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This is a Spiritual Warfare!

clock August 2, 2010 02:00 by author wtsang

This is a Spiritual Warfare!

Ephesians 6:11

11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

The Origin of the Spiritual Warfare

Throughout the scripture, the characters and behaviors of Satan and the evil spirits are revealed. Satan was created by God as a high ranking angelic being anointed as a guardian cherub and have access to God's presence (Ezekiel 28:14). He was created perfect until unrighteousness found in him (Ezekiel 28:15). Satan, also called Lucifer or morning star, was created with great beauty and wisdom but he became proud and wanted to rise above God and made himself god (Ezekiel 28:17, Isaiah 14:12-14). God cast Satan down to earth (Luke 10:18) destined to final condemnation in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Satan was not cast down alone but together with angels that were collaborating with him (Revelation 12:4, 9) which probably account for one-third of the angels although the exact number is not known (Revelation 12:4). Some of those fallen angels were bounded by chain already waiting for judgment (Jude 1:6). Satan and the rest of the fallen angels are allowed to go about in the world to deceive and manipulate the whole world (1 John 4:4). People are blinded by Satan such that they do not know the true living God but live following the ways of the world which is under the influence and manipulation of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2-3). In other words, people live under the bondage of sin. Although people may commit different sins and to different degrees, all people are sinners and the consequence is death according to the judgment of God (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). But, when we put the trust in Jesus Christ who redeems us from sin (Isaiah 53:6), our lives will turn from death to external life and from darkness to light (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 5:8). But, it is God's intention to allow the devils to operate in this world such that people have the choice to live against the will of God according to the pattern of the world filled with all kinds of sinful desires, lusts and pride under the influence of Satan (1 John 2:16). In addition, the world is full of false teachers, false religions, and even governments that deny Jesus is the Christ such that they will mislead or forbid people in seeking, knowing the truth (1 John 2:18, 22). Unfortunately, many people prefer to ignore the truth and live in a worldly way which will lead to destruction (Matthew 7:13). However, God is merciful and patient. He is still inviting sinners to the one and only way of salvation such that people may live an abundant life in this world now and in His glorious Kingdom to come forever when they trust in Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Matthew 7:14).

Ezekiel 28:14-15, 17

14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

Isaiah 14:12-14

12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."

Luke 10:18

18He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Revelation 20:10

10And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Revelation 12:4, 9

4His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Jude 1:6

6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

1 John 5:19

19We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

2Corinthians 4:4

4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Ephesians 2:2-3

2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Isaiah 53:6

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Romans 6:23

23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 5:8

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light

1 John 2:16

16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.

1 John 2:18, 22

18Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 22Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.

Matthew 7:13

13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Matthew 7:14

14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

In the beginning of humanity in the garden of Eden when the first man and woman Adam and Eve were innocent and had no knowledge of sin, Satan already exists. Of course we know that Adam and Eve fell into the lie of Satan by disobeying God's command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17), sin and death entered the world (Romans 5:12). Throughout human history under the permission of God, Satan is active in the world seeking opportunities to tempt more people into sin and destruction. As a matter of fact, throughout human history, current and future generations and even after the Millennial kingdom when Satan is allowed by God to operate (Revelation 20:6-8). On the other hand, God provides us with the spiritual armor which will allow us to withstand the devils, their cunning schemes and be victorious (Ephesians 6:12). Without God's spiritual armor, no one can stand a chance to survive the spiritual dark forces which are powerful and have infiltrated the whole world.

Paul uses the armor of a typical Roman Empire soldier to describe the spiritual armor God provides to all believers to fight the spiritual warfare. This not only helps us to understand the sufficient provision and uses of the spiritual armor but also to remind us that there is an ongoing spiritual war between the devils who are against God and His people. Let us study the spiritual armor of God in more details in the following sections:

Genesis 2:17

but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—

Revelation 20:6-8

7When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.

Ephesians 6:12

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

1. The Belt of Truth

The first object of the spiritual armor is the belt of truth. A belt looks simple and hardly to be significant part of the armor. In fact, the belt was essential to cinch the tunic of the Roman solder around the soldier's waist such that it would not flop around when the soldier was in action. When the soldier was about to fight, he would pull the tunic up and tuck it under the belt. This action of girding the loin signified that the soldier was ready and committed to engage in a battle which was about to happen.

We all live in this fallen world full of sins and temptation. In everyday life, Christians and non-Christians alike, are bound to encounter challenging situations that cause us to sin and dishonor God. These situations could be created by the devil directly or indirectly somehow. These situations could provide various kinds of temptations such as materialistic, prideful, sexually immoral desires. These situations could happen while we are watching TV, movies, browsing the internet, working in our workplace, driving on the roads, even inside our homes or anywhere when we are interacting with each other. If we are not equipped with the truth which is the word of God, we tend to respond with our old sinful nature: temper, anger, greed, lust, dishonesty and selfishness. The results are usually destructive and not pleasing to God. A good but tragic illustration is a news story that I heard from the radio one or two years ago in Chicago. Two women got out of their cars on the road because of road rage and got into a fierce fight. A fast moving car struck and killed both of them. Had even one of them respond to this situation not out of anger but the word of God, this tragic event would not happen.

If we have the word of God under our belts and let the word of God instead of our flesh to guide us in both of our thinking and action (1 Peter 1:13-15, 5:8), we are ready to engage and win in the spiritual warfare. For example, the Bible teaches that God is full of love (Ephesians 2:4) and God expects all believers to live a new life which also manifests His love, we will think, talk and act in a way pleasing to God. In fact loving God is the greatest commandment and the second commandment is similar to the first which is loving others (Matthew 22:39). Our love towards others is based on God's word which is in contrast to evil things and desires. Love is patient and kind towards others, not jealous nor proud. Love is not selfish nor easily angered. Love is having a positive attitudes and seek to build up others (1Corinthians 13:4-7). Imagine what the world is like if it is full of people of love. Therefore, to be victorious, it is vital for us to be alert, ready and committed to His word such that we may honor God in this world of darkness and serve as a testimony to many non-believers who are still under the enslavement of sin and Satan (Luke 12:35).

1Peter 1:13-15 (King James Version)

13Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;14As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

1 Peter 1:13-15

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;

1 Peter 5:8

8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Ephesians 2:4

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,

Matthew 22:39

39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

1Corinthians 13:4-7

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Luke 12:35 (King James Version)

35Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

Luke 12:35 (New International Version)

35"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,

2. Breastplate of Righteousness

The devil will deceive and attack the confidence, and mind of people. Some non-believers are deceived into thinking that they do not need the salvation God provides. After all, they are decent human beings especially in comparison to many immoral, dishonest people and criminals in this world. However, the appraisals given to ourselves are usually biased favorably to ourselves. Moreover, we should not forget that we are created beings and are accountable to our creator who is holy and righteous. God does not judge on a changeable, relative scale but by His absolute holy standard. The standard is based on the fact that humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) who expects holiness from His children (1 Peter 1:16). The Scripture teaches that God's holy standard is so high that we are all rightly judged as sinners. Our appraisal of righteousness of ourselves is no righteousness at all (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus has told us a story especially about the danger and futility of self-righteousness which is rejected by God (Luke 18:9-12).

Genesis 1:27

27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

1 Peter 1:16

16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Isaiah 64:6

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Luke 18:9-12

18The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

On the other extreme, the devil may attack our mind on the fact that we are sinners and are not qualified to be a witness and serve God. Actually, the devil is attacking God's promise of salvation. For it is grace that God gives to sinners through Jesus Christ such that sinners are saved from the destruction and judgment of sin. Does not Jesus say that it is the sick not the healthy who needs the doctor (Mark 2:17)? Because of Jesus' redemption, we, sinners, are now justified by God as righteous people (Philippians 3:9) and may reconcile with Him and live a new life (Romans 1:17, 3:22). Let us put on the breastplate of righteousness which is not of our own but of Jesus Christ such that we may have the confidence to fight the spiritual battle.

Mark 2:17

17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Philippians 3:9

9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Romans 1:17

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Romans 3:22

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

When we put on God's breastplate of righteousness, it does not mean that our sin is covered up by God's righteousness such that outwardly we look good but inwardly we continue to live in sin. Rather, our wages of sin have been paid for in full by Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will make us new creations that manifest God's power and holiness (Ephesians 2:10). However, it does not mean that a believer will not have struggle between the flesh and the new life. In fact, the Scripture reminds believers that we should imitate Christ and not to gratify the sinful desires in the flesh (Romans 13:12-14) On the other hand, if someone claims that he is a believer but continue giving in the sinful desires and living a sinful lifestyle, perhaps his or her faith is not true and has not really accepted Christ's salvation (2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 John 5:18).

Romans 13:12-14

12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Hebrews 10:38

But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."

Romans 6:13

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

2 Corinthians 13:5

5Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

1 John 5:18

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

3. Footwear of Gospel of Peace

Footwear is also a critical instrument for a soldier. It allows the soldier to stand, walk and run with comfort and stability. It also protects the feet from wear and tear and extreme temperature. The gospel is a solid assurance of God's love and power to all believers. Through Jesus Christ, sinners can now be accepted by God and no longer be enemies of God (Romans 5:10). Therefore, when the devil attacks and misleads us into mistrust of God, just remember the gospel and understand that we are on the side of God who is faithful, loving and powerful. We should also remember that there are many people who have not yet known the gospel and are wondering in Satan's territory. Having reconciled with God, we should be glad to preach the gospel to others who are going astray (2 Corinthians 5:18). Moreover, a good strategy of defense is offense. When we preach the gospel to the lost world, we are actually bearing the conquering power of God who can save the lost souls from the kingdom of darkness to His kingdom of light (Romans 1:16). This is a beautiful thing that God wants His children to do (Isaiah 52:7).

Romans 5:10

For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

2 Corinthians 5:18

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:

Romans 1:16

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

4. Shield of Faith

The big rectangular shields the Roman Soldiers used in the battle field was absolutely necessary to protect themselves from flaming arrows shot by their enemies. The shield of faith is also critical for a believer in the spiritual warfare because the devil will shoot fiery arrows unexpectedly intended to cause troubles, fears and destruction. People of faith in both the Old Testament and New Testament faced different challenges and difficulties in different circumstances. The Bible does not expressly say that all these problems are caused by Satan except in a few places such as the sufferings of Jobs, and the persecuted Christians in the early churches and the Great Tribulation period. But, these problems are usually caused by corrupted people who are under the influence of Satan as we discussed above. Therefore, it is quite fair to say that Satan will cause difficulties and trouble to all Christians under the permission of God. In fact, Jesus told us that believers living in this world will have trouble and we know that Satan is permitted by God to operate and rule in this world until he was bound in prison and finally destroyed in the lake of fire (John 16:33, Ephesians 2:2).

John 16:33

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Ephesians 2:2

2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

Faith is the trust in God who reveals Himself in the Scripture (Hebrews 11:1). By studying the Scripture, we know that there is only one God (Isaiah 46:9). He is immortal, invisible (1 Timothy 1:17), almighty (Genesis 17:1; Job 42:2), omniscient (Psalm 139:2, 15; Hebrews 4:13), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-8), and immutable (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8). He created everything and is the ruler of everything (Isaiah 44:24; John 1:3). He is holy, righteous, faithful and just (Psalm 29:2; Psalm 11:7; Psalm 33:4), yet He is merciful and full of love (Psalm 25:6). When mankind went astray, He loves mankind so much that He took up the punishment of sins for all who looks into Him for forgiveness, grace and eternal life through His son Jesus Christ. God is faithful and He will fulfill what He says as revealed in the Scripture. The people of faith in the Scripture are the great examples for us who have demonstrated the effectiveness of faith when they face the flaming arrows of the devil (Hebrews 11:33-34). They all put their trust in God who would deliver them from the adverse circumstances. However, some did not receive what God had promised in their lifetime, yet their faith was not diminished for they knew that God had a better way in handling the circumstances in order to fulfill His wonderful plan (Hebrews 11:39-40). Therefore, faith implies unwavering trust in God even in adverse circumstances as illustrated by Job's faith while in his great sufferings both emotionally and physically. In his dark and seemingly desperate circumstances, Job still believed that God's provision would transcend the temporary circumstances and in the end, he would see God's victory, justice and gracious redemption which was the most precious blessing one could ask for (Job 19:25).

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Isaiah 46:9

9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

1 Timothy 1:17

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Genesis 17:1

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty ; walk before me and be blameless.

Job 42:2

"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

Psalm 139:2, 15

2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

Hebrews 4:13

13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Psalm 139:7-8

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Isaiah 44:24

"This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

John 1:3

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Psalm 29:2

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

Psalm 11:7

For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.

Psalm 33:4

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

Psalm 25:6

Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

Hebrews 11:33-34

33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Hebrews 11:39-40

39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect

Job 19:25

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

The Romain soldiers holding the shield were not usually stationary but advancing towards the enemies in the battle field. The notion of faith also implies action of obedience. A good illustration is the faith of Noah who responded to God's word by committing his time and efforts in building an ark in his time when the whole world fell into sin (Hebrews 11:7). Another illustration is the faith of Abraham who would leave his familiar place and went to a strange place unknown to him (Hebrews 11:8). Therefore, faith implies action of obedience in response to God's word. To illustrate it further, suppose you are looking for investment advice for your money, and an investment adviser gives you investment advice. Should you believe what the adviser says, an action will follow, that is to invest the money according to the adviser's advice. When we say that we have faith in God, we will also listen to and obey His word.

Hebrews 11:7

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Hebrews 11:8

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

5. Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17a)

In the course of a battle, the helmet was a critical piece of armor protecting the head of a Roman soldier. In the course of the spiritual battle, the devil would use different means to confuse, discourage, and persecute believers to drive them away from the security and hope of salvation that God has given through Jesus Christ. The devil will cast doubts on the gospel which saves believers from sins by the redemption of Jesus Christ. The devil wants believers to lose courage to fight the spiritual battle by losing confidence of God's presence, guidance and protection in their daily lives. The devil wants believers to forget or be ignorant of the fact that God has already won the spiritual warfare such that they have no hope of future in the course of spiritual battle. But, the fact is God will give His children glorious resurrected body with eternal life free of sin and suffering in the presence of God.

