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The 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, November 9, 2003. Christ Episcopal Church, La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Rev. Canon Patrick P. Augustine, Rector 1 Kings 17:8-16, Mark 12: 38-44

As he taught, he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation." He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." Mark 12: 38-44

You know the old joke about the chicken and the pig who saw the church sign saying "help feed the hungry". The chicken said "that's a good idea. Let's help. Let's give ham and eggs." The pig said "that's easy for you to say, but for me it is a total commitment." Isn't Jesus asking for total commitment from us every day?

One thing that strikes me about this woman (and the woman in the I Kings story of Elijah) is that as they give away their last meal/coins, they never once wail.

Can you imagine what it would be like when offering time came in the temple worship services in Jesus' day. They didn't pass plate to you. No paper money went into these trumpet shaped containers. It was all coins. You walked past this big metal receptacle, and you dropped your coins in.... right there in front of everybody. Big coins would clank the side of the box as you dropped them in. If you dropped in a bunch, it would sound like a bell ringing.... Clang, clang, clang, clang. People would notice. You made enough noise, they'd look at you like.... WOW, DID YOU SELL A KIDNEY OR WIN A LOTTERY? But if you just dropped in a couple of little "tinkers" - those little bitty coins that just kinda "Tinked" the metal as they fell in.... Everybody would notice that too. And there came a widow who just had two small coins to drop in these receptacles.

One author named Susan Jones offered this insightful poem entitled, "WIDOW:"

Widow

A word to strike fear

Into the heart of every Jewish woman

Widow

A hard word synonym for defenseless

Poor. Alone. Nothing.

For in your world you were nothing without a man

Only father, husband, brother or son

Gave you validation

For you, the fear has come true and here you are

Widowed,

One of the poor ones

Life hanging by a slender thread

A tissue-thin connection

Between you and hunger

Between life and death

Poor widow

Nothing on which to come and go

Just two small coins in your hand

Enough for the next meal, perhaps

But you

Make your way bravely to the Temple treasury

Ringing with the noise of many coins

Thrown ostentatiously into brass trumpets.

Quietly you slip between the crowd

And drop in

Your offering.

Did you wonder whether anyone would notice?

Whether your two small coins would make any difference?

Someone did see

One who rated your two coins more highly

Than all the clattering money thrown in that day by scribes

Who make stripping widow's assets an occupation

And down the years

Your act tugs at our heartstrings

And makes our overloaded purses

Heavy with shame

And any time we offer something small

We commemorate your gift as we say

"It's just a widow's mite."

Thank you, widow woman

For daring to come out of the obscurity

Of your status-less life

Refusing to let poverty restrict you

Refusing to be a nobody

Daring to be one

Who gave the most priceless gift of all

All she had.

(Susan Jones, "What was it like?" Ideas for Worship, JBCE 1993)

I am reminded of the song in Les Miserables, about little people, and one of the lyrics says,

"A flea can bite the bottom of the Pope in Rome."

I see in this gospel an amazing story of grace, commitment and generosity. Here is a place in the temple where the affluent, powerful ecclesiastical hierarchy of Jerusalem make notable sizes of donations. A widow's two copper coins would scarcely affect the Temple operations at all. Jesus draws attention to that which others might easily have overlooked. I love the way Eugene Peterson ends this passage: " All the others gave what they would never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford - She gave her all." It's interesting to note that the widow does what the rich young ruler fails to do earlier in Mark, which is to give everything she has. Everything. All. This is dangerous giving--how will she live if she gives everything she has? Is it possible that the widow gave everything she had to the Temple treasury because that's the way she lived her whole life--giving all she had to her late husband, to her children, to her community, to her God?

She must trust in something other than those two coins to sustain her life. There is a preoccupation in Mark's gospel with this question of how will the disciples live if they give everything they have in order to follow Jesus. Now it is significant that she had two coins. The Scripture said that she had two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny. She could have kept one and still been a 50% giver, which is pretty amazing. But she didn't. She gave both and Jesus said "Verily I tell you the truth". When Jesus says that, you better listen. Because when the God of heaven says I tell you the truth, something really important is coming. She gave more than anyone because she gave everything that she had. The meaning of this story is very clear. Jesus is pointing out what true giving is, giving not the leftovers , or a little bit so that a person won't notice it, but giving to the point of sacrifice.

A beggar in India sat by the road every day. He heard the maharaja was coming the next day with his royal retinue. The beggar decided to arrive early. He did. He sat by the road and soon heard the music and acclamation as the royal retinue approached. The beggar edged further out onto the road. Soon an official at the head of the arriving retinue approached. The beggar held up his empty sack. The official said "Wait" and went back to the enclosure in which the maharajah sat. Soon he returned. "His highness asks that you give him a gift of what you have." The beggar was stunned. Slowly he pawed through his meager supply of corn and handed over five pieces. The official thanked him and returned to the royal one with the corn. He then returned, took the beggar's small pouch of corn, and put his hand in it. "His royal highness returns your gift." That night, after the whole affair, the beggar went home, angry, to his poor space beneath a bridge. He muttered curses about the maharajah. He took his small sack of corn out and began to prepare his meager supper. But wait! He noticed a glint in the corn. He pawed through the corn and drew out ... a nugget of gold. Pawing more frantically now, he drew out another nugget of gold ... then another, and another till he had five nuggets of gold. He pawed frantically, looking for more, but no .. Only five pieces of gold. Then the beggar slapped his forehead. "He gave me one piece of gold for each piece of corn I gave him. Only five. What a fool I am. I would be a rich man if I had given him all I had." (Jerry Fuller, PRCL, 11/11/00)

There once was a man who gave his all. He made himself as poor as that widow. In fact, He gave up everything to become destitute for us. Like the poor widow, he had no financial wealth to contribute to the temple. Instead, He sacrificed himself for us. He gave his all, everything for us. Jesus found a cause worth His all. God made a total commitment to us all, "He gave his only begotten Son that who ever believes in Him should not perish." That is God's commitment to us, what about ours to Him! Have we committed our lives to God. Have we surrendered our will that God's will be done in every area of our lives. If we trust God, if we love His Son Jesus Christ, If we love His Church, then we shall not have any problem, any deficit in our budget, any lacking in our pledge drive. We shall give our time, talents, our money and our lives joyfully with a sense of gratitude to our God, to our Lord, to our Master and Savior Jesus Christ.

How do we see our commitment to Christ church? As an occasional place to gather, a social meeting place with spiritual overtones. De we see the church as the house of God? The place where God resides to perform the wonders of His mighty love? Do we see it as an agent of God's grace where sinners can be saved, the broken hearted can find comfort, the sick can find healing, the desperate can find hope? If so, I invite you to surrender your lives to Jesus Christ.

 

God blessed this woman. In this one act she showed herself to be more of a disciple of the Lord than many of the great men of the faith who have had their names blazed across the pages of history. God took note of what she did and God takes note of us as we give our lives, our tithes for the service of God.

The 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, November 9, 2003

Christ Episcopal Church, La Crosse, Wisconsin

The Rev. Canon Patrick P. Augustine, Rector

1 Kings 17:8-16, Mark 12: 38-44

As he taught, he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation." He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." Mark 12: 38-44

You know the old joke about the chicken and the pig who saw the church sign saying "help feed the hungry". The chicken said "that's a good idea. Let's help. Let's give ham and eggs." The pig said "that's easy for you to say, but for me it is a total commitment." Isn't Jesus asking for total commitment from us every day?

One thing that strikes me about this woman (and the woman in the I Kings story of Elijah) is that as they give away their last meal/coins, they never once wail.

Can you imagine what it would be like when offering time came in the temple worship services in Jesus' day. They didn't pass plate to you. No paper money went into these trumpet shaped containers. It was all coins. You walked past this big metal receptacle, and you dropped your coins in.... right there in front of everybody. Big coins would clank the side of the box as you dropped them in. If you dropped in a bunch, it would sound like a bell ringing.... Clang, clang, clang, clang. People would notice. You made enough noise, they'd look at you like.... WOW, DID YOU SELL A KIDNEY OR WIN A LOTTERY? But if you just dropped in a couple of little "tinkers" - those little bitty coins that just kinda "Tinked" the metal as they fell in.... Everybody would notice that too. And there came a widow who just had two small coins to drop in these receptacles.

One author named Susan Jones offered this insightful poem entitled, "WIDOW:"

Widow

A word to strike fear

Into the heart of every Jewish woman

Widow

A hard word synonym for defenseless

Poor. Alone. Nothing.

For in your world you were nothing without a man

Only father, husband, brother or son

Gave you validation

For you, the fear has come true and here you are

Widowed,

One of the poor ones

Life hanging by a slender thread

A tissue-thin connection

Between you and hunger

Between life and death

Poor widow

Nothing on which to come and go

Just two small coins in your hand

Enough for the next meal, perhaps

But you

Make your way bravely to the Temple treasury

Ringing with the noise of many coins

Thrown ostentatiously into brass trumpets.

Quietly you slip between the crowd

And drop in

Your offering.

Did you wonder whether anyone would notice?

Whether your two small coins would make any difference?

Someone did see

One who rated your two coins more highly

Than all the clattering money thrown in that day by scribes

Who make stripping widow's assets an occupation

And down the years

Your act tugs at our heartstrings

And makes our overloaded purses

Heavy with shame

And any time we offer something small

We commemorate your gift as we say

"It's just a widow's mite."

Thank you, widow woman

For daring to come out of the obscurity

Of your status-less life

Refusing to let poverty restrict you

Refusing to be a nobody

Daring to be one

Who gave the most priceless gift of all

All she had.

(Susan Jones, "What was it like?" Ideas for Worship, JBCE 1993)

I am reminded of the song in Les Miserables, about little people, and one of the lyrics says,

"A flea can bite the bottom of the Pope in Rome."

I see in this gospel an amazing story of grace, commitment and generosity. Here is a place in the temple where the affluent, powerful ecclesiastical hierarchy of Jerusalem make notable sizes of donations. A widow's two copper coins would scarcely affect the Temple operations at all. Jesus draws attention to that which others might easily have overlooked. I love the way Eugene Peterson ends this passage: " All the others gave what they would never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford - She gave her all." It's interesting to note that the widow does what the rich young ruler fails to do earlier in Mark, which is to give everything she has. Everything. All. This is dangerous giving--how will she live if she gives everything she has? Is it possible that the widow gave everything she had to the Temple treasury because that's the way she lived her whole life--giving all she had to her late husband, to her children, to her community, to her God?

She must trust in something other than those two coins to sustain her life. There is a preoccupation in Mark's gospel with this question of how will the disciples live if they give everything they have in order to follow Jesus. Now it is significant that she had two coins. The Scripture said that she had two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny. She could have kept one and still been a 50% giver, which is pretty amazing. But she didn't. She gave both and Jesus said "Verily I tell you the truth". When Jesus says that, you better listen. Because when the God of heaven says I tell you the truth, something really important is coming. She gave more than anyone because she gave everything that she had. The meaning of this story is very clear. Jesus is pointing out what true giving is, giving not the leftovers , or a little bit so that a person won't notice it, but giving to the point of sacrifice.

A beggar in India sat by the road every day. He heard the maharaja was coming the next day with his royal retinue. The beggar decided to arrive early. He did. He sat by the road and soon heard the music and acclamation as the royal retinue approached. The beggar edged further out onto the road. Soon an official at the head of the arriving retinue approached. The beggar held up his empty sack. The official said "Wait" and went back to the enclosure in which the maharajah sat. Soon he returned. "His highness asks that you give him a gift of what you have." The beggar was stunned. Slowly he pawed through his meager supply of corn and handed over five pieces. The official thanked him and returned to the royal one with the corn. He then returned, took the beggar's small pouch of corn, and put his hand in it. "His royal highness returns your gift." That night, after the whole affair, the beggar went home, angry, to his poor space beneath a bridge. He muttered curses about the maharajah. He took his small sack of corn out and began to prepare his meager supper. But wait! He noticed a glint in the corn. He pawed through the corn and drew out ... a nugget of gold. Pawing more frantically now, he drew out another nugget of gold ... then another, and another till he had five nuggets of gold. He pawed frantically, looking for more, but no .. Only five pieces of gold. Then the beggar slapped his forehead. "He gave me one piece of gold for each piece of corn I gave him. Only five. What a fool I am. I would be a rich man if I had given him all I had." (Jerry Fuller, PRCL, 11/11/00)

There once was a man who gave his all. He made himself as poor as that widow. In fact, He gave up everything to become destitute for us. Like the poor widow, he had no financial wealth to contribute to the temple. Instead, He sacrificed himself for us. He gave his all, everything for us. Jesus found a cause worth His all. God made a total commitment to us all, "He gave his only begotten Son that who ever believes in Him should not perish." That is God's commitment to us, what about ours to Him! Have we committed our lives to God. Have we surrendered our will that God's will be done in every area of our lives. If we trust God, if we love His Son Jesus Christ, If we love His Church, then we shall not have any problem, any deficit in our budget, any lacking in our pledge drive. We shall give our time, talents, our money and our lives joyfully with a sense of gratitude to our God, to our Lord, to our Master and Savior Jesus Christ.

How do we see our commitment to Christ church? As an occasional place to gather, a social meeting place with spiritual overtones. De we see the church as the house of God? The place where God resides to perform the wonders of His mighty love? Do we see it as an agent of God's grace where sinners can be saved, the broken hearted can find comfort, the sick can find healing, the desperate can find hope? If so, I invite you to surrender your lives to Jesus Christ.

