Confession without Repentance

My dear brothers and sisters;

I ask the Father of mercies, in the name of Jesus, His Son, that He pours upon us His mercies, and gives us a heart of repentance toward Him, for such a heart is one of great value before Him.

Have you wondered if there was a relationship between confessing the Lord Jesus, and repentance? If there is one, what is it? Are they synonymous? Does one come before the other? If yes, which one? “Must” one come before the other? In Acts, the Apostle Paul summarized in ministry as follows:

Acts 20:21I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.

I submit to you that having faith in Jesus necessitates that you have confessed Him as Lord. I also submit to you that your confession is only valid if you have repented toward God first. One must first repent before their confession of Jesus as Lord can be considered valid.

On the day the Church was born (on the day of Pentecost), after Peter explained to the assembly what they had just witnessed – the disciples speaking in tongues – they were deeply hurt because he had testified that Jesus, whom the Jews had crucified, was indeed the messiah and was now resurrected and glorified.

Acts 2:37When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?”

But now look at the response Peter gave when they asked “Brothers, what should we do?”

Acts 2:38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We can glean at least two elements in Peter’s response.

Anyone can repent, at any time: God protects a man’s ability to repent 

Peter instructed the people to repent, and he expected them to do it on the spot. In other words, repentance can be done immediately, and without the Holy Spirit. It is a God given ability, an ability that He protect so that anyone can be saved. Neither the Devil, the Angels or any other creatures can steal or nullify this ability.

Repentance emanates from a deep conviction that you are personally responsible and guilty of murdering Jesus, the Son of God, who, being sinless, did not deserve to die.

Jesus did not simply die FOR you. 

Jesus died BECAUSE of you. YOU have the blood of Jesus in your hands. YOU are guilty. YOU are a murderer.

Unless one is deeply convicted of this truth, one cannot truly repent. And unless one repents, one cannot be forgiven of his crime.

One MUST repent before he can be forgiven of their sins

From the response, we also see that repentance is a necessary condition for receiving the forgiveness of your sins. How can one be forgiven unless he 1) is made fully aware of his crime, and 2) acknowledges his crime, and 3) seeks grace for his crime? This is the process of repentance, a process that Peter, through His preaching that day, enabled in the people who were present that day. The people indeed did rightfully ask:

Brothers, what should we do?

Answer:Now that I have made you fully aware of your crime of your charge, you must acknowledge it as true. Then you should seek grace from the great Judge, and He will forgive you.

Many who have confessed Jesus as Lord never got saved

Romans 10:9,10If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

I submit to you that this passage must be understood in light of the account of the day of Pentecost.

Confession of Jesus as Lord necessitates that repentance has taken place first. One must first repent toward God. One must first acknowledge his state as guilty of murder before God. The one YOU once murdered is now ALIVE. He is LORD. How can you expect that your recognition of His Lordship (He is LORD) will be judged valid, genuine, unless you have first repented of your crime toward Him?

Hence, we conclude that your confession is invalid without true repentance. You are still in your sins. You are still dead.

But to those who have indeed repented, and confessed Jesus as Lord, a new call, a shout from heaven has been issued: Bring forth fruits Worthy of Repentance!

In Jesus Name. AMEN.

The Charge Against Rich Believers

Grace, mercy and peace be with you in abundance, from God, our Father, and from Jesus, our Lord and King. Oh my friends! How are the riches of this world so capable of shutting forever the doors of heaven to those who desire to go in. Jesus made it explicitly clear that it will be especially hard, virtually impossible it seems, for rich people to enter His Kingdom.

Matthew 19:23,24 [CSB] – Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 

And His words were soon confirmed through the composition of the earliest churches.

1 Corinthians 1:26,27 – Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

Our concern in this rather long article, is on people who are rich within the church. In other words, rich Christians. 1) We will first look at how God deals with them, as opposed to those who are poor. 2) We will then look at two categories of sin that are particularly specific to the rich in the church. 3) Then we will identify who the rich are. And lastly, 4) We will look at what the rich believer should do. 

I. The Rich Must Realize that No One Can Boast in God’s Presence

Poor or rich, no human should boast in God’s presence. But it is the rich, the intellectuals, the educated, the ones of “noble birth” who are more likely to boast in His presence.

1 Corinthians 1:28,29 – God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence.

Matthew 11:25 – At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants.

The problem with the rich is the trust they place in what they have, who they are, or what they have achieved. And for the rich who enters the church, God has a very specific way of dealing with this issue. As recorded in James, the poor, the one who has nothing, will be shown the precious value of what he truly possesses (the riches of heaven). But the rich, on the other hand, the one who lives comfortably, will be shown the worthlessness of everything that he possesses.

James 1:9-11 – Let the brother of humble circumstances boast in his exaltation, 10 but let the rich boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities.

