ISIS and “The People of The Cross”

By now, you’ve probably heard of the gruesome beheadings committed by Islamic Terrorists (saying those words isn’t so hard, Mr. President… you should try it!) in Libya against a group of Coptic Egyptians.  It’s even likely you’ve seen the terrible photographs, and maybe even the horrific video.

It’s gut wrenching.  It makes you mad enough to want revenge.  The message of ISIS is clear, they’ve come to smash Christianity, to crush the “crusaders”, and to spill much of our blood.  These are not days of peace and prosperity in which we live as believers.  These are days of war… whether we like it or not.  Whether we WANT it or not.

Mcoptic crossuch has been made in certain circles of the fact that the Copts were not true believers in Christ Jesus.  It can hardly be argued that the Coptic creeds and doctrines are Orthodox, nor have they been for some time.  They are a people group in need of evangelism.  Certainly some, if not all, of the twenty-one men killed by ISIS understood their own faith well and believed the unfortunate heresies of Coptic Christianity.  Just as I am sure that if (or maybe “when”?) ISIS makes good on its threats to conquer Rome, there will be many in the Vatican that know full well what Roman Catholicism teaches and will believe it heartily.

Yet, when I watch the video -which I can hardly get through without wanting to throw my computer against a wall- I see helpless men, on their knees, the name of Jesus on their lips, ascribing to Him the title of “Lord”.  Whether these poor men are calling the right Jesus “Lord” is only something God can figure out.  What is unfortunate is that many are certain they know what was in the hearts of those men.  They don’t.  They may suspect.  They may be suspicious and skeptical.  But they do not know.  Let’s not presume to know the things only God can know.

forchristiansiraqI note the irony of many people criticizing the Copts having Arabic letters as their Social Media profile pics to show solidarity with those in Northern Iraq.  The western leaders that ministered to those people would make our skin crawl if they climbed into our conservative pulpits here in America.  The actions of many of those “Christians”, venerating such places as Ancient Nineveh, giving their lives to protect relics and icons, teaching sacramentalism and ancient genealogical assurance would repulse your average American Calvinist.  And yet, there they are with an Arabic “N” on Twitter.

Surely, when it comes to the Copts and to the Iraqis, we all wish for a MacArthur Study Bible in their hands, the Nicene Creed in the memories, the Westminster Confession on their lips, and the Word of God in their hearts.  But, if all I get from a man who KNOWS his head is about to be taken off is a refusal to say the Shahada to save his skin and the words “Jesus is Lord” on his lips instead, I’ll take it… and I’ll hope for the best in everything else.

Whatever happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt anyway?  Whatever happened to painting those in death in the best possible light?  I am not prepared to call those men my brothers.  I have not to this point and I won’t here.  Yet, I am not prepared to say they aren’t either.  Perhaps they heard the Gospel, and cried out to Christ.  Perhaps they read the Scriptures for themselves and saw the truth.  Perhaps they all would have hated me and Christians like me, arrogantly clinging to their heritage as their source of salvation.  I, simply, have no idea.

Adam4D CopticHere’s what I do know… it doesn’t matter to ISIS if they have John MacArthur in front of them or a heretic like TD Jakes.  Their message is clear, they want to kill “The People of the Cross”.  They want to destroy Christianity.  If we do not convert to Islam… their Islam… we will die if they can make it happen.

So, how should we react?

Brothers and Sisters, if they want a war, we ought to give it to them!  We ought to count our lives as nothing and spend it fighting the real war going on.  Not this territorial march on the Middle East, not a call to a second crusade, not a taking up of arms to oppose their army (which is EXACTLY what they want)… but the real war.  The one that has eternal consequences.  ISIS does not need to be carpet bombed.  ISIS needs the Gospel.

It is a brave man who fights a fierce enemy.  It is a noble man who picks up arms to defend those weaker than himself.  We shouldn’t discount these things if the Lord so leads us to war with these brutal people.  And surely, the United States and the rest of the West, unleashed and unfettered, could conquer the entire world.  Surely ISIS is no match for the United States Military on a war footing.  But, what good does it do to gain the whole world and lose their soul?  Are we to believe that a destruction of ISIS won’t lead to the rise of another brutal power?  Should we think that the destruction of radical Islam won’t lead to the rise in a radical form of another anti-christian movement?  Is our view of Satan so shallow that we believe we can defeat him with bullets and bombs?

C.T. Studd, who gave up a promising career and a life of ease, to die in agony on the mission field.  A hero of the faith.

C.T. Studd, who gave up a promising career and a life of ease, to die in agony on the mission field. A hero of the faith.

No?  Then we must be about our Master’s business, not just our country’s.  We must seek to convert ISIS, to stand up to them with the same courage the Reformers stood up to the Catholic Church in the face of burnings at the stake.  We must have the same resolve of those missionaries whose stories we read to our children.  Simply, we must go and tell them about their great sin and our greater Savior.

And, we must be prepared to be captured, tortured, enslaved, and killed.  We must be prepared to lose our heads to reach them.  They must come to know us as preachers, as evangelists, as a people so given to Christ that they expect our final words to be “Jesus, my Lord.”  ISIS must hear the Gospel.  We must go and tell them.

CT Studd once said he didn’t want to live within the sound of church and chapel bell, he wanted a rescue shop a yard from hell.  Will our generation produce a CT Studd to go to Iraq, Syria, and now Libya?  Outside of hell, the fires don’t get much hotter than in the midst of ISIS.  May they hear us!  May God give us the courage!

They intend to take our heads.  Surely it will be the only way to get us to stop telling them about the hope that lies within us.  Take them if that be our fate.

We’ll have a new ones soon enough.

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”” {Rom 10:14-15 NASB}


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