God blessed this woman. In this one act she showed herself to be more of a disciple of the Lord than many of the great men of the faith who have had their names blazed across the pages of history. God took note of what she did and God takes note of us as we give our lives, our tithes for the service of God


A Templar Prayer

O God the Father, Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, have mercy upon us,

O God the Father, Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, have mercy upon us.

O God the Son, Savior of the world, have mercy upon us,

O God the Son, Savior of the world, have mercy upon us.

O God the Holy Ghost, Comforter of the Faithful, have mercy upon us,

O God the Holy Ghost, Comforter of the Faithful, have mercy upon us.

O holy and blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, have mercy upon us,

O holy and blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, have mercy upon us.

Lest we forget your suffering and death on the Cross for the redemption of sins,

Quicken us, O Sacrificial Lamb of God!

Lest we forget the anguish and grief of your Blessed Mother, Mary, sorrowing at the foot of the Cross, while your life drained away,

In your mercy quicken us, O Sacrificial Lamb of God!

Lest we forget the first knights, your Holy Apostles, who put on the whole armor of God, and went to do victorious battle against powers and principalities,

In your mercy quicken us, O Lord of hosts!

Lest we forget the first Templars, who protected the pilgrims, and guarded the holy Temple Mount,

In your mercy quicken us, O Lord of hosts!

Lest we forget the Battle of Acre, where your holy knights fought to the death to protect the women and children of that city,

In your mercy quicken us, O Lord of hosts!

Lest we forget the martyrdom of Jacques de Molay, who was burned at the stake proclaiming the innocence of the Order,

In your mercy quicken us, O Lord of hosts!

Lest we forget the silver casket of Braveheart, flung into the midst of the Moors, and the Templars who followed into death and victory,

In your mercy quicken us, O Lord of hosts!

Lest we forget the Fifth Earl of Montrose and Viscount Bonnie Dundee, who died defending the faith with the Templar Cross upon their breasts,

In your mercy quicken us, O Lord of hosts!

Lest we forget the last Grandmaster, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the brave knights who fell at Culloden,

In your mercy quicken us, O Lord of hosts!

Lest we forget the persecuted church, and our charge to defend it from the gates of hell,

O Christ arise and help us!

Lest we forget our brother in chains, Chevalier Parvez Masih, who languishes in prison in Sialkot,

O Christ arise and help us!

Lest we forget that sacrifice is still required, as the battle for souls is not yet won,

O Christ help us endure until the end!

O Lord, who gives strength and courage to the faithful, let us not fear to lose our lives in order to save them,

O Christ help us endure until the end!

O Lord, who has numbered even the hairs on our heads, send us where Satan has his seat, if it be your will,

O Christ help us endure until the end!

O Lord, who fails not to see the sparrow fall, send us where you will,

O Christ help us endure until the end!

O Lord, though all roads lead to Acre, Culloden, or Sialkot,

O Christ help us endure until the end!

O Lord, your holy servant Saint Bernard, assured the Templars that to live for Christ was glory, and to die for Him was gain,

O Christ help us endure until the end!

To your glorious Resurrection and life eternal,

Turn us, good Lord!

To the truth and promise of your Holy Word,

Turn us, good Lord!

To your saving grace,

Turn us, good Lord!

To your faithful service,

Turn us, good Lord!

>From faith without works,

Savior, deliver us!

>From fear of death in your service,

Savior, deliver us!

>From failure to endure until the end,

Savior, deliver us!

We beseech you to help us love the Holy Trinity with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and with all of our strength,

We beseech you, good Lord!

Help us to serve and sustain your persecuted church, so that the gates of hell may not prevail against it,

We beseech you, good Lord!

Help us to love the enemies of your holy church, and to pray that all who are lost may find you,

We beseech you, good Lord!

Upon all who sin against you and persecute the faithful through fear, hatred, or ignorance,

Have mercy, O Lord!

Upon those who hold our brother, Chevalier Masih, in chains,

Have mercy, O Lord!

Blessed Savior, you taught us that it is a blessed thing when men shall revile us, persecute us even unto death, and say all manner of evil against us for your sake, grant us the courage to be steadfast in our faith in the face of all evil and danger, keep us constant in our worship and faithful in our service. Take away all fear of torture and death and fill our hearts with joy at your promise of a great reward in heaven, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Ordaining Women as Pastors and Bishops in the Christian Church

The word of God does not support the role of women as pastors and bishops in the Church.

The reasons which the Apostle Paul gives for refusing to allow women to preach and teach are not social reasons, they are moral reasons. Paul refers us to the Fall of man and the entrance of sin. God specifically commanded that the woman had lost her equality of governance as the result of sin's entrance into the world and that man was to now exercise authority over the woman.

This is not an arbitrary decree, but in the fallen condition of the natural world since the Fall, this is a blessing for the entire human family in that women are protected from even greater exploitation and abuse than they would have experienced without this Divine decree. It is the decree of God that men protect and nurture women and not abuse them and harm them.

When women are allowed to compete against men in the real world of the fist and the gun and competition they would be crushed by the stronger and more aggressive male gender. God recognized this and thus commanded the man to protect the woman; and the woman was to respect and submit to this protection and headship. It is interesting that in the less "civilized" countries of the world women recognize this fact and respect and honor their husbands and male family members more than in the "liberated" countries. Women who do not have any family protection end up in horrible social situations. Shamefully men throughout history have certainly abused that authority and have not cared for and respected woman as they ought. But to now over-rule God's decree because of the abuse of some is to make a bad situation worse.

To compare the Biblical ban of women as Church leaders to that of the practice of slavery in Bible times and therefore merely an outdated social issue is very faulty Biblical hermeneutics. Slavery in the first century was a result of wars and the resultant subjugation of weaker nations. Paul said that if a slave had the opportunity to be free, he or she should take the opportunity. He recognized slavery as a social evil but he also understood that Christians were not to oppose the unbelieving pagan governments of the day in order to force the freeing of the slaves. Paul's counsel was to make the best of a bad situation. The gospel is to be a "leavening" in society not a militant force.

The social evil of slavery cannot be compared with allowing women to be teachers and leaders in the church. Paul was not speaking from the point of social custom but from God's command after the entrance of sin. (Paul does mention the matter of women covering their heads in church as a social custom. Covering of the head was a social custom as was the length of a man and woman's hair. Paul even tells us that this is a mere social custom. But in the matter of woman in leadership and teaching positions, Paul does not mention social custom but God's expressed command in Genesis.

The term for ordination in the New Testament is "LAYING ON HANDS". Also Paul uses the term "ORDAIN" leaders.

1 Timothy 5:17 "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire. 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear. 21 I charge thee in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality. 22 LAY HANDS hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure."

Titus 1:5 "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ORDAIN elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; 9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

The Bible is very clear on the issue of women ordination as elders, bishops, and Bible teachers. Especially in mixed Bible classes for adults, a women teacher would be placed in a leadership position of authority over adult men. The issue is not a matter of ability. To the contrary, many brilliant women could easily meet the challenge. The issue is the divine order of government in the family and the church. Men and women have separate God ordained roles which must be separate and yet mutually respected. Man is to be the head of the woman since the entrance of sin. This is so in the home and in the church. Whenever these roles are confused or mingled, the minds and sexual identity of the children are hampered, often with life long results.

Fathers and mothers will often seek the lacking comfort and fulfillment that this confusion brings, outside of the home in a person other than the lawful spouse. The anger and disappointment of both spouses often manifests itself in outbursts of wrath, heated arguments, power struggles, and sometimes violence. Satan directs his most strident efforts toward the destruction of family. The television is constantly bombarding perversion into the minds of children and parents alike. Commercials portray fathers as buffoons and mothers as the disrespectful "liberated" gadfly. Children are taught to "just do their thing" and disregard the word of God and the instruction of godly parents. Motherhood is portrayed as bondage; and a career as the utopia of freedom and joy and fulfillment. The weakling Ahabs and domineering Jezebels are becoming the role models for our children in the world and in the church.

A woman minister preached from the pulpit in a Southern California church where I was recently in attendance. The heart of her sermon was to proclaim the "fact" that the Holy Spirit is "female" and that God can rightly be called "she" when the situation merits. There was no Gospel of the forgiveness of sin through faith in the sinless substitutionary life and atoning death of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the Cross of Calvary. Neither was there a call for repentance and reform of lifestyle to the Bible standard of obedience to the spirit and the letter of the Ten Commandment of God. The music was not such to uplift the Savior as the Lamb of God who bore the sins of the world in His own holy Person. The Sabbath school class was taught by a fellow who was hardly what one would call "manly" and he was spouting, not the Bible gospel, but the moral influence view of the atonement. Well, I mourn for the Christian church which is the apple of God's eye but I know that He will shake out all that do not seek to abide by the word of God as the sole authority in doctrine and life style.

Here are a few other Bible texts dealing with this subject.

1 Corinthians 14:34-38 "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the COMMANDMENTS of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant."

Ephesians 6:21 "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.... 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church."

Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."

1 Timothy 2:9 "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not (ONLY) with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array,10 But (ALSO) which becometh women professing godliness with good works. 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

Titus 2:1 "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: 2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. 3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. 6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you."

This is God's ideal. This is our goal to which we all strive but we all admittedly continually fall short. Thanks be to God who justifies the ungodly. Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven, whose iniquities are covered. Being justified by grace through faith in the sinless One we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Further Discussion on the Ordination of Women as Pastors

Any woman who claims that the "Holy Spirit" has "called" her to preach before the church congregation or to even pastor a church is ignoring the clear counsel of the word of God. The true Holy Spirit never contradicts the written word. We are not to believe every "spirit", but rather are to test the "spirit" by the clear word of the Bible.

There are some Bible texts which mention women as having the gift of prophecy.

Joel 2:28 "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."

Acts 21:8 "8 And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus."

All repentant sinners who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior who died upon the cross for their sins and acknowledge Him as Lord of their lives receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Besides this infilling of the Spirit by all believers in Christ, there were men and a few women in both the Old and New Testament who were endowed with special gifts from God which qualified them to fulfill the role of prophet. These gifts did not however mean that these women were in positions of leadership as elders and ministers of the Gospel to be evangelists, to baptize, to officiate at the Lord's supper, to perform marriages, or to head a congregation as the pastor.

This is the role that God in His wisdom has given to the Christian men of the church who are called to be ministers of the Gospel. This is a God ordained role which no one can take unto himself without a divine call to preach. This is a sacred calling, even a miraculous calling. One can attempt to reason and argue for the ordination of women pastors forever, but God has clearly left us with His word in specific verses which deal with the issue of the woman's role in the Christian church and also by the fact that God chose only men to be pastors and elders with this specific role which was never filled by women in the Bible.

It has been my experience in my approaching old age that those women who claimed to be called to the ministry (I have seen and even personally known many) have tended to be very masculine and man-like in personality. They did not conform to the Biblical description of the feminine deportment described in God's word. Those whom I have known who were married were usually married to a very non-dominant man who was definitely not the head of the relationship. The marriages of these women frequently end in separation and divorce. Women like and love men who are able to lead and be the head in the family and in the church and they don't respect men who cannot. Men who see women who are seeking to be leaders usually look elsewhere for a mate. The fact is that even our hormones are involved with this issue. The modern feminist movement is failing today, because the women are finding that they are unable to find men who are willing to accept an assertive woman as a mate. It is an invitation to life-long misery.

This feminism has pervaded the Christian church among the young women to such an extent that often the men go outside of the church to find a wife. There is more misery in Christian marriages than most will admit to. Many Christian churches today are being run by the women of the church who are all too eager to take the reigns of leadership. This leads to very sorry results.

I was a member of the Congregational Church before becoming an evangelical Christian and I have seen how liberalism and feminism have taken over that denomination. All the dynamic power of this church denomination has waned and it has become a big "ladies aid society" proclaiming only the "social gospel". It is a sad testimony of what happens when we disregard the clear instructions of the word of God for church order in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Bill Diehl, editor

www.PresentTruthMag.com

Present Truth World Radio

SCARS IN LIFE

Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went.

He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother in the house was looking out the window saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could.

Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.

Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother's fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars.. The boy lifted his pantlegs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn't let go."

You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you.

The Scripture teaches that God loves you. You are a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril - and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-of-war begins - and if you have the scars of His love on your arms be very, very grateful. He did not and will not ever let you go.

Never judge another persons scars, because you don't know how they got them.

Faith Principles. By Rev. Nazir shad Masih.

In John 16:23-24 Jesus said, "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you whatsoever you ask the Father in My name He will give it you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and ye will receive, that your joy may be full."

God wants us to continually get our prayers answered. There is great joy in seeing God respond to our prayers and move on our behalf. I want to share with you some principles from the Word of God that will help you have a more effective prayer life.

