Mosab Hassan Yousef becomes a Christian

JP: I found this encouraging and you may as well.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas leader, becomes a Christian

Excerpts:

Mr Yousef, who is known as Joseph by friends at the Barabbas Road church in San Diego, California, arrived in America 18 months ago but only recently made “the biggest decision of my life” to go public with his conversion to draw attention to how the Palestinian leadership is “misleading” and exploiting its people.
…..
Mr Yousef was raised as a Muslim by his politically powerful family. His father, Hassan Yousef, a highly respected sheikh born in the West Bank town of al-Ghaniya near Ramallah, is a founding member of Hamas, whose military wing has instigated dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel since it was formed in 1987.

Mr Yousef said that his doubts about Islam and Hamas crystallised when he realised not all Hamas leaders were like his father, a moderate who he describes as “open-minded, very humble and honest”.

Mr Yousef said that he was appalled by the brutality of the movement, including the suicide bombers seeking glory through jihad.

“Hamas, they are using civilians’ lives, they are using children, they are using the suffering of people every day to achieve their goals. And this is what I hate,” he said.

It was after a chance encounter nine years ago with a British missionary that Mr Yousef began exploring Christianity.

He found it “exciting”, he said, and began secretly studying the Bible, struck by the central tenet “love your enemies”.

Nevertheless he does not advocate the “collapse of Islam”, but rather for people to acknowledge that after 1,400 years “it’s not working any more”.

He said: “It’s not taking them anywhere. It’s making them look ugly.”

He hopes that Muslims will begin to question their religion and “fix it” by rejecting the parts that call for “killing others, cutting hands, cutting legs, torturing people and asking for destruction of entire civilisations”.

He said that after he converted to Christianity, he decided he had to escape and “live my life away from violence because I couldn’t coexist with that situation as a Christian.”

“I was thinking, what is my responsibility now? To see people dying every day or to stand up and say, this is wrong, this is right and be strong about this? So I had to make this move.”

He plans to write a memoir about his “transformation” that he hopes will inspire others and to found an international organisation to educate young people about Islam and preach a message of “forgiveness”, the only way he thinks “the endless circle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians can be broken.

“I know this take a longer time, but this is the right way to do it, to build a new generation, a new generation who understand how to forgive, how to love.”

It is a vision his new church shares. In a posting on the Barabbas Road website entitled “Joseph’s story”, the most unlikely member of the congregation is described as “a miracle” who left a society steeped in “brutal and bloody warfare” and instead “turned to Jesus”.

“He is most certainly the face of things to come; an Ambassador to those oppressed by Islam. He is passionate about liberating his brothers and sisters from the darkness of a false religion, and living the truth that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light.”

Scriptural perspective:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:16-17)

“Is it possible to have life in Christ without love for Christ?”

JP: My response to the “World from my Window – ‘Question of the Day’“. Click to the site to see my full response including dropping the “n” from “men

Here is the “TULIPBURGER” response (the picture of which looks very unhealthy – but very tasty!):

“We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19).

To personalize it: In the life of Jim Peet, God initiated the relationship! I responded because He chose to love me! Had He not chosen to love me, I would not have loved Him.

If God loves all men in the same way, it would seem that all would love Him. That they do not seems to indicate a limited purpose of the cross.

True Christians love Him!

I Corinthians 16:22, “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!”

There may be varying degrees of love for Christ among various men. And there may be varying degrees of love in the life of a single believer. Redeemed but still fallen men will not perfectly love the Lord.

Genuine love for the Lord will manifest itself in obedience (again in varying degrees depending upon maturity and yieldedness) to the Lord (1 John 4:19-21)

For my TULIPBURGER comment see Jay Adams Reaffirms the Importance of Limited Atonement and the picture of the giant (looks like a Red Robin) burger.

A Distinction between Israel and the church

JP: Good read from the Baptist Bulletin. This view of the church and Israel will be important In our study of Romans chapters 9-11.

Why Dispensationalism Still Matters

Excerpts:

…. dispensationalists believe in a distinction between Israel and the church. This does not always mean an absolute distinction. After all, the two institutions share the same God, the coming kingdom, and the Messiah. It also does not mean that covenant theology supporters fail to see any differences between the two in history, such as a functioning nation of Israel in the Old Testament and an international church in the New Testament.

… dispensationalism sees the church as starting on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and does not treat the word “church” as a soteriological category. Most dispensationalists, especially Baptist ones, would see the necessity of individual regeneration to be in the church. However, dispensationalists emphasize other aspects of the church’s nature and how it functions. The church has a unique relationship to Christ, something that did not exist before. Church saints are baptized into Christ or have a position of being “in Christ.” This strong identification is not true of pre-Pentecost saints.

Against the bleak backdrop of Roman culture

JP: Relevant to our study of Romans. Blog quotes from a section of the ESV Study Bible.

