Thomas Cosmades



Apraham Hoja of Aintab


Chapter 15


Two Further Letters sent by Apraham Hoja

While Still in Aintab

Letter Two


Dear ones in the Lord, 

The deity and overall sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ has been my basic belief for a long time.  The very proof of it is the fulfillment of all his words in my life.  Now I live a life based on Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Being crucified to the flesh and to the world I am now living on heavenly manna and heavenly springs of water.  The earthly bread and water are incidental.  Earthly things don’t represent great value to me.  I now live solely by faith in the Son of God.  The truth emphasized by Jesus Christ has become my reality: “He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:38). Jesus did not speak about springs, but rivers.


I cannot make myself very clear through a mere letter.  Were I to write ten letters a day, still it wouldn’t suffice to express my thoughts.  I can truthfully verify what the Apostle John wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we saw it and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—“(I John 1:1, 2).  Would to God I had a way to make this Jesus known all over the world: very God and very man, the only Savior and Redeemer, true and trustworthy friend for all people everywhere, source of every blessing— material or spiritual. He who has him has eternal life, but he who does not have the Son abides in death.


Have you ever heard how majestic the walls of Babylon were?  These were a particular grandiose construction of the day.  Six chariots could travel side by side through the walls. No military might of the time could conquer Babylon behind the protection of those walls.  Nevertheless, God manifested his absolute power, and in one night the city was conquered.  The amazing story and the tragic end of Babylon are recorded in the fifth chapter of Daniel in the Old Testament.  In the face of King Belshazzar’s profanity and despising God, he was weighed and was found to be wanting.  In one night the city was conquered by the Persians and the king of mighty Babylon was slain.  Just as happened in this extraordinary instance, suddenly and without any warning the prophecy spoken by Jesus will be fulfilled: “I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17:34). Then will begin the millennial reign of Christ. Following Christ’s brilliant reign this old world will be destroyed. The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, will descend from heaven by God’s mighty power.  The Lord Jesus Christ will be the universal king, with his triumphant Church around him. This is why I am filled with joy—my cup runs over.


If someone were to ask me, “What is your most poignant and penetrating sorrow?” my reply would be, “It is the lamentable ignorance and dullness of people concerning the world-shaking and destiny-shaping events to come.  Everywhere church members, with a few exceptions — preachers, teachers, even missionaries — are in pitiful oblivion. They are not aware of the prevailing conditions, so go on with their lives assuming they are genuine believers in Christ.  This is a great tragedy.  In the days of our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth, how pitiful it was that the scribes and Pharisees counted themselves righteous.  On the other hand, they were filled with wrath against the Son of God and sought to kill him: ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness’” (Matthew 23:27). 


Similar to this, the modern scribes and Pharisees dwell in darkness.  They weigh themselves with worldly balances and measure their importance with man’s yardstick.  What a pity!  They will be weighed by the balance of the Gospel, and the judgment with which Belshazzar was judged will be applied to them (cf. Daniel 22:25).  That was a just and impartial balance.  Those who follow in the steps of the Pharisees consider themselves righteous because they have not committed any gross transgression.  On the other hand, they remain ignorant of Christ’s command, “…those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).  Satan’s occupation is to deceive humans.  He has so blinded people of this century that few are aware of their plight.  It is clear that such people are living merely for self and for the satisfaction of the flesh.  They take great care of outward appearance and physical cleanliness, like the scribes and the Pharisees, and then deceive themselves that by so doing they serve God and please him.  Is there any great difference between them and the heathen?  Does one’s importance lie in the elegance of one’s dress?  Is it cultured conversation that puts one above the other?  Is it higher education and wider understanding of the sciences?  Will all these and other numerous practices profit the heart if it is not pure, if the person goes on living in the pleasure and satisfaction of the flesh?  Feed three times a day on sumptuous meals, dress yourself with royal garb, live in an ostentatious mansion, sleep between silk sheets and fine linen with the latest embroidery.  Have your servants all around to cook and wait on you hand and foot, to take care of the children and train them.  Have a stable attendant to look after your fine horses, or a chauffer to drive you around.  How can one read the Gospel and involve himself in all these?  People who give themselves to this kind of living pass their days as if the Gospel were never given, never heard and Jesus Christ never descended to this world as the Way, the Truth and the Life.