First of all our prayers need to be done in the name of Jesus. (John 14:6; Colossians 3:17) We cannot come to God without our mediator the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly we must be abiding in Him. (John 15: 7) We must be born again and become part of the family of God and then we are to walk in the light of God's Word and be obedient to it. (John 14:21-26; 1 John 1:4-2:6; Psalm 119:105, 130, 133) We must also meditate on God's Word long enough so that it abides (or lives in us - John 15:7). We will see results when we pray in faith. That faith is produced by feeding on God's Word. (Rom. 10:17; Hebrew 11:6; Luke 5:15, 6:17; Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:1-3) Then in Mark 11:24 and 1 John 5:14-15 we find another principle concerning faith and that is we have to release our faith on what God has said in His Word (Number 23:19; Jeremiah 1:12; 2 Chronicles 16:9) when we pray. Before we see the manifestation we must believe God hears us based on His Word, although we may not see or feel like it is working we must believe solely because of His Word. (2 Corinthians 5:7; Mark 11:12-26; Heb. 6:13-20) We must also walk in love towards others not being resentful and harboring un forgiveness. Faith works by love. (Galatians 5:6) From the moment we release our faith God begins to bring His Word to pass in our lives (Jer.1: 12). That process can only be stopped by unbelief, which is sin. (Romans 14:23) That is why Satan begins to attack us in an attempt to steal God's Word from our heart so he can stop it from coming to pass. (Mark 4:13, 20) We are to resist him in faith (1 Peter 5:6-10; James 4:7; Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) by continually speaking God's Word (Hebrews 10:23) and taking any thought captive that would try to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. Mix in there thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-8) and you are on your way to victory.

I encourage you to take the time and mediate on these truths. They will help you greatly. In addition, you can order additional tapes and books from our special offer page, which will also help you to further grow in faith. Amin

The Importance of Fasting. By Rev. Nazir S Gill

Food sustains our physical health while fasting sustains our spiritual health. Food gives us energy and the vitamins our bodies needed. Fasting opens our spiritual realm to see the splendors of the kingdom of God.

Suddenly, heaven opens up before us and we can understand the mysteries that normally are hidden from us. In the bible, you can see that most of the times when servants of God receive any revelation, they are always down on their knees, fasting and praying. In Daniel 9:1-3, God showed Daniel that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then Daniel set his face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplication, with 'fasting', sackcloth and ashes. In addition, in times of great warfare, Daniel fasted for 21 days to fight the obstacles in the heavenly place.

Finally, Archangel Michael came and assisted him in this heavenly battle. In Acts 13:1-3, the Holy Spirit's instruction came upon them when they fasted and prayed. So they laid hands on Barnabas and Saul and sent them out to the mission field.

During fasting, we crucify our flesh. Many works of flesh such as fear, impatience, anger and pride suddenly become easier to deal with. Through fasting, Holy Spirit empowers us to do the things that normally we find them hard to do. Those areas of struggle that have bothered you for years now seem to disappear totally. Bonds of wickedness are loosed; burdens are undone; the oppressed go free; yokes are broken off. (Isaiah 58) All of a sudden, even people around you discover more FRUITS in your life. When irritating situations happen, you can respond with love and gentleness.

When sudden 'terror' comes, (Psalm 91) you can still smile and keep the peace of mind. Dealing with unloving people, you can still endure with patience and longsuffering. More goodness and kindness seem to have formed in your character. Your light just break forth like the morning; your healing just spring forth speedily; the glory of the Lord become your rear guard and YOUR MIRACLE IS ON THE WAY. Even our Lord Jesus fasts and prays.

No servant is higher than his master. Let's learn from Jesus and enjoy the beauty of fasting and prayer.

Love is a virtue not a weaknes. By Rev Dr. Rashid Gill

Does Christianity acknowledge Islam as a religion? Was Mohammad a prophet from God? The simple answer to these two basic and important questions is "NO". This is the Biblical position of Christians. Wherever, Christians are in minority and surrounded by Muslims, they are forced to accept that Quran is Holy Book and Mohammad was a Prophet.

Why are we Christians? We can simply say that we believe that Jesus Christ is, the only begotten Son of God. Moreover, the Holy Bible is infallible "Word" of God. The Law was given for a limited period and for a specific reason. Jesus did not annul the Law but fulfilled it by sacrificing His life on the Cross. Matthew says

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill... For I say onto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt.5: 17,20).

Jewish do not accept Jesus Christ as a Son of God or Messiah, therefore they are under the Law. They are supposed to act upon it in any case to get God's righteousness. Christians, being followers of Christ do not need to follow Law. They are not under the Law anymore. Jesus Christ Fulfilled Law for all believers and through His sacrifice we are relieved from all obligation of the Law. That's why John said.

"For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."(John 1:17)

Why did God send His only begotten Son?

The simple reason to send His son was that man was not able to get salvation by acting upon the Law. By fulfilling the law one could earn an amount of righteousness, which could make him eligible for God's forgiveness or salvation. It was hard for one to get this righteousness through the Law. So many people who were God fearing and knew that they were suffering under the Law because of Israelites wilful sins. God was not happy with them that's why He gave them such a hard and a difficult law to comply with. However, God heard the prayers of His chosen people like Simeon and sent His only begotten Son to redeem us from sins. In fact, Simeon's statement was an open confession that men were unable to get salvation on their own.

That's why when Simeon saw baby Jesus coming to temple in Jerusalem he rejoiced and said.

"So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law. He took up in his arms and blessed God and said: "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to your word; " for my eyes have seen Your salvation."(Luke 2:27-30)

The point to be noted here is that "Salvation" was hard to get through acting upon the ordinances of the Law. Men were unable to comply with its requirements totally. Salvation of God came to us as a free gift of God through the person of Jesus Christ. He put His righteousness into our account and made us legible to get God's salvation. It is written.

"But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rages; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."(Isa.64: 6)

The main difference here is that whoever believes in Jesus Christ, he is redeemed from all sins. Our good deeds do not make us worthy to be forgiven. In the book of Genesis, we find that Abraham was considered righteous not because of his good deeds but because of his faith in God. Let us read the reference for better understanding. It is written.

"And He believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness."(Gen.15: 6).

We are justified by faith and not by actions. If we believe any other gods like pagans and do good things, it cannot help us to get God's salvation. We must believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ. This faith enables us to get God's salvation. Seeing His own Son's righteousness He forsakes our iniquities and sins.

Mostly people are confused whether or not we are under the Law or Grace. The Word of God teaches us that we are under Grace and not under the Law any more. Jesus fulfilled the Law once and for all. Firstly, in the temple of Jerusalem He had His circumcision and by doing so He made us free from this obligation. The law did not set us free but Jesus did. Secondly, according to law, a sacrifice was needed for redemption. That's why people offered several kinds of sacrifices in tabernacle for the remission of sins. He offered His life on the cross and redeemed us from the sin. As a result of His sacrifice, we do not need to offer sacrifices any more. In the book of Hebrews, It is written.

"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins."(Heb.10: 4)

According to the Law a pure and sinless blood was required for the remission of sins. God did not find anywhere except in His only Son, Jesus Christ. God showed His love towards us and offered His Son as a sacrifice. His sacrifice is once and for all. Perfect in all respects and after His sacrifice no more sacrifice is required. Jesus fulfilled again law by His sacrifice.

"For one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."(Heb.10: 14)

Now, many people are confused that why did God then give the Law through Moses?

God wanted man to realize that through his good deeds and sacrifice, He cannot get God's righteousness sufficient enough enabling him to merit His salvation. When righteousness of Jesus is added to their righteousness then we are entitled for God's salvation or forgiveness. The Law gives us sense that we are sinners while Jesus gives us sense of freedom from sin and Law. Law accuses us while Jesus advocates for our forgiveness. The Law was shadow of things coming in future. After Jesus came, God's purpose was fulfilled. In the book of Hebrew, it is written.

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purged, would have had no more consciousness of sins… previously saying, Sacrifice and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them"(Which are offered according the law). Then He said, "Behold I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. Will that have sanctified us through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb.10: 1-2,8-10).

Law given through Moses was temporary and a preparatory measure of God to introduce His salvation through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul says,

"But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. There the law our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Gal. 3:23-24)

Jesus did not enunciate the law instead He fulfilled in true sense as His father intended the Law to be understood and acted upon. Jesus Christ being with God from the beginning in form of "Word" and being co-worker with God in creating the world perfectly knew the mind of God and the Spirit. Simply it can be understood that Jesus was co-author of the law with Almighty God. He understood God's mind in giving the law and He showed its exact meaning. He simplified law for a common person and clarified all misconceptions relating to it. Here I would like to mention that according to Scriptures, our righteousness must exceed the righteousness to Pharisees and scribes. They thought just by offering sacrifices on the altar they can get forgiveness of their sins. Pharisee and scribes thought that acting upon the law in physical manners is the true fulfillment of the Law. Keeping in view exact meaning of the law, they did not like each other. They harboured grudges in their hearts for one another. Jesus corrected them saying

"Therefore if thou bring they gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go the way; first be reconciled to thy brother, then come and offer thy gift"(Matthew 5:23-24)

The law did not explain how sacrifice must be made spiritually. Jesus expounded the Law of God because first He was co-author of the law with God. Secondly He made it clear that the fulfilment of the law is made through showing love even to your enemy. (Matthew 5:43)

Ye have heard that it hath been said; Thou shalt love the neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makesth His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."

Thirdly, Jesus was His Son while Moses was one of his father's servants. Undoubtedly, Jesus had a superior position than Moses. Let us see reference in the book of Hebrews.

"And Moses indeed was faithful in all His things, which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end." (Heb. 3:5-6)

The same thing has been said by Apostle Paul .He said,

"Love worketh no ills to his neighbours: there loving is fulfilling of law." (Rom.1: 10)

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this " You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Gal.4 :14)

Jesus fulfilled and expounded law in its entirety. The fulfillment of law is not possible through acting upon it physically. Love fulfills law.

Once again I would like to draw your attention to the passage from the gospel of Matthew. It says.

"You have heard that it was said, "An eye for any eye and a tooth for a tooth."

"But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek; turn the other to him also. (Matthew 5:38-40)

Moreover Apostle Paul says the same thing in letter to Corinthians as follows:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing…Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy ;love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil. Bears all things, believe all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… (Cor .1-8)

If we are in Christ, we are free from sin and the law. He fulfilled the law for us once and for all. That's why we are not under obligation to offer sacrifices of sin and to have circumcision.

In Him, we become new creature and follow the directions of the Holy Spirit instead of the law. It is written.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."(2Cor. 5:17)

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision but a new creature." (Gal.6: 15)

New creature or born again is no more under the law. He is born in Spirit; therefore he does not follow the law but the Spirit. Other references can also be checked for further study of (Eph.2: 10, 4:24,Col.3: 10)

"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in flesh": (Rom. 8:3)

"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeith". (Rom 10:4)

"Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace". (Eph.2: 15)

"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."(Col.2: 14)

The Law given through Moses teaches to take ones' revenge through ones own actions. Anyone who is in Christ does not seek his reward or revenge. He leaves his reward up to God. Eye for an Eye is a system based on 'tit for tat' emotions. There is a sharp contrast between giving life for other and taking other's life. Jesus gave His life for people who were sinners and He did not know them. Being His followers, we are supposed to humble ourselves, show love to our neighbours who might be Muslim- bitter enemies of Christianity- still we are supposed to show love. Jesus told us to overcome evil by doing good. Christianity never preached hatred or retaliation. Yes, it is true it is very difficult to love enemy but this is what Jesus demands from us.

Some people may not like it but reality is that in Christ we are new creature. We have died with Him on the cross and resurrected with Him to a new life. It means that all worldly things, emotions and feelings are meaningless to us. We do not live for ourselves any more but for Jesus only. In the book of Hebrews it is written.

"Vengeances is mine; I will repay, says the Lord." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." (Heb.10: 30)

Some people are of the opinion that we must follow the foot steps of Muslims .We must repay them in the same coin but unfortunately it is not correct according to our Scriptures. We are supposed to love our enemy.

We must show our love contrary to their hostile and heinous actions. Jesus Christ is our redeemer and our guide. He has set an example for us to follow.

When He was on earth, He was mocked, punished, accused but He never retaliated. Why? He did not believe in repaying .He left His reward to His father. Shall we assume that Jesus was coward or weak?

No, He was not. He was fulfilling God's law with love. At this point, I would like to draw your attention to two incidents described in the Holy Bible. Judas betrayed Jesus and he brought multitudes of people to arrest Jesus. They arrested Him but one of His followers drew his sword and cut off the ear of one person. Jesus admonished him saying,

"Then Jesus said to him," Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?"(Matthew 26:52-53)

Jesus was never powerless and helpless. His objective was to fulfill His Father's will first in all circumstances than to His own. God's will was that He must die for the sins of whole world. He could have asked twelve legions of army of angels to fight for Him but He did not like to defend Himself against death. He preferred death to the life for the fulfillment of His Father's will. Moreover, He did not like to kill His enemies. He likes to give life instead of taking life. It is a vital sign of great love.

"For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them"(Luke 10:56).

Another example, of great love for enemy is that He was about to die on the cross even then He prayed for His enemies.

"And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said," Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."(Matthew 23:33-34)

Christianity, and the Holy Bible have been under attack since the beginning of Christianity. So many scholars tried to prove them wrong but eventually they ended up in accepting them as true and genuine. Christians belong to Christ and being from the seed of Isaac- the promised son' are free because they were born from a free woman' Sara' and not from bondwoman like Muslims. They follow the Law of Moses but law does not bind us who are in Christ anymore. In Christ, we are free person if we believe so. We do not need sacrifice, circumcision and practice of old rituals. In the Scriptures it is written.

"For law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."(John 1:17)

Speaking about Jews, who wanted to follow the Law, Paul says.

"For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law." (Rom.2: 12)

It is obvious from the mentioned verse that who does not believe in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and wants to follow the Law, he shall be judged according to the Law. The law requires full and total adherence not missing even one thing. Man can never be able to act upon the Law and that's why Simeon seeing Jesus he said I have seen 'Salvation'. It was hard for anyone to get God's righteous by acting upon the Law one hundred percent. For believers, Paul says,

"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace (Rom.6: 14). Paul's further clarifies his point saying,

"Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has the law to her husband binds a husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband".

