When Faith Erupts

My friends;

May the grace and peace of our God be with you. In this letter I would like to share some examples where faith manifested itself in spectacular fashion. Faith can and does erupt, for it is the all-conquering power that our Lord Jesus gave us. Faith is power from Jesus! Consider what the Apostle John says about it…

1 John 5:4For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

If you are God’s child, whether you realize it or not, allow me to bring to your remembrance that you have a power within , THE power to live a life of one who conquers, one who wins!

But how does the winning faith looks like? How do you expect those around you reacting to it? Will they be amazed? or perplexed? Will they applaud you or laugh at you? Below, I am revisiting some scenarios, most of which you are probably familiar with, with the hope that you will be desirous to see the explosive power of your own faith, the faith that Jesus gave you.

When Faith erupts…you can actually hear it…and it roars!  

Yes, you can hear faith! And when it erupts like a volcano, Jesus Himself marvels, for its mighty roaring resonates in one accord with His Own Spirit.

Luke 7:9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned about and said unto the people who followed Him, “I say unto you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel.”

Jesus was amazed at the faith He had just heard…faith, in full strength had just spoken! The man in question was a Centurion, whose servant was dying. Jesus was already going to his place to heal the servant, but the Centurion sent him the following words…his faith erupted!

Luke 7:6Lord, trouble not Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof…But say the word, and my servant shall be healed.

When Faith erupts…you can smell it…and Oh the fragrance!

Yes, you can smell faith in its full strength…and what a fragrance it has! A woman, a sinner, comes to Jesus, lays at His feet…and began to wipe them…with her own hair…tears…and an expensive fragrance!

Luke 7:37,38And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

Luke 7:50And he [Jesus] said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Jesus could see, feel and smell that faith…and it was of a sweet odor…the faith of that poor sinner!

When Faith erupts…you can feel it!

Luke 8:43-45And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. 45 And Jesus said, Who touched me?

Though Jesus was surrounded by a multitude, pressed and touched on every side…when FAITH touched Him…He could not resist! He HAD to acknowledge it…WHO TOUCHED ME?

Luke 8:48And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

My friends, when faith erupts in its strength…when faith rises from its shadows, when that time comes…our LORD JESUS can’t help Himself but stop and take notice…for it is HIS OWN POWER he sees and feels! Faith can be felt!

When Faith erupts…you can see it!

Mark 12:41-43And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.

The poor widow…her faith erupted on the surface, the power that overcomes the world…the power to overcome her human instinct to save her life by keeping these last two cents to feed herself. It was a sight for Jesus to behold…He had to comment…HE HAD TO! The power of faith was evidenced! Faith had come on the surface.

You will notice from these few popular examples, that when Faith erupts, it may appear even as a bizarre thing to the untrained eye…who will dare ask Jesus not to come to their own house because they are not worthy, and instead simply ask Him to “say the word” from where He is? What madness is it to lower yourself so much as to wipe someone else’s feet with your own tears and hair? What silliness to believe that touching someone’s garment will heal you of a disease you could not be cured from? And how is giving away your last cent a sound act?

BUT the trained eye will recognize that that is FAITH…erupting like a volcano! The power of God that overcomes the world, in manifestation. 

When FAITH erupts my friends…JESUS Himself notices! The martyrs of old times, who died for their faith, looked like poor fools to those who killed them, because they could not see that it was actually their Faith roaring in full strength, overcoming everything the world could possibly throw at them. The Lord has given you faith my dear friend…I exhort you to grow in it and let it erupt, to the glory and joy of Your master above. 

In His name!

Amen.

Behold, All that he has is in your hand

Children of the Kingdom;

Grace, mercy and peace on you from God our Father, and from Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Behold, all that he has is in your hand.  This short statement, uttered by God, was all it took for a man’s life to be turned completely upside down. You are familiar with Job, the famous character in the Bible who lost everything. Yet, Job was the best in the entire world according to none other than God Himself.

Job 1:8 –  Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?

This was God’s own description of Job! We also read a bit earlier just how prosperous and wealthy he was

Job 1:3 -…this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.

Not only was job wealthy, and blessed with a large family, having 10 children, but he also feared God. What a combination! One might consider that he was the greatest living example of what it meant to be blessed! Matter of fact, Satan himself acknowledged it…

Job 1:10 – Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.

But one sentence, one sentence from God was all it took for Job’s life to change forever…”Behold, all that he has is in your hand” (Job 1:12). In ONE day…Job lost everything…his wealth, his reputation, his servants, and ALL his children. His own sweetheart even came to him, and advised him to simply curse God and die (Job 2:9)! She was astonished that Job was so foolish as to still maintain his integrity before God.

Oh that we would grasp Who it is that we have to answer to!

Our lives hang on the mouth of God…His words! Before Him, we rise or we fall. Let us not think that because our lives are fine, it is because we somehow are deserving of it, nor if our lives are a misery, it is because we are deserving of it either. God makes the rich and the poor. He raises one, abases another. One day we are in a green field, the next we might be in the valley of the shadow of death. You would think that after all Job went through (and that without cause!), that God would rush to comfort him as we would deem appropriate! Ohhh…not so!

Job 38:1 – Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

But you see, He is God, and He came down and spoke at length to His servant. He took His time to teach His servant who He really was, because he, job, was a servant He was deeply in love with. One may look at the metal worker beating frantically at a piece of metal he just subjected to an intense heat and call that person heartless and perhaps even…a fool! But the learned eye will recognize the deep love of the metal worker for his craft, and for the fine piece of art he is determined to create.

