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Jesus, the Light of the World

clock February 16, 2016 02:00 by author wtsang

Key Verse: John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Darkness versus Light

In a physical sense, we understand that light is a form of radiation with a dual nature of wave and particle given by a luminous body while darkness is the absence of light. Light is critically important for without light no human life on earth may survive. Given its importance and intimate familiarity to us, light and darkness, are therefore fittingly used metaphorically in the Bible to teach us the truth that we may understand. According to the Bible, darkness is the antithesis of light. Darkness has the connotation of wickedness (Proverbs 4:19), living under the bondage of Satan (Acts 26:18), stumbling leading to disasters in life (Jeremiah 13:16), final judgement and death (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 1:13; Revelation 21:8). In contrast, light has the connotation of righteousness (Proverbs 4:18; 1 John 1:5-6), living a redeemed life in the fellowship of God (1 John 1:7) with guidance (Isaiah 42:16; Psalm 119:105), blessings (Numbers 6:24-25), knowing God, joy, salvation, and eternal life given by God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 1:8-9; Revelation 22:5).

How darkness came into the world? Its effects on life?

When God created the first man and woman on His image, the relationship of God and mankind was very close like father and children (Genesis 1:27). As the father, God not only created a good environment for Adam and Eve to live, but guided them to marriage and form a family (Genesis 2:22), and a mission of life (Genesis 1:28). God also gave them instruction in living which is to trust and obey God which could be demonstrated by believing and obeying His command of not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). When Adam and Eve were put in the garden of Eden, they knew no sin. But, when Adam disbelieved and disobeyed God's instruction not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, sin entered the world (Romans 5:12). In fact, the first tragic murder was a brother killing another brother as recorded in the Bible happened in the very first family of mankind when Adam's elder son Cain killed Abel out of jealousy (Genesis 4:8).

As human population multiplied, so was the extent of sin and the earth was full of corruption and violence (Genesis 6:11) such that God needed to exercise justice and put an end of all people (Genesis 6:13). Only Noah, his wife, his three sons and three wives were saved from God's judgement for they believed God such that they built and enter an ark according to God's instructions (Genesis 7:7). By the way, we need to understand that Noah was not saved from the judgement by his own righteousness although he was a relatively good person in his generation (Genesis 6:9). Noah was saved because of his faith in God as shown by his endeavour to build an ark according to God's instructions (Hebrews 11:7). By the same token, Abraham was also justified before God not by his own righteous works but by faith (Romans 4:2-3). After all, all humans are sinners and our righteous acts are like filthy rags according to God's holiness (Isaiah 64:6).

How does God show His mercy and love to rescue mankind from darkness?

After judgement by the flood, the descendants of Noah multiplied. Sin still exists in human race for all of us by nature tend to gratify the cravings of our sinful desires and thoughts (Ephesians 2:3). In other words, people still live in darkness. Out of His love and mercy, God plans to save the whole world with Israel to be the light to the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:4; Isaiah 49:3; Isaiah 49:6).

Of course, we need to understand that it is not the human efforts of Israel as a nation to accomplish God's plan of salvation. It is purely the effort of God to accomplish His own plan of salvation of Israel and all nations on earth (Isaiah 9:7). It is fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ who came to the world as an infant, born as a descendant of Abraham and king David (Isaiah 9:6). But, Jesus Christ is God by nature that became flesh living among us (Isaiah 9:6;Micah 5:2;John 1:14). Since Jesus the Messiah came as a man who by nature is God and is invisible, it fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that the Lord will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations and see the salvation of our God who brought salvation to Israel first (Isaiah 52:9-10), then other nations (Isaiah 52:15). Jesus, the suffering Servant, redeemed us by offering His body as a sacrifice (Isaiah 52:14; Isaiah 53:5).

The meaning that salvation of the world is from Israel simply because Jesus in His human attribute, is a Jew such that it is proper to mention the national name of Israel in the context of nations. By the same token, it is proper to say that South Korea won the International Chopin Competition 2015 but in fact it was Seong-Jin Cho, who is a South Korean, won the Competition. Therefore, it is perfectly understandable that Jesus once told the Samaritan woman that salvation was from the Jews but in fact He alone is the Savior (John 4:22; John 3:16; John 14:6). In fact, Israel herself as a nation needs to be restored by the Servant of God who is the Christ (Isaiah 49:6). After all, all people on earth including the people of Israel are sinners and therefore subject to judgement and let alone to be the redeemer of others (Isaiah 53:6). Only Jesus Christ, the Servant, is qualified to be the redeemer who suffered for the sins of others (Isaiah 53:5). Having said that, God has chosen Israel to server as the light to the Gentiles in a subsidiary but important role. As the chosen people of God, the experience of Israel reveals the glory, power, sovereignty, justice, faithfulness, love and mercy of God (Psalm 147:19; Ezekiel 20:5). Through the faithful prophets and priests of Israel, the revelation of God was written down in the Old Testament. Through the faithful apostles of the early church, God communicates the gospel of salvation to the world. All the apostles were Jewish and the New Testament writers were all Jewish except the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts which were written by a gentile. The revelation of God shows us that there is judgement and penalty of sin. By God's mercy, sinners can be redeemed. In the Old Testament time, sacrifices of sins were performed using animals without defect which teaches that only perfect sacrifices are acceptable (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 22:24). The Old Testament sacrifices were only object lessons teaching the consequence of sin and redemption and these sacrifices according to the Old Testament laws were not real in redemption (Hebrews 10:3-4). True sacrifice was fulfilled by the Servant of God, the Messiah who has no sin and became the sacrifice of all sinners (Hebrews 10:8-10).

Because of the work of salvation of Jesus Christ, we may all leave darkness and come to the light of Him (Ephesians 5:8). When we walk in the light, we have fellowship with God (1 John 1:7). When we walk in the light, dark and shameful deeds are exposed for our deeds are constantly illuminated by the holiness of God (Ephesians 5:9-13). It is possible for us to walk with God only because of the sacrifice of Jesus whose suffering paid for our sins (1 John 1:7). The invitation of God to walk in His light is not for Israel only but to the whole world (Isaiah 2:5; Isaiah 60:1-3). For God is love and He loves the whole world (John 3:16). He wants to save us from the powers of the dark and the spiritual forces of evil in the world (Ephesians 6:12). Let us come to His light! Let us also serve as the light to people who have not known Jesus such that they might also come to the light (Matthew 5:14).

Conclusion

By nature, we all live in darkness and destine to die because we all live in this world and being the descendants of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). Only Jesus brings light to this world which is filled with darkness. The light that Jesus brings overcomes darkness of the world and bestows life to mankind and we may all leave darkness by responding to Jesus' gracious invitation to come to His light to have life by faith (Psalm 36:9;John 1:4; John 12:46; John 8:12). Unlike our present life which surely tends to deteriorate with a gloomy future, the life that Jesus gives is eternal and has a bright future for God is faithful and has prepared glorious inheritance for those who are in Him (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:18). Repentant people accept Jesus' invitation to leave darkness and enter the kingdom of light for they are transformed by God such that they are no longer happy with evil but with the truth (John 3:21; 1 Corinthians 13:6). In contrast, non-repentant people prefer to stay in darkness and ignore Jesus' gracious invitation (John 3:19-20). When we follow Jesus walking in the light, His blood purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:5-7). In other word, we are saved from darkness by Jesus who is the light of the world (Colossians 1:13). Without Jesus, the world will remain in darkness for there is no other source of true light. May we all enter the light by accepting Jesus' invitation to follow Him.

Bible References

Proverbs 4:19

19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

Acts 26:18

18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

Jeremiah 13:16

16 Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom.

2 Peter 2:17

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.

Jude 1:13

13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

Revelation 21:8

8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Proverbs 4:18

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

1 John 1:5-6

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. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

1 John 1:7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Isaiah 42:16

16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Psalm 119:105

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Numbers 6:24-25

24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

2 Corinthians 4:6

6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.

1 Peter 1:8-9

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Revelation 22:5

5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Genesis 1:27

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

Genesis 2:22

22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Genesis 1:28

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Genesis 2:16-17

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."

Romans 5:12

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

Genesis 4:8

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Genesis 6:11

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence.

Genesis 6:13

13 So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

Genesis 7:7

7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.

Genesis 6:9

9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

Hebrews 11:7

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 is in keeping with faith.

Romans 4:2-3

2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

Isaiah 64:6

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.

Ephesians 2:3

3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Ephesians 2:4

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

Isaiah 49:3

3 He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."

Isaiah 49:6

6 he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

Isaiah 9:7

7 Of the greatness 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 9:6

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.

Isaiah 9:6

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.

Micah 5:2

2 "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."

John 1:14

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

Isaiah 52:9-10

9 Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

Isaiah 52:15

15 so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Isaiah 52:14

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness-

Isaiah 53:5

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

John 4:22

22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

John 3:16

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.

John 14:6

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

Isaiah 49:6

6 he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

Isaiah 53:6

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

Isaiah 53:5

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

Psalm 147:19

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel.

Ezekiel 20:5

5 and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand to the descendants of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt. With uplifted hand I said to them, "I am the Lord your God."

Exodus 12:5

5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

Leviticus 22:24

24 You must not offer to the Lord an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut. You must not do this in your own land,

Hebrews 10:3-4

3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:8-10

8 First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them"-though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Ephesians 5:8

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

1 John 1:7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Ephesians 5:9-13

9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible-and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

1 John 1:7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Isaiah 2:5

5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah 60:1-3

60 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

John 3:16

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.

Ephesians 6:12

12 For 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.

Matthew 5:14

14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Isaiah 9:2

2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

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. 7 Of the greatness 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.

John 8:12

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

1 John 1:5-7

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. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Isaiah 60:19-20

19 The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. 20 Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.

Psalm 49:19

19 they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.

Psalm 49:13

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

Psalm 49:15

15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.

1 Corinthians 15:22

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

 

Proverbs 4:19

19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

Acts 26:18

18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'

Jeremiah 13:16

16 Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom.

2 Peter 2:17

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.

Revelation 21:8

8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Proverbs 4:18

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

1 John 1:5-6

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. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

1 John 1:7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Isaiah 42:16

16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Psalm 119:105

? Nun 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

2 Corinthians 4:6

6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.

1 Peter 1:8-9

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Revelation 22:5

5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Genesis 1:27

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

Genesis 2:22

22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Genesis 1:28

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Genesis 2:16-17

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."

Romans 5:12

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

Genesis 4:8

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Genesis 6:11

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence.

Genesis 6:13

13 So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

Genesis 7:7

7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.

Genesis 6:9

9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

Hebrews 11:7

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 is in keeping with faith.

Romans 4:2-3

2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

Isaiah 64:6

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.

Ephesians 2:3

3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Ephesians 2:4

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

Isaiah 49:3

3 He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."

Isaiah 49:6

6 he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

Isaiah 9:7

7 Of the greatness 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 9:6

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.

Isaiah 9:6

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.

Micah 5:2

2 "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."

John 1:14

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

Isaiah 52:9-10

9 Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.

Isaiah 52:15

15 so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Isaiah 52:14

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness-

Isaiah 53:5

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

John 4:22

22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

John 3:16

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.

John 14:6

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

Isaiah 49:6

6 he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

Isaiah 53:6

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

 

Isaiah 53:5

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

Psalm 147:19

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel.

Ezekiel 20:5

5 and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand to the descendants of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt. With uplifted hand I said to them, "I am the Lord your God."

Exodus 12:5

5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

Leviticus 22:24

24 You must not offer to the Lord an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut. You must not do this in your own land,

Hebrews 10:3-4

3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:8-10

8 First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them"-though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Ephesians 5:8

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

1 John 1:7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Ephesians 5:9-13

9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible-and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

1 John 1:7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Isaiah 2:5

5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah 60:1-3

60 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

John 3:16

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.

Ephesians 6:12

12 For 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.

Matthew 5:14

14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

1 Corinthians 15:22

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

John 8:12

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Ephesians 1:18

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

1 John 1:5-7

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. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Psalm 36:9

9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Revelation 21:8

8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

John 1:4

4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

John 12:46

46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

Colossians 1:13

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

John 3:21

21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

1 Corinthians 13:6

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

John 3:19-20

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.



Jesus the Source of Living Water - Part 3

clock November 11, 2012 02:00 by author wtsang

Key Verse

John 5:39

39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,

Part 1 describes the details of what life is like being nourished by the living water, please refer to Part 1. In Part 2, we survey some common ways people seek to substitute the true source of living water which makes life abundant. Jesus still graciously invites all who are thirsty may come to Him and drink (John 7:37). Part 3 explains why Jesus is indeed the source of living water such that we may come to Him to have life. The best way to find the answer of the question whether Jesus is the source of the living water is to investigate the Bible itself for it originates the claim that Jesus is the source of living water. Is the Bible reliable? Does it say that we should go to Him to have life? In a nutshell, the Bible is the revelation of God in writings inspired by God penned by various authors in different times and places under various circumstances. With such diversity of time and authors, the consistent message of the Bible is that God saves sinners from the corruption and destruction of sins through Jesus Christ (John 5:39). For sin under the authority of law condemns and separates mankind from God who is the source of life and all blessings (1 Corinthians 15:56), Only through Jesus who is full of grace and truth that the ultimate problem of sin and death of mankind can be resolved (John 1:17) .

John 7:37

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

John 5:39

39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,

1 Corinthians 15:56

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

John 1:17

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Old Testament Revelation with New Testament Fulfillment

Let us survey the Old Testament to understand how the writings of Moses, the Law and the prophets reveal Jesus of Nazareth as the source and hope of life of the world (John 1:45). Numerous events and ceremonial laws in the Old Testament time were the images of the Savior who performed the actual work of salvation once and for all acceptable to God. These Old Testament events and laws were given in specific details such that when the Savior came, He and His work of salvation can be identified and we may all believe in Him. The Old Testament saints might not fully understand every detail and significance of following the ceremonial laws, the reward of their faith in God was realized by Jesus Christ once and for all (Hebrews 9:26 ). Here are some specific examples revealing Jesus and His salvation written in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament:

John 1:45

45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote —Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

Hebrews 9:26

26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

1) Day of Atonement:

Annual Celebration of the Day of Atonement: the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary which represented the presence of God in the Old Testament. Priests were not allowed to enter the Most Holy Place anytime they desired. In fact, Aaron's two sons were killed by God when they came near the altar with a careless attitude and offered profane fire. This teaches us that the holiness of God cannot co-exist with sin such that sinners could not have a normal relationship with God but waiting for judgment (Hebrews 10:27). The relationship between God and mankind can only be restored by the punishment and removal of sin such that sinners become justified before God. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place to offer atonement sacrifices. He was instructed specifically what to wear: linen tunic, linen undergarments, linen sash and linen turban. Since these were sacred garments, the high priest was instructed to bathe himself with water before wearing them (Leviticus 16:4). This teaches us that one may not approach God anyway one thinks right and desirable but according to His words. In fact, Jesus has taught us in a parable that a man was invited by the king to attend a wedding banquet but was not wearing the expected wedding clothes. He was then cast out from the banquet where there was darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:11-13). The parable aptly shows that we cannot invent our way of salvation or religion to approach God but through faith in Jesus alone who is the sacred garment that we may wear to attend the heavenly banquet (Galatians 3:26-27). The high priest was also instructed to bring animal blood into the Most Holy Place for the atonement of sin. While the bodies of animals were taken outside the camp for burning (Leviticus 16:27). Of the two goats used, one was killed representing the substitutional death for sinners. The other was called a scapegoat and would be set free in the wilderness representing the removal of sin after the substitutional death. These activities were the images of Jesus who offered Himself as a sin sacrifice once and for all people who trust in Him such that sinners were deemed righteous before God and may have fellowship with God (1 John 1:7). Jesus literally fulfilled the atonement of sin acceptable to God with His great suffering of crucification outside the gate of Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:11-12). We may now have a normal relationship with God as if we could enter the Most Holy Place with confidence ourselves like a high priest on the day of atonement, not because of animal blood.but the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). In fact, our bodies literally become the temple of God because the Holy Spirit is living in us (Galatians 3:14).

Hebrews 10:27

but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Leviticus 16:4

4 He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.

Matthew 22:11-13

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend ?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Galatians 3:26-27

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Leviticus 16:27

27 The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up.

1 John 1:7

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Hebrews 13:11

11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

Hebrews 10:19

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,

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.

2) Passover:

The event and its annual celebration of the Passover were highly significant in the Old Testament time for God set the Israelites free from the bondage of Egypt and started the journey to the Promised land and become a nation (Exodus 12:51). Yet, the event and celebration of Passover were only the image of the work of the Messiah fulfilled in the New Testament in which people of all nations are set free from the bondage of sin and have life (Romans 6:22). The animals used in celebrating Passover were required to be without defect. This requirement (Exodus 12:5) reveals to us that Jesus the Messiah suffered purely for our sins and He has no sin at all (1 Peter 1:18-19). In the New Testament time, Christians celebrate Communion instead of Passover to remember the substitutionary death of Jesus. Christians are taught to eat the bread representing the body of Christ and drink the wine representing His blood with reverence remembering His death for our sins (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). Likewise, in celebrating the Passover, no uncircumcised, causal foreigners might participate in the Passover (Exodus 12:43). The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were celebrated in tandem in the Old Testament time (Leviticus 23:4-6). These celebrations were not prescribed by God for our convenience but with important object lesson for us to know and obey. Unleavened bread is bread not fermented with yeast which is used to represent sin for its power to work through the whole dough by its multiplication and spreading. The sacrifice of Jesus for our sin was not performed such that sinners might be forgiven and stay in sin. As we know God is holy and sinners are considered enemies of God (Hebrews 10:26-27). The reason Jesus died for us while we are still sinners is due to His great love such that sinners may be forgiven and the wages of sin is paid for by His death. After being forgiven, true believers in Jesus are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a new life no longer enslaved by sin and the true meaning of salvation is best communicated to us in prophecy with both the Passover and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). The prescription of not breaking the bones of the Passover animals served as the prophecy to mark the death of Jesus. Indeed, to hasten the death of the persons being crucified along with Jesus, their legs were broken by the Roman soldiers while not one bone of Jesus was broken for He was dead when the soldiers came to inspect Him (Exodus 12:46, Psalm 34:20, John 19:36). As a solemn reminder of God’s power and mercy for leading them out of Egypt by His great power and mercy, Israelites were instructed to consecrate the first born male of both humans and animals for worship and sacrifice activities (Exodus 13:2). The first born sons were to serve as priests and the first born animals were used in sacrifices. Later when the priestly duties were assigned to the Levites exclusively, first born sons were redeemed at a price of five shekels of silver. First born unclean animals were not sacrificed but redeemed at a price also. This practice is also a fitting object lesson for the New Testament believers who are redeemed by Jesus and should serve God with gratitude as a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).

Exodus 12:51

51 And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

Romans 6:22

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Exodus 12:5

5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

1 Peter 1:18-19

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Exodus 12:43

43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal: “No foreigner may eat it.

1 Corinthians 11:28-29

28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

Leviticus 23:4-6

4 “‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6 On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.

Hebrews 10:26-27

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

1 Corinthians 5:7-8

7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Exodus 12:46

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

Psalm 34:20

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

John 19:36

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,"

Exodus 13:1-2

1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal."

