A Day to Celebrate Independence

Romans 6:18 “having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

 

Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.”

 

Colossians 1:13-14 “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 

Since ISIS’s conception and publicizing of jihadist murders on the interwebs, I have tried to view each video (a not so easy task with a high degree of internet censorship of such videos). Why do I watch them? Images of ISIS cowardly sawing the heads off of non-combatant infidels, all in the name of their false god, without fail evoke a visceral reaction from me. They help me see the heinousness of sin. They help me to hate sin. They help me know how dark and wicked my flesh, the world, and the Devil truly are. They help me long for Christ’s return and the consummation of the kingdom. They help cement my confidence in the utter futility of opposition to Christ and in the sure success of the gospel going forth in all the lands.

They remind me what’s worth living for, and dying for.

isis-video-06
The man kneeling serenely in the middle is Mathew. “According to reports, Mathew Ayairga was not a Christian. However, when moments before his death the IS jihadis demanded that he follow Islam, Mathew turned them down. After reportedly witnessing the ‘immense faith’ of the Egyptian believers, he decided to become a follower of Christ. On camera, one of the jihadis asked Mathew, ‘Do you reject Christ?’ ‘Their God is my God,’ he responded, and he became one of the 21 men laying down their lives for their faith in Christ.” via Voice of the Martyrs

 

In Book of Esther like sovereign splendor, God ordained that another would also be watching the ISIS-produced videos. For her, it would mean Independence Day.

Eve lived in the war-ravaged Middle East. While there, surviving multiple near misses with death, Eve watched the videos. Eve was a Muslim. What was striking to her was not so much the vicious brutality of the killers as the serene, sure deaths of the beheaded Christians. What could cause men to die that way?

One-of-the-victims-prays-before-he-and-20-other-men-are-killed.-Screen-save-Morning-Star-News
The Names of the 21 Martyrs on Libya’s shore: Milad Makeen Zaky, Abanub Ayab Atiya, Maged Soliman Shehata, Youssef Shukry Younan, Kirollos Boshra Fawzy, Bishoy Astafanous Kamel, Samuel Astafanous Kamel, Malak Ibrahim Sinyout, Tawadros Youssef Tawadros, Gerges Milad Sinyout, Mina Fayez Aziz, Hany Abdel Mesih Salib, Samuel Alham Wilson, Ezzat Boshra Naseef, Luka Nagaty Anis, Gaber Mounir Adly, Esam Badir Samir, Malak Farag Abrahim, Sameh Salah Farouk, Gerges Samir Megally, Mathew Ayairga

In God’s kindness to her, she was able to get her hands on a single passage from John’s Gospel, but not much else.

Soon, in God’s providence, Eve found herself in America. Unlike her city in the Middle East, her new city in America had churches. Finally, she could get the answer to her question. So, on one glorious Lord’s Day, Eve walked into the Baptist church down the street. Speaking to the pastor, she said, “I am here to learn about Jesus Christ.”

This unnamed congregation was faithful to their Lord. Congregants loved this woman well, explaining truth to her clearly. Eve attended as many of the church’s gatherings as she could. That church just so happened to be expositionally preaching through John’s Gospel. Eve listened attentively. Then, on a Sunday morning marked for all eternity, the very passage she had read while still in the Middle East was preached.

And Eve believed.

She knew that Jesus was more than a prophet, that he was God’s Son, Second Person of the Trinity, who had taken on flesh, born of a virgin, fully God and fully Man. She knew that Jesus had died on the cross, offering himself as the sacrifice for sin in the place of all who would repent and trust him. She knew he had bodily risen from the grave three days later, that he ascended to the right hand of his Father in heaven, that he presently rules from heaven, even over the Middle East, and that he will return very soon to judge all, ushering his people with finality into his courts and sending out all his enemies into the flames of hell.

This was God’s doing. God’s Spirit caused her to be born again as she sat hearing the preaching of the gospel. God’s Spirit gave her this repentance and faith. Praise be to God!

Recently Eve was baptized publicly in the very church she first visited. She is now a faithful member there.

Eve was a slave to sin and death. God, who is not worried about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, used Baghdadi minions to grant Eve independence from the domain of darkness and transfer her, through faith alone in Christ alone, into the Kingdom of his beloved Son.

On this July 4th, Happy Independence Day.

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