This apparent harshness toward the rich is not the evidence of God’s hatred of the rich, but of His determination to open his or her eyes so that he or she may see life the way He (God) Himself sees life. What we have are nothing, the intelligence we have is worthless, our family inheritance or name has as much value as the most beautiful flower that fade away in an instant under severe weather. And so the rich believer will be humbled, and through that painful process, will be brought to glorify God. But the poor believer will go through a different path, although leading to the same outcome, for he is in need comfort in the midst of his suffering. And so God will show him how exalted he really is.

II. Two Major Charges Against Rich Believers

Jesus and James present at least two categories of sin committed by the rich believers.

A. Preferential treatment: Despising the poor

The first charge is the preferential treatment given to the rich and how the poor are despised.

James 2:1-4 – My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, 3 if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” 4 haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

The seriousness of this sin cannot be overemphasized. In the very next verse, James gives one of the reasons for the gravity of this sin: The poor are God’s chosen people to be rich in faith and heirs of His Kingdom.

James 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?  

One can certainly understand why one of the – if not “the” – most dreadful warning given by Jesus was in direct reference to the treatment (or lack thereof) of the poor.

Matthew 25:41-46“Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.’
45 “Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

B. Misuse of Wealth

In Matthew 19, after a rich man had rejected the advice that Jesus gave him, to give his wealth to the poor and follow Him, Jesus declared that it will be very difficult for those who are rich to enter His Kingdom.  Yet this person, from what is recorded, was not a bad person! He had first asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. To which Jesus replied that he should keep the commandment: Do no kill, steal, commit adultery, etc. And this was his answer

Matthew 19:20 – “I have kept all these,” the young man told him. “What do I still lack?”

Yet, when it came time to doing what Jesus told him after “Give all to the poor and follow me”, he could not do it. Kingdom access: Denied!

Jesus also gave a parable to illustrate how the rich misuse their wealth.

Luke 12:16-21Then he told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? 18 I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’
21 “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

This man looked at his wealth as his security for the future. This, according to God, qualifies as foolishness.

III. Who is the Rich Believer?

My friend, here are a couple of question: Do you consider yourself a Christian? Do you have a safe roof to sleep under? Are you secure in terms of what you will eat tomorrow? Do you have a decent, regular income? Are you considered at least in the middle class?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then, you are very likely a rich believer. You may not be a millionaire, but you are rich. The vast majority of the earth population live in deep poverty, with no access to clean water, food shortages, and no decent roof above their head. Yet you might be looking at your investments, dreaming that one day they may generate the kind of return that will allow you to retire and simply “enjoy” life…like the man in the parable of Jesus. If so, how are you different? You are not looking at hurting anyone and neither did he! But your trust in your riches is the problem, your dream to be rich is your problem.

The 12 disciples of Jesus were certainly not as rich as the man in Matthew 19. Nevertheless, what Jesus declared about the difficulty of the rich to enter His Kingdom made them very nervous, and rightfully so! This prompted them to seek some reassurance from Him!

Matthew 19:25,27 – When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved?”…27 Then Peter responded to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you. So what will there be for us?”

So you see, one needs not be “crazy” rich to fall into the category of the rich believer, and hence, being found guilty of the sins described above.

IV. What Should the Rich Believer Do?

The answer to this question is simple, but the implications are profound. James says, do not engage in preferential treatment. Jesus says, invite those who cannot repay you. And Paul says.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 – Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, 19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.

You the rich, I pray that God will open your eyes, that you may see where you are falling short. You may be a good person, a good man and woman, but you may be in danger of being found wanting. Your trust in your riches, in your intelligence, in your lineage, or in your name may be brought to full display upon His return, to your shame in the presence of His Holy Angels, unless you repent and hid those words that He has pronounced to warn you.

To the King Eternal. Rich in Mercy and ever Faithful. JESUS.

AMEN.

Forbidden Fruit

Dear Children of the Kingdom;

Oh that the grace of God and His mercy may be upon me at this time, that Christ may act in me mightily, that I may serve as His instrument to instruct you His people, serving you His Word, for the days in which we live are truly evil. But the fools and the uninstructed, not able to discern good from evil, keep moving forward and suffer dearly.

Proverbs 22:3The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself just as Joseph ran out of his master’s house when the master’s wife was determined to sleep with him.

Genesis 39:6-12Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph DAY AFTER DAY, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

Look at Joseph’s primary concern: “There is no greater person in this house after my master than I. He has place everything in my hand, except you his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?

Sinning against God was Joseph’s preoccupation! He recognized everything he had, everything he was free to have…and that was precisely the reason he could not venture into committing such a great sin against God by going after the one thing He was not permitted to touch!

One can see the similarity between this account and Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, to whom God gave absolutely everything that belonged to Him here on Earth, save His tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. But as opposed to Joseph, they DID go after what was forbidden when tempted by Satan, and committed a great sin against God.