Romans 12:1

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

3) Bronze Snake in the Wilderness and Implication of True Worship:

After their liberation from the oppression in Egypt, the Israelites seemed to forget the protection and guidance of God when they encountered some difficulties in the wilderness as part of the journey to the promised land. They grew impatient and spoke against Moses and God. They were then punished by the attack of venomous snakes God sent among them. Many died and they finally repented from their sin and asked Moses to pray for them. God instructed Moses to make a snake and put it up on a pole such that anyone bitten by a snake and looked at the snake would be healed. This event was a prophetic image of the crucification of Jesus and the forgiveness of sin when we put our faith in Him (John 3:14, 16). By the way, we should understand that it is the word of God and His work of salvation that matter not the objects being used in the events that matter. It is futile to put any of our faith in a crucifix, bread and grape wine used in the communion for they do not save us though they were meaningful to remind the suffering and death of Jesus. These objects do not contribute any value to our salvation. In fact, the very same error was committed in the Old Testament time when the Israelites burned incense to the bronze snake Moses made in high places (2 Kings 18:4) which were the altars of idol worship set up in the high mountains and hills that the Israelites learned from foreign religions. This practice of worshipping in high places violated the instruction to worship according to the Mosaic law. In the New Testament time, believers no longer worship God in a tabernacle or a temple for God now dwells in every believer’s life. The true worshipers that God seeks are those who worship God truthfully inwardly in spirit which communicates with the Holy Spirit (John 4:24). That is why the bodies of the New Testament believers are aptly called the temple of God. This implies that true worship is not predicated on physical location or objects but on the intrinsic quality of truthfulness in our heart which is reflected in the fruits of our lifestyle. .In fact, believers now are bestowed with a privileged position of royal priesthood and citizen of a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). A major duty of a priest is to serve as a medium between people and God. As members of the royal priesthood, we go out in this dark world to declare praises of God’s mercy and love who saves mankind from the bondage and destruction of sins such that more people reconcile with Him (2 Corinthians 5:20). This privileged position of royal priesthood and holy nation in the world was conditionally bestowed to Israel in the Old Testament (Exodus 19:5). As we know, Israel disobeyed God and the negative consequence became true. Israel as a nation was broken and the Jews were dispersed to different parts of the world. Amazingly, God fulfills His gracious plan of salvation of the world: Jews and Gentiles, through the Messiah Jesus Christ (Isaiah 42:6-7, Isaiah 49:6, Isaiah 61:1) who came to Palestine during the reign of the Roman Empire. Before His death of crucification, resurrection, and ascension in A.D. 33 (see part 3 of The Seventy Weeks Prophecy of the Book of Daniel), Jesus taught that believers should be the light of the world which is full of darkness because of sin such that people may see fruits of our new lives as members of royal priesthood and holy nation and glorify the Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:17). Then Jesus command His disciples to make disciples of all nations teaching them what He taught them (Matthew 28:19). By this way, Jesus fulfills what was written in Isaiah 49:6. Even to this day in the New Testament era any faithful church exists with the motivation and mission to make disciples (Acts 13:47). In the Old Testament time, the priests served by presenting dead animals as sacrifices to God as the image of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice with His own body for all such that people who put their trust in Him may have life. It is reasonable for the New Testament believers to offer their bodies not as dead but living sacrifices in serving God which is congenial to their new privileged position as members of royal priesthood (Romans 12:1).

Numbers 21:8-9

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." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

John 3:14, 16

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him." 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.

2 Kings 18:4

He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan. )

John 4:24

24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth."

1 Peter 2:9

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

Exodus 19:5

5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

Isaiah 42:6-7

6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Isaiah 49:6

he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim 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,

Matthews 5:14, 16

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 28:19-20

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, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Acts 13:47

47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’"

Romans 12:1 (King James Version)

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

4) Jonah in the Belly of a huge Fish:

Prophet Jonah was commanded by God to Nineveh to preach against their wickedness such that the citizens of Nineveh might repent and escaped judgement. Unwilling to bring the warning of judgement lest the Ninevites repent, Jonah went to Tarshish by ship. God sent a great wind on the sea such that the ship was about to sink. Knowing himself was the culprit, Jonah requested to be thrown into the sea. God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah into its belly. Jonah stayed in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights before being vomited out in dry land (Jonah 1:17). The event was recorded in the Old Testament to prophesize a much more important event: the resurrection of Jesus. The belly of the fish was like the tomb where the body of Jesus laid after crucification. We know that the event of Jonah refers to the resurrection event because Jesus expressly told the Pharisees and teachers of the law before his death that He would stayed in the tomb three days and three nights as Jonah stayed in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Matthew 12:39-40). Indeed, Jesus died on the cross in the afternoon and was buried before sunset on Friday (Matthew 27:57-60). Jesus clearly announced the prophecy of resurrection before His death. Even people who plotted to put Jesus to execution before Pilate understood fully the message for they asked Pilate to send soldiers to guard the tomb to prevent Jesus’ disciples stealing the body and deceived the public that Jesus resurrected. Upon the request of the chief priests and the Pharisees, Pilate sent soldiers to guard the tomb (Matthew 27:62-64). Resurrection happened early in the morning on Sunday and the event was witnessed by the guards and some women who visited the tomb (Matthew 28:2-4). According to Jewish custom, part of a day is counted as a day and sunset marks the end of a day and the beginning of a new day. Therefore, part of the Friday that Jesus was inside the tomb is counted as one day and one night. After sunset on Friday, another day began. The second day ended on Saturday sunset and the third day began. Jesus resurrected on Sunday at dawn and left the tomb (Matthew 28:1-4). Therefore, Jesus’ prophecy came true just as He announced before His death: He would be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The death of Jesus was controlled by God in His plan of salvation of mankind. The evil and unjust participants, physical or spiritual, did not win by fulfilling their desire of putting Jesus to death. Their evil and unjust thoughts and behaviors were foreknown and allowed by God in His plan of redemption. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated He is indeed the resurrection and the life (John 11:15). Most people experienced death or will experience death sooner or later. Death without salvation means the end of earthly life and the awaiting for judgment of sin committed but not paid for by Jesus (Hebrews 9:27). The righteous judgment of God will put those who are not redeemed by Jesus in the lake of fire which is called the second death (Revelation 20:13-15). The redeemed will be forgiven and receive resurrection just as Jesus demonstrated in His resurrection. Jesus is also called the firstborn meaning that He is the first and preeminent in position: the first in resurrection after death to eternal life i.e. the transformation of the perishable body to a new imperishable body, the Lord of all creation, and the head of the church (1 Corinthians 15:42, Colossians 1:15, 18). It is fitting to visualize believers’ faith in Jesus with the picture that the believers are like a flock of sheep following the good shepherd Jesus who is leading the way (John 10:27). The sheep know the shepherd, listen to his voice and follow him closely for the sheep trust the shepherd who is leading them to the green pastures by the quiet waters (Psalm 23:1-2).

Jonah 1:17

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Matthew 12:39-40

39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 27:57-60

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

Matthew 27:62-64

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir," they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."

Matthew 28:1-4

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

John 11:25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

Hebrews 9:27

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

Revelation 20:13-15

13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

1 Corinthians 15:42

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;

Colossians 1:15

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Colossians 1:18

8 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

John 10:27

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Psalm 23:1-2

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

5) The Spiritual Rock

After leaving Egypt, the Israelites once camped at Rephidim where there was no water to drink. They complained against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt and were even ready to stone him to death. The Israelites seemed to forget that Egypt was a place of slavery where they suffered from mistreatment by the Egyptians and cried out to God for help. But God was gracious to them and asked Moses along with some elders of Israel to go to the rock at Horeb identified by God and to strike the rock with the same staff he struck the Nile. Moses did what God told him and water came out of the rock for people to drink (Exodus 17:5-6). The complaint of the Israelites and their readiness to kill Moses was a reflection of their lack of trust in God and their distant relationship with Him. They forgot that God had sent ten plagues to strike Egypt in order to release them from the bondage of slavery. They also forgot how God had saved them from the pursuing Egyptian army such that they crossed the Red Sea in safety. Even though they had forgotten the mercy and miracles God performed to save them from suffering and destruction, they should realize that God was among them as evidenced by the daily providence of manna to maintain their lives in the wilderness. Instead of being thankful, they took God’s providence for granted, quarreled against the servant God sent to help them and tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7). Is it not like common secular people in the world who do not acknowledge God nor giving thanks to Him for lives and daily providence of air, sunshine, water and food. As knowledge increases, some became prideful and tried to account for the creation without the Creator rather than glorifying, appreciating His power and ingenuity. Today, you can find so called scientists teaching the hypotheses of evolution and laws of nature as the origin and the driving force of creation of the universe. Humans not having a normal relationship with the Creator God are like a derailing train with various kinds of abnormal, confusing and disastrous things happening to their lives. Instead of worshipping and glorifying the creator, humans create idols and false religions including atheism (faith of godlessness) as the substitutionary objects and teachings for worship and faith (Romans 1:23, 30). Instead of having a normal marriage relationship, people have lustful, fornication and even homosexual relationship with one and other (Romans 1:26-27, 29). In general, all humans cannot escape the powerful grip of sin in our lives (Romans 1:29-31). That is why our world is so violent, dark, bleak and cold. Everyone is moving closer to a meaningless and hopeless end day by day. But, God is love and while we were sinners, He sent His only Son Jesus to die for us so that we may have life which is abundant and eternal (Romans 5:8, John 3:16, John 10:10). The event of Moses striking the rock at Horeb was the prophetic image of Jesus Christ, the spiritual rock, being put to suffering and crucification. The consequential event of water flowing out the rock upon stricken was the image of the filling of the Holy Spirit in the life of a person who accept the gracious gift of salvation through Jesus by God (1 Corinthians 10:4, John 7:37-39).

Exodus 17:5-6

5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 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.

Exodus 17:7

7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?"

Romans 1:20-22

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

Romans 1:23

23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Romans 1:26-27

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:29-31 (King James Translation)

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

1 Corinthians 10:4

4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

John 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." 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.

The Concrete Reality of the Living Water

The living water Jesus gives to all who trust in Him is not abstract or elusive but real and effective. In the past, Israelites were led by God to enter rest in the promised land which is flowing with milk and honey. We are now saved from judgment and even bestowed the privilege to become children of God and enter the eternal Kingdom of God because of Jesus who is still inviting all to come to Him to have rest (Matthew 11:28). God does not take us all immediately to His Kingdom on day one we are saved. He wants most of us to go through a journey in this world where there are difficulties, challenges and temptations of the devil as the Israelites experienced while travelling through the wilderness before entering Canaan. The main reason is that God wants us to practice trusting Him and obeying His words (Deuteronomy 8:3). As the Israelites were guided, provided and protected by God in the wilderness, believers now are not left alone in this world as orphans (John 14:18). But, the Holy Spirit is our help, encouragement and power through Him we live a new life that can overcome the temptation of the world and is no longer enslaved by sin (John 14:15-17, Galatians 5:19-23). Not only a believer can now live a victorious life, but also serves as the instrument of righteousness, doing good works glorifying God giving light in this dark world which is full of people who have not yet known God (Romans 6:13, Matthew 5:14, Ephesians 2:10). Of course, the source of power of doing good works is God Himself (Philippians 2:13). To listen to many illustrative stories of how real lives were set free from the bondage of sins when people put their trust in Jesus, may I recommend listening to the online broadcasting of Unshackled produced by the Pacific Garden Mission. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus who is our example and goal in living through this journey God wants us to go through (Hebrews 12:1-2). In addition, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is the evidence that the person is saved. The Holy Spirit is like a pledge and deposit placed on a believer’s life by God guaranteeing what is to come (.2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Jesus is indeed the source of living water and He is still graciously inviting sinners to come to Him to drink freely (Isaiah 44:3, 55:1, John 4:14, Revelation 21:6, 22:17).

Matthew 11:28

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Hebrews 12:1-2

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Deuteronomy 8:3

3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

John 14:18

18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:15-17

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the 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.

Galatians 5:19-23

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Romans 6:13

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

Matthew 5:14

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Ephesians 2:10

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

Philippians 2:13

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Isaiah 44:3

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Isaiah 55:1

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

John 4:14

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Revelation 21:6

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

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!" And let the one who hears say, “Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Conclusion

From the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation, we see that God is eternal, holy, almighty, omniscient, righteous, faithful, full of justice and yet He is patient, slow to anger, full of mercy and love (Exodus 3:14, Revelation 1:8; Leviticus 11:45, Matthew 5:48; Isaiah 46:9, Psalm 139:4, Psalm 36:5-6). When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s words in the garden of Eden, sin and its consequences entered the world. Sin breaks down the relationship between mankind and the Holy God who is the source of life and blessings to mankind. Sin breaks down the relationship between fellow mankind for sinners are inherently self-centered and resort to unrighteous means for their own interests resulting in oppression, strife and violence. Therefore, living in this world is a difficult, troublesome, and sorrowful proposition with a bleak future of death (Psalm 90:10). Life journey in this world is like plodding in the wilderness without water. Yet, God does not abandon mankind and sent His one and only Son Jesus to save sinners. Jesus came as a sacrifice for the redemption of sinners and restore the relationship with God, taught us how to live and gave us the Living Water to renew us, empower us to live a new life now and with a glorious and eternal future. The whole BIble reveals clearly that Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Let us all who are thirsty come to Jesus and drink!

Exodus 3:14

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’"

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."

Leviticus 11:45

I am the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.

Matthew 5:48

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Isaiah 46:9

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done.

Psalm 139:4

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

Psalm 36:5-6

5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

Psalm 90:10

10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

John 14:6

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



Jesus the Source of Living Water - Part 2

clock April 30, 2012 02:00 by author wtsang

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.

Introduction

Water is essential to life. Without water, life cannot survive. Water is provided by God such that our physical aspect of life may live. Unlike animals, humans were created in the image of God and human life is more than a short physical life span but is meant to reflect the glory of the creator and to live forever. Therefore, Living Water is even more important than water because Living Water sustains all aspects of life, its qualities, meanings and eternal durability. Many people only care about the physical aspect of life and miss out what life truly should be. In Part 1, we study that Jesus is the Source of Living Water and He is graciously offering Living Water to all who ask Him. Life nourished with the Living Water will grow into abundant life.

Unfortunately, not everyone will come to the source of Living Water despite the truth has been revealed to them. Even many of the Israelites who are the elects and experienced the power and revelation of God first hand as a nation, refuse to come to the source of Living Water to have life. In the Old Testament times, many left God and turned to idol worship (Jeremiah 2:13). Eventually, the nation of Israel was conquered and the people of Israel dispersed into different parts of the world. Not until May 14, 1948, Israel was approved by the majority vote of the United Nations to re-establish as an independent nation. We should also know that the lessons written in the Bible about the experience of Israel do not apply to the Israelites only but for the Gentiles also. For God created all people of all nations. The examples and warnings written about Israel are lessons apply to all nations (1 Corinthians 10:11).

1 Corinthians 10:11

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

Man-Made Substitutes for God

The invention of the golden calf as the god of Israel is a good illustration of people forsaking God who is the source of living water and digging their own cisterns that cannot hold water. It happened during the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt when Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive detailed instructions on ceremonies and commandments from God directly while the Israelites were waiting below the mountain. When Moses did not return after a long time (Exodus 24:18), some of them pressured Aaron to create gods for them to take the place of God. Is it not the same situation of all man on earth? Unlike animals, humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and had a close relationship with God like father and children. But, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and listened to the temptation of Satan, sin entered the world and the relationship with God became broken. After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from the presence of God. Their fearful and shameful response to God’s presence reflects their downfall from the original normal relationship with God (Genesis 3:8-10). The reason is that God is Holy and nothing sinful may approach Him. Holiness and sin are like light and darkness and they cannot mix (1 John 1:5). Since sinful persons cannot have a normal relationship with God, we should not be bewildered when many people think that God is elusive and some even think that God does not exist.

Exodus 24:18

18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Genesis 1:27

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

Genesis 3:8-10

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?" 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

1 John 1:5

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.

Humans were created by God to worship, glorify and serve Him and He sustains our lives, gives meanings, guidance, joy and all the blessings of lives (Psalm 36:9, Psalm 56:13, Psalm 27:1, Psalm 23:1, Psalm 23:6). God is like the Father and the King and His children are like princes and princess. With a broken relationship with God, humans will attempt to fill the void in their lives. By natural instinct, humans invent and pursue things to fill the void: idols, religions, philosophies, materialistic lifestyle, money, power, fame, and pleasures. With all these things in place, humans think that the void can be filled. The fact is that these things cannot replace God in our lives. A simple question will reveal their invalidity to fill the void of life. We should ask if these things by nature Godly? The reason to ask such a question is based on the fact that a missing part of a system should be replaced by an identical part or at least a part similar by design and function. It is like replacing a part in a broken vehicle with an identical part made by the car manufacturer or at least a compatible generic part made by a third party supplier otherwise the car will not work properly. Since there is only one true God (Deuteronomy 4:35), nothing can take the place of God except by God Himself who created our lives. In fact, the things we pursue as substitutes for God very often are incompatible with the nature of God but simply things appealing to our sinful nature. The behaviour to feed the flesh, lust and pride is actually the love of the world (1 John 2:15-16). The idols and gods people create for worship are dead, powerless objects and religions to fill the spiritual void (Jeremiah 16:19-20). The next two questions you may ask is how do you know the Bible is true and the claims of other teachings and religions are false? Actually, we need only to answer the first question that is how we know that the Bible is true because of the Bible and all the other non-Biblical ideas are mutually exclusive. If the Bible is true then all non-Biblical ideas are false. If a single non-Biblical idea, including the belief of atheism, is true then the Bible is false. But, it is helpful to examine first some broken cisterns people created to substitute the source of Living Water.

Psalm 36:9

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Psalm 56:13

For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 27:1

Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 23:1

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Psalm 23:6

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Deuteronomy 4:35

You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.

1 John 2:15-16

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Jeremiah 16:19-20

19 LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. 20 Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!"

Commitment Without Due Diligence

Due diligence is a common business term referring to the careful investigation and analysis of a company or investment being acquired before commitment of the transaction. It is wise and is the responsibility of the investor to exercise due diligence to make sure the acquisition is a profitable deal. The recent huge financial crisis was caused mainly by mortgage-backed securities (MBS) created out of many subprime mortgages. These MBS were created by established financial companies trusted as secure investments even in the opinion of many professional money managers. However, they all failed to do a thorough due diligence on these securities in regard to their origin: subprime mortgages. Subprime mortgages are loans made to lenders to purchase houses by banks without a careful consideration and verification of the capability of the borrowers to repay the interests and principals. The facade of these securities was lifted when many people failed to repay the loans coupled with a widespread drop in house prices. Institutions and Investors who built their portfolios directly or indirectly based on their trust of these MBS suffered huge losses. The same concept of due diligence can be aptly applied in many situations involving the commitment of time, energy and resources. However, it is quite surprising to find that many people committing to a belief system that affect their present life and eternal destination without due diligence. Here are a few examples.

a) Commitment by Following Cultural Practice

This is the most common category of commitment for people tend to establish belief on popularity. Therefore, we can see a pattern that the same religions tend to be accepted by people of the same nationality. For examples, Hinduism is popular in India and Buddhism and its derivative religions are popular in Thailand, Japan and ancient China, Islam in Indonesia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The mere fact a belief is popular does not necessarily mean that it is true and the origin and core doctrines need to be examined to ascertain their reliability. The examination can be quite simple to carry out if one really has the motivation to find out the truth. A story about Dr. Sun Yat-sen who led the revolution to overthrow the Qing dynasty in China is a good example. When Sun Yat-sen was a youth, idol worship was a common practice. To convince his fellow villagers what they were worshipping was invalid, man-made figure, Sun Yat-sen broke the hand of an idol in a temple in front of idol worshippers saying that the idol could not protect even itself. Unfortunately, most Chinese at that time insisted on their cultural practice to worship idols as their gods and would not accept fact demonstrated in front of their eyes.

