Testimony of Former Iranian Prisoners Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh

Watch this inspiring interview with Maryam and Marziyeh at HTB Church, London. In 2009 in Iran, Maryam and Marziyeh were imprisoned and sentenced to death because of their Christian faith. Maryam and Marziyeh were born into Muslim families but converted to Christianity and began to share the Gospel with those around them. They were arrested in March 2009 after being accused of evangelism and apostasy. After 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison they were released.

** Maryam and Marziyeh’s book called, ‘Captive In Iran‘ is available on Amazon Here

When I Say I’m a Christian

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost sometimes
That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble –
needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak
and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed
and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible
but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache
which is why I seek God’s name

When I say, “I am a Christian”
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority
I only know I’m loved.

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©1988 Carol Wimmer All Rights Reserved / Picture from Pexels

The Final Message


“And He said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” ‭‭

(Revelation‬ ‭22:10-21‬ ‭NASB)

7 Characteristics of the Bride

 

Seven Characteristics of the Bride of Christ

The Bride (Wisdom), we read builds her house on SEVEN PILLARS. These seven pillars are listed for us in James 3:17, and the true church is built on these pillars. By these characteristics, we can identify the Bride of Christ anywhere:

Purity : The first and most important pillar in the true church is purity. This is not a hollow pillar of a merely external purity. No. It is solid through and through. It is purity of the heart, and it grows from the seed of the fear of God deep within the heart. It is not by clever brains but by pure hearts that the true church of Christ is built. We cannot build the church if we don’t have spiritual revelation on God and His ways – and only the pure in heart will be allowed to see God in their hearts (Matthew 5:8).

Peaceableness : Righteousness and peace always go together. They are twins. The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace (Romans 14:17). True wisdom is never argumentative or quarrelsome. It does not strive. It maintains harmonious relationships with everyone, as far as possible. It is impossible to quarrel with a man who is filled with Divine wisdom, for such a man is a peaceable man. He may be firm and he may be hated by compromisers. But he is always peaceable. Jesus told His disciples that when they travel to preach the gospel, they should stay only in the house of “men of peace” (Luke 10:5-7). We must be men of peace, if we are to build God’s house.

Consideration : The Bride of Christ is always fair to others, gentle, patient, forbearing and courteous. She is never harsh or rough but always considerate of the feelings of others. When the church is supported by this pillar, it becomes easy to bear with one another – even if some are slow of understanding or crude in their manners. The problem, we begin to realise, is not the crudeness of our brother or sister, but the impatience that dwells within us. And so we fight the right enemy – our Self-life – and not our brothers and sisters.

Willingness to Yield : One who cannot receive admonishment and exhortation, or who feels that he has gone beyond that stage, is truly foolish, even if he is an elder or an older man ( Ecclesiastes 4:13). In India especially, many people have the heathen idea that “older people are wiser”. This may be true in earthly matters but certainly not in spiritual matters. Jesus did not choose any of the older people in the synagogues to be his apostles. He chose young men. Older people in the church often find it difficult to receive exhortation from a younger brother who may be the elder in the church and also far more godly. But that is because of their pride. Those who are willing to receive correction become wise (Proverbs 13:10). And so where the brothers and sisters in a church are eager to receive exhortation and correction, a truly glorious church will be built. The wise man loves those who exhort him faithfully and will eagerly seek out their company. ‘Submit to one another’ (Ephesians 5:21) are the words written on this pillar.

Fullness of Mercy and its Good Fruits : The Bride of Christ is full of mercy – not just occasionally merciful. She has no problem forgiving anyone, freely and cheerfully from the heart. She does not judge or condemn others, but rather exercises compassion towards them like her Bridegroom. This mercy is not just a mental attitude but finds expression in good fruits that are brought forth in her actions. She does good in all the ways she can to all the people she can at all the times she can.

Steadfastness : A brother who has Divine wisdom will be free from all crookedness. He will be wholehearted and straightforward, with a single eye, free from doubts and hesitation. He will not be double-minded, but strong in faith in God, and he won’t be looking at his own weaknesses, but at the promises of God. Such a brother knows that victory over all conscious sin is possible here and now. He is a dependable person – who can be trusted at all times to keep his word. He is steadfast and unmovable. You cannot make him bend his convictions or to compromise in any matter. He is straight and upright as a rod.

Freedom from Hypocrisy : The Bride has more spiritual content inwardly than others can see in her externally. Her hidden life is better than the opinion that others have of her external life. This is the exact opposite of the ‘spiritual adulteress’ or the ‘Harlot,’ whose so-called spirituality is only meant for receiving the honour of men. What she has is actually ‘religiosity’ and not true spirituality. The bride watches her inner thoughts, motives and attitudes far more than her external words and actions. She longs for God’s approval over her inner life and cares nothing at all for man’s approval of her external life. By this test, each of us can know whether we are part of the Bride or of the Harlot.