YOU TOO, ARE FREE

Much freedom my friend, has been granted to you too, when you were purchased and washed with Jesus blood. You have been made free! For with God, free is how His creatures, us, should be!

Galatians 5:1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

But to you and me who have been given much freedom, much power, Satan is after the one thing that God has forbidden us to do: To disobey Him.

But sometimes, perhaps blinded by our freedom and power, or yielding to the lies of Satan, we act as fools, not recognizing the danger when we see it, or simply making light of it given who we are in Christ, free. As opposed to Joseph, we may think that because God has blessed us so much, we may afford to be careless here and there. We believe we may afford to disobey and enjoy sin, going after the one thing we have been forbidden. Hence, we do not see the danger for what it is and hide, but instead press on, only ensuring that we will reap the consequences.

Galatians 5:13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

My friend, you are God’s child,  and you love the Lord. Perhaps you are great at praying with your family, or studying the scriptures, reading devotionals and hearing sermons. Perhaps you are growing in your understanding of the freedom and power given to you.

Continue my friend on this path, and do not let Satan lie to you. Do not either be a fool, but strive to stay away from the one forbidden fruit: Disobedience. Every day, Satan or your own flesh will seek to derail you, just like the master’s wife who kept going after Joseph…DAY…AFTER…DAY! 

But RESIST…RESIST…and you will conquer!

Lord, my Lord, may you be exalted in me, and in my friend, to the glory of your Father, our God in Heaven.

AMEN

When God Empowers Your Enemies

Children of the Kingdom;

May the grace, mercy and peace from God, our Father, and from Jesus-Christ, our Lord and Savior, be with you. May the Lord, by His grace, give us a Spirit of discernment, that we may recognize the times when God empowers our enemies.

I would like to submit to you that it is imperative that we recognize that at times, according to His own wisdom, God will purposefully empower our enemies, for them to rule over us, at least, for a period of time. And in those cases, WE SHOULD NOT FIGHT BACK! Instead, we should submit, humbling ourselves before the great God, and hang onto our faith. Unfortunately, this is often hard to do.

It is a feeling you might have experienced, or are currently experiencing, such as an evil boss or a dictatorial regime.

Consider what Jesus said to Pilate, when He was brought before Him

John 19:10, 11 – …Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…

We see here that not only Jesus recognized Pilate’s authority over Him, but He also knew perfectly that it was none other than God Himself, His Father, who had given Pilate that authority. Therefore, rather than fighting back, we see Jesus instead submitting to Pilate.

Several times in the Old Testament was Israel either defeated in battle or enslaved. There too, God often declared plainly that He was the One who had given those enemies that kind of power and authority over them. As a prime example, consider this stunning declaration from God to Jeremiah, regarding what He had just done, which would be become soon evident to the people.

Jeremiah 27:15-17, 21, 22 – You recently repented and did what was right in my eyes by proclaiming liberty, each to his neighbor, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name, 16 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves.

17 “Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the Lord. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth…21 And Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials I will give into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon which has withdrawn from you. 22 Behold, I will command, declares the Lord, and will bring them back to this city. And they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire. I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.”

Often, God will also specifically instruct the people not to resist what would happen to them (e.g. Jeremiah 27:1-11).

Today, Christians often experience various levels of oppression and injustice, and at least in some respects, just like any other groups. For instance, you may feel unfairly treated at work, your boss having seemingly full control about your professional future. Or you may be oppressed by the current political regime of your country, with no obvious way out.

Whether due to no fault of your own, as in the case of Jesus in front of Pilate, or as a direct consequence of your own disobedience (as in the case of Israel), God will sometimes empower your enemy, to rule over you. Recognizing therefore this fact is critical as it will dictate our response: DO NOT FIGHT BACK for you will be fighting against GOD. Instead recognize, as Jesus did, that this power was given to your enemy by God Himself, for He is sovereign. Colossians 3 carries the same essence, that we should submit to our authorities, for it is ultimately the Lord Himself that we truly serve.

Colossians 3:22 – Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

It is in the same Spirit that we do not read about the early churches fighting back those who were oppressing them. They were persecuted, and sometimes martyred, yet, it served them well to recognize that ultimately, God had had to grant such treatment (as in the case of Job).

Paul gave a list of some of the perils Christians face and will continue to face. Yet He also recognized that God always has a plan that works for the good of His people.

Romans 8:35,36 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

The pain that comes with the Christian walk may often feel hard to bear. To stay silent when we want to respond, to hold our composure when we want to fight back, to humble ourselves when we want to rebel. There is indeed a fight that every Christian is called to engage in, but the ones described in this letter are not it! These are the times to stand still, and let God work in us, to transform us and conform us to the image of His Son.

Let us fight THE Good Fight, not the wrong ones!

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Do Not Shy Away From Them

May the God of all grace be with you. Today, allow me to exhort you on not shying away from your least favorites verses. All of us individually, our denominations, and our churches are likely to have favorites verses in the scriptures. There are also universal favorites, as well as universally unpopular ones.

