Mark 8:34-35

THE CHURCH AT WAR Part 2 – Today!

(February 12, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares more on this timely subject…

Last month (link: The Early Days) I referred to the great price Christians in the early church had to pay for being followers of Jesus Christ. For 2000 years Christians have been opposed, intimidated, abused and slaughtered because of their commitment to Jesus Christ.

The reason has been an age-old conflict in which Satan continually attempts to destroy us and the work of God in and through us.

History is repeating itself
While many of the accounts of past persecution of Christians are horrendous, we actually see much the same kind of thing repeating itself today. Christians are in the ‘firing line’ (metaphorically and literally) throughout the world today.

The number of Christians in Sri Lanka who were killed when worshipping on Easter Day last year was sufficiently large that the world media had really no alternative but to mention it – but literally hundreds of other acts of persecution and killing of Christians throughout the world today are wholly ignored by most of the world media. There are more Christians being killed today than ever before in history!

Surprisingly The Guardian newspaper included an April 22, 2019 article titled, ‘As the Sri Lanka attacks show, Christians worldwide face serious persecution.’ The writer wrote: ‘We are living though one of the most serious phases of Christian persecution in history, and most people refuse to acknowledge it.

‘During the past century, Christianity has been all but driven out of the Middle East, the place of its birth. … From 1894 to 1924, the Turkish authorities systematically murdered some 2.5 million Christians. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, Christians have been driven from the Middle East with bombs and bullets, and with hardly a bat squeak of protest from the secular west.  … Christianity remains the world’s most persecuted religion. … all around the world Christians are subject to real and sustained violence for the profession of their faith …’ (more…)

THE COST AND THE CROWN OF DISCIPLESHIP

(May 16, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, solemnly opens ups on a reality that many Christians tend to either ignore or are unaware of…

Around 67 AD the apostle Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting execution under the order of the Roman Emperor Nero who intensely hated Christians.

As he waited for the sentence to be carried out, he wrote to Timothy, ‘The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing’ (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

About ten years earlier Paul had written in his letter to the Christians living in Rome, ‘I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world’ (Romans 1:8).

Personal witnessing
In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans the late theologian Karl Barth made the following comment on this Romans 1 verse: ‘The resurrection has proved its power; there are Christians – even in Rome.’ Barth was explaining that Paul was rejoicing and thanking God because the message of Christ crucified and resurrected had penetrated right to the heart of the Roman Empire, to Rome itself, where Christians were living and worshipping.

How amazing it is that within about 25 years from the resurrection of Jesus the good news of his redeeming love and gifts of forgiveness and eternal life had spread ‘all over the world.’ Without the help of mass evangelistic rallies and without the modern aids of radio, television and Facebook the Christian gospel spread like a fire through the simple and effective method of personal witnessing.

And so the Christian message continued of spread for the following centuries and in 311 AD the Roman emperor professed his Christian faith.

But …
1. The successful penetration of the Christian message throughout the world came at a cost!
First of all, the greatest cost of all, the suffering and death of Jesus. (more…)