The Bride of Christ has the seed of wisdom implanted in her heart and so she will have these seven characteristics growing in her year by year. Although she is still far from perfect, she is pressing on and growing towards perfection.

————————————————————

**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/ 

**Photo by Secret Garden at Pexel

8 Reasons Why Obedience to God Is Important

8 Reasons Why Obedience to God Is Important

1. Jesus Calls Us to Obedience: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15, ESV)

2. Obedience Is an Act of Worship: And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1, NLT)

3. God Rewards Obedience: Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28, NLT) But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:22–25, NLT)

4. Obedience to God Proves Our Love: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1 John 5:2–3, ESV)Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. (2 John 6, NLT)

5. Obedience to God Demonstrates Our Faith: And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3–6, NLT)

6. Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice: But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshipping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22–23, NLT)

7. Disobedience Leads to Sin and Death: For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Christ’s] obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19, ESV)For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22, ESV)

8. Through Obedience, We Experience the Blessings of Holy Living: Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me! (Psalm 119:1–8, NLT)This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore—too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.” (Isaiah 48:17–19, NLT)

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. (2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT)


**By Fairchild, Mary. “Why Is Obedience to God Important?” Learn Religions, Aug. 28, 2020, learnreligions.com/obedience-to-god-701962.

The Modernist Preacher

The Modernist Preacher

He was an ordained minister, but modern in his views.
He preached his twisted doctrines to people in the pews.
He would not hurt their feelings, whatever the cost would be,
But for their smiles and friendship and compliments sought he.
His church was filled with wicked souls that should be saved from sin,
But never once he showed the way or tried a soul to win.
He preached about the lovely birds that twitter in the trees,
The babbling of the running brooks, the murmuring of the seas.

He quoted fancy poetry that tickled listening ears
When sorrow came to some, he tried to laugh away their tears.
His smooth and slippery sermons made the people slide to hell.
The harm he did by preaching goes beyond what we can tell.
He took our Holy Bible, and preached it full of holes,
The Virgin Birth, said he, can’t be believed by honest souls,
The miracles of Jesus and the resurrection tale
For educated ones like us, today, cannot avail.
We’re living in an age, said he, when wisdom rules and reigns,
When man’s intelligence is great and superstition wanes.

He said, we’re all God’s children who live upon this earth,
No message of salvation, no need of second birth.
His coat was bought with money that he had wrongly gained,
For through his twisted sermons his wealth he had obtained.
He was just like the Roman soldiers that watched at Jesus’ grave,
For money in abundance, to them, the people gave;
It all was theirs by telling what was a sinful lie–
A resurrected Saviour, they too, were to deny.

The day at last had come for the minister to die,
When to his congregation, he had to say good-bye.
His form lay cold and lifeless, his ministry was past,
His tongue with all its poison was hushed and stilled at last.
His funeral was grand; he was lauded to the skies–
They preached him into heaven where there are no good-byes.
Upon the lonely hill, underneath the shady trees,
His form was laid to rest in the whispering of the breeze.

A tombstone was erected with words: “He is at rest,
He’s gone to heaven’s glories to live among the blest.”
His body now is lifeless, but Ah! His soul lives on,
He failed to enter in where they thought that he had gone.
The letters on the tombstone or that sermon some had heard,
Could not decide his destiny, ’twas not the final word.
He still had God to deal with, the one who knows the heart;
While others entered heaven, he heard the word, “Depart.”

He pauses for a moment upon the brink of hell;
He stares into a depth where he evermore will dwell.
He hears the cries and groanings of souls he had misled,
He recognizes faces among the screaming dead.
He sees departed deacons which he had highly praised.
Their fingers pointing at him as they their voices raised:
“You stood behind the pulpit, and lived in awful sin,
We took you for a saint, but a liar you have been.”
Accusing cries! He hears them, “Ah! You have been to blame,
You led us into darkness when you were seeking fame.”

“You preached your deadly doctrine, we thought you knew the way.
We fed you and we clothed you, we even raised your pay.
You’ve robbed us of a home where no tear-drops ever flow,
Where days are always fair and the heavenly breezes blow.
Where living streams are flowing, and saints and angels sing,
Where everyone is happy, and hallelujahs ring.
We’re in this place of torment, from which no soul returns;
We hear the cry of lost ones, we feel the sizzling burns;
Give us a drop of water, we’re tortured in this flame;
You failed to preach salvation to us through Jesus’ name.”

The preacher turns in horror, he tries to leave the scene,
He knows the awful future for every soul unclean,
But there he meets the devil, whom he has served so well,
He feels the demon powers as they drag him into hell.
Throughout eternal ages, his groans, too, must be heard.
He, too, must suffer torment–he failed to heed God’s Word.
He feels God’s wrath upon him, he hears the hot flames roar,
His doctrine now is different, he ridicules no more.