Even today with the advance of science and mathematics, millions of people still believe in the aged old teaching of reincarnation which is the core belief of Hinduism and Buddhism which teach that soul will pass from body to another body: human, animal and even plant according to the counting of karma the previous lives have accumulated. Karma is a concept taught by Hinduism and Buddhism which suggests a cause and effect relationship of conducts and quality of reincarnation. Good or positive conducts in past lives will lead to better life in future incarnation and vice versa. Therefore, if one’s accumulated karma is good, one will incarnate and live a more superior life such as a rich person of nobility. Conversely, one with bad karma will incarnate into a person living a harsh life stricken with poverty. To be worse, one may incarnate into an animal. But population growth rate of humans or animals can be accurately predicted by birth rate and death rate. The birth rate and death rate are affected by social, environmental and advance in health sciences. For example, advance of public health in developing countries decreases number of diseases such as Malaria which is a common killer disease results in increase of population. In general, we do not see a relationship of advance in morality or good deeds and the increase in human population and standard of living in the world. From 1950 to 1990, the world population doubled from 2.5 billions to 5 billions and the standard of living increased in many parts of the world. Do we see any increase in good deeds or morality during this period? The answer is no. How about time before the 1950? The answer is even a stronger negative for it was the time of world wars, a time of aggression and destruction. A more reasonable explanation is the advance in science and technology such that people live longer, infant mortality rate decreases, economic productivity increases and the standard of living has been increasing ever since. In fact, there is now a concern that the world will become over-populated. Therefore karma cannot be credited as the driving force of the increase in human population and the increase in standard of living. But rather the increase of human souls along with the increasing standard of living are due to factors such as advance in science, technology, medicine, and economic productivity. Indeed, the Bible has a better explanation which reveals that God is merciful and is slow to anger and gives grace to both the good and evil people so that they may live and civilizations may continue and grow (Psalm 145:8, Matthew 5:45). God gives opportunity for all to repent and turn to Him to receive even more amazing blessings that we have not seen and heard of. Of course, one day this gracious opportunity will end when God will finally exercise judgment to the unrepentant according to His schedule (Romans 2:4).

Psalm 145:8

8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Matthew 5:45

45 that you may be children 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.

Romans 2:4

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

If you are not convinced, you may conduct an experiment with mice. You may apply various measures to control birth rate of mice in your laboratory and observe the population growth rate to see if it is indeed following an exponential growth curve. It is you, the experimenter or investigator who controls the laboratory conditions to determine the mouse population in your laboratory not the factor of karma. Of course, if someone insist on believing the teaching of incarnation, one will find ways to explain and convince oneself. But, one should do it objectively with convincing supporting evidence. For it is about life and eternity. With these, may I point to you some articles on exercising critical thinking on what many have taken for granted about Buddhism: Reasons for stopped following Buddha by an ex-Buddhist and, An imaginary interview with Siddhartha Gautama proposed by an ex-Buddhist.

By the way, may I share with you an experience of mine in sharing the gospel with a Hindu friend named Prasad. For a period of several months, Prasad even went with me to church for Sunday worships. But, I realized then that he went to Christian worships with a Hindu mentality thinking that Jesus Christ was one of the gods in Hinduism. When Prasad was invited to deeper Bible studies first with me and then with another brother in Christ, he left finally perhaps due to his understanding that the teachings of Hinduism were fundamentally different from the faith taught in the Bible. The Bible clearly reveals that there is only one death and judgment will come afterwards (Hebrews 9:27). The cause of sufferings and deaths is sin. The only possible solution is based on the love of God who sent His Only Son to die for sinners such that sinners may accept the grace of God by faith (Ephesians 2:8) not the Karma earned by doing something good. The standard of holiness of God is much higher than the standard of sinners such that our most righteous acts are like filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). Sinners have no ability to pull themselves from the sinful state and pay for the penalty of sin themselves and be acceptable to God. It is the love of God that He paid the penalty for all sinners as a gift through His only Son Jesus such that we may live not an old sin stricken life but a new abundant life with a glorious eternal future.

Hebrews 9:27

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

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.

b) Commitment by Accepting Novel But Unsubstantiated Teachings - Illustration by Heaven's Gate Religious Group

If someone knocks your door saying that he is a representative of your natural gas utility company and he wants to come into your house for service, do you open the door and let him in without question? No, it is not a good idea even though he wears the natural gas company uniform. We should do some due diligence before letting the stranger in such as asking for his employee number and call the utility company and confirm if there is an employee with such an identity assigned to a service call in our house for service. This is especially necessary for an unscheduled visit. Unfortunately, many false prophets came out in history claiming that they receive special revelations and were asked by gods to deliver the message to the world. Many people accept those messages without due diligence and commit their whole life on it. These so called prophets were very likely being deceived themselves by Satan who could even perform magical feats to deceive. However, the power of Satan was limited in compare to the power of the living God. The confrontation of Moses to Pharaoh is a good example. When Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron to perform a miracle to prove that they were the representatives of God to ask for the release of the Jews from Egypt, Aaron threw his staff on the ground and it became a snake. Pharaoh asked his wise men, sorcerers and magicians did the same thing and they could also turn their staffs into snakes. But, the snake that came from the staff of Aaron swallowed up the snakes that came from the Egyptian staffs (Exodus 7:11-12). Yet Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not acknowledge the God of Moses and let the Jews go in light of the evidence. By the way, it seems paradoxical that God had hardened Pharaoh’s heart while sending Moses to Pharaoh asking for the release of the Jews. Actually, God did this as a judgment to Egypt in general and Pharaoh in particular for their sins while demonstrating His power of salvation of the Jews (Exodus 7:3-5). This is consistent with the truth that when people rebel and ignore the true and living God, judgment will come at the extent and time God deems right in His sovereignty. Hardening the heart of sinners such that they would not acknowledge God and repent is a precursor of execution of judgment (Romans 1:22-24). On the other hand, the repentance of sinners is the gracious provision of God (2 Timothy 2:25).

Exodus 7:11-12

11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

Exodus 7:3-5

3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it."

Romans 1:22-24

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

2 Timothy:2:25

25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

Their belief system motivated them to commit mass suicide because they believed that it was the way to get into a UFO which was trailing the comet Hale-Bopp that bought their souls to some sort of higher level. They were committed to execute the suicide because they believed the earth was about to be recycled and it was the only chance to escape. Like many religions in the world, the Heaven's Gate started by individuals with an imaginative idea, opinion or personal revelation. These religions grow when followers without careful thinking and investigation of the origin of the religions become interested and join the religions. As time goes by, the sheer size and length of existence of a religion appears as a support of its authenticity such that more believers join without questioning the origin. The group was started by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1928–1985) who thought that they were the two witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11:1-3). They started to preach their belief system in early 1970 which combined Biblical teachings and New Age beliefs. We do not need to spend too much time in studying all their peculiar teachings. But, it is beneficial to see an example of deception taught by this group especially when they quote the Bible as a support of their teaching. One doctrine they taught was that their members should not marry using a verse in the Luke gospel as a support (Luke 20:35). If you read Luke 20:35 out of context, it seems to say that those who are worthy of resurrection will not marry. But, if the reader simply finish the sentence by reading the next verse (Luke 20:36), the meaning becomes clear for it says that they (those who will not marry) can no longer die and they are like angels. Surely, the two verses, the pronouns "those" and "they" refer to the resurrected people who will not marry and who can no longer die in the age to come. How can we be sure? Because people who do not marry in the present age will die just like those who marry. Moreover, marriage is ordained by God when He created mankind. It is absurd to say that marriage is a stumbling block to participate in resurrection. In fact, Jesus teaches that we should revere marriage for God put a man and a woman together in such an unique relationship (Matthew 19:4-6). We will study a little more deeply this false doctrine later. The point is that falsehood of religions can be disclosed by carefully examining their teachings and their origins.

Revelation 11:1-3

1 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth."

Luke 20:35

35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage,

Luke 20:36

36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

Matthew 19:4-6

4 “Haven’t you read," he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."

To understand the meanings and teachings of the whole story related to the Heaven’s Gate doctrine of non-marriage as a condition to resurrection, let us study the whole passage (Luke 20:27-38) such that we may practice to properly discern messages we may receive based on the Bible. The story is about a group of Sadducees who think that there is no resurrection and they attempt to ridicule Jesus by asking a hypothectical question based on the law of Levirate Marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5) which arranged to have the surviving brother to marry the widow in order to provide an heir to the diseased brother. The question asks if each of the seven brothers married the same woman but died childless in turn one by one, then in resurrection, whose the wife will be among the seven brothers? The Sadducees asked such a question with a motive to prove that resurrection is not possible because God's law of marriage of one man and one woman would be violated in this hypothectical, confusing but possible situation. Jesus then revealed that there was no marriages in resurrection (Luke 20:35). But, Heaven's Gate took this verse out of context and applied to their religious group members that they should not marry at their present life in order to participate in resurrection. Jesus is teaching that the people of this age participate in marriages and let us call it group A people. Some of the group A people will be found by God worthy of taking part in resurrection, and let us call it group R people. Group R people who will not participate in marriages. How do we know for sure that group R people are already resurrected people? We can tell for sure based on their attributes given in verse 36: they cannot die like angels and they are called the children of the resurrection. In addition, Jesus knows that the Sadducees believe in the Torah (the five books of the Jewish Scriptures), therefore He points out that even Moses calls the Lord ‘God of Abraham, and the God of Issac and the God of Jacob.’ which implies that Abraham, Issac and Jacob are still living even though they have died at the present age. Because God is not a God of the dead but God of the living. Therefore, their disbelief in resurrection contradicts to their own reference of doctrinal authority. By the way, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are the group R people in our discussion and they have all married before. When we study the Bible, we can find out how we may obtain resurrection. The Bible clearly states that resurrection is not obtained by doing works or observing religious rules or rituals. Resurrection is a gift of God out of His great mercy and grace. We may obtain this gift through our faith in Jesus Christ His Son who has paid the penalty of sins for all (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:4-8).

John 3:16

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.

Ephesians 2:4-8

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

As a side note, Satan does know the Bible but he would apply God's words to confuse and deceive people. In fact, the very first temptation to mankind by Satan was the modification of the words of God and giving false promises as incentives to disobey God. First, Satan told Eve that eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil would not die as a direct contradiction to what God said (Genesis 3:4). Then Satan told Eve a false incentive to disobeying God that she would be like God with discernment of good and evil. Satan imputed a thought to Eve that God withheld something good to them, namely the capability to know good and evil, so that she cast doubt on God and she and her husband ignored the command of God. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin entered the world, livelihood became hard for even the ground was cursed. Sufferings and death became constant companions in the world. The first murder recorded in the book of Genesis was an older brother killing a younger brother out of jealousy who were children of Adam and Eve. All these negative outcomes could not happen when Adam and Eve resisted the devil and obeyed God. Satan also tempted Jesus using the words of God, and of course, out of context with distorted meaning. For Satan asked Jesus to jump off the highest point of the temple based on the promise in Psalm 91 that the angels would protect Jesus from hitting the stone. Again we can see the craftiness of Satan who deceived by modifying the meaning of Psalm 91 which teaches trusting in God and His promises of protection into doubt and testing of God. Being well-versed in the words of God, Jesus answered with a correct application of the Bible to uncover the deception of Satan that we should not test God (Matthew 4:5-7, Deuteronomy 6:16).

Deuteronomy 25:5

5 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

Luke 20:27-38

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher," they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?" 34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

Genesis 3:4

4 “You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman.

Genesis 3:5

5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Matthew 4:5-7

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God," he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’" 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’"

Deuteronomy 6:16

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

c) Atheism - Commitment to Embrace Nature Rather than the Creator of Nature

Atheists tend to think that the universe is just the way it is such that given an infinitely long time, everything is possible. To explain the origin of life, evolutionists believe in the hypothesis that there was an existence of prebiotic or primordial soup rich in organic molecules which by chance, gave rise to the building blocks of life. Also by chance, a spectrum of living things from simple to advanced were formed. But, scientific evidence indicates that primordial soup either could not be formed or the recent earth conditions were too adverse for primordial soup to survive if it ever existed (see the article by Jeff Zweerink ). Moreover, there is no fossil record of primordial soup ( see the article by Fazale Rana). Without primordial soup, there is no ingredient to give rise to life by any chance. Rather, life must have been originated from a well designed and executed event as revealed in the Bible (Genesis 1:1, John 1:3).

Genesis 1:1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:3

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

There were scientists such as Robert Dicke, a Princeton physicist, proposing that the universe is an oscillating universe constantly expanding and contracting like a yo-yo without beginning and end. The theory became popular in the 1960’s. The implication of such theory is to do away the need to explain a well designed universe of matter, energy, physical laws, constants and biological lives. With infinite number of cycles of expansion and contraction, one of the cycles must bound to give rise to an ingenious outcome by chance as if it was a masterpiece produced by a great artist. Ironically, the model of oscillating universe closely resembles the age-old belief of orthodox Hinduism, Buddhism and New Age Mysticism which believe in infinite cycles of reincarnation of the universe. Newer scientific findings show that the entropy of the universe is very high making it a very inefficient machine such that large amount of energy is lost instead of producing mechanical work such as bouncing. To help to understand the situation, you may imagine that the universe is like a ball being dropped on a carpeted floor. It will not bounce back too well for the energy of the ball is lost as heat with little energy for bouncing. In fact, the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) project of NASA shows that data collected supports the theory that the universe was born of a singularity event which the scientific community calls the big bang. The big bang event fits the revelation of the Bible that God always exists and all things in the universe: matter, energy, space, time and the laws of physics were created by God (John 1:1-3, Hebrews 11:3). In other words, God is the first cause and He Himself is not subject to the confinement of matter, energy, time and laws of nature but He Himself defined and created those things, How fitting it is when God says He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8). Therefore, the age of the universe is finite and not infinite as suggested by atheists or Hinduism and its derivative religions. The age of the universe is estimated to be only 12 to 14 billion year old (Please see the NASA’s Universe 101 page.).

John 1:1-3

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

Hebrews 11:3

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

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."

With such strong evidence of creation, however, not everyone will automatically become convinced and become a worshipper of God. Rather, more conjectures are proposed to answer the quest for the origin. Now the theory of oscillating universe is no longer popular, newer thinkings are proposed to do away the existence of God. For example, Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins recently wrote a book entitled Universe from Nothing proposing that the universe came from nothing rather than the creator God. If you examine a little closer, what the book means regarding the notion of “nothing" is not really nothing as we understand it in our language. In the language as we understand it, “nothing" means total emptiness and it is a paradox to say that “nothing" will become or give rise to something. “Nothing", according to the authors, actually means the existence of “stochastic and random" laws of nature though invisible. In other words, their conception of first cause is the set of stochastic and random laws of nature as a substitute to the creator. This conjecture that the universe came from “nothing" is not entirely new. Back in 1948, British scientists Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle proposed the theory of steady-state universe which states that the universe will appear the same over time and to fill the void of the expanding universe, new matter is continuously created out of “nothing", The universe has no beginning nor end according to the steady state theory such that there is no need of a creator. Please refere to this article for a little more details.. With more observations especially the discovery of background radiation in space, the steady state theory is invalidated. These kinds of thinking and reasoning are the result of the assumption of existence of fundamental natural laws which serve as the origin of all things with the abhorrence of the otherwise proof of the existence of God. The Bible reveals that God is the creator of all things including the definition of the principles both moral and scientific we live and experience accordingly (John 1:1). But, according to the bible of the atheists, “In the beginning, there was nothing but random laws of nature." This remind me what the Bible teaches that although God reveals Himself plainly by His tangible creation of His invisible qualities: eternal power and divine nature, godlessness lead people into foolishness and darkness (Romans 1:19-21). For more comments on the book, please refer to the article by Hugh Ross answering the book entitled Universe from Nothing.

John 1:1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Romans 1:19-21

19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.



Jesus the Source of Living Water - Part 1

clock February 15, 2012 02:00 by author wtsang

John 4:10

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

Water is an essential ingredient of life. The physical and chemical properties of water make it an ideal agent to dissolve and transport nutrients, oxygen and minerals essential to the functions of cells, protect body organs and tissues, serve as lubricants of joints . In fact, about 60% to 70% of an adult human body is composed of water by weight. Therefore, life is possible only when water is present. The scriptures use the term living water which is high quality refreshing water to represent the power and blessings essential to sustain life, give joy and meanings to life which only God the creator Himself can give. And the scriptures do not refer to life simply as the physical life in the present body with a temporal time span but life with both spiritual and physical dimensions that lasts to eternity.

The story of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at the Jacob’s well illustrates the grace of God who sent His Son to give living water to people who are literally living meaningless and withering lives. Jesus chose to reveal Himself as the Messiah and offer to give living water to a sinner and not just an ordinary sinner, but a sinner despised even among sinners. The Samaritan woman came out to draw water at noon time alone in order to avoid meeting others who usually did this chore together in the morning or evening when the sun was mild. Her isolation reveals rejection in her own community and she lived in public shame. Jesus by His omniscient capability disclosed her immorality of marrying and divorcing five times and now was living with a man (John 4:18). Despite her immorality, Jesus came to seek her and offer her living water that wells up to eternal life (John 4:14). In fact, the mission of Jesus coming to the world was to save sinners of all nations even sinners who are desperate and despised (1 Timothy 1:15). The reason our living empty, flesh pleasing, unsatisfying and withering lives is that we all have a broken relationship with God. The reason we have a broken relationship with God is sin because God is light in Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). Sinners inherently belong to the domain of darkness. Light and darkness cannot mix, therefore sinners are blocked from the fountain of life namely God Himself (Psalm 36:9). Jesus graciously came to restore our relationship with God (Ephesians 5:8) such that we may drink the living water. What is life like being nourished with the living water Jesus gives? Obviously, Jesus was not referring to ordinary drinking water for drinking water can nourish our body only for a very short duration and we need to drink again. Jesus reveals that the living water that He gives will flow from within the life of the recipients in abundance that last forever. Later in the John Gospel (John 7:38-39), living water is plainly revealed as the Holy Spirit. Indeed if a life has the Holy Spirit, it is like a life with the living water flowing within, nourishing and empowering it so that it becomes fruitful glorifying God. It is a life of reconciliation because the broken, alienated relationship with God (Colossians 1:21) is restored to a Father and child relationship (Galatians 4:6). With a close relationship with God and the power of the Holy Spirit, life grows into abundant life.

John 4:18

18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

John 4:14

14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

1 Timothy 1:15

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

1 John 1:5

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.

Psalm 36:9

9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Ephesians 5:8

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

John 7:38-39

38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." 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.

Colossians 1:21

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

Galatians 4:6

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father."

The gracious act of Jesus is to give abundant life as a direct opposite to the evil and destructive act of a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. The word abundant is in the sense of exceeding quantity and superior quality in life. This is opposite to the natural life that we used to live in the world which is enslaved by sin and destined to perish (John 8:34, Romans 6:23a). To make it worse, this world is filled with evil forces and temptations working against our vulnerable sinful nature. For the prince of the world is Satan who is trying hard to steal and destroy lives (Ephesians 6:12, John 16:11, 1 Peter 5:8). Lives living under the power of Satan cannot display the glory of God and some even become tools of evil for Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2). Just pay some attention to the daily news and you will see and hear uncountable cases of crimes such as murders, sexual assaults, robberies, frauds, corruptions, human trafficking, drug dealings, money laundering and terrorist activities locally and around the world.

John 10:10 (King James Translation)

10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 8:34

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

Romans 6:23

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

Ephesians 6:12

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

John 16:11

and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

1 Peter 5:8

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

2 Corinthians 4:4

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

Ephesians 2:2

2 in 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.

