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Stockholm - Newsletter July 2020

A Word from the Pastor

A Second Time-Out

In March, P. Schaller sent out a short and encouraging video. He spoke about the inescapable “timeout” that the coronavirus has caused. 

Why not see it as a God-given gift and thus take advantage of this extra time, reflecting upon the wonderful work of the Lord as well as recharging empty spiritual batteries. Needless to say, this “timeout” lasted much longer than we expected.

In the last newsletter I was enthusiastic about the upcoming Convention in Baltimore, although it had been postponed. I had started to make plans to make it happen when I needed to go to the emergency room. Voila - very soon I will be operated on for inguinal hernia. This is quite common and normally not dangerous. However, it effectively closed the door to visit Baltimore this summer. In other words, God gave me a second “timeout”.  
Perilous Times

When Paul, during his last imprisonment, wrote his second epistle to Timothy, his son in the faith, he told him what to expect in this fallen world - “perilous times” (2 Tim 3:1-13). He also made it clear that it will not get any better as we approach the end of the world as we know it. In fact, there will be an intensification of the manifestation of man’s rebellion against his Creator.

In the wake of the pandemic we have witnessed many outbursts of anger and frustration. One of those, perhaps the main one, is the social unrest on the streets of the United States, but also many other places around the globe. Many years ago, I massively cut back on my news intake. I did it for several reasons. The point is, though, that it is important that we feed ourselves with edifying truth - today probably more than ever. Unfortunately, that is not what we are typically being served through the secular media. Consequently, we need to have a strategically wise approach to what is going on around us.

Racism or “Gracism” – That Is the Question!

Several years ago our church was out singing and evangelizing. A man was watching from a distance. Eventually he came up to me and exclaimed: “How did you do this”? Did what?, I responded. “You have a group here from all over the world and they seem to naturally function very well together – what kind of approach and methodology do you use?” I told him that I have no secret concepts to share with him. But I have a message that transcends all cultures and so-called racial differences – it is called the gospel, the good news! By the grace of God, I was able to share in depth the content of this good news.

The term “race” is a misnomer to begin with. The alleged “racial” dissimilarities are often completely misunderstood and blown up. Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, writes:

"Scientists have found that if one were to take any two people from anywhere in the world, the basic genetic differences between these two people would typically be around 0,2 percent – even if they come from the same people group. But, these so-called “racial” characteristics that many think are major differences (skin color, eye shape, etc.) account for only 6 percent of this 0,2 percent variation, which amounts to a mere 0,012 percent difference genetically." (Ken Ham, One Blood, Master Books 2000, p.54).

Based upon the above quote, we can conclude that if someone, say, a white European, is considering a tissue match for an organ plant, the ultimate match may very well come from an African or Asian. This, of course, works the other way around too.

In other words, “racism” has no biblical foundation. Christ’s unlimited atonement includes ALL people (John 1:12; 3:16). Religious racism is usually based on a distorted interpretation of Gen 9:18-27, concerning Noah’s sons. Alternatively, it is founded on some form of fatalistic determinism and a misunderstanding of the biblical concept of election. The root of secular racism is not seldom some form of evolutionary thinking, where it is believed that different “races” have developed over millions of years. Consequently, they have reached different stages in their development. In the face of all these distorted views, the Bible makes it clear that God has made every nation of men from “one blood” (Acts 17:26). Naturally and physically, we are all equally smart and equipped. Every person, as a unique creation of Christ has great spiritual potential. Man’s greatest need is not more “ungodly education” but rather to have access to the truth that can change his or her eternal destiny.     

Only Two Kinds of People

The Bible only recognizes two kinds of people – saved and unsaved. There are those who have been born once and those who have been born twice (John 3:1-8). The former are ungenerated and the latter are new creations in Christ (Rom 3:23; Col 2:13; 2 Cor 5:17). Those who are unsaved can be saved, so there is no exclusiveness here whatsoever. Since some people remain unsaved, we are warned not to be unequally yoked with them (2 Cor 6:14-18). However, this does not mean that we despise them. We want them to become like us - children of God.

