Occasional editorials written since 2001 

Passion yes, aggression no. Harry Potter All roads lead to God?  
Value of a soul. Homosexuality Passion of Christ
Islam and Christianity  Love not the world Persecution coming
Biblical or secular worldview? Freewill offering Letter or Spirit?
Faith The sacred and non-sacred Test your self
Discernment The gospel of me Repentance
Sinking sand That awful four letter word Sin
When God offends. Walls, gates and electric fences The curse of pornography

                                                   

When God offends.

 

Everything Jesus said and did came from a heart of love. The Father's love revealed through Him.

 

Mostly that manifested in compassion, tenderness and gentleness and we like and understand that part.

 

But sometimes, on the other side of the same divine coin, it manifested in 'offence'

 

The Oxford dictionary defines the word 'offend' as 'to cause to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful'

 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as 'to cause (a person or group) to feel hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done'

 

The earliest New Testament believers were 'messianic Jews'. Men and women who were raised in the Jewish religion, the Jewish traditions and the Jewish culture.

 

Scripture states that 'the life is in the blood' (Lev. 3:17 & 17:11) and so eating blood was (and still is) a deeply offensive thing to a Jew. Hence their ritual slaughtering of animals which allows the blood to be drained from the meat.


When gentiles - who knew little of the Jewish culture - began to flood into the Kingdom some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees wanted them to be circumcised, and this issue in particular brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute with them. (Acts 15:1-3)


Eventually the apostles and elders met at Jerusalem to decide what wise stipulations they should lay upon the rapidly increasing numbers of gentile believer's. After much debate, James - the step-brother of Jesus - stood up and addressed the council saying,


“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. Acts 15:19-20
[emphasis mine]


Thus the 'original Christians' from within the Jewish culture were agreeable to drop the issue of circumcision, and didn't mention Sabbath keeping, but asked them to abstain from food offered to idols, sexual immorality, meat from strangled animals and blood. Why these four stipulations?


One commentary on these verses said,


Circumcision was not required but four stipulations were laid down. These were in areas where the gentiles had particular weaknesses and where the Jews were particularly repulsed by gentile violations. It would help both the individual and the relationship between Gentile and Jew if these requirements were observed. (The NIV Bible Study)
[emphasis mine]


So with this background information it is not hard to understand how deeply offensive the idea of flesh being eaten with the blood still in it would be, even to a messianic Jew.


We get that.


Jesus was Jewish, raised in a Jewish home, in a Jewish land with Jewish traditions and a robust Jewish culture. He knew flesh with blood was offensive.


With that understanding, listen to Jesus addressing Jewish listeners in the synagogue in Capernaum.


"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”


Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”


Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink". (John 6:51-55
[emphasis mine]

 

What offence! And the crowd was offended. Very offended. So were His disciples.


With great understatement many of His disciples said,


“This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (Matthew 6:60
)


To which Jesus replied,


“Does this offend you? (John 6:61) [emphasis mine]

 

So offensive were His words that we read,


From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6: 66-67)

 

Simon Peter answered him on behalf of them all,

 

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”(John 6: 68-69) [emphasis mine]

 

In other words the disciples who did not walk away - were definitely offended by 'the truth' but did not walk away as others did because they had truly come to believe and to know that He was indeed, the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

John MacArthur put it well when he wrote,

 

Modern conventional wisdom would suggest that Jesus ought to have done everything possible to exploit His fame, tone down the controversies that arose out of His teaching, and employ whatever strategies He could use to maximise the crowds around Him. But... instead of taking the populist route and exploiting His fame, He began to emphasize the very things that made His teaching so controversial. At about the time the crowds reached their peak, He preached a message so boldly confrontational, and so offensive in its content that the multitude melted away, leaving only the most devoted few. ('Twelve ordinary men' devotional for January 13th)

 

After His death and resurrection the disciples understood what Jesus had said.

 

...the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat, this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (1 Corinthians 11 23b-25)

 

The clue was the line where He said,

 

"This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”


Another example.


Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

 

And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

 

But He answered her not a word.