God's provision of salvation is effective and secure covering the past, present and future needs of all believers. As for the past, the penalty of sin of a believer has been settled and forgiven by God through the work of Jesus Christ and the believer may be regarded as righteous and holy before God (Galatians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 1:30).

Galatians 3:14

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:30

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

As for the present, the Holy Spirit lives within the believer and helps the believer to live a fruitful life glorifying God. This is achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit and the obedient attitude of believers towards God's word (Galatians 5:25, 1 Peter 1:23). However, there still will be struggles between the old sinful nature in the flesh and the new nature bestowed by the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God that His grace of salvation continues to cover and help believers in their daily life towards victory (Romans 7:24-25; 1 John 1:9). All believers should trust God that He will and He can accomplish what He sets to do. Unlike human beings who are limited in power and wisdom, God is almighty and faithful, He will certainly finish the works of salvation of all believers as He began (Philippians 1:6).

Galatians 5:25

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

1 Peter 1:23

23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Romans 7:24-25

24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

1 John 1:9

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Philippians 1:6

6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

As for the future, salvation means the best is yet to come as promised by God who is faithful. In this world, no matter how prosperous, popular, and powerful one may get for oneself, one will not get any benefit of these things when one dies. In contrast to the earthly things and life which are ephemeral, believers will receive resurrection, eternal life and blessings from God in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 9:15, 1 Peter 1:3-4). It is because people who believe in Christ are called the children of God. Therefore, the life on earth for a believer is like a traveling journey, and the real home and destination is God's kingdom in heaven. Therefore, the future of a believer is bright, very very bright indeed. The believer will receive a glorious resurrected body free of sins, sickness, sorrows and sufferings. For God will be living with His children forever (1 John 3:2, John 14:2-3, 1 Corinthians 15:42-43, Revelation 21:3-4). Therefore, with salvation, believers have already been given the guarantee of victory in the spiritual warfare on earth in this life. Knowing this guarantee of victory, believers should fight a good fight with good courage.

Hebrews 9:15

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

1 Peter 1:3-4

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,

1 John 3:2

2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

John 14:2-3

2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1 Corinthians 15:42-43

42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;

Revelation 21:3-4

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

6. Sword of the Spirit

The sword of the Holy Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17b). The word of God is living and active penetrating to the heart and mind of a believer such that the believer may know what is true or false, right or wrong in the sight of God. The word of God is effective in training and guidance such that a believer's action may glorify God (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The word of God is perfect, trustworthy and effective even in reviving the inner heart, giving joy and wisdom to the mind. That is why the psalmist David wrote that the word of God is more precious than pure gold and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:7-10).

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalm 19:7-10

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

Jesus Himself has demonstrated the use of the word of God as a weapon against the temptations of Satan. After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus in the flesh was hungry. Satan took this opportunity to tempt Jesus to abuse His divine power to turn stones into bread for Himself. Of course, Jesus as the creator by nature could perform such a miracle, but not as a short cut and convenient way to meet His physical need. Had Jesus did according to the suggestion of Satan, His position as the high priest might be blemished for He had abused His divine power in a cheating manner to live as a human. His example of fasting and devotion would have been untrue and His representation of mankind to God would be questionable (Hebrews 4:15). To respond to this temptation, Jesus applied the Scripture asserting that the obedience to the word of God was even more important (Matthews 4:4) than food because Jesus was sent by God as the "Word became flesh" to reconcile mankind to God, to show God's grace and to teach and exemplify a life pleasing to God (John 1:14).

Hebrews 4:15

15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

Matthew 4:4

4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

John 1:14

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The devil then tempted Jesus by casting doubt on the fact that He was indeed the Son of God and suggested Jesus to jump down from the highest point of the temple of God for a test. The devil even quoted Psalm 91:11-12 as a legitimate support of the test implying that God would send His angels to guard Jesus from harm. However, Jesus who knew the Scripture well, immediately pointed out Satan's trickery by wrongfully applying the Scripture into testing God (Matthew 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:16). The story was about Israelites during the time of Exodus traveled to a place called Rephidim where there was no water to drink. They quarreled with their leader Moses who led them out of Egypt out of the hard slavery complaining that they were about to die of thirst. In fact they were about to put Moses to dead. This only showed that they had no faith in God who called Moses to bring them out of the land of slavery by God's grace and mercy. They mistrusted God and questioned whether God was with them. Had they little faith, they would not even ask such a question for God had performed many miracles among them, from the ten plaques in Egypt, crossing of the Red Sea to the daily supply of manna. Their act of fiercely complaining at the point of killing Moses, a chosen prophet and leader to fulfill God's promise to Abraham, was a test to God and was an indication of their lack of faith. Out of His mercy and grace, God did another miracle through Moses by striking a rock with his staff on a rock by Horeb such that a stream of water came out of the rock for the Israelites to drink. This very act is an image of God's salvation through Jesus Christ to mankind who does not deserve any blessing from God. During the walk of faith in every believer's life, there will be wilderness and trials. The devil will also take the opportune time to cast doubt on our faith. It is important for us to know and believe in God that He is faithful, loving and trustworthy and He will guide us through the wilderness of life. Jesus demonstrated the importance in the study and correct application of the Scripture. We should be vigilant to the fact that the devil is tricky and will even confuse and convey a false message out of the word of God. A tragic example is the fall of our ancestors Adam and Eve when the devil tempted Eve by modifying God's command of not to eat the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned of death for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17), while the devil said that there would be no death and injected words non-existent in God's original command as an additional motivation to violate God's command (Genesis 3:4-5). Eve fell by listening to Satan's words rather than committing to God's words. Adam fell also by following Eve's failure instead of obeying God's command.

Matthew 4:7

7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Deuteronomy 6:16

16 Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah.

Genesis 2:17

17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Genesis 3:4-5

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Then Satan made an offer to Jesus of all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor if Jesus bowed down and worshiped him. Jesus responded the temptation precisely with God's word which commands dedicated worship and service (Matthew 4:9-10; Deuteronomy 6:13, 8:19). By the way, we should understand that it is a blessing and privilege to worship and serve the true and living God. As apostle Paul says in Romans 12:1, it is God's mercy that sinners are justified by Jesus' work of redemption and we may approach God and are given this prestigious opportunity to worship and serve Him. Satan realized that he could not tempt Jesus into sins left. Again and again, we see Satan's various temptations addressing to different aspects of a person: physical, emotional, and even trust in God. Jesus demonstrated victories by responding with the written word of God. Jesus emphasized the written word of God and not the words uttered or written by any other person. Similarly, our faith and actions should be based on the Scripture and not by teachings even of the greatest scholars or teachers of the world. May I reiterate the fact that all Scripture is God-breathed and is effective and trustworthy and should be the foundation of all believers' faith and actions.

Matthew 4:9-10

9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." 10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

Deuteronomy 6:13

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.

Deuteronomy 8:19

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.

Romans 12:1

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Constant Communication with the King

Believers are not left alone in the battle field. In addition to the spiritual armor, believers have the privilege to communicate with the King and Commander anytime to call for special help, strength and encouragement to fight the war for themselves and each other by prayers in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). With the provision of the full spiritual armor and constant connection with God with prayers in the Holy Spirt, it is a sure thing that we can live an abundant life glorifying God even in this dark world.

Ephesians 6:18

18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.



Jesus the Messiah

clock June 7, 2010 02:00 by author wtsang

John 1:41

41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ).

The Meaning of Messiah

Messiah in Hebrew means the Anointed One. Similarly, the term Christ is a Greek word which is an verbal adjective coming from a verb meaning to anoint. The Biblical tradition of appointment to the office of priesthood and kingship is to pour oil on the head of the appointee. In this case, the Messiah was anointed not by oil but by the Spirit of God and John the Baptist served as the forerunner and witness to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 1:9-11). Jesus is the anointed to take both the eternal offices of High Priest (Hebrew 6:20) (see the article Jesus the High Priest) and King according to the Covenant declared by God to king David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Isaiah 9:7). This covenant is based on the original Covenant declared to Abraham who is called the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4-5, 7). We now know that the Messiah is the king whose throne will last forever and it is not only the physical descendants of Abraham are the subjects of God's kingdom, but all who are in Christ Jesus will also inherit the blessings of God (Galatians 3:29). Likewise, Jesus says that He is the shepherd of both the Jews and the Gentiles (John 10:16).

Mark 1:9-11

9At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

Hebrew 6:20

where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

2 Samuel 7:12-13

12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Isaiah 9:7

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Genesis 17:4-5, 7

4 "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Galatians 3:29

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

John 10:16

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

The First Coming of the Messiah

The first coming of the Messiah was the beautiful story of Christmas when Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census was taken of the entire Roman Empire. Joseph, being a descendant of David, and his fiancee Mary who was expecting a child went to his own town Bethlehem to register because it is the town of David. The child virgin Mary carried in her womb was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and therefore was called the Son of God as told by the angel and was given the name Jesus (Luke 1:35, Isaiah 7:14). Jesus would rule on the throne of David forever (Luke 1:32-33).

The first coming of the Messiah was the beautiful story of Christmas when Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census was taken of the entire Roman Empire. Joseph, being a descendant of David, and his fiancee Mary who was expecting a child went to his own town Bethlehem to register because it is the town of David. The child virgin Mary carried in her womb was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and therefore was called the Son of God as told by the angel and was given the name Jesus (Luke 1:35, Isaiah 7:14). Jesus would rule on the throne of David forever (Luke 1:32-33).

Luke 1:32-33,35

32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Isaiah 7:14

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 17:14, 17

14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Isaiah 55:10-11

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Luke 4:18-19

18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Isaiah 61:1,2a

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2a to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor ...

The Temporary Cutting Off of the Messiah

Some people think it is hard to accept the fact that Jesus is the Messiah because He came to the world as a humble person. They thought that the Messiah would come as a noble or king with great political power and certainly not a humble carpenter's son (Matthew 13:55). They fail to realize that God's first priority in His plan was not to establish political and military power on earth and overthrew the earthly nations. In fact, when Jesus presented Himself in public as the Messiah in Jerusalem during His last week of His earthly ministry, He did not even ride on a horse but a young donkey. It was not that Jesus could not afford to get a horse so that He got a donkey instead. The event was deliberately planned and foretold by God (Zechariah 9:9) and the Messiah was presented as a humble and gentle king. After entering Jerusalem, the Messiah was cut off according to the timing of God as foretold in the book of Daniel (Daniel 9:26 see also: The Seventy Weeks of the Book of Daniel). Surely God could take over the reign of the world from all nations if He wanted to. But God's kingdom is not of the kind of kingdoms we see in the world which consist of imperfect kings, rulers or leaders leading imperfect subjects. World history testifies the imperfections of earthly kingdoms leading to numerous tragedies and sufferings throughout all ages. Although national and international laws and orders were created, struggles, conflicts, wars, injustices, oppressions, violence and crimes are the constant companions in the world. God's solution to the problems is first to eradicate these imperfections called sins in people and save people from the bondage and destruction of sins. In fact, people who are to be the citizens of the Kingdom of God must first realize he or she is sinful and ask God for mercy and forgiveness and trust in Jesus Christ as the savior and Lord such that the Holy Spirit Will come in the believer's life to cleanse him or her within. The Holy Spirit will do the renewal work such that he or she may become a new person pleasing to God qualified to be a citizen of God's Kingdom (John 3:3). However, God is righteous and just and the penalty of sins already committed must be settled. If mankind have to settle the punishment of sins themselves, no one will survive because the wages of sin is death. In order to bring mankind mercy and the grace of forgiveness and blessings of God, the Messiah who has no sin took the punishments for all who trust in Him. The Messiah suffered and died in order to pay for the wages of sin of all mankind such that sinners who believe in the Messiah will be forgiven. In other words, salvation from sin is given to all by God as a gift who trust in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:5;1 John 3:5; Romans 6:23).

Matthew 13:55

55"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

Zechariah 9:9

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Daniel 9:26

26 After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.

John 3:3

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. "

Isaiah 53:5

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

1 John 3:5

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Apart from the salvation of sinners, the sufferings and sacrifice of the Messiah have some great lessons that God wants us all who are in Christ Jesus to learn. By our old nature, we tend to think and act like the world. Therefore we tend to be prideful, selfish, while desiring to be served, and unforgiving. It is not so in the Kingdom of God. The one who is great is humble and the one who rules is like a servant (Luke 22:26). This oxymoronic principle, foreign to our old nature and observations and experience in the world, is exactly the principle in God's kingdom practiced and taught by the Messiah (Matthew 11:29; Mark 10:45). At the night the Messiah was about to be arrested, trialled and crucified, He took off His outer clothing, wrapped a towel around His waist and washed the feet of the disciples one by one (John 13:4-5). Then, Jesus said that He did this as an example for the disciples to follow and they should wash one another's feet (John 13:14-15).

Moreover, the redemptive love of the Messiah also teaches us one important lesson to the citizens of the Kingdom of God that is the willingness to forgive one another knowing that one has been shown the mercy of forgiveness by God. Again, this is a principle contrary to the old sinful nature that the Messiah wants all His redeemed to learn from Him (Matthew 18:35). Therefore, hatred, revenge, malice have no place in the kingdom of God and have to be substituted with brotherly love (1 John 2:9). In fact, Jesus taught that the children of God should love and pray for their enemies who may not know the Lord yet (Matthew 5:44-45).

1 John 2:9

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.

