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Christianity

MARTYRDOM --Anything More Than a Pain in the Neck?
By Bruce Biller
Mar 14, 2015 - 12:19:50 AM

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In a recent post, I posed a series of questions seekers and skeptics should answer while evaluating the claims of Christianity and Islam. One of the questions was, "Which book, the Bible or the Qur'an, gives the best portrait of God?" (see http://www.brucebiller.com/can-islam-and-christianity-co-exist-part-4 ).

While the known attributes of God are all revealed in Scripture, the one most often ascribed to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (I use this phrase to sharply differentiate Allah from the God of the Bible) is love.

For example, in what is undoubtedly the most loved and oft-quoted verse in the Bible, the apostle John writes,

  • "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -- John 3:16

The same apostle also sums up the nature of God when he says, "... God is love." -- 1 John 4:16b

The reason these verses and a hundred more like them are so important is that they show the immense value God places on love and human life--so much so that to lay down one's life for another represents in God's eyes, the virtue that surpasses all others. John reveals God's heart when he writes,

  • "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." -- John 15:13

Now let's redirect our attention to Allah.

For nearly two decades, the world has been shaken by the violent deaths of tens of thousands of men, women and children, victims of jihad, radical Islam's holy war against Jews, Christians and yes, other Muslims--ones who reject the Islamic extremist's view that Sharia law is an all-encompassing religious-political system that must be forcibly imposed upon all of earth's inhabitants.

Absurdly, misinformed personalities would like us to believe the jihadists are not followers of Islam. However, I'm persuaded that those who shout this falsehood the loudest are the same ones who proclaim tolerance (except towards Christians and Jews, of course) as the supreme virtue of the modern man. Somehow these anti-Semitics and Christianophobics have been deceived into believing a lie, the lie that there is no right or wrong, good or evil, truth or falsehood.

While it is true that many Muslims do not condone the violent practices of Daesh, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups, the fact is, the Qur'an does command that Muslims wage war and commit acts of violence for the purpose of Islamic dominion. For example, Qur'an 9:5 reads,

"But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent (i.e., convert to Islam) and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them, for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."

There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of disenfranchised, mostly young men, who are bored, envious, nursing bitterness over perceived injustices, and who have bought into the radical Islamic ideology that proclaims that Western nations, particularly Christians and Jews, are the source of their problems.

Once these converts have bought into radical Islam, they're vulnerable to extremist imams who teach the ancient tradition of Shahada, or death for Allah. Shahada mandates that all Muslims aspire to die in combat for Islam.

To achieve the Islamic dream of worldwide dominance, many of the radicalized young Muslims are willing to strap a bomb to their chest and then detonate it on an airplane, in a crowded marketplace, or on a bus. They deliberately kill themselves and others in order to become martyrs for Allah.

So what's the carrot, the ultimate reward, that persuades them to kill themselves and defenseless human beings?

Seventy-two dark-eyed virgins in Paradise. Really? That's the best Allah can do?

In a Hadith, an Islamic tradition, Muhammad said,

"[There is] a palace of pearls in Paradise and in it seventy courts of ruby ... and in each court [there are] seventy houses of green emerald stone. In every house, seventy beds. On every bed, seventy mattresses of every color and on every mattress a woman."

Ibn Kathir (1373 A.D.) wrote in his commentary on Surah 55:72:

"The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: 'The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and seventy-two wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana'a [Yemen]'."

The promise of seventy-two virgins has become so engrained in the minds of many deceived Palestinian mothers that when their sons die as martyrs, they celebrate their dishonorable deaths as though they were weddings! Imagine throwing a party in honor of a son who not only has committed suicide, but has taken innocent lives as well? In Christianity, such reprehensible acts by a family member would heap immense shame upon the family.

So let me repeat my question: "Which book, the Bible or the Qur'an, gives the best portrait of God?" What does your gut tell you?

The Allah of the Qur'an does not place a high value on life. Allah teaches Muslims to dominate and subdue, even murder, anyone who will not convert to Islam. Allah approves the acts of suicide bombers who maim, murder, and destroy. And this god's highest reward is an earthly, carnal harem of seventy-two dark-eyed virgins. You would think that a true god would be able to conceive of a heavenly reward that far surpasses the earthly lusts of sexually-deprived young men.