 

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”

 

But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

 

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

 

But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” (Matthew 15:21-26) [emphasis mine]

 

The Jews regarded gentiles as 'dogs' - a deeply offensive term in their culture (Matthew 7:6) And Jesus has just publicly referred to her daughter as a little dog!  How offensive was that?

 

But listen to her reply.

 

“Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (v.27)

 

Now listen to the response from Jesus.

 

“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” (v.28)

 

And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

 

I love Matthew Henry's commentary on this event.

 

Many methods of Christ's providence, especially of His grace, in dealing with His people, which are dark and perplexing, may be explained by this story, which teaches us that there may be love in Christ's heart while there are frowns on His face; and it encourages us, though He seems ready to slay us, yet to trust in Him. Those whom Christ intends most to honour, He humbles to feel their own unworthiness. A proud, unhumbled heart would not have borne this.

 

Another example.

 

In His home town of Nazareth He stood up in the synagogue and after reading from Isaiah He then said,

 

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

So all bore witness to Him, and marvelled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’”

Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:21-29) [emphasis mine]

 

He was speaking the truth from 1 Kings chapter 12 and 2 Kings chapter 5, but the people in the synagogue were so offended by the implications of His words they threw Him out of the synagogue, out of the city and then tried to throw Him off a cliff.

 

So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way. (Luke 4:28)

 

Another example.

 

A rich young ruler liked Jesus and agreed with what He taught ("Good Teacher") and clearly wanted confirmation that his good behaviour would result in eternal life. But Jesus' response offends his own sense of worth, and he walks away from Jesus saddened, and unchanged.


Listen to the exchange.


Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”

And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)

Jesus did not run after him saying, "Please come back. I can compromise"

 

When trying to get eternal life (salvation) through keeping the law there will always be that "one thing you lack'' (James 2:10) which inevitably draws you to the conclusion that you need a Saviour.

 

The young man loved his money, just as the Pharisees - ' who were lovers of money' - did. (Luke 16:14) Jesus lovingly invited him to be a disciple - "come, take up the cross, and follow Me" - but showed him that you cannot serve both God and money. You will serve one and hate the other. (Matthew 6:24)

 

The young man made his choice and walked away.

 

Jesus was not after His money.

 

He was after his heart.

 

And as He said in Matthew 6:21

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

He wasn’t looking for enthusiastic fans. He was seeking wholehearted followers.

This story might illustrate.

 

When I first became a Christian I was a serious athlete who loved cycling. Especially cycle racing. And especially the cycling part of triathlons. Which meant that I owned and lovingly maintained an expensive, superb, light-weight racing bike, bristling with cutting edge technology.

 

One day the Lord asked me to give a certain man - a non-Christian man - my racing bike! I was 'offended'. What had that got to do with my Christianity? Perhaps if Jesus had asked me to give my racing bike to a young Christian athlete I might have been less offended. (But then again perhaps not)

 

For weeks I huffed and puffed at this request. Give my good bike away!  What was Jesus doing to me! This was too much.

 

Finally (and this is the shortened version) during a church service I surrendered to Jesus and said that I would give the man my precious bike the following day.

 

A minute later during the worship, with my eyes now closed and my arms raised - feeling amazingly close to Jesus - I 'saw' my bike being handed back to me!  I dropped my hands in horror thinking it was satan trying to get me to back-track on my hard won surrender, but then I noticed the wonderful peace that pervaded my heart. Suddenly Jesus spoke into my heart and said, "I didn't want your bike, I wanted your heart"


If the young man had truly believed that Jesus was the Christ, and not just a 'Good Teacher', he would have been like the man Jesus described in these two short parables.


“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.


“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46) [emphasis mine]


Another example.

 

Imagine you are in the temple when Jesus arrives with a whip of cords.


Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:13-16)

 

If that happened at our church would we be offended by His behavior?


