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Saturday, October 24, 2015

If I Deny Christ, Can I Still Go to Heaven?

Last week I was doing a Q/A session with AWANA students, and one of them asked this question:
In light of the shooting in Oregon, where the gunman asked students if they were Christian, and if they said ‘yes’ the gunman shot the student in the head, what would happen if a Christian lied? What if it would have been me, and I would have said ‘no’? Would I still go to heaven when I die?
This question is of particular importance because Christianity contains no exception to prohibitions against lying. Islam, for example, has a doctrine called Taqiyya, which allows a Muslim to temporarily deny his faith if his life is in danger—so long as it is not a “heartfelt” objection.
But Christianity is different. In fact, martyrdom is one of the chief means of propagating the gospel. As people boldly stand for Christ and refuse to recant even in the face of death, the gospel message is strengthened. The gospel itself is an example of this. Jesus valued his mission from God as more important than his own life, and his followers ought to do likewise.
And yet…many Christians have denied Jesus when faced with persecution. The most obvious example of this is Peter—he denied Jesus three times, yet Jesus directly told him that he was still a follower of Christ (John 21:19). So on the one hand, the heart of the gospel is a truth worth dying for (as evidenced by Jesus and most of the Apostles), but on the other hand the gospel offers forgiveness even to those who deny Christ.
This is potentially confusing because of 2 Timothy 2:12: “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”
But the denial in this verse is not talking about the momentary denial like Peter, or like a student scared for his life in the face of a gunman. That denial references the absolute walking away from the faith; apostasy.  And in that case, there is no salvation.
This verse seems so drastic, and that is the point. Paul—himself facing martyrdom (4:6)—challenges his readers to persevere. But Paul does not want true believers to lose heart, and so he immediately follows verse 12 with:
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).”
There will always be moments where we lose faith, but for those who are in Christ, we should have confidence that while we may lose faith, Jesus may never lose us. Even if we momentarily are gripped by fear, and value our lives more than the life of Christ, Jesus still possesses us, and he cannot deny himself.
But if we are being honest with our selves, we know this. We know that if the gunman were to point his gun at us, we should say that we are Christians, and so boldly proclaim the gospel even in the face of death. But we also don’t know what we would do. Would we have the strength to do what we ought?
And this is where the promises of the Bible really come alive. Jesus tells us that the time will come when Christians will be delivered over to die, and in the meantime we should “not worry about what you are to say, for it will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19).
In other words, God doesn’t give us the grace or the wisdom to bravely face martyrdom until the moment when we need that grace. It doesn’t come in advance, but rather at the moment.
So if you don’t feel like you would face death well, then don’t worry (Jesus literally forbids it!). Instead, strive to grow in your faith and courage, knowing that if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

