemane to his inner three and prayed right after.
Dhoni should have showed more intent (same old story). He does not have to wait till the 49th over first ball to hit a six. He consumed 20 dot balls in his partnership with Jadeja (who played one of best ever innings by a No. 8 batsmen in a World Cup knockout game hitting four 4s and four 6s). Don’t be a spectator when your partner is spectacular. That was Dhoni’s sin. Don’t be spectator to your pastor’s ministry in the local church. The Bible teaches the priesthood of all believers (I Peter 2:9). You are a priest unto God as a New Testament believer. Get involved in God’s Work! Give a tract! Pray for the sick! Lead a Bible Study! Care for the needy and sign out by sharing the Goodnews! Be a church volunteer! Do something for Jesus in the one life you have moved by his love!
Dhoni took six singles in the few balls before Jadeja holed out because of the compulsions of a climbing run-rate. Why did Dhoni not try to hit a six or a boundary, even before? Was he afraid of getting out? Why did he have to wait for Jadeja to all the hitting? Sambit Bal wrote, “From 71 for 5 and then 92 for 6, India would have sunk rapidly without Dhoni’s steadying hand, and yet, despite the 59-ball 77 from Jadeja, the run rate had mounted to over 15 when Jadeja was dismissed. To that 116-partnership, Dhoni had contributed 32 off 45 balls with 20 dots. Without him, the chase would have been dead long before but the question that will linger is: did he also make it nearly unachievable?” I agree with him. It was Dhoni’s tortoise-approach/no-big-shots approach that forced Hardik Pandya to go for the big one, only to be caught. Who knows what would have happened if Pandya – who hit a 90 plus off 30 plus in the IPL 2019 – had batted till the end? Don’t procrastinate. Don’t postpone matters. It leads to defeat. It leads to peril. Don’t procrastinate your salvation decision. Here’s why: You can die anytime (think of Absalom/Ahab) and after death there is no chance of salvation (Heb. 9:27). Jesus will come like thief in the night. After Jesus comes again, there is no chance of salvation. He is Savior today and judge tomorrow. The Holy Spirit may stop speaking to stubborn you (Gen. 6:3). After that, you can’t get saved. So come now. Serve Jesus now. When you get old even lavatory journey is troublesome (Eccl. 12). What missionary journey will you do? Now is the time to let it rip for Jesus.
When Dhoni got out in the 49th over, there were six fielders outside the 30 yard circle. The Rule Book says only five are allowed between Overs 41 through 50. The Umpires missed it. A big blunder. Ideally, a no-ball should have been signaled when the moment the ball was delivered. That would have given Dhoni enough time to hit the ball high in the air – as high as possible – and run for a two comfortably or try for another six without the fear of getting out (which he had through the tournament, the major reason for his go-slow approach). But Dhoni returned for a risky second run and Guptill’s throw hit the stumps. Human errors keep happening on this side of eternity. These result in cases of injustice. All justice matters will be sorted out on the final day of judgment when Jesus will be the judge. We need to wait till that day. Will there be justice, ever, you ask? Yes, there will be justice on the final day of judgment.
Martin Guptill failed with the bat, but his bulls-eye throw in the 49th over to run out Dhoni got New Zealand to the Cup final – we can say that. You may have sinned against the Lord. You may committed an unprintable sin. Repent of it. Come to Jesus. Ask for the cleansing of His blood. And with the help of the Spirit live a holy life (Rom. 8:13). By having an accountability friend you can consistently beat temptation (think of David-Nathan). You don’t have to keep goofing up. You can be a victorious Christian!
Jadeja got a bit carried away with his celebrations post his fifty. He gestured to Commentator Sanjay Manjrekar in a way asking what happened to his views that he was only a bits and pieces player who did not deserve to be in the Indian Team XI. If he had focused on the unfinished task, the task of taking India to a win that would have been great. The unfinished task of evangelism remains before the church. Let us quit fighting over silly matters (I am not talking about fighting salvation-affecting false doctrine here). Let those involved in the ministry not get into ego clashes. Let’s get on with the unfinished task of World Evangelism (North India remains the World’s most populated un-evangelized stretch).
(Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission. This is a listener-supported Indian ministry. Duke has written a Bible Devo on each of India’s games in the 2019 World Cup in England which you can read at http://www.dukewords.com. Find out more about Duke’s ministry at www.dukev.org).
