Maybe I thought I had too many friends, because this is certain to lose a few. Please read this with a desire to seek truth.
Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is not only receiving a death sentence from Iran, but he’s already received a death sentence from God. Yeah, yeah, you are thinking. “We already know! All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and the wages of sin in death, and so death passed upon all men through Adam’s sin.”
But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ! Yes! So there is hope! Jesus is the only hope, and all those who repent of sin and place their trust in Christ (and Christ only) for forgiveness of sins will be called the sons (and daughters) of God. This is truly good news. The gates of Heaven are open and there is hope for the Christian.
Now here is where I will lose some of you. For a few of you, this might be a good section to pull things I say out of context, in case you weren’t already deft at that. But let’s begin with, “What do we know about Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani?”
If we start from scratch, we know a few things. 1. He’s a human. AND 2. He had human parents. ERGO (therefore) He was born a sinner and has certainly at some point in his life sinned. This means that there is an INFINITE separation between Youcef and God. God is Holy. There is no level of Holiness “about him” that makes sense biblically. We are so used to using comparatives and superlatives in our language, but let’s face it, God simply is “the superlative.” He isn’t “holier” than anything – He is the very essence of HOLY. But I’ve digressed. The point is that Youcef Nadarkhani (and you, and me) was and is completely incapable of pleasing a Holy God due to the stain of sin in his life. Because God is perfectly loving and just, He will protect everything that is Holy from men like me and Youcef (and you, dear reader) by casting sinners into an eternal torment, and keeping them (filthy sinners) away from Himself and all that He has declared to be Holy.
What else do I know about Youcef?
I know very little. He is reported to be under persecution for his Christianity, but is he really a Christian? Consider this – how tragic would it be for Youcef to die for believing a FALSE religion? He wouldn’t be the first though, would he? My understanding and my best research of the situation has revealed that he is a member of a cult that claims the name of Christ. His persecution and potential death sentence – while horrifying and unjust – may actually be what one might consider a creative form of God’s judgment on his unbelief! It sounds so terrible, I know. But if he is not a believer, why should we be any more horrified about God exacting His own revenge on this soul than any other? At the end of it all, I don’t know this guy. I just know what little I’ve been able to gather from the internet. Here is a quote I found on the sermonaudio website from a person who claims to be a pastor in Iran.
I know that most believers depend upon the news that is received by the various organizations to inform them about persecutions. In these circumstances it is very difficult to discern what is true and genuine, or incorrect information. In your newsletter you mentioned about an Iranian pastor who has been in the news in the recent weeks. As an Evangelical Iranian pastor, I wanted to say a few things about Youcef Nadarkhani, which is not reported by most news organisations.
Yousef Nadarkhani has been given death sentence, and it is something that is being broadcasted all over the world. However, one thing that most media do not say is that he has been one of the chief leaders of a growing cult in Iran, which is known as, the Jesus Only (Oneness Pentecostal) cult. They totally deny the doctrine of the Trinity and teach the Sebalian (Modalism) heresy. They believe in Baptismal regeneration and many other man made heresies (works salvation). Youcef Nadarkhani and other leaders in that cult have been rejected by the evangelical churches and pastors in Iran. I have spoken to friends of Yousef Nadarkhani, and also an evangelical pastor in the city of Rasht. They all confirm the same things. We must pray for his genuine conversion in the person and finished work of Christ.
This gives me great pause. (This isn’t the only information I found, for more let me know, but I don’t wish to link to the false religious websites I did find). Imagine this – a member of an American false religion is being persecuted. His religion, although it is a religion of works and a false christ, claims to be Christian. He refuses to recant his religious beliefs, so the entire world claims a Christian is being persecuted and everyone everywhere calls him brother. Then you find out he is Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness or Roman Catholic? What do you say? Do you stand up and make sure that people know these are false religious systems and this person, as well as all other members need the gospel? What if you found out the man was Muslim or Jew and was persecuted? You would be certain he was hellbound – don’t let false religions that Satan has created which use the same types of elements and names as biblical Christianity be treated any different from false religions which do not. Atheism, Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Roman Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witness all have one thing in common – a need to repent and trust by faith that Christ alone is sufficient for salvation and that He is the Son of God and was sent to be the Savior of the world. Just like the pharisees of Christ’s earthly days, many people claim to believe in the One True God, many people even claim to follow His statutes, but very few actually know Him in their hearts.
Pray for this man, Youcef. Pray that justice will be done and that Christ will be glorified. It would be nice to be wrong about this,
Now, look at the following scenario:
There is a man in the USA being held in prison for his beliefs! Why isn’t Voice of the Martyrs or ACLJ in an outrage over this story? Here is a man sitting in prison for exercising his deeply held religious convictions, a religion which includes the name “Jesus Christ!” Why isn’t there an international outrage?
This man is not a true follower of Jesus Christ. Not only do his works prove this, but his own professed faith denies salvation by Christ alone through faith alone by grace.
The fact is that we do not want this man to be free to exercise his deeply held religious convictions because not all religious beliefs are equal. Not all moral standards are absolute, nor true. We must be very careful how we argue about freedoms we believe we deserve. Often, we want certain religious freedoms that we as Christians want to deny others. The fact is that only when you start with the Bible as your authority for morality will you achieve godly laws, and ultimately, allowing people to live lives without regard to these types of laws is hateful to them and to the society. Don’t take the liberal rhetoric that says, “Don’t push your morality on me.” That very statement is pushing their version of morality on you! We must push for godly living and godly laws to protect our society, our children and ourselves. We must do it for the glory of God and because we trust Him.
So dear Christian, understand the results of your thinking. Make sure you think through all the things you do and say concerning religious freedoms and who and why you support the persecuted church. Sadly, they are not all “of us.”