Squashing Seven Excuses to Not Evangelize

All believers have the desire to be faithful ambassadors for Christ. We want to bring the message of salvation to those around us. But like a deer in headlights we tend to freeze up instead of joyfully sharing the lifesaving news we possess. Like a diabetic rationalizing himself into eating that piece of cheesecake, Christian’s justify their disobedience with some well-crafted excuses. I’d like to help squash some excuses so that when we have the opportunity nothing would come in the way of those around us hearing about the hope that’s only found in Christ.
I’ll do more harm than good
Some seem to think that if they make mistakes, they may end up leading someone further away from Christ. While I do believe that there are “evangelists” out there who do more harm than good, I do not think that the average, gentle Christian can. You do more harm than good not by being unable to answer a hard question but by having a bad attitude while sharing your faith. It is those who are angry, argumentative, disrespectful and who use mean words that end up doing more harm than good. It is impossible to be gentle, loving, and compassionate and end up driving someone further away from the truth. You can even stumble over your words and be a stutterer and lead someone to Christ. Ultimately we know that salvation only comes from the Lord, and we don’t have the ability to bring anyone to spiritual life. We are all born completely dead, spiritually speaking (Eph 2:1-3). “Mostly dead” only exists in the movies. It is impossible to make someone more dead. God cares about how we present the message but it is imperative we remember that we have no power to save or to damn.
I don’t know what to say
If you know enough to get into heaven yourself you know enough to lead someone else there as well. The Gospel is not a complex message. It is the good news that dead sinners can be reconciled to God. God created you to worship Him, yet you worship yourself from birth, God is perfect and requires perfect obedience in order to be with Him (Mat 5:48). Man is sinful (Rom 3:23), this sin earns him eternal damnation (Rom 6:23) and He cannot save himself (Eph 2:9). Comes in Jesus, The God-man (Col 2:9), who was perfect (Heb 4:15), Died on the cross for us (Rom 5:8), Rose from the dead (Rom 4:25). Now men can be given eternal life if they repent (Acts 17:30) – and trust Jesus. It’s a simple message takes 5 minutes to share and can make an eternal impact. When you share your faith tell people the story of how God used this Gospel to change your life. Tell them about your newfound affections for a Savior you used to hate. One helpful idea is to have a Gospel tract on hand, that you can walk someone through and leave with them.
I don’t want to ruin my relationship
Many people are afraid to bring up the Gospel because they don’t want to lose their friend or family member. They are afraid that things will become awkward or that their relationship will be damaged in some way. The damage the Gospel can bring to any earthly relationship pales in comparison to the massive separation between Heaven and Hell that will last for eternity. There is nothing more short-sighted than valuing an earthly relationship to the expense of an eternal one. If you win a non-Christian for Christ you have finally began a relationship with someone that will last for eternity. God is glorified when you value heaven more than earth and will always bless you when you pursue treasure in heaven. You may lose an earthly relationship but the Lord will take your burden and will satisfy you more than any person.
I don’t know how to answer the hard questions
1 Corinthians 1:19 tells us that God has chosen the foolish of this world to shame the wise. God doesn’t need you to know the various reasons why a fish could swallow a human and that human still survive. He also doesn’t need you to know exactly how the layers in the Grand Canyon prove that the flood really happened. Those truths bring joy to the believer’s heart but accomplish nothing in an evangelistic encounter. Instead of getting stuck in rabbit trails always bring it back to the Gospel.Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ. In your Gospel presentations open up Scripture, be gentle, patient and passionate and the Lord will do the work of not letting his Word return void (Isaiah 55:11).
It’s the pastor’s job
So maybe you took a spiritual gifts test and came to find that a sumo wrestler would score more points in figure skating than you did on the evangelism portion. You may think that this is a job best left up to the “professionals” but God has made it clear that all in the Church are commanded to share the gospel (2 Cor 5:20). Your Pastor can’t go to work with you. You can’t take him to your classroom. He usually doesn’t live in your neighborhood or attend your family gatherings. You are the only Christian some people will ever talk to. It’s gotta be you. That doesn’t mean that you are called to go out and do street evangelism, or street preaching. It means that you have to be faithful in the circle God has sovereignly placed you in.
I don’t have time
I know a missionary who often says, “All it takes is one verse, five minutes and a little bit of courage”. We waste so much time in our days. We watch hours upon hours of movies, TV shows, or video games. We spend hours wasting time on our phones stalking all of our friends on Facebook. Some of us are genuinely extremely busy but have surrounded ourselves with only believers and have little interaction with unbelievers. We need to rethink our schedule. There is always time to have a Gospel conversation. The only thing we can do on earth that we can’t do in heaven is share the Gospel with a hell-bound soul. Your purpose in life is to glorify God and to bring the Gospel to the lost. If your life is so busy that you can’t fulfill your main calling you need to reevaluate your priorities.
I’m scared
It can be daunting to share your faith. The unknown of how people will react can cause people to shut down and never share. Although martyrdom is probably out of the question for now, the thought of being mocked or of being belittled can petrify a believer. Jesus knew this could be the case and He ultimately reminds people that they should not fear those who can only kill the body but rather, the one who can kill the body and then cast the soul into hell (Luke 12:15). On top of that, anyone who believes in the doctrine of hell recognizes the fact that everyone around them is on the verge of spending eternity burning in darkness. Both of these truths trump any fear that I may experience. Okay now that we’re stressed out even more, we should always remember that God has gifted us with the Holy Spirit who is our helper and always empowers us in the moment we need Him (John 14:26).
Ultimately we all long for the day that we are free from sin and with our Savior. Heaven will be a place free from fear, doubt and worry and will be a place full of peace, joy and comfort. The Lord is exalted when we long for heaven and desire that above all else. Nothing displays the fact that you love heaven more than earth than when you open your lips to share the gospel. If you have used one or all of these excuses I challenge you to ask forgiveness to the Lord and like the apostles (Acts 4:23-31) to ask Him to give you the boldness to share in the face of persecution. May we long for the day that Christ says to us, “well done my good and faithful servant”.
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Obama Plans Takedown of Another U.S. Ally