Therefore, we need to understand that the meaning of abundant life is quite incompatible to the values and views we learned from the world. You may even find that some of the teachings of abundant life paradoxical to the so called common sense we learned. These are the attributes of the abundant life that Jesus gives.

a. Living with a Clear Conscience and True Joy

We all have committed sins in life. We should all be sorrowful for the mistakes we made. But, there is a distinction between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow is temporary, beneficial and will bring healing, renewal and abundant blessings to life (2 Corinthians 7:10). But, worldly sorrow is prolonged and will only bring condemnation, shame and guilt and is destructive. The reason is that the root cause of being sorrow is not resolved. Firstly, sinners are not forgiven by God and they have to suffer and pay for the penalty of sins themselves. Secondly, sinners are too powerless to deal with the temptation of the devil and the weakness of their flesh and therefore will continually be enslaved by sins (see the next section on Power of Living). Moreover, worldly sorrow can be deceitful in the sense that it is not an outcome of true remorse but a consequence of unfulfilled desires or being caught in doing wrong. Godly sorrow is based on the redemptive work of Jesus and will bring us to confess our sins before God and repent such that our sins are forgiven, our conscience is cleansed and our relationship with God is restored because Jesus has paid in full the penalty of sins for us (Isaiah 53:5). The forgiveness is promised by God and the cleansing of our conscience is effective for Jesus has shed His blood for all our sins. The Holy Spirit bears witness within our heart.and guides us to live a new life. Let us approach God with a sincere heart of repentance and faith (Hebrews 10:22). God is faithful and He will do what He promised in His words such that sinners are justified and may walk closely with God (1 John 1:7, 9). This wonderful and gracious promise of God is the basis of our joy in our new life which will not be moved by the changes of our circumstances in the world (Philippians 4:4).

2 Corinthians 7:10

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

Isaiah 53:5

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

Hebrews 10:22

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

1 John 1:7, 9

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

b. Blessed with the Power of Living

Humans are designed and created to live in the presence and close relationship with God. Without a close companionship with God, humans live in the domain of darkness (Ephesians 5:8). People living in darkness may not even know that they cannot see what is true and good that will last eternally. Many simply fill their lives with all kinds of activities: social relationship, works, politics, religion, acquisition of wealth, and pleasure seeking. The reason is that unbelievers are living under the influence of the devil such that they cannot see the love and salvation of God that reconcile and restore the good relationship with God (2 Corinthians 4:4). But when we accept the invitation of Jesus with faith, rivers of living water will flow within the once dry and withering life. First, the blockage to God due to sinfulness is removed because Jesus has paid for the penalty of sin so that believer is justified through faith and have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Second, the Holy Spirit will dwell in the believer’s life and make the believer a new creation such that the believer is no longer blinded and enslaved by the devil but live a spiritual fruit bearing life (Galatians 5:22-23). A contemporary example of extending the invitation of people to come to the source of living water is reported in this article authored by Rev. John Burke of Gateway Church in Texas.

Ephesians 5:8

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

2 Corinthians 4:4

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

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Galatians 5:22-23

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

c. Having an Eternal Perspective of Life that Transcends the Presence by Faith

if we assume the world values of preserving our own lives and maximizing comfort, materialistic achievement and pleasure in the present life, then we will lose it. Jesus teaches that we should abhor these world values and hold to His teachings then we will keep our lives to eternity. Jesus’ view on the present life is that it is only temporary and is never meant the destination we should hold on to (John 12:25). He always teaches that we should have a perpetual view of life and pursue a glorious future while the popular world view of life is limited to a lifetime on earth. The world view gives no answer or avoid discussion altogether about life beyond this lifetime. A common practice of living according to the world view is to work hard, play hard, and hoard things believing that these things bring security and satisfaction in life. But all things in this world which include money, physical goods, real estates, pleasures, popularity, and fame will not last . For according to the words of God, the whole world will someday end such that things of the world will end with the world. Moreover, our lives are limited in time duration and many will be likely leaving these worldly things behind even sooner than the end of the world. Sadly, most people hold the common world view and devote to preserve and enrich their lives in this world even knowing that a hard reality of the end of life is sure and imminent. It is considered foolish, according to the words of God, if we hold the world view in living this life (John 6:27, Luke 12:20). But, it does not mean that children of God do not need to work for daily necessities at all. Jesus means that we should have an eternal perspective of life with the Kingdom of God not the world as the final goal and destination and the heavenly Father already knows and provides for our needs while living in this world (Matthew 6:31-33).

John 12:25

25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

John 6:27

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

Luke 12:20

“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?’

Matthew 6:31-33

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

d. Ready to serve and not to be served

By our old nature, we like to be served by others. Abundant life in God’s perspective is just the opposite. In fact, the life example of Jesus is a thorough demonstration of serving others (Mark 10:45). Although Jesus is God by nature, He took the image of a man and not just of a man but of a humble servant. On the night when Jesus was about to be arrested for torture and crucification based on false accusations, He washed the disciples’ feet and told them that they should follow his example by serving one another (John 13:14-15).

Mark 10:45

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 13:14-15

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

The greatest commandment of God is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. The second greatest commandment is similar to the first which is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). In other words, we are to love God and others from our inside out. The practical way to express love is to serve. During His earthly ministry, Jesus went about doing good to others as examples for all believers: healing the sick, blind, lame, dumb, and leper; feeding and helping people in need (Matthew 14:16, John 2:3); teaching people the truth of salvation and life (Matthew 5:1-2). Most of all, Jesus sacrificed His own life such that sinners who have faith in Him may have life. Jesus also taught us about the practical way to express love even to strangers with the story of a good Samaritan who helps a victim wounded by robbers (Luke 10:33).

Matthew 22:37-40

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 14:16

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

John 2:3

3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine."

Matthew 5:1-2

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

Luke 10:33

33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

The power of service is from God who will be glorified by our service. Jesus taught us that believers would be doing the works that He Himself had been doing and even to a greater extent because His earthly ministry was limited to a few years. After His death and resurrection, He would return to heaven at the Father’s side (Luke 22:69). His earthly ministry would be carried on by the apostles and the disciples from generations to generations. We can ask God for the power to do the works that may glorify the Father (John 14:12-13). Born again believers empowered by the Holy Spirit would continue doing good works which is the will of God (Ephesians 2:10). Service could also be rendered as material and financial gifts that help the weak to strengthen and go through difficulties. This is also a tip to a life of blessing (Acts 20:35). The best service we can do to others is surely to bring the good news of salvation to others such that they may believe and receive God’s salvation and life. In fact, this is also the command and delegation by the authority of God to all disciples to make disciples of all nations. This command was given by Jesus Himself right before His ascension to heaven after His resurrection (Matthew 28:18-20).

Luke 22:69

But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God."

John 14:12-13

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Ephesians 2:10

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

Matthew 28:18-20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Acts 20:35

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ "

e. Imperishable

The life that God gives has the inherent quality that lasts until eternity. Nothing is really good or meaningful no matter how good we think it is if it lasts only a short while and disappears because its quality is depreciating moment by moment after a duration of growth. Any time duration is short as if it is non-existent in compare to eternity. To help us understand, consider the concept of limit in mathematics. A finite number N, no matter how big it is, divided by the infinity will be equal to zero and can be ignored in a equation. Kings, rich and famous people will try all possible means to preserve their lives. The best they could do is to build monuments, and in modern practice, create legacy buildings and benevolent funds such that their names may be remembered. Although the names and the associated histories of the persons may be remembered by later generations, the lives behind the names cannot be preserved. There are also various religious thoughts addressing the wishes of eternal life. For example, Egyptian mummies were made with the belief that the soul called the ba and the invisible twin called the ka of the dead might return to the preserved body and lived forever in the tomb. This was the reason why the Egyptian tombs of kings and nobles were made with sophistication and decorated with treasures. They are simply unproven human thoughts. One thing for sure is that many Egyptians tombs have been targets of robberies. The treasures in the tombs were stolen and the mummies were shifted and some end up in museum displays.

The life that God gives has the inherent quality that lasts until eternity. Nothing is really good or meaningful no matter how good we think it is if it lasts only a short while and disappears because its quality is depreciating moment by moment after a duration of growth. Any time duration is short as if it is non-existent in compare to eternity. To help us understand, consider the concept of limit in mathematics. A finite number N, no matter how big it is, divided by the infinity will be equal to zero and can be ignored in a equation. Kings, rich and famous people will try all possible means to preserve their lives. The best they could do is to build monuments, and in modern practice, create legacy buildings and benevolent funds such that their names may be remembered. Although the names and the associated histories of the persons may be remembered by later generations, the lives behind the names cannot be preserved. There are also various religious thoughts addressing the wishes of eternal life. For example, Egyptian mummies were made with the belief that the soul called the ba and the invisible twin called the ka of the dead might return to the preserved body and lived forever in the tomb. This was the reason why the Egyptian tombs of kings and nobles were made with sophistication and decorated with treasures. They are simply unproven human thoughts. One thing for sure is that many Egyptians tombs have been targets of robberies. The treasures in the tombs were stolen and the mummies were shifted and some end up in museum displays.

John 3:16

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.

John 11:25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

1 Corinthians 15:17-19

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:22

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Philippians 2:6-8

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

1 Corinthians 15:20

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

f. Living with a Glorious Body

As we all experience, our present bodies are subject to a biological growth curve. A normal body starts growing from infancy, childhood, adolescence, then adulthood. From adulthood, our bodies start declining. With the loss of health, the reality of death will eventually come when the bodies succumb to illness. The Bible articulates it well that our bodies are like new grass that spring up in the morning but by the evening it is dry and withered (Psalm 90:5-6). Some futurists proposed a process call mind uploading or mind transfer by scanning and representing a human brain in digital details and transfer the data to a super computer which then may emulate the original human brain with thoughts and feelings. The process may go further by putting the computer inside a human like robot or humanoid robot which simulates the body. If the process is successful, these futurists may claim success in achieving immortality. This is an interesting and imaginative idea. But, to me it is an attempt to create a model of a human being with electronics and mechanical components. By definition, a model is an incomplete representation of the real thing and the model is limited to the emulated features of the real thing being modeled. The set of features is not only unreal but is limited by the interest and knowledge of the modeler. As we know, although the knowledge of mankind has advanced to a large extent, there are still too many unknowns. For example, computer scientists could simulate with limited success of human thinking activities using neural network algorithms but no one know completely how a human brain really works and not even the details of the biology, physiology, chemistry and physics of a single brain cell. On the other hand, God does not promise life reduced to simulated model living in a computer and robot, but an eternal life of love, glory, joy, honor with a real and imperishable body. Jesus has demonstrated that a real, physical body accompanies resurrection. In fact, the resurrected body is more superior than the old body for it is not limited but transcends physical limitations the old human body experiences. To illustrate this point, Jesus in His resurrected body could go through walls and appeared to the disciples gathering in a house and asked the doubting disciple Thomas to put his finger into His wounded hands and side. The holes in the hands of Jesus were the nailed holes in crucification and the hole on His side was resulted from the piercing of a spear by a Roman soldier (John 19:34). The wounds are preserved in Jesus’ resurrected body as an identification and the mark of love and sufferings to the redeemed. On another occasion, Jesus appeared to the disciples and they were frightened and thought that they saw a ghost. But, Jesus demonstrated to them that He had flesh and bones in His resurrected body and asked them to touch Him (Luke 24:37-39). Jesus even ate a piece of broiled fish in their presence (Luke 24:42-43). People who receive the gift of salvation by faith will also resurrect with a glorious body like Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20-21).

John 19:34

34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

Luke 24:37-39

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

Luke 24:42-43

42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Philippians 3:20-21

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

g. Imperishable Inheritance

Ownership of treasures in the world is temporary (Matthew 6:19). Firstly, worldly treasures could drop in values and their usefulness could deteriorate as they age. Secondly, worldly treasures can be lost when the owners fall victims into theft or deceptive schemes. Lastly, even common sense will tell that ownership of worldly treasures ends when the owners disease. As a contrast, believers view worldly treasures as opportunities and tools God has given them to manage in their new and abundant life. Worldly treasures can be applied in such a way to further the preaching of the gospel such that more people may enter the Kingdom of God. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the eyes of the believers’ heart are enlightened to see the glorious, imperishable treasures in the Kingdom of God such that they will become faithful managers of the worldly treasures and opportunities they are given (Ephesians 1:18, Matthew 6:20).

Matthew 6:19

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.

Ephesians 1:18

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

Matthew 6:20

20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.



Jesus the High Priest - Part 2

clock December 2, 2011 02:00 by author wtsang

Key Verses:

Hebrews 8:1-2 1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

The Awesome Power of Salvation of the High Priest in the Order of Melchizedek

1. Justification and Glorification of Sinners

Salvation is based on the love of God who performs the work of salvation from start to finish to save people from sin. This is best illustrated by the story of the prodigal son told by Jesus. The prodigal son was self-focused, disrespectful to his father, demanded his share of inheritance before the passing of the father, went away and wasted all the inheritance on sinful activities and was finally stricken with abject poverty. While feeding pigs in the field as a hired hand, he had to feed on pods that the pigs were eating out of hunger. At the bottom pit of his life, he realized that he could still ask for mercy of his father who might hire him as a servant which is a much better position than his present situation. The son headed back to his father. While a long way off, the father saw the prodigal son and was filled with compassion for him. The father ran to his son and threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20). Then the son repented before his father saying that he was not worthy to be called his son. But, the father said to his servants to bring the best robe and put it on the son, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet (Luke 15:22). The story illustrated how much love and compassion the Heavenly Father has towards desperate sinners who realized their spiritual helplessness and are willing to return to Him for mercy and help. As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, people who realize their spiritual bankruptcy are blessed for there is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3) and will be comforted when they morn (Matthew 5:4). For Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). If we observe carefully about the story, we also see that the repentant prodigal son is not only totally forgiven, but justified and gloried as a son (Luke 15:22). Salvation implies justification and glorification of sinners to conform to the image of God’s Only Son Jesus Christ such that the previously undeserving sinners are adopted to be the children of God and become the brothers and sisters of Jesus (Romans 8:23, 29-30). As we consider this a little deeply, we should realize how great the love of God is. An undeserving sinner is forgiven, justified and adopted as a son of God. As Charles Wesley’s Hymn entitled “And can it be?"

Universally true to all people, our present bodies are temporary and they are growing old day by day and are getting weak and die eventually. However, this is the end of the life story for the children of God. In fact, according to the promises of God in Christ Jesus, the best is yet to come. For the redeemed will resurrect and receive a new glorious body like the Lord Jesus (1 John 3:2, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44). In God’s kingdom, all the common negatives we used to experience in the world will cease or cannot be there at all. There will be no more sin, pain, sorrow, tear, death, divisions, and struggles between people and nations. All the redeemed live in the presence of God and His glory. There is even no need of a temple and lamp because God’s presence is among the redeemed (Revelation 21:22). A man-made temple is only a building symbolically representing the presence of God in which priests may perform sacrifices with animals and men may worship and pray. Since men live in the direct presence of God and Jesus is the lamb and High Priest in God’s Kingdom forever, there is no need of a symbolic representation anymore. The city needs no other light source for God’s glory gives it light and Jesus Himself is the lamp (Revelation 21:23).

1 John 3:2

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

Philippians 3:20-21

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44

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

Revelation 21:22-23

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

2. Sanctification by the Holy Spirit

Salvation also implies sanctification of the redeemed by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). Sanctification means setting apart for God and holy purposes. Apart from setting Himself as an example of how to live in the world but out of the world (John 17:18-19), Jesus as the High Priest prays for the redeemed such that they are sanctified for the glory of God. In His prayer, Jesus mentions the truth that is the word of God as the agent of sanctification (John 17:16-17). Humans are subject to many messages in their daily lives from various sources: Internet , radios, TV, newspapers, magazines, seminars, books, parents, teachers, co-workers, friends and more. These messages carry a wide spectrum of values but mostly secular by nature. Some messages even appeal to the flesh and mislead us into temptation and the love of the world (1 John 2:16). While some messages carry useful information such as Mathematics and Science that convey knowledge and teach us skills such that we may be productive in our daily living in the world. Yet, these messages could not be fully beneficial and even became destructive if they were not applied on the foundation of the words of God. The reason is that people could use their knowledge purely for selfish gain. To make things worse, some even use their knowledge and skills not to serve but to destroy like the terrorists. Therefore, we all need the words of God to immerse and integrate into every aspect of our lives to teach us true values, wisdom and guide us in the discernment of good and evil. But, the old sinful nature of the redeemed is still in conflict with the new spiritual nature. The old nature tends to delight in sin while the new nature desires the words of God (Romans 7:21-23). Even apostle Paul was frustrated in his internal conflict between the two natures. But, thanks be to God for He empowers us to overcome the sinful nature by the Counselor that is the Holy Spirit living in us upon the salvation of Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25). Before salvation, a human life is controlled only by the sinful nature living according to the flesh. After receiving salvation, God gives the redeemed a new nature which abhors sin and the Holy Spirit that helps the redeemed to put the sinful nature to death (Romans 8:13). In fact, the mark of the redeemed is a life no longer enslaved by sin but led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14). The practical implication of sanctification is that the redeemed may become salt and light in the corrupted and dark world glorifying the heavenly Father (Matthew 5:13-16). Many human teachings and religions teach that man can become good and approach their gods or even become gods themselves by human will power and efforts. This is a direct contradiction to the gospel that the source of power of sanctification is the indwelling Holy Spirit in the new life of the redeemed (2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2). For the new spiritual nature of the redeemed has the good intention but lack of power to overcome the old sinful nature. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit, the redeemed can be victorious over the old nature.

As Jesus said to the disciples that when He was about to die, resurrect and return to heaven, He would not leave them as orphans and will send the Holy Spirit to teach them all things and remind them everything He said to them (John 14:26). What words did Jesus communicate to us in His earthly ministry? Jesus in human form was communicating to us the words from the Heavenly Father (John 14:10). After Jesus died on the cross, resurrected from the tomb and returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit came and sanctifies us by the very same words of God. How wonderful, how consistent the work of God is! The messages we receive in the world are relative and keep changing according to the changes in politics, social values, economics and religions. But the words of God revealed, taught and fulfilled in Christ Jesus are constantly the same, effective, and trustworthy. Hebrews 13:8 summarizes it well, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Surely, these words do not apply only to the disciples Jesus was talking to physically in His earthly ministry but to all disciples of all generations. Firstly, apostle Paul who received the revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12) was sent to bring the gospel to the gentiles. The work and power of the Holy Spirit is surely part and partial of the gospel. In fact, the evidence of a person belonging to Christ Jesus is a new life no longer enslaved by sin but walks in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). Secondly, Jesus commanded the disciples to make disciples of all nations, teaching the future disciples what He taught them (Matthew 28:18-20). Indeed, the early disciples went to different parts of the world to make Disciples of Jesus and wrote the books of the New Testament communicating the teachings of Jesus Christ. Today, the gospel which is the power of God that saves all who believe is still being relayed by Christians from generation to generation in different parts of the world. God’s salvation is powerful for it redeems a hopeless sinner fully by the work of Christ and snaps back the sinner otherwise walking on the path of darkness and destruction towards the glory of God. On the new journey, the redeemed is anointed by the Holy Spirit who provides strength to stand firm in Christ. The Holy Spirit is also a deposit made by God guaranteeing a glorious future (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). The transformation of a sin laden life into a life of spiritual fruit is the evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in a redeemed life. Therefore, sanctification is performed by the Holy Spirit using the words of God on a redeemed life. Sanctification of the redeemed is predicated on the sacrifice of the High Priest Jesus Christ. Sanctification of the redeemed is the will of God as we can see in the High Priest prayer to the Father (John 17:17).

