Legislation passed this week by Russian lawmakers would prevent Christians from evangelizing in their own homes. If President Putin approves the new surveillance and anti-terrorism laws, believers would not be allowed to email their friends an invitation to church or evangelize anywhere except inside churches and religious sites. (For more, see Nick Pitts's Russian Government Seeks to Squelch Churches.)
Meanwhile, the global conflict with radical Islamists continues to generate headlines. A U.S. official has stated that the organizer of the Istanbul attacks was a well-known ISIS terrorist. Airstrikes have reportedly killed at least 250 ISIS fighters in Iraq. Taliban fighters have killed dozens of policemen in Afghanistan. A Palestinian teenager stabbed a thirteen-year-old Israeli girl to death in her sleep; the State Department has confirmed that she was a U.S. citizen. U.S. airports are heightening security over the July 4 weekend. Before Ramadan ends next Tuesday, ISIS-inspired violence is likely to escalate.
Here's what these two narratives have in common: spiritual warfare and the advance of God's Kingdom.
Satan will do everything he can to hinder the gospel. He incited persecution against the apostles as soon as they began preaching about Jesus' resurrection. He continues to attack Christians wherever we attack the gates of hell. Russian legislation that limits Christian ministry pleases him as he works to counter spiritual awakening in that land.
Satan will also do everything he can to spread a destructive gospel. ISIS's narrative that the West has been attacking Muslims, requiring Muslims to attack civilians, is a lie from the enemy. The devil "comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10). Note the word "only." Everything he does—without exception—is for the purpose of stealing, killing, and destroying. Every temptation leads to these results. Every theft, murder, and destructive act is motivated by him.
Since attacks against the gospel in Russia and innocent civilians around the world are inspired by Satan, it is clear that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness" (Ephesians 6:12). We must respond to spiritual attacks with spiritual weapons.
That's why the Ramadan Prayer Countdown is so crucial. Across the last ten days of Ramadan, more than 100,000 Christians are asking God to visit Muslims around the world in dreams and visions. Tomorrow is the Night of Power and the Night of Destiny in Islam, as Muslims cry out to God to reveal himself to them. This is the most significant night of the year for Muslims to have dreams about Jesus.
Please join me and multiplied thousands of believers in praying tomorrow night at 7:38 CST for Muslims to meet Jesus. Pray especially for leaders of ISIS and other radical groups to encounter our Lord. Also pray for persecuted Christians in Russia and around the world. To learn more about this amazing Kingdom movement, go here.
In response to anti-Christian legislation in Russia, one Protestant leader testified: "If it will come to it, it's not going to stop us from worshiping and sharing our faith. The Great Commission isn't just for a time of freedom." Millions of Christians around the world agree and are risking their lives to serve Jesus.
What price will we pay to pray for them?
Publication date: July 1, 2016
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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