What Do We Say About This?
An evangelical pastor in Iran was arrested in October of 2009 and given the sentence of death unless he recanted his faith in Jesus Christ. He has been tortured, and in July of 2011 all appeals were rejected. In January of 2011 he wrote this letter to his brothers and sisters from behind prison walls:
"Saturday, January 08, 2011,
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 When someone internalizes the revelation of the Truth, he will be willing to share it with others and future generations. We are indebted to the people who, in the past, fought for the Truth, allowing us to have access to this glorious revelation of Jesus Christ. These believers understood the richness and the beauty of the revelation and they were ready to fight in order to pass down the fruit of the revelation. How can we bear similar fruit for eternal life? It depends on the way we choose.
First we have to close our ears to the voice of the darkness as it is written in the first psalm:Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Psalm 1:1. The second thing is to open our ears to the Voice of the Spirit speaking through the Word of God, as it is written:But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Psalm 1:2The fruit of communion with the Lord through his Life-giving Word is stability in this life and eternal fruit that others bear in their life, as the Scriptures say: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalm 1:3 “Come”A lot of people admire Jesus as a unique model to follow for generations and a lot of people would like to become like Him. Jesus did not come to be admired but to give us a perfect model to follow.
If we want to be like Him, we need to take a step of faith, like Peter. When the apostle saw his Lord walking on the furious sea, he asked to come to Him on the water. Jesus said: “Come!”Everyone willing to follow the Lord is supposed to have listened in some way to this seemingly imperious command: “Come!” a command which implies an act of faith, referred to sometimes as the “leap of faith.”
As it is clear from the Scriptures, what we are able to see is not faith, as the biblical faith is defined as : “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We have to decide “in spite of”’, in order to experience the power of God. But we need to remember that everything must be done according the Word of God.
Peter did not experience the possibility to walk on water because he decided to leave the boat but because of the Word, the Command of the Lord. The Word of God tell us to “expect to suffer hardship” and dishonor for the sake of His Name. Our Christian confession is not acceptable if we ignore this statement, if we do not manifest the patience of the Lord in our sufferings.
Anybody ignoring it will be ashamed in that day. Let us remember that sometimes the leap of faith leads us towards some impasses. Just as the Word led the sons of Israel leaving Egypt toward the impasse of the Red sea. These impasses are midway between promises of God and their fulfillment and they challenge our faith. Believers are to accept these challenges as a part of their spiritual course.
The Son was challenged at Calvary in the hardest way, as it is written in the Scriptures:“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” Hebrew 5:7-8The cry “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” is enough to express the sufferings of our Lord at Calvary.
Behind this cry of distress, we can identify the great faith that led Him to accept the will of the Father. Yea, He knew that God will “not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” and he was to rise up within 3 days.
Beyond the power of death, the Lord perceived the victorious power of the resurrection. I don’t need to write anything further about the basis of faith. Let us remember that beyond beautiful or painful feelings, only three things remain: Faith, Hope and Love. It is important for believers to make sure which kind of Faith, Hope and Love will remain.
Only what we receive according the Word remains forever. I would encourage you to live in a way that is worthy to the Holy calling of the Word. Let believers, who are heirs of the glory, be examples for others in order to be a witness of the power of Christ for the world and the future. I beg you to live according the Word of God in order to chase the powers of darkness that generates doubts in your heart.
The overcoming faith that casts out the doubt comes by hearing the Word of God.Only a church based on the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ will remain, for beyond the protection of the Word of God the destroyer destroys. Let us keep His Holy Testimony.
Your brother in Christ,
As you can see from his letter, this pastor was not interested in economic policies or moral issues within Iran. His heart has been consumed with being a faithful witness of Jesus Christ, and if necessary, a faithful martyr. These are the kind of testimonies that should make us in the west blush when we suggest our own persecution. And in the face of our Christless political involvement, our economic murmuring, and our blatant attacks on unsaved sinners, this man stands as a living indictment to our diluted brand of Christianity.
My heart is overwhelmed when I read his words, and I pray God will continue to strengthen him, as well as use this to bring the western church to repentance.