President Obama failed to take out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but now he’s going after Canada’s Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a big supporter of Israel and opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It’s a story the U.S. media won’t cover. But Judi McLeod of the Canada Free Press has been documenting how Obama is planning the “fundamental transformation” of Canada by taking down Harper’s government and bringing to power a progressive majority assembled from Canada’s Liberal Party and New Democratic Party (NDP), an affiliate of the Socialist International.
In a dispatch [1] earlier this year, McLeod provided the facts about the interference of Obama campaign operatives in the Canadian elections scheduled for October 19. “In Canada, Obama’s campaign team is guiding the election campaigns of both the Liberals and the NDP,” she wrote. She urged the Harper government to investigate.
She explained why Obama is targeting Canada: “To the U.S., Canada is the country next door, to Obama it’s home of the architects of the maligned Keystone XL Pipeline and home to the world’s Number One elected defender of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Indeed, for the last seven years Harper has not only been supporting Israel but functioning as the leader of the Free World, in the face of Obama’s deal-making with America’s enemies and adversaries. In 2014, at the summit of G20 nations, Harper famously told [2] Russian President Putin that he needs “to get out of Ukraine.” Putin replied with a lie, saying the Russians weren’t in Ukraine.
Harper has declared [3], “Israel is the front line of free democratic nations, and any who turn their back on Israel or turn a blind eye to the nature of Israel’s enemies do so in the long run at their own peril.”
In a recent speech to the Jewish Community Council of Montreal, he said, “Those who hate democracy and freedom, tolerance and openness, having been plotting attacks against Western nations, beginning with Israel, for decades, seeking to destroy our rare and precious way of life. We were told for years to just ignore the erosion of freedoms and the growing aggression of Putin’s Russia. Look where that has taken the world.”
Canada used to have a conservative cable channel, Sun News Network. But it went out of business earlier this year when the channel failed to get enough distribution to pay for expenses. Cable companies in Canada were carrying foreign channels such as Al Jazeera and Putin’s Russia Today, but wouldn’t carry Sun News. Brian Lilley, a former host on the network, said that the cable companies “didn’t like the message.” He explained, “They didn’t like that we were brash, we were very conservative.  We were pro-business, pro-family, pro-oil, pro-Israel. We were pro-America…They decided to shut us down.”
Lilley and his former colleagues have formed TheRebel.media [4] as a replacement, with special news coverage of national and international news. The group’s YouTube channel [5], with 1,500 videos, is the place to go for conservative coverage of the Canadian elections and other news. Their videos have already attracted millions of views. A report [6] by Ezra Levant on the election describes reporters at Canada’s state broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), as “liberals with press credentials.” Lilley has been leading a campaign [7] to have the government, which provides about $1 billion to the CBC, sell the broadcasting entity to the private sector. Visitors can also get access to podcasts, columns and blogs, and contribute financially to maintain and expand this important site for news and information.
While the Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau campaigns for legal dope and injection centers for drug addicts, and the New Democratic Party proposes Bernie Sanders-style socialism for Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada has been on the side of individual freedom, traditional values and free enterprise. Harper has taken on the jihadists who want to destroy Western civilization and has spoken eloquently about the stakes for the Free World, such as in a 2014 speech [8] to the Tribute to Liberty Dinner in Toronto. The topic on this occasion was the need to establish a Memorial to Victims of Communism in Canada.
“During the 20th century, communism’s poisonous ideology and ruthless practice slowly bled into countries all around the world, on almost every continent,” Harper said [9]. “The result was nothing short of catastrophic. More than one hundred million souls were lost, an almost incomprehensible number. We must never forget that these are not numbers, they are not statistics. They were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. Their futures, their potential, their hopes and dreams, were stolen from them. Our hearts break for those who suffered and we mourn for those who were crushed.”
After affirming Canada’s solidarity with Ukraine, in the face of Russian aggression, Harper described another current threat, international Islamic terrorism, and said, “…whatever it calls itself—Nazism, Marxist-Leninism, today, terrorism—they all have one thing in common: the destruction, the end of human liberty. My fear is this: as we move further into the 21st century, Canadians, especially new generations, will forget or will not be taught the lessons hard learned and the victories hard earned over the last 100 years. That they will fall even further in love with ease and convenience. And that they will not understand that their rights and their advantages, their peace and their security, were won by people willing to live and die for what is good and right.”
Harper, in power since 2006, has truly been the leader of the Free World over the last seven years. He is a reminder of what an American president should be standing for in the world. No wonder Obama wants to finish him off.
Article printed from Accuracy In Media: http://www.aim.org
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[4] TheRebel.media: http://www.therebel.media/
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