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Shame, honor, and the gospel

Missionaries to Muslims often report resistance to the gospel message – not because Muslims reject Jesus as a great prophet, but because the Qur’an denies the doctrines of original sin and the atonement.

The idea of natural-born sinners runs counter to the Islamic belief that man is basically good but ignorant of Allah’s will. This may be overcome by repeating the shahada – “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” – and by embracing the five pillars of Islam.

In addition, Muslims deny Jesus’ substitutionary death because they cannot believe Allah would allow his second greatest prophet to suffer shame on a Roman cross.

In other words, many Muslims reject the gospel because it does not align with their cultural perspective that stresses shame and honor rather than guilt and innocence.

So, how can Christians, who embrace the doctrines of original sin and the substitutionary death of Jesus, present the gospel cross-culturally? Is it even possible?
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What Islam and Mormonism have in common

Satan is clever but not original.

He cannot create, procreate, raise the dead, or inspire Scripture. But he can take things God created for good and twist them for his evil purposes.

He is especially proficient in false religions, from Algard Wicca to Zoroastrianism. While the world’s wayward faiths are diverse, the evil one’s fingerprints are on all of them.

To illustrate, let’s look at similar patterns in two very different belief systems: Islam and Mormonism.

It would seem these religious organizations have little in common. Their doctrines and rituals are distinctly different. Yet their claims to truth bear remarkable similarities. Consider six such parallels.

(1) A false god. Both Muslims and Mormons profess belief in the God of Scripture. However, their gods stand in stark contrast to Yahweh, the one true and living God.

 Islam’s god, Allah, is monolithic, impersonal, unknowable, and unapproachable. He is the author of both good and evil and fatalistically determines all things.

Mormons worship Elohim, or “Heavenly Father,” as the god of this world. Once a man, he attained deity, as did his first-born spirit child Jesus (Jehovah). Mormons believe there are many gods and many worlds and that men may themselves become gods one day.
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The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” – Revelation 22:17

Previously: I, Jesus, have sent My angel – Revelation 22:16

The scripture

Rev. 22:17 – Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift. (HCSB)

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

This verse is a final call to salvation to all who receive it in faith. The call to eternal life is a call to come to Jesus, for He has come to us throughout human history – revealing Himself in creation and conscience; appearing in the burning bush, the pillar of cloud and fire, the Shekinah glory in the tabernacle and temple; visiting as the Angel of Yahweh, and most importantly as Jesus of Nazareth – the Word becoming flesh and taking up residence among us (John 1:14).

The call to come echoes throughout Scripture as a unified pleading of the Godhead. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit take the initiative to come first to us, and then they bid us to respond in faith to their grace and mercy.

The Father says “come” – come out of the ark for judgment has passed (Gen. 8:16); come up to the mountain to receive the Law (Ex. 24:12); come to the tent of meeting (Num. 12:4); come and reason with the Lord so your sins, though scarlet, may be white as snow (Isa. 1:18).

The Son says “come” – come, all who are weary and burdened, and He will give you rest (Matt. 11:28); come, you who are blessed by the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt. 24:34); come away and rest for a while (Mark 6:31); come and follow (Mark 9:21; Luke 18:22); come – those who are thirsty – and drink (John 3:37); come out of the grave (John 11:43).

And the Spirit says “come” (Rev. 22:17), wooing an unbelieving world to trust in the Savior. After Jesus returns to His Father in heaven, the Spirit comes to us and remains with us as we eagerly await Christ’s return. The Spirit regenerates us (John 3:6-7; Titus 3:5); seals us (Eph. 1:13-14); indwells us (1 Cor. 3:16); baptizes us into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13); sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2); sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:12; 1 Peter 1:2); counsels us (John 14:26); grants us spiritual gifts for service (1 Cor. 12:1-11); enables us to put to death the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:12-13); and reminds us that we belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9).

But the Creator and Sovereign of the universe does not force Himself upon us or into our hearts. He comes to us and beckons us to come to Christ. Thus, the gentle but urgent plea, “Come!”
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OnceDelivered.net – 2015 in review

Thanks for visiting OnceDelivered.net in 2015. Here is a brief report on the blog’s activities, which include 110,000 visits from readers in more than 200 countries. Please join me in praying that the Lord uses this ministry in 2016 to encourage Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3), while engaging our non-Christian friends with the gospel with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

This demands the perseverance of the saints – Revelation 14:12

Previously: And a third angel followed them – Revelation 14:9-11

The scripture

Rev. 14:12 – This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus. (HCSB)

This demands the perseverance of the saints

crownVerse 12 reads, “This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.” This is similar to the message of Rev. 13:10: “This demands the perseverance and faith of the saints.” In both passages, the Lord reminds the persecuted saints – and perhaps even their persecutors – that He will judge the wicked. Yes, the beast will wield great power, ascend to a worldly throne, and command people of every nationality to bend the knee to him. Yes, he will harangue, imprison, torment and slaughter those who refuse to worship him. At times it will seem that faithfulness to Jesus is unbearable and unrewarded. But those who “keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus” one day will be vindicated. Those who take Christians captive will be imprisoned themselves. Those who harass God’s people will find there is no rest for them in this life or the life to come. Those who take the sword and extinguish the lives of the faithful will long for death themselves but find it illusive as they suffer God’s wrath.

“In the fiery ordeal of persecution which awaits all who will not worship the beast, the faith and patience of the followers of God and Jesus shall be put to the test, and proved” (R. Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, D. Brown, A Commentary, Critical an Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Rev. 14:12).

The saints who persevere will be rewarded for their godly works at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Jesus urges His followers to lay up treasure in heaven, where it is kept safe and will endure (Matt. 6:20). The apostle Paul informs us that our works of faithfulness, like gold, silver and precious stones, will be refined in the fires of judgment and emerge purified (1 Cor. 3:11-15). And in Revelation Jesus reminds us that our faithfulness will be rewarded (Rev. 2:23; 22:12).

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