Back to Fulfilling the Great Commission & the Last Days
Back to Reaching the Followers of the Religion from the Middle East
Note: “D” in this article refers to the predominant religion in the Middle East, while “Ds” refer to the adherents of that religion
Several hundred billion dollars annually goes from the United States to Middle Eastern countries where the “D” religion dominates to pay for oil imports. Some of this great wealth is being used to fund the “D”-ization of the United States as a major part of D’s plan for world domination. This will not change soon since it will takes years for America to be delivered from its dependence upon foreign oil.
The West used military force to subjugate much of the world, including D peoples, during its imperialistic past. Now D is trying to return the favor, but not through force. It will be through earthly Mammon, a primordial force even greater than military might. It will be through peaceful and legal channels already in existence, like immigration and “freedom of religion.”
In America D will compete with Christianity on an equal footing in the free marketplace of ideas and religion. As it is interpreted now, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution offers no advantage to Christianity.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
It is highly likely that the Founding Fathers were referring to Christianity when they referred to “religion” in the First Amendment. In this Amendment they were reacting to the government-sanctioned Church of England which had persecuted believers when they exercised their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of persecution at the hands of the church establishment, English pilgrims left England in 1620 seeking freedom to worship the God of the Holy Bible in the New World.
A century and a half later, the Framers of the Constitution wanted to ensure that such persecution would never happen in America. Thus in the First Amendment they protected the free exercise of Christianity. They had no intention for their Amendment to be used to protect the free exercise of a pagan religion like D which today hopes to replace Christianity in America and more. It is arguable they would have framed the First Amendment more specifically if they had known this. We are not limiting our discussion here to radical D, but D in general including “moderate” D. All American Ds surely want to see their faith spread throughout the country one way or another.
But this argument is academic given current interpretation of the Constitution by our judges—it is after all a “living and breathing” document. D is simply not going to be excluded from the protection of the First Amendment in the United States. Our laws will allow it to “compete” with Christianity. As a religion, does Christianity offer any visible advantage over D? For those who are born-again followers of the Lord Jesus Christ there is of course no comparison. However, aside from D’s connection with the infamy of September 11, does Christianity offer any clear and convincing advantage over D in the eyes of unbelievers, agnostics, and atheists? My answer is no. Seen from the outside, both are monotheistic religions which claim to have exclusive understanding of the one true Creator and the way to Him. At present we do not see the world favoring Christianity over D; we do not see a mass movement to Christianity because of any obvious advantages over D. (It is even claimed that D is the fastest-growing religion in the world today, partly a result of high birthrates among its adherents.) But there is something that D offers in a tangible sense which Christianity does not.
In some countries in Asia and Africa, people are being offered material incentives to convert to D or to remain in D. In Malaysia, the law decrees that once a follower of the D religion, always a follower. For them there can be financial help to start a business, free education for their children (whereas Christian schools can charge hefty fees), and a grant to build a nice mosque. Benefits of this nature and of other types will likely appear in the United States as well, funded by petrodollars from the Middle East. As businesses are purchased and taken over by Middle Eastern concerns, there will be subtle and inexorable pressure to conform to D. Recently a Tyson Foods plant in Tennessee did away with our Labor Day holiday in favor of Ramadan for its mostly D Somali employees. Public schools and universities in America are other ongoing targets. D will ultimately gain ground in America as it is already doing in Great Britain and Europe. Money talks.
Why has God allowed Middle Eastern countries such immense wealth? Part of the answer lies in Abraham’s prayer to God for his son Ishmael. When God told him that he would have a son through Sarah when she was 90 years old and he was 100, out of a bit of unbelief he asked God just to bless Ishmael instead. God heard Abraham’s prayer and has surely blessed Ishmael and his physical and spiritual descendants. Among them are numbered the peoples of the Middle East, except for of course Israel. But there may be yet another reason why God has allowed this situation.
Much of 21st century western Christianity as a religion has grown fat, worldly, and complacent like the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3. Is it possible that God has allowed the resurgence of the D religion during these last days to challenge His people to wake up, to repent and to come out of Babylon?
In some European countries there are signs that public opposition is beginning to mount against the construction of mosques. The Church in America can also engage in such legal protest at different levels and in different forms against the surge of the D religion. But our primary action should be in the realm of the spirit: prayer to God along with the proclamation of the gospel to the Ds in our communities.
Unfortunately, the body of Christ has effectively failed to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to reach Ds for the kingdom of God. Missions to Ds whether domestic or on the foreign field have not even put a dent in the D population. In contrast, they continue to grow in numbers. If we indeed serve the Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth, why are we so powerless and fruitless in our mission to D, not to mention Buddhism and Hinduism? It is because almost universally we have strayed from the model of evangelism Jesus taught in the gospels. How have we done this?
I. Demonstrations of miraculous power
How did Jesus send his disciples out to proclaim his kingdom in the gospels?
Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Matthew 10:1 And when He had called to Him His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 7 And as you go,proclaim, saying, The kingdom of Heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.
Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. …9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
Jesus did not command his disciples simply to pray for the sick (and then to leave the results up to Him) when he sent them out, but to heal the sick with the power and authority he had given them. Unless one is a cessationist, one must acknowledge that these commands are still in force today. Unfortunately the understanding of the authority to heal the sick and cast out demons in the context of evangelism has been all but lost to the body of Christ today. We have been reduced to preaching a gospel of words alone, devoid of the demonstrations of power that convince gospel-resistant Ds and others that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.
