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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What would you do?

I have been following Pastor Nadarkhani's situation since news of his arrest leaked out from Iran.  Anytime I read about a Martyr, either modern day or one of the ancient Martyr's, I wonder if Jesus called me to walk thru that door, would I? 

Like all Christians I like to think I would. Life experiences however have taught me none of us truly know what we would do in any given situation until we are faced with it.  It's so easy for us to sit in the comfort of our home and read:

John 13:32-40
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
32 If God is glorified in him,[a] God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
   33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
   34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
   Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Its easy to sit in the comfort of our homes and say as Peter did:

Mark 14:29-31

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

 29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
   30 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[a] you yourself will disown me three times.”
 31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

We all know what Peter did though:

Mark 14:66-72

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

Peter Disowns Jesus
 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.    “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
 68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.[a]
 69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.
   After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
 71 He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
 72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.[b] Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice[c] you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Of Peter's Martyrdom, Foxes Book of Martyr's says:

Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus saith that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, “Lord, whither dost Thou go?” To whom He answered and said, “I am come again to be crucified.” By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

All of this brings us back to the original question, if faced with the choice, renounce Christ or die, what would I, or you do?  Could we turn back at the gate as Peter did?  Could we stand and face an Iranian Judge as Pastor Nadarkhani has?  Endure the threats to our spouse and our children as he has?  Endure the beatings and torture he has?

As you read Pastor Nadarkhani's letter below I challenge you to look inside your heart and ask yourself, "What would I do?"  Before you start reading the letter think of this: The word martyr is actually derived from the Greek word for witness. Before you read his letter ask yourself do you take time to Witness to friends or family?  Do you have the courage to share your love for Jesus with friends or others you come in contact with?  Are you afraid if you share your witness you may lose friends or be labeled a fanatic?  If you are ashamed or afraid to share your love of Jesus in those circumstances how could you ever do it under Pastor Nadarkhani's circumstances?

In His Service,

Danny



Written in June 2010 by Pastor Yusef Nadarkhani while imprisoned in Lakan Prison, Iran, for refusing to renounce his Christian faith and adopt Islam. Translated from the original Farsi.

Dear brothers and sisters, Salam

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am continuously seeking grace and mercy to you, that you remember me and those who are bearing efforts for his name in your prayers.
...
Your loyalty to God is the cause of my strength and encouragement. For I know well that you will be rewarded; as it’s stated: blessed is the one who has faith, for what has been said to him by God, will be carried out. As we believe, heaven and earth will fade but his word will still remain.

Dear beloved ones, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of a few verses, although you might know them, So that in everything, you give more effort than the past, both to prove your election, and for the sake of Gospel that is to be preached to the entire world as well.

I know that not all of us are granted to keep this word, but to those who are granted this power and this revelation, I announce the same as Jude, earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

We are passing by special and sensitive days. They are days that for an alert and awake believer can be days of spiritual growth and progress. Because for him, more than any other time there is the possibility to compare his faith with the word of God, have God’s promises in mind, and survey his faith.

Therefore the true believer does not need to wonder for the fiery trial that has been set on for him as though it were something unusual, but it pleases him to participate in Christ’s suffering because the believer knows he will rejoice in his glory.

Dears, the “ judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Therefore those who are enduring burdens by the will of God, commit their souls to the faithful Creator. Promises that he has given us, are unique and precious. As we’ve heard he has said: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”





How can it be possible for a believer to understand these words? Only if he is focusing on Jesus Christ with adapting his life according to the life Jesus lived when he was on earth. As it is said, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”
Have we not read and heard: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there are who find it. Many attempt to flee from their spiritual tests, and they have to face those same tests in a more difficult manner, because no one will be victorious by escaping from them, but with patience and humility he will be able to overcome all the tests, and gain victory.

Therefore in the place of Christ’s followers, we must not feel desperate, but we have to pray to God in supplication with more passion to help us with any assistance we may need. According to what Paul has said: In every temptation, God himself will make a way for us to tolerate it.

O beloved ones, difficulties do not weaken mankind, but they reveal the true human nature. It will be good for us to occasionally face persecutions and abnormalities, since these abnormalities will persuade us to search our hearts, and to survey ourselves. So as a result, we conclude that troubles are difficult, but usually good and useful to build us.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must be more careful than any other time, because in these days, the hearts and thoughts of many are revealed, so that the faith is tested. May your treasure be where there is no moth and rust.

I would like to remind you of some verses that we nearly discuss everyday, (Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven), but as long as our human will has priority over God’s will, his will shall not be done. As we have learned from him in Gethsemane, he surrendered his will to the father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

What we are bearing today is a difficult but not unbearable situation, because neither he has tested us more than our faith and our endurance, nor does he do as such. And as we have known from before, we must beware not to fail, but to advance in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, And consider these bumps and prisons as opportunities to testify to his name. He said: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

As a small servant, necessarily in prison to carry out what I must do, I say with faith in the word of God that he will come soon. "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Discipline yourself with faith in the word of God. Retain your souls with patience. For there is no man who does anything in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly.

May you are granted grace and blessings increasingly in the name of Lord Jesus Christ.

Yusef Nadarkhani
Lakan Prison in Rasht

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