By Oscar C. Eliason

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*A Clear Gospel Message

How To Pray For The Unsaved

How To Pray For The Unsaved…

1. For God to have mercy upon them

2. For God to lift the veil off them and give them revelation of who He is

3. For their hearts to be prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive His truth

4. For their spiritual eyes and ears to be opened

5. For Godly people to come across their pathway each day – who are ready in season and out of season to give their testimony led by the guidance of the Holy Spirit

6. That God would cast down anything in them that’s exalting itself against the knowledge of Him, especially pride and rebellion

7. To take down all known strongholds, thought patterns and opinions that goes against God’s will and Word

8. To bind Satan from taking them captive, and to bind all wicked thoughts and lies Satan will try to place in their mind

9. For their protection, uprooting any traps and snares lay wait for them by Satan and his minions

10. To bring healing and restoration to them mentally, physically and most of all spiritually

11. For God to give them a spirit of repentance and forgiveness (of others)

12. And that they come to know the Lord as their personal Lord and Saviour and soon coming King!

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**How to be saved – The Path To Salvation: HERE

Jesus Quarantined

Jesus went on a Self-isolation in the grave for our sins

He was unduly quarantined even though He tested negative to sin

His Resurrection from His Isolation Centre after three days formed the foundation for our release from the lockdown by sin.

Anyone who has been infected by the virus of sin can be sanitized and recovered through the vaccine of the Blood of Jesus.

He will subsequently live a Victorious Life through the Ventilator of the Holy Spirit.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

**How to become a child of God

The Father’s Love Letter

The Father’s Love Letter
An intimate message from God to YOU.

My Child,
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3 

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad. Almighty God

Father’s Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications ©1999 FathersLoveLetter.com


**How to be saved: The Path To Salvation, please click: HERE

Saved Out of the New Age

We all have our stories to tell of how we came to know Christ, and I always love to hear them, as they’re never the same. The Lord works in miraculous ways, wooing us and convicting us via His Holy Spirit, as Titus 3:5 states ‘He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’.

I grew up in a dysfunctional secular household in London, England. I had a warped view of spirituality from a young age and this led me to seek ‘higher truth’ in my own way. I was bit of a magpie grabbing onto whatever fit in with the way I wanted to live my life, till eventually I came across a movement called the New Age which derived from the East. A movement which heavily into improving, ‘the self’ and worshipping ‘the self’ through a wide range of spiritual beliefs and practices. I latched onto it and ran, even qualifying as a life coach in such matters. 

I was into self-help books, astrology, tarot cards, mediums; I believed in reincarnation and studied past life regression. I was into reaching higher states of consciousness through meditation, which I learned through yoga, in turn making me curious about the yogi teachers themselves. I believed there were many paths to God and it didn’t matter what religion you practiced, as it all led to the same place and that it was a personal choice on how you chose to get there. 

I was running wild, partying, clubbing, drinking, shopping, consumed by the image beast. I was careless and reckless in my behaviour, mixing with the wrong crowds. I wore a mask to the world, not wanting to be me, as deep down I was wounded, lacking self-esteem. I was in the miry clay, the pit of sin. I was on fire for the devil and running away from life.

 I got to a point that all the doors closed in on me, and everything that could go wrong, went terribly wrong. I was caught between a rock and a hard place and went through a serious bought of depression. I was broken and wounded, and felt like I had no one to turn too. In my pain suicidal thoughts wrecked havoc on my mind. When I had a realisation of the selfishness of this act, I had a feeling of remorse and that I was ‘not right’ as a person; and that I was a self-pitying evil mess and I just randomly started to repent of my sins. I didn’t realise at the time what I was doing, but I know now. And Jesus in the midst of my pain reached out to me and gave me peace. In Psalm 34:18 it says ‘The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a Christian as the Lord is no respecter of persons. In my pain and torment, I just knew to cry out. That night the Lord took the broken pieces of my life, and mended me together again. What months of therapy couldn’t do, Jesus did overnight, He healed me. The following morning, I looked at the world with fresh eyes, I felt like a new person. 

I knew it was Jesus because of the prayers my grandmother had been giving me to read in the midst of my pain; she was always watching the religious channel and as I was staying with her at the time, something must’ve unconsciously sunk in. Because of this I wanted to know more about Him and started to read the Bible, I always thought that he was some sort of teacher, like one of the gurus from my meditative yoga practices. And as it says in Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” So, I sought Him. I’d heard about Jesus, the great teacher, the Hollywood Jesus with the blonde hair and blue eyes, the baby catholic Jesus, the Muslim Isa the prophet, but it’s not until that night in my room when I was seeking for ways to take my life that I came to know the real Jesus, the Son of God! 

Soon after I found myself working abroad, and was led to a Christian volunteer charity worker, who was a pastor. He showed me some verses in the bible, that really spoke to my heart like, Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ.” and also Deuteronomy 18:9-14, among others. I had to renounce the new age religion and repent properly of my sins. I had to personally invite Jesus into my life. So I did, as Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). It was the goodness of God that brought me to repentance (Romans 2:4). 