1 Peter 1:2

who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

John 17:18-19

18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

John 17:16-17

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Ephesians 5:25-27

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

John 15:3

3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

1 John 2:16

16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

1 John 2:16

16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Matthew 5:13-16

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 underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Romans 7:21-23

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

Romans 7:24-25

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 8:13-14

13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

John 14:26

26 But the Advocate, 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. John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

Galatians 5:24-25

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

Matthew 28:18-20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Galatians 1:12

12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

3. Gracious and Loving Friendship Even to Desperate Sinners

The High Priest Jesus was well known as a friend to sinners in His earthly ministry. As He was criticized eating, drinking and a friend even to tax collectors and sinners (Luke 7:34). Well, this is exactly the purpose of the mission of Jesus - to call and save sinners (Luke 5:31-32). In fact, Jesus loves sinners so much that He was willing to die for us even when we were sinners (John 15:13). He is also a faithful and understanding friend who shares our sorrows and understand our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). We can now pray to God in the name of Jesus who will help and give us the power and wisdom to face the temptation and challenges in this world. We may confess our failures to God in the name of Jesus who has paid for our sins and we may be forgiven. With the help of the Holy Spirit we can grow more like Jesus who has lived in this world and faced all kinds of temptations yet He acted righteously in every way.

Jesus who is God by nature empathizes and understands our weakness not only in the sense of His omniscient capability but by actual experience living a life as a man on earth to identify with mankind (Philippians 2:6-7, Hebrews 2:16-18). Please note that Hebrews 2:16 states that Jesus came to help Abraham’s descendants which surely means all people of the world: Jews and the Gentiles alike who are justified before God through faith like Abraham who became their forefather in the spiritual sense and not in the flesh (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:1-3). All are now saved through faith in Jesus Christ who performed the work of salvation (Genesis 17:4, Romans 4:16-17). Therefore, Jesus is truly the perfect High Priest bringing salvation to the world, reconciling us the sinners to God, and be our great mentor in teaching, demonstrating, helping us to live an abundant life even in the world (John 10:10). Our High Priest does not pray that we leave this evil world right away upon receiving salvation but stay while God provides protection to us from the evil one (John 17:15-16). Staying in this world, we are told by our High Priest to set our heart not in this world but in heaven (Matthew 6:20-21) and be a witness to this dark world such that people may glorify God and come to Him ( Matthew 5:14-16). Our High Priest in particular commands Christians to love each other (John 15:12, 14). In fact, this is the sign and testimony of Christians in the world (John 13:35). Although our High Priest is in heaven now while we are still in the world, He does not leave us as orphans for the Holy Spirit lives within us, strengthening and encouraging us in the world (John 14:17).

Luke 7:34

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

Luke 5:31-32

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

John 15:13

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Philippians 2:6-7

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Hebrews 2:16-18

16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Genesis 15:6

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Romans 4:1-3

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Genesis 17:4

“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.

Romans 4:16-17

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 17:15-16

15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

Matthew 6:20-21

20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

John 15:12, 14

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

John 13:35

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

John 14:17

17 the 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.

4. Eternal Establishment of Righteousness and Peace

During His earthly ministry, Jesus habitually went to the synagogues to teach on the sabbath day. Once in a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1 and stopped at the second half of Isaiah 61:2 which is about the day of vengeance of God (Luke 4:18-19). The reason is that the first coming of the Messiah, who is full of grace and truth, is the fulfillment of the year of the Lord’s favour. The day of vengeance of God is to be fulfilled at the second coming of the Messiah who will bring judgment and eradication of evil. We tend to mistaken that peace is the condition of living in harmony due to absence of struggles and wars. But, true peace must be predicated on righteousness. Otherwise, evil will grow and destroy peace. Melchizedek was the king of Salem which was the old Jerusalem. The name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness" and “king of Salem" means “king of peace" (Hebrews 7:1-2). Genesis recorded that Melchizedek came out to greet Abraham upon his return from a battle to save his nephew Lot who was taken captive along with other victims by four kings: Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar (Genesis 14:16). These kings’ act of taking captive of innocent people was clearly unrighteous and Abraham had to resort to fighting in order to save his nephew. This is a clear illustration that a battle can be a righteous act against unrighteousness. Look at the world today and in history, we see many people have been trying hard to achieve and maintain peaceful living. In realities, struggles are the constant companions of mankind: people against people and nations against nations. True peace has never been achieved because unrighteousness abounds in the world. Jesus is the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek and He will establish righteousness and true peace in His Kingdom. Unrighteousness will be eradicated in God’s plan and the powers of nations who are rebellious against Christ’s reign will be crushed and judged (Psalm 110:5-6). Righteousness and peace can be found in nowhere except the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, many people would not accept the invitation to come to the Kingdom of God. They have different excuses in rejecting the invitation and rather go on their own way and accept what this world may offer (Luke 14:18-20). But, let us continue to bring the good news for those who will gladly accept the King’s invitation.

Isaiah 61:1,2

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim 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,a 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

Luke 4:18-19

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

Hebrews 7:1-2

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, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness"; then also, “king of Salem" means “king of peace."

Genesis 14:16

16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

Psalm 110:5-6

5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

Luke 14:18-20

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

Conclusion

Jesus is the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek appointed by God. He is indeed the perfect High Priest reconciling sinners to God. He is not a symbolic being but a true living High Priest who has lived among men and now in heaven and is the only one that can bring us to the Father.

The salvation that is brought about by the High Priest Jesus is true and effective for all who believe: Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). With only one sacrifice, a new covenant of God is fulfilled between God and mankind. Sinners who trust in Jesus are now justified because of His sacrifice. Then the Holy Spirit will come to the justified sinners to make them new creation of God as if their minds and hearts written with the laws of God (Hebrews 10:14-16). What is the essence of the laws of God? The essence of all the laws is to love God and love people (Matthew 22:37-40). Although the power of God is invisible, it is effective in bringing sinners a revolutionary change inside out (John 3:8). The change in the believer’s life is realized as fruit of the Holy Spirit which is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control such that the believer’s life is a practical observance of the laws of God (Galatians 5:22-23). Notice that this is the power and work of God who makes a sinner a new person. In other words, the sinner is re-created into a new being living a life glorying God (2 Corinthians 5:17).

At His second coming to the world, Jesus will bring to judgment of all evils and their supporting powers either of man or satanic nature. When Satan was put to final judgment, the ultimate weapon of Satan which is death will also be destroyed by Christ (Hebrews 2:14-15). Death is the ultimate problem without solution that every human faces. But death has been conquered by Christ and has been nullified by resurrection into life with a glorious future (1 Corinthians 15:22). Jesus will reign in the Kingdom of God forever where there will be no sin, pain, suffering and death (1 Corinthians 15:25-28). How much we should be grateful to our High Priest Jesus Christ who is full of grace and truth!

Romans 1:16

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

Hebrews 10:14-16

14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15 The 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."

Matthew 22:37-40

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

John 3:8

8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

Galatians 5:22-23

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

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Hebrews 2:14

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

1 Corinthians 15:22

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:25-28

25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that “everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.



Jesus the High Priest - Part 1

clock October 7, 2011 02:00 by author wtsang

Key Verses:

Hebrews 8:1-2 1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

What is a High Priest

Originally, the first humans Adam and Eve have a close relationship with God who created them. After Adam and Eve sinned by choosing to follow the tempting suggestion of Satan and disobeying God’s command of not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, sin entered the world. The relationship between men and God was broken. No longer might Adam and Eve communicate with God directly as children talking to their father. Adam and Eve were cast out from the garden of Eden where they lived a serene life and enjoyed the beautiful creation of God and His abundant provision. Now, the ground was cursed because of their sin and men have to toil painfully in order to live while facing the bleak outcome of physical death (Genesis 3:17, Psalms 90:5-6). But God is merciful and provided a way men may escape the eternal condemnation but turn to life. However, justice which is an attribute of God demands that the penalty of sin must be paid for. God provided sacrifice or substitutional death as a way for us to escape the judgment of sin. God revealed His mercy and grace right after Adam and Even sinned in the garden of Eden by providing clothes made with animal skin for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). The process of getting the skin to make clothes involved the killing and shedding of blood of animals. This is the picture of substitutional death such that the shame and condemnation of sin could be covered. Please note that Adam and Eve had previously made clothes for themselves using leaves which looked shabby and were not durable. There homemade clothes represent means of salvation invented by sinners for themselves such as religious rituals and intents to do good works and they are not acceptable to God. Salvation is provided by God Himself and is effective to save all who accept it with faith (Romans 1:16). This is the image of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save sinners. Later when the Israelites were led by God out of Egypt the land of slavery, the laws were given to the Israelites. Priesthood was established with Aaron be the high priest and his sons be priests (Exodus 28:1). This is called the Levitical priesthood and was carried on by the descendants of Aaron. The high priest represented the whole congregation of Israel and offered atoning sacrifice with animal blood once a year in the most holy place of the tabernacle and later in the temple. Apart from the yearly atoning sacrifice, the high priest had other duties such as daily burning of incense, lighting of sacred lamps, appointment and administration of other priests. The Levitical priesthood and its history and activities were the most well known and described in the Scriptures. But the Levitical priesthood was not the only priesthood. The other priesthood was the Melchizedek priesthood. Jesus Christ was appointed by God to be a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6).

Genesis 3:17

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

Psalms 90:5-6

5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:

Genesis 3:21

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Romans 1:16

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

Exodus 28:1

“Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests.

Hebrews 5:6

And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

Comparing Melchizedek and Levitical Priesthoods

1. Melchizedek Priesthood Predated Levitical Priesthood

Melchizedek was the king of Salem, the ancient Jerusalem. He was also called priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18-20). On the victorious return from a battle against the four kings: Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar who took the nephew of Abraham, Melchizedek greeted Abraham and blessed him. In response, Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek. Aaron and Moses who are descendants of Abraham, were not born yet. Obviously, Melchizedek Priesthood predated Levitical Priesthood.

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 of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

2. Levitical Priesthood was Human while Melchizedek Priesthood was both Human and Divine by Nature

Aaron was the first Levitical high priest and his sons were the first priests (Exodus 28:1). Their descendants continued to hold the positions of priests and high priests in generations. Therefore, Levitical priesthood was human by nature and appointment to offices was based on heredity. The Melchizedek priesthood is unique and its position is designated by God directly. There is only one true high priest in Melchizedek priesthood. Even the person Melchizedek, the king of Salem, was only the image of the permanent high priest to come. Appointed directly by God, the high priest in the order of Melchizedek is Jesus Christ who is both divine and human (Psalm 110:1, 4; Hebrews 7:16; Philippians 2:5-8). During His earthly ministry, Jesus asked a very educational and revealing question abut His deity based on Psalm 110:1: why did David call the coming Messiah ‘Lord’ given the teaching that the Messiah would be a descendant of David himself (Mark 12:36-37)? The answer to the question was that the coming of the Messiah was the truth: Word became flesh living in the human world (John 1:14). Notice that the word ‘Word’ is capitalized indicating that it is a noun referring to a person namely Jesus who is the essence of God in human form manifesting God’s glory, grace and truth to mankind. As prophet Isaiah prophesied the coming of Jesus would be a miraculous sign namely a son given birth by a virgin and the son’s name is Immanuel meaning ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7:14). The teachers of the law seemed right when they taught that the Messiah would be a descendant of David ( 1 Chronicles 17:13-14 ). However, many of them failed to recognize the Messiah even though the prophets had prophesied His coming and even from where He would come (Micah 5:2). Surely, Jesus came as a baby born in Bethlehem as announced by an angel, witnessed by a group of shepherds watching their flocks by night (Luke 2:10-12). Jesus grew up and proved Himself was the Messiah by His authoritative teachings, power to prophesy and perform miraculous signs, and by His death and resurrection fulfilling what were written in the Scriptures. Unfortunately, many recognized Jesus merely as a carpenter, son of Mary (Mark 6:3). But, even a blind beggar realized that Jesus was the Son of David and had faith in Jesus to give him eyesight (Mark 10:47, 51 ).

Exodus 28:1

“Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests.

Psalm 110:1, 4

1 The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

Hebrews 7:16

16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.

Philippians 2:5-8

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Mark 12:36-37

36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."’ 37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?" The large crowd listened to him with delight.

John 1:14

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

Revelation 19:13, 16

13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Isaiah 7:14

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

1 Chronicles 17:13-14

13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’"

Micah 5:2 (King James Translation)

2But 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.

Luke 2:10-12

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Mark 6:3

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.

Mark 10:47, 51

47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" 51 “What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see."

3. Levitical Priesthood is National While Melchizedek Priesthood is International

Levitical priesthood was established to serve only the Israelite community (Numbers 15:25). However, God always has the whole world in His mind for His love is too deep and wide to be constricted in a single community (Isaiah 45:22, John 3:16, Romans 3:29). The Son of God became the high priest in the order of Melchizedek such that all, Jews and Gentile alike, may reconcile with God through Him (Hebrews 5:8-10). Notice that Hebrews 5:9 says that the Son of God is the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. On the other hand, John 3:16, says that all who believes in the Son of God will not perish but have eternal life. Therefore, reading the two verses together, believing in Jesus Christ will result in a new life which walks in the words of God. In the past, the unsaved life was wrapped up, enslaved by sin and lived as enemy of God. Now, the redeemed life pursues goodness, righteousness and truth pleasing to God (Ephesians 5:8-10). This is the work of the Holy Spirit that makes the believer a new creation (John 3:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17). In contrast, demons also believe God but they are agonistic to God and are awaiting punishment (James 2:19).

Numbers 15:25

25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have presented to the LORD for their wrong a food offering and a sin offering.

Isaiah 45:22

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

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.

Romans 3:29

Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,

Hebrews 5:8-10

8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

John 3:16

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.

Ephesians 5:8-10

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.

John 3:5

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

James 2:19

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

4. Levitical Priesthood was Temporary while Melchizedek Priesthood is Permanent

The temporal nature of Levitical Priesthood is inherently determined for two reasons. Firstly, Levitical priests are human, therefore all Levitical offices are temporary because of death (Hebrews 7:23). Secondly, Levitical priesthood was never established as a permanent institution in the Kingdom of God. The establishment of Levitical institution served merely as a shadow of the true institution to come (Hebrews 10:1) although the Levitical sacrifices did serve the useful purpose as the reminders of sins (Hebrews 10:3). On the other hand, the Melchizedek Priesthood is permanent. Firstly, Jesus lives forever and therefore death cannot cause the termination of His office (Hebrews 7:24). Secondly, the appointment of the Son of God as the priest in the order of Melchizedek was expressly declared permanent in Scriptures (Psalm 110:4). With the coming of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the temporal Levitical Priesthood was terminated. In fact, when Jesus the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek died on the cross as a redeeming sacrifice of all who believe in Him, He said, “It is finished." declaring the work of redemption and atonement was complete (John 19:30). And the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-38). The Holy of Holies in the temple represented the presence of God and even the Levitical high priest might be allow to enter it only once a year to offer sacrifices for himself and then the people he represented. The tearing of the curtain reveals that sinful people can now be justified and may approach God because of the sacrifice of the Melchizedek High Priest. Moreover, the Herod Temple where Levitical sacrifices were conducted was totally destroyed in A.D. 70.

Exodus 40:15

15 Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations."

Hebrews 7:23

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;

Hebrews 10:1

1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

Hebrews 10:3

3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.

Hebrews 7:24

24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.

John 19:30

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

Mark 15:37-38

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

5. Levitical Priesthood Served Subordinate to Kingship while Melchizedek Priesthood Connotes Kingship

Levitical priests never took up rulership duty of the nation Israel. In contrast, the offices of both Priest and King will be combined in the millennial kingdom (Zechariah 6:12-13). The High Priest in the order of Melchizedek will build the millennial temple and sits on the throne fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah will rule in the throne of King David forever as reported by prophet Nathan ( 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 ). Verse 12 says, “He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.“ David also relayed this message as an instruction to Solomon to build a temple and observed the decrees and the laws of the Lord (1 Chronicles 22:10). Although Solomon did take up the throne of David and build a temple for God fulfilling the wish of David, he is not the main subject of the prophecy for two reasons. Firstly, this offspring of David would have a Father and Son relationship with God implying that this descendant of David had both deity and human nature (1 Chronicles 17:13). Secondly, this descendant of David will be set by God over His house and Kingdom and His throne will last forever (1 Chronicles 17:14). This particular descendant must be the Messiah as witnessed by John the Baptist, Peter, James and John who were the disciples of Jesus. In two separate occasions, they heard a voice from heaven and from the cloud saying that Jesus was the Son and they were commanded to listen to Him (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5). The building of the historic temple by king Solomon and the growth of Israel into a strong and prosperous nation should not be taken as the fulfillment of 1 Chronicles 17:12 but complimentary to the prophecy declared by prophet Zechariah in which the Messiah is called the Branch who will build the temple of God and hold the offices of both Priest and King (Zechariah 6:12-13). Certainly, no other king in Israel was allowed to hold both offices. Consider king Saul who committed a serious error by making burnt offering which should only be done by a priest and was dethroned by God (1 Samuel 13:13). God accepted the offer of David out of his love of God to build a temple by his son Solomon for sacrifices and worship. But, as the Levitical priesthood was the image of the permanent Melchizedek priesthood, so was the Solomon temple an image of the real temple built by the Messiah Himself. After all, the Solomon temple was destroyed and the nation of Israel was broken in history. Not until 1947, Israel was approved by the United Nations to become an independent nation fulfilling other prophecies in the Scriptures. The nation of Israel is facing increasing anti-Semitic pressure from its neighboring countries. One day, the anti-Christ will appear to make a false peace treaty with Israel. At the end of the rope, the Messiah Jesus Christ will return for the second time to save Israel from the turmoil called the Great Tribulation and establish the Millennium Kingdom.

Zechariah 6:12-13

12 Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’

1 Chronicles 17:11-14

11 When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’"

1 Chronicles 22:10

10 He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’

Matthew 3:17

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Matthew 17:5

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

1 Samuel 13:13

13 “You have done a foolish thing," Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.

Psalm 110:2,4-6

2 The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!" 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

Revelation 19:13, 16

13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

6. Levitical Priesthood was Imperfect While Melchizedek Priesthood is Perfect

Levitical Priesthood is provisional and symbolic by nature. This can be understood by observing the performance of its main mission: sanctifying and bringing sinful people to God. As we know, the Levitical high priest himself was a sinful person while carrying the responsibility to bring sinful people to God. The question is how did the high priest who himself was a sinner approach God in the first place to perform sin sacrifice for others. The answer was that the high priest had to sanctify himself first. This very act of sanctification was clearly provisional and symbolic because a sinful person should never be able to stand before the Holy God let alone sanctifying himself. Moreover, the blood used in sacrifices was only animal blood. Since these Levitical ceremonies were symbolic by nature, they were performed year after year. The Levitical sacrifices served only as a model of the real sacrifice and redemption performed by the Melchizedek High Priest (Hebrews 10:1). However, Levitical sacrifices did served the useful purpose to remind worshippers of sin (Hebrews 10:2-4). When Jesus came to fulfill God’s salvation plan for mankind, the sacrifice of the Melchizedek Priesthood is real because the body of the Messiah was sacrificed satisfying the requirement of God such that sinners may now be justified (Hebrews 10:10). Sinners who trust in Jesus Christ and their penalties of sins will be paid in full satisfying the justice demanded by God and are declared righteous before Him (Romans 3:22-24). The redemption, forgiveness and justification brought by Jesus are not symbolic but real accepted and backed up by the faithfulness of God.

Hebrews 10:1

1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

Hebrews 10:2-4

2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:10

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

Romans 3:22-24

22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.