Matthew 5:44-45

44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Luke 22:26

26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

Matthew 11:29

29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

John 13:4-5

4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:14-15

14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Matthew 18:35

35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

The Second Coming of the Messiah

It seems to be difficult to conceive that God is so loving and full of mercy and grace will someday execute judgment on the whole world. However, the Messiah has told us a parable in Matthew 21:33-41 that helps us to understand that the judgment of God is right and just. The parable was about a landowner who planted a vineyard and constructed a winepress and other facilities in it. He rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time came, the owner sent his servants to the tenants to collect some fruit as rent. The servants were either beaten and killed. The owner then sent other servants to the tenants but the servants were treated the same way time and time again. Lastly, the owner sent his son to them thinking that they may respect his son. However, the tenants thought among themselves that if they killed the son who was the heir, they could take over his inheritance. The parable teaches that God is the owner of all things because the universe, the earth, the sun, water, plants, animals, air and even our lives are created by Him. Therefore, we are living on the provision of God at all times. It is perfectly right for God the creator and owner of all things to ask us to acknowledge Him and live according to His words which are full of wisdom and are like the guiding light for our lives. When mankind became spiritually blind and cannot and will not acknowledge and live according to His words because of the chronic and destructive spiritual disease called sin, God sent His only Son, the Messiah, to save us from sin and open our spiritual eyes and heal our spiritual sickness. And the work God requires us to do in order to receive God's grace is to believe in the one He sent (John 6:29). What does it mean to believe in Jesus? To believe in Jesus means to repent from sins and accept the gift of salvation that God gives us through Jesus Christ who suffered and died in order to pay for the penalty of our sins that God justly demands. Then the Holy Spirit will come in a believer's life to make the believer a new person. There will be struggles between the sinful old nature and the Holy Spirit. But, a true believer of Jesus Christ will not give in to a sinful lifestyle but rather led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). Before believing in Jesus, the believer would ignore God and follow the world, but now the believer will seek and follow the guidance of Jesus Christ (John 10:4, Matthew 7:21). Moreover, believers respect and honor the lordship of the Messiah and with the gifts and help of the Holy Spirit bear fruits in terms of characters and accomplishments for the glory of God (Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 2:10). In the parable, the farmers are the unbelievers who reject the grace and patience of God. The servants in the parable were the prophets sent to Israel but were mistreated and killed in the Old Testament time by the unrepentant sinners who hated the messages and the messengers. Finally, the Son of God was sent to Israel during the Roman Empire era but was rejected and crucified by the religious leaders and many people at that time.

John 6:29

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

Galatians 5:24-25

24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

John 10:4

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Matthew 7:21

21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Galatians 5:22-23

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Ephesians 2:10

10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Galatians 5:24-25

24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Although the Messiah was rejected and crucified, it does not mean the end of God's plan of salvation and His kingdom. As God foretold in Psalm 118, the stone the builders rejects has become the capstone (Matthew 21:42). After the dead and resurrection of the Messiah, the good news of salvation spread out from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and then the rest of the world. Churches were established and many believers receive the salvation grace of God. The resurrected Christ became the head of the church and the true believers are the Holy Nation that bears witness and fruits in this dark world for the glory of God (Matthew 21:43, 1 Peter 2:9). However, there are always non-believers who do not repent and reject the good news of salvation. Some non-believers are even antagonistic to the gospel and deny that Jesus is the Messiah (John 2:22, John 1:7). The epitome is the appearance of a powerful world leader in the future foretold in the scriptures called the lawless person, man of sin, son of perdition, the beast with the number 666 or the Antichrist who will be very boastful and deified himself (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:18). A powerful false prophet will also appear and collaborate and support the Antichrist. With the powerful control of the political system, delusion of false religious system, signs and wonders, people who do not love the truth and reject the Messiah will certainly fall prey into this world system and perish (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). At this dark period of time, many saints will be murdered under the false religious system (Revelation 17:5-6). Then the Antichrist will seize power all to himself and destroy the false religious system (Revelation 17:16) and demand total control of the world and worship by people for himself (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). This will happen according to God's will (Revelation 17:17). The Antichrist will raise war against the Messiah but will be utterly destroyed (Revelation 17:14; Matthew 21:44). The battle is called the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Armageddon is the Hebrew name for Mount Megiddo which is 60 miles North of Jerusalem. The battle will take place on the nearby plains. This is a battle of super nature between Satan, the people subject to the control of evil forces on one side against the Messiah. The Messiah who will come down from heaven to earth with power and glory to fight and win this battle and establish the Millennium Kingdom on earth (Revelation 19:19-21, 20:14-16).

Matthew 21:42

42Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?

Matthew 21:43

43"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

1 Peter 2:9

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

John 2:22

Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.

John 1:7

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Revelation 13:13

13And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Revelation 17:5-6

5This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.

Revelation 17:16

16The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

Revelation 17:17

17For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled.

Revelation 17:14

14They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."

Matthew 21:44

44He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

Revelation 16:16

16Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

Revelation 19:19-21

19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Revelation 20:14-16

14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

The Millennium Kingdom

After the Armageddon battle, the Antichrist and the false prophet collaborating with him will be captured and thrown into the lake of fire as their judgment immediately. God will also bind Satan and establish a new kingdom on earth that lasts a thousand years (Revelation 20:2-3) which is commonly called the Millennium kingdom. The Messiah Himself will reign the world with the throne established in Jerusalem (Daniel 7:13-14, Zechariah 8:3). How wonderful will the world be when it is under the reign of the Messiah who is the almighty, perfectly wise, faithful, righteous, full of mercy and justice (Isaiah 9:6-7). All people will live in peace under the reign of the Messiah and without the influence of Satan who is bounded. Even wild animals today will become peaceful and tame and carnivores will become herbivores in the Millennium Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-7).

Revelation 20:2-3

2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

Daniel 7:13-14

13 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Zechariah 8:3

3 This is what the LORD says: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain."

Isaiah 9:6-7

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Isaiah 11:6-7

6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The Scripture also teaches that the Messiah will not rule alone but with the saints who come down from heaven to earth along with Him and the martyrs who are the witnesses of Jesus Christ and are killed for refusal to bear the mark of the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation. The saints who come down from heaven consist of the resurrected Old Testament saints, resurrected Christians, and Christians who are alive and taken up to heaven during the rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, Daniel 12:2). The Great Tribulation is the last 3 and a half years right before the commencement of the Millennium Kingdom (Daniel 12:1, Jeremiah 30:7, Daniel 9:27). During the Great Tribulation, a specific group of Christian martyrs are mentioned who died for their faith in Jesus Christ when they witness the gospel (Revelation 20:4). During the great tribulation, most of the world population will die. Only one third of Israel (Zechariah 13:8) together with the survivors in different nations who are determined to be the followers of Christ may enter the Millennium Kingdom. The Messiah Himself will serve as the judge (Matthew 25:31-32).

Theologians call this view of Millennium Kingdom discussed so far the Premillennialism. There are two other views about the Millennium Kingdom, namely Postmillennialism and Amillennialism. According to Postmillennialism, the one thousand years in which Satan is bounded is only a symbolic indefinite length of time. The reign of Christ is the reign in believers heart. The righteousness and spiritual prosperity happens with the spread of the gospel and eventually the whole world will become better because the church will Christianize the whole world. This golden age will end with the return of the Messiah. In other words, the Messiah will return after the establishment of the Millennium Kingdom, therefore, this view is called Postmillennialism. On the other hand, according to Amillennialism there is no literal Millennium Kingdom with the Messiah ruling on earth for 1,000 years. Instead, Amillennialism proposes that the church on earth today is the Millennial Kingdom with Christ ruling in heaven. The common problem of both views is that the interpretation of the Scripture is non-literal but dependent on subjective interpretation of the written words assuming that they have symbolic meanings which can be quite arbitrary. May I extract the following passage from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary which supports a literal reading and interpretation of the Scripture about the prophecy of Millennium Kingdom:

"There is a famous statement on this passage in Alford's New Testament for English Readers that has been quoted in many subsequent volumes, but I feel compelled to quote it once again: 'It will have been long ago anticipated by the readers of this Commentary, that I cannot consent to distort words from their readers of this Commentary, that I cannot consent to distort words from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy, on account of any considerations of difficulty, or any risk of abuses which the doctrine of the millennium may bring with it. Those who lived next to the Apostles, and the whole Church for 300 years, understood them in the plain literal sense: and it is a strange sight in these days to see expositors who are among the first in reverence of antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of consensus which primitive antiquity presents. As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion.'"

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17

14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Daniel 12:2

2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Daniel 12:1

"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.

Matthew 27:52-53

52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Jeremiah 30:7

7 How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.

Daniel 9:27

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

Revelation 20:4

4I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Zechariah 13:8

8 In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it.

Matthew 25:31-32

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

The Great White Throne Judgment

After the Millennium Kingdom, Satan will be released temporarily who will deceive people of nations in the world again. Many will fall into temptation of the devil and attempt to destroy the people of God. But, God will destroy them quickly (Revelation 20:7-9). These people are born during the Millennium Kingdom but are non-believers and rebellious against the Messiah. It is inconceivable that they will be rebellious against the Messiah who is a ruler among them and enjoy so much blessings in the Millennium Kingdom. I cannot explain how this can happen and how the human heart works. But, I can refer to the example of Judas who was one of the chosen twelve disciples and was closely associated with Jesus during Jesus' earthly ministry, seeing and listening to what Jesus said and did, but would betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. Judas had even been warned by Jesus about his temptation but he chose to listen to the temptation of the devil. How about the devil who knows about God and His power and will haven been imprisoned by God for a thousand year, but yet will remain unchanged and continue to tempt and mislead rebellious people against the Almighty. This serves as a warning of the corruption and danger of not listening and obeying God's word which is the truth and the guiding light of our path. When people ignore or reject the word of God, they tend to be self-seeking by selfish and sinful nature rather than seeking God who is love and righteous. Therefore they easily fall prey into temptation and follow evil and the result is judgment and destruction (Romans 2:8).

Revelation 20:7-9

7When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

Romans 2:8

But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Then the great white throne on which the Messiah sits will appear. When this happens, the old heaven and earth will pass away and a new heaven and new earth will come (Revelation 20:11; 2 Peter 3:10-13). At this point, all dead people will stand before the great white throne for judgment according to the things they have done as recorded. People whose names have not been written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Death and Hades will also be thrown into the lake of fire where they belong together. This will bring the end of sin, sufferings and death in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 20:14, Revelation 21:4) and God will be dwelling with men forever (Revelation 21:3).

Revelation 20:11

11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.

2 Peter 3:10-13

10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

Revelation 20:15

15If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:14

14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Revelation 21:4

4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Revelation 21:3

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

Revelation 21:27

27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Revelation 20:14

14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

We should understand that the book of life is more relevantly called the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 21:27) because the people whose names are in the book of life may escape God's judgment not because they are good and righteous before God by their own merits but purely by the grace and atonement of the Messiah who became the sacrificial lamb for all who trust in Him (Isaiah 53:4-6). This salvation grace is not something we deserve or we can earn by our efforts but is given to all sinners who believe in Jesus out of God's love and mercy. Jesus Christ is still inviting us to receive His grace freely to be forgiven and become a new creation (John 7:37-39, Revelation 21:6-7) such that believers may be declared righteous before God (Romans 1:17) and become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). With the provision of God, the believers will be able to overcome the world which is full of sins, temptations and difficulties and live a holy life by faith in Jesus Christ that pleases God (1 John 5:5). We should not underemphasize the power and schemes of the devil in this world for it is real but invisible. By our own flesh and blood, we have no match against the devil. Only with the full armor of God we can be victorious (Ephesians 6:13).

Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

John 7:37-39

37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Revelation 21:6-7

6He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

2 Corinthians 5:17

17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

2 Timothy 1:9

9who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Romans 1:17

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

1 John 5:5

5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Ephesians 6:13

13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.



Jesus the Bread of Life

clock March 4, 2010 02:00 by author wtsang

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

The Meaning of Bread of Life

After hearing the news about the miracles that Jesus performed, A large crowd of people from different towns walked on foot to see Jesus who had traveled by boat to the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus saw the crowd, He had compassion on them and healed many sick people. When the evening was drawing near, His disciples went to ask Jesus to send these people away to buy food for themselves in the nearby villages. But, Jesus said, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." Jesus then ask Philip where they might buy bread for these people in order to test him. Having a quick calculating mind, Philip said that eight months' wages would not be enough to buy bread for each one to have a bite. According to common sense reasoning, there is no possible solution to the issue. For even they had enough money, the question was where to buy such a large quantity of food in short order and have the food transported back in time. But, to God everything is possible. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish they could find from a boy in the crowd, gave thanks and distributed to the crowd by the disciples. Jesus did the same with the fish. They all enjoyed a good meal. The number of people that were fed consisted of five thousand men plus the uncounted number of children and women.

After hearing the news about the miracles that Jesus performed, A large crowd of people from different towns walked on foot to see Jesus who had traveled by boat to the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus saw the crowd, He had compassion on them and healed many sick people. When the evening was drawing near, His disciples went to ask Jesus to send these people away to buy food for themselves in the nearby villages. But, Jesus said, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." Jesus then ask Philip where they might buy bread for these people in order to test him. Having a quick calculating mind, Philip said that eight months' wages would not be enough to buy bread for each one to have a bite. According to common sense reasoning, there is no possible solution to the issue. For even they had enough money, the question was where to buy such a large quantity of food in short order and have the food transported back in time. But, to God everything is possible. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish they could find from a boy in the crowd, gave thanks and distributed to the crowd by the disciples. Jesus did the same with the fish. They all enjoyed a good meal. The number of people that were fed consisted of five thousand men plus the uncounted number of children and women.

After this miraculous event, the crowd wanted to make Jesus king by force. But, Jesus withdrew to a place by Himself. The next day, the people found Jesus. But, Jesus told them the reason they came to find Him was not because of the miracle that He performed but the food produced at the miracle. In other words, the interest of the people was at the materialistic level not the deeper meaning and reason of the miracle that Jesus wanted to teach them. Since the people were interested in bread, Jesus use bread to teach them an object lesson. Jesus said that He was the bread of life and they should seek Him to give them the bread of life. Anyone come to Jesus will not go hungry and anyone believes in Him will never be thirsty.