A news report about American cyclist and cancer-survivor, Lance Armstrong set me thinking: “Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has already had his record seven Tour de France victories wiped from the record books, could now be stripped of the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honour. Armstrong was awarded the title Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in 2005 in recognition of his seventh Tour win, but moves are now afoot to have the honour rescinded, according to a spokesman for the order. In January, Armstrong, 41, admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his record seven Tour de France championships from 1999-2005. He was stripped of all seven Tour titles last year after a devastating report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which accused the cyclist of taking part in one of the biggest cheating operations in sports history.” (thestar.com.my, 2 March 2013 post). If a sports person could loose the titles he won, because he was a willfully committing fraud to win those titles, then are we correct in affirming that we will lose our salvation if we willfully live in sin?
‘Can a saved person ever be lost?’- this all-important head-splitting question has boggled and divided Christians world-wide down through the centuries. Differences over peripheral and circumferential doctrines can be over looked. But as this question involves a doctrine at the heart of the Christian faith – salvation – this question needs careful unpacking, so that believers can come to an agreement over it – an agreement based on truth. In this article (which I first wrote while I was still in Bible college during the years, 1998-2001), I attempt to face the above eternal-destiny affecting question squarely and come up with my conclusion.
THE DOCTRINE OF ‘ETERNAL SECURITY’ – THE VARIOUS VIEWS STATED
Let’s put the doctrine we are debating about in ‘black and white’ in the words of Dr.Robert Raymond, a leading Reformed Theologian:
“Every true child of God, that is, every person whom the father chose in Christ before the foundation of the world and for whom Christ died, whom the Father effectively called by his word and Spirit unto repentance toward God and Faith in Jesus Christ, and whom he consequently justified and adopted unto his family, and who is consequently justified and adopted unto his family, and who is consequently growing in grace, will never come into condemnation. That person can never be finally lost and is eternally secure. By virtue of God’s preserving grace he or she will certainly persevere in the state of salvation and be finally and eternally saved.”
Theologians like Howard Marshall, however, warn that believers can backslide from the faith and consequently be damned if they don’t persevere in their faith. Now the stage is set for thorough check to see which position is biblical and correct.
THE DOCTRINE’S HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT
Augustine was among the first to reach the doctrine of unconditional salvation. Calvin believed all saints could eventually persevere and their free will had no part to play. Arminius, a Dutch Pastor, challenged Methodist Church founder John Wesley saying that saints had no right to be certain of their salvation. Arminius strongly believed that a saved person could go to hell if he chose to rebel against God. John Wesley put it this way, in-effect: “God does give sufficient grace to persevere, but it is up to us to whether or not we receive this grace.” At any time, we can choose against God and be lost, he warned.
India’s President Pranab Mukherjee is setting a record of sorts by sending a record number of convicts to the gallows, like no Indian President has. The rate at which he is sending convicts to the gallows is akin to the rate Virender Sehwag scores runs or the speed with which Usian Bolt sprints! He rejected the mercy petition of Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of the team of 10 that attacked India on 26/11/2008, to have him hanged. He quashed the mercy plea of Afzal Guru accused of playing a role in the 2001 Parliament Terror attack, to have him hanged, shortly later. The Times of India reported that ‘President Pranab Mukherjee has cleared the road to the gallows for four associates of slain forest brigand Veerappan by rejecting their mercy petitions’ (on 13 Feb., 2013). Pranab by his actions is promoting this principle: no mercy will be shown for those who commit callous crimes! In the same way there are some Bible Scholars who have arisen over the years to promote this teaching: no heaven for believers who deliberately live in sin!
Some of the twentieth century’s outstanding Bible teachers and scholars like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Carl Henry and James Packer were hardened believers in the perseverance of saints – the doctrine of ‘eternal security’ that is. But in the last 40 years, a new crop of theologians like Clark H.Pinnock, Howard Marshall, and David Pawson have arisen to warn believers about the real danger falling away from the faith – if they would chose to do so. In defense of their opinion they give three lines of evidence – along logic, along philosophy and along Scripture. Let us take them up one by one.
SCRIPTURE EVIDENCE AGAINST ETERNAL SECURITY
(A) OLD TESTAMENT TEACHING
(1) Salvation was conditional from beginning
To the dejected Cain, who offered his second-best to him, God said, ‘it will be accepted if you respond the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out!’(Gen 4:7, NLT). Cain bunked the condition and was rejected. The New Testament writers warn us about his way. It is a way to cheat ourselves because it rejects God’s pre-condition for salvation. Cain refused ‘if condition’ and he left the presence (gen 4:16)
(2) Salvation was conditional in Abrahamic Covenant
The “As for you” of Abraham in Genesis 17:9 balances the “As for me” of God in Genesis 17:4. His faith must be accompanied by “obedience that comes from faith” (Rom 1:5).