Jesus the Rabbi From God - Part 6

clock May 31, 2011 02:00 by author wtsang

John 3:13

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

This is the sixth and the last article of the discussion on the differences between Judaism and Christianity. The sixth difference as shown in the paragraph printed in bold fonts is extracted from an article published in a Judaism website. As you read about this difference on the topic of hell, I recommend your asking the question what is the origin of the information the teaching is based on. This topic about hell is about time and space beyond human observation and experience and is critically important for it concerns your eternal destination. It is logical to lean not our trust on merely human thoughts and postulations but on the words of God who lives beyond human space and time limitation. Like Nicodemus, a leading and reputable rabbi in his time, we should all come to Jesus the Rabbi from heaven for information about eternity for He is not bound by mere human existence and is therefore authoritative and trustworthy on this important topic (key verse: John 3:13).

As a side note, there are stories about people who had out of body experience and told stories about their brief experience in heaven. But, these are subjective events and are difficult to verify. Although apostle Paul told that he had been caught up to the third heaven and saw and heard inexpressible things (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), these were only glimpses of heaven. Therefore, even apostle Paul did not come from heaven. Only Jesus did. For the discussion on the authenticity of the claims of Jesus, please refer to the article Jesus the faithful and true witness.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4

2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

Judaism teaches that Hell (for lack of a better term) is finite – its equivalent (the word Hell is not accurate here) is just a process of refinement. When the soul is ready to enter the World to come, the refinement process is finished, and one goes on to eternity. If one is entirely evil and cannot be refined, they are destroyed. In Judaism, God is just, but never vengeful. Christianity teaches that Hell is a place where nonbelievers descend forever to be punished through burning in fire eternally. In Christianity, either one merits Heaven or Hell. That’s it. And according to most sects of Christianity, that merit is based solely on whether or not one believes in Jesus. Period, end of subject. In Christianity, God heaps punishment on those who don’t believe in Jesus for eternity. Rather than the Justice of Judaism, Christianity paints God as Sadistic and vengeful.

The Unpleasant But Critically Important Subject

This subject of judgment, punishment and hell is unpleasant. But, it is unwise to avoid the subject because it concerns all mankind and the relationship with God in light of His characters: righteousness, justice, and love. To understand judgment, reward and punishment, we must see it as part of the notion of justice.

To understand the importance of justice, consider what life will be like living in a country without law or with laws but without enforcement to establish justice. This country will be in constant turmoil. The evil desires of people will be realized unchecked: thefts, robberies, rapes, deceits, murders. Nobody can live a peaceful life and no business transactions can be conducted with fidelity and trust. This country will crumble from within eventually. The necessity of justice is not an unrealistic postulation because crimes do occur everyday even in societies with law and order. We must also note that justice in human societies is dependent on the laws of the societies which are predicated on the fundamental beliefs and values of the judicial bodies in power. Therefore, justice in certain societies actually mean oppression and injustice when even basic human rights are not guaranteed. On the other hand, the interpretation of the fundamental beliefs and values can be tweeted by popular demands and political clout in countries with liberty. For instance, the Declaration of Independence of the United States wrote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

However, abortion is considered legal and abortion rights of the mothers are guaranteed. The human lives in development are too young to voice out their opinions, to have financial resources to pay off the abortion practitioners, or to cast political votes for the law makers. Therefore, their bodies in development are labelled simply as fetuses such that not even the most basic unalienable right, that is Life, may apply to them. In fact, these so called “fetuses" are human lives and have the potential to grow up to be good citizens and glorify their Creator as illustrated in the article The Survivors of Abortion (Psalm 139:13).

Psalm 139:13

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Justice seems cold, and unkind. However, justice is beautiful when you look at the ugliness of sin. A news story reported recently serves a good illustration. A few people involved with a network of Latino human trafficking were arrested in the United States. The victims were young women and children lured into United States from Latino countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala with a promise of job opportunities and a better life. They were then locked into a house and were forced into prostitution making money for their oppressors by engaging in sex trade as much as 40 times a day by each victim. To avoid being noticed and arrested, sex trade operations were conducted in different places in short duration and in secret by private invitation only among Latino male population in various US cities. According to investigation, this kind of human trafficking networks are very active in the US and certainly in other countries of the world. It is not hard to understand that the world without justice will be turned into “hell" by wicked people if you think a little carefully the ordeals these victims have been going through. In fact, the Scripture teaches that a symptom of a corrupted nation is the lack of justice which is associated with rampant display of unrighteousness and dishonesty (Isaiah 59:14). No one determines to abide to the truth may survive in such corrupted community (Isaiah 59:15).

Isaiah 59:14-15

14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

True Justice

True justice is based on the words of God who is perfectly righteous. Justice is not really justice if there is no judgment and the consequence of punishment. For judgment and punishment serve not only as a reprisal for the illegal conduct of the offenders educating on the seriousness and consequence of the offense, but also as a means to console and compensate the victims. Everyone should praise God for He loves righteousness and justice and the world is full of his unfailing love (Psalm 33:5). We should also take note that the world is imperfect, wicked people seem to have their ways somehow to cause harms and hardships to many including people who love God. Justice as established and maintained by humans will not be able to catch up and stop all wickedness. But God’s perfect justice will be established and unrighteousness will be completely eradicated in the new heaven and new earth (Psalm 1:6, Psalm 37:38, Revelation 21:8). God will be the King of all who are saved by His grace in both the Old and New Testament times. All who have received salvation will naturally look forward to the Kingdom of God because His justice is fulfilled and righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). There will be no more pain, mourning, death or crying which are caused by sins in addition to the sicknesses and calamities in the present world (Revelation 21:4). Everyone in the Kingdom of God will live in His glory and blessings forever (Revelation 22:5).

Psalm 33:5

The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Psalm 1:6

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Psalm 37:38

38 But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.

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—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

2 Peter 3:13

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Revelation 21:4

4 ‘He 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 22:5

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

The Refinement of Mankind

Mankind is in a sinful state living in a fallen world. Refinement is a process to remove sins and impurities through hardships, trials and tribulations. Refinement is given out of the love of God to preserve and save people from destruction because of sins (Psalm 66:8-10). Refinement brings people to humility and to seek God for mercy, forgiveness and renewal. To illustrate, consider the failure of David. After committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah in order to cover up his sins, the spiritual condition of David was full of darkness. Yet God sent prophet Nathan to expose David’s sins and announced the punishments he would receive. David repented with a contrite heart and cried for the mercy of God (Psalm 51:2). The outcome of refinement God desires is that sinners repent of their sins and walk in His words like David did. However, not all people will turn to God and be saved but continue their wicked way (Daniel 12:10).

Psalm 66:8-10

8 Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; 9 he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. 10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

Psalm 51:2

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Daniel 12:10

10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

God Himself Involves in the Refinement of Mankind

In addition to adverse circumstances, God prepares ways for people to repent and come to Him. He sent prophets to warn sinners on the consequence of sins, admonish sinners to turn away from sins, invite sinners to turn to Him for forgiveness and salvation. In the old covenant, Leviticus system was established to offer animals as the symbolic means to sacrifice for the redemption of sinners. In the new covenant, the Messiah Himself came and offer Himself as the true sacrifice for all sinners (Zechariah 13:1) --- once and for all. The Holy Spirit will dwell in the new lives of believers to guide them to walk in the words of God (Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:25-27). Therefore, God always involve Himself closely in the refinement of mankind. This shows how much God loves and cares for mankind. Therefore, the Scriptures teach that refinement is done on living persons with the presence and power of God. No where in the Scriptures teaches that refinement is done in hell which is the place of separation from God.

Zechariah 13:1

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

Jeremiah 31:33

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 36:25-27

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

The Permanency of Hell

There will be people who perish and permanently not see the light of life (Psalm 49:19). The permanency of new heavens and new earth along with the permanency of hell fire and worms are prophesied together as a direct contrast to each other in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 66:22, 24). The permanency of hell fire and worms mentioned by prophet Isaiah are confirmed by Jesus as He taught us about the serious consequence of sin and that we should avoid it at all cost (Mark 9:47-48). These dark and tragic conditions about the future of the wicked coincide to what prophet Daniel says about everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). Therefore, based on the revelations in the Scriptures, it is unwise to expect and look for the refinement in hell or the non-existence of hell as some religions or thinkers believe. While there is light, it is the best time to return to the Lord, love and serve Him only (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 13). We turn to the Lord not merely out of fear of punishment but the Lord is good, full of mercy, grace, righteousness and justice. His words are true and beautiful: more precious than pure gold. While we live, we should all praise Him (Psalm 146:2).

Psalm 49:19

19 they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.

Isaiah 66:22

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure.

Isaiah 66:24

24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Mark 9:47-48

47And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Daniel 12:2

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:13

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

Psalm 146:2

I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

The Execution of Justice by God

God is the God of justice and love. To save people from sin, He even sent His one and only Son to suffer the tortures, insult and painful death for us such that we may escape the condemnation by God. To say God is sadistic and vengeful is a complete misnomer when God administers justice which rightfully implies judgment and punishment for evils. Some may think that the punishment by consignment to hell is cruelty. But, I think this criticism is not valid. Firstly, we do not really know the situation in hell in great details. The Bible does reveal that hell is an unpleasant and dreadful place and it is a dwelling place for sinners separate from God (Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:48). Secondly, the punishments in hell will vary. For instance, a story told by Jesus about an ungodly rich man who died and lived in hell but he was able to engage in conversation and even showed cares for his brothers still living (Luke 16:28). Apparently, the rich man received a body suitable for living in the conditions of hell. Thirdly, the Scriptures teach that cruelty is an attribute of wicked people and certainly not the attribute of the righteous (Proverbs 12:10). I think that God’s means of punishment are appropriate without resort to method of cruelty that violates His character of righteousness. On the other hand, the tortures and crucification that Christ suffered in the hands of wicked persons were cruelty. In addition, these were the sins we could identify in the suffering of Christ: false accusation, false witness, betrayal of innocent for personal gain, hypocrisy, false judgment for political expediency, All these sins were committed in order to create a facade of legitimacy for a treacherous murder of a righteous person. When Christ resurrected, the sins of deception, giving and receiving bribes were committed to cover up the truth. These are the sins that happen frequently throughout ages of all mankind. It is relevant to say that our sins cause the death of Christ who knew it in advance but gladly take up the penalities of sins out of His love of the world. As light and darkness are mutually exclusive to each other, so are righteousness and sin. Sinners are literally enemies of God because He is holy and righteous. Yet, God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of even His enemies (Romans 5:10) such that they might be forgiven and reconciled to Him by faith in accepting this precious gift of salvation. Therefore, it is a complete misnomer to say that God is sadistic and vengeful. In fact, God’s love is deep and wide and has been truly demonstrated by both His words and deeds: while we are sinners He died for us (Romans 5:8). However, let us not forget that God loves justice. He will take vengeance in the prerogative sense to satisfy justice according to the times He deems appropriate (Deuteronomy 32:35, 41). Justice will have to be satisfied: either by God’s Son or by ourselves. I honestly do not see why we should reject God’s grace and the blessings of a new life while continue living as adversaries to the God of holiness and righteousness.

Isaiah 66:24

“And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Mark 9:48

where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Luke 16:28

for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Proverbs 12:10

10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Romans 5:10

10 For if, while 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 5:8

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

Deuteronomy 32:35

35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."

Deuteronomy 32:41

41 when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me.

Focus on the Bright Future

Why do we focus on the subject of punishment and hell instead of the love and blessings of God? Hell is only a place for the condemned sinners. But, all sinners who go to God for the gift of salvation can be justified by the grace of God who paid for the terrible consequence of sin. Sinners who accept God’s grace of salvation by faith will be justified and do not need to worry about the subject of hell. We should worry about hell for people who have not been justified by God and go on their own way until the end of their lives. As ambassadors of Christ, Christians should preach the good news of salvation to people who are not yet reconciled with God. Human beings are created in the image of God and human lives mean to live in the glory and blessings of God forever (Psalm 36:9). The very fact of separation from God, the author of life, even for a short duration is a tragic and gloomy situation let alone consignment in hell forever.

Psalm 36:9

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Conclusion

Judgment by God is the event everyone must face after life on earth (Psalm 9:7-8, Psalm 105:7, Ecclesiastes 12:14, Hebrews 9:27). The outcome of the judgment is the everlasting life for the righteous and everlasting contempt for the unrighteous (Daniel 12:2). No one is righteous before God (Psalm 143:2) and is destined to be separated from God’s glory and blessings forever. The solution to this critical problem is not religion, heritage nor effort to do well. The solution is the grace of God who Himself is our Redeemer (Isaiah 63:16). Of course we now know that God saves sinners by His Son Jesus Christ who was Word that became flesh living among us (Micah 5:2) and offered His body nailed to the cross as the redemption price of all sinners (Isaiah 53:5). We obtain salvation by faith in accepting this priceless, precious gift of redemption. There are two kinds of information about hell: information originated from men or information revealed to mankind by God. I rather listen and believe the information revealed by the One who came from heaven. His mission in the world was to save sinners from sin.

Psalm 9:7

The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. 8 He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.

Psalm 105:7

He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

Ecclesiastes 12:14

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Hebrews 9:27

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

Daniel 12:2

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

Psalm 143:2

2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.

Isaiah 63:16

But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.

Micah 5:2

“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."

Isaiah 53:5

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



Jesus the Rabbi from God - Part 5

clock April 2, 2011 02:00 by author wtsang

John 3:5

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

This is the fifth article of the discussion on the differences between Judaism and Christianity. The fifth difference as shown in the next paragraph is extracted from an article published in a Judaism website. If you read carefully, you will see that Judaism stresses that human effort and mental determination are the keys to a relationship with God and rewards. Again, a deeper answer to the quest of building a good relationship with God and blessings can be found in the conversation between a Pharisee named Nicodemus and Jesus who said that spiritual cleansing and rebirth by the power of God is the only answer (John 3:5).

Judaism teaches that the righteous of all the nations will have a place in the World to Come. That means that all people who try to have a relationship with God, and to serve him and live rightly go to “heaven" (to use a Christian concept). Whereas, Christianity teaches that ONLY those who believe in Jesus will go to Heaven, no one can have a relationship with God without Jesus, no matter how much they love God and try to serve Him.

Common Human Frailty

It is a very noble goal to pursue righteousness and have a good relationship with God. In reality, this good and ideal goal has failed to realize for all people of the world. This includes even the elect nation Israel which experienced the special guidance of God: liberation with the strike of ten plagues in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, feeding of manna in the desert, leading with pillar of fire and pillar of cloud and more. Israel was also blessed with great leaders and prophets who led and spoke according to the words of God. Moreover, Israel received the written laws of God. Yet, the nation failed to have a good relationship with God. Therefore, the warning given through Moses came true (Deuteronomy 30:15-18), the nation of Israel was conquered and its people scattered throughout the world. It is purely the faithfulness and grace of God that Israel returned to its own land to re-establish as a nation on May 14th, 1948 (see article the Valley of Dry Bones for more details).

What about the Gentile world? Do the gentile nations fare better than Israel in terms of seeking God and His righteousness? I invite you to look for the answer in multiple levels: international level, national level, community level, and individual level. Look at these levels with reference to historical books and documents, news from newspapers, radio, television and the Internet. Verify these information with your own personal contacts, experience and evaluate these findings fairly with critical thinking. You will see that world history is knitted together with wars, violence, injustices of nations against nations and people against people. Most people we encounter do not know God or superficially possess certain deity concepts obtained from different cultural religious practices, let alone pursue a rightful relationship with Him. Individual morality and values are shaped by the world views and peer pressures rather than the words of God. Therefore, it is not surprising to see struggles and violence in the macro levels which are simply a reflection of the lower component levels of groups of individuals representing their own selfish interests rather than the teachings of God. On the other hand, although we may not be the causes of these injustices and violence directly, it does not mean that we are good by our non-participation in evil acts. It is good to shun evils according to the Scriptures. But, the Scriptures also teach us actively to take action to do right, seek justice and defend the oppressed (Isaiah 1:16-17; James 4:17). To illustrate this point, a young and religious man went to see Jesus with a very humble heart and asked what good things that should be done to obtain eternal life (Matthew 19:16). Since the religious person asked what good things to do to exchange for eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments. The young man asked what commandments to observe. Jesus listed a few commandments dealing with interpersonal relationship: do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, love your neighbor as yourself. The young man was so confident about his own righteousness, he answered that he kept all these commandments. Jesus then asked him to sell his wealth, give it to the poor and follow Him. The young man realized that he could not do this for he was a very rich man and went away sad (Matthew 19:22). This story illustrates that even a diligent, religious person could not fulfill all the requirements of the laws when examined closely. Can anyone say that he or she is righteous before God in light of the essence of the laws: love God and love your neighbours to the maximum extent without reservation (Deuteronomy 8:5, Leviticus 19:18)?

Matthew 19:16

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

Matthew 19:22

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Deuteronomy 6:5

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Leviticus 19:18

18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Disqualification to a Good Relationship

No one should disagree to the fact that we have done wrong in thoughts and behaviours in light of the holiness of God who created us in His image. The very fact of committing a single sin disqualifies us to approach God to build up a good relationship with Him even we may have a good intention. To help us to understand our disqualification, let us consider the ceremonial laws which emphasize and teach the holiness of God and the separation of man and God because of sin. For example, in order to eat the Passover meal, the participants have to be ceremonially clean (Numbers 9:6-7). Conversely, being ceremonially unclean signifies the state of sinfulness: a disqualification to approach God. In other words, the participants are acceptable to God because they are ceremonially clean which symbolizes their state of righteousness and are therefore justified before God. Of course, we are not talking about the face value of ceremonial cleanliness but the significant meaning it represents that is the acceptance by the God of holiness. The fact that the participants may enjoy the Passover meal teaches that the participants are deemed righteous and accepted by God. The question is how do the participants become qualified to eat the Passover meals? To answer the question, we should look at the very first Passover which took place in Egypt when the Israelites were under the bondage of slavery and oppression. In addition to following the instructions given by God of how to prepare and eat the Passover lamb, the key to the answer is the blood of the lamb which God commanded the people to put on the top and sides of doorframes (Exodus 12:7). When God saw the blood, the people inside the houses were spared from destruction (Exodus 12:13) where they could eat the Passover meat. Therefore, it is not the righteous things the participants have done that earn them the merit of acceptance but the shedding of the blood of the sacrificial lambs. Moreover, the animals used in Passover should be without defect (Exodus 12:5). A defective animal would also be disqualified to be used in the Passover because defect signifies the state of sinfulness. This is a significant teaching that the Messiah who is without sin became the sacrificial lamb for us, the sinners who become justified because of His shedding of blood and death (Isaiah 53:4-5). It is the sacrifice of the Messiah that removes our disqualification to approach God. We should take note carefully also the importance for the Israelites in following the instructions revealed by God to Moses and Aaron to put some blood of the Passover lambs on the sides and tops of the doorframes in order to escape God’s judgment. The Israelites in Egypt would not be saved from the plague had they prepared the Passover in their own creative way. By the same token, we cannot obtain salvation today by our own inventive ways no matter how excellent we thought our ways are sincerely, but to trust and obey God’s way: the sacrifice of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:7-8).

Numbers 9:6-7

6 But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day 7 and said to Moses, “We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the LORD’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time?"

Exodus 12:7

7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.

Exodus 12:13

13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

Exodus 12:5

5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.

