1.“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9 ESV)
I think social media is a hard place to be these days if you’re a Christian.
I’ve never seen such open mockery of (and animosity toward) the church in my lifetime.
How we respond to this is going to show the measure of our faith.
It is very difficult not to return reviling for reviling, but the ability to do so will also be proof of our obedience and faithfulness to Christ.
Some of us may be called to leave social media completely if we are unable to bless those who curse us…
2. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” (1 Peter 4:14–15 ESV)
Let me give you the paraphrase of this verse. Don’t suffer because you are doing things that you really should suffer for. Don’t do things that give fuel to the scorn the world has for Christians.
Too many of us deserve exactly what we’re getting…
3. It’s getting harder to watch pro football knowing that you’re actually watching men give themselves brain disease for sport. Sadly, it’s not hard enough for me to stop watching yet…
4. If you’re angrier than you are broken, you’re in rebellion against the heart of God.
5. Revival would change the church far more than the culture the church lives in…
6. God always works through a remnant…yet, nothing scares us more than being just a remnant…
7. Leaders who are unwilling to repent create followers who won’t either…and God leaves the building without anyone noticing.
8. Now that either liberals or conservatives are the enemy of our souls, the devil enjoys open season on all of us.
9. It’s very hard to teach your young people to respect their elders and authority when you are reviling your elders and authorities on Facebook…
10. I’m not even going to touch on the fact that this is Columbus Day…
Hebrews 5:3 – 11
**Read Hebrews 5:1-2 to pick up the context from last week. **
3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.
He (the human priest) has to first offer sacrifice for himself
Look at Pastor Tom, he absolves us of our sin – but first he must deal with his own.
4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
“Called” – Could a young Jewish boy grow up to be anything he wanted to be? An astronaut? A high priest?
Aaron – was from the tribe of Levi
All Priests were Levites – but not all Levites were priests.
All High Priests descended from Aaron
By Jesus’ day it had become a political position… with money passing hands.
5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”
Jesus was appointed? Who appoints Jesus?
When? In one sense at his baptism – in another sense in eternity.
It says that he did not exalt himself – he didn’t “run” for the office.
6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
Priests were from Levi and Jesus was from Judah.
It wasn’t very hard for these folks to figure out – Jesus has no stake here.
How does Jesus qualify?
So the writer has to show why Jesus is worthy of this office.
Probably one of the more strange characters. Who is this guy Melchizedek?
Well there is much or about him in chapter 7 – so (1) you will have to wait and (2) that will encourage you to come back.
The point here is that Jesus was appointed – he didn’t just make himself high priest – appointed by God.
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
In verse 2 we saw how the HP could identify with the people because he was one of them.
Can Jesus do the same?
Look at his earthly ministry.
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
There is something here – that in some way, Jesus’ suffering was for 2 reasons
(1) for himself to learn obedience
Isn’t that odd that Jesus had to learn obedience – could it be that his flesh is so real that it is rebellious by nature like ours?
(2) for us as an example how to handle suffering.
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane – Jesus prays to be relieved of suffering.
The cup = crucifixion etc – the pain & the suffering
Note that after his time of prayer, coming to grips with the oncoming suffering – that every step after this, Jesus is in 100% control.
With the arresting soldiers, the court leaders, Pilate even on the cross and death.
Jesus was tempted in all ways like us
So, we pray “Lord, the Dr. is telling me I will suffer through this disease
I don’t want to go through it – (add your own situation.)
And then we move on – in control.
Jesus never used his divine power to get himself out of tough situations or suffering.
9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
Other translation – having been perfected – having the authority
“To all who obey him” – what are we to obey? What is the context?
Believe – Repent – Go into the entire world.
10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The Writer now interrupts himself to address a problem – he will continue his thought on Melchizedek in chapter 7. He will now present a warning against apostasy.
Perhaps this was just a BTW moment – or he senses something with these people during his discourse or what, did he see some dozing off? Whatever, it must be important to him.
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
“About this” = Melchizedek
Dull of hearing = sluggish
They are still immature
Next lesson will continue on immaturity, as he works at getting them to pay attention.
Otherwise I will not pray nor have intercession made for me.