(3) Salvation was conditional in the Sinaitic Covenant
Before God signs off the Sinaitic covenant it is punctuated by eternal ‘if’ clauses. In fact the list of curses for covenant disobedience is usually much longer than that of blessings for obedience (as in Vs 3-13 in Leviticus 26).
(4) The IF Condition in the Davidic Covenant
The ‘If’ clause here can’t be missed. The Lord’s words to David about Solomon confirm this: ‘Your son Solomon will build my temple and its courtyards, for I have chosen him…And if he continues to obey my commands and regulations as he does now, I will make his kingdom last forever’(1 Chro 28:6,7 NLT).
(5) The IF condition in the prophets
The ‘If ‘clause here is crystal clear. Isaiah stressed this “if” factor in his message to Israel: ‘If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat. But if you keep turning away and refuse to listen, you will be destroyed by your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken’ (Isa 1:19, 20 NLT). Prophet Azariah’s words to king Asa is perhaps most famous “if” statement in the Bible – 2 Chronicles 7:14. Jeremiah famous ‘temple sermon’ has this again: “If you stop exploiting foreign orphans and widows; and if you stop your murdering, and if you stop worshiping idols as you now do to your harm. Then I will let you stay in the Land I gave to your ancestors to keep forever” (Jer 7:6,7). Prophet Ezekiel preached the same: ‘But if wicked people turn from their wickedness and do what is just and right they will live’. In the last book of the Old Testament this ‘if’ message appears again: ‘if you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honour my name.’ says the Lord Almighty, I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings!’(Mal 2:2).
British Nobel laureate Rudiyard Kipling wrote these famous lines in his poem, If, in the days of old (in 1895): “If you can dream – and not make dreams your master; If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster; And treat those two impostors just the same… If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue; Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch…. Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it; And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!” We would be wise to grasp that we can indeed lose our salvation if we not careful from the ‘if’ statements in the Old Testament which the above paragraphs have talked about.
Let’s invite Guy Duty to seal this argument from Old Testament for us: “There are 63 ‘if’ texts in the Old Testament to prove the Jewish Covenant are conditional. From God’s ‘if’ to Cain, to Malachi ‘if’ to his priests, the unified testimony of Scripture gives full approval to our doctrine of conditional salvation.”
Let us now turn our attention to New Testament:
(B) NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING
Three types of Scripture passages can be used to bust the doctrine ‘Eternal Security’.
(1) Exhortations to continue in the faith – an exploration
The following scriptures will seem ludicrous if there was no possibility of a believer falling away: ‘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); “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).
I would like to quote Renowned Charismatic Systematic Theologian, J. Rodman Williams (1918-2008) at this point. I picked up my first theology book much before I landed up in a Bible College. When I was a student in Allahabad Agricultural Institute (1993-97), my dad gifted me a ‘hurt’ copy of first book of Rodman Williams’ three-book systematic theology book series. I devoured it. I taught the precious Bible lessons I learnt from that book to small groups of interested fellow students in hostel rooms. This was how God trained me to lead Bible Studies. By now, it has been my privilege to lead Bible Book summaries of 54 Bible books. He says in-effect, “Although God’s grace is unconditional in the Bible, and there is nothing there in the Bible for us to believe in unconditional perseverance of saved people still living in sin.” Starting from 1 Corinthians 10:12 – ‘So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’ – He lists the conditions for perseverance, arranging a gamete of Scripture verses under each condition. They are our abiding (1 John 2:24-25; Heb 2:1,3.Jn 15:3-4,6,7), our continuing (Col 1:21-23; Rom 11:11,22; 1 Tim 4:16), our enduring (2 Tim 2:10-12; Heb 10:34-39, Mt 24:12,13), our firmness (Heb 3:1-6, 2 Peter 1:10-11,5-7;2:1,20,21) and our faithfulness (Rev 2:10, 2:4-5, Heb 3:1-6, Heb 6:4-8).
Knowing such emphasis will attract an accusation “This is not salvation by good works,” he brilliantly quotes Peter. “We are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time”, he teaches quoting Peter (1 Peter 1:5). 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 is not expressed through works, that faith is not real, saving faith (the message of the book of James is this very thing).
The second set of scripture passages which question unconditional perseverance of saints are found below:
(2) Warnings against apostasy/backsliding
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 (trying to deceive)! 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.’ Grant Osborne 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.
Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO said, “Apple has some tremendous assets, but I believe without some attention, the company could, could, could — I’m searching for the right word — could, could die.” When one reads the above paragraph we would agree that the Scripture clearly teaches, “A believer is given the tremendous gift of Salvation when he repents and trusts Christ, but without actively remaining in Christ, the believer could die in sin to go to hell and burn there forever and forever!”
The third collection of Scriptures that shake the foundations of the ‘once saved, always saved doctrine’ –
(3) Cases of actual apostasy/backsliding
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’ (Math. 24:10, 12). Obviously it would be stupid of Jesus to talk of them ‘turning away from faith’ if they weren’t in the faith – they were genuine believers – in the first place – something Calvinists always rush to deny. 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 Christian 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 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 can be a true Christian. The thrust of the Simon Magus 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.”
Prophets of eternal security will rush to quote their favourite proof texts in response to the above. Those texts deserves a second look.
THE ‘WHAT ABOUT……?’ PASSAGES: EXEGETICAL NOTES ON TEXTS USED BY THE ‘ONCE SAVED – ALWAYS SAVED’ GROUP
Calvanists (the ‘once saved, always saved’ group) quote Jesus prayer that the father would keep the disciples (John 17:11, 15, 24), even as He had kept them as proof of eternal security of believers. But 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. According to Howard Mars, John 17 should not be seen in isolation from John 15:16 and John 16 which warn the disciples about ‘falling away.’ John 10:28,29 and John 5:24 is another favourite ‘proof text’ for the ‘once saved, always saved’ doctrine believers. But this should not be divorced from John 10:2 which records Jesus’ words thus: “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 the verb ‘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 for a eternal security: “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 showed in his video lecture summarizing the message of the book of Hebrews (in his ‘Unlocking the Bible’ series), 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 to make the eternal security promises work for him.
Greg Chappell, India’s former coach wrote the following lines about Virender Sehwag, “Despite my frustrations with him during my tenure as Indian coach I could not help but love him. He is, after all, a loveable rogue. And he can bat better than most. In fact, he is the most gifted ball striker that I have seen…..To say that Viru was one of the great frustrations of my time with the team is an understatement. Sadly, he continues to disappoint and is in danger of squandering his God-given talent. The person who is least likely to be fazed by all of this is Virender himself. What I soon learned about him was that Viru did not want to dedicate himself to taking his talent to its zenith. He was happy to turn up and play and accept what came his way. No amount of cajoling from me could shift him from his insouciant way. This often happens to those with the greatest gift. Because he had never had to work hard at developing such a skill, Viru did not know how to dedicate himself to disciplined training. It was only during periods of relative poor form that he was prepared to spend time getting things back on track. As soon as he made some runs he slipped back into old habits and appeared content to practise in the same old profligate way; until his form evaporated again… He wants the prize, but has been unwilling to pay the price” (The Hindu, Sept. 27, 2012). What Chappell wrote about Sehwag here, I believe, is someway applicable to what the Bible teaches to believers who don’t take efforts with God’s help to guard their God-given free gift of salvation. Believers are in the real danger of squandering their God-given gift of salvation by refusing stubbornly to remain in Christ while at the same time being lazy and lethargic in their battle against sin.
There are those who point to Bible passages where it says the Holy Spirit has ‘sealed’ us ‘eternally’ for redemption to argue for eternal security of one’s salvation. In response I would like to quote a Bible Teacher who wrote the following on gospelway.com:Some people mistakenly use such passages to claim that, since we have the Holy Spirit as a “guarantee,” we cannot lose salvation – “once saved always saved.” However, the “earnest” shows good intention on God’s part; but that in no way guarantees the faithfulness of the humans in keeping our part of the agreement. It is not uncommon, in human transactions, for a party to back out of a purchase or violate a contract after earnest money has been paid. The point here is that God will not back out, if we keep our part of the agreement. But if we humans do not keep our part of the covenant, God is surely not required to provide us eternal life. He can and will then withdraw His earnest, and we lose our reward. That was correctly put. Even David acknowledged that the Holy Spirit could take the liberty of leaving him when he was living in open rebellion against God. That’s why he prayed this prayer post his repentance from the Bathsheba affair: “Do not take your Holy Spirit from me!” (Psa 51:11).
THEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS AGAINST ETERNAL SECURITY
When shown outrageously clear proofs in scripture that once saved people were lost, Calvinists like J. Stanley Grenz of Regent College conveniently hide behind arguments articulated thus: “Those who forsake the faith may someday return to faith, because the indwelling Spirit will complete the saving mission. Or they may never repent of their apostasy, revealing thereby that they were genuinely converted.”