Isaiah 53:4-5

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken 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 on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:7-8

7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

The Futility and Deceit of Religions

According to statistical surveys, atheism is of minority in the world population (see Demographics of atheism). In other words, most people have religious beliefs or some awareness of deity and spirituality. If the world is so religious, why is the world filled with all kinds of evils. The answer is quite obvious: most people are not worshipping the true God truthfully and spiritually. In other words, there are many people worshipping false gods and there are people apparently worshiping the true God but not in a truthful way. To illustrate the first case, the Bible has records of people being lured into worshipping false gods by their lusts for sex and food (Exodus 34:15). Some people were so deceived that they even sacrificed their children to idols (Ezekiel 3:37). These false gods worshippers were motivated by illicit lusts and fell into the trap of deception. Nowadays, human sacrifices to false gods are not common or at least not openly practised in the more civilized societies, but the fact that many people are attracted to religious practices that provide satisfaction of self-seeking desires, pleasures and lusts is still true today. For example, there are gangsters who are religious and worship regularly and even offer significant amount of money in temples for their gods. The reasons they worship because their businesses and lifestyles are acceptable to those gods and they may pray for their selfish success and security for themselves for their engagement in illicit operations. There are also religions that teach nice social codes of conducts or morality, but lack of power to actually change human behaviours because the gods and teachings of these religions are merely created objects of human thoughts.

Exodus 34:15

15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.

Ezekiel 16:20

“‘And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?

Religious Camouflage

Perhaps the most deceiving situation about religions is when people are worshipping in disguise. There are countless number of people past and present wearing religious clothes, doing religious rituals, and speaking about Scriptures but inside their hearts are far from God they claim they worship (Isaiah 29:13). They approach God without a true heart of worship and sometimes even with hidden agenda of various types: social, business, or political motivations. These worshippers do not have a true personal relationship with God let alone obey the words of God (2 Timothy 3:5). Some of these people possess special charisma and energy such that they become ringleaders and establish organizations or even new religions to deceive others in followings their invented ideas. Usually, they themselves are deceived and become the instruments of Satan (2 Timothy 3:13). Many people join these organizations or religions because their ideas are appealing to their values and thoughts. Some join these organizations or religions simply for the benefits these religious systems provide: economical, social, political. They engage in the religious activities because of the requirements of the religious systems not because of their personal commitment and love of God and His words. As a contrast to these religious followers, the Bible commends a group of people who lived in Berea during the early church history who would not blindly accept religious teachings even though they were taught by the great and well-known apostle Paul. But they would examine the Scriptures, the written revelation of God, to see if Paul was communicating the truth (Acts 17:11). For they knew that God would not contradict Himself by communicating inconsistencies with new messages conflicting the writings of the prophets. They knew that God would not lie and would not make mistake when He revealed the truth to the prophets. Therefore, any new messages were false if they were inconsistent with the Scriptures already revealed to the prophets.

Isaiah 29:13

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

2 Timothy 3:5

5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

2 Timothy 3:13

13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Acts 17:11

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Examples of Religious Deception

To be more deceiving, these religious systems may say and do things that are legitimate and commendable from the outside such that they look more attractive and real. Praise be to God, that our great teacher Jesus Christ has taught us a simple way to discern the truth and falsehood: by looking at the fruits (Matthew 7:17). If a tree is really a good tree, it will bear good fruit and cannot bear bad fruit. If a tree is really bad, it will bear bad fruit and cannot bear good fruit. A classic illustration is the People’s Temple which appears to be a Christian church with a heart for the society. They even set up soup kitchen, provided housing, food, and job assistance to the needy people in the 1960. Eventually, the real hidden agenda of the leader Jim Jones was revealed especially after the murder of an American Congressman Leo Ryan and the church members committed mass suicide by drinking poison (and some members were coerced to do so). Their leader was actually an atheist used the church as a platform to push his political agenda (please refer to the Wikipedia article “Peoples Temple" for details).

Matthew 7:17

18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Another classic example of religious deception is Adolf Hitler. Some people think that Hitler was a Christian. In fact, I came across a web site which posts a collection of many writings, speeches and photographs of Hitler appearing in churches and shaking hands with church leaders as evidence to support the view that Hitler was a Christian. However, there is a fundamental fault of the whole argument that this web site represents: the conclusion is drawn without reference to the fruits that Hitler actually produced to see if his actions were compatible to the teachings of Jesus Christ. As we know we cannot tell a person purely by his talks and even writings because many people do fall into the category of liars and hypocrites for various reasons. According to the Scriptures, the essence of all the laws may be distilled into two statements: 1) love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, 2) love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:25-28). As we know, when Hitler was in power from January of 1933 to May of 1945, it is estimated that 11 millions people were murdered because they were deemed undesirable in the eyes of Hitler and the Nazi party. Of the 11 millions, 6 millions were killed simply because they were Jewish. The persecution and killings were carried out systematically and deliberately in the forms of unjust laws, tortures, inhuman concentration camps, and dead camps over a period of more than12 years. Anyone with a fair mind and conscience should see that these were not acts of a person loving God and his neighbors. What does Jesus really teach? Jesus teaches that we should not be hostile even to people who do not accept you or accept the Gospel (Luke 9:52-55, Matthew 10:14). In fact, Jesus demonstrated His love and forgiveness on the cross even to people who falsely accused Him, insulted and tormented Him (Luke 23:34, Acts 13:26-28). It is God who will exercise judgment on all people at a proper time in a fair manner. Therefore, Hitler’s acts were sufficient evidence to the conclude that he was not a Christian. In fact, Hitler’s murderous acts and phony words tell that he was more of an instrument of the devil who is a murderer and liar (John 8:44). If anyone thinks that Hitler is a Christian, then he or she is deceived like many Germans living under Hitler’s reign and political manipulation of the Nazi Party. By the way, to see this deception of Hitler and the Nazi Party from the perspective of a true Christian living in this particular era, I recommend reading the article about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Luke 10:25-28

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher," he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 “What is written in the Law?" he replied. “How do you read it?" 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" 28 “You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live."

Luke 9:52-56

52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them.

Matthew 10:14

14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

Luke 23:34

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Acts 13:26-28

26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed.

John 8:44

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Analysis of Religious Camouflage

Religious systems appearing as Bible believing are deceptive when the religious leaders twist the true meanings of the Bible in order to mislead and manipulate the audience such that they become supportive to their cultic ideologies. Many people are deceived because they do not study and critically evaluate the messages communicated to them in light of the Scriptures. Do you know that even the devil knows the Scriptures but applies it in a deceptive way? Before commencement of His earthly ministry, Jesus was tempted by the devil in various ways. One temptation was the quote of Psalm 91:11-12 by the devil to support its suggestion to Jesus to jump down from the pinnacle of the Herod’s temple in Jerusalem as a test of the special protection and caring of God (Luke 4:9-12). Correctly using the words of God, Jesus answered the temptation of the devil by pointing out that testing God was an violation of the basic truth of trusting God (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Psalm 91:11-12

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Luke 4:9-12

9 The 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. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’" 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’"

Deuteronomy 6:16

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

To illustrate this type of deception using Hitler again as a modern day example, let us review an extract of a speech that Hitler made in Munich on April 12th, 1922:

“In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison."
Adolf Hitler, April 12, 1922

Hitler quoted the Biblical stories of temple cleansing by Jesus (John 2:13-16, Luke 19:45-46 ) as a support to his action of oppressing the Jews to the extent of eliminating the Jewish race under his power. Let us analyze how Hitler twisted the true meanings of the Scriptures:

1. Jesus did not address the whole Jewish population as brood of vipers, adders or poison but a specific group of religious hypocrites who were willing to unjustly persecute the righteous, in this case Jesus Himself, in order to protect their positions and religious systems (Matthew 23:33-34). In fact, Jesus showed tremendous compassion to the general Jewish population by teaching them the words of God such that they might receive blessings (Mark 6:34). Moreover, Jesus did not eliminate even the religious hypocrites plotting against Him by His divine power which He could certainly be capable (Matthew 26:53). But instead, Jesus gave them a sharp reproach in words for their good. Had they repent, they too would receive forgiveness and salvation from God.

2. Temple cleansing was an assertive action to stop the trading activities in the temple. Merchants and animals were driven out. The terms “vipers and adders" were not used in the story but in a different scenario (see 1. above). The people that were driven out of the temple were not targeted because they were Jews but because of their engagement in trading activities inside the temple regardless of their races. On the other hand, Hitler’s speech clearly targeted against the Jews.

3. Although Jesus used a whip in temple cleansing, the Bible did not mention that He used the whip to scourge people as Hitler suggested in his speech. The whip was used as a visible tool to establish authority and drive out sheep and cattle. Jesus used only verbal communication to people in the story. For example, Jesus ordered the people selling doves to take the doves out of the temple with a clear reason (John 2:16). The merchants could certainly come back to the temple for normal worship had they want to. On the other hand, Hitler’s speech was to justify his crime of genocide of the Jewish race.

4. The reasons of temple cleansing were absolutely right because the merchants had no regard to the place of worship and prayers and they turned the temple court into a market place — imagine the noises, wastes, smell and congestion that these selling activities created in the temple. Moreover, merchants engaged in unfair and greedy business tactics to take advantage of worshippers especially those who came from afar. Jesus’ action was to preserve the reverence of the temple which represented the holy presence of God. Jesus’ action pointed out the merchants’ indifference to the holiness of God and their practice of greed blatantly in the temple. On the other hand, Hitler’s speech reflected only his hatred towards the Jewish race and had nothing to do with teaching people to honor and revere the holiness of God.

John 2:13-16

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!"

Luke 19:45-46

45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written," he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’"

Luke 19:45-46

45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written," he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’"

Matthew 23:33-34

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

Matthew 26:53

53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

Mark 6:34

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Psalm 91:11-12

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Deuteronomy 6:16

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

Seeking and Knowing the One True God

People are deceived by cults when they do not evaluate messages received in light of the Scriptures but are attracted to the charisma of the cult leaders, their claims and offers. On the other hand, God will reveal Himself to those who earnestly seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). An illustration is the story of an Ethiopian eunuch who was an important official in charge of the treasury in Ethiopia. He went to Jerusalem to worship. On his return trip, he was reading a passage in the book of Isaiah about the prophecy of the Messiah being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of all people (Isaiah 53:7-8 see above) but did not understand it. God honored the eunuch’s heart in seeking the truth and sent Phillip, one of the twelve apostles, to explain the passage to him (Acts 8:34-35). The eunuch not only understood the prophecy about the Messiah he was reading, but believed the gospel with great joy. The story of the Ethiopian eunuch teaches three things that God values: a heart to seek and come near to God, an interest to know Him through His words and the faith in response to His words. We all face problems and dissatisfaction in life. The correct reaction for all of us is to seek and come to God for His help and salvation, know Him through His words and respond to His words with faith. God is faithful, merciful and graceful, He is inviting us to come to Him: the source of salvation, living water and life (John 7:37, Matthew 11:28). God’s bona fide invitation written in the Scriptures is meant to be extended to all people: first to Israel then to all nations.

Deuteronomy 4:29

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Acts 8:34-35

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

John 7:37

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

Matthew 11:28

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Seeking God Should Mean Seeking God

As king David says in Psalm 24:3-6 and Psalm 119:105, we should seek God according to His words with a pure heart. To illustrate this important point but in a negative sense, consider the familiar story of Jesus’ performance of the miraculous sign to feed more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two small fish. After this multitude of people enjoyed a delightful dinner, they looked for Jesus the next day. However, the reason they looked for Jesus was not because they realized that Jesus was the Messiah who would give salvation and eternal life, but merely for food itself (John 6:26). Sadly many had listened to the words of God and seen the miraculous sign which substantiated who Jesus really was yet could not find the Messiah and went away empty (John 6:66). If people with impure objectives could not find God and receive His blessings even when the Messiah was right in front of them, then it should not be difficult to understand that many people do not know the one true God today. Some are downright atheists, many are religious merely for different reasons: cultural, social, business, or political.

Psalm 24:3-6

3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. 5 They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Psalm 119:105

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

John 6:26

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.

John 6:66

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

But How Can We Start?

Now the question is since we do not have a pure heart to begin with (Proverbs 20:9), how do we even start to seek God in a right way, know Him and have a relationship with Him? If you know that you do not have a pure heart, congratulations! For you are already on the right track. People who really seek God will cry out to God for mercy and help to have a pure heart (Psalm 51:10). For we know that we have failed and we are not worthy to have a good relationship with God and need God to heal us and to create a pure heart in us (Psalm 51:1-2, 10). Therefore, the prerequisite to approach God is to realize our spiritual corruptness and be sorrowful for our iniquities and ask God for forgiveness and cleansing. Do not try to approach God merely with religious rituals which are meaningless and are not genuine worship. True worship should originate from and reflect our broken spirit and contrite heart which are acceptable to God (Psalm 51:16-17) for God desires a genuine heart of repentance. God is faithful and will honor His promise and gives us salvation through the Redeemer and a new heart through washing and rebirth of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 59:20-21, Ezekiel 36:25-26, Titus 3:5, Ephesians 5:26, 1 Peter 1:23 ). Then we may have a good relationship with God — the relationship God originally desires when He created us.

Proverbs 20:9

9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"?

Psalm 51:10

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:1-2

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:16-17

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

Isaiah 59:20-21

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD. 21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever," says the LORD.

Ezekiel 36:25-26

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Titus 3:5

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 5:26

26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

1 Peter 1:23

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

After All It Is God Who Seeks the Lost Sheep

When we come to God, we should understand that while the response to come to God is absolutely right and wise, it is the grace of God that He prepares salvation and sends mankind the invitation and enable them to come to Him. For by sinful nature, all humans are like lost sheep that have gone astray and do not know God (Isaiah 53:6). Salvation is God’s grace that He uses various means to draw us to Him to have life (John 6:44). The negative aspect of hardship in life and its short duration that we all experience reflect our iniquities and the wrath of God. But, the positive aspect reflects the loving will of God for they motivate us to seek Him for salvation and satisfying life (Psalm 90:9-10, Psalm 90:13-14). Moreover, God even uses supernatural means to draw people to Him. The conversion of the Pharisee Saul who became apostle Paul is a good example. Before conversion, Paul was a devoted Jew who was so confident in the flesh that he called himself a Hebrew of Hebrews. From his birth to adulthood, he followed the law faultlessly and he was so zealous for God that he persecuted Christians thinking that he was serving God (Philippians 3:3-6). On his way to obtain letters from the high priest and Council in order to arrest Christians for punishment, the resurrected Jesus appeared to Paul near Damascus and he became blinded. Paul was then instructed to go to Damascus. A believer sent by God to open the eyes of Paul and told him that he was chosen by God to witness to the unbelievers (Acts 22:14-15). Indeed, Paul repented and became a great apostle in the early church.

Paul was so antagonistic to the early Christians and yet God showed mercy in a miraculous way to give him salvation. A question may arise concerning the impartiality of God. How about the religious leaders who persecuted Jesus to death? Did God show mercy miraculously to save them? To answer the question, it is best to study the Bible a little more.

1. The religious leaders persecuted Jesus unjustly based on falsehood. They attempted to look for false evidence and false witnesses in order to put a righteous person even to death (Matthew 26:59). This collaborative act of false persecution reflected their lawlessness in the core covered with a facade of religious righteousness. In comparison, Paul did not resort to this kind of illegal means but legally followed the rules of a faulty system.

2, In fact, the religious leaders were also given the opportunity to witness an even bigger miracle: resurrection. Moreover, the resurrection was foretold by Jesus and specifically when it would happen. Well aware of this prediction, the religious leaders asked Pilate, the appointed Roman Governor, for help to seal and guard the tomb with Roman soldiers to make sure no one might steal the body of Jesus away lest the disciples might spread the “lie” that Jesus was resurrected (Matthew 27:62-64).

3. After learning the fact that Jesus did resurrect as He foretold, they decided to cover the fact up by giving money to the soldiers and asking them to spread the lie that the body was stolen by the disciples while they were asleep. In other words, they decided to exchange falsehood with truth. In comparison, upon knowing the fact, Paul repented sincerely and embraced the truth wholeheartedly.

Isaiah 53:6

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

John 6:44

44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Psalm 90:9-10

9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. 10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Psalm 90:13-14

13 Relent, LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Philippians 3:3-6

3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

Acts 22:14-15

14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.

Could these be the reasons that Paul was saved by God while those religious leaders were not? The facts seem to suggest that those religious leaders were victims of their own mind and decision: the love of falsehood rather than truth. We should say for sure that God is sovereign and He made decisions according to His own accord. By the way, when we study Matthew 11:23, Jesus delivered a judgment on Capernaum for people living there rejected Jesus’ message even many miracles had been performed there. The judgment hints that Sodom , a wicked city destroyed by God with fire, might be saved had the miracles performed in Capernaum were performed there (Matthew 11:23). We know that Sodom was destroyed rather than saved by God. Therefore, the judgment of Sodom illustrates the sovereignty of God and even the opportunity of repentance is a gift of God. We must admit the limitation of human mind and we do not fully understand all the biology, physiology, biochemistry, and physics of even a single cell of our own body, do not expect we fully understand the thought and wisdom of God who created all things. But, we can trust that whatever He does is right and good for He is a God of righteousness, justice, faithfulness and love (Psalm 89:14).

Matthew 11:23

23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.

Psalm 89:14

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

Conclusion

We know that the world is under the influence of Satan while humans are susceptible to temptations and falling into sin. Therefore evils abound everywhere with varying degrees in different nations and communities including the land of the elects, Israel. As prophet Isaiah says that truth is nowhere to be found and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey of evil people. In other words, the world system is corrupted and broken. Mankind cannot save themselves and survive from this corrupted system and no one may intervene the situation (Isaiah 59:15). Although a noble goal, it is hopeless to expect anyone to live a godly life and establish a good relationship with the God of holiness by one’s own efforts. Many religions have been established to address the spirituality problem and answer the question of life destiny. Unfortunately, religions are man-made institutions and are deceptive under the influence of Satan and are mixed with human thoughts and impure agenda. They give a false sense of security and will not help us to build a good relationship with the one true God. To make mattes worse, religions have been used as vehicles to assert human manipulation and control.

We should all be grateful to the only one true God for He has prepared salvation to save people from sin in the beginning according to His foreknowledge and grace. God Himself accomplished salvation by His power and righteousness (Isaiah 59:15-16). God came to Israel as a person called the Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20) to bring salvation first to Israel and then to other nations (Genesis 22:18). The blessings of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God is too costly to be earned by anyone but are given as a gift to anyone who will answer His invitation to come to the Redeemer. Only by God’s power, Israel and the whole world can be saved. Salvation and reconciliation with God are not our efforts but God’s work and power to redeem and transform sinners by His Son and the Holy Spirit respectively. The way of salvation prepared by God Himself is the only way (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Isaiah 59:15-16

15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.

Isaiah 59:20

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD.

Genesis 22:18

18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

As a note to this article, we also know that the majority of Israel as a nation is not willing to accept Christ as the Redeemer and Messiah (Isaiah 49:7). But, the Scriptures have prophesied that there will be a time when Israel will come to the end of the rope and the Messiah will come for the second time to save Israel from her many enemies (see Time of Trouble for Jacob). It is the second advent when Israel will receive Christ as the Messiah and the whole house of Israel is saved (Jeremiah 31:33-34). As I am writing this article, the world is like setting the stage for Israel to be surrounded by unfriendly nations and left alone. However, God said through prophet Jeremiah that Israel will never cease to be a nation (Jeremiah 31:35-36). But friends, do not waste one more minute without a good relationship with God. Now is the opportunity, do not delay in accepting God’s grace of salvation.

Isaiah 49:7

This is what the LORD says— the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel— to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

Jeremiah 31:33-34

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Jeremiah 31:35-36

35 This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name: 36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me."



Jesus the Rabbi From God - Part 4

clock February 8, 2011 02:00 by author wtsang

John 3:7

7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

This is the fourth article on the discussion on the difference between Judaism and Christianity. The fourth difference is extracted from an article published in a Judaism website as follows. This article addresses the comments on Christian teachings about sin, responsibility, and salvation. A deeper answer to these comments can actually be found in the conversation between a Pharisee named Nicodemus and Jesus who said that spiritual rebirth was required to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:7).