Not that I am righteous or worthy, for I know very well and confess that I am unworthy.
I have earned Thine eternal wrath and hell fire with my great and many sins.
But in this that Thou dost command and constrain me to pray in the Name of Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, I am still somewhat obedient.
Upon this challenge and consolation of Thine infinite goodness, not on account of my own righteousness, do I kneel or stand before Thee, and pray what is upon my heart concerning those who are in need of Thy help.
If Thou dost not help us, O Lord, Thou wilt offend and dishonor Thy Name.
Thou wilt surely spare Thyself, lest the world would say Thou wert an ungracious and dreadful God.
Preserve us from such a misfortune.
Remember, dear heavenly Father, how Thou hast at all times supported and helped Thy people.
I will not cease to knock but will continue to cry aloud and to plead to the end of my life.
The false ones message was that an angry god was returning to rescue his angry people, then torch the rest of the world.
Somehow, that message has resonated with the real children of the King as well.
The true believer expresses the faith once delivered in anger and hotter the anger and the higher the decibel level, the truer the believer appears.
We are angry and we are persecuted, and we measure our election by feeding our anger and inflating the reality of the persecution.
We have enemies, by God, and we act as if those enemies can be defeated the return of that angry God can be postponed.
We want to return to Eden, but we want it with it’s Creator mentioned, but not present.
When He does return to judge the quick and the dead, He’ll find that we have already cleaned the joint up.
The problem here is that I’m not sure that’s how it’s going to work.
My understanding is that God is coming to rescue broken people, not angry ones.
My understanding is that we are to love our enemies, not to receive an unction to hate them more than they hate us.
My understanding is that our job is to be ambassadors of Christ and agents of reconciliation, not holy soldiers of fortune.
My understanding is that we only use two weapons in our conflict….sacrificial love and the Gospel.
My understanding is that we have only one true enemy.
My understanding is that the Great Commission is to make disciples, not crush heathens.
The false prophets were partially right.
This world did end for some people on Wednesday…it ends for a lot of folks every day.
Someday Christ will return and judge the world in justice and righteousness.
Until that day comes, our message isn’t about damnation and judgment, it’s about salvation and redemption.
A message delivered to a broken world by broken people about a God who was broken for our sins.
A God who died for us when we were yet His enemies.
I want to get it right…because my world will end someday soon as well.
I want to be found faithful when He comes…for me.
Make your own application…
Last night my Twitter feed had this tweet repeated every few minutes;
They did not respond to any of my inquiries as to their estimation of the pile of evidence that suggests that all of GFA’s wounds are self inflicted and not the result of persecution.
My guess would be that they perceive me as one of the persecutors.
Persecution is the last rung these ministries cling to when the rest of the ladder breaks.
As I conclude this series there are a few things that bear repeating lest we be misunderstood and mislabeled as persecutors of the faithful and enemies of the righteous..
Those who worked for GFA and those who have supported GFA, both pastors and laypeople, have done so with the best of truly godly intentions.
I have no evidence whatsoever that there have been financial inducements given to pastors to continue supporting the work.
This is an issue with the leadership of GFA in general and K.P. Yohannan in particular.
As more and more celebrity endorsers jump ship, one thing should be made clear.
This crisis could have been avoided if the leadership of GFA had simply chosen to answer the questions presented honestly, with the transparency that they have claimed for themselves from the beginning.
Additional questions have been raised to me concerning things such as the annual bicycle donation program that has allegedly raised millions…how many bikes do you need?
The biggest question is if the need is so great why are there millions sitting in the bank unspent?
I believe it also raises a bigger question about parachurch ministries doing the work of the local church.
As this story has unfolded I’ve watched the ads for GFA pop up on numerous news and social media sites non stop.
The worlds marketing and solicitation methods were ongoing even as the blogs attempted to get to the bottom of the story.
We do not know how much of the money that “all goes to the field” went to pay for advertising in the face of the controversy.
Perhaps it’s time the local church focused on the local needs and supported international missions that they personally know and work with.
Finally, I have to speak to what creates change in the Body of Christ.
Over a hundred faithful Christians in the GFA Diaspora spoke of the abuse of power and persons in Gospel For Asia.