Howard Marshall takes on this view with tact. He says that if the Calvinists theory were true, the warnings in the Bible would necessary take such forums as: ‘Make sure that you are really converted, beware lest what you think is an experience of salvation by faith is really nothing of the kind.’ But the sorts of warnings are not there in Scripture. Put otherwise, the positive command is not to begin to be a genuine believer but to continue and persevere in the faith which one already has.
Calvinists (the group that teaches Eternal Security for salvation) allege that Armenians who emphasize human faith in one’s salvation destroys its purely gracious character. This is simply not the truth. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms faith is no work at all (Rom. 4:16). It is simply the surrender of the will to God, the stretching out of an empty hand to receive the gift of grace, argues Clark Pinnock. In an act of faith we pour scorn at our self-righteousness. Faith, as a means of salvation and security doesn’t encourage conceit and self-esteem – it actually excludes it.
PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENT AGAINST ETERNAL SECURITY
The doctrine of eternal security teaches that God over-rides human free of the believer to secure him forever. This creates serious philosophical problems for the Christians who believe in an absolutely good God. If God has to by-pass human free will to secure salvation for believers, he becomes guilty of the greatest sin! Apologist Norman Giesler argues along these lines: Love is the greatest good for all free creatures, but love is impossible without freedom. So only if freedom were destroyed, overridden, God can provide eternal security for believers. That would be evil itself because it would deprive free man of his greatest good – freedom. Hence if God bypasses human free will to secure believers eternally, he would be committing a sin. And that is a philosophical impossibility!
Let me illustrate the above paragraph in a practical way. Those who teach that there is ‘eternal’ security for believers invariably imply that God has made us all mere robots sans a free will. But the Bible consistently teaches us that God has indeed given us a free will. In the Old Testament we read Joshua’s classic words: “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15). In the New Testament we read Jesus’ shocking words to his chosen disciples: “Do you also want to leave?” (John 6:67). Both these verses are among the many in the Bible that teach we have a free will. If we believed in the eternal security doctrine and that God secures our free will to serve him permanently, we, in-effect do not believe he has given us a free-will! God will make our free will permanent only on the day of judgment. On that day he might say to some of us, this: “You chose not to have fellowship with me while you were on this earth for these sixty-seventy years! Instead, you deliberately chose to rebel against me and play games with me. Now, I will make permanent, that choice your made using your free will. Today, I will freeze your free will choice to wallow in sin while turning your back on me. Depart then to eternal hell, a place in which humans cannot have fellowship with me, and live there forever and forever in everlasting torment!”
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF NOT BELIEVING ETERNAL SECURITY
It certainly challenges the believer to test ourselves to make sure, you are solid in the faith and we don’t drift along taking everything for granted [2 Cor 13:5]. David Pawson points out ‘There is a beautiful balance in the New Testament between our responsibility to keep ourselves in God’s love (Jude 21) and his ability to keep us from falling (Jude 24). We can be cocksure about the faith that God will not and cannot fail to do what he has promised. The bail is in our court. We will do well if this understand drives us to say with the great apostle Paul, ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. I’m not going to get caught napping telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself’ (I Cor 9:24-27).
Billy Graham was once asked by the media, what his first reaction would be when he got to heaven. In an instant, he replied, “I would be relived!” He agreed what Puritan, John Bunyan wrote in his classic book, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” which went this way: “Then I saw that there way a way to Hell, even from the gates of Heaven.”
This doctrine which leaves the possibility of losing salvation open produces serious Christians who don’t play games with God. Though this study has not been exhaustive, one can say with confidence, in the light of the above study, that believers may lose their salvation if they chose to live in constant rebellion against God. The following scripture is a fitting conclusion to this absorbing theological debate of paramount importance to the Christian life:
If we endure hardship, we will reign with him If we deny him, he will deny us – 2 Timothy 2:12 NLT
In the Bible, we do have an example of a person who was once believed and was even baptised, only to be told by one of the Apostles that he could ‘perish’ with the money he dearly loved, if he did not repent (See Acts 8:13, 20-22). Perhaps, if you have gone away from God would you also repent, instead of hoping falsely that you will be saved on the final day, as you were once saved someday in the past?
(Written with the help of commentaries, study Bibles and personal reflection.)
Note – God bless Prathyusha Nakka, our ministry volunteer, for taking time to type this Hand-Written Term Paper which Duke wrote as a student of Masters in Divinity in Southern Asia Bible College, Bangalore, 1998-2001. To know more about Duke’s ministry visit http://www.dukev.org. WhatsApp him at 91-8886040605