January 25, 2016

nmThe Misadventures of Blasphemy Boy

The followers of Islam have become an endless source of lunacy. With each passing day, these people seem to be fixated on outdoing themselves in irrational antics. If they are not blowing themselves up in some region of the world, they are raping women in public places.

The latest act of craziness occurred in Pakistan. A 15-year-old boy cut off his own hand, believing he had committed blasphemy. Anwar Ali, was attending an evening prayer gathering at the mosque in the village of Khanqah, southwest of Lahore. At one point, the imam, identified as Shabir Ahmed, questioned those in attendance.

The imam called out: “Who among you is a follower of Mohammed?”

Everyone raised their hands.

He then asked: “Who among you doesn’t believe in the teachings of the Holy Prophet? Raise your hands!”

Ali, misheard the question and raised his hand, believing that Ahmed had asked, “Who loves Muhammad?” He realized his mistake when he saw that his was the only hand up, he quickly put it down. But by then Mr. Ahmad was screaming “Blasphemer!” at Ali, along with many others in the crowd. “Don’t you love your prophet?” they called, as Ali fled in disgrace.

If I’m in church and the preacher says, “Give a shout if you love the Lord” and then follows by, “Raise your hand if you don’t trust that the Bible is the Word of God,” I’m not even going to acknowledge the fact I wasn’t paying close enough attention. When you share a common faith, you don’t expect trick questions.

To make things right, Ali went home and used a grass-cutting machine to chop off his hand. He then placed his freshly severed right hand on a plate and brought it to the mosque.

The imam reacted to boy’s morbid offering with panic. Fearing for his life, he fled the village.

The police quickly caught Mr. Ahmed and locked him up. But local religious leaders protested, and the authorities backed down and released him. After the international news media began picking up on the story, the authorities rearrested the cleric, holding him on vague terrorism charges. It is unlikely that Ahmed will be convicted of any crime.

The boy’s family is already arguing that the cleric did nothing wrong and should not be punished. In an interview with a local reporter, Ali said he has no regrets about his action. “Why should I feel any pain or trouble in cutting off the hand that was raised against the Holy Prophet?”

Blasphemy is a very serious matter in Pakistan. Angry mobs regularly kill people accused of insulting Islam. Pakistani law does not define blasphemy, but does state that its punishment is death.

What is missing here is common sense.

I have a bad habit of carrying a TV remote control with me whenever I leave my bedroom. I have four remotes for one TV. Quite often, I see something on TV, the remote is on mute, and I can’t find the volume control because all the remotes are scattered around the house.

I get mad because I can’t find one of them, but it never crosses my mind to cut off my hand to break myself of the habit. Anyone who amputated his or her own limb for some trivial reason would be shipped off to the funny farm.

I didn’t come up with the cheeky title of “Blasphemy Boy.” It is the result of how the liberal media processes all events that are negative to Islam. When this story was first reported in the New York Times, the imam was clearly seen as the villain. Four days later, all the coverage had a vastly more positive spin; covering up what should have remained an act of horror.

The BBC sent an Islamic reporter who predictably fawned over Ali for his wonderful dedication to his faith. In a sane world, the first question would be “How could you do something so stupid?”

The key flaw of the Islamic faith is that no one can ever do enough to please its deity. You can cut off both your hands and feet and never be sure that Allah is going to be satisfied with your sacrifice.

What puts Christianity above all other religions is this: We have a Savior that has paid the price. Jesus is the only Person who claimed to be God, who performed miracles to prove His divinity, who died and rose from the dead, and most important—claimed to have the power to forgive sins.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).


nmRapture-Resistance Reasoning

While those who truly grasp the lateness of the hour and what the issues and events of these strange, troubled times mean, there is the overwhelming majority that hasn’t a clue. This is neither surprising nor unexpected, because the vast part of the world’s population is in spiritual darkness–without Christ, therefore without the Holy Spirit to guide thinking and comportment.

There are millions upon millions of others who are within Christendom–that is, who claim to be under the umbrella of Christianity. Most of these, statistics bear out, would not qualify as “Christian” under the definition of being “born again.” That is, they haven’t truly “believed” as given in Romans 10:9-10:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

It is not my place–nor the place of any other person to say who is and isn’t “saved” on an individual basis. However, we are to definitely hold to what the Bible tells us are the qualifications for becoming a child of God who will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. In the sense of discernment, we can say that those who hold to those biblical qualifications are “saved” and those who do not hold to those qualifications are not.

We will deal in this essay with those who fit within the category defined by the above prescription for being born again. I would like to get even more specific.