 Since becoming a Christian that hole in my heart that I tried to fill with the empty things of this world started to slowly get filled with Jesus, as something in the spirit realm had taken place, the third heaven, God’s Kingdom. I started to build upon this relationship with prayer, just talking to the Lord. And I began reading and looking for guidance via His Word the Bible, His love letter to the world. The Bible is living, it’s breathing, and it’s sharp and active, like a double-edged sword. And when it goes into your soul, it cuts things, it breaks things, and it changes things. It weeds out the garden of your heart so it’s pleasant for the Lord to reside there. 

When I realised how much I’d been deceived it shook me to my core, but my journey didn’t end there, it was only the beginning… The Bible says in John 8:32, ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ 

 Lori McPherson

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**My full testimony is called “BLINDSIDED” and is available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback

**How to be saved: The Path To Salvation, please click: HERE

A Clear Gospel Message

“I gave you the message that I received. I told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; 4 that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day…” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

In this article, I want to explain what it means to be “born again” – or to be “saved”.

Repentance is the first step to this experience. But in order to repent (turn from sin) you must first know what sin is. There is a lot of false understanding of repentance among Christians today, because there is a lot of false understanding of sin.

The standards in Christianity have come down greatly in these past few decades. The “gospel” being preached today by most preachers is a highly diluted version of the truth. People are being told only to believe in Jesus. But believing in Jesus alone will not save anyone, if they do not repent.

Being born again is the foundation of the Christian life. If you live a good life, without laying this foundation, then your Christianity will be just like all the other religions in the world – that also teach people to live a good life. We must certainly live a good life. But that is the superstructure of Christianity – not its foundation. The foundation is being born again. We must all begin there.

Jesus used the expression “born again” in John 3:3, when speaking to Nicodemus who was a religious leader and a God-fearing man who lived uprightly. Yet Jesus told him, “Unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). So we see that to enter God’s kingdom you need to have a spiritual birth, even if you are a very good man! Jesus then told him that He (Jesus) would be lifted up on a cross to die and that those who believed in Him would receive eternal life (John 3:14,16).

Jesus went on to tell him that men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). But those who are honest would come into the light and be saved (John 3:21). To be born again, you must come into the light. That means being honest with God and confessing your sins to Him. Obviously, you cannot remember all the sins that you have committed. But you must acknowledge that you are a sinner and tell God whatever sins you remember.

Sin is a very big thing and you can see only a very small part of it in your life, at first. That is something like your living in a large country of which you have seen only a very small part. But as you turn from the sins that you know, you will gradually see more and more of this “country of sin” in your own life. As you walk in the light, you will see more of your sin – and you can then cleanse yourself more and more from it. So you must walk in honesty before God all the time.

To use another illustration: You are living in a house that has many dirty rooms. You want the Lord Jesus to come and live in your house. But He cannot live in dirty rooms. So He helps you to clean up each room – one by one. Little by little, the whole house is cleaned up. That is how we grow in holiness in the Christian life.

The apostle Paul once said that everywhere he went, he preached the same message to everyone: Repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). These are the two requirements to lay a good foundation in your life and to be born again. God has joined repentance and faith together. But most Christian preachers have separated them. Repentance has been left out from most of today’s gospel-preaching. Only faith is being preached by most preachers.

But if you have only faith, you cannot be born again. That is like saying that a woman cannot have a child, all by herself, no matter how hard she tries. A man also cannot have a child all by himself. A man and a woman have to come together for a child can be born. Even so, it is when repentance and faith come together that a spiritual child is born – that the new birth can take place in your spirit. This spiritual birth is just as real as physical birth – and it also takes place in a moment. It is not gradual.

There may be months of preparation for the new birth – just as there are months of preparation for physical birth. But the new birth itself (just like physical birth) takes place in a moment. Some Christians do not know the date of their new birth. I do not know the date of my own new birth. But that is just like not knowing the date of one’s physical birth. That is not a serious matter – if one is alive!! In the same way, the important thing is to know for certain that you are alive in Christ today.

Are we being narrow-minded when we say that Jesus is the only way to God?

Let me answer that with an illustration: Someone who has never seen my father (or even a picture of my father), cannot know what my father looks like. In the same way, we who have never seen God cannot know anything about Him or the way to Him. Jesus Christ however, came from God. And so He alone can show us the way to God.” He said “I am the way. No one can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

When we think about Jesus’ claim to be the ONLY WAY to God the Father, we have to say that either what He said was true or He was a liar and a deceiver. Who would dare to say that He was a liar and a deceiver? It is not enough to say that Jesus was just a good man or a prophet. No. He is God Himself – and not just a good man. He couldn’t possibly be a good man if He were a liar or a deceiver! So we conclude that Jesus was indeed God in human form.