Why was King Belshazzar’s guilt so great as to bring God’s wrath upon him?  He knew very well that what he was doing was wrong.  Our age and generation knows much better than what King Belshazzar knew.  The greatest wonder and profoundest miracle, in my opinion, is that Jesus, the Word, “was made flesh and dwelt among us”.  He came in human body and as a man revealed to man God’s deep secrets.  I cry bitterly because men and women do not hear God’s Word and heed it.  “As it was in the days of Noah…they eat, they drink, they marry and are given in marriage” (Luke 17:27a). Without hesitation, I bear witness that the people of this generation are living as if they were without the light of the Gospel.  Many are struggling to live a moral life.  They imagine that if they make their living and manage their various affairs without injustice and injury to their fellow-humans, they have achieved the highest form of moral life on earth, the ultimate satisfaction and recognition of worth.  But they are wrong!

                                                                                                                             Apraham Levonian ~~ Aintab


Letter Three


My dearest brothers in the Lord,

Greetings with heartfelt love!  I thank God with all my heart and soul for your steadfast walk in faith and in his blessed hope.  I can never express in words my appreciation of your letters which assure me of your journey of faith in truth.  “No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth” (III John 4).  Twenty-eight years ago the truth expressed in this passage got hold of me and with this stimulus I went to Malatya and Harput, including their surrounding towns and villages.  In every place I preached Jesus Christ.  Twelve years ago in the churches of Aintab I had arguments with Reverend M. G. Papazian and missionary, Mr. Lee, concerning the same truth.  I earnestly contended with them that the trend in the churches was not encouraging.  The person who has the love of God in his heart cannot entertain love for things that are in the world.  “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).


The love of God is like a blazing furnace: anything and everything that belong to the world or the carnal nature, is consumed to ashes in this furnace.  When a person loves his possessions, his wealth and his family more than he loves God, his attitude betrays a lack of love for his Lord. St. Augustine once exclaimed, “Oh, God, you are the supreme object of love; he who loves you cannot love anything else.”  I am thoroughly persuaded that the one who loves God with his whole being and with all his strength becomes incapable of loving any enticement.  The mixture of other attractions defiles and profanes the love of God, as sewage breaking into a water main or conduit contaminates pure water.  It makes it unfit to drink or for any other use.  Whenever the love of self, the world, or the flesh breaks into the reservoir of God’s love, the purity and dignity of God’s love is spoiled.  “So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). You should always keep in mind, never putting it out of your thoughts, that the profound and practical truth of this passage is a commentary on the age in which we live. People have generally become lovers of the world while claiming to love God.  I suffer more at the hands of worldly Christians than from unbelievers. 


I am very glad that in the long chapter of II Kings 17, God has recorded an event which clearly sets forth the calamity awaiting those who keep pace with the world while claiming to be Christians.  I exhort each and every one to carefully read this sad chapter.  The warnings conveyed in this passage have greater value to each one of us than silver and gold, or all the pearls and diamonds in the world.  In their own minds and hearts the people of that age thought they feared God, but in God’s judgment they were of a totally different disposition.  “…they do according to the former manner” (II Kings 17:34).  I sadly remark that people of our day are like the transplanted crowd of Samaria who invented a strange mixture of religions.


Some members of modern churches by a strange mixture of the world and Christianity, think that they love Christ, but the truth of the matter is that they don’t love him simply because two authorities cannot rule or reign simultaneously in the same heart.  The basic foundation upon which my argument rests and my contention expressed is drawn from the words of Jesus Christ at the Sermon on the Mount “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).  The emphasis on the words ‘you cannot’ should be taken into consideration.  Jesus Christ did not say, ‘you must not’, but ‘you cannot’.  It ought to be clearly understood that the lover of money cannot love God.  “For the love of money is a root of all evil…” (I Timothy 6:10a).  God and evil: on one hand, the love of the flesh or the world and on the other hand, love for God cannot co-exist.  For this reason many modern Christians are struggling to make an impossible matter possible.  In a little while Jesus will come and address them with this castigation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). 