God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."(John 4:24)

In conclusion, we can say that we are under grace and not under law anymore. Jesus fulfilled the Law once and for ever by sacrificing His life on the cross. If we want to go to the law, then we are committing blunder by rendering Jesus sacrifice as meaningless. Now the question is how we must react when we are attacked? Simple answer is to pray and leave your reward up to God. Persecution is no more new to Christians. Even Jesus from at birth was denied right to be born in His own country. King Harold was in search to kill Him and he issued decree to kill all infants because He wanted to kill Jesus. To take up ones cross means spiritually to give our lives wilfully for God. It looks funny but it is a reality that our defence is not weaponry of this world rather it is prayer to Lord Jesus. He is our defender and refuge. Let us become His true disciple and ambassadors by showing love even at the price of our lives. This life belongs to Him and if it is scarified for Him we should not be worried. The goal of any believer is to get eternal life and not a physical or worldly life. Acting upon of the law without love, we are committing sin of ridiculing His sacrifice and rendering it meaningless. God did not choose to kill all those who refused to accept His only begotten Son. He could have killed them but He gave a chance because He does not want to kill anyone. Muslims are not stronger than God. He can defeat them. He is waiting for the Day of Judgement when they shall judged. At that day, they shall not have any excuse left to them. Christianity preaches peace and love. Seeking retaliation or reward through our own action is a misconception spread by some emotional preachers. This was done according to the Law but we are no more under the Law but under the Grace. As a human being perhaps we can satisfy ourselves saying that we have taken revenge or have paid them in the same coin but in these situations we commit sin against His teachings.

Christianity though has been under attack since it's beginning but nobody has been able to eliminate it. Attacks on Christianity from other people show that they are afraid of its strength and power. Christianity is never in danger and shall not be in danger forever because God is our refuge. We do not believe in human wisdom or weaponry. Our weapon is prayer and our refuge is Jesus. He Killed His son on the cross and resurrected him on the third day. Similarly, if we are killed for our belief, we should not feel remorseful or sorry. We must believe that God can also resurrect us. Christianity is not a religion. It is a relation of a believer with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Some people call this relationship with God Almighty Christianity. However, this religion if we may call, belongs to God. Let Him care of it. Yes, God uses His people to do some job for Him and He told us to do it in a proper way by showing love and not by paying in the same coin or through retaliation.

Before jumping to another issue, let us take a pause and attend the concern of many people who say that if we are not under the Law then we follow Ten Commandments? The question is quite legitimate and needs to be answered. Jesus gave us two commandment saying

" Jesus said to him," Your shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your souls, and with all your mind." This is the first and great commandment. " And the second is like it: ' You shall love your neighbour as yourself". " On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matth.22:37-40)

If we just concentrate on two great commandments of given by Jesus, we shall be amazed to know that these two are exact at par with Ten Commandments. First five commandments say that we must love our Lord with all our heart. In other words, we must fulfill our obligation in first five commandments. Precisely, we can say that we must love our Lord with all our heart, with all our solids and with all our minds. If we love our neighbour then there is no point that we shall think to murder anyone or steal anything, commit adultery or bear false witness. Briefly it can be said by keeping two commandments we fulfill " Ten Commandments" practically. We do not consider that it's a part of law for believer mandatory but we consider that these are two great commandments of Jesus Christ. We follow the as part of Christ's teachings rather than part of the Law. But for all practical purposes, the end result is the same.

Another question which is often asked is why God is not doing something to protect us from persecution? Does He take pleasure in our persecution?

In the Old Testament we find a reference where Prophet Habakkuk complains to God giving different arguments. Saying that Your are of purer eyes, You can not see sin then why are you allowing things to happen. Let us read together this reference for our enlightenment. It is written.

O' Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence and You will not save." Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?…Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgement proceeds." (Habbakkuk 1:2-4)

In the aforementioned verses, we can see that Habakkuk is provoking God to take action against those who are persecuting and doing injustices against His chosen people. God heard his prayer and according His own purpose and plan God replied.

" Look among the nations and watch- be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you".( Hab.1:5)

God never does anything without any planning. He always has a definite purpose. He knows how to fulfill His purpose in all circumstances. In old days, Christianity became popular because of persecution. So many people accepted Christ because persecuted people flee to other countries and they preached gospel of Jesus Christ. God is always in control of the situation. God used persecution as a tool to make it popular among people. He knows what is happening to Christians in the world? He would let it happen for a specified period until His purpose is fulfilled. God has own purpose, timing and pace. He knows and cares for us. What all we need to do is to be in fellowship and trust Him wholeheartedly. He knows our right and capable to fight for our rights against any might enemy. Let us trust Him and not in our own efforts.

Is it permissible for Christians to eat Pork and drink?

To answer this question, we have to simply follow the golden principle given by Jesus Christ.

"And he said unto them, are ye so without understanding also? Perceive ye not, that whatsoever from without goesth into the man, it can not defile him because it goesth not into his heart, but into his belly, and goesth out into the draught? This he said, making all meats clean." (Mark 7:18-20)

"I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus Christ, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth or is offended, or is made weak." (Rom.14: 14,21)

"Commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanks giving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it is to be received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified by the word of god and prayer." (I Tim.4: 3)

To conclude this topic, we would say that that the Kingdom of God is not dependent on eating and drinking. If we eat something for the glory of God with a faith that it is clean for us. It becomes clean for us. While eating and doing anything in life , we are told to be mindful who are weak in faith. We must not provide a chance for them to stumble. Our salvation and living is because of faith and not because of our good deeds. If we want to live under the Law then we are supposed to follow it in its entirety. The Law must be applicable equally on the every aspect of our lives. We must have circumcision also and must offer sacrifices of sins according to the Law. Jesus set us free from sin and the Law and we must not try to get back to the Law. Apostle Paul said.

" For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things are indeed pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offence…Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is one who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin."( Rom 14:17,20,22-23)

"As many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13)

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the law: by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Chrsit liveth in me: and the life which I live in the flesh I live by faith of Son of the God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal: 2:16-20)

Brothers and Sisters,

For Christians important thing in their spiritual life is faith. If we have faith in Jesus Christ, we are free from all kind of the laws and bondages. We have liberty in Him to do good works. We do not have liberty to commit sin. Apostle Paul says,

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage…You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."( Gal.1 ,4)

May God give all of us His own wisdom so that we could understand that we are not under the law. We are under the grace. In our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to love each other and our enemy. By doing so we break the cycle of enmity. Whatever we eat or do let us do for Him who can give us life and protection. Faith justifies us. We are of Christ. We must show His characteristics in us. He loved His enemy to the extent that He prayed for them. Let us become His ambassadors and show the same kind of behaviour. We must be light in darkness. Our character must shine in darkness. May God bless you all and keep you in His own protection. Amen.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR CHRISTMAS. By Rev Nazir S Gill, Faisalabad.

I. Thou shalt not leave "Christ" out of Christmas.

II. Thou shalt not value thy gifts by the cost, for many shall signify love that is more blessed and beautiful than sliver and gold.

III. Thou shalt give thyself with thy gifts, thy love, thy personality, and thy service and shall increase the value of thy gifts a hundred fold and they who receiveth them shall treasure them forever.

IV. Thou shall not let Santa Claus take the place of Christ, lest Christmas become a fairy tale, rather than a sublime reality in the spiritual realm.

V. Thou shalt not burden thy servants, the sales girl, the mail carrier and the merchant.

VI. Thou shalt not neglect the church. Its Christmas services are planned to help spiritualize the Christmas season for thee, thy family, and thy friends.

VII. Thou shalt not neglect the needy. Let thy bountiful blessings be shared with the many who will go hungry and cold unless you are generous at Christmas.

VIII. Thou shalt be as a little child. Christmas is the day of the Christ child; not until thou have become, in spirit, as a little child art thou ready to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

IX. Thou shalt prepare thy soul for Christmas. Verily, most of us spend much time and money getting gifts ready, but few seconds in preparing our souls.

X. Thou shalt give thy heart to Christ. Let thy Christmas list have "Christ in my heart" at the top as thy gift to Him this Christmas you're in Jesus

Rev. Nazir Shad Masih (JohnGill)

Faisalabad Pakistan

The friend of sinners: Peter, South Korea. Submitted By: Angela Watkins

The name Luke is the abbreviated from of Lucanus, or of Lucilius. The writer of this Gospel was a native of Antioch in Syria, and is believed to have been educated as a physician. He was not born a Jew. He was the companion of St. Paul in most of his journeys which are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, of which he is the author.

Luke was probably a native of Italy, and perhaps an inhabitant of Rome.

The Book of Luke to my understanding shares about salvation, and God's purpose to bring salvation in all of its fullness/whole/completeness to all people. It is deliverance from enemies, forgiveness of sins and renewal of health. Luke has also been known as the physcian.

It is up to each individual, boy, girl, man, woman to accept the gift of salvation. When you accept the gift of salvation you will have Eternal Life and there are conditons that apply as well. (Acts 16:31, I John 1:9, Romans 10:9, John 3:3, 5)

Romans 10 plainly has on record the plan of salvation.

Parable can be prophetic figurative speaking, ethical wisdom, effective way/method of revealing/sharing the truth to the spiritual and ready mind. An earthly message with a heavenly meaning.

Luke 15 is an Evangelic Parable.(Matthew 18:12-14)

Luke 15:1-2 "has on record Jesus Christ reception by men"

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

(Luke has been known as the physician..it is the sick who needs the care of a doctor).

Luke 15:3 has on record HE "Jesus" teaches by parables

And HE spake this parable unto them, saying,

Parable: an earthly message/story with a heavenly meaning.

Luke 15:4-5 has on record The Parable of the Lost Sheep

What man of you, having an hundered sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety nine and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

How many if you had children that you took on a trip and when you were getting ready to return could only locate two of the children would you search for the one?

When you did locate that one child you would pick that child up, hug that child, love that child and bring that child back to the fold to go home.

Hebrews 10:25 teaches about coming together/fellowship on the Lord's Day. (To my understanding the Lord's Day is sunday and THE SABBATH is from friday sundown to saturday sundown Matthew 12:1-5,7; Mark 2:23-27; Luke 6:1-5)

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is: but exhorting one another and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Peter takes his Sermon Text from Luke 15:1-5 and he will share with you now.

Luke 15 is one of the best-known and beloved chapters in the life of Jesus. It is composed of three parables, am only going to share with you today one parable, which will be seen as God's attitudes to sinners.

On one occasion publicans and text collectors drew to Jesus for the purpose of hearing from Him. They were grouped together as despised class of people, the most un wanted community, perhaps they were grouped together with harlots, they drew to Jesus with a humble modest fear of being rejected by him. Seeing this the Pharisees murmured, saying this man received sinners and eat with them. Jesus responded by saying a parable. He spoke directly to the Pharisee in the parable of the Lost Sheep.

The Pharisees correspond to the ninety-nine sheep. They claimed to be in God's flock. They needed no repentance. And they looked with scorn on the publicans and sinners who, in their judgment, were not the object of God's love, but Jesus justifying himself in it, by showing that the worse these were, the more glory and joy they would be in heaven, by listening and accepting to His preaching they were brought repentance.

The meaning of the lost and found sheep parable shows the pleasure God take in the conversion of sinners, as a reason why we should rejoice in it.

According to this parable the case of a sinner that goes on sinful way has three characteristics: He is like a lost sheep that has gone astray, he is lost to God, and God has not honor and service from him. My brothers and sisters God desires a close relation ship with His us when we attempt to leave God, we encounter many things, we lost His blessings, we lost hope we lost our source of life.

He is lost to the flock that means he has not communion with him. Gods purpose is fully revel to us when we always seek and serve Him as community. A child is better identified when he remains in the family, but when he chooses to live on his own the father has no control over him. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another." (Hebrews 10:25)

Lost to him self. He doesn't know the way, wanders endlessly, is continuously exposed to danger of wolves, subject to prey and terrors, he cannot find the way back to the flock by himself God is concern for all of his children to come to the truth. Jesus continues saying as the lost sheep cannot find a way back to the flock by it self, the Shepherd look for it and when he got it he brings it back to the flock. Though he finds it weary, and perhaps worried and worn away with its wondering and not able to bear being driven home, yet he does not leave it to perish, but lays it on his shoulders, and with a great deal of tenderness and labor, brings it to the flock.

This is very applicable to the work of our redemption. Mankinds were gone astray, yet God send his son to seek and save, that, which was lost. God in Christ has every thing for us but the choice depends on us, but when we approached the throne of God for mercy like the despise community; Jesus is close to receive us and settle us with him.

Angela's scripture reference taken from Superfine Edition, New Devotional & Explanatory Bible, Containing Old & New Testaments, Apocrypha, & Psalms in Metre, Jones Brothers & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio; Phil, PA; Chicago, Ill;, Entered according to Act of Congress, in the 1870's , by J R Jones, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

Angela Watkins

The Last Sunday after Pentecost (A), November 23, 2002, The Sermon.
By Rt. Rev. Patrick Augustine. USA

(Ezekiel 34:11-17; Psalm 95:1-7; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Matthew 25:31-46

Christ the King

Today is the Sunday in the Christian year that is called the Feast of Christ the King. It is also the last Sunday of long season of Pentecost. Next Sunday we shall begin the Advent season. Advent is season of our preparedness for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the one who brings good news of redemption and release to the soul of sinful humanity. During all fifty-two Sundays of the Christian year, we say out loud and together during the worship service to affirm our faith, "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his Kingdom will have no end." It is of this Jesus we celebrate this Sunday, who will come again as King of kings and Lord of lords to judge and bring full realization of the kingdom of God to bring final and full release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. (Luke 4:


Some years ago there was a cute story in The Reader's Digest about a little four-year-old named Matthew. Matthew was eating an apple in the back seat of the family car. "Daddy," asked Matthew, "why is my apple turning brown?" His father explained: "Because after you ate the skin off, the meat of the apple came in contact with the air which caused it to oxidize, thus changing its molecular structure and turning it into a different color."