All truth is narrow-minded. In mathematics, 2 + 2 is always 4. We cannot be broadminded and accept 3 or 5 also as possible answers. We cannot even accept 3.9999. If we accept such variations of the truth, our mathematical calculations will go wrong. In the same way, we know that the earth revolves around the sun. If we decide to be “broadminded” and accept some theory that says that the sun also revolves around the earth, our astronomical calculations will go wrong. Likewise, in chemistry, H2O is water. We cannot be broadminded and say that H2O is also salt!! So we see that truth is absolute in every area and very narrow-minded. It is so, even in the matter of God. Broadmindedness can bring serious errors in mathematics, in astronomy and in chemistry – and also in knowing the truth about God.

The Bible teaches that all human beings are sinners – and Jesus died for sinners. So, if you come to Jesus as a “Christian” , He will not forgive your sins, because He did not die for Christians! He died for sinners. The only person who can be forgiven is the one who comes to Jesus and says “Lord, I am a sinner” . You cannot come to Jesus as a member of any religion and be forgiven, because He died for sinners. If you come to Him as a sinner, then your sins can be forgiven immediately.

It’s easy for all of us to know that we are sinners – because God has given us all a conscience. Children have a very sensitive conscience, that makes them aware of wrong very quickly. But as they grow up, that conscience can become hard and insensitive. When a 3-year old child tells a lie, his face looks guilty because his conscience is guilty. But 15 years later, he can tell a lie with a straight face, because he killed his conscience by repeatedly ignoring its voice. The soles of a baby’s foot are so soft that it can feel even the stroking of a feather. But the soles of the feet of adults are so hard that they don’t feel even the poke of a pin until it is pressed in hard. This is what happens to their conscience too, as they grow up.

Conscience is a voice that God has placed within us, that tells us that we are moral beings. It gives us an elementary understanding of right and wrong. And so it is a wonderful gift of God. Jesus called it “the eye of the heart” (Luke 11:34). If we don’t preserve this “eye” with care, we will become spiritually blind one day. Ignoring the pricks of conscience can be as dangerous as ignoring the particles of dust that enter your eye – one day you will become totally blind, spiritually.

When babies are born, none of them have any religion. They are all the same. Two years later, they are still the same – selfish and quarrelsome. But as time goes on, their parents indoctrinate them into different religions – and that is how they end up in different religions. In more than 90% of cases, a person’s religion is what his parents chose for him.

But God doesn’t look at us as people of different religions. He sees us all as sinners. Jesus came from heaven to earth to die for the sins of all humanity. He didn’t come for those who consider themselves good enough to enter God’s presence, but for those who acknowledge that they are sinners and unfit to enter God’s presence. Your conscience tells you that you are a sinner. So why should it be difficult to come to Jesus and say, “Lord, I am a sinner, I have done many wrong things in my life”?

A question that some may ask is, “Can’t a good God overlook our sins and forgive us, just like a father would forgive?” If a son broke (or lost) something valuable, and was sorry for it and apologised to his father, his father would forgive him. But these matters are not moral issues. If all our sins were just like these matters, then God would forgive us immediately. But sin is not like these matters. Sin is a crime.

If a man were a judge in a court and his own son was standing in front of him, accused of some crime, can he tell his son, “Son, I love you. I forgive you. I won’t punish you”? Any earthly judge with the slightest sense of justice, would never do such a thing. That sense of justice that we all have is a small part of the perfect justice of Almighty God, in whose likeness we have been made. So when we have done something seriously wrong, God as a judge, has to say to us, “I love you very much but you have committed a crime – and so I have to punish you.” In that court, however much the son may be sorry for his crime, his father still has to punish him, as a judge. Let us suppose that the boy had robbed a bank. The father fines him the full penalty of the law – say, one million rupees. Since the boy does not have the money to pay the fine, he has to go to jail! The father then steps down from the judge’s chair, takes off his judge’s robe and comes down. He takes out his personal check-book and writes a check for one million rupees (his entire life’s savings) and gives it to his son to pay the fine. Can his son accuse him now of not loving him? No! At the same time, no-one can accuse him of not being a just judge either, because he gave his son the full punishment that the law demanded. That is exactly what God did for us too. As a Judge He declared that we must all die for our sins. Then He came down as a Man and took that punishment Himself.

The Bible teaches us that even though God is One, He exists in Three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If God were just One Person, He could not possibly have vacated His throne in heaven and come down to earth as a man in the person of Jesus. Who would run the universe then? But because God exists as Three Persons, the Son could come to earth and die for our sins before the Father in heaven Who was the Judge. Some Christians baptize people in the name of “Jesus only” saying that there is only One Person in the Godhead – Jesus. This is a serious error. 1 John 2:22 says that anyone who denies the Father and the Son has the spirit of the antichrist. Because he then denies that God the Son came in human form as Jesus Christ, and denied his own human will and did the Father’s will and then took the punishment for our sins, before God the Father (1 John 4:2,3).