I remember a time when I helped to run a Friday evening youth club at a small hall that was used jointly by two denominations. One was Methodist and that was the fellowship I began my new Christian life in.  One Friday evening when I arrived I was told by a member of the other denomination that the hall was being set up for a second hand book sale the following day so the youth club would have to be cancelled. I was disappointed, as were the many young people I then had to turn away as they arrived over the next hour. Once that job was done I went into the hall to see what books would be on offer. The books had been brought in by members of the other denomination so I was not expecting any shocks. But shocks there were. I saw books on sex such as the Kama Sutra, deeply occult stories such as The devil rides out by Stephen King. I saw Mormon books such as The pearl of great price. The Jehovah's Witnesses Bible The New World Translation, etc.  I collected all the books that should never have be in a church sale and as I did I saw the minister of that denomination go into his office. I was sure that when I told him of my findings and actions he would be grateful, but his reaction did not display any of that. He just matter of factly told me to do whatever I wanted with them and dismissed me.  I was somewhat shaken. I went to two of the men setting the book stalls up and showed them the books that should never have been on the stalls. They thanked me, and then said that they would take the books I collected and sell them at the mid week market in town. I was dumbfounded and walked out into the night air to gather my thoughts. Everything within me wanted to go back in and overturn the tables. But I didn't. I thought Jesus would not be pleased at me offending the people setting up this money raising effort.  Today I would probably walk back in, because I would rather offend people than God.  I understand now why Jesus overturned the temple stalls.

 

It is all too easy to present - as wonderfully described in Charles Wesley's famous hymn - gentle Jesus meek and mild - with a full stop after that.

 

And that, by and large, is what we have done.

 

Even to Christians - His own people - it is all too easy to leave the potentially offensive and challenging words of scripture aside when preaching from the pulpit because we do not want to offend.

 

And that, by and large, is what we have done.

 

For instance how many of us have heard these challenging and potentially offensive words of Jesus preached to us?

 

"If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30

 

Then another of His disciples said to Him "Lord, let me first go and bury my father" But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead" Matthew 8:21-22

 

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26.

 

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:5-6)

 

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:16

 

As a result we have an un-sharpened church. The sword has not been able to divide between spirit and soul in the Great Physician's hands.

 

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

 

We can also, as Christians, get 'offended' when we believe that God did not show up when we think He should have.

 

"Where was He when my marriage broke up, when my children rebelled, when my finances crashed? When my health went into great difficulties? When my spouse died?"


Author Frank Viola says,


These are the questions that plague the mind of the serious believer. If you’ve not yet met the God who refuses to meet all your expectations, you will. And how you react in that day will reveal whether you are worshiping Jesus Christ or Santa Clause (see John 6:26). It will show whether or not you love God more than His promises (or really, your interpretation of those promises)


Jeanne Guyon once said, “I will still serve Him, even if it sends me to hell.” Job said, “Shall we receive good from the hand of the Lord and not evil?” Recall the three Hebrew children. They had lived a life loyal to their God. And the pagan king said to them, “Worship my golden image or else you’re going to die in my fiery furnace.”
Their answer is telling: “We’re not going to worship this image or serve your gods. The Lord is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us from your fiery furnace. But even if He doesn’t, we’re still not going to bow down to your false gods.”


What an attitude. What a posture. What faith. “God will deliver us. But even if He doesn’t, we will still follow Him.”

 

It seems that John the Baptist was 'offended' and confused when Jesus did not rescue him from Herod’s jail.


And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’” Luke 7:18-20


Note Jesus’ reply.


Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Luke 7:22-23 [emphasis mine]

 

Many have walked away from Jesus because He has offended them in one way or another. Others have stayed, and will stay to the end no matter what. Because He is who He says He is, and He is Lord of all. We believe Him and we know Him and we need Him and we trust Him.

 

The apostle Peter was taken prisoner by Herod but God broke him out of jail. John the beloved’s brother James was taken prisoner by Herod but this time there was no release. Instead he was publicly beheaded. (Acts 12:1-3)  Was John offended that Jesus did not show up? We don’t know. But John did not walk way. And He ended up being used by Jesus to write the closing book in scripture.


Job was offended, but never let go of God and in the end He got double what He had lost. The twelve disciples nearly turned back but didn’t. And changed the world.


Jesus continually offended the 'religious' establishment who sought to undermine what God was doing through Him. After answering one of the scribes and Pharisees questions we read,

 

Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” Matthew 15:12 [emphasis mine]


After teaching in the synagogue on a Sabbath we read,

 

Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. Mark 6:3 [emphasis mine]

 

And no wonder!  Here are some of His words to them.