But if you believe that the Word of God is the truth, then you are doing yourself a MAJOR disservice by shying away from those least favorites, since in them, are some of the most profound revelations that God has given us about Himself. Hence, when you shy away from them, your view of who God is, what is His nature or His character, is most certainly heavily skewed, and therefore inaccurate. As uncomfortable as they might be, I plead with you to dwell on them at the very least as much as you dwell on your favorite ones.

Allow me to share some of them here…a very small subset…

John 14:22,23  – God does not love everyone the same way: He makes Himself at home only to those who love Him

“But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Matthew 7:21 – Many professed Christians won’t make it!

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Hebrews 12:14 – Holiness is mandatory to make it

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Isaiah 53:2 – Jesus was not physically attractive

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

2 Timothy 4:3 – Many professed Christians fabricate their own custom Christianity – A Christianity that suits them

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

John 14:15 – The only way to Love Jesus is to do His commandments

“If you love me, keep my commands.

1 John 2:3 – If we are not keeping His commandments, then we actually do not know Him

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Philippians 1:29 – Suffering for Christ is part of the deal

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him

Ecclesiastes 1:2 (and 12:13,14) – Everything we do, without exception is absolutely pointless, unless it is out of our  reverence for God.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

May the Lord be with you all my dear friends, and may He give you the grace to take His entire counsel.

Blessings

I wish above all things…3 John 1:2

I wish above all thingsIt is safe to say that for many Christians, 3 John 1:2 is one of those “favorite” verses in the Bible. But the reason this is case, as this short study will attempt to demonstrate, is that it is often misinterpreted.

3 John 1:2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

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We hope that you will join us in studying the scriptures for yourself,  and examining this article. We look forward to your comments based on your own study of the scriptures, telling us whether or not we have misinterpreted the verses we are using in this study.
[Note: We are using the New King James Version of the Bible]

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What makes 3 John 1:2 so appealing is the “…I wish above ALL things…” segment, which appears to reveal God’s utmost desire for you and me. And that desire, which is above everything else, is that we prosper in everything, whether it be in our health, our finances, or anything else in between. How can one not love this declaration? Indeed, this interpretation is one favored by many churches. But we have reason to believe that this interpretation is simply wrong, and that some cases, those who teach it usually take pleasure in twisting God’s position regarding prosperity.

We submit to you three arguments, using the same verse and its immediate context to show why we believe the interpretation of 3 John 1:2 above is simply wrong!

Argument 1: …even as thy soul prospereth

The Greek word translated “even” is the word kathos which means “just as” or “to the degree that”. Therefore the Apostle’s wish above all things is that Gaius (the person he is writing to) would prosper and be in health “to the degree that or just as” his soul is prospering. The syntax of the statement shows clearly that what John wishes above all things “depends first” on the prosperity of his soul. The verse makes it clear that “all things” is NOT all inclusive since it does NOT include the prosperity of his soul. In stark contrast, what the verse makes clear is that it is the fact that his soul was prospering that the wish for him to prosper “equally” in other areas of his life was expressed.

I wish above all things 3

Argument 2:3 John 1:3

We believe Argument 1 is supported further by the very next verse. In verse 3, the Apostle explains why he wishes above all things that Gaius may prosper and be in health. It is because he heard how greatly his soul was prospering!

3 John 1:3 – “For” I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

The conjunction “for” at the beginning of the verse links this verse to the previous one. Gaius walked in the truth. People testified of his faith, of his godly life. And John was exceedingly (that is the Greek word lian translated greatly in 3 John 1:3) joyful about the testimony of the people about Gaius.

Think about it: Given that Gaius had such exemplary walk in the truth, how could John not wish that the rest of his life (such as his health) would also experience the “same” level of prosperity? Indeed, “given” what I am hearing about you Gaius, how you contend for the truth, and how you live it; how you walk the walk and honor our Lord Jesus-Christ, and God our Father, I have no greater wish for you Gaius, that in every single other aspect of your life, you will experience the same degree of prosperity, be it health or anything else!

Argument 3:3 John 1:4

The next verse in the passage, leaves – in our opinion – absolutely NO room for misinterpreting 3 John 1:2 as we believe we usually do. 3 John 1:4 states that there is nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that brings more joy to God than to hear that his children walk in truth.

3 John 1:4 – I have NO GREATER JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Could this verse be any clearer? What the Apostle heard from everyone regarding Gaius, as he stated in 3 John 1:3, was exactly the kind of things that brings him the most joy…Gaius was walking in truth!

Now, let us think: If nothing can bring greater joy to John than hearing that we walk in truth, how could his “greatest” wish for us be anything other than walking in the truth? It simply cannot be!