Unlike Allah, God values life. Rather that inciting his followers to violence, Jesus willingly laid down his life in order to give us eternal life. He asks that you and I be willing to follow his example.

Several weeks ago twenty-one Coptic Christians were murdered by Daesh terrorists in Libya. Randy Alcorn, a popular Christian writer and blogger, wrote that the martyrs are "a badge of honor to Christianity." I could not agree more. The bold confession of these young men was Ya Rabbi Yasou, which means, My Lord Jesus.

Two of the martyrs were brothers, Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23). In a recent interview, their brother, Beshir, prayed, "Dear God, please open their [Daesh killers] eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught." Beshir reflects the love that Jesus, the Son of God, modeled for us when he willingly died for our sins.

So our God does not demand that we take life; instead, he needs us to be willing to give ours up for His sake. He does not promise us seventy-two dark-eyed virgins. Instead, he encourages us to patiently endure, to obey his commandments, and to remain faithful to Jesus (Revelation 14:12). He promises a crown of life to those who follow him, even unto death (Revelation 2:10). The heavenly promises of God transcend earth's most treasured offerings. In fact, the best of our earthly treasures are but a shadow of their heavenly counterparts.

So again I ask, which holy book gives the best portrait of God?

Over the next few years, we who follow Jesus must expect to live in circumstances that will be perilous at best. No longer can we in the West look to our government for peace and safety. And unlike many Christians, I do not subscribe to the notion that believers will be suddenly whisked away in a secret rapture before Satan's Antichrist is revealed.

We will not be immune from the sufferings experienced by the first-century church, Christians in the former communist bloc nations, or our brothers and sisters who live in the Islamic states of the Middle East.

Instead, I believe Scripture teaches that Christians will suffer mightily before the parousia (i.e., the singular Second Coming of Jesus, of which the opening event is the rapture of the church). Like the seed that dies to give birth to new life, Christ-followers who will be martyred for their faith during the days preceding the Lord's return will cause many to place their trust in Jesus.

Here's how Simon Peter, an apostle and early martyr for Christ, encourages us who live among the generation, I believe, that will see the soon return of Jesus:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." -- 1 Peter 1:3 -- 7

How encouraging it is to know that in anticipation of these days, Jesus promised, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." - Luke 21:28

Bruce Biller
Email:
bruce.biller@yahoo.com
Author of "The god-man: seed of Satan"

Footnote:

If you would like to read a five-star, fictional account of what life might be like for Christians during the coming storm, consider ordering a copy of my two-part end-times novel. Part one, The god-man: seed of Satan, takes you through the mid-point of the seven-year period of time that is often called the Seventieth Week of Daniel. Part two of this action-packed thriller is The God-Man: Rapture, Wrath and Reign. I believe the books will greatly encourage you, and will help you prepare for the very difficult period that lies ahead.

Have A Zest for Noble Deeds?
by Bruce Biller
Mar 8, 2015

The apostle Paul was clearly an observer of the games, an avid sports enthusiast who frequently used sports metaphors, such as boxing, running, self-control, and physical training, to illustrate the disciplined Christian life. I imagine he was familiar with first century sayings that were comparable to Clayton's quip about the need for offense. Visualize an animated Paul, striding back in forth in a crowded synagogue or amphitheater, proclaiming that fighters who only block punches will never wear the victor's crown!


The god-man: seed of Satan is the first in a two-part, pre-wrath rapture thriller that tells the riveting story of the rise of the treacherous Antichrist, the god-man who will come to prominence during the seventieth week of Daniel.

Bruce Biller, a longtime student of the Bible and the End Times, believes that Christians will live through the Great Tribulation before Christ's return, rather than being taken to heaven first. His novel set during the last few years of human history, The god-man: seed of Satan, is his vision of how life may be for Christians during the rise of the AntiChrist.

"The god-man: seed of Satan"
by Bruce Biller
ISBN-13: 9781449766306
Author Solutions-WestBow Press
Published 10/16/2012
Hardcover $36
Nook book $9
Pages: 310


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