Common World View of Life versus the Biblical View of Life The common world view of life is similar to the notion of life in medicine. In other words, life is almost synonymous to the physical body. When the heart stops beating and the lung stops breathing or the brain stop functioning, life stops. The spiritual dimension of life is totally ignored.

For example, a popular theory in psychology to model human behavior and motivation was proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1947 papers which divide the human needs in five levels: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self- actualization. The lower level of needs must be fulfilled before the higher level is pursued. The theory may not be absolutely correct but it is a good articulation and explanation based on real world observation and generalization of common human behaviors and motivation.The theory correctly portrays that people normally strive to obtain more satisfaction in life from the most basic physical level to the higher levels. The spiritual dimension and the eternity nature of human life as revealed in the scriptures are not taken into proper account or even totally ignored by many people.

The Bible reveals that God Himself is eternal and the human life created in His own image is meant to be eternal also. Death of a person is almost synonymous to sleep because the person will resurrect someday to continue living, in glory or in shame (Daniel 12:2). Moreover, the spiritual dimension of life missing in the world view of life is vital in the understanding and definition of life revealed in the Bible. The Bible teaches that spirit is an essential part of the human life (Ecclesiastes 12:7) and God's spirt, the Holy Spirit may dwell in a person's life to comuunicate and guide him or her (Psalm 51:11, Psalm 143:10). The reason that the spiritual aspect of life is missing in one's life is because of sin which leads to broken relationship with God. This is called spiritual blindness as revealed in the Bible (John 9:39-41).

Daniel 12:2

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Ecclesiastes 12:7

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Psalm 51:11

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Psalm 143:10

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground

John 9:39-41

39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." 40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" 41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

The Bible also teaches that our physical body we know today is only temporary. In compare to the spiritual dimension of life, the body is like a tent as apostle Peter referred to his own body in 2 Peter 1:13. A tent is an external and temporary instrument and is not the person inside the tent. By the same token, the physical body is temporary and external to the essence of life. The body is important but is only the instrument to do many things good or bad according to the soul and spirit inside that controls the body. In regard to the value and importance of the spirit and body, Jesus teaches us that it is the spiritual and not the physical aspect of life that matters and His words are the nourishment that sustains and give power of a spiritual life (John 6:63). Moreover, according to God's plan, the span of our physical bodies are quite short and will return to the earth as dust soon and the limited span is full of troubles and sorrows (Psalm 90:3, 10). The best life to come is not in this present body living in the current world but the spiritual, glorious, resurrected, and imperishable body with closed relationship with the Creator God (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Jesus has demonstrated in His resurrection from the death that resurrection is true and sure. Also, the resurrected body is not just a spirit but a glorious body with power for He has shown Himself, talked to and even ate with many disciples in His resurrection for a period of forty days before returning to heaven (Acts 1:3-4).

Psalm 90:3, 10

3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." 10 The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44

42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Acts 1:3-4

3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

Common World View of Blessed Life versus The Biblical Blessed Life

Having considered the meaning of life according to the common world view and the Bible, let us consider the difference in the implication of what blessed life is. The world view tends to emphasize the good things in the physical life in the life span on earth. After all, this is the perceived time duration of life for people holding the world view. Therefore, it is important for people holding this view to maximize the experience of good things in this time span. Moreover, the spiritual dimension of life is not emphasized or ignored, people who hold the world view will define what are considered good for themselves and are lack of the guidance of the Holy Spirit who works according to the words of God. The common things that are considered blessings in life by most people are prosperity, peace and good health. The Bible does also say that these are the blessings that God may give. What differentiate the common world view and the Biblical view are the importance of spiritual and eternal aspects of life. The Bible emphasizes the relationship with God in one's life which will last eternally. Without a relationship with God who is the source of life and blessings, there is really no future of life no matter how great a person may think his or her life is great and blessed because it will come to an end abruptly someday, and what follows is everlasting darkness and separation from God, the source of life and all blessings. Therefore, these are the emphasises of what a blessed life is according to the words of God the Bible:

A. Always emphasize salvation as forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God because of Jesus' redemptive work. The gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is the precondition of a blessed life: a life that is not under the wrath of God, but purified and justified before God and is included in the book of life (Revelation 21:27; Romans 5:9).

Revelation 21:27

27Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Romans 5:9

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!

B. Always emphasize the presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life who makes the sinner a new creation, an instrument of righteousness, a born again life pleasing to God (Galatians 5:22-23). Moreover, the presence of the Holy Spirit in one's life means that God has placed a guaranteeing deposit for the eternal blessings to come (2 Corinthians 5:5).

Galatians 5:22-23

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self- control. Against such things there is no law.

2 Corinthians 5:5

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

C. Always emphasize the eternity of life even at the expense of losing the prosperity and well being in the present life in the world. The reason is simple. The present prosperity and well being is only temporary and cannot compare to the eternal blessings of God. A little mathematics may help our understanding of this point. The blessings of God is like an infinite number, and the good things in this life is just a finite number. In calculus, division of a finite number by an infinity is zero even though the finite number may be a large number such as one million or one billion and can be ignored in the equation (Romans 8:18). Any teachings that emphasize the present good things and enjoyment while ignoring or underemphasize the future in God's kingdom are short-sighted and faulty in light of the Bible. The Bible treats the present life as a traveling journey only. The destination is eternal life in the kingdom of God. As a matter of fact, people who think that the present prosperity and well being are everything they need in life are considered foolish according to the scriptures ( Psalm 49:18-19; Luke 12:19-21).

Romans 8:18

18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Psalm 49:18-19

18 Though while he lived he counted himself blessed— and men praise you when you prosper- 19 he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life.

Luke 12:19-21

19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' 20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

The Invitation to Blessed Life

To understand more deeply the blessed life that God desires to give to every human being, let us consider the origin of human life. The Book of Genesis reveals that mankind is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and is given the responsibility to rule over other living things on earth. The first man and woman Adam and Eve live in the garden of Eden and had a close relationship with God. Because of their disobedience to the command of God and gave in the temptation of Satan, sin entered the world. Mankind as descendants of Adam are born with a sinful nature. The Bible does not give a detailed explanation of how it comes about, but we can all acknowledge the presence of sinful nature by common observation. A newly born infant is innocent. As he or she grows up, he tends to manifest sinful thoughts and behaviors. The degree of sinfulness may be different from person to person and from situation to situation. Although the person is a law abiding citizen, however, all fails in light of the holiness of God who created humans in His own image. Sin eventually bore fruits resulted in all the immoralities, corruptions, and violence that we see in the world throughout history and today. Sin is like a dreadful disease attacking and destroying the whole world. Death is a definite destination of all mankind. Moreover, sinfulness brings separation and enmity with God as if darkness and light cannot be mixed together. God is holy and just and sinful people cannot communicate and approach God. Without the guidance of the Spirit of God, a person will feel that God is abstruse and even non-existent and he or she tends to live according to instincts without the words of God as guidance. In other words, sin brings spiritual death to humans and then physical death which happens later (Romans 5:12).

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Romans 5:12

12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—

A sinful life is not the life God originally intends people to have because it distorts the image of God inherent in a human life. A sinful life is under the influence of the person's sinful nature and the bondage of Satan. A sinful life bears all sorts of ugly fruits (Galatians 5:19-20) causing harms and sufferings to other people and the person who bears such fruits. The final outcome of a sinful life is death and eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23a). However, God is love (1 John 4:8). Although all people, Jews and the Gentiles alike, have fallen into sin, God still loves us. He demonstrated His great love by sending His one and only Son Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin (Romans 5:8). The Holy Spirit will come into believers' lives and turned them into new creations. This is what Jesus means when He says that we have to be born again in order to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3,5-6). The life of a new creation is the truly blessed life God gives. What is a truly blessed life in a more specific term? We all agree that a blessed life is a life bestowed with good gifts in life. However, we may not agree and understand the same way what the good gifts are. For examples, most people will agree that prosperity and good health are the very good things to have in life but still may differ in defining the notions of prosperity and to a lesser degree, good health. To resolve the disagreements and understand what a truly blessed life is, it is best to turn to God's written words the scriptures. A common view of prosperity and good health simply means possession of great wealth of money and a healthy body to live a long life, enjoy, use and manage the wealth he or she owns. Contrary to the common view, God's view and provision is infinitely better. The common view emphasizes the physical body, financial and materialistic resources in a limited life span while lacking the spiritual and eternity aspects of life as discussed above. These good things in life at present can be good resources and opportunities to apply in good and noble causes. In fact, the Bible has many examples of persons received prosperity blessings from God such as Abraham, Job, King David, King Solomon and more. But, these good things in life alone can also be applied in a misguided way harmful to others or in a self-serving way to feed lusts, pride and pleasures. These good things cannot truly fill one's life with true satisfaction and happiness. Therefore, even people who are affluent and healthy may not the happiest people even in this materialistic world and cases of suicide have been reported in the news. As a matter of fact, God who is infinitely wise and the creator of human lives warns us that these good things in present life, and in particular money and wealth the most commonly wanted thing can deceive us to pursue wrong goals in life and even commit evils in order to obtain it (Mark 4:19; Ecclesiastes 5:10; 1 Timothy 6:10).

Romans 6:23a

For the wages of sin is death

1 John 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:3, 5-6

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. " 5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Romans 8:15-17

15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Mark 4:19

but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

In contrast, God's view and provision for a blessed life is not restricted to a limited time span and scope and will always satisfy requirements of life (2 Corinthians 4:18; John 6:35) because the full requirements of life are well understood by God, the creator of life. His provision for life lasts forever and its scope is infinitely rich and God is so loving that He is pleased to adapt even sinners to be His children (Romans 8:15-17). Who can be richer than God the creator of the universe? Will God hold back the good things to His children? The answer is an emphatic "No!" Jesus says that God is so loving and generous that He is willing to give the Holy Spirit to dwell in His children's life (Luke 11:11- 13, John 7:37-39). With the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, life is truly blessed. This statement is almost like a tautology.

2 Corinthians 4:18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Romans 8:15-17

15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Luke 11:11-13

11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

John 7:37-39

38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Conclusion

Humans were created in the image of God. Eternity and spirit are important aspects of human life and should not be ignored. Otherwise, life is not true life and will be misguided and have no blessed but gloomy future eternity. Sin has entered the world and all human lives are like inflicted with terminal disease of sin that causes death and eternal separation from God, the source of life. Due to His great love of mankind, while we were sinners, God sent His only Son Jesus to save mankind from this terminal disease. Jesus came down from heaven as the bread of life. We may all take and eat of this bread freely such that our sins can be forgiven by God and have a new, eternal, blessed life that God desires mankind to have (John 6:51). This is the salvation grace of God that Jesus died for all sinners who believe in Jesus will not perish but have eternal life (Isaiah 53:5; John 6:27, 40).

John 6:51

51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

John 6:27

27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

John 6:40

40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

In this article, we have not discussed other religions offered as alternatives to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of these religions may also address the eternity and spiritual aspects of life but are not true bread of life and cannot provide the requirements of life. The Bible clearly states that salvation cannot be found under other name apart from Jesus Christ. For a more detailed study of this important topic, please refer to the article: Jesus the faithful and true witness.



Jesus the Gate

clock November 21, 2009 02:00 by author wtsang

John 10:9

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

In John 10, Jesus uses a figure of speech about sheep, sheep watching and caring to help us to understand some fundamental truth of the gospel. In the metaphor, Jesus said, "I am the gate" (John 10:9) which is the only entry into and exit from the sheep pen. He means that He is the only way of salvation, the only way to be with God the Father and have life and have it to the full (John 14:6) for both the Jews and gentiles (John 10:16). This is a clear and definite statement made by Jesus. However, many people in the world cannot accept this statement to be truth and there are many different religions in the world rejecting or downgrading the authority and teachings of Jesus Christ by proposing their own means of approach to God. Common sense reasoning seems to suggest that Israel as a nation the elect of God and the descendants of the father of faith Abraham should embrace God's salvation easily and naturally. In reality, many have not yet received Christ as the Savior, but faithfully follow their religious and humanistic traditions. It is difficult to descern the reasons why, but the Bible does make the assertions cutting to the chase of the reasons why in Jeremiah 2:13 and John 3:19. In other words, sinful people suffer from a broken relationship with God which will result in dissatisfaction and finally destruction in life. People reject Jesus' gracious invitation (John 7:37) and try various means to fill up the void in life while staying in darkness: materialistic lifestyle, pleasures, wealth, fame, busy activities, pursuit of occult spirituality, and even religions. However, it will not satisfy life's ultimate need to be reconciled and having a close relationship with the life giving creator God. If we study the Bible and think more carefully in light of the Bible, we can all conclude the same conclusive statement consistent with the revelation of God throughout the Bible: Jesus is the only way of salvation and abundant life.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 10:16

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Jeremiah 2:13

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

John 3:19

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 7:37

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.

Why Is There Only One Way of Salvation

God is holy, righteous, sovereign and merciful. Isn't it reasonable if God requires judgment and penalty of sin yet He loves the world though fallen into sin, He also specifies the equitable way of redemption and reconciliation with Him? Since salvation is so critical to the world, will He not communicate to us clearly the way of salvation? Indeed, if we study God's revelation in the Bible, the whole theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ and His mission of salvation and reconciliation of sinners with God. Let us consider the question of only one way of salvation in light of the Bible as follows.

A. There is One and Only True God

God has revealed to us that He is the only God and His people should not worship or serve other gods or idols. To ponder a little deeply, these are the additional reasons that I can find in the Bible: Worshiping other gods or idols which are man-made objects will lead to practices and values away from the one true God. God has expressively warned against this (Exodus 23:32-33). There are indeed evil practices and consequences of gods and idols worship as recorded in the Bible (2 Kings 17:3;Psalm 106:381). Moreover, false gods and idols worship is worthless and meaningless by nature (Jeremiah 10:5), and will lead their worshipers astray from the true way of life God desires mankind to follow. It will destroy the relationship with the one true God and eventually the lives of false gods and idols' worshipers. Unfortunately, many people choose to follow the way of falsehood even the true God has revealed Himself to them through various means: the creations, the prophets, His wonderful words the scriptures, miracles, Jesus Christ Himself, and many witnesses. A good illustration can be found in the story of Elijah who demonstrated that the God of Abraham, the God of Issac and the God of Jacob is the one true God and not Baal. After a miraculous demonstration of the power of God and the falsehood of Baal on Mount Carmel, king Ahab and many Israelites chose to return to false gods (1 Kings 18:21, 36).