There was a long silence, and then Matthew asked softly, "Daddy, are you talking to me?"

It's a challenge to communicate to a small child. If you can appreciate that kind of challenge, then you can appreciate the task of the first Christians as they tried to communicate to others the significance and importance of Jesus Christ. God had invaded our universe. The very Word of God through whom all things are created had taken on human nature, humbly walked the path of sacrificial obedience, even to the point of death on the cross. He had then risen gloriously and ascended into heaven where he reigns forever as Lord of lords and King of kings.

Today, the Last Sunday after Pentecost, the Church celebrates Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords. Today, on this last Sunday of the Church's liturgical year we attempt to sum up all that Christ is. But how does one communicate the greatness of Jesus Christ? How can mere words describe the one in whom all of the Scriptures are fulfilled? How can we possibly explain adequately the magnificent achievement of Jesus?

Listen to the wondrous words of the Apostle Paul, written near the end of his life, after years of prayer and reflection. I quote from The Letter to the Colossians, chapter one, verses fifteen through twenty. "He is the image of the invisible God; his is the primacy over all creation. In him everything in heaven and on earth was created, not only things visible but also the invisible orders of thrones, sovereignties, authorities, and powers; the whole universe has been created through him and for him. He exists before all things, and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church. He is its origin, the first to return from the dead, to become in all things supreme. For in him God in all his fullness chose to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things to himself, making peace through the shedding of his blood on the cross -- all things, whether on earth or in heaven."

St. Paul, are you talking to us? Few of us will ever comprehend, as Paul did, the profound depth of who Jesus is and what He has done.

Today's scriptures were chosen in an attempt to give us a brief glimpse of the multi-dimensionality of Jesus Christ. Ezekiel portrays Jesus as the gentle shepherd. This should elicit all the marvelous biblical statements said about the Lord as shepherd: the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. The Good Shepherd, who guides his sheep along right pathways, nourishes them, protects them, and feeds them. The Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and calls each one by name.

The Epistle Reading reminds us that Jesus is "the first fruits of those who have died;" and that eventually all things will be made subject to him. Here our imaginations should soar, our souls should sing, our hearts should adore, as we contemplate the many-faceted meaning of Jesus as the resurrection and the life; the way and the truth; the bread of life; the light of the world; the true vine through whom flows the life-giving Spirit.

Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus is depicted as righteous judge. That's a side of the Gospel that many do not wish to hear. They want only a Jesus "meek and mild," someone who deliberately ignores their sins. But the real Jesus is the multi-dimensional Jesus: the Good Shepherd, the Victorious King, the Perfect Prophet, the Eternal High Priest, the Incarnate Word, the Merciful Savior, the Reigning Lord, and the Righteous Judge. That Jesus is judge we reaffirm every Sunday in the Nicene Creed: "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead."

How shall he judge? Basically by evaluating whether he sees himself in us. "If you abide in me and I abide in you," he said, "you will bear much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Mother Theresa lived by a simple formula: "For Christ and through Christ and to Christ." Does this not resonate with the closing words of our great Eucharistic prayer: "Through him and with him and in him"? Does Jesus' Spirit live in us to such an extent that our daily lives resemble His in love and compassion, for the poor, the imprisoned, the lonely, the hungry, the naked, the sick?

The Last Sunday after Pentecost. Another name for it is "The Feast of Christ the King." It is the grand finale of the Church's year and is meant to sum up everything that can be said about Jesus Christ, He who is all and in all. All history is in reality HIS-STORY. Our little minds cannot possibly comprehend the fullness, the grandeur, and the wonder, the splendor of the One through whom all things have been created and in whom everything in the universe is held together.

The intention of this feast is not so much to understand but to adore, not so much to explain but to worship, not so much to verbalize but to fall on our knees awestruck before the majesty of our Savior and Lord. Throughout this day let your hearts sing with the recurring phrases of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus: "King of kings and Lord of lords. And he shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

Sermon on Christian Stewardship:Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost, (A) October 20, 2002

Sermon on Christian Stewardship:
Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost, (A) October 20, 2002
By Rt. Rev. Patrick Augustin
At St. John's Episcopal Church, Waynesboro, Virginia
Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

In the Epistle reading for today St. Paul writes to the struggling little congregation at Thessalonica and seeks to encourage them in their trails and tribulations. This Epistle is Paul's most encouraging and affirming letters, and nowhere is it more encouraging than in today's reading. Paul urges the church take long view of their troubles. They are struggling now, but God has a better future in mind for them. He reminds them of the great affirmation of the Christian faith and urges them to cling to those hopeful promises.

Here Paul says something amazing to them, words that must have given them comfort: God has chosen you. You! Though you may sometimes wonder why, though you may not see much tangible evidence to justify God's choice of you, nevertheless, you are God's choice. God plans to take back the world through you. You! Yes, you are those whom God's has graciously chosen them.

Jesus reminded his disciples about their call and said, "You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruitâ¦" (John 15:16) And here Paul says much the same to the members of the church in Thessalonica. God has chosen us; God will give us what we need to succeed as disciples. We are here not simply because we believe in Jesus, but also because Christ believes in us. Yes, Us!

It reminds me of the story that a teacher had been working tirelessly with a student. He had been having trouble in math class; he couldn't seem to get it. Part of the problem was that he didn't seem committed to getting it. He consistently failed to get this work done for class. "I am not just good at math," the student said, excusing himself. "You know," replied the teacher, "I get the impression that I believe in you more than you believe in you." And the teacher was right. The teacher was absolutely convinced that the student could succeed, if he only applied himself. But how could he apply himself to a subject that he had no confidence of ever mastering? He needed first to believe in himself and in his ability just half as much as his teacher believed in him.

Sometimes we act like that student. I wonder if we are like that with Jesus. We as people of St. John's church are faced with so many challenges. We wonder about our future. Are we going to have enough members to support the ministry of this church? Our concern is genuine as this is stewardship season. All of us will be asked to pledge our money, time and talent to support the work of this parish. But do we believe in our hearts that it is not us but God who has called us to be in this ministry. Is this not enough to give us confidence to trust God?

In the Gospel reading for today the bad boys were trying to trap Jesus. Jesus took the coin that was given to him and asked them, " Whose head is this, and whose title? They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's."

We must never forget that we are made in the eikon ) of God (Genesis 1:26-27) - we bear God's image -- and so it is appropriate to give ourselves back to God - all that we have and all that we are - because we were created by the work of God and are an integral part of God's realm.

At our baptism we received a sign of Cross on our forehead and these words were said, "You are sealed by the Holy Spirit as Christ's own forever." It is God who has chosen us and it is God who shall empower us to grow, flourish and blossom, provided we believe in our call.

There was a man who was minding his own business in a large corporation. One day he was summoned to the president's dreaded "front office." He was horrified. He had only met the president on a couple of occasions. This couldn't be good. Imagine his shock when the president got right to the point. "Lewis, I want you to take charge of a big project of ours, a new market we are developing in the Midwest."

"Me? Why?" He asked in amazement. What were his qualifications for such a task?" "People tell me that you are honest, that you can be trusted, that you think more about the good of the company that you think about yourself. You are just the sort of guy we need for this job." He was delighted, but then it sunk into his brain how much he had to learn, the complexity of the assignment all that had to be done, he nearly gave up before he began. But then he reminded himself, "The boss chose me-me-- for this job. He must see things in me that I have not seen in myself. The boss is not a fool. He knows what he is doing, so if he thinks I can do this, maybe I can."[1]

Brothers and sisters, the Boss has chosen you and me and called us to be Christ's ministers to serve the world in his name. Have no doubts. Let us together commit our lives and resources, time and talents and the rest the Boss's job.

Sources used to prepare this sermon:

Barclay, William, Gospel of Matthew, Vol.2

Craddock ,Fred B.; Hyes, John H.; Holladay, Carl.; Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year, A.

Hare, Douglas R.A., Indentation: Matthew

[1] William H. Willimon, Pulpit Resources

The Tree of Life
By Raj Daroch. Sydney, Australia

After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the Tree of Life. (Genesis 3:24)

Adam and Eve disobeyed God, despite, His explicit command, "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...." (Genesis 2:17) A question comes to my mind, why did God leave the tree of knowledge, in the middle of the Garden of Eden, in the first place? We know that God, who is omnipotent, omniscience, and omnipresent, cannot be taken in by surprise. Surely, God knew in advance that Adam and Eve would disobey Him. So, why did not God guard the Tree of Knowledge with a flaming sword?

Since the creation of mankind, temptation has been part of human life. In today's world, the lack of moral restrain compounded with a society that scoffs at a notion to restrict freedom in any part of our daily life, there seems to be no escaping from the deluge of temptations. And yet, nothing can slake human lust for more of freedom, money, sex, knowledge, and status. List of desires in human nature can go on without a milestone of contentment in sight. Is God responsible for our insatiable desire for more of everything? Why does not God simply remove the temptation that spiral around us and, save us from this incessant rut of discontentment?

I believe the answer is - LOVE. Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth describes love in this way - "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) In these few verses, we can epitomize God's attitude towards us. God always protects us, even though we behave as if we have no need of Him because he is patient and kind in love. God always trusts us, even though we betray Him time and again, because of His love God keeps no record of wrongs. God always hopes that we turn to Him, even though we seem to have no time for Him, because God's love is neither envious nor proud. God always perseveres, even though we lust after the pleasures of this world, because God's love is not self-seeking. Apostle John, who at the Last Supper leaned back against Jesus and heard His heartbeat, tells us - God is Love. (1 John 4:16) God's love is not based on circumstances or, our behavior, but His love is unconditional. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

God allows temptations in our path not for us to indulge in them but to walk away from them. God is not manipulative, but out of love He has given us the freedom of choice. God's spirit in us nudges our conscience to make the right choice of walking away from a temptation, and not give in to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. But even when we fall, God, in His love, has promised to protect and trust us, He hopes that we turn to Him, and He perseveres despite our failures. I do not know about you but, this love of God is unfathomable and beyond my understanding. Nevertheless, this unconditional love of God that transcends all explanation is not for us to comprehend but to receive - gracefully in repentance.

God knew that Adam and Eve would disobey Him and eat the fruit from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. God in His unconditional love took the risk and chose to trust Adam and Eve. Because of man's disobedience, God had to drive the man out of the Garden of Eden. However, despite man's disobedient act, God's love did not evanesce but proceeded to "protect" man from living forever... in SIN. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat, and live forever. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. (Genesis 3:22)

Dear friends, God made the "Tree of Life" out of man's reach because man was not ready to partake the fruit of eternal life in his sinful nature. God had a redemption plan, in place, long before Adam and Eve chose to disobey Him. In eternity, God had planted the seed to give us eternal life, In His divine plan, God had envisioned another tree of life, with JESUS, crucified on it. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The Only Way to God
By Mr. Asif. UK


Religion:

What is religion? This question has puzzled theologians throughout human history. But how did religion start in the first place? Why did it start? In order to understand some of these issues, let us have a look at the etymology of the word "religion" itself, and see that when and where this word was used for the very first time in the human history.

The word religion was used for the very first time in the Latin language. The actual word used in Latin was "religio", which changed into religion when came into English. The roots of the Arabic word "Mazhab" or "Deen" can also be traced back to "religio". In the Latin language, the word "religio" had three basic meanings; which are Faith, Trust & Belief.

If you further analyse these three words, faith, trust and belief; then you realize that there are actually three different characteristics of any healthy and strong relationship. For example in a husband-wife relationship, the wife believes her husband's honesty and integrity, the husband also trusts the faithfulness of his wife, and both of them have faith in each other. This helps them sustain a healthy relationship with each other. But just imagine if the husband doesn't trust his wife any more, and the wife also stops believing her husband, and neither of them have any faith in each other any more. In this case the relationship will obviously disintegrate or break very soon.

Relationship:

Since we are discussing religion, and even if the etymological meaning of the word religion is relationship; even then one may wonder about the significance of relationship in religion. That is where we need guidance from the divine scriptures of the world's three main Abrahamic/Sematic cousin religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Talmud, the Holy Bible and the Koran, all agree that God is the creator of the universe and all its inhabitants, including humankind. The relationship of the Creator with His creation is not denied in either of these religions. When God created Adam & Eve, He had a relationship with them; and according to the Holy Bible, God used to come and have fellowship with Adam & Eve, walking & talking face to face with them. (Gen. 3:8)

Sin:

Sin is the disobedience or transgression of God's law or commandments. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all agree that Adam & Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit.

Sin has its consequences, and the very first consequence of sin is the spiritual death or separation from God.

Separation:

When Adam & Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, then eventually their relationship with God was broken. Though some Muslim scholars would like to believe that the relationship was never broken in the first place. They would argue that Adam & Eve simply apologized to God, and God just forgave them. Though they then find difficulties in explaining that if God forgave Adam & Eve, then why, even then, were they expelled from the Garden of Eden. They also find difficulties in explaining the justification for wars, famine, diseases and all sorts of other evil in the world today, which exist because of the separation of humanity from God Almighty, as a result of their sin. Because when Adam & Eve were in a perfect relationship with God, there were no illness, disease, hunger or any of the evils mentioned above. In the presence of all these sin related evils in the world, saying that God is in full communion with humanity, is nothing but to insult God.