Rejoice in the Lord, and I wish to repeat it: Rejoice that God has made clear his exceedingly great and valuable truth to each one of us.  This is a most ominous rebuke and warning.  Believe it and you will live by it.  Don’t be disobedient to the heavenly vision.  We are living in a most dangerous age.  Don’t be conformed to it or be influenced by it.  Don’t be a follower of it.  Wherever you are, live like the monastics of the old times.  Let all men and women be aware that you are living for God and not for this passing world.  Let nothing in this world entice you.  Act as the Apostle Paul admonishes each Christian: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). Don’t give yourself to eating and drinking.  Don’t fashion yourself according to this world.  Let your deeds and your conduct as much as is possible within you be meek.  By your daily life prove that you are not in this world to accumulate wealth. Realize that you are here to preach Jesus Christ, fearlessly making him known to the world.  If you save any money, let it be solely for the purpose of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.  It doesn’t matter if people will believe you.  Make up your mind that you are not going to deviate one inch from the purpose Christ has set before you.  Let your calling become an example to everybody. If there is any light, any brightness, anything that impresses, let it be on your countenance.  Let everybody know that you are servant of the most high God.  Like those three Hebrew boys in the first chapter of Daniel, refuse to bow to the image of gold.  Be content with little. I ask you here, do not send me any money. Refuse all dishonesty that goes along with the pursuance of making money.  There are those who under pretence of benevolence and good works make money dishonestly.  God does not take notice of such charitableness.  He considers it vain.  Let your consuming passion and main purpose be to live for God.


Bear in mind the straight commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ: “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).  If you love your fellow men and women because you love God, this is the right and acceptable attitude, both toward God and man.  But if you love and help your fellow-humans in order to be praised from some quarter, your deeds are in vain. Remember the Old Testament admonition, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15:22b).  


I have come to understand that one of the most common sins of people everywhere is the seeking of high regard from those around them.  Don’t wish for the praises and acclaim of humans.  Flee from this temptation.  Don’t ever bow the knee before this subtle idol. Strive to be well-pleasing and acceptable to your heavenly father.  Let it be clearly understood that God does not regard how much or how little we do.  Contrariwise, he regards the spirit which prompts our deeds:  (cf. Luke 21:1-3).  With all my heart I wish to warn everyone to abstain from accumulating money.  If you talk about giving, God wants nothing more than that which is within your ability to offer.


Let your foremost work be to gather the heavenly manna.  Never undertake a piece of work without reading God’s word and without praying.  Don’t go out after material gain at the expense of your prayer and Bible-reading time.  Value the price of your spiritual life above rubies, in fact, above everything else.  Let everything else go by.  If you can retain your secular and material life without hurting the spiritual, it is well and good.  If not, always be prepared to sacrifice the material to the spiritual. All these truths emphasized here may be your practice, but I consider it necessary to remind you of them, always considering the admonition in Hebrews 12:15-17.  This edification is summarized in a single phrase, “…that no ‘root of bitterness’ spring up and cause trouble...” (15b). Fellow-believers and friends, conduct and govern yourselves with absolute watchfulness.  Always be wide awake.  Realize that behind all evil is our age-long subtle adversary, Satan.  Take heed lest he deceives you.  With deep sorrow in my heart I am led to remind us all that Satan is able to deceive some of the most esteemed believers.  If any of you is living close to the world and have been contaminated by it, watch out.  The pity and tragedy of it is that these people are unaware of their condition and defilement. 


Marriage is a holy institution, but its abuse cannot be overlooked.  Some couples while identified with the faith, are at the same time seeking the ease and comfort of this present world.  They are not interested in hearing what I am saying, but rather the dictates of their own desire.  I love you with all my heart and I would spare you.  I beseech you to crucify self and do not allow its natural bent and propensities to master you.  As much as lies in you, live far from the system of this world. “We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.  We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, and his Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:18-21). 


Give my tender love and sincere regards to all who know me and ask about me.


                                                                                                                              Apraham Levonian ~~ Aintab