Jesus was fully God and fully man when He came to earth. When He died on the cross, He took the punishment for the sins of all humanity. The punishment for our sin is to be separated from God for eternity. And when Jesus hung on the cross, He was separated from His Father in heaven. Such separation is the most terrible suffering that any human being can ever suffer.

Hell is the only God-forsaken place in the universe. God is not there. And so in hell, all the evil in the devil manifests itself fully. That evil is what makes things so miserable for all who go to hell. Jesus experienced that punishment when He hung on the cross. He hung on the cross for 6 hours. But in the last 3 hours He was forsaken by God. The sun became dark and the earth shook. His connection with His Father in heaven was cut off. The Father is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3– and when Christ was forsaken, it was like having His head wrenched off. We cannot understand fully what an agony that was for Him.

If Jesus were merely a created being, He could not possibly have taken the punishment for the billions of human beings who have lived since Adam! For one man cannot be hanged in place of one billion murderers! But Jesus could take that punishment because He is the Infinite God.

Further, because He is infinite, He could also take an eternal punishment within three hours.

If Jesus Christ were not God, and God the Father had punished Him for our sin, that would have been a great injustice. God cannot punish one person for the crime of another, even if the person is willing to take the punishment. Your friend cannot take your punishment and be hanged in your place. That would be unjust. So if Jesus were merely a created being, and He was punished for our sins, that would have been the greatest injustice.

So it is clear that no created being could possibly have taken the punishment for our sins. God alone could take that punishment, because He is the Judge of the universe. He has the right to punish us – and He has the right to take our punishment Himself. And that is what He did, when He came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ. The foundation of the Christian faith lies in two great truths: First, that Christ died for the sins of humanity. Secondly, that He rose from the dead after three days.

If Christ did not rise from the dead, there would have been no proof that He was God. His rising from the dead was proof that all that He had said was true. No religious leader has ever claimed that he would die for the sins of the world. And no religious leader has ever risen from the dead. These two facts alone make Jesus Christ unique.

All religions may teach us to do good to others and to live in peace. But the Christian faith has an unique foundation: Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. If these two truths are removed from Christianity, then Christianity becomes just like any other religion. These two truths are what make Christianity unique.

We were all created by God to live for Him. But we have all lived for ourselves. So, when we come to God, we must come as repentant thieves who have stolen for many years, what belonged to God. We must come to Him with thankfulness for Christ dying for us, and believing that He rose from the dead and is alive today. We could not possibly pray to Jesus if He were not alive today – for you cannot pray to a dead person. But because Jesus rose from the dead, we can converse with Him.

After Christ rose from the dead, He ascended and returned to heaven. Then the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead came down to earth. The Holy Spirit is a real Person like Jesus Himself. He has come to earth to fill our lives with His presence. If we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, He can make us holy. When the Holy Spirit fills you, you will be enabled to live a life of victory over sin. No-one could live like that before the Holy Spirit came to indwell man – on the day of Pentecost. Before that, people could only improve their external lives. Their inner lives remained defeated by sin and unchanged. When the Holy Spirit fills you, God Himself lives inside you and He can enable you to live a godly life inwardly too.

The wonderful message of the gospel is that your heart can become totally clean when God forgives you and then Christ can live in you through His Spirit making your body the house of God.

I was speaking to a Christian once who was smoking cigarettes. I asked him if he would ever smoke a cigarette inside a church building? He said he would never do that because a church building was the house of God. I told him that it was his body that was the house of God and not some church-building. You would not commit adultery inside a church-building, would you? You would not watch internet pornography inside a church either. Your body is the house of God, when Christ lives within. So be careful what you do with the members of your body. Habits like smoking, drinking, taking harmful drugs and allowing impure thoughts to enter your mind will gradually destroy your body and your mind.

The Christian life is like a race. When we turn our back to sin and are born again, we come to the starting line of this race. Then begins a marathon race – until the end of our life. We run and run and run. And thus we get closer and closer to the finishing line each day. But we must never stop running.

Or to use another illustration: When we are born again, we lay the foundation for our house. After that we slowly build the superstructure – and this consists of many floors.

This is the best life you can ever live, because you gradually eliminate everything bad from your life and become more and more like God as each year goes by.

So what must you do to be born again?

First of all, acknowledge that you are a sinner. Don’t compare yourself with others and find any comfort in imagining that you are better than them. Sin is like a deadly poison. Whether you drink one drop or a hundred drops of poison, you still die. So, if you want to make a good start in your Christian life, acknowledge that you are no better than the worst sinner in the world. Then decide to turn from all known sin in your life.

Then believe in Christ. That means to commit yourself to Christ – and not just to believe something about Him in your mind. You can believe in someone without committing yourself to him. A bride is asked at her wedding, “Are you willing to commit yourself to this man?” Supposing she replied saying, “I believe he is a very good man. But I am not sure whether I want to commit my whole life and future to him”. Then she cannot be married to him, because she does not have faith in him. When a woman gets married, her whole life’s direction changes. She changes her last name to the man’s last name. She leaves her parents’ home and goes to live with her husband. She may not know where he will live, but she trusts her entire future to him. She has faith in him. That is a picture of what it means to have faith in Christ.