I wish above all things 4Conclusion:

The way 3 John 1:2 is often interpreted may sound good, and may make us feel good, but it is NOT the truth, at least if our interpretation is correct. The truth is that the greatest wish of God, His utmost desire for us is…for us to walk in the truth! There is NO way around it! We have to walk the walk of Christ. Nothing brings God more joy. And this truth is in the period of Grace! Even in this Grace period, there are certain things that have not changed, and will never change: There is nothing greater than walking in truth! This is how we honor the Father, and this is what brings Him the most joy!

My friends, we believe this short study demonstrates the need to study the scriptures for ourselves. If you are not in the habit of doing so, I pray that you will start reading and meditating on the scriptures for yourselves? Do not let yourself be conditioned and sometimes deceived by your “spiritual” leader? Roll your own sleeves, take your own bible, pray to the Father, and then my friend…start reading…just read! Your Father in heaver WILL guide you, if you genuinely seek to understand and walk in the truth. Remember, there is nothing than brings Him more joy than to know that you walk in truth. He will help you if you call Him and ask. Call Him, ask Him without doubt, and the Father will respond.

Glory to His highest, our Father in heaven. Glory to the Son, our Lord Jesus-Christ. Glory, honor and dominion forever, to the Father and the Son. The Son is King of kings and Lord and lords, for His Father has willed it. Father, may you teach us to walk in truth, for in this you delight, in Jesus name. Amen.

Reinserting Logic in Our Faith: What can We Learn from Abraham?

Thinking_ManPerhaps one of the most prevailing views regarding faith is that it has little or nothing to do with logic. Faith is often seen as something intangible which really cannot be explained. One either has faith or one does not. And when all fail and we run out of advice, we say…”Brother, just have faith…just have faith in Jesus”. But what does this really mean? And is that what the scriptures teach?

In Romans 4:11, Abraham is called the father of all who believe. Therefore, it should be clear to us that much can be learned from Abraham regarding faith. Is it really devoid of logic, or does faith actually embraces logic?

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We hope that you will join us in our study, by slicing, dicing and examining this article, as we seek answers to some very important questions. We look forward to your comments based on your own study of the scriptures, telling us whether or not we have misinterpreted the verses we are using in this study.
[Note: We are using the New King James Version of the Bible]

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We shall look at a key event which demonstrated Abraham’s faith: His willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac when God tested him.

Genesis 22: 1,2 – Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

The following verses (verses 3 to 9) of Genesis 22 then recounts how Abraham took his son, the wood and the fire necessary for the sacrifice, and went to the place God told him about. Then, right at the moment he was about to slay his son, an Angel of God intervened to stop him.

Genesis 22:10-12And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

The question is: How did Abraham become so ready to actually slay his son?

The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that it was because of his faith.

Hebrews 11:1,2 – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

But the author gives much more details about the faith of Abraham in verses 17 to 19.

Faith of AbrahamHebrews 11:17-19 – By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

This passage contains several interesting facts: 1) Abraham was fully aware of the promise God gave him that he will be the father of many nations through Isaac, 2) Abraham knew that dead people cannot procreate. We then see that 3) Abraham concluded that since God cannot lie, the only logical conclusion is that He was be able to raise his son from the dead.

And in fact, the Greek verb translated “concluding” in verse 19 is the word “logizomai” which means “to reason to a logical conclusion”. The very essence of the faith of Abraham is that it is was a logical reasoning which originated from key, indisputable facts regarding his God (such as His Love, His sovereign power and His inability to lie) and to which all his human reasoning had to submit. For instance, while human reasoning clearly dictates than a dead person cannot come back to life, in the case of Abraham, this reasoning did not submit to the greater reality that God could not be lying when He promised him to be a father of many nations through Isaac. Therefore, it must be that God could bring a dead person back to life. While the natural man may not see much logic in this, the spiritual man will because it is a logic which recognizes that the spiritual supersedes the natural.

What Abraham taught us therefore is that our faith rests in us knowing God personally and intimately. As we endeavor to know Him more, His key and indisputable attributes will be the origin of all our logical reasoning, and therefore, of our faith. Faith is not blind…faith is very logical indeed. What our God states in Jeremiah must really then be true….what counts is to know Him!

Jeremiah 9:24 –

23 Thus says the Lord:
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

My very dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. Let us live our faith, ever seeking to know and understand our Father in Heaven.

Glory to His name, and may His Son live forever. For Him I live.

Does Every Sin Lead to Death?

Namib-Desert-NamibiaDear brothers and sisters,

The question of whether every sin leads to death (not simply physical death, but instead, eternal separation from God) is one which has very serious implications. Chief among them is the inevitable question of whether a true Christian (someone who is born again) can end up losing the promise of eternal life. Needless to say, this is a hotly debated topic, and it is not the subject of this article. However, it makes it clear that sin is an important subject, and this article seeks to address the specific question of whether any sin leads to eternal death.