Judaism teaches that man has to take personal responsibility for the choices he makes, and that those choices carry with them consequences. Some of these consequences are meted out on earth, and some after death. Christianity teaches that it is not man’s fault that he is a sinner – he was born that way. There is no personal responsibility related to salvation – it is taught in most churches that one can do nothing at all to merit this relationship with God, it is entirely a “gift” given only to those who believe in Jesus. The rest of the world goes to Hell.

Human Accountability to the Creator

Actually, Christianity does teach that we all have to take personal responsibility for the choices we make. It is a man’s fault to be a sinner when he or she chooses to do evil. On the other hand, he or she will be rewarded by God when he or she does good. In fact, sin is so ubiquitous and carries its serious consequences that the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament emphasizes that no one may escape judgement (Hebrews 9:27). Judgment implies the appraisal of things that have been done of both good resulting in rewards and evil resulting in punishment according to the responsibilities and opportunities God has given. To teach this important point, Jesus made it clear with the parable of a master and three servants. The master gave bags of gold to the servants for management according to their abilities. The first servant was given ten bags of gold, the second five bags and the third one bag. The master went away in a journey for a long time and returned and asked the servants to give an account of the gold that they were responsible for. The first servant used the ten bags of gold and earned ten more bags. Similarly, the second servants earned five more bags with the five bags he was given. These two servants were appraised as good and faithful servants and received their rewards. But, the third servant did nothing but dug a hole in the ground and hid the gold he was given. He then reported to the master saying that he was afraid of losing it as a justification of his lack of act of responsibility. The master told him that he should have simply used the gold as money and deposited it in the bank and earned its interest. (To digress a little bit, in modern financial terms, one possible way this servant might do is to sell the gold and used the proceeds to buy a Call Option of the same amount of gold and deposited the balance to a bank. Given a long period of time, interest income will offset the premium of the Call Option. In fact, there are bankers accepting gold instead of cash as deposit and pay interest on the gold deposit. ) This servant was rebuked as wicked and lazy and was thrown into darkness where there were weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30). This parable illustrates that we are endowed with time, talents and opportunities in various degrees by God. We will be held accountable to God on how we make good use of these endowments. Jesus plainly stated that the people in their graves would rise to face judgment according to the works they had done in their lifetime. Those who has done good will resurrect to live but those who has done evil will be condemned (John 5:28-29). Therefore, Christianity does teach that humans are responsible for their choices and their sins in life. Moreover, Christianity uses the Scriptures, the revelation of God, as the ultimate authority in determining what is right or wrong. Since humans are accountable to God, it is perfectly reasonable to use His words and not our thoughts as the frame of reference to evaluate what is right or wrong. According to the Scriptures, humans are expected to live a life glorying God and will be judged accordingly.

Hebrews 9:27

27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

Matthew 25:30

30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

John 5:28-29

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

Falling Short of the Glory of God

Having said that all humans are responsible for living a life glorying God, the Scriptures declare that all have failed and fall short of the glory of God (Isaiah 53:6a; Romans 3:23). The ease and disposition for humans to sin and the prevalence of sinners in the world make some people think that it is not a man’s fault to sin because he is born that way. Some suggest the term “human nature” to embrace and accept such common phenomena. The Scriptures do not teach that humans are not responsible for sinning because they are born that way. After all, Adam and Eve were not born but were made by God directly. They lived in the garden of Eden without the prevalence of sinners living among them and the exposure to corrupted, violent practices and media to influence their minds and behaviours. They failed because they simply did not obey God’s word but listened to the temptation of the devil. If Adam and Eve could failed even in such ideal conditions, it should not be too surprising that we who are born in this imperfect world could fall into sin even more easily. Some may complain that we sin because of the circumstances that we are born into. Well, this is a common human nature of pointing fingers and making excuses when we do wrongs. Did not Adam point the finger to Eve when he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Did not Eve point the finger to the devil? Although their finger pointing excuses were not unfounded, the fact was they all failed to obey the word of God and were held accountable to it.

Isaiah 53:6a

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;

Romans 3:23

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

The Dire Future Versus the Bright Future of Mankind

According to God’s justice, the consequence of sin is death. The situation is like humans are born only to fall into sin and die as a consequence. Moreover, death according to the Scriptures does not mean the death of the body only but also the second death after resurrection and judgment of God. This seems to suggest that a dire future for life is a sure thing. This is true only if we view life without a good relation with God. I view life as a glass half empty and half filled. Life without God is in the empty half of the glass and the glass will be draining to emptiness completely. The dire future will surely set in eventually. But, life never means to be lived without God from its inception when God created humans in the garden of Eden. Humans are created in the image of God. Life in essence needs God in order to flourish, be satisfied and to last forever. Human life is designed this way by God and never means to live without a good relationship with Him. It is like fish living in water which provides the proper environmental conditions and nutrients for the fish to grow and live. It is true that we are born in an environment full of difficulties, temptations and we are too weak to overcome all these challenges. If we have a good relationship with God, we can overcome them. These challenges become training exercises that help us to grow in characters and faith in God. We may then know God and His words are trustworthy and are more precious than gold as we walk closely with Him in the world journey of life, rely on His guidance, strength and provision in all of our works and needs. It is a sure thing that we can live an abundant life and claim victory for the glory of God. A life having a good relationship with God is like in the half filled portion of the glass and it will be filled more and more with the grace and blessings of God until overflowing. As King David said that even in the threat and challenge of the enemies, he could still enjoy peace and security because God was with him and was under His protection and provision. And God’s goodness and love in his life would be with him now on earth and forever in His Kingdom (Psalm 23:5-6).

Psalm 23:5-6

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

The Gift of Salvation

However, Jesus was not teaching to obtain salvation by good works. Rather, in His conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus, Jesus taught that we sinners need to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:7). Notice that born is in passive voice meaning that no one can give birth to oneself. Just as physical birth is given to a child by the mother and father, spiritual birth is given by God. Therefore, being born again is perfectly consistently with the fact that salvation which results in spiritual rebirth is a gift for no one can give birth to himself or herself. Consider human life is a gift of the parents in the sense that they not only give birth to their children but usually love and nurture them from infants to adolescents and even beyond their adulthood. The children start in a stage of helplessness but through the sacrificial gifts of time, energy and money of the parents, the infants may grow up to maturity. Similarly, sinners are in a stage of spiritual helplessness ready to be condemned and die. It is purely out of the mercy and the sacrificial love of God (John 3:16) that we may escape judgment and even receive a new life of bright and eternal future. Jesus says that human parents who are not perfect know how to give good gifts of their children, how much more the holy and loving heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who simply ask (Luke 11:3). He also warns that anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15). Therefore do not think that we may enter the Kingdom of God by our good deeds. Rather we should ask for the gift of salvation from God with humility. Let us recall the time of Israelites when they were under the oppression and bondage of slavery in Egypt. They lived under the oppressive power of Pharaoh and were powerless to save themselves. They cried out to God for mercy and God answered them and sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt to freedom. This event also illustrates that salvation is indeed a gift to the helpless out of God’s faithfulness, mercy and love (Isaiah 63:9). Now, let us repent of our own way and turn to the Lord who is full of mercy and love and He will forgive and redeem us freely (Isaiah 55:7).

John 3:16

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.

Luke 11:13

If 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!”

Mark 10:15

15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Isaiah 55:7

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Isaiah 63:9

In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

The Truthfulness of Salvation

God is faithful and just. When He says He saves sinners from sins, He means it. His salvation means redemption and forgiveness of committed sins by paying for the penalty of sins by the Messiah, His Son. His salvation means the blessings of the Holy Spirit indwelling in believers and renewing them such that they abhor sins while restoring to His image which has been lost before salvation. Salvation, according to the Scriptures, never means to be established by God such that sinners may stay in sins continually while enjoying the redemption and protection of God. Otherwise, salvation becomes a license of unrighteousness issued by God which is completely contradictory to the characters of God who is just and upright in whatever He does (Deuteronomy 32:3-4). In fact, the teaching of salvation has been misunderstood by some people who do not study the Scriptures and call salvation “cheap grace” especially because it is given as a free gift. In reality, salvation entails a spiritual revolution happening inside a believer’s life: the struggling and conquering of the old sinful nature who is still present. Sinful nature is universally present in all mankind. But, those who have received salvation have the power to overcome the sinful nature by obeying the law of the Holy Spirit rather than the law of the sinful nature. Those who have not received salvation might not even be aware of the presence of the sinful nature which is so ingrained they simply accept it as part of the human nature and live accordingly (Romans 8:5). This spiritual revolution inside will turn a believer into a different person, so different as if he or she is born a different person (2 Corinthians 5:17). Before receiving salvation, the mind and body of the unsaved person offers himself or herself to the control of sin as a slave to impurity and wickedness. After receiving salvation, with the renewal of the Holy Spirit, the believer comes to understand and appreciate the truth and beauty of the teachings of God in contrast to the corruption and ugliness of sin. The believer will obey with a truthful heart the words of God which has claimed his or her allegiance (Romans 6:17-19). Therefore, salvation is not the consequence of performing works the sinner deems good, but rather the consequence of salvation is the redemption of the sinner by the Son of God, the renewal of heart and mind of the sinner by the Holy Spirit resulting in performance of good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Deuteronomy 32:3-4

3 I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! 4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

Romans 8:5

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

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Romans 6:17-19

17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

Ephesians 2:10

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

The Tragedy of Rejecting the Gift of Salvation

It is quite difficult for me to understand the deep and inner thoughts of human beings for many seem to have made up the mind to reject the truth of salvation and go on their own ways. It is not the lack of grace or generosity of God that He does not extend the blessings of salvation to all people. In fact, He reveals to us in the Scriptures that God loves the whole world. In the Book of Genesis, He said that Abraham would be the father of all nations and all nations receive blessings through Him. It is quite obvious that blessings of God should be predicated on salvation for without salvation, no blessing can be meaningful. Try to think of all the blessings you can imagine even including the capacity to live forever, but they also come with the condemnation of God. All the thinkable blessings will become impossible or even negative. In the New Testament, God expressly says that He loves the whole world (John 3:16) and He desires all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God loves people so much that He came to the world as a human being, endured insults, betrayal and sufferings for mankind and even died a painful death on the cross in the hands of sinful men. The prophets, His deeds, death and resurrection have testified that Jesus is indeed the Messiah (Please see the article Jesus the faithful and true witness). Therefore, we are not being judgemental but have to accept the statement in Thessalonians 2:10 that people refused to love the truth and so be saved.

1 Timothy 2:3-4

3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Thessalonians 2:10

10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.



Jesus the Rabbi from God - Part 3

clock January 13, 2011 02:00 by author wtsang

John 3:3

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

This is a continuation of the discussion on the difference between Judaism and Christianity. The key verse of this article is also based on the conversation of Nicodemus, a pharisee, a religious and political leader in the Jewish community, and Jesus. An eye witness of Jesus ministry, Nicodemus knew that Jesus was sure to be a teacher sent by God as evidenced by the miraculous signs that Jesus performed. Nicodemus had a sincere heart to know the truth. Knowing that most of his counterparts were against Jesus, he was willing to take the risk to see Jesus, but at night time. This article discusses the following difference that I found in a Judaism web site:

Judaism teaches that God does not change and that the way man has always accomplished a relationship with God is through sincerity and humility of heart, approaching God in repentance and love. Christianity teaches that God has changed and that the original method of relating to God was through the sacrifices, but now Jesus was the final sacrifice and one must claim his blood in order to establish that relationship.

Actually, Christianity teaches that God is unchanged. To see this important point, we can study Hebrew 13:8 which says that Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, is the same in the past, now and forever in the future. In fact, the immutability attribute of God is important for us to establish faith in Him and His word. For we can trust that God is absolutely reliable and He will hold true His gifts and promises (James 1:17). Therefore, God’s word is synonymous with truth (John 17:17). Truth is true always and will not change with reference to time and circumstances. In fact, Jesus emphasizes that the word of God as revealed in the Law through the prophets will not change even for a tiny little bit (Matthew 5:18).

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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.

John 17:17

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Matthew 5:18

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

It is good to approach God with a humble, repentant and sincere heart. But, we should also know that human feelings are subjective and affected by emotions and should not be taken as a reliable standard to approve our thoughts and behaviours that we think acceptable to God. As prophet Isaiah says that the righteous acts in our eyes are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). After all, it is illogical to expect people in sinful state by transforming themselves by living a holy life no matter how sincere they are because their thoughts and instincts are sinful in the first place. Even prophet Isaiah called himself a sinner when he saw the vision of the presence of the holy God. Isaiah exclaimed with helplessness as a sinful and broken person before God and needed His help to save him from sin. An angel cleansed him in the vision by touching his lips with a live coal (Isaiah 6:5-7). Therefore, we should not approach God merely according to our own thoughts, traditions, feelings, or emotions, no matter how sincere they are. Rather we need to approach God in His terms as revealed through the prophets and written in the Scripture. A commonsense example to illustrate this important point is that we need the tickets issued by the United Airlines to go on board of an United Airlines plane. We will not be admitted according to our own terms and enthusiastic motive to go on board no matter how sincere they are. We cannot certainly make our own tickets to go on board. God’s terms of salvation is the Law. The Law is given through the prophets as a measuring yardstick such that sinful thoughts and behaviours are made clear to us. In other words, the Law makes us conscious of sin and realized the need of salvation from sin. The Law also prescribes sacrifice as the means to receive God’s mercy of forgiveness. In the past, sacrifices with animals are prescribed and performed in the Levitical system. However, we should understand that these sacrifices are only images of the one and only true sacrifice acceptable to God as performed by the Messiah. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He announced, “It is finished. (John 19:30) which signified the completion of His atonement work. Therefore, there is no need of performing any more sacrifices with animals. However, according to Judaism, the teaching of cessation of animal sacrifice but trusting in Jesus is unacceptable for it implies the inconsistency and the change in mind of God about salvation of mankind.

Actually, God has not changed the way of salvation. His way of salvation has been declared right in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned by listening to the temptation of Satan rather than the words of God. God declared that Satan would cause the offspring of the woman to suffer (bruise His heel), but the offspring of the woman would destroy Satan (bruise the serpent’s head). This was the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah who came as a man, born of a virgin as prophesied in more details by prophet Isaiah (Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14). Satan continues to tempt the descendants of Adam and Eve into sin and blind them lest them see the truth and receive salvation. This results in death for the wages of sin is death. The only possibility of victory against Satan is the grace of God bestowed to mankind by the Messiah Jesus Christ. As apostle Paul said that by the grace and power of God, we can claim victory over the devil (Romans 16:20). As we all know, the Messiah did not come on day one when Adam and Even sinned. According to the plan of God, the Messiah came as a descendant of Abraham who is the father of the nation Israel. Abraham was not born when declares His way of salvation. As recorded in Chapter one of the book of 1 Chronicles, Abraham was born many generations later after Adam. The relevant question to ask is how did the people who lived before the coming of Messiah obtain salvation? By the grace of God, these generations of people were not written off from salvation completely. God always save people by His grace and by faith. To understand this important point, consider Abraham who was a good and decent person in our human standard, but not before the holy, perfect standard of God. Therefore, we can say that Abraham did not obtain salvation by doing good works or living a moral life according to his own conscience or any rules or laws at that time. For no matter how good his works were, they could not stand the holy standard of God. Rather, Abraham was saved by faith in God who accepted Abraham by His grace (Genesis 15:6). How do we know Abraham was a person of faith? The Scriptures record about the acts of obedience of Abraham out his faith in God. Abraham left his familiar home to a strange place which God promised to give to him as inheritance. By faith, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved one and only son Isaac. This inconceivable command made Abraham very sad but he trusted that God was gracious and good and understood that God’s power could overcome even death and He could resurrect Isaac to life somehow. For Abraham trusted God’s former promise that He would establish an everlasting covenant with Isaac and his descendants (Genesis 17:19) and Isaac would surely not die at such a young age without any child of his own. Abraham trusted that God was faithful and He would not contradict Himself. Indeed, we know by studying Genesis that God had prepared a ram in place of Isaac for sacrifice (Genesis 22:13). This story illustrates the importance of faith and the gracious provision of substitutionary death by God (Genesis 22:18). According to God’s holiness and justice, we are all sinners and will have to perish. But, by His grace, He provided sacrifice of atonement such that our sins are forgiven. This grace was first shown to Abraham when He had faith in God. This grace is extended to all nations such that all mankind may receive God’s blessings with faith through Abraham’s offspring whom we know is the Messiah when we study the Scriptures (Genesis 22:18, Romans 4:16). The sacrifice of atonement was performed with animals because the Messiah, who was the offspring of Abraham was not born yet. To use the analogy of Airlines tickets again, the tickets issued by the Airlines company are required to go on board a plane. Then all the sacrifices performed before the coming of the Messiah were like coupons or gift certificates issued by the Airlines company which could not be used directly to go on board a plane but can be exchanged for tickets that are acceptable. This is reasonable for animals and their blood had no value in payment for sin for animals have no intrinsic attribute of righteousness and cannot be used to settle the payment for unrighteousness. Animal sacrifices were symbols of the real sacrifice of the Messiah in which the righteous was punished for the unrighteous. As prophet Isaiah said that we are forgiven and healed by the substitutionary suffering of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:4-5). The sacrifices performed with animals had their merit as a form of worship acceptable to God. Also they had instructional and prophetic significance pointing to the one sacrifice of atonement performed by the Messiah. On the other hand, God points out that the core substance of animal sacrifices per se are not relevant (Psalm 50:13). Therefore, God has not changed His salvation plan. His salvation plan was revealed to the prophets in various times before the coming of the Messiah. In Genesis, we learned the coming of the Messiah (woman’s seed) who would destroy Satan although the Messiah would be afflicted with sufferings by Satan. As time progressed, God revealed more about His salvation plan that the whole world would receive His blessings through the offspring of Abraham. Certainly, the greatest blessing that mankind may have is the forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God. For without the blessing of forgiveness by God, there will be judgement and death. All the other blessings would be impossible and meaningless.

In the book of Isaiah, God revealed the details of the sufferings of the Messiah. He would be pierced and marred beyond human likeness (Isaiah 52:14, 53:5) i.e. tortures, beatings, and crucification for our sins (sacrifice of atonement). However, the Messiah would not be kept in the grave for long, but arose with power and glory i.e. resurrection, and exalted as King of kings, Lord of lords (Isaiah 52:13, 15; Psalm 16:10). Jesus Christ has indeed come and fulfilled His mission of salvation of sinners such that the requirements of the Law are settled and sinners may be set free from sins and be justified by God (Matthew 5:17). There is nothing we can do to redeem our lives: not works performed out of our good intention nor sacrifices of animals. For our righteous acts cannot measure up the holiness of our God. Moreover, the redemption price of a life is too costly and we cannot afford to pay for it by any means (Psalm 49:8). But, God is gracious and He knows that nothing we cannot do to earn salvation nor afford to pay for it. He gives salvation and a new, meaningful and satisfying life acceptable to the Kingdom of God for free (Isaiah 55:1; John 3:3). No one should hesitate to come to Jesus and accept Him as the Saviour and Lord. We really do not know how much time we have or how long we may live. As prophet Isaiah admonishes us that we should value this gracious opportunity that God gives us. While the time of grace has not expired, we should turn to the Lord, the source of living water, with a repentant, and humble heart. He will freely pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7).

Genesis 3:15

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.”

Isaiah 7:14

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

Roman 16:20

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

Genesis 15:6

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 17:19

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

Genesis 22:13

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Genesis 22:18

18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Romans 4:16

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-5

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken 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 on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Psalm 50:13

13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?

Isaiah 52:14

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—

Psalm 16:10

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

Isaiah 52:13

13 See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. 15 so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Matthew 5:17

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Psalm 49:8

the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—

Isaiah 55:1

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Isaiah 55:6-7

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.



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