The word “Christian” (to put it reverently) means “Mrs. Christ”! My wife could take my name only after she married me. In the same way, you can take Christ’s name and call yourself a “Christian” only if you are married to Him. If some lady took my name without being married to me and called herself “Mrs. Zac Poonen,” that would be a lie. In the same way, anyone who calls himself a Christian, without being married to Christ is also telling a lie.

A marriage is forever and not just for a few days. In the same way, being a Christian also is a lifetime commitment. Total commitment to Christ, does not mean that you have become perfect. When a woman gets married, she does not promise that she will never make a mistake in her life. She will make many mistakes, but her husband will forgive her. But she promises that she is going to live with her husband forever. That is a picture of our union with Christ.

The next step you must take is water-baptism. Getting baptized is something like getting a marriage certificate. You cannot get married by just getting a marriage certificate. Neither can you become a Christian by getting baptized. It is only after you are married that you can get a marriage certificate. Even so, it is only after you have given yourself to Christ that you can take baptism. In baptism, you are testifying that you have finished with your old life and have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life.

Good husbands and wives talk a lot to each other. So you too must talk to Jesus and listen to Him as He talks to you through the Bible, every day.

A good wife will never do anything that makes her husband unhappy. She will want to do everything in fellowship with him. A true Christian also will not do anything that displeases Christ – like watching a movie that Jesus would not watch. He would not do anything that he cannot do along with Jesus Christ

Can you be certain that you are born again? Yes. Romans 8:16 says that when you are born again, the Holy Spirit of God will bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God.

This is a wonderful life – because we are living with the best Friend anyone can ever have. We will never be lonely, because Jesus will be with us always and everywhere. We can share our problems with Him and ask Him to help us solve them. It is a life full of joy and one that is freed from anxiety and fear – because Jesus holds our future in His hands.

If you want to be born again, say these words to the Lord in sincerity from your heart, right now:

Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God. I am a sinner who deserves hell. Thank You for loving me and dying for my sins on the cross. I believe You rose from the dead and are living today. I want to turn from my sinful life right now. Please forgive me all my sins and give me a hatred for sin. I forgive everyone who has harmed me in any way. Come into my life Lord Jesus, and be the Lord of my life from today onwards. Make me a child of God right now.”

God’s Word says, “As many as received Christ, to them He gave the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12). The Lord Jesus says, I will never reject anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37). 

So you can be certain that He has accepted you.

Then you can thank Him saying, “Thank you Lord Jesus, for forgiving me and receiving me. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me power to live for You. I want to please You alone from today onwards.”

You should now read God’s Word every day and ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit daily. You also need to fellowship with other born-again Christians. Only thus will you grow in the Christian life and have the power to continue following the Lord. So ask the Lord to direct you to a good church.

May the Lord bless you richly.

**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/ 

Why I Don’t Celebrate Halloween

One of my children recently came home reciting this rhyme learned while at school. “Witches, ghosts, and goblins, walking down the street Knock on every doorway, ‘Trick or treat!’”

I was shocked by how my child, in all innocence, could sing so casually and trivially about such scary things. I also noticed that this song grouped ghost and goblins which are not real, with witches. I realized that this song sought to group witches into that same silly, not-real category.

Some people think of witches as women with pointed-hats and a broom, or witch-doctors in a jungle. But there is a very active and fast-growing religion called Wicca, where its witches (and wizards) seek to cast spells. Wicca is not some ancient Gaelic religion from the middle ages. It is an active religion practiced across the world today, and very present in the areas where many of us live. Some statistics indicate that Wicca is one of the fastest-growing religions in the U.S.A.

And here is what Wikipedia says about Wicca and Halloween:

Wiccans celebrate a variation of Samhain (October 31) as one of the yearly Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year. It is deemed by most Wiccans to be the most important of the four “greater Sabbats”. Samhain is seen by some Wiccans as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have died, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the dead are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the spring festival of Beltane, which Wiccans celebrate as a festival of light and fertility. Wiccans believe that at Samhain the veil between this world and the afterlife is at its thinnest point of the whole year, making it easier to communicate with those who have left this world.

As Christians, we must be careful that practices from the religious festivals of Wicca do not influence us in any way. We do not find Hindus mixing the practices of Muslims in their festivals that honor Vishnu. Neither do we find Muslims adopting the practices of Hindus in their celebration of Ramadan. Different religions believe very different things, and have different practices.

