Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Did Jesus Really Mean ALL When He Said "All?"

"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake." --- Jesus speaking in Matthew 24:9

My daily devotional time involves the reading of the Scriptures and prayer. The Scripture readings take me through the Bible in a year's time -- the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice plus additional readings in the prophets as well as elsewhere. The prayer time involves praise and thanksgiving as based on Psalm 103. There is a time of confession, personal petition, and intercession.

One part of intercession involves prayer for those who are in governing authority and church leadership authority. But more important than that is prayer on behalf of brothers and sisters whose faith is centered in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Unknown to me but certainly known to God are those fellow believers who are suffering bitter and violent persecution for their faith in some countries in this world. There are families who grieve this day because some member or members of a family have been put to death for no other reason than the fact that they were followers of Jesus Christ and faithful ambassadors for Him (2 Cor 5). The Voice of the Martyrs is an excellent source of information on how Christians are treated in some parts of this troubled world. Our prayer list at our church in Gipsy includes a reference to praying for those fellow believers who are suffering violent persecution.

There are some countries that have built a "reputation" for being very hostile toward Christianity and those who are Christian in faith and commitment. China, North Korea, and many Muslim controlled countries are examples. Try building a church that preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ and do evangelism in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or Iran and see how far you get!

This should not really be surprising in light of statements made by Jesus. He explicitly revealed that His followers would undergo persecution. Since He became the target of resistance and open hostility it stands to reason that those who follow HIm will experience similar treatment at times. He confirmed this by stating,

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." --- John 15:18, 19

The Greek word in the original text (miseo) as translated "hate" (John 15:18, 19) means to detest, especially to persecute. Followers of Jesus Christ are "light" and "salt" in this present world (Matthew 5:13-16) The world (great mass of unbelievers) does not want to be exposed to the glaring light of truth nor does it want to be resisted (salty Christians) in its acceptance and practice of evil in its many forms. The reaction will always be hostility, if not violent persecution.

So, when Jesus said hatred toward His followers would involve ALL nations (Matthew 24:9) did He really mean all? The Greek word for "all" in that reference is pas and has the following meaning -- "all, any, every, the whole."

Now comes the interesting part -- how about the United States? Could it be the exception? If so, then that makes Jesus out to be a liar. There are a few of us who not only acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord, but as perfect God revealed in human form on the planet which He created. As such, He only speaks truth on any and every occasion.

There has been a growing hostility against Christianity even in "the land of the free and the home of the brave" in recent decades particularly. The fierce debate continues over the Supreme Court decision that banned the reading of Scriptures and the practice of prayer in public classrooms. There are professing Christians who support the decision and state that it is a good thing. Was it really? Is the country in a more superior spiritual, moral and ethical condition now as a result of that decision than it was at the time the decision was handed down? Honesty would dictate that the answer is a definite "No!" and the Supreme Court decision was nothing less than a slap in the face of Almighty God Himself!

Other court decisions have demonstrated an explicit hostility toward Christianity with perhaps the most infamous one being the decision in 1973 stating that it is a constitutional "right" for a female to destroy her unborn child by an intentional choice! One critical thing to remember -- of the over 52 million victims of the United States' "holocaust," there would have been those who would have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, but due to being mutilated and murdered before birth, they never had that opportunity. Hostility against potential Christians in its most horrendous form, is it not?

We can expect increased "warfare" being waged against Christians in the United States as time moves on. That is, the target will be those who still believe that the inspired record known as the Bible is totally true and to be practiced in every day living. There is a problem, however, and that is those persons who claim to be Christian but who have compromised on issues of morality and ethics and do not accept the Bible as the final authority on matters of faith and practice -- to these, the Bible is but a fallible book merely produced by some human beings! And you, the individual, become the final judge as to what you want to accept or reject. Above all else, be sure to do everything you can to silence those fanatics who insist that the Bible is God's inspired Word and Jesus Christ is the exclusive way of forgiveness, salvation and hope for time and eternity!

"Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! for indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets." --- Jesus speaking in Luke 6:22, 23

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