Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Miracles are relatively sparse in the west because of widespread nihilism in the western church


Paul Ciniraj is the director of Bibles for Mideast, which delivers Bibles, preaches the Gospel and plants house churches in the strife-torn region. He says, while Islam remains dominant, “thousands upon thousands of people now secretly believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.” House churches the group establishes are under the banner of the nondenominational Assembly of Loving God Church. A convert from Islam, pastor Paul founded the work some four decades ago and has survived a battle with leukemia. A nine-member board of directors governs the ministry.

As he reports here,

About three weeks ago, I was changing my wet clothes after an early-morning baptism service for one of our churches. Suddenly, militants began stoning me and our group. My head was severely injured and bloodied, and a number of others sustained injuries as well.

Believers rushed me to the nearest hospital. An examination showed serious damage to my skull, so I was transferred to a specialist hospital for immediate surgery. Authorities there, however, refused to do surgery before receiving payment. My poor believing friends somehow managed to comply.

The Islamic militants who had attacked us discovered I was undergoing treatment in that hospital, and plotted to kill me. So the believers shifted me from the hospital to Pastor Ayyoob’s house in a nearby forested area.

Pastor Ayyoob lives there with his wife, two young children and 80-year-old mother. Two believers joined us to help care for me. So the eight of us stayed there—with no internet,, electricity, pipe water, or even proper bathrooms.  For primary things we used the forest areas and a nearby river.

My colleague Susanna managed the website and prayer requests during this time, and I thank and praise God for her service during this difficult period.

Believers secretly visited me at the forest home, and we would have prayer services together. I stayed there about three weeks.

Last Sunday (April 16, Easter Sunday), we were in the midst of our worship service with Pastor Ayyoob leading. Suddenly, a group of militants reached the house, armed with steel bars and other weapons. We had no idea what to do.

I still hadn’t (and have not) fully recovered from the surgery. Pastor Ayyoob’s mother is an elderly, sick woman. We also had two children below four years old with us, and a woman seven months pregnant who came for the service.

Militants had found the house by noticing the people attempting to visit me secretly and coming for prayers.

Losing all hope, we thought for sure this was our last day. The children with us started crying. We all joined hand in hands and repeatedly praised and thanked our risen Lord Jesus Christ. We also continually claimed the blood of Jesus Christ as our victory.  The pregnant woman suffered pain, but joined in our praises to the Lord.

O Lord Jesus! Praise His Holy Name. Completely unexpectedly, a lion ran from the forest, leapt towards the militants, and seized one by the neck. When other combatants tried to attack the lion, two other lions bounded towards them. The terrified militants fled the site, and the lions left us completely alone. Equally astonishing, records show no lions are supposed to live in that forest.

Due to pressure from officials, we left the forest home yesterday.


*******

Tim Keller has an interesting perspective on miracles. From his book "The Reason For God: Belief In An Age Of Skepticism" ...

“We modern people think of miracles as the suspension of  the natural order, but Jesus meant them to be the restoration of the natural order. The Bible tells us that God did not originally make the world to have disease, hunger and death in it. Jesus has come to redeem where it is wrong and heal the world where it is broken. His miracles are not just proofs that he has power, but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus' miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming."

Contrary to what many Christians in the west currently believe, miracles are still a part of God's activity in the world today. But not the manufactured "miracles" often portrayed on popular American televangelism that more often mirrors the attitude of Simon in Acts 8 rather than the disciples in Acts 10; God does not do carnival sideshows just to impress people and raise money. In my experience, God sometimes moves supernaturally to confirm his Word in dark places, to powerfully heal (especially where no medical treatment is available), to sometimes protect believers from attacks of the enemy, and especially in response to earnest prayer from faithful believers. Just as Jesus did few miracles in his hometown because of unbelief, so too are miracles relatively sparse in the west where Christianity is now often stripped of power because of widespread nihilism in the western church that has been largely seduced by naturalism.

L Russ Bush III educates us here on the fatal worldview of Naturalism:

"Naturalism" is the belief that in the final analysis, nature is all that there is, and that "nature" is essentially unmodified by anything other than itself. In other words, nature itself is thought to be the ultimate reality. The acceptance of "theistic evolution" by many in the church was a major catalyst in the shift from the Biblical worldview to a naturalistic one. According to the world view known as "naturalism," there is nothing beyond nature that has any causal influence or effect upon nature. Either there is no God or God has no effect or influence on nature. Some might suggest that nature itself may be thought of as a creative being. Naturalism claims that life on earth arose from natural substances by natural selection for natural ends. There is no reality that can properly be called super-natural. Spiritual realities, according to naturalism, are either illusions or else they are merely complex or unusual natural realities.

Since the eighteenth century, a materialistic philosophy has been steadily gaining influence in the western world to include much of the church. Previously, most people in the West believed that the world was a divine creation, but naturalistic thinking gradually challenged that view and sought to replace it, first with naturalistic methods and then with a more comprehensive naturalistic philosophy.

Prior to the rise of naturalism as a prominent world view (or comprehensive mind-set), most western people believed that God had created the world and was responsible for its form and for its very existence. It was understood that God was upholding all things by the word of His power, for in the beginning God had created all things. Since God was a living being, it was logical to expect life in the world, because life comes from life. Twentieth century naturalism built itself on the idea that the universe (and everything in it, including life itself) came into being because of a natural quantum fluctuation (or by some other strictly natural means) and developed by natural processes from its original natural state to its present natural state. Life arose from non-life.

Naturalism affirms no God except the god of impersonal, non-living, undesigned, physical chemistry. A natural process of change is essentially random and/or undirected, but natural processes actually seem to "select" some processes and activities in the sense that "better" or stronger ones survive while others perish. Naturalists believe that this unconscious, non-directed "selection" process along with random genetic fluctuations (i.e., mutations) are the keys that explain the origin of the world of living things as we know it today. Thus the naturalistic "world view" is the overall belief that nature itself is all that there is. God did not design it. Intelligence was a result not a cause of the developing world. Nature formed itself by strictly natural processes.

As Bush so aptly concludes, in naturalism "... reason is lost. Truth is lost. Knowledge is lost. Meaning is lost."

Pseudo-science widely contributed to the acceptance of naturalism in the western church. In stark contrast to the church that is now exploding in China and is grounded in the spiritual worldview of the Bible, the western church is reaping what was sown with its seduction by naturalism.

And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6, ESV)

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