But now the D religion has raised its ugly head to threaten our very homeland. We are being forced to our knees and to repent. We must give up worshipping at the altar of science and rationalism which denies the miraculous and to return to a biblical understanding of Scripture. When we do, we will discover that we will indeed be able to perform the demonstrations of power that Jesus commanded his disciples to do two thousand years ago when he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God to the lost.
What should we do in the face of the D petrodollars that will be coming to America to purchase souls for D? We should do what the apostle Peter did in the Book of Acts when a lame beggar asked him for money at the Temple gate.
Acts 3:6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
After this miraculous healing and Peter’s subsequent message to the crowd which gathered, the number of believing men grew to about five thousand. Would Peter’s preaching have had the same result if it had not been preceded by the miracle? The answer is obviously no.
It is easy simply to preach, to talk about religion, or even to offer financial incentives to people in order to convert to a particular religion. But performing miracles is obviously not so easy, and even attempting to do them as a demonstration to the lost would appear to be risky and presumptuous. After all, we say, only God Himself is capable of doing miracles. Let’s see how Jesus approached this. In Mark 2 a desperate paralytic came to a packed meeting where Jesus was ministering in order to be healed.
Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralytic, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
As paramount as the forgiveness of sins is, there is no accompanying visible proof that someone’s sins have in fact been forgiven. Therefore it is easier for us to say to a paralytic in front of a crowd that his sins have been forgiven then than to actually heal him and make him to walk in front of curious onlookers.
When Jesus healed the paralytic, he proved that he had authority to forgive the man’s sins as well. It’s easy just to talk about religion or even offer material incentives, but it would appear hard to perform a miraculous healing—especially in front of a crowd. When he did that which was harder to say, he proved that he had authority to do that which was easier to say. The one with authority to remove what is ultimately an earthly consequence of sin—in this case a physical infirmity—is the one who has authority to remove sin itself.
Scripture teaches us that Jesus has in fact given to his disciples power and authority to heal the sick and cast out demons for the proclamation of his kingdom to the lost. It teaches that we who have faith in him will do what he did two thousand years ago (John 14:12). When we learn from Scripture how to use this power and authority, we will be able in fact to heal the sick in Jesus’ name as we share the gospel with Ds. The miraculous healings will prove to them that Jesus Christ has authority to forgive their sins and save them from condemnation in hell. With the inexorable advance of the D religion in America, no longer are we able to “get by” with preaching a gospel devoid of the miraculous. We are being forced to return to Scripture.
The D religion has much money, but we disciples of Christ have manifest power from him to heal the infirm. The gospel must be preached with such manifest power to make clear the difference between D and the Way. Let the lost choose between the two: D’s financial bait leading to a life of legalism and condemnation, or miraculous healings symbolic of deliverance from sin leading to eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Let them choose between God and Mammon.
We are not referring to the kind of practices which have been reported in the Lakeland, Florida meetings. Although we are not here making a judgment on whether or not those supernatural manifestations are of God, it is clear that Jesus did not teach his disciples to heal the sick in the sometimes unusual ways that have been reported there. But today we are able to teach believers to minister to the infirm as Jesus did and as he taught his disciples to do in the gospels.
In addition to demonstrating the truth of the gospel through manifestations of the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:4), we must preach a gospel that is contextualized for the people group that we want to reach. Missiologists call this approach “contextualization.” When the gospel is brought to a people group who live within a certain non-Christian culture or subculture—they could even live in America— it should not include the “Christian customs” or culture of the West. Rather the gospel should be presented in terms that are not foreign, but instead familiar to their culture. We should not force upon them “Christian customs” flavored with western culture in order for them to be saved and to follow Jesus Christ.
Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
A council was convened in Jerusalem to discuss this matter. Finally the apostles and elders came to a decision.
Acts 15:11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
It is not by following Christian customs—as revered as they may be—that Ds come into the kingdom of God. In particular, we are referring to the typical requirement that they “renounce D” and “convert to Christianity” in order to “become a Christian.” After that, they must “join a church.” Bear in mind that Jesus himself actually did not require any of these things for a sinner to be saved. They are rather “Christian customs” and traditions handed down to us. For example, “becoming a Christian” is well and good when properly understood, but Jesus himself never mentioned the term. Instead, he commanded sinners to repent and to follow him as his disciples. There are many who call themselves Christians who are not saved.
Moreover, it is not necessary for Ds to “join a church” after they are saved. In some cases it may be far better for them to find fellowship and be taught the Bible in a venue not known as a church or associated with a church. We know that extremely few Ds renounce their religion, convert to Christianity and then join a Christian church. For Ds such things are foreign, abhorrent, and require them to hurdle steep cultural barriers unnecessarily. But if instead we preach the Biblical gospel of Isa Almasih—the name of Jesus Christ in Arabic already familiar to Ds from their knowledge of the Koran—and confirm the gospel with miraculous healings, we can see an entirely indigenous movement consisting of D followers of Isa Almasih. In public, this movement should be kept separate and not identified with or outwardly resemble Western Christianity. It will be a “D” movement that gives birth to born-again followers of Jesus Christ. This approach has already been attempted in D countries and promising results have been seen. See below for some reports.
In the opinion of servants of God who have lived or ministered in D countries, it is impossible for the Great Commission to be fulfilled if traditional (meaning, western) methods of proclaiming the gospel are employed. But now the Lord is giving us a two-pronged strategy by which it can be done.
Action at the political and legal level against the advance of D is also in order, as well as police and military action against terrorism as determined by our lawfully-elected government. But the Church’s primary role in this war is intercessory prayer to the Lord and the proclamation of the gospel with power to the Ds.