The alleged abuse of real people who had devoted their lives to bringing the Gospel to people didn’t move the needle.
It never does.
That…is the greatest sin of all in the Body of Christ today.
We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.
We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like” the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.
We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.
He described in detail how he and his family use a single bar of soap until they are scraping the slick remains from the bottom of the soap dish.
The message was clear…K.P. was always sacrificial and careful with your money.
He could be trusted.
The message was repeated over and over again in different ways through books, lectures, and recordings.
The reality of how he lived was quite different.
Once, when asked by an employee about the apparent difference in that reality, Yohannan replied, “brother, I couldn’t write those books today”.
Yohannan never updated those books to describe the all the homes he now owned, the businesses he started, or the discrepancy between how he and senior leadership lived and how the employees did.
It was a great schtick, it brought in money by the carload, and in mega ministry, the end always justifies the means.
Former employees questioned the need for a new headquarters in 2004 and choked on the brand new 45 million dollar facility just built to replace it.
They were prepared to “work in a warehouse” if it furthered the spread of the Gospel…but warehouses evidently didn’t fit the image His Eminence wanted anymore.
They all knew where the wonderful, surprise “donations” came from when both sites were in need of a miraculous intervention.
That money came from India, from money given with the expectation that would all go to the field.
Still, no one would strongly confront K.P. Yohannan.
Yohannan had the charisma, position, and support from other celebrities that creates an aura of faux godliness and importance.
Surely, all these godly men would not endorse a scoundrel… surely they were convinced of his excellent character.
The mission and the message was good and holy, surely the man must be as well.
He was demanding and strict and you wanted nothing more than his approval.
As happens so often in these situations, the approval of the leader is counted as the approval of God.
One never wants to displease either.
Combine the fear of God and K.P. with the treatment they knew came to those who rebelled…and you have the perfect recipe for a ‘brainwashed”, compliant, and most of all silent, employee.
It takes a long time and a lot of pain to change that mindset.
For many, there has now been enough of both.
Next: the questions you should be asking GFA…
Some have left recently, some a few years ago, but all seem to have shared some common experiences.
This is what I have learned.
The first thing you need to know is these people are the ones you want in your church…these are the ones who have truly sold out to Jesus and are prepared to be obedient to Him no matter where or how He called them to serve.
These are the truly “radical for Christ” and because of that, the “radical” message of K.P. Yohannan resonated deeply within them.
Thee was no question that Gospel For Asia was for believers like them, nor was their any question about GFA’s integrity…the organization was promoted in their churches, by their pastors, and by well known Christian leaders.
Many gave up secular careers and even pastorates to join the mission.
Even when it wasn’t articulated as such, Yohannan was regarded as a modern day Protestant saint, beyond question and reproach.
It wouldn’t be until later that they would find that he regarded himself that way as well.
The hours were long and the pay was low…they had to raise their own “support”, but that support was controlled by the organization.
The organization also controlled where you lived, what you made, and even what you bought with the little you made.
Your first year there you would be assigned an “overseer” who would be charged with your indoctrination and making sure that you stayed on the GFA straight and narrow.
You would be expected to read all of Yohannans books and listen to a large number of his recorded messages.
Employees, especially leaders, were pressured to neglect involvement with any local church and focus only on the work of reaching the lost.
The indoctrination never stopped… it was reinforced weekly at prayer meetings and privately daily if necessary.
You must “stay in the battle”.
You came to understand that K.P. and K.P. alone understood how Asian and Indian missions should be done…any opposition was from the enemy of our souls…it was Gospel For Asia against anyone in the world who questioned anything about the man or his methods.
The cost of questioning things was to be labeled “disobedient” or “rebellious”…you were at risk of rejecting Gods call on your life.
Any suspected rebellion was dealt with quickly.
Leadership would pull you into the office and rebuke you, then wait for the workers reaction.
They would be reminded of the those who had left under similar circumstances….those would be slandered in meetings and shunned in public.
Wives would be addressed at ladies meetings if need be to circumvent the erring husband.
If all else failed you would be escorted from the premises with your belongings, but without the “support’ you had raised.
You were now a pariah.
Next: K.P. couldn’t write about his ascetic lifestyle today…