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We hope that you will join us in our study, by slicing, dicing and examining this article, as we seek answers to some very important questions. We look forward to your comments based on your own study of the scriptures, telling us whether or not we have misinterpreted the verses we are using in this study. 

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1 John 5:16,17 – If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

The Apostle John seems to be extremely clear on the subject, and his answer is: No, not all sin leads to death. There is a sin that leads to death, but not all sin do. We also believe that the context makes it quite clear that John is indeed referring to the eternal separation from God, not just the physical death we know. Yet, the Apostle James seems to contradict him.

James 1:13-15 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God…14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Not only does James attest that all sin, without exception, leads to death, but he also describes the process by which death takes place. Furthermore, it is evident that he is addressing brothers in Christ. Just see, from the very next verse (i.e. verse 16), to whom he is speaking: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren”.

Sin leads to Death_1If there is no contradiction, then it may be that the Apostle John is often misunderstood

We believe the Apostle John is often misunderstood when he says “…there is sin not leading to death”. Let us revisit what he says and pay attention to a few key points.

1 John 5:16If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.

Here is a question: If there is a sin that does not lead to death, why is John saying that anyone who will petition for that brother who commits such sin will give that brother life, as if he had lost it? Isn’t it a strange statement? Why is there a need to give life to someone if that person never lost it?

It is also noteworthy that, save for the expression…which does not lead to death in 1 John 5:16 above, the Apostle John seems to be in perfect agreement with the Apostle James.

James 5:19,20 – Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Both John and James appear to convey the same idea that someone who petitions for or brings back a brother who has been living in sin will give that brother life (James says…will save a soul from death). Yet, in stark contrast, when it comes to a brother who has committed that “special” sin (for lack of better word) that leads to death, John goes so far as forbidding us even to pray for him. As a side note, see how both John and James refer to that person living in sin (any sin) as a brother (John says “…brother” while James says “…among you”, both of which meaning the same thing). Both John and James seem to be referring to those living in sin but yet are part of the church.

The evidences appear to suggest that Death (i.e. Eternal separation from God) is a process, not a sudden occurrence

Sin leads to Death_2How should you and I respond when we see our brother or sister committing sin? For all sin, we should intervene…we should pray, petition, and confront that brother or sister. But for one specific sin – that “special” sin – we should not do anything, because that brother or sister will absolutely die, be eternally separated from God! This is what John is saying. But what is that “special” sin? We believe that our Lord Jesus spoke specifically about it.

Matthew 12:32 – Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

We believe this is the sin John makes reference to, blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. What is the point of petitioning for someone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit if the Lord Jesus-Christ Himself says that such person will never, ever be forgiven? It is pointless to intervene because that person will not repent, and because God will not answer our prayer. John simply says…don’t pray for it! On the other hand, it is important to note that James indicates that eternal separation from God (i.e. death) is a process, not sudden occurrence. He himself gave the steps in the process in James 1:14, 15: First, we get enticed and drawn away by our very own desires. Second, our desire then gives birth to sin. Third, our sin grows. And fourth, when our sin has reached full maturity, death takes place.

The Lord Jesus-Christ Himself appears to confirm the fact that death is indeed a process. Consider Revelation 3:2.

Revelation 3:2 – Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.

We believe that Christ was warning the church in Sardis to confront those who were living in sin within the church because their sins were getting close to reaching full maturity…they were indeed ready to die.

Understanding that death is a process and not a sudden occurrence probably explains why both James and John are speaking of giving life to a brother who is sinning. During that process, death is slowly but surely coming. But is only fully realized when sin has reached full maturity. Nevertheless, when you and I – my dear friends – intervene for our sister during that process, confronting her, praying and interceding for her, etc. we effectively block that process and prevent sin from reaching full maturity. Therefore we will be giving life to that sister who was in effect losing it. John says “…he will give him life”, and James “…he will save a soul from death”. These in our opinion, speak of the same thing.

The process of sin leading to death is analogous to a cancer spreading in the body.

Sin leads to Death_3Think of cancer, any cancer. The stages through which someone with cancer goes are not very different than the process of death described above. From the very moment someone gets a cancer of any kind, that person is in effect dying, although it may not appear to be so in the beginning. But if that cancer is left unchecked, it will eventually reach full maturity and will absolutely kill that person. That is an absolute certainty. However, the sooner the cancer is detected and addressed, the higher the chance of completely restoring life to that person. But the more advanced the state of the cancer, the more effort is required to undo its effect in the body, even though there is still hope.

As any doctor will tell, there is indeed a point when nothing else can be done, and the person will die. True, that point where nothing else can be done may be much further than any doctor would dare to believe (and many accounts of miracle healing are here to prove it), but the fact remains that such point does indeed exist, especially if nothing is done. Similarly, the point where sin reaches full maturity may be really afar off, all because of the great mercy of our Father, but the Apostle James assures us that full maturity of sin is an absolute reality. This fact truly speaks of the mercy of God: While life is not a process (it is instantaneous), death is a process, it takes time. Death is the process of losing life. One cannot help but realize that God does really have a huge bias toward giving life than letting someone die. Oh, His mercy my people…His Mercy!!!!