Exodus 23:32-33

32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you."

2 Kings 17:31

the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

Psalm 106:38

They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.

Jeremiah 10:5

Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."

1 Kings 18:21, 36

Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing. 36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.

B. God's Words Are Trustworthy

God alone is holy and just. He is infinitely wise and the whole universe is designed, created and sustained by God. He knows every pitfall and falsehood. His words are the guiding light for every human being. Following His words, we will have life, an abundant life that lasts eternally. God gives us commands out of His great love and care, and not out of selfish desire of control and power over us like many dictators in world history. After all, God is so powerful and He is the creator of all things in the universe, He can and has the right to control everything. But, His words are given to mankind for our benefits. As the psalmist says, God's words are sweeter than honey and more precious than gold (Psalms 19:10), and are like the guiding light in darkness (Psalm 119:105). The whole Bible, Old Testament and New Testament reveals only one way of salvation. Jesus' death on the cross is God's plan of redemption of sinners (Numbers 21:8; John 3:14). Jesus Christ is the appointed High Priest (see also Jesus the High Priest) in the order of Melchizedek forever through Him repentant sinners may come to God to receive the grace of forgiveness and life (Psalms 110:4, Hebrews 6:20). This fundamental teaching is faithfully followed by the apostles (Acts 4:12). Preachings of false gospel as we may hear today are not new at all. As a matter of fact, even in Apostle Paul's time when churches were first established, false gospels were circulated even inside churches. Apostle Paul warned against both the believers and the false teachers who led believers away from the truth (1 Corinthians 15:2;Galatians 1:8). The true gospel always stresses that sinners are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:3-7), not of works or efforts that we or any other entities do even though they may appear good from the outside.

Psalms 19:10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Numbers 21:8 The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, Psalm 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Hebrew 6:20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." 1 Corinthians 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! Ephesians 2:3-7 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

C. Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of Our Faith (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus is Word became flesh that made His dwelling among us through Him we may receive God's grace and truth. Jesus Christ is the core of faith for everyone at all time: Old Testament time and New Testament time. Before Jesus came, He was prophesied by the prophets and various events that He was the savior and the Lord. In the New Testament time, Jesus came and completed the redemptive work and sat at the right hand of God. His Kingdom will come in the future and lasts forever. Therefore, God's plan of salvation is fulfilled in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus and His work of salvation is the substance of our faith. Jesus Christ is the originator of everyone's faith for without Jesus, there is no redemption and salvation. There is no real and eternal hope for mankind to put their faith in.

Jesus came not only to complete the work of redemption on the cross, He also served as an example of our faith. He actually taught us the way of life pleasing to God: a life of selfless mission for the salvation of mankind even at the cost of suffering and death (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus' endurance of suffering was motivated by His love and the joy of blessings that others will benefit from His redemptive work. All who are saved by Jesus Christ will receive a born again life drastically different from his or her old life which was a life of selfish ambitions and pleasure seeking mixed with sin sick behaviors in the sight of God. Every believer will run a spiritual race in the born again and new life. Jesus Christ serves as the model for faith that is pleasing to God. Faith implies obedience. If we believe in something, a logical corresponding action will result consistent with what we believe. To illustrate this point, imagine someone recommends to you that an investment will return handsomely for your money. If we really believe in the recommendation, we will not just say thank and give a lip service complement of the recommendation. Rather, we will take our money out and make the investment. Jesus fully trusted and obeyed God in His earthly mission. He finished the requirements of God for sinners by suffering and death on the cross. All believers are asked to fix our eyes on Jesus in our spiritual running race which requires faith because in life there is bound to be distractions, temptation of sins and even persecutions in this world. If we do not have the faith, we will not be able to run a good race. Jesus not only served as the perfect example of faith for all believers to follow, but the Holy Spirit (the Counselor) as promised by Jesus will live within every believer's life to remind him or her of the words of God and give strength to continue running the spiritual race (John 7:38-39, John 14:26). Moreover, Jesus will reward our faith when we finished the race. His reward is eternal and will not fade away in contrast to everything in the world which is only temporary and will surely vaporize someday.

To reiterate, these are the implications and reasons why Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. Firstly, Jesus is the core substance of our faith through Him, we can receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life and the reconciliation with God. Secondly, Jesus' obedience to the Father and endurance of suffering in His earthly mission is a great example for us. As the students of Jesus Christ, it is quite natural that sufferings are part and partial of Christian life journey in the present world (1 Peter 2:20-21). Thirdly, the world around us is full of sins. Corruptions, injustices, and sufferings are abound. Most people will be discouraged and ask the questions: where is God? Does God care? Well, look at Jesus Christ, He is by nature God, but came to world as a human being and took on the sufferings and punishments on our behalf as a price of redemption of sins of mankind (Philippians 2:5-8). I think the answer is clear to the questions. God cares so much that He was willing to be humiliated and died a torturous death to pay the price of redemption for us (Please refer to this graphic illustration which may help us to visualize the redemption price of Jesus Christ for sinners).



God does not only care for, but indeed love us very much. The present world is only temporary. When God's kingdom and final judgment come, sins and sufferings will be completely purged. All the redeemed will live in God's glory and joy forever!

Hebrews 12:2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

John 7:38-39

38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 14:26

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

1 Peter 2:20-21

20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Philippians 2:5-8

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

John 14:15-18, 26-27

15"If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Mark 10:44-45

44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

D. Humans as God's Beloved Creation

Humans are created in the image of God and God loves humans and the relationship between God and humans should be close, pure and devoted. As a matter of fact, Israel as a nation, being God's elect is depicted metaphorically as the wife of God although not faithfully (Hosea 3:1). In the New Testament, the church as a whole in is depicted as the bride (Revelation 19:7). Therefore, when we study the Bible, we will see the anger and jealousy of God when His people worship and serve other gods and idols because the purity and devotion in the relationship have been violated (Exodus 20:3-6). Jealousy may carry a negative connotation and the person who has jealousy is selfish, insecure, weak, irrational and even has the tendency to commit wrongful behaviors. But, the jealousy of God against His people worshiping other gods and idols are out His Holiness and purity of love towards His people. It simply means that God loves His people and desires true worship from His people. There will be no jealousy if there is no intimate relationship built on the foundation of love and integrity. To help us to understand the meaning of God's jealousy, think about the relationship of a husband and wife. If the wife is promiscuous and play harlotry. It is not hard to understand the jealousy of the husband. It is reasonable for the husband to be jealous. If not, the husband does not really treat his wife as wife and the marriage is not real. The same principle applies to the New Testament era, if believers do not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and put their minds on cultic teachings and practices, their relationship with the Lord become impure (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).

By the way, Exodus 20:3-6 seems to suggest that the sin of idol worshipping will lead to punishment of the children based on the sin of the fathers. But, we should understand that sin is contagious and can influence from person to person. The closer the relationship, the stronger the influence (2 Kings 17:41). However, the Bible does not teach that descendants of a sinful man will receive the punishments for their father. Rather, it is their following of the practice of their fathers get punished. In other words, everyone is responsible for his or her own behavior and Ezekiel 18:20 has made it clear. This also remind us Christians have the duty as the salt and light of this dark world. We should help people who do not know Christ to know the gospel such that they may receive forgiveness and a born again life from the merceiful God.

Hosea 3:1

The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."

Revelation 19:7

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

Exodus 20:3-6

3 "You shall have no other gods before me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

2 Corinthians 11:2-4

2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

Ezekiel 18:20

20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

2 Kings 17:41

Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.

Conclusion

God initiates salvation. He executed His salvation plan personally and not through any other means. Salvation implies restoration relationship with Him eternally and sinners become justified and may call God their Father. Therefore oneness is implied in all aspects of salvation and the eternal relationship with God. In fact, Jesus has taught that God is the ultimate one Master, Father and Teacher for all His children in Christ Jesus (Matthew 23:8), no one else may take His place. Therefore, any other teachings on an alternate way other than Jesus Christ to be saved and approach God are false teachings. Why will people not following God's specification of salvation? Unless they do not accept the authority of God and re-invent their own way of salvation. Or perhaps, they simply rebel against the authority of God.

Mark 12:29-30

29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

Ephesians 4:4-5

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Romans 5:8-9

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!

Matthew 23:8

8 "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.



Jesus the High Priest (Summary Version)

clock October 16, 2009 02:00 by author wtsang

Hebrew 6:20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

When we think of priesthood, we tend to think of the Jewish temples built by Solomon and king Herod in which priests serve in performing sacrifices. The first Jewish priest was Moses' brother Aaron who are descendants of Levi who is the one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Later, priests serving in the temple were required to be descendants of Aaron. However, an earlier and a more prominent and everlasting priesthood is not in the order of Aaron but Melchizedek. The Bible does not give a lot of information about Melchizedek, we only know from the book of Genesis that he was both a king and a priest of the most High God in Salem, without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life (Hebrews 7:1-3). There has been many speculations about the person of Melchizedek. Some said that he Was the preincarnate Christ Himself, and some said that he was a normal person but with family genealogy not recorded and revealed in the Bible. But, the important revelation about Melchizedek is that he is a type, or a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ who is both King and High Priest of God forever (Psalm 110:4). The Jewish ancestor Abraham met Melchizedek after successfully rescuing his nephew Lot, in the battle against king Kedorlaomer and his allies. Melchizedek went out to welcome Abraham, gave blessings to him and Abraham gave one tenth of his possessions to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20).

Psalm 110:4

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

Genesis 14:18-20)

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator [e] of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Hebrews 7:1-3

1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.

Hebrews 7:11, 18

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 9:12

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

The Perfect Priesthood In God's Plan

Jesus came to save mankind from sins. Jesus is the Son of God (2 Peter 1:17) but took the image of a human being and lived among us. He was tempted in every way humans were tempted and yet committed no sin and demonstrated His righteousness in light of God's holiness (Hebrews 4:15). He deserves all the glory, honor and blessings from God. Instead, he bored the shameful and painful punishment on the cross as a sacrifice in order to redeem all sinners who believe in Him (1 Peter 2:24). Of course, Jesus did it according to His own accord although it was a painful struggle for Jesus who foreknew the insults, tortures and pain to be afflicted on His body as manifested in His prayer (Mark 14:36) at the night He was arrested and sent to trials and crucifixion. Jesus was willing to take up these sufferings out of His great love and mercy to save sinners from the bondage and destruction of sins, restore the relationship with God and receive eternal life and blessings. Jesus, being the High Priest brings us to God not by blood of animals, but by the most precious sacrifice: His own sinless body pleasing and acceptable to God as a redemption price of all sinners. The punishment that brought sinners peace was upon Him (Isaiah 53:5). This is the real and infinitely valuable sacrifice that God pleases and the sacrifice was done once and is good for all sinners who believe in Jesus, past, present and future (Hebrews 10:10; John 3:16-18).

2 Peter 1:17

For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Mark 14:36

"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Hebrews 10:10

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

John 3:16-18

16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

The Permanent Priesthood In God's Plan

Jesus is the source of life. To Him, there is no limit of time because He is the Alpha and Omega. His priesthood will also last forever according to God's plan (Hebrews 7:20-22, 24-25). Therefore, our salvation will be guaranteed and last forever because Jesus is the mediator through Him we may obtain God's forgiveness of sins and God's gift of eternal life as He says in John 3:16. We who trust in Jesus will receive His grace and blessings forever.

Hebrews 7:20-22, 24-25

20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.' " 22Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

The Effectiveness of Jesus' Priesthood

The salvation from the bondage and destruction of sins through Jesus is not merely a symbolic gesture, but practically effective. Firstly, Jesus paid for the penalty of sins required by God fully. Secondly, sinners will be cleansed, liberated and refreshed with a new life free from the bondage of sins because the Holy Spirit will live in the new believers' hearts and make them new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and live the lives that according to God's words because the Holy Spirit is at work constantly in the believers' heart (Hebrews 10:15-16) and bear fruits that glorify God (Galatians 5:22-23). Previously, the high priest would perform an annual ritual of sacrifice in the temple for the sins of himself and the people he represented. This was only an infrequent, indirect, symbolic act. Now, since Christians have the Holy Spirit living within, it is appropriate to call the body of a Christian a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18). Thirdly, Jesus lives forever, and so is His priesthood such that the redemption and salvation from sins are guaranteed forever. We know of lifetime warranty of certain products given by manufacturers who are very confident in their quality of their products. Although the warranty is good it will end someday anyway due to the limited lifespan of the owners. Moreover, the warranty will carry some limited conditions and will disappear should the manufacturers go out of business. But, the grace of redemption and salvation that Jesus gives comes with eternal lifetime warranty because both the persons who are redeemed and Jesus Christ live forever. There are no limited conditions. The only thing requires is to believe in Jesus Christ as our savior (John 6:28-29, John 7:38-39, John 14:26).

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Hebrews 10:15-16

15The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds."

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 Corinthians 6:18

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

John 6:28-29

28 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" 29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

John 7:38-39

38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 14:26

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jesus' Offer and Service of Priesthood Is Free But Infinitely Expensive

Through Jesus' work as the High Priest and the offer of His own life as a sacrifice, sinners may receive salvation. Jesus did this out of His grace. However, we should take notice that we should not abuse God's grace because it is freely given to the whole world. Instead of being grateful to God's amazing grace, some people think of the grace of God is cheap. Actually, God's grace is infinitely expensive and it costs God's only Son who is being God by nature to come to the world in the flesh and be insulted and died on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). Salvation grace is given to us as a free gift simply because it is the love and mercy of God. After all, no one has what it takes to obtain it by his or her own means. Jesus take up the cost for all sinners.