This “spiritual division” has nothing to do with physical appearance or genetic makeup, but only whether one has put his or her trust in Christ as one’s Savior. Are there differences between people? Of course, there are, but they are based on culture, not skin color or eye shape. A culture is a limited group of people (country, province, company, family or church). They have “cultivated” certain things among themselves. These things may be good or bad from a biblical perspective. Cultures that have been influenced by God, the Bible and Christian values function better than those influenced by other values, philosophies and religions. If all the people from a certain country or culture have a certain skin color or eye shape, we quickly think that “those people” and their “behavior” has something to do with their “race”, This is a misapprehension. Is it possible to safeguard a culture and still not be a “racist”? Yes, through making this distinction between “culture” and “race”. In order to do so, we need to rightly divide the Word of God and rely wholeheartedly on God’s Holy Spirit.

Please, Use Your Influence

Many years ago, I spent a lot of time in Atmore, Alabama. I even met the mayor and got a golden key to the city. Atmore is the birth town of Evander Holyfield, the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Holyfield and I are age-mates. I never met him, though, because he had already moved to Atlanta. Later, due to my theological studies, I spent a lot of time in Atlanta too. Unfortunately, I never met him there either. I like Holyfield for at least two reasons. First, he managed to defeat Mike Tyson. Somebody had to do it and I did not feel led to do it at that time - so, thank you Holyfield! Second, he is a born-again Christian with a clear testimony.

Recently, I stumbled across a YouTube clip. In the video Holyfield meets a group of protesters in Florida. He is introduced to the young crowd and given a megaphone. Instead of making a political speech, he calls upon the Lord and leads the people in a prayer. You can watch the video here. Well, everybody prayed together with him. They probably did not dare to do anything else 😊.

He used his position and fame to influence others. We are all influential because we are unique members of Christ’s body in this world (1 Cor 12:27; Eph 4:16). How can we become influential? If we spend time with our Savior, He will show us how. By-the-way, rumor has it that Holyfield will face off with Tyson once again. If so, I have my favorite. Well, for those of you who are not interested in boxing, let us consider one last thing.
The Only Way Out is the Way Up 

Many people desperately seek a political solution to what is going on today. The people to the “left” are crying out for “justice” and “equality”. Although these are concepts found in the Word of God, they are often twisted and redefined. The people to the “right” are concerned about the preservation of certain liberties and rights. Indeed, those things are important, but we should not be surprised if they are taken away from us in this God rejecting world. That said, we are not called to be passive or indifferent. God want us to be salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:13-14). In these final days of human history, Jesus does not tell us to look to the left or to the right, but up to look up (Luke 21:28). The Psalmist writes, “My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth” (Ps 121:2 NKJV).
As Christians, we need to tap into God’s assets. When it comes to the great resources of prayer and fasting, I believe that we have barely scratched the surface. Remember, we stand tallest on our knees. Happy summer!

In Christ, 
P. Mikael Toll

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Focus on the Mission Field

Last month, we mentioned about the monthly prayer calendar. We can be missionaries right where we are without even buying an air ticket. Here is the link to the July edition. During these uncertain times, prayer is more important than ever. There is a time to pray and there is a time to go. Greater Grace has set apart the first Wednesday of every month for prayer and fasting. Fasting was a natural thing in the early church (Acts 13:3; 14:23). Why not becoming a part of this growing number of people dedicated to prayer and fasting once a month? It may seem like an insurmountable challenge. Keep the words of the prophet Zechariah in mind: “Do not despise these small beginnings” (Zech 4:10 NLT). This, of course, is also an excellent opportunity to pray for the world and our missionaries. 

Short answers to difficult questions

Have you ever thought about the concept of the “carnal Christian”? Many believers consider those words to be an oxymoron, that is, a contradiction in terms. Arminians, who emphasizes man’s free will, think that a carnal lifestyle is a sign that the Christian has fallen from grace and do no longer possess eternal life. Typically, Lutherans hold a similar view. Calvinists, on the other hand, who stress the sovereignty of God, do not believe salvation can be lost. Instead, carnality is proof that the “professing” Christian never was a genuine believer in the first place. Is there another protestant option that can explain this phenomenon without promoting license and lasciviousness? Indeed, there is! Listen to Dr. Mikael as he expands on what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4?  
Some think that a carnal Christian was either not saved in the first place. Others think that he or she lost their salvation. The Bible talks about the existence of carnal believers and it also addresses the consequences and remedy for such behavior. Our key text is is 1 Cor 2:14-3:4.
Many people wonder why there are so many religions in the world. Are they all the same with some minor differences, or are they fundamentally different? The Bible only tells us about two religions – one is works based and the other is faith based. In Genesis 4, Cain and Abel are representatives for these two approaches to eternity. Read P. Mikael’s thoughts about this issue here.
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