 

Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:7-9

 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.

 

Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Matthew 23:25-27

 

In an effort to discredit Him they called him a glutton and a drunkard, a sinner's friend (Luke 7:34) and even Beelzebul, the prince of demons! (Matthew 12:24)

 

And then they crucified Him. Not realising that He was dying for their sake. For their salvation should they want it.


His words were living water and His Presence was life to those who truly believed and responded accordingly, and offence and death to those who did not believe and responded accordingly.


It is so with us, His followers who carry His Name on our lips and His Spirit within us.

 

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth,


For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. (2 Corinthians 2:15)


God's Word is not a double-edged feather but a double-edged sword and it will always divide like a sword. To some it will be revelation and Life; to others it will be offence and death.

 

But it will always divide and Jesus did not ignore this fact.

 

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’ (Matthew 10:34-35)


While Christendom was the predominant world-view of our western culture, God's Word did not greatly offend. Society - believers and non-believers alike - were soaked in Christian culture for generations.

 

Queen Victoria once said to an African Prince through his translator,


"Tell your prince that this Book (the BIBLE) is the secret of England's greatness"


Our own Queen Elizabeth said to the nation,


"To what greater inspiration and counsel can we turn than to the imperishable truth to be found in this Treasure House, the Bible?"

 

In court you would be asked to put your hand upon the Bible and say "I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God"

 

Shops closed on Sunday in recognition of 'the Lord's day' when so many went to their church.


Holidays were generally based on Christian holy-days.

 

Children went to Sunday school. Schools had morning assembly where prayers were said and hymns were sung. Christian Ministers taught Religion Education classes.

 

Missionaries went to foreign fields and society held them in the highest esteem. David Livingstone. William Carey. Adonorim Judson. Hudson Taylor. Amy Carmichael. George Muller. Eric Liddel. Jim Elliot

 

Marriage was between a man and a woman because the Bible said so. And society agreed.

 

Killing unwanted babies in the womb was wrong because the Bible said so. And society agreed.


Men having sex with men, and women with women was wrong because the Bible said so. And society agreed.

 

Men lusting after women in pornography was wrong because the Bible said so. And society agreed.

 

Sex without marriage, and outside of marriage was wrong because the Bible said so. And society agreed.


Divorce was a last painful resort, not an automatic right, because the Bible said so. And society agreed.

 

But 'Christendom' is gone. The centuries old culture that had Christianity as its bedrock and legal framework has undergone a colossal and unexpectedly rapid change.

 

The new moral plum-line allows people to believe that their own passions are the basis for morality. (Romans 1:24-30)

 

Scripture's moral compass, gender identification and behavioural boundaries are now an offence.

 

Books such as 'The God delusion' by Richard Dawkins, 'Letter to a Christian nation' by Sam Harris and 'God is not great' by Christopher Hitchens have become enormous best sellers.


In the blink of an eye the gospel has become offensive to many.

 

Christians are increasingly being ridiculed and marginalised.

 

The most aggressive opponents know what God's righteous judgement is because they vocally rail against, and at times persecute Christians, for declaring it and honouring it.

 

The apostle Paul wrote about this.

 

Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32 NIV) [emphasis mine]

 

And so although we would never want to offend we must realise with complete and settled clarity that many will be offended by what we believe and live out and declare as truth.

 

We are (or should be) disciples of Jesus, and He warned,

 

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you". (John 15:18)

 

As genuine followers of Christ we must not compromise or weaken the impact of what His Word clearly and unmistakably declares.

 

For instance, heaven is very real. So is God's coming judgement.

 

And so is hell. Jesus - the most loving, compassionate Man ever to walk this earth - said that again and again and again. Yet often we teach one and hide the other because hell is offensive. And because sometime we are offended by the thought of it being real.

 

In everything, where it is lovingly applicable we must be courageous enough to declare the whole counsel of God. As Paul wrote to the church.