The purpose of salvation is to set free sinners from the bondage and destruction of sins. It never means to provide a protective shield for sinners such that they may stay in sins. For it is a direct contradiction to God's nature to coexist with sins because light and darkness cannot coexist (1 John 1:5). Therefore, the Bible warns us that if sinners do not accept God's salvation grace with a sincere heart and true faith, they have not really believed in Jesus and the sacrifice that Jesus made will not cover their sins (Hebrews 10:26-27; Jude 1:4). As a matter of fact, even the demons believe God's existence and even know of His words as the devil tempted Jesus even by quoting the Bible but of course not in a right way. Jesus answered this temptation by applying God's words correctly (Luke 4:9-12). This reminds us that how much we should study and put God's words into our hearts. This is the act of walking with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25) and this is the privilege, blessing and spiritual weapon that God gives to His children (Ephesians 6:17). Believing in Jesus has the connotation of obedience in Jesus' words which implies a changed attitude towards and the repentance of sins. This is not the same as the belief of the demons who rebel against God's words and authority and were condemned and waiting for judgement (James 2:9).

Philippians 2:6-8

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Hebrews 10:26-27

26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Jude 1:4

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Luke 4:9-12

9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" 12Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Galatians 5:25

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:17

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

James 2:19

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Believers' War Against Sins

Although Christians or believers in Jesus are born again with new spiritual lives, the old self within the believers is not completely dead yet. In fact, the sinful old nature is fighting against the new life God has given to all believers in Christ Jesus. Even apostle Paul was no exception (Romans 7:21-23). But, we should understand the difference between the struggle of a non-believer who has no Holy Spirit within and a believer who does. The non-believer acts according to his or her instincts, values, understandings and conscience which may vary from person to person but definitely do not meet God's holy standard. A Christian who is born again child of God, however, has God's laws in his or her heart and the new nature in Christ will be glad to live according to God's laws. However, the old nature is waging war against the new nature. And Christians will not enjoy and be peacefully to live according to the old nature. In fact, Christians will groan and cry out when they realize of any manifestation of the old nature in their lives (Romans 7:24). This is also the evidence of a person who has been saved by God for he or she does not live according to the old sinful nature but the new spiritual nature (Romans 8:5). If Christians fall and sin, they will be condemned by the Holy Spirit and quickly repent and ask God for forgiveness and the grace of forgiveness will be bestowed through our High Priest Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9, 2:1).

Romans 7:21-23

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

Romans 7:24

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Romans 8:5

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:1

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Our High Priest Is Identified With Us

Our High Priest Jesus showed His love and mercy not remotely but in person (Hebrews 4:14-16). He is by nature God but took the image of man and lived among us. Therefore, it makes His representation of mankind as a High Priest all the more relevant and qualified. This is what Apostle John means by Word became flesh drilling among us full of grace and truth (John 1:1, 14) for Jesus came to teach us the way to live, to offer Himself on the cross to redeem us, and through Him sinners are forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit and an abundant new life. His resurrection shows us that we who trust in Him will too resurrect like Him and have eternal life. Notice that in the world today, people try to enforce religious states of false gods and doctrines while some nations enforce separating church and state. The priesthood of Melchizedek is a combination of both the office of High Priest and King. Likewise, Jesus Christ is both king and priest in combine which is the future system of the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 4:14-16

14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

John 1:1, 14

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Conclusion

There is no longer any need to perform temple rituals because Jesus has already completed the atonement work once and for all required by God. After all, the Old Testament temple rituals were only the images of the real atonement works Jesus completed. It was completed when Jesus said "It is finished." on the cross (John 19:30). The curtain of the temple separating the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom at the same moment (Matthew 27:51) signifying that all who trust in Jesus may come to God. In the past, only a High Priest under the Aron system was selected once a year to enter the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifices for himself and for his people he represented. As a matter of fact, the temple was completely destroyed by the Roman Soldiers in A.D. 70. Therefore, it is an act of rejection of Christ's atonement work for salvation of mankind when one insist on performing the Old Testament rituals. The old has passed and the new has come, believers of Christ can now receive the real blessings of new life God gives to all through Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus has died and resurrected, believers' old lives have died and resurrected into new lives. This achieves the amazing purpose of salvation due to God's grace and love. Jesus is the permanent High Priest through Him we may eternally receive God's grace, and abundant life. He who made the promise is faithful and trustworthy (Hebrews 10:23, 4:16). Therefore, we can put our trust wholly in our High Priest Jesus Christ. There are still many people in the world bounded by sins and separated from God. Believers in Christ are also given the glorious privilege and responsibility to witness and bring people to God through faith in Jesus. Therefore, believers in essence are also priests for they become the medium between God and sinners with Jesus being the High Priest. This is the meaning of life of every believer that is to participate in the Holy Priesthood (1 Peter2:5, 9), and this is exactly the way of life of worship pleasing to God (Romans 12:1).

Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

John 19:30

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Romans 6:4

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Matthew 27:51

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

1 Peter 2:5, 9

5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Romans 12:1

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.



Jesus the faithful and true witness

clock October 1, 2009 02:00 by author wtsang

Revelation 3:14 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.

No one has seen God, but through His son Jesus Christ, we may know God: His mercy, love, faithfulness, glory and power. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, sins entered the world and the tragic consequence of sin is death (Romans 5:12). According to the words of God, death for humans who are created in His image does not mean only death of the body, but also the second death after God's righteous judgment. The second death is the terrible ultimate penalty in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). However, out of this tragic event of sin entering the world, we see God's righteousness and justice. God hates sin very much for He understands how ugly and how destructive sin is and must be eradicated. A world with rampant sin is a terrible place to live and mankind cannot survive in it eventually. To appreciate just a little bit of the ugliness of sin, watch and listen to the news of murders, frauds, robberies, piracy, sex scandals, prostitution especially child prostitution, gang violence, corruptions and much more. Out of the tragic event of sin entering the human race, we see God's great love, wisdom and power. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to the world to save us from sin. Jesus took up the penalty of sin for all who believe in Him. Jesus sacrificed Himself by suffering and death on the cross to pay for the penalty of sins for all believers. He also resurrected from the death such that all who trust in Him will share the resurrection with Him and have eternal life (Romans 6:4-5;John 3:16). He also gives believers the Holy Spirit such that believers have the power to overcome sins and live a new life in pursuit of God's holiness that is to restore the original image of God in which humans are created. In fact, God's salvation plan was announced right after sin entered the human race in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). The Messiah born of a woman, namely the virgin Mary will destroy Satan's plan of bringing curse of death and separation from God to mankind by temptation and death.

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Romans 6:4-5

4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

Meaning of Faithful and True Witness

The dictionary meaning of the word faithful is "adhering firmly and devotedly, as to a person, cause, or idea". It implies that a faithful witness is consistent and loyal to the things in question he or she represents. However, we should understand that no matter how faithful a witness can be, we should ask the question if he or she is really a true witness. The whole business of witnessing is false if the very claim being witnessed is false in the first place no matter how faithfully the witness represents it. Also, the witnessed claim is not acceptable as truth if the witness is not in a position to be a good witness. Has the witness been appointed properly to represent the claim? Is the witness of reputable character to be trustworthy? Is the witness qualified and capable to represent the claim? And we should ask for evidence of the answers to these questions.

A similar set of questions can be applied to evaluate all religions. A good question to ask is whether the originator of the religion or sect is appointed by the god or gods behind it? What is the evidence? It will take too much time and efforts to evaluate all the religions and sects in the world one by one. Let us apply a shortcut by applying a principle of logic, namely mutual exclusivity. Two statements are mutually exclusive if they cannot be both true. If one statement is true the other must be false and vice versa. The claim of Jesus Christ is a mutually exclusive claim. Let A be Jesus' claim and B be the set of claims of other religions or sects in the world. If Jesus' claim is true, then the set of all other religions in the world is false. Similarly, even if a single religion in the world in set B is true, then A (i.e. Jesus' claim) is false. For Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

John 14:6

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Unique Appointment to be God's Witness

To consider the origin of Jesus, a good place to start is His genealogy. But, there are two apparently different versions: one is recorded in chapter 3 of Luke Gospel and one in chapter 1 in Matthew Gospel. This seems to be an inconsistency and confusion. Actually, these two versions of genealogy complement each other and together gives a deeper insight into the genealogy of Jesus such that we may know that Jesus is indeed the Immanuel (God with us) that is the Word became flesh that lived among us (John 1:1). In studying Jesus' genealogy, we see God's power, wisdom and grace, and His signature proving to us that Jesus is the one He sent.

Jesus is the prophesied descendant of David and will be a wise and righteous king (the Messiah or the anointed one) of the whole world eternally (Genesis 49:10;Jeremiah 23:5;2 Samuel 7:16). However, Jesus could not be the offspring of king Jeconiah whose ancestor is Solomon who succeeded David's kingship. Instead, Jesus was an offspring of Nathan, another son of David and the ancestor of Heli the father of the mother of Jesus Mary. The reason that Jesus was not born of the king's line of genealogy because of the wickedness of king Jeconiah and a prophecy was announced that his offspring would not sit on the throne of David (Jeremiah 22:30). Therefore, Jesus was born of virgin Mary who was the offspring of David through the line of Nathan. In the genealogy of Jesus recorded in the book of Matthew, Joseph was the son of Heli who had no son. By Jewish custom, Joseph was named as the son of Heli as he married to Heli's heiress daughter Mary. Jesus then became the son of Joseph who was the offspring in the genealogical line of kings among David's offspring. Therefore Jesus inherited the legal title of kingship of David through Joseph. Unfortunately, many Jewish friends do not yet accept Jesus as the promised Messiah. Only Jesus Christ who was born of virgin Mary satisfied the prophetic requirements of God and Jewish legal customs. Although the promise of Jesus' rulership on earth has not been established, we should understand that it is God's plan of salvation. His Kingdom will be established on earth reigning the whole world one day when Jesus come again the second time with glory and power (Revelation 19:15-16). For He holds the title deed of the whole world. As a matter of fact, the whole universe belongs to Him as He created it (John 1:3 ). Moreover, please consider more evidence that Jesus is indeed the appointed Messiah in God's salvation plan as follows.

The Unique Qualification to be God's Witness

The popular Christmas scene we see is that the baby Jesus is lying in a manger, beside the baby are Joseph and Mary. The manger was located in Bethlehem, the home town of David. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem even when Mary was pregnant and the baby was about to be born. The reason was the decree of Caesar Augustus to take the census of the entire Roman world and everyone were to register in their home towns. Although Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth in Galilee at that time, they needed to make this trip to their home town Bethlehem. We could imagine that all inns were booked to capacity at that time such that Jesus was born in a manger as they could not find a room. The fact that Jesus would come out of Bethlehem had been prophesied in Micah 5:2. This prophetic verse emphasizes that the deity origin of Jesus that is from of old. The King James version has a better translation for it gives a clearer emphasis of the everlasting origin of Jesus. This is why God calls Himself the Alpha and the Omega meaning God is not defined and constrained by time and He is the beginning and the end that last to infinity in either direction: past or future (Revelation 1:8, 21:6). By the way, do you see the gracious invitation of the Almighty God even to all human beings to have life (Revelation 21:6). The same invitation had been extended to all when Jesus walked among us as human in His earthly ministry (John 7:37). The deity nature of Jesus uniquely qualifies Him as the faithful and true witness for He is with God and He is God in origin (John 1:1-2). That is why Jesus is also called the Word of God (with the capital W) who communicates God's thoughts, attributes and salvation plan to us (John 1:1). Many people have problem in accepting Jesus' deity for He appeared in humble human likeness and was even crucified on the cross. But, it was God's plan of salvation showing God's patience and love towards mankind. Yes, Jesus will come again in His glory and power at the end time of world civilization (Revelation 19:11-13). In the meantime, it is the time of grace and acceptance.

Micah 5:2 (New International Version)

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

Micah 5:2 (King James Version)

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Revelation 1:8

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

Revelation 21:6

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.

John 7:37

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.

John 1:1-2

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

Revelation 19:11-13

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

The Witnessing of God's Righteousness and Love

The celebration of Passover started when the Jewish people were under the bondage of slavery in Egypt. God's act of killing the first born in Egypt was taken as a judgment on Egypt to persuade the Pharaoh to let the Jewish people leave such that they might enter the land God promised to Abraham. According to the instructions of Passover, some blood of the Passover lamb should be put on the side and top of doorframes as a sign such that God's destructive plague would pass the house. The instructions emphasized that the bones of the Passover lamb should not be broken. The Passover was given as a sign of the true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ that God prepared to save people from the bondage of sins and death. God will forgive our sins based on the sacrificial work Jesus did for us all who trust in Him. His suffering and shedding of blood and death were the price He paid for our forgiveness of sins (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus is the Passover Lamb for the salvation of the world and it was also first witnessed by John the Baptist and God the father (John 1:29) who was the forerunner of Jesus' ministry on earth. Therefore, Jesus witnessed the great love of God by paying a huge price of humility and sufferings (Philippians 2:6-8) to redeem us all who trust in Him and accept His blessings of reconciliation with God with abundant and eternal life simply as a gift.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Philippians 2:6-8

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

God's Signature Certifying Who is the Passover Lamb for Mankind

Then the question is how should we know that Jesus really served as the Passover lamb for all mankind and His crucification on the cross was the redemptive work accepted by God. Well, God prophesied the redemptive work of Jesus through the prophets The words written by the prophets about Jesus' as a Passover lamb was fulfilled by His crucification and death. To appreciate a little more how true and how powerful the scripture is, please look at Psalm 22:16-18 which prophesies that Jesus' hands and feet are pierced which is the death by crucification. Before even the cross as a execution instrument was invented, Jesus' death by piercing was prophesied. His bones are not broken though it was a common practice to break the legs of persons being crucified such that they could not pushed themselves up for breathing on the cross. This would hasten death by suffocation. This was exactly what happened to the two robbers who were crucified along with Jesus. There legs were broken by the soldiers to hasten their death as the sunset was coming.