Moreover if we are already in communion with God, and don't need to be put right before God according to Islam; then why bother about praying five times a day, fasting and keeping other tenets of Islam to go to the Islamic paradise, and have that ultimate relationship with God as a result of their good deeds. They won't need to fast or pray before God in the Paradise, they would rather enjoy themselves with the fruits, wine and beautiful women according to the Koran (Sura 56:12-22). And if Muslims are already in communion with God, then why pray and fast instead of just eating, drinking and being merry here in this world as well.

Obviously sin has broken our relationship with God, and that is the only reason that all the major world religions emphasize the need to do something about it. It is for the same reason that the basic essence of the world's major Abrahamic religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam is to re-instate or re-establish the same relationship between humanity and God, which used to exist between Adam-Eve & God.

God loves His creation, and couldn't abandon them in their sin. God also knew that the humanity couldn't establish a loving relationship with him on it's own, no matter how much they fast or pray. Simply fasting and praying couldn't be a substitute for God's ultimate justice and righteousness, because justice requires the punishment of the breaker of the law, and without punishment there is no justice. It is same if someone in Britain breaks the British law, and if even after being found guilty he/she is not punished; then obviously there is no justice. In the same way without punishment of sin there could not be any justice on God's part.

Therefore God decided to reveal His plan to His creation, showing how they could have a loving relationship with Him. This plan was revealed to humankind through various prophets throughout human history, how we can have a loving relationship with Him. God promised through these prophets that what we couldn't do through our own human effort, God would do it by himself. All of these promises, and prophesies about how exactly He would do it, are spread all over the pages of Old Testament in the Holy Bible. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Holy Bible being the word of God is that we discover all these Old Testament promises and prophesies of God, being fulfilled in the New Testament. This gives us the assurance, that the promises of God in the New Testament would also be fulfilled in the same way. Therefore unless we fully submit ourselves to the God's plan, revealed to us through God's chosen prophets; we can't have any loving relationship with God. In the eyes of God, it doesn't matter that how much prayer, fasting, charity or whatever hard work we do we can't achieve it by ourselves.

What exactly is that plan? What is the reason for following only God's plan? Why is it that other plans won't or don't work? In order to understand some of these questions, we need to understand a bit more about the nature of God first. So let us have a closer look at some of the characteristics or attributes of God.

Justice:

As we are all aware that justice is always done through a law, Sharia (Arabic) or Kanoon (as in Urdu). Every country in the world has her own law, and without law there is no concept of justice. One doesn't need a doctorate degree to understand that in the absence of the law, the concept of justice will be totally non-existent. In the Old Testament, we read about the God of justice (Deut. 32:4;cf. Isa. 45:21). The word used in Hebrew for God's justice is Saddik. So, our Just God gave His law through Moses to fulfil this aspect of His personality (Rom. 3:8; Heb. 2:2). Although God gave various commandments through various prophets, even before Moses' time; He revealed His law in a corporate & comprehensive way only through the prophet Moses. Koran also proclaims the God to be "Adil", or a God of justice (Sura 21:47). So both Christians and Muslims agree about God being "just", and believe from the core of their hearts about this particular attribute of the Almighty God. But what exactly does it mean by God being "Adil" or a God of justice? How He is just? How exactly God will do His justice???

The Muslims believe that God gave another law or Sharia through prophet Mohammed too. Now unless we believe that there is more than one God, it would be contrary to reason, to believe that there can be more than one God given law. It would also be unthinkable to assume that somehow God decided to change, amend or upgrade his own law that He gave through Moses, and then sent a modified form of it through prophet Mohammad. Because we are discussing here about God's law; and not about Pakistani law, which does have an amendment added every now and then. If the God is one then His law is one too, which He gave through prophet Moses; and if any other law comes, then it is debatable if it can possibly be from God. But right now we won't go into that debate, because in this chapter we are dealing with the concept of salvation in Islam & Christianity, in relation to God's justice & righteousness. Therefore, for the argument sake, we would assume that the Islamic belief of Mohammedan law or Shariat-e-Mohammadi is God's law for the Muslims.

Now let us try to understand God's justice by having an analogy with the justice system in Britain, Saudi Arabia or any other country in the world. For example, the British justice system runs through the British law, whereas God's justice system runs through God's law or Sharia. Now what happens if someone breaks the British law? Obviously that person is called a criminal, and gets punished for his/her crime. The same way when someone breaks the law of God, then both Muslim and Christians believe that the person is called a sinner, and would be punished by God. This is very simple, and it doesn't take a genius to understand this phenomenon. Therefore, either a criminal or a sinner, whosoever breaks 'law' would be punished; because if the breaker of the law is not punished, there is no justice.

The eventual outcome of law is to punish anyone who violates it, be it the British law, American law, Pakistani law, Saudi law or the law of God. There is no law anywhere in the world, which promises forgiveness to those who have broken, transgressed or violated it.

How would God punish sinners or those who have violated His law? Simply by sending them to hell.

Who would go to heaven then?

There are two types of people who would be able to go to heaven:

Those who are innocent, and have never sinned in the first place!

Those who are sinners, but would be able to somehow justify their innocence and righteousness before God on the Day of Judgment!

Let us discuss both of these categories one by one:

1. Who is Innocent, or Have all Sinned?

Who is a sinner? Almighty God revealed through His prophets, that all the human beings are sinners or "Gunehgar" (as in Urdu)? There is no one who could ever say that he/she is not a sinner. The Holy Bible tell us that the wages of sin are death, and moreover that all of us have sinned, and have fallen short of the glory of God. It is also written, that whoever claims to be righteous is calling God a liar. (1John 1:10) It is written in the Bible, that all have sinned, and have fallen short of the glory of God (Heb. 4:15; 1Peter 2:22)

Jews, Christians and Muslims, all would agree that all of us are sinners, maybe some of us sin more than others. Even the greatest of the prophets have sinned, and couldn't establish their righteousness before God. (Sins of other prophets) In the Koran, prophet Mohammad is called a sinner in Sura 4:106, 40:55, 47:19, 48:2 and 94:1-3, where Allah is asking him to seek forgiveness for his sins. Though some Islamic theologians argue that a prophet is always innocent, and cannot sin; therefore one who is a sinner cannot be a prophet in the first place. But in the light of the Koranic references given above, how they can justify Mohammad's prophethood??? But we won't go any deeper in that debate, because again this is not our topic in this session.

But it is interesting that both the Holy Bible and the Koran testify to the righteousness of Jesus. Though the Koran mentions about the sins of many prophets including Mohammad, who are in need of God's forgiveness for their sins, it doesn't mention anything like that about Jesus Christ. Therefore apart from Jesus Christ, no other human being in history has ever been righteous or sinless in the eyes of God. Which proves that apart from Jesus Christ no-one can be put in the first category of people able to go to heaven, because apart from Jesus, no one can claim to be sinless.

2. Which sinners would be able to justify their innocence & righteousness before God & how?

We showed above, that Jesus Christ is the only person in the entire human history, who never sinned before God and hence doesn't need to justify His innocence or righteousness before God. Therefore we won't discuss Jesus in this second category of people, who need to justify themselves before God.

The rest of humanity, including all of us, and the greatest of all the prophets, fall into this second category. We all need to justify our righteousness to avoid God's justice, wrath and the hell fire. God has explained his way, how we could have a loving relationship with him, and avoid judgment and the hell fire too. But before we discuss that, we would like to see if it is really possible to go to heaven without that plan that God revealed in the Holy Bible through his prophets. In order to examine other options, we would start with the prophets; because if even the prophets don't have a hope without God's plan, then we are no one.

In the Bible the prophets like David and Solomon are found relying on God's mercy. (2Sam 12:13)

In the Koran, Sura 46:9 explains, that how Mohammad wasn't sure about his own salvation, or the salvation of his followers. In one of the Hadiths, a Bedouin says in front of Mohammad, that I pray that Allah would do His justice. The Mohammad immediately responds to him by saying that:

"Don't ask for justice, ask for his mercy only-Because if Allah would do his justice, then even I would not be spared".

I agree with Mohammad that if God does justice, then even he would not be spared. But I don't share his optimism that God Almighty would not do His justice. But why was Mohammad so afraid of the justice of God? Simply because he wasn't sure about the forgiveness of his sins; and unless you have assurance for forgiveness, you can't have assurance for heaven. No one can give us that assurance apart from Jesus Christ. But before looking into that, let us first analyze the 3 major Islamic concepts of forgiveness, which would explain that why Mohammad was so frightened of God's justice.

(1) Through submission.

(2) Through good and bad deeds put in a scale.

(3) Whoever Allah wants to forgive.

1) Through Submission:

The word Islam means 'submission', and a Muslim is somebody who submits to God through believing in 'Tawheed' (the oneness of God), prayer, fasting for the month of Ramadan, giving alms, and performing 'Haj'. The Muslims practice of Haj is a pilgrimage to their holy places in Saudi Arabia, including the Ka'bba (the black cubical structure) in Mecca, they belief that the Ka'bba is an exact replica of something in heaven.

Let us analyze if one can possibly be forgiven by God, through this criteria. We will analyze this Islamic belief in three parts; past, present and the future.

Let us first go to the past, and look at the time of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. If simply submission could lead to God's forgiveness, then why Adam & Eve were not given that option by God, when they transgressed God's commandment by eating the forbidden fruit. God could have asked them to submit, and become good Muslims; and their sins could have been forgiven so easily. The only thing that they needed to do was to:

Believe in Tawheed, or the oneness of God, which they already did.

Pray five times a day in the Garden of Eden.

Fast for one month a year.

Give alms of 2.5% of the fruits of Garden of Eden.

Go to a particular place in the Garden of Eden every year, which God might have appointed to be their Haj

And in this way Adam & Eve could have been forgiven by God, and not need to pay, or be punished for their sin at all. But we see that God didn't do this, but rather expelled them from His holy presence. This is because forgiveness of sins through submission was never God's way in the first place. The reason God didn't do it was because of the justice aspect of God's character. Adam & Eve had violated God's law, and unless they were punished there would be no justice.

Let us analyze forgiveness through submission in the present contemporary world. Let us imagine that a murderer is brought before the Judge in a British court, and is found guilty of first-degree murder. The murderer says to the Judge, "Mr. Judge! I submit to you, please let me go home now." One doesn't need a PhD to understand that what will happen, even a five years old child can tell that how the Judge would respond to that criminal who has broken the law. Because obviously the Judge will say "You have no brains man! What has your submission got to do with your crime?" (or words to that effect). Because if he let the criminal go home without punishment, then he himself is breaking the law, which requires him to do justice by punishing the criminals.

Let us look now in the future: if God didn't adopt this criterion for forgiveness in the past, and no judge in the world would adopt that in the present time either; then how we can expect Almighty God, who is judge of all the judges, to do that in the future? But it is amazing that the Muslims believe that on submission Almighty God, being the perfect Judge, would say to us sinners, "You feel free to go to heaven." In this way God would be breaking his own law, or in other words God would become a sinner. I am sure that according to both Islam & Christianity, it would be considered a blasphemy even to think that God would do that.

2) Through Good and Bad Deeds put in a scale:

This idea is mentioned in the Koran (Sura 101:6-9), whereby our good and bad deeds will be put in a scale, and if the good deeds are heavier, we would go to heaven, if our bad deeds are heavier, we would go to hell. Let us analyse this belief also in three ways; past, present and the future.

Let us again first of all go back to the past, to the time of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. God created Adam & Eve, and after some time they sinned; but we don't know the time between their creation, and before they sinned. This time is not mentioned in the Holy Bible, or the Koran; and could be anything between 100 days to 100 years, or maybe 100,000 years.

(100 Day/100 Years/100,000 years)

Now if Islamic idea of good deeds is about obeying God, or at least about not disobeying Him; then Adam & Eve were doing good deeds successfully during all that time, otherwise God would have thrown them out of the Garden of Eden long before. This suggests that they were doing nothing but a lot of good deeds until they picked and ate that fruit. Now if the Koranic belief of Sura 101:6-9 is applied & tested here, then God could have put Adam & Eve's good deeds and bad deeds in a scale.

Since their many good deeds between the period of their creation and sin were obviously so much heavier, compared to their one sin, an almost negligible bad deed; God might have said to them, "Adam & Eve! Your good deeds are so much heavier as compared to just one single bad deed, so I would forgive you and let you continue to live in the Garden of Eden". But we know that God obviously didn't do it, and they were not forgiven, but were rather shunted out of the Garden of Eden and away from the presence of the God Almighty. Therefore, obviously it wasn't God's way of forgiving sins in the past.

Now let us further examine this Islamic belief in our contemporary world, and see how much it helps and guides humanity. Let us take a hypothetical example of a man in Saudi Arabia, who never did any sin or any crime in his life. At the age of sixty, he kills somebody else, is brought before the judge, and is found guilty of first-degree murder. According to the Saudi law, the judge announces the death penalty, and orders that the head of that person should be chopped off. This person says to the judge, that his good deeds are so much heavier compared to his bad deed that he should be forgiven & not be punished. What do my Muslim friends think that the judge would do with this man? I believe that the person would definitely be punished, to fulfil the requirements of Saudi law.