 

For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:27)


When we soften, or water down, or worse, are at odds ourselves with the clear words of God we end up with a weak and powerless church that is an offence to God. We loose our 'saltiness' and as Jesus warned 'when salt loses its saltiness it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.' (Matthew 5:13)

 

It is a subtle form of friendship with the world and God clearly states that it is enmity with Him. (James 4:4)

 

The apostle Peter wrote to the church,


Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1 Peter 2: 7-8) [emphasis mine]

It is important to understand that in every way possible - without compromising the gospel and a high view of scripture - we are not to give offense by our behaviour.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33) [emphasis mine]


We give no offense in anything that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, (2 Corinthians 6:3-4) [emphasis mine]


But if we are to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) we must not shrink back for fear of the truth offending as long as it is lovingly spoken to a darkening world with passion and not aggression.


Just as Jesus was 'a friend of sinners' (Luke 7:34) so must we be.


But a friend - if appropriate - most at some stage bring the plum-line of truth.

 

Because being a friend of sinners must never be confused with being a friend of sin.

 

Jesus could have condemned the woman caught in adultery by the pharisees. But He didn't. He befriended her by defending her and probably saved her life.

 

One by one they left until Jesus was left alone with her.

 

“Woman, where are they?" Jesus said. "Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.

Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11) [emphasis mine]


God's truth will - as Paul states - be an aroma of life to some, and an aroma of death to others. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)


As the heat rises, many non-offensive variations on Kingdom teachings will be proclaimed from some pulpits. Which is cowardly and an offence to God.

 

As the heat rises, even Christians will - as some of the disciples did - turn away.


And persecution will come in increasing levels of severity. (I first wrote about the coming persecution way back in 2003)

 

Already some have lost their jobs because of their refusal to compromise on morality or on their commitment to being salt and light in a darkening culture. Soon the gospel message may be a hate crime. Many street preachers are being harassed, even arrested, by the authorities after people have claimed that their message is offensive.


But as they say, 'here's the thing'

 

Throughout history the true church has always been persecuted for righteousness sake.

 

Think of the fate of the apostles and the early Christians. When you stood for Christ you embraced the fact that you and your family might be put to death or have to flee into exile.


For instance, in the 15th and 16th century many died at the stake for their unwavering belief in scripture.

 

Records show that 288 people were burnt at the stake during the three years of 1555 and 1558. Many at Cambridge University paid the price for their belief in the integrity of scripture. There were in all 25 men who were sons of Cambridge who died in the cause of the Reformation. A much larger number were exiled. During the reign of Queen Mary there were 472 people listed as exiles for their stand, of which around 90 were Cambridge men.


A monument was erected at Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, near the open ground known as the 'Covenanters' Prison', stating that 18,000 Scottish covenanters were killed in the period 1661-1680 for their unwavering belief in scripture as the sole "infallible rule of faith and practice"

 

But despite horrific persecution then and today (think of Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, North Korea etc) the Kingdom goes marching on.

 

Why? How?

 

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:11

 

I heard one speaker recently say "Only if we are willing to die for Jesus will we be able to suffer the world's hatred". He is probably right.

 

The spiritual forecast is for stormy weather ahead. We need to be 'dressed' appropriately.

 

Western Christendom is now dead. Aggressive atheism is alive. And sweeping all before it.

 

The resultant fruit in our society is hard to watch as it unfolds with equal rapidity.

 

The United Kingdom is a good example. In the last decade it has repeatedly been referred to for the first time ever as 'a broken society'.  Drug abuse, violent crime, teenage delinquency, family breakdown, pornography, the loss of traditional values, teenage pregnancy, dysfunctional families, binge drinking, children who kill.


But in the midst of this rapid moral breakdown, the true church of Jesus Christ is alive because it is the Body of Christ.

 

We have been born for such a time as this, called to be salt and light, and we must not be found wanting.

 

Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. (Matthew 16:18)

 

When, and where the church has been hated and persecuted it has always emerged stronger.

 

An Egyptian Christian said, "In the east where we suffer persecution the church is united and strong. In the west where there has been no persecution the church is divided and weak"

 

It is the West's time now.

 

The apostle Paul certainly understood persecution and joyfully wrote,

 

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

 

We love You, Lord Jesus.

 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)

 

 

 

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