Also, the event of soldiers executing the crucification dividing Jesus' garments by cast lots had been prophesied. When we consider these two events a little deeply, we will see that crucification was not only a painful and tortuous punishment, it is also a very shameful because the person being crucified was stripped of clothes naked in the public. Also, Jesus died on the cross suffering the full course of crucification without hastening by breaking the bones. Moreover, the date of Jesus death has been foretold. Please refer to the article Daniel's Seventy Weeks for details.

After death, Jesus could have been assigned a grave with the two robbers who were also crucified. However, Joseph of Arimathea who was a rich man and a member of the Sanhedrin took the risk to claim the body of Jesus from the Roman Officier Pilate. He was given permission to take Jesus' body and Joseph put Jesus' body in a new tomb that he owned. Again, this event was also prophesied (Isaiah 53:9; John 19:38, 41-42). All these bear the signatures of God Signifying that Jesus is indeed the faithful and true witness of His love, power and glory.

Psalm 22:16-18

16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

John 19:23-24

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.

John 19:32

The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.

Exodus 12:46

"It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.

Numbers 9:12

They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.

Psalm 34:20

he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Isaiah 53:9

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

John 19:38, 41-42

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Jesus' Acts of Miracles Manifest His Being the True Witness

Jesus claimed that He was sent by the Father and He and the Father was one (John 8:18; John 10:30). The prophecy written in Isaiah 9:6 even specifically stated that the coming Messiah would be called the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6). Apart from Jesus' own words, and the witnessing by John the Baptist and the apostles, Jesus performed many miracles, manifested His omnipotent and omniscient abilities during His earthly ministry in front of His disciples and many other eye witnesses as evidence to qualify and support His claim of His deity origin (John 1:14, 8:58), His mission (Luke 4:18-19) and His being sent by the Father (John 10:36-38, John 17:8).

John 8:18

I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me." John 10:30 I and the Father are one."

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 8:58

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"

Luke 4:18-19

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

John 10:36-38

36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

John 17:8

For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

This is an inexhaustive list of miracles Jesus performed and displayed in front of many people. When you scan through the list, please consider who else, prophets or originators of religions, have displayed such evidence they were indeed true witnesses or bearers of revelations from God.

Turning water to wine in a wedding feast when all wine was consumed. Water was turned into choice wine when the servants in the wedding feast filled up six nearby stone water jars as told by Jesus.

Jesus without being present physically nearby could see the event of Nathanael being under a fig tree before another person Philip called him. Realizing the omniscient ability of Jesus, Nathanael immediately confessed that Jesus was the Son of God and the King of Israel or the Messiah he was waiting for.

An invalid man could not walk for thirty-eight years. Jesus commanded this man to pick up his mat and walk. The man did so and was healed. Unfortunately, this man did not show any gratitude but reported his healing to people who persecuted Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. It was deemed unlawful for the Jews to carry a mat and walk on Sabbath.

A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years and tried to obtain help by all her means, but no one could heal her. One day, Jesus was on His way to someone's house and was greeted by a large crowd of people pressing against Him. This woman managed to touch the edge of Jesus' cloak and her bleeding stopped instantly. At first, the woman did not want to acknowledge it in public. But, Jesus insisted on asking His disciples and people around Him who had touched Him. Seeing that she could not hide, the woman fell at his feet and admitted that she had touched Jesus' cloak and was healed instantly. Jesus said that her faith had healed her. By this, Jesus not only manifested His miraculous power of healing but graciously teaching everyone, in particular the woman the deeper meanings of the miracle. The woman was given the opportunity to acknowledge Jesus in public. She was blessed with the healings both spiritually and physically because of her faith in the Messiah.

The daughter of a synagogue ruler was seriously sick. On the way to the house of the synagogue ruler, the girl died. The parents thought that it was the end now. But, Jesus raised the girl from death in front of the girl's parents, and Jesus' disciples Peter, John and James.

Lazarus, the brother of two sisters Mary and Martha died and was already put in a tomb for four days. At the tomb, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out from the tomb. This miracle was performed in front of the sisters, Jesus' disciples and some people at the site.

On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus met ten men suffering from leprosy, a disease that could not be healed at that time. The lepers asked Jesus for mercy at a distance. Jesus asked them to show themselves to the priests (the legal requirement to certify recovery from leprosy). As they went, they were cleansed from the dreadful disease. Unfortunately, out of the ten lepers, only one one returned to thank Jesus.

Once the disciples were sailing across a lake for Capernaum with great difficulty because the wind was against them. After praying alone on land while the disciples were sailing, Jesus catched up to meet them by walking on the lake water to meet them. They were terrified at first. But, when Jesus got on the boat, the wind died down and they could reach the destination immediately.

On another occasion, Jesus and His disciples were sailing across a lake. Other boats were with them also. Jesus was sleeping in the stern when a violent storm came suddenly and unexpectedly. The boat was swamped with wave water and was about to sink. Terrified, the disciples woke Jesus up saying if Jesus cared if they were drowned. Several of the disciples are fishermen by trade and if they said that they were about to drown and the conditions should indeed be very serious. But, Jesus said that they had little faith and why they were afraid. Jesus rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm. They were all amazed that even winds and waves would listen to Jesus.

After teaching a large crowd of people (five thousand men besides women and children) in a remote place away from villages, the disciples asked Jesus to send the people away for food in nearby villages because the evening was approaching. But, Jesus asked the disciples to give food to the people but they quickly figured that it was a very costly for it would cost a lot of money. Moreover, it was a remote place and it would almost be an impossible task logistically to obtain a large quantity of food to feed thousands of people in short order and carry it back to serve before the evening came. Jesus then asked to find out how much food they could find in the crowd. They could find five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus took the bread and fish, looked up to heaven, gave thanks and gave the bread and fish to the disciples for distributing to the people. All the people had the bread and fish and were satisfied. Afterwards, Jesus asked the disciples to pick up the broken pieces of food and twelve baskets were filled.

During the last super with the disciples before His arrest, Jesus predicted that Peter would disown Him three times before the rooster crowed twice. That night, Jesus was indeed arrested and put to trial immediately at the high priest quarter. Being concerned, Peter followed them to the high priest quarter. In the courtyard, Peter was pointed out again and again by the people there as an associate of Jesus. After Peter denied that He knew Jesus for the third time, the rooster crowed immediately for the second time. Peter remembered what Jesus told him at the supper and he left the high priest's place and wept bitterly.

Of all the miracles, Jesus' resurrection is the most important. It proves that Jesus is indeed sent by God and is Word became flesh that lived among us. His promise of eternal life is trustworthy and is the hope of every believer (John 3:16). His resurrection shows us that He is life and He can give life. Resurrection is so important that Jesus showed Himself to many believers and all the apostles for a period of forty days before ascending to heaven (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8). With the power and hope of resurrection and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the gospel was preached from Jerusalem to different parts of the world. Many churches have been established to witness this gospel until today. In fact, this is the only hope of all the world. Jesus' resurrection Witnesses God's Victory and He is the Source of Life of all who believe in Jesus.

Psalm 16:10

because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Acts 1:3

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Conclusion

Jesus is the express image of God (John 14:9). He is uniquely qualified to be the faithful and true witness of God. It seems that God's promise to David cannot be fulfilled (2 Samuel 7:16) when the whole nation of Israel was broken and its people were dispersed. But, Jesus' birth, living among us, death and resurrection as foretold by the prophets testify that the Bible is the revelation of God's salvation plan. The supernatural writing and fulfillment of the prophecy bears the signature of God and is trustworthy. Christ is full of grace and truth (John 1:17-18) and is the faithful and true witness to God's omnipotent, and omniscience power, righteousness, justice, faithfulness and love (Psalms 89:13-14). Jesus' resurrection shows us that the snares, bondage of Satan, and even death can be conquered and God is the source of life. Therefore, the gospel is the power of God which saves all who believe. All who put the trust in Jesus will not be disappointed and put in shame (Psalm 34:5). And anyone who accept Jesus' gift of salvation brought from and approved by God will receive eternal life (John 17:3).

John 14:9

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

2 Samuel 7:16

16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.' "

John 1:17-18

17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

Psalms 89:13-14

13 Your arm is endued with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

Psalm 34:5

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

John 17:3

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.



Jesus the Head of the Church

clock July 21, 2009 14:36 by author wtsang

Ephesians 1:22

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,

Although a church can be named geographically in the Bible such as Macedonian churches and Galatian churches, churches are never named after a person such as Paul's church or Peter's church, or by denominations. We do see churches today named after apostles, great Christians and various denominations, but we should understand that the essence of a church is the God the church worships and serves and the preaching of the gospel and the nurthuring of Christ disciples (1 Corrinthians 1:12-13). Churches do not necessarily associate with a magnificient and well-constructed building. It is the people that matters. As a mtter of fact, some churches simply meet at a house (Romans 16:5).

Churches are a community of people saved and united in Christ Jesus and born again by the Holy Spirit. The members of churches are like different members of the same body, and Jesus is the head of the body. Obviously, all the members have the same faith based on the teachings of Christ. Churches should all be identified and belong to God and Christ who is appointed by God as the head of the church (Ephesians 4:4-6;Romans12:4-5;Romans 16:16;1 Corinthians 1:2). Members of churches serve God together in unity with different gifts and functions for the glory of God and attain Christ's maturity as a goal and process (Ephesians 4:12).

1 Corrinthians 1:12-13

12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cepha"; still another, "I follow Christ." 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

Romans 16:5

Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.

Ephesians 4:4-6

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Romans 12:4-5

4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Romans 16:16

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

1 Corinthians 1:2

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

Ephesians 4:12

12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

What does God expects from churches? We all understand that the church should be a community to worship God. One essential attribute of a church should be the existence of brotherly love (John 13:35). It should also be a place of purity and prayer of all nations and collectively carry out Jesus' command to further the gospel to the whole world (Mark 11:17; Matthew 28:19; John13:35). This implies that the church will withness and stand firm on the principles based on the words of God as salt and light in the corrupted and dark world (Matthew 5:13-14).

John 13:35

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Mark 11:17

And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: " 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations' ? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.' "

Matthew 28:19

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Matthew 5:13-14

13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Mark 11:17 And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: " 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations' ? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.' " Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 5:13-14 13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

1. The Church in Ephesus was praised by Jesus of perservence in labor in the name of Jesus. Moreover, the church was sound in doctrines based on the words of God and was able to discern false teachings and apostles. Incidentally, we should note that we are not saved by good works (2 Timothy 1:9). But, the natural consequence of redeemed people is the manesfestation of redeemed life with good works (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 6:13). But, one problem that Jesus pointed out was the loss of first love of Jesus. There labor was no longer motivated by love, but rather driven by legalism.

Revelation 2:2-4

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

2 Timothy 1:9

who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Romans 6:13

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

2. To the church of Smyrna, Jesus reminded them the truth that He is the Lord of resurrection and the almighty God who is the alpha and the omega because the church was under persecution in all fronts. They might have been excommunicated in the community such that they could not engage in ordinary business and employment. Their characters were assasinated and were put in prison in the wicked legal system. The church was deprived, shamed and poor in the world but was apraised as rich by Jesus (Revelation 2:9) and the Lord encouraged the church to stand firm as withness even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10). This should be a reminder of all churches that how much they should be more faithful and zealous in serving the Lord and be a witness to the world When they live in a free and affluent condition.

Revelation 2:9-10

9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

3. The church of Pergamum was situated in a difficult location filled with idol worshipping people and temples. Yet, the church was appraised by Jesus as faithful witness. Unfortunately, some church members began to lean towards false doctrines: doctrine of Balaam and doctrine of the Nicolaitans contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Jesus warned them to repent from these cultic teachings. Therefore churches should stand firm against and be purified from false doctrines and be a bright and guiding light for all people to accept sound doctrines based on the teachings of the words of God the Bible.

Revelation 2:13

I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

4. From the comments of Jesus on the church in Thyatira, we learn again that good deeds and service with love and faith are very much pleasing to God i.e. doing God's will. The tolerance of false prophets and false teachings that mislead people away from the truth and into immoralities is a serious mistake (Revelation 2:19-20). Not following false and immoral teachings but holding fast to the principles based on the scriptures should be the basic attitudte and determination of all Christians.

Revelation 2:19-20

19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 20Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

5. As the head of the church, Jesus warned against professing religious persons inside the church. The church in Sardis was a church consisted of many members with deeds incompatible to the faith (Revelation 3:4). These church members were rebuked to repent and be obedient to Christ's teachings otherwise GOd's righteous judgement could come in an unexpected manner (Revelation 3:3). This warning to the church makes clear the fact that it is not a membership in a church an evidence of salvation into the kingdom of God, but rather a genuine faith in Jesus Christ which is always evidenced by bearing of good fruits to the glory of God. The professing church members are members who grow out of Satan's seeds, and the genuine church members grow out of the good seeds which are the words of God. The separation of the good and evil will not be performed until God's judgement day (Matthew 13:25, 29-30). Therefore we should not be too surprised to hear news of immoralities and even crimes in churches, and we should not be discouraged either. This is not something new for sins and unrepentant sinners are all around us even under the facade of religious buildings and organizations.

Revelation 3:4

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

Revelation 3:3

Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Matthew 13:25, 29-30

25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 29 " 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "

6. The church in Philadelphia was appraised by Jesus as a faithful church witnessing to the world. The church did not have great strength in terms of money, and political power and was oppressed by unbelieving community, yet faithfully obeying the words of God in the name of Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:8). This should be an example of all churches in the world. Sadly, we see some churches abandon the teachings of the scriptures and become diplomatic and bend to the influence of various political interest groups and organizations.