Among those who are truly born again, there are many views of how things will play out, prophetically speaking. At the same time, there are also many who don’t know and many who don’t care about prophecy–what God has foretold about their future. They are too busy living out their increments of life one heartbeat and breath at a time.

Sadly, the latter by far constitute the majority. That is, most don’t know about Bible prophecy, and most don’t care. They are aided and abetted in their willful ignorance by the pastors and Bible teachers within their church bodies in this disregard for the prophetic portion of God’s Word. That prophetic Word is almost one-third of the Scripture the Lord has given us through His Love Letter to mankind.

Even more specifically, I want to concentrate for the moment on the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church–that twinkling of an eye moment Paul wrote about as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52-55.

Of those who have truly been born again, there are few in number who know about the Rapture in concrete terms or who grasp that there will come that moment of being called into Heaven by their Lord. In America, even those who do understand that the Rapture is an event prophetically scheduled according to the Bible resist embracing the promise intrinsic within the doctrine of that imminent call from Christ. That is, rather than desire to hear Christ’s call, “Come up here,” (Revelation 4: 1) these want to first live life on earth and fulfill all of the anticipated pleasures it offers. It is primarily this group of believers to whom I address the thoughts that follow.

Notice, please, that I wrote as a qualifier, “in America.. It is in America that this attitude of not embracing the Rapture among Christians is most pronounced. Proof of that statement is made clear through the thousands upon thousands of sermons that are preached each week. The number of prophetic messages amongst those thousands of sermons are infinitesimal. People don’t want to hear that Christ’s call is imminent. The pastors–in overwhelming numbers–demonstrate that they don’t want to delve into that portion of Bible truth–even if, indeed, they in fact believe that the Rapture is an imminent event.

Not desiring the Rapture is, for American believers, as natural as breathing. Life in the United States is not bad, and for the most part, pretty comfortable. Compared to living as a Christian in, say, the Middle East, Africa, or other parts of the world, being a Christian requires that no heavy price be paid. That is what I mean when I say it is as natural as breathing.

Christians in America, unlike their counterparts in less blessed, heavily oppressed, persecuted parts of the world, rather than worrying about whether they will be able to provide food for themselves and their children for the day, look forward to their upcoming marriages, vacations, or new purchases that will satisfy their latest comfortable lifestyle aspirations. These physical and psychological wants and needs are the natural outflow from abundance. Longing for the Rapture is a spiritual–supernatural–exercise that requires, for most, effort that seems to offer no tangible, immediate gratification. Such effort is just too taxing for most of America’s Christians and their pastors. It takes them out of their comfort zone, much as does prayer and Bible reading.

When American Christians in this category do think of the Rapture–which, again, they in fact believe is a thing that will happen, but somewhere in the hazy years of the future–they fear it will take them away from the pleasures of this earthly life. That event will, they think, snatch them from their comfortable American lifestyle. It will present a completely changed paradigm–one that will cause them to lose homes, family closeness, friendships, other relationships, and their “stuff”–all of which provides familiarity and pleasure.

This is especially true among the younger people. Their disinterest in prophecy in general and in the Rapture of the church in particular is more than obvious in the make-up of prophecy conferences. I can’t see any longer, due to a retinal disease, but am told that the conferences are almost without exception attended nearly exclusively by those with gray hair.

Now, I’ve been perhaps too harsh on Christians in America. However, we are approaching the very end of this Church Age. The perhaps overly stern exhortation is to focus attention on the reality that we might within months, weeks, days, or even hours, look our Lord in His holy, omniscient eyes. He said He was going to prepare a place for us and would come again and take us there with Him (John 14:1-3). That “place” is something we can’t even begin to fathom in its wonders and luxuriant surroundings. All of the relationships in this life we thought we might lose in the Rapture will be magnified in their joy and intimacy a million times over. We are going to find that all earthly treasures we so valued are as refuse compared to things the Lord has prepared for those that love Him.

I sense that the newlywed couple who belong to Christ will find their relationship with each other dazzlingly more intimate than anything planet earth could have nurtured. The “stuff” left behind will be instantly forgotten when we behold the heavenly treasury that holds us spellbound. The best days of our lives in this earthly confinement will seem as a time of terrible, debilitating paralysis. The Rapture will instantaneously bring life unencumbered by gravity and all laws of what we know as physics. The Lord put us here to enjoy the many good things He provides. There’s nothing wrong in living life to its absolute fullest. But, this is not our home. We are but travelers in a foreign land. We are here for, at best, 70, 80, 90, or 100 years, then we slip these surly bonds.

We, as God’s children, should not resist the doctrine of Rapture, but anticipate that glorious instant when the whole purpose of our being born into this universe reaches fruition. We will at that incomprehensible moment understand what it means to be joint heirs with Christ. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!