Is full maturity of sin equivalent to blaspheming against the Holy Spirit?

We believe the answer is “No”, those two are not equivalent. This is our position because on one hand, John asserts that someone who is born again cannot blaspheme against the Holy Ghost (if we understood his expression…the sin that lead to death…correctly). Yet, on the other, it is evident that James applies the process of sin reaching full maturity to anyone, Christians and non-Christian alike. “Perhaps” this is the reason our Lord alludes to the possibility of forgiveness taking place even after this present age. But that is another topic.

We conclude that every sin does indeed lead to death: “No one” seems to be exempt from that process.

We understand that some may strongly disagree with the conclusions of this article. But from our study, we believe that the Apostles John and James are not contradicting each other. Quite the contrary, they are only confirming what each other said. Sin – any sin – lead to the same result, and that result is death, eternal separation from God. But sin produces that death only when it is fully mature. This fact, if true, does speak loudly about our Father’s bias toward life and not death. Sin absolutely has to be fully mature to be able to kill someone. Not “somewhat” mature or “partly” mature…it has to be “fully” mature! This is the love of God my people.

But while the above is truly comforting, the fact that such death does indeed exist, and apparently for anyone according to both John and James, should really cause us – Christians – to act as spiritual men and women, and no longer as babies. It is our responsibility to cease every singly opportunity to break that death-producing process in ourselves, and in our brother or sister who are sinning. If our understanding is correct, we do not need to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit to meet death. But we only need to reject repentance and continue in our own lust and desires to meet death. Both the tremendous love of God toward us on one hand and the chilling reality of eternal separation from God on the other are captured powerfully in the following verse.

2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Look how the merciful nature of God, “perishing” (which is that death or eternal separation from God) and “repenting” are tightly interlinked in this verse. The mercy of God exists to give time for people to repent so that they will not end up being eternally separated from God. When someone repents, that persons renounces to live any longer in sin, and it is very reason why repentance is the antidote to death, because sin leads to death.

Sin leads to Death_4Are we looking out for our brothers and sisters?

My friends, it is time to wake up, and to step up. It is time to do what James is telling us…to turn our brothers and sisters back from living in sin. This is not about what “they want to do” because it is “their life”. It is about them “losing” their life and you and me “giving them” back their life promised of God. How can we claim to be loving our people, our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our children or our friends when we are willing to let them live in sin. Have they blasphemed against the Holy Spirit…chances are…No! So there is still hope! Just like the human body can endure far more of the cancer attack than the doctors are willing to believe, the mercy of our God extend far beyond what we can often imagine. Therefore, instead of counting some people as already lost, we should be those people James and John are calling us to be: Givers of life!

Let’s be honest my friends. How much you and me are praying for our people? How genuinely are we praying for our people that the power of sin be broken in their lives? Do we take that time my people? Do we take that time to intercede for them and confront them? Or are we afraid to look “uncool” because we might be looked at being “too tight” in this life, or minding someone else’s business? As you know, this is not a joke my people. The blood of our Lord has been spilled to save us. How are we treating that blood that once washed us completely clean. Do we return in the mud??? Do we allow our loved ones to return in the mud??? May the Lord be with all of us my people, and may He provoke us to love, that we may mature and be those life giving people He has called us to be. 

No Milk Here: God is Not A Cow!

If you consider yourself a faithful follower of – or have an affinity toward – Mega Church Pastor Joel Osteen, then please be aware that you might be offended by this article. However, after considerable reflection on the ministry trust of Pastor Joel Osteen (someone I used to follow quite regularly at some point), I came to the conclusion that his teachings are some of the most dangerous ones we are receiving today regarding the Gospel of Christ. He is not the only one in that mold, but this is beside the point we are making here. In addition, we are not attacking the person here. We are only focused on his teachings, and I really would like to read your reaction according to the scriptures.

dairy cow

It is understandable if someone does not see Pastor Osteen’s teachings as fitting squarely under the “prosperity” gospel umbrella. “Prosperity” gospel refers essentially to the “give and you should receive” message mantra with the objective of collecting as much money as possible from followers. In contrast to such, Pastor Osteen very rarely (if at all) ever teach about tithing for example. I personally never heard him teach on tithing or even on the giving of money in general. His messages are not focused on giving to his church. Matter of fact, and perhaps what I have always found most appealing about his sermons (even now), is that, at the end of each sermon, he always encourages people to find a Bible-based church – not necessarily “his” church; just a Bible-based church. I have always and continue to think that this is remarkable and to be admired.

