I am honored to welcome guest contributor to COT, my friend, Alan Kurschner of The Calvinist Gadfly. Our hearts have been absolutely united these past two weeks on the issues surrounding the content, call, and cross of the gospel of Jesus. He is a true yokefellow in the ministry; and I thank the Lord greatly for how He is using Alan in the greater body of Christ and in my life personally.
Read his words carefully... and may they impact you as they have me this evening.
The Cross is a Radical Thing,
2 Cor. 4;5-7
by Alan Kurschner
The Gospel is not a free offer to anyone. It costs--it costs your life.
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it.'" (Mark 8:34-35)Those who preach a gospel absent of this demand, preaches no gospel.
Question: Who did Jesus say the following words to? “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Answer: “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said” (Luke 14:25)
This is the “pre-evangelism” of Jesus, if someone wants to use that term. Can you imagine the seeker and emergent leaders using this as pre-evangelism? Rather, what we see is contemporary leaders speak in front of “large crowds,” appealing to creaturely-centeredness. Jesus' language of cost and self-denial is conveniently left out.
Jesus functioned on the truth that we heard this past week, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” I.e. If you win them with the demands of self-denial of the gospel, you will win them to commitment and authenticity. If you win them with a phantom gospel with nothing more than self-improvement and a God who is subjected to their terms, you win them to self-deception and unregenerateness.
Will God’s sheep be offended by the Shepherd’s own words of self-denial? No. They will willingly submit to them.
Our Western/American Evangelical myopia of a creature-centered gospel embarrasses me. Embarrass does not describe it all; I am afraid. Just Stop and Think. One sweep of persecution in America would immediately wash away the Evangelical pablum-speak. I don't wish that persecution but it should cause us to take a step back and view our western accretions on the gospel vis-à-vis the non-western understanding of the gospel.
The following words of Paul must be on the lips of these two precious disciples of Christ below, who have taken up the cross:
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Phil 1:12-14)
Arrested: June 2001
Days Imprisoned: 2053
Shabaz Kaka boarded a bus bound from Lahore to Faisalabad in June 2001. When the bus stopped at Jamia Mosque in Faisalabad for a break, Shabaz visited the restroom along with the other passengers. The leaders of the mosque saw he was wearing a cross and began to question him. Learning of his Christian faith, the authorities objected that he had visited the restroom adjacent to the mosque and therefore accused him of desecrating the Koran saying he had torn out pages and trampled them under his feet. This is a common lie used by Muslims to trap Christians. They contacted the nearest police station and filed a complaint. Shabaz was arrested and charged with committing offenses under articles 295a and 295b of the Pakistan Penal Code generally referred to as the Blasphemy Law. He was held in the local jail. The authorities did not advise his parents of his arrest or imprisonment. For more than a year, his parents did not know what had happened to their son or where he was. More than three years after his arrest, Shabaz appeared in court in Faisalabad for his hearing. On September 25, 2004, Judge Shahid Rafiq made the final decision of life in prison for this young man. His attorney has appealed this decision.
Mua Say So
Arrested: April 2003
Days Imprisoned: 1387
In 2002, police and militia burst into Mua Say So’s home and beat and tortured his four married brothers in front of their families. His younger brother, Mua Bua Senh, died after he was beaten twice mercilessly. Seeking justice for his brother’s murder, So tried to petition the government. He photographed his brother lying in the coffin along with a sign that said, “Beaten to death because of following the gospel.” Because of this action, he was later arrested and charged with the murder. During his hearing in April 2003, Mua Say So was sentenced to three years in prison for murdering his brother and for falsely accusing the police. He lost his house, and his wife fled with their children to a safe area.
While in prison, he has been forced to break rocks for construction projects. He also has had to plant vegetables. The prisoners are given only two meals a day, consisting of two bowls of rice with vegetables and salt. Families that are able take food to the prisoners to supplement their diet and maintain their health.
Mua Say So is not allowed to pray over his food. The police told him if he would deny God, he would be released. He continues to stand firm in his faith, following Jesus.