We have examined how God didn't use this criterion for forgiveness in the past, and we have also examined that it is not logical in the contemporary world either. Thus how we can expect God to forgive us through this criterion, and at the same time to do justice with this absurd idea of good and bad deeds. This seems more like a mockery of the justice of God, and indeed of God Almighty Himself. Secondly if this is such an ideal and divine method of justice, then why don't Muslims demand its implementation in all the 55 Muslim countries in the world? This would mean that one could go out and do as many rapes, murders, thefts and robberies as he/she liked, but that he/she shouldn't be punished, as long as his/her good deeds are greater then his/her bad deeds. But the reason, why Muslims don't demand that in their countries, is because they themselves know fully well that it would be the most absurd form of justice imaginable. I am amazed, that how Muslims realise the absurdity of this kind of justice anywhere in this world, but are still ready believe that God would do that for them.

God is a God of holiness, and wants complete holiness. For example, if there were a glass, full of fresh milk; one drop of urine in it would make it undrinkable. The Islamic idea of good deeds and bad deeds is similar to saying that even if there is 51% milk and 49% urine; even then it is OK to drink it. This is not how God of the Holy Bible works, and neither there is any such teaching in the Old Testament, nor it is in the New Testament. Adam & Eve were shunted out of the presence of God, because of just one small bad deed; and all their good deeds were not considered even worth looking at. God Almighty teaches us in the Holy Bible teaches that our good deeds are just like dirty rags. (Is 64:6)

Moreover if our relationship with God is based on our good & bad deeds, then what exactly is the nature of such a relationship? It seems more like a master-slave relationship, because when a slave pleases his master through obeying, he/she expects some reward, but expects flogging when something gone wrong. The more you would fast and say prayers; the more would be the chances for going to heaven. But the question is, "Were Adam and Eve in this kind of master-slave relationship with God in Garden of Eden?" The scriptures of Judaism, Christianity & Islam don't support this idea. Then the question arises is "why God would like to establish that kind of relationship with us now?"

According to the Holy Bible, the relationship that God wants to establish with us is that of a father and child. That is why when Jesus taught us to pray to God, he asked us to call Him 'Father'. It is interesting to note here, that only a child can inherit from his/her father; and a slave never inherits from his/her master. Secondly a child has the assurance of forgiveness from his/her parents, whereas slave is never sure about forgiveness. This explains why Muslims are not sure of their salvation, whereas Christians have that assurance, which comes only through putting trust in Jesus Christ.

3) Whoever Allah wants to forgive:

After believing that God is "Adil" or a God of justice, this belief of God's forgiveness & justice is even more absurd than the two previous ones we just discussed.

Just imagine that in the British courts, there is a Judge who forgives whoever he wants, no matter how gross their crime might be; and punishes whoever he wants no matter how innocent that person is. Who in the right sense of their mind would believe it to be justice?? I am sure that it doesn't take a genius to tell, that this kind of justice is nothing but recipe for disaster and anarchy, if implemented in any country in the world. I wonder if Muslims may want to appoint this kind of judges in all the Islamic countries in the world. Though sometime it seems to be the case, when Asif Zardari, the husband of former Pakistani Prime minister Benazir Bhutto, is still in prison after five years, without found guity; whereas Nawaz Sharif (another former prime minister of Pakistan) was released by the supreme court judges to go abroad, though accused of much bigger crimes compared to Asif Zardari.

How anyone can testify and believe God to be a God of justice, and in the same breath also tell us that God would do such a crazy thing. Any deeper you go into this belief, and the shallower it would appear to be to you. Though possibly it has got something to do with one of the 99 attributes of God in the Koran, called 'Asmad', which means the uncaring, unconcerned one (Sura 112:2). This contrasts with the God of the Bible who is a very concerned God: about the welfare of the people who obey and follow Him; and even those who don't obey and follow Him.

If God forgave Adam & Eve, just by them apologizing; and would forgive Muslims without punishment, if they just apologise, then what about the Devil? What if the Devil or 'Shaitaan' also sincerely repents and apologises to God for his disobedience, then is God also going to send him to Jannah or paradise along with the other Muslims? This would negate God's righteousness.

Mercy:

Muslim theologians agree that Mercy is part of God's character, and God is many times referred to in the Koran as 'Rahim', meaning merciful (Sura 1:1,2), it is one of the 99 names or attributes of God in Islam. But since God is also called 'Adil' meaning 'Just' in the Koran, let us investigate and analyze that whether these two attributes of God are compatible or contradictory to each other, according to the Islamic theology.

We have previously established, that apart from Jesus Christ, every single person including greatest of the prophets is a sinner. Therefore for transgressing God's law, every human being should be punished according to the requirements of God given law. In this way, although God is doing His justice by punishing us according to His law, He is not acting Mercifully towards us. How can God be merciful, if He is sending us to a terrible place called hell? If God lets us go without punishment, then He is merciful, but in then He is not doing His justice.

So how come, according to Islamic theology, God can be a God of justice & of mercy at the same time??? This is a million dollar question, for which Muslim theologians have been trying to find a logical answer for the last 1400 years, and I would like to wish them the best for another 1400 years in future. But I would address this question from a Christian perspective in the last chapter of this document.

We all know that what happens when people are caught for their crimes in Britain. They need an advocate, because without an advocate there is no chance for them to be released. The same way being a sinner, we need an advocate or a counselor, who would intercede to God Almighty on our behalf for our redemption from the hell fire. The Holy Bile tells us that this counselor is the Holy Spirit of God, which is given as a gift for accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

It is written in the Holy Bible that God is love, and it is interesting to see that 'love' is not one of the 99 names of God mentioned in the Koran. The God of the Koran is not 'father' or 'savior' either, whereas in the Bible we find all these three qualities of God. Muslims would like to argue about God's mercy, and some argue that it is the same as love. Let us examine the difference between love & mercy through an example. Just imagine that some Serbian soldiers went in a Bosnian village during the Bosnian conflict, and killed every single person in the village. In a house at the end of the village, they came across an 80-year-old lady; who was handicapped, having no legs. They looked at her, and out of mercy decided not to kill her. Now that is called mercy; but can we say that they didn't kill her because they loved her? Let me give another example, to further explain my point. Just imagine that in the ancient days, a person had two children and a slave. Whenever his children or slaves disobeyed him, or did anything bad; he forgave them both, because he was good at heart. Now obviously he forgave his children out of love, whereas he forgave the slave out of mercy. But can we say that he forgave his children out of mercy, and forgave the slave out of love? No. Moreover his children would have the assurance of his forgiveness, because they know that their father loves them. But whereas the slave might have a hope, but would never be able to have the same assurance as the children. That is why Muslims have a hope of salvation, whereas Christians have the assurance of salvation; and it is because of the two distinctive relationships they have with the God almighty.

Do All Ways Lead to God?

There is often a common consensus on this question, among the liberal theologians of pluralist approach within almost every religion. I neither classify myself as liberal, nor as pluralist; but I would partly agree with them on this issue. Yes! All the ways do lead to God. But another million-dollar question here is that "Do all the ways lead to heaven as well"?

Because all those masses, from every religion, destined for judgement under God's law, are going to go God first; who will then let them know about their doomed fate in hell. But it doesn't mean that everyone on a way to God is also necessarily on the way to heaven too, so it is very important to keep that distinction between 'way to God' and 'way to heaven'.

The Only Way to God:

The only way to God that would also lead you to heaven goes via Jesus, and this way can only be adopted by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Let us examine from a logical point of view, that how exactly this all works out.

Before we unfold this mystery of God, let us first look at a few examples from everyday life. A 19-year-old guy was arrested for reckless driving in California, and was found guilty of breaking the Californian law. After finding the boy guilty of his crime, the judge fined him $100. But then the judge took off his robe, came down to the boy, and wrote a cheque of $100 to be paid on behalf of that boy. The reason for doing that was that the judge was actually the father of that boy too. But since he was also the judge, he had to do justice; and couldn't let the boy go unpunished, just because he was his son. In the same way Almighty God, being the perfect judge, has to do his justice, and can't let anyone undermine his justice and righteousness. But he loves us too; therefore he decided to pay the penalty by offering his only son Jesus on the cross, so that we could be saved from the punishment of hell fire. But he would do that only to those who would accept and trust in Jesus as a atonement or 'Deeyat' (Arabic) for our transgression of God's law. Only those who would accept Jesus as their saviour, and put their trust in him will be saved from the punishment of hell, and enjoy eternal communion with God.

In 1998, two British nurses were accused of killing an Australian nurse in Saudi Arabia, and this incident became headline news in the international press. On being found guilty of their crime, it was ordered that one of the nurses should be punished by chopping her head off, according to the Islamic Sharia law of Saudi Arabia. But we are all aware that her head wasn't chopped off, because a lot of ransom or blood money was raised in the UK, and was paid on behalf of those nurses. According to Islamic law, there is a clause called Deeyat, which states that the person can be spared punishment if an acceptable amount of money is paid on behalf of the person killed. Therefore Jesus is our Deeyat, raised by God to free us from the condemnation of the law. Both Muslims and Christians are like those British nurses, condemned to death under the law. Those nurses were condemned to the physical death, and we are condemned to the everlasting spiritual death under the law, because of our sins. The difference is that Christians have accepted Jesus as their deeyat, and are saved, just like those British nurses were saved by accepting the money raised for them. Whereas Muslims are saying that they don't need Jesus as a ransom, and believe in continuing to submit to God's law or Sharia, are trying to work their own way out of their sins. It is same as those British nurses saying that they don't need Jesus, and they simply trust the Saudi law or Sharia. If they had not paid the deeyat, saying instead, they trusted in Saudia law, they would not have been alive today.

The important thing to note here is that though God hates sin, but he loves sinners. So he couldn't desert His creation altogether. But the question was, how to reinstate that broken relationship? Adam & Eve were innocent and knew no sin, because sin is the violation of the law (or commandments) of God, which they never did until they ate the forbidden fruit.

In presenting Jesus to Muslims, Christians may be asked this question. If Jesus was the answer for humanity's salvation, the why didn't God send him earlier? According to the Biblical genealogies, there is difference of about four thousand years or more, between Adam and Jesus' time. So God could have sent Jesus 10 years after expelling Adam & Eve from the Garden of Eden, or maybe after 100 years, or 1000 years; so why did God leave humanity without her saviour for such a long time?

The answer to the above question can be simplified through a parable from the everyday life. A five-year-old boy gets some dirt on his face, while playing. Now if his father grabs him by the collar, and drags him to the washroom, and forcibly washes his face; the boy would probably never be thankful for that. He would probably cry, and complain about why his face was washed; and may even argue that his face wasn't dirty in the first place. But wise parents might show a mirror to their son first, and make him realize about his dirty face. Then he would probably request his parent to help him wash his face, and would be thankful for them doing that too.

Since we are the children of God, He did exactly the same as wise parents should always do; by showing us a mirror, which is His law or Sharia. The law says; 'Don't steal, don't murder, don't commit adultery' etc.; when we end up doing these things, we realize that we are dirty with our sins, and are set for God's judgment or punishment. A mirror can show us our dirt, but it is incapable to wash it away; the same way law or Sharia can make us realize, or prove that we are sinners, but it is unable to wash our sins away. Therefore God sent the Lord Jesus Christ to be crucified for those sins of ours, so that we might be washed with His blood.

Then Mohammad comes with another law, claiming it to be from God. Let us analyze if that fits into the chronological order of what God is trying to do since the creation of Adam & Eve. We have earlier seen that God gave His commandments through various prophets; and revealed His law in a more corporate form through the prophet Moses. The whole idea of sending this law, along with countless promises, was to make humanity aware that they are dirty with their sins; and therefore need a savior, which God is promising to send to be crucified for their salvation. Then Jesus Christ is sent as the fulfillment of all those promises of God, and gives His blood to wash us of our dirt of sins. Then if God is sending another law through Mohammad, it would mean that God is sending another mirror, to make us realize our sin. Why would God send another law to do that, when the law of Moses has served that purpose already? And secondly the logical consequence of the law through Moses was the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. Therefore if God is sending another law through Mohammad, then the question is: is he going to send another Christ to be crucified? The answer to this question is no, according to the Torah, the Holy Bible and the Koran. Therefore we are left with no other logical conclusion: any law that comes after Jesus cannot be by God at all, simply because it doesn't fit into the chronological order of God's way of doing things. Then the question arises, that if the law sent through Mohammad is not from God, then whom it is from?? I would leave it for both Christian & Muslim theologians to decide: where does the law of Mohammad come from?