Revelation 3:8

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

7. The church in Laodicia was a model of churches which have lukeworm relationship with God. They may still manifest themselves as churches in rituals and ceremonies inside well-constructed buildings, but they are all facade with little or no real substance that God values. Basically, people in these churches have mindset of people in the world. They are proud of the possession of worldly power and wealth (Revelation 3:17) rather than the power of God. Perhaps they have not received the gospel themselves let alone possess the spiritual power required to be witnesses to God and to serve as the light in this dark world. Jesus, the head of the church rebukes of this deceptive conditions and advised them to repent. They should change direction and run toward Christ to receive the gospel of salvation and His power (Relelation 3:18).

Revelation 3:17

You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Revelation 3:18

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.



Jesus the Master

clock June 29, 2009 16:21 by author wtsang

Matthew 8:19

And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

The master taught us that we should make our priority right that is to seek first God's kingdom and righteousness before pursuing everything else (Matthew 6:33). The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed in his 1943 papers that psysical needs such as breathing, water, food, sex and shelter are the most fundamental and required to be satisfied first in his hierarchical model of needs which are like a pyramid with the pysical level of needs at the bottom, and self-actualization at the top. By our common sense thinking and observation, this seems to be true. But, humans are different and it has an even more important and more fundamental basis of our life that must first be satisfied that is having a right relationship with God. Unlike animals, humans are created in the image of God. Because of sin, we all have a broken relationship with God. Without a right relationship with God, our soul can never be satisfied. We may invest our whole self struggling to pursuit and climb the hierarchical pyramid of needs. Most failed but some may think they reach the top. One thing for sure, this top experience is only temporary if it really exists because death will surely come and take away this so call the level of self-actualization (Matthew 16:26). Not only this, there will be judgement and all humans need to give an account for the things they do in their lives (Hebrews 9:27). Unfortunately, many people ignore this spiritual level all together or put this level to a low priority. The master Jesus points out this common error and told us to make the pursuit of God's kingdom and His righteousness the utmost important thing and He introuduces Himself as the way to achieve this fundamental requirement of life (John 14:6).

John 14:24

He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Mark 1:22

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 16:26

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Hebrews 9:27

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

John 14:6

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The world's views of happiness consist of things the world may provide such as prosperity, power, freedom, achievement of self-directed goals, fame or high regard given by others, and with good health to enjoy them. These things may not be bad, but they miss the vital ingredient of resolving the problem of sin in one's life and the broken relationship with God. Jesus taught that the way of happiness or blessing starts with a realization of spiritual bankruptcy (Matthew 5:3). We can be decent and law abiding human beings but, in view of God's holy standard, we are all deficient spiritually. The first right attitude is a very humble opinion on our spiritual condition and look to God for forgiveness and help. For God is merciful and gracious and even the door of the Kingdom of heaven will open to remorseful and repentent sinners (Matthew 5:3).

Our realization of our spiritual bankruptcy will lead to the natural consequence of mourning as Jesus taught (Matthew 5:4a). We tend to be sad for loss of loved ones, and properties or unfulfilled goals and dreams. Jesus was teaching here about sadness about our sin before God and how much we failed to live up to His image inherent in us. God values this sadness and it will lead to repentence and His forgiveness will bring us real comfort (2 Corinthians 7:10; Matthew 5:4b).

Matthew 5:3

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

One reason that many Jewish people rejected Jesus as the Messiah whom they had been waiting for was that Jesus did not overturn the oppression by the Roman Empire they had been facing and established Israel as a powerful and prosperous nation. Instead, Jesus appeared as a humble carpenter's son and they rejected His teachings (Luke 24:44-47) for they could not accept God's plan of salvantion in human history according to His infinite wisdom and love. Jesus also taught about meekness as a blessed attribute that God will reward, namely to inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Being meek is not being weak and cowardly but to show gentleness in human relationships which are bound to create conflicts. A meek person will control his or her bitterness and let God take over and guide him or her rather to release the distructive force of aggressive response. A great example is the meekness was Abraham showed towards Lot when their servants engaged in conflicts over the control of land and resources for their flocks. Abraham, though a senior, let Lot pick the terrioty of his choice first to avoid any conflict (Genesis 13:8). Being meek is also a relevant attribute of a person who realized that he is spiritually bankrupt and relied totally on God's forgiveness and restoration. He is a humble person and sympathetic towrads the weakness of other people. He or she tends to be loving and forgiving, let alone showing aggression towards others. In fact, God will one day take over the world and sin will be done away with and judgements will be served in Jesus' second coming in His glory and power.

Luke 24:44-47

44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Genesis 13:8

8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left."

When repentant sinners realized their past was filled with unrighteousness and failed meserably in light of God's holiness, they would be sorrowful before God and asked for forgiveness. God values the humility and repentance of sinners and their sins will be forgiven based on the sacrificial redemptive work of Christ. Sinners are declared righteous when they trust in the Lord Jesus who has died in the cross for them. Sinners may still have to pay for the requirements of justice due to earthly legal system, for instance, serving terms in prisons. But, the most critical and eternal justice requirement, that is God's justice requirement, has been settled by Jesus (Romans 3:21-24). Jesus then taught us that repentant sinners will not just stop at being sorrowful, humble and meek, though they have been comforted and justified by God. But, they will thrive to seek the righteousness of God (Matthew 5:6) that is to live a new life pleasing to God. This is a natural consequence of salvation for humans redeemed from a spiritually dark and blind situation will awaken and seek to restore the original image of God that is inherent in a human being. And it is the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer's life that accomplishes it and the life of believers will manifest this change as if he or she is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Romans 3:21-24

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

As a believer in Christ progresses in spiritual life, the grace of God will overflow from his or her life. The first four blessings Jesus taught concern the inward conditions of a disciple. The fifth blessing Jesus taught concerns the change in outward view towards others, namely being merciful. It is a blessing to be merciful to others as we receive mercy from God (Matthew 5:7). Mercy may mean forgiveness extended to others who has done us wrong. It can also mean the giving of physical resources towards needy people. Most importantly, it means the care of spiritual needs of others who are spiritually blind and wondering in the world without a right relationship with God. The sufferings of the fallen world are great, but they are beyond compare to the loss of salvation grace God gives to the world through Jesus Christ. When Jesus saw a large crowd of people wondering like lost sheep without a shepherd, the very first thing Jesus did was to give them the words of God (Mark 6:34). Jesus introduced Himself as the one sent from God. Jesus also performed the miracle of five loaves and two fish that fed more than five thousand people. Even the miracle itself was not performed solelyy to fill the physical needs, but let the people know that Jesus was the one who said He was. Although many of the people that enjoyed the miraculous meal could only take the physical benefit and missed the spiritual significance of the miracle (JOhn 6:26-27).

Jesus taught that purity in heart is a blessed attribute for people with pure heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). Heart concerns our inner motives, values and thoughts and is invisible from the outside although one's behaviours may reflect what the heart is about. Jesus points out that where we invest ourselves and place our aspirations in reflects what our heart realy values (Matthew 6:21). It is the heart that God will look at and our inner thoughts are visible to Him all the time. A positive example is Nathannael, one of the chosen disciples of Jesus, was seen by Jesus as a true Israelite for within him there is no falsehood (John 1:47). A negative example was some religious Pharisees who looked good from the outside by their clothing, lawful behaviors, and their prominent community status. However, Jesus saw through their hearts and pointed out the inconsistent conditions inside (Matthew 23:27). Also, we should understand that according to God's holy standard, an impure thought is considered sin even without actual action such as lustul thinking (Matthew 5:28).

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

John 1:47

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."

Matthew 23:27

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.

Matthew 5:28

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Purity in heart is a blessing for it is a prerequisite to be able to see God. The Bible teaches us that no one living in this life be able to see God. As a matter of fact, a great faithful servant of God Moses pledged to see God's glory, but was rejected for it was simply impossible to see God and live (Exodus 33:20). However, Job being declared righteous by God, suffered greatly due to Satan's affliction revealed to us in Job 19:26 that he would be able to see God in his resurrected body (Job 19:26). It is indeed a blessing to be able to see God for it implies glorious resurrection and eternal life.

Exodus 33:20

But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

Job 19:26

And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;

Jesus then taught that peacemakers are blessed for they are called the sons of God (Matthew 5:9). One thing this world does not have is peace. People are at war all the time: individuals between individuals, tribes between tribes, and nations between nations. Conflicts even within a family are common. The reason for lack of peace in this fallen world is sin such that people are basically self-centered and incline to pursue benefits and controls even in the expense of others. Enmities and struggles are the natural consequences. The peace Jesus taught about is based on the fundamental truth of the gospels. There will be no true peace between people as long as people live according to sinful nature. The ultimate peaceful solution is being born again by the power of the Holy Spirit when people are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ Jesus and become the children of God and they too become peacemakers in the world (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

The last blessed character of a Christian Jesus taught in the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount is the evidence of strong faith and obedience to God's words. For he or she is ready to stand firm and be persecuted because of asserting the words of God as truth in this fallen world which is controlled by the ungodly and satanic power. Jesus emphasises that this is a double blessing for he or she will enter the kingdom of heaven and receive a great reward (Matthew 5:10-12). All these beatitudes are not the naturial characters or cultivated by our own efforts and determination in our old sinful nature, but manifest in a transformed life of believers of Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Matthew 5:10-12

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.



Jesus a Man of Sorrows

clock May 24, 2009 02:00 by author wtsang

Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus is the Word became flesh and came to the world and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). Word (or logos in Greeks) means wisdom and rational thought which is an invisible attribute. Christ is the expression of God's wisdom and thought manifested in the flesh living among us so that we may have a close, direct communication with God. Moreover, Jesus is a living example of all human beings that are followers of Christ the way of living pleasing to God. Humans are originally created in the image of God and have the inherent attributes of God. Therefore, it is reasonable for God to demand holiness of all humans (1 Peter 1:16). However, sin and death came to the world through the disobedience of Adam and all humans are subject to the bondage of sin and its consequence namely death and we all suffered from the broken relationship with God. The situation is beyond our power to overcome and avoid. However, God is love and He does not want us to be enslaved by sin and opressed by the power of the devil Satan and perish. God sends His one and only Son Jesus Christ to come to the world as a human identified with us and saved us from sin. When we repent and put our trust in Jesus, He will transform us into a new creation and be reconciled with God. The grace of God is more than offset the curse we inherited from our ancestor Adam. How graceous, wonderful and powerful is our God (Romans 5:10, 17).

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 Peter 1:16

for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

Romans 5:10

For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Romans 5:17

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Jesus grew up in Palestine in a poor family while Israel was under the rule and oppression of the Roman Empire. As a human being, He must have suffered the hardship in life as every one else did. However, the main cause of His sorrows was the rejection by people of the teachings and the way of salvation that He brought to the world. People have all kinds of reasons and excuses not to respond to Jesus' invitation to life. Basically, people do not respond to the gospel because they have no faith in the words of God. They desire to stay in their familiar position and put a low value on the precisous gospel which is in fact the power of God which can transform a sinful life into abundant life that lasts untill eternity (John 3:19; Romans 1:16). Some even created a strong case for themselves to reject the gospel by attacking the humanity side of Jesus without a deligent pursuit of the truth. For example, some people in Jesus' hometown despised Jesus for His humble social status (Matthews 13:55-57). Had they do a little research, they should have found that the Messiah was a descendant of king David as written by the prophets. They could also see the miracles that Jesus performed and believed that He was sent from God. But, out of their unbelieving heart, they rejected Jesus and could only see that Jesus was a carpenter's son.

God does not desire seeing people enslaved and destryoed by sin but to receive forgiveness and life (John 3:16;1 Timothy 2:4). However, few listen and value His grace through Jesus Christ (Matthews 7:14). Let's participate in bringing the good news to more people of all nations for this is a beautiful thing to do. For the Bible teaches us that there is great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7).

Perhaps the most sorrowful situation Jesus experienced while on earth was when He was put to death by the people He loved and intended to save. Moreover, He was betrayed even by one of His disciple. His exclaimation over Jerusalem reflects His sad and disappointed situation (Matthews 23:37).

John 3:19

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Romans 1:16

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Matthews 13:55-57

55 "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57And they took offense at him.

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 Timothy 2:4

who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Matthews 7:14

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Luke 15:7

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Matthews 23:37

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.



Jesus the Rock

clock May 15, 2009 02:00 by author wtsang

1 Corinthians 10:3-4

3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

When the Israelites were released from the bondange of salavery in Egypt, they did not enter directly into the land promised by God. Rather, they wandered 40 years in the wilderness before settling in the promised land. During this long journey, they arrived at Rephidim where they could not find any water and became thirsty. They quarreled with Moses and compalined their being led to the desert and died there. By this event, we can see that the Israelites had forgotten the power and grace of God who saved them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and their continuous protection, guidance and provision in the desert. Their lack of faith and gratitude were revealed in a simple test of thirst. Instead of praying to God for provision, they turned to be a dissatisfying crowd of people and were ready to stone Moses to dead. Again, by God's grace, they were not punished by this offense. Instead, God answered Moses' call and performed a miracle in Horeb to quench their thirst. Moses was asked to strike a rock at a place called Horeb and water would come out of the rock (Exodus 17:6). This miracle is an image of Christ being striken (Isaiah 53:4) such that all sinners who come to Christ may receive the living water such that a sinful, and dissatisfying life can be transformed into a new and abundant life in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirt (John 7:37-39). How gracious is our God who does not remember our sins and paid for the wages of sins by His Son and blesses us with a new life born with the Holy Spirit when we come to Jesus Christ.

Exodus 17:6

6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Isaiah 53:4

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

John 7:37-39

37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

An evidence that we have faith in Jesus is that we have the living water that is the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised. If the Holy Spirit lives in our life, we will be reminded of the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the scriptures John 14:26. When we put His teachings into practice we are like building a house on the solid rock. Difficulties, challenges and temptations in life bound to come to all people including believers of Christ. But, Jesus promises that it will not result in a disastrous collapse as houses built on other temporary and unreliable foundation (Matthew 7:24-27). Indeed Christ is the one we can trust. His words are effective and true that we can depend on until eternity.

John 14:26

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Matthew 7:24-27

24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."



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