Abortion and the Early Church

Quote from the ESV Study Bible essay on “The Beginning of Life and Abortion”

The noncanonical Jewish wisdom literature further clarifies first-century Judaism’s view of abortion. For example, the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides 184–186 (c. 50 B.C.–A.D. 50) says that “a woman should not destroy the unborn in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures as a prey.” Included among those who do evil in the apocalyptic Sibylline Oracles were women who “aborted what they carried in the womb” (2.281–282). Similarly, the apocryphal book 1 Enoch (2nd or 1st century B.C.) declares that an evil angel taught humans how to “smash the embryo in the womb” (69.12). Finally, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “the law orders all the offspring to be brought up, and forbids women either to cause abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

Contrast these injunctions with the barbarism of Roman culture. Cicero (106–43 B.C.) records that according to the Twelve Tables of Roman Law, “deformed infants shall be killed” (De Legibus 3.8). Plutarch (c. a.d. 46–120) spoke of those who he said “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan” (Moralia 2.171D).

Against the bleak backdrop of Roman culture, the Hebrew “sanctity of human life” ethic provided the moral framework for early Christian condemnation of abortion and infanticide. For instance, the Didache 2.2 (c. A.D. 85–110) commands, “thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.” Another noncanonical early Christian text, the Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c. A.D. 130), said: “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide.” There are numerous other examples of Christian condemnation of both infanticide and abortion. In fact, some biblical scholars have argued that the silence of the NT on abortion per se is due to the fact that it was simply assumed to be beyond the pale of early Christian practice. Nevertheless, Luke (a physician) points to fetal personhood when he observes that the unborn John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth came into the presence of Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus at the time (Luke 1:44).

More than merely condemning abortion and infanticide, however, early Christians provided alternatives by rescuing and adopting children who were abandoned. For instance, Callistus (d. c. A.D. 223) provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.

Sanitizing sin

JP: Good read by Jay Adams: Relevant always but especially synchronizes with our study upcoming in Romans 1:18-32.

Sanitize: “to make more acceptable by removing unpleasant or undesired features”

Call It What You Like

Excerpts:

It doesn’t matter a bit what you call it, the Bible is clear about what it calls it—and leaves no doubt. Sin is “sin.” You can’t cover sin from God’s eyes (or from the eyes of a biblically-astute counselor) no matter what terms you may use to describe it. Sin is “sin.” But what is sin? In the eyes of some it is transgressions against another human being. Is that sin? Yes, but not primarily so. Sin is first, and foremost an offence against a holy God Who will not allow you to mislabel it. When the Lord Jesus) gave us the parable of the Sought-and-Found son (Luke 15) He put into the mouth of the repentant prodigal these words: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you.” There is the two-fold nature of sin. All sin against another human being is also a sin against God.

Again, what is sin? John says that sin is “lawlessness.” And that is precisely the nature of much sin today—believers who disregard the commandments of Christ (Mt 28:20) and do as they please. In effect sin is saying to Him, “Don’t You know that you’re standing in my way? Step aside! I want to go that direction.” You can’t tell God to get out of the way without sinning. But, in effect, as Proverbs constantly tells us, sin is taking the wrong path.

Jesus came to die for sin. That means it can be forgiven, erased, cleansed. You do no one a favor by calling sin genetic, a mistake, some sort of cultural more, or whatever. Jesus didn’t come to deal with those matters. But He did come to deal with sin.

So call it what you like—but no matter what you say, sin will always be sin. And your sanitizing language can’t change that!

John Piper on Sin:

SIN IS:

  • The glory of God not honored
  • The holiness of God not reverenced
  • The greatness of God not admired
  • The power of God not praised
  • The truth of God not sought
  • The wisdom of God not esteemed
  • The beauty of God not treasured
  • The goodness of God not made sacred
  • The faithfulness of God not trusted
  • The commandments of God not obeyed
  • The justice of God not respected
  • The wrath of God not feared
  • The grace of God not cherished
  • The presence of God not prized
  • The person of God not loved

God, Man, Philosophy

JP: Image above is from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.

Our lesson this week (February 4th), will be from Romans 1:18-32.

The attached handout and notes will be the basis for our discussion:

Paul’s Concern for the Romans


Remains of the Appian Way in Rome, near Quarto Miglio

JP: Outline for our Bible study for Wednesday night January 28th, 2009

Paul’s Concern for the Romans

Comment: Some view Paul’s Epistle to the Romans as the Gospel of Paul. The great purpose of the epistle is to answer the solemn question: ‘But how can a man be righteous before God?’ (Job 9:2) Therefore, the epistle develops the message of the gospel, the good news of grace and its practical results for sinful man.

ESV Study Bible:

The theme of Romans is the revelation of God’s judging and saving righteousness in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the cross of Christ, God judges sin and yet at the same time manifests his saving mercy.