But here is another questions, which is often raised, 'if salvation comes only through Jesus, then what about people before Jesus Christ'? In the Old Testament, we read about the Chief Priest, who used to go behind the curtain into the most sacred place in the Jewish temple once a year. He used to pray, fast and do all sorts of good deeds, for the whole year; to prepare himself to face the presence of the Lord. There he used to intercede for his people before God, taking the blood of the animals for the forgiveness of their sins. There used to be some bells hanging around his neck, which were used as a signal to those outside that he was still alive. But if there was even the slightest element of impurity in his life, he would die in the most holy place in the presence of the Lord. But nobody was even then allowed to go in to bring his corpse out, because of the presence of the Most Holy Almighty, any sinful creature would have died. In case of death, he was dragged out with a rope that was tied to his leg. This was symbolic that God hasn't forsaken His creation altogether, and still listened to them through their Chief Priest. Even so, the Chief Priest's uncertainty about his own purity was also symbolic that through our own righteousness, we can never be sure about our salvation. But when the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross, that curtain in the Jewish temple was torn from top to bottom. The most holy place in the temple, where the chief priest of the Jews couldn't go by trusting his own righteousness, now anyone could go by just putting their trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus through his death on the cross has removed the curtain of sin, which had separated humanity from God. Once we are washed with the blood of Jesus, by accepting Him as our personal Savior, then we automatically come to join God in the same relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall. There is always a need for some commonality in a relationship between two individuals, groups or parties. In the God-human relationship, before the fall, that common thing was sinlessness. To mend that broken relationship either we must become sinless and righteous like God, as previously demonstrated this is impossible, or God must mediate, becoming like us, which He did in Jesus Christ. Only though God's efforts can we again have a 'deen' (religion), like Adam and Eve had before their sin. Through our own efforts we cannot have any relationship with God.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all agree that Christ is going to come as the perfect judge, and judge the whole world. So what he is going to judge the world for, and what exactly He is going say to all of us on his return? He is probably going to say that: 'I gave you my law, and made you realize that you are found guilty for violating it thus you stand for punishment under & according to that law. I gave my life on the cross for your sake, and my blood to cleanse you of all that dirt and filth of sins. But you didn't accept that, so I am going to Judge and punish you with hell fire.' Some people would say to Jesus at that time, that they believed in the law. But it is the same as if a criminal found guilty of first-degree murder in a British court asks the judge for forgiveness, because he/she believes in the British law. But just as believing in the British law can't save a person from punishment if he/she has violated it, in the same way believing in God's law or Sharia can't save anyone from punishment if he/she has violated it. Therefore the only way to avoid the judgment and punishment of God is in asking forgiveness in Jesus' name. In the same way one of those robbers, who were being crucified along with Jesus asked for forgiveness, by saying "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve-----Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:41-42). If Jesus could say to that robber, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with in paradise" (Luke 23:43), then He can certainly say this to each & every one of us today; provided we sincerely repent, and accept Him as our personal Savior. Apart from through the Lord Jesus Christ, no other religion or ism in the world can give us this assurance of salvation. May the God Almighty open up the hearts & minds of all the lost souls, who are deceived into the slavery of whatever false religion, ism or philosophy in this world! May God help everyone realize the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the salvation that comes through it, before it is too late for too many! Amen.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bibliography

1. The Eerdsmans Bible Dictionary, Bruce M. Metzger, B. Eerdsmans Pub. Co. MI, U.S.A., 1987.

2. The Harlins Dictionary of Religion, Jonathan Z. Smith, Harper Collins Pub. London, 1996.

3. The 'New International Version' Study Bible, Hodder & Stoughton, London 1998 edition

4. The Koran (M.M. Pickthall translation) Islamic Book Service, New Dehli

5. Ninety Nine Names of Allah, M. I. Siddiqi, Kazi Publications, Lahore, 1993 edition

Copyright of Markaz Tehqiq Al-Haq. Copies of this essay can be requested from: MTH, Unit 313, 27 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2EW, UK Tel: 07786-582 042 MTH@care4free.net

I Wonder
By Janelle. New York. USA

I wonder as I wander along this meandering path we call life. The world is so much different than I knew it as a child. People who were once friends seem to now be my enemies. People I once disliked I have learned to love. And those I once loved, I have learned to distrust. Far from me is the innocence of youth that pervaded my being. Far from me is the freedom to speak freely without having to worry about being "politically correct." Far from me are hopes of peace on this earth without a Holy Spirit Movement that grasps the hearts of men into accepting the Son of God'Jesus Christ.

Now that many of these thoughts are far from me, I am free to operate in the only medium that works. I fall on my knees and pray to my Heavenly Father to let His will be done in my life. I do not try to make peace, nor fight for acceptance. For all I have ever wanted and longed for I have found at the Father's feet. I have found peace in Jesus. The Holy Spirit has comforted me.

I have been mocked and ridiculed for standing for Christ but I count it all gain for I am being conformed to the image of Christ more and more everyday. Glory be to our God.

As I look around me, I wonder where the Christians who simply trust in Jesus have gone. It seems that many Christians have been fighting for a movement in the political realm without surrendering to God in the spiritual realm. It seems that everyone wants a cause, but who is fighting for the cause of Christ? Please understand me, I am not saying that politics, or protests don't have any place in the life of the Christian. I am not saying that we shouldn't persist in reporting the ill treatment of our brothers and sisters around the world (e.g., persecution under communist and Islamic regimes). After all the word of God is clear that we should "Bear'one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). However, I believe that the Jesus I know does not wish us to fight for acceptance, protection and peace in this world because it will never come. I believe that Jesus would rather have us fight on our knees.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -- Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

It is only at our Savior's feet that we have true peace. We can bring every trouble to the one who, himself was troubled and afflicted in this world. For Jesus himself promised us trouble. Jesus said;

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have

overcome the world." - John 16:33 (NIV)

The Amplified Version says; "I have told you these things,

so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence.

In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and

frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident,

certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have

deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for

you.]" - John 16:33 (AMP)

Jesus never promised us that we wouldn't have trouble. He never promised us that we would never be persecuted, imprisoned or even killed for the sake of Christ. But our Savior did promise us that He (i.e., God Almighty) would never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). He conquered this world so that we would not have to, because he knew we could never do it in our own strength. He paid for our sins before we knew Him (Romans 5:8). He promised us that we can wait on Him and bring all our burdens to Him, and He would give us rest (Isaiah 40:31; Matthew 11:28).

Although we know hardships will come, God not only comforts us but he encourages us. He encourages us to endure and to be concerned with his affairs…not the affairs of this world.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus

4No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs

--he wants to please his commanding officer. 5Similarly,

if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the

victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.

6The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a

share of the crops. 7Reflect on what I am saying, for the

Lord will give you insight into all this. 8Remember Jesus

Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is

my gospel, 9for which I am suffering even to the point of

being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained.

10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that

they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with

eternalglory. 11Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died

with him, we will also live with him; 12if we endure, we will

also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;

13if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot

disown himself. -- 2 Timothy 2:3-13

So brothers and sisters, I encourage you to re-think your salvation. Rethink your Christianity. Think about which Jesus you are serving. Are you serving another Jesus? Or, are you serving the Jesus of the bible who told you not to worry? It is time we take pride in being a soldier for Christ. It is time we recognize that our enemy is not of this world. It is time that we acknowledge that our enemies are not Buddhist, Muslim, Communist or Freeman. It is time that we fully comprehend in our mind that Satan; the ruler of this world is the enemy of the Christian. Thus, our fight should not be fought in this earthly realm. Rather, we have been chosen to fight a battle that does not require our strength but requires our prayer. It is time we put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) and follow Him. May God Bless You and keep you in His perfect will.

Life is a unique gift of God.
By Shakeel Inayat. USA

The story, which I am going to share with you, is a true story. Two years ago, when I was in Pakistan. One day I was standing along with my brother in front of my house. Suddenly I saw a man and he was limping. His name was Saleem Masih and had three sons and two daughters. He lived in our town.

We both thought, he might have drunk some win. Therefore he is limping, but after a few minutes, we came to know that, he had not drunk the wine. He was sick for the last three days. He had caught fever and cold for the last few days. I was deeply traumatized when I came to know that he had lost his one kidney on account of drinking wine.

Suddenly he fallen down and felt unconscious, we ran toward him to help him.

I asked to my brother to fetch some water. And made him to drink a few drops of water and now he regained his conscious back. My brother and me took him to his house. He was shivering with cold. I rushed to my home to get some boiled eggs so that he can get some warm by eating those eggs. But as the time was passing, his condition was getting worse. Nobody was at his home except his seven years old daughter and she kept crying on seeing his pap dying in front his eyes. I asked to her; if she has some money to medicines but she replied, I do not have any money. Her mother had gone to her job. She works in the houses of rich people.

I asked to my brother if he has some money, but he had no money too, so we could not rush him to Hospital because we did not have any money. I ran back to home to get some money from my mother but that money was not sufficient for the expenses of hospital. So we made a guy to run to collect some money from the people of our community. We also made a guy to call his wife so that we can take him to hospital, as the time was passing, he was moving towards to death, He was crying and yelling horribly. Every body was worried and shocked at his poor condition. We all were not able to take him to Hospital because we did not have any transportation and money too. Anyhow I ran towards my friend house to ask him to give a ride to saleem Masih. After a few minutes, saleem's Elder brother came and inquired about his health. He said that he would recover soon, and left his brother alone fighting with death. Saleem's and his brother did not have good relation and they had been prosecuting against each other in court for the property of their forefather.

By the time, we collected some money; he fainted again and was breathing very slowly. My friend and me think that it would be better to take him to hospital. So I made him to sit on motorbike and I sat behind of him to hold him because he absolutely fainted and even his legs are not moving. I thought he had lost his control over his legs. We drove to hospital and took him to emergency ward. We asked the doctor our patient is very serious and he needs immediately intensive care. The doctor was reciting the Holy Quran and said to us, take him to general ward because he is not serious. I think that doctor was absolutely blinded. At that moment Christian community has no worth in that country, may be less than a dog. I urged to doctor to give him emergency aid because he had been fainted for the last one hour. And he transferred saleem's to general ward, but we could not find any doctor in that ward. I ran back to the doctor and told him that our patient is about to die, please do something immediately, but the doctors said I have to complete this reciting first because it is month of Ramzan. I was deeply traumatized from his reply. I ran to another doctor and I found a lady doctor and she ran with me. She immediately managed to give him oxygen through container, took his ecg's and wrote some prescription, my friend ran to medical store because the medicines were not available in Hospital.

She injected two injections in his body, and gave him breathing even with his moth. She pressed his chest to get back his heartbeat, but there are fewer chances to save his life.

She was wrestling hard to save his life but his blood pressure and pulse had gone down. But she was so determined, she continued till the last breath of saleem. But at last saleem soul left his body. She felt bad that could not save his life. She told me that he is died. His all relatives and his wife had reached at hospital by the time. Unfortunately, now saleem does not want any help to survive because he was died

I Am a Stranger. By David W T Brattston

Racism was absent in the earliest church and in the non-Christian society surrounding it. Christians and other subjects of the Roman Empire simply did not make distinctions based on race. In fact, mentions of a person’s skin colour are so rare as to be insignificant. For instance, the Christian Bardesanes in the early third century AD mentioned the fact that people come in different colours as an example of what everyone agreed was inconsequential. The main Roman xenophobia was of hostile peoples outside the Empire.

Instead, discriminations were based on cultural factors. Jews divided the world into themselves and Gentiles, while for Greeks the distinction was between themselves and “barbarians” i.e. people who did not share Greek language or culture. The Romans divided people between citizens and non-citizens, and then among various economic classes of citizens. In each case, however, individuals could cross the divide by joining the preferred group, through financial or military achievement or by changing religion.

Any antipathy was cultural, not ethnic, and was directed most against “oriental cults” or “superstitions”, including Christianity. In fact, there is only one xenophobic slur by a Christian in the whole of the New Testament, and even that is a quotation from a member of the maligned group (Titus 1.12f).

On the other hand, Scripture and the earliest tradition say much about how to regard individuals new to a community, whether they come for employment, business opportunities, or to escape adverse conditions in their homelands. The term “immigrant” nowhere appears in the early literature because strict separation into nation states did not yet exist, with its restrictions on travel, employment, and trade; the ancients did not generally think much about the reasons why newcomers had come, unless it was for military invasion. Instead, all peaceful newcomers were included in the catchall term “strangers”

The use of the term “stranger” in the early Christian period was thus wide enough to include all persons new to a locale. Christian writers before AD 200 encouraged welcoming and generous treatment of immigrants and other strangers.

The earliest New Covenant instruction about strangers is Christ’s preaching that they be welcomed and protected, and that whoever does so to the least of strangers does it to Jesus himself (Matthew 25.34-45). Later, one apostle wrote that Christians are loyal to God when they render any service to newcomers (3 John 5).

A description of Christianity for heathens written around AD 125 reported that it was the Christian custom to take strangers into one’s home and rejoice over them as if brothers and sisters. A similar book by a Christian teacher who was martyred for the Faith around AD 165 records that local Christian congregations used their funds to provide for orphans, widows, the sick, the needy, and strangers. It also details that among the effects of conversion to Christianity was that “we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them”.

In showing how elevated were Christian ethics, a bishop in France in the AD 180s included providing lodging in one’s own home to “the roofless stranger” and to “give rest to those that are shaken”, which would cover a newcomer feeling disruption from moving to a new country. About the same era, the bishop of Antioch in Syria wrote similarly. Both bishops quoted Zechariah 7.10 in support.

Clement of Alexandria was dean of the world’s foremost Christian educational institution from AD 192 to 202. He praised hospitality, which he described as “akin to love is hospitality, being a congenial art devoted to the treatment of strangers.” To illustrate its scope and give a reason why Christians should welcome and assist newcomers was “Hospitality, therefore, is occupied in what is useful for strangers; and guests are strangers; and friends are guests; and brethren are friends.’ Even more universal is his statement “those are strangers, to whom the things of the world are strange.” Christian morality, wrote Clement, obliges us to love strangers not only as friends and relatives, but as ourselves, both in body and soul …. Accordingly, it is expressly said, “Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian, for thou wast a sojourner in Egypt;” designating by the term Egyptian either one of that race, or any one in the world.

These authors lived so early and were so geographically widespread that their sentiments could have originated only with Jesus himself. Because they predate the division into present-day Christian denominations and before racism and immigration were subjects of controversy, well before Christianity was a state religion, their comments are relevant to Christians of every stripe and hue today.

 



Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation By Nazir S Bhatti

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