The Bible is very clear that witchcraft is real and powerful and also evil (Read Revelation 21:81 Samuel 15:23Deuteronomy 18:10-13Isaiah 8:19; and 1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

As Christians, we know that there are powers of darkness in the spirit world. So what must we do when the world trivializes what the Bible describes as evil? It should trouble us deeply. And even more so when we see the god of this world system (the devil) seeking to influence our highly-impressionable children, and to write his values into their minds.
When I later told all my children that Jesus instructed us to have nothing to do with witches, a response I got was stunning: “But there are good witches, Dad!” That was also something that had been picked up from school!! This un-Biblical point of view had slipped in. So I realized that I had to stand guard against the dangerously-deceptive logic of this world system.

There is no such thing as a “good witch” for Christians.The Bible tells us that God alone is good and that witchcraft is evil. Good and evil are polar opposites. So a “good witch” is just the devil coming as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Christians must have no contact even remotely with witchcraft in any form, because it will open them up to the god of this world (the devil) – and he is far shrewder than all men. Only the Holy Spirit can help a Christian against the tactics of Satan. All our good intentions will not help us, if we disobey the Scriptures. So no matter how good we may think we are (and no matter how sincere we may be), we can still be destroyed if we don’t hate all evil and stay far away from it (See Proverbs 14:12).

The Western world’s view of Halloween is greatly influenced by the religious values of Wicca. Halloween is a celebration of darkness in the world today. A walk down my neighborhood or a visit to the local grocery store around Halloween time readily confirms this. The world is preaching a Halloween that aligns itself with Wicca.

Western culture today seeks to make witches and witchcraft seem normal. Whether with the concept of good witches, or the wildly-popular Harry Potter novels/movies, Western culture is increasingly accepting of witchcraft. And the fun and carefree festival of Halloween acts as a perfect springboard to aid in this acceptance. I am convinced that Halloween is the “fun gateway” that Satan has opened for people to eventually dabble in the spiritually-evil practices of witchcraft.

So what must we Christians do with a holiday that another religion celebrates as the “festival of darkness”?

As Bible-believing Christians, we give freedom to other religions to do as they see fit. But we must not associate with evil, in any way. We must live with great discernment in our time – because deception is increasing everywhere (See 2 Timothy 3:13). We must nip the normalization of witchcraft early on and stand strong against every attempt of the devil to slip this religion of Wicca into our homes.

When another religion celebrates darkness and focuses on communicating with dead spirits, what does the Lord expect us to do? Can we just go along with the external fun of this holiday, when we know that at its core, this is a festival that explicitly glorifies the powers of darkness and the enemy of our souls?

The devil has masterfully sought to rebrand Halloween as harmless, so that he can encourage people into the blatant pursuit of evil. He did the same thing when he got Adam and Eve to sin (Genesis 3:1-6). October 31st is a day where darkness is openly and blatantly pursued. But many “Christians” drown themselves on that day in an ocean of candy and dress-up costumes. This is textbook-deception: Satan is saying, “I’ll numb you with candy and gifts on Halloween, so that you are distracted from fighting the spiritual havoc I am causing through the glorification and open practice of witchcraft! And eventually, I will rob you even of eternal life.” (Eternal life being the increasing knowledge of God and of Jesus – John 17:3).

I am convinced that only one group of people can fight these supernatural powers of darkness: Christians who walk in the Light of God’s Word alone are uniquely equipped to overcome these forces (1 John 1:3,7)!

So let the world call us narrow-minded or radical. We will remain alert and watchful against all deception. And we will teach our children also to be alert to these Satanic deceptions (even if their friends at school laugh at them or consider them weird). Satan seeks to work on children, slowly and craftily over the years, to the point where they will become increasingly comfortable with open darkness and evil. Our children need to learn from an early age how to combat Satan’s deceptions; and our children are watching us, their parents, to see how we do it!

What shall we say then to Christians who want to celebrate Halloween? At a minimum, I would suggest that you clearly determine why and how you celebrate it. Ask yourself whether you would do things differently if you knew that your neighbors and the folks on your street were Wiccans celebrating the spirits of darkness on Halloween. Judge yourself and ensure that you walk in the light that God gives you. That is all that you are asked to do. You will be judged based on the motives and intents of your heart, and whether you lived by your conscience.

America as a culture seems to live mostly unaware of the spirit world. I have seen that cultures that are more open to idolatry, are much more aware of the spirit world. I grew up in India, and I saw witchcraft and evil spirits several times. I even watched as a neighbor hired a witch to sit in their backyard and cast spells on us (the spells didn’t work and had an opposite effect; they served to show me the powerful protection available in Jesus Christ, who defeated Satan on the cross – Colossians 2:14-15)!

I will not be surprised if rationally-obsessed people laugh off my thoughts about the spirit world. But that world is real and more powerful than most people imagine. And I don’t base this statement on my own experience. The Bible is crystal clear about it. Our Lord Jesus drove out evil spirits from people more than anyone else did.

If I succeed in getting you to honor Jesus Christ on October 31st in a bigger way than before, then I would have achieved my primary purpose in writing this.

May God open your eyes more and more to these realities in the spirit world.

**By Sandeep Poonen © Copyright – Sandeep Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/ 

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A Clear Gospel Message