But let us now focus on the central thesis of his message. In essence, Joel Osteen tells us about how to think in order to obtain those things we desire. In that thinking sphere, God is absolutely central. He is the Provider. Whether you desire a better job, good health for your family, a promotion at work, or to be out of debt, the key is to confess the positive, claiming that you have received those things that you want. God is “key” in this process. He is the One who provides and will provide for you. He is our Father and His supply is unlimited. He is, after all, the creator of the universe. You did not get selected for the Disctrict Manager position? Do not despair because it only means that God has something better in store for you . Who knows, you may find out later that you did not get that position because God was really placing you for Senior VP. You want good health for your children? You want to get out of debt? Then confess that it is done, be focused on the desired result, and thank God for already having it…claim it to be yours.

This is in essence Joel Osteen’s ministry. And I might add that there are plenty of verses one may use to support this approach. So what is possibly wrong with a message where God is absolutely central, and where I am encouraged to think positively and expect Him to supply all my needs?

This is where, in my opinion, a little analysis pays great dividend. The scriptures are about “precision”!God is not a cow_1

Think “very” clearly about it: What happens over time as one heeds and acts on such teachings? The person starts to look at his or her life more intensely. Especially when the message appears to work, what these teachings encourage is for each of us to concentrate on each aspect of our lives, searching for every area that can be “improved” in some way, and claiming God’s abundance for that desired improvement. Living in an apartment but would like to be a homeowner…here is an area of my life I need to focus on and address. This-needs-to-change. In debt? This-needs-to-change. My children could be in a better school…this-needs-to-change. I rightfully deserve to be better compensated for the job I am doing… this-needs-to-change. My marriage should improve. This-needs-to-change. More and more areas of our lives fall under our scrutiny. Our lives have our undivided attention.

Where is our focus therefore? On our lives…on OUR business! And when we make God the central piece in our solution, what are we now consumed with? Making OUR business God’s business. But is this what the scriptures teach…to make our business God’s business?

Let’s see a few passages

Our Lord Jesus-Christ: John 4:34 – “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work.

The Lord Jesus-Christ at the end of His life: John 19:28,29 – Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” …30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Paul toward the end of his life: 2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.

The statement of work from our Lord could not be more clear and emphatic! His FOOD was to do God’s business and to finish it! NOT to make His business God’s business, but to make God’s business His business! And He confirmed the completion of the work on the cross: It is Finished!

What fight is the Apostle Paul referring to? God’s business of course! See Ephesians 6.

Ephesians 6:18-20 – Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…19 And for meto make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

How does an ambassador…in bonds (a slave!) have time to focus on his own affairs? Should not a slave be completely devoted to His master? How can he effectively take care of the Master’s business if he is consumed with satisfying his own desires? The Lord says:

Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

When the Lord says No one, He means No one! Not even Himself!

Our Lord describes doing and finishing His Father’s business as His food! Doing the Father’s business was an “everyday” endeavor! When you do not eat for a day, it is called a fast…but the scripture does not tell us to fast regarding God’s business. Matter of fact, what did the Lord do on the one day of week God had ordained for resting (i.e. the Sabbath)? He still did his Father’s business!

Luke 14:3,4 – And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

***The following paragraphs have been edited since this article was first posted***

Although appearing truly sound on the surface, I am afraid that teachings which lead us toward focusing on our own lives go against what God is expecting of us; that is, to focus on His Kingdom. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was warning Timothy about.

2 Timothy 4:3 – …the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:3 is not saying that all our desires are negative (e.g. There is nothing wrong with desiring my children to be in a better school). Yet this verse condemns “focusing” on our desires…period…good and bad; and that, even if the strategy to obtain them is to put God at the very center of them! Paul’s warning should be contrasted with his advice to Timothy…“endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”In other words…Be focused on God’s business! I do not think it is a stretch to postulate that it is understood by this advice that God would obviously take care of Timothy’s needs.

I believe it is important for you and me to realize that the mere fact of being conscious of God, of His existence, of His goodness and of His abundant grace is not equivalent to doing His will, but merely a prerequisite to it. Satan is very much conscious of God’s existence, goodness and abundant grace as he sees every day what God does for mankind in general, and for His children in particular.  Yet, Satan is not at all in fellowship with the Father because He does not “do” His will.  

Matthew 24:42-46 – “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

My dear people, our God is NOT a cow. Our Father is NOT a cow that is just waiting to be milked whenever we have a need. No my people! NO! We are supposed to be soldiers for His Kingdom! We are supposed to be watchmen! We are supposed to fight the good fight! Instead of focusing on our lives and attempting to milk God for each of our desires, we should be setting our eyes on our Lord, praying to always have the strength to do HIS business, and to do it well, and to finish it. I am Christ’s ambassador, I am Christ’s servant, I am Christ’s slave…My Father is NOT my cow. My dear people, may our Lord Jesus-Christ enlighten all of us, that we may be found worthy when He returns. To our God be the Glory, and may His Christ, our King live forever!