While information is still being gathered concerning the devilish execution of these men, reports seem to agree that they were Coptic (Egyptian) Christians beheaded by the satanic terrorist band known as ISIS. Last night as I sadly read this shocking headline on my laptop via wireless internet, seated on a comfortable couch, in a warm living room, having just enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee, and having enjoyed a full day of corporate worship with the local church, I couldn’t help but think that these brothers in Christ have come to know God’s grace in a far deeper and genuine relationship than I have up to this point in my Christian walk.
At the end of the day, you and I have to answer this question: “Is the authority of God’s Word enough to die for?” Or in other words, “Is God’s Word and the Truth it reveals about Jesus Christ worth believing to the point that you are willing to give your life as a final act of earthly worship instead of bowing to the pressures of satanic warlords?” Or perhaps another way of asking the same question is, “Do you love Jesus enough to be gruesomely murdered for identifying with Him as His child?” To the Apostle Paul, and to the many modern Christian martyrs who continue to die for the Truth of the Gospel, the unwavering response is, “Yes, even so, come Lord Jesus!”
It’s time for the Church in America to stop playing games with the Gospel. If we are to remain faithful to our calling as found in God’s Word, we must stop arguing over “foolish words and irreverent babble” (2 Tim. 2:15-16ff) and get serious about properly understanding how to live out the blessings and responsibilities of God’s grace and Gospel-love. We may not be called to don an orange jumpsuit and feel the edge of a cowardly terrorist’s knife at our throat. Yet the supernatural fight against God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom still wars in our homes, schools, work places, churches, minds, eye-gates, and in the living rooms of our souls. But God wins. He overwhelmingly wins. In fact, He has already won. The battle lines were drawn in the sand between God and Satan well before ISIS came as a blight on the scene of human history. The head of the serpent was crushed at the cross and the empty tomb. God has called His Church to trust Him and to obey Him as He continues His kingdom-expanding triumph march through human history. For some Christians, God’s plan of grace for them will include beheading and martyrdom. For others, His grace will lead them through rejection from loved ones. And for some, it will mean having to choose Jesus instead of a drastically modified and sin-drunk American Dream. But for every member of God’s Church, it will be the call to trust God and to obey His authoritative Word of grace in whatever arena of this dark world we are called to shine as light-bearers.
True worship is comprised of grace-dependent trust and obedience: trust in our sovereign Creator and obedience to His sovereign grace and calling for our lives. Christian, are you and I tired of playing games in the name of the Gospel? God’s Word is not bound—it cannot be chained—and God’s Church is advancing because the breached gates of Hades cannot prevail against God’s triumphant march of Grace (Matthew 16:18). Don’t be left in the dust wondering how you have seemingly gained the whole world and yet lost your own soul due to living a lie of false and comfortable Christianity. There is no such thing as comfort-laced Christianity. Jesus was focused on the cross—and He demands the same focus for His Church. Receiving God’s pleasure is worth dying for because only Jesus can satisfy the pleasure our hearts were created to enjoy.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the Offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for, if we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:8-13)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)