You see, Job had now experienced something he had not experienced in his entire life, even as a God fearing man…

Job 42:5,6 – I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

How much stronger do you suppose was Job’s faith after this experience? How much stronger was his connection with the God He served all his life? How much more did he understands Him? and loved Him? How did he feel, though he realized that he was nothing, even despising himself after experiencing God, that God from the seat of His throne knew Him personally, and loved Him personally?

My friend, whether you are living in abundance or you have known nothing but misery in your life,  maintain your integrity as Job did (Job 1:22).  God loves His own! Do not accuse Him foolishly, for He is Lord of all. Praise Him, and offer Him your tears if in despair. He hears you and delight greatly in those who fear Him, and shall reward you in His own ways…just like he rewarded Job by unveiling Himself to Him. 

In the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

 

Faith Without Works is Dead: What Did James Mean?

Children of the Kingdom;

May the grace and peace of God be with you in Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The purpose of this second letter about Grace and Works is to demonstrate that James was not preaching salvation by works in addition to grace, but was describing instead the defining characteristics of the faith through which Grace saves. In our previous letter we stated.

…in stark contrast to the kinds of works which only God can design and bring at His divinely appointed time, which can only be successfully performed if faith is present (the bible often refers to them as good works), there is a category of works that is vehemently denounced and rejected by the scriptures, which can literally bring a curse on the one performing it. These works seek to take the place of the grace of God, the place of Jesus, making light of who He is and of His sacrifice.

What did James mean in James 2:20?

James 2:20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

In a nutshell, James is telling us to live out what we confess. Eight verses earlier he said:

James 2:12 [ESV] So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.

Later on (in James 5:18), he continued the same thought by simply stating…

James 5:12 [ESV]…but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no

Christians should be men and women of integrity, of Godly integrity! Our acts, our way of life, the things we delight in and things we hate should all be in alignment with our oral confession that we agree with everything God said! So speak…so act! So speak…so act! Let us live out what we confess! Let us stop with excuses!

This exhortation is to be found time and again in the scriptures. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, said the following:

Matthew 15:8,9 [ESV]So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

There is such a thing as worshipping in vain…when we speak, but do not act. When we confess the Lord, but do not do what He says, choosing instead to do things manufactured by other men, yet portrayed as commandments of God. This is all what James was referring to: If I agree with God, then you should not only hear it from my mouth (for example when I sing worshipping songs), but you should also see it in the way I live! You should be able to read the scriptures through my life.

NOW…was James preaching therefore salvation by works also? Oh that God will protect us from such foolish accusation. In addition to the above, one needs no further evidence than the two examples James himself used to make his point: Abraham, with the sacrifice of his son, and Rahab, the gentile prostitute who hid the spies.

Abraham lived more than 400 years before the law of Moses was given. How therefore could James be referring to works of the law which did not yet exist? Abraham did not orchestrate the death of his son; how therefore could this act be his own performance? Rahab was not from Israel; how therefore could she have been familiar with their Law? Does the law of Moses say anything hiding spies? Could Rahab have orchestrated in advance such an act?

James did not choose anyone who lived under the law, perhaps to precisely to protect us from such a misunderstanding. Yet, there were many under the law who demonstrated strong faith (David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc.). But James do say…if we do not live out what we confess, then we are only fooling ourselves. Let us strive, let us strive my people to live out the faith we claim. If we do not strive, if we cannot evidence it…then our faith is dead, and that faith can’t save us.

That is why he asked the question:

James 2:14 [ESV]What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

The answer is obvious…NO, no, that type of faith can’t save us. It is no faith at all, hence Grace has nothing to work with to save us, for by Grace we are saved through faith.

May the mercy of our God be with us to give us strength to grow in the faith that saves.

In the Name above all name: Jesus, the Christ.

Amen.

 

Once Saved – Always Saved? What does this debate mean for you?

If you consider yourself to be a Christian, then you may have asked yourself the question of whether you can lose your salvation. In fact, this question is among the most debated ones in Christianity. Can a born-again believer lose his salvation?

The objective of this letter is not to share my view on the question. Rather, the objective is to show you how serious this matter truly is, regardless of the conviction you may hold about what the right answer might be. Consider one of the chief passages from the scriptures behind this controversy.

Hebrews 6:1-6 [ESV]Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

IF you believe that a born-again believer cannot lose his salvation, then there is only one conclusion regarding this passage: It cannot be speaking about those who are born-again. It is speaking about those who are not born-again. And conversely, if you believe this passage is speaking about born-again believers, then there is only one conclusion: a born-again believer can indeed lose his salvation.

What is interesting is that depending on the position you are holding on this matter, this passage sends two different, but equally serious warnings to you.

This is the message to you, Christian, whoever you are, if indeed the people in Hebrews 6:1-6 are born-again:

“YOU-CAN-FALL. Do not rest on your laurels, but stand and watch, honor Jesus your King here on earth, or you will be in danger of spending eternity in hell.”

This is the message to you, Christian, whoever you are, if indeed the people in Hebrews 6:1-6 are NOT born-again:

“You, self-professed Christian, DO-NOT-BE-DECEIVED. Do not believe that you are born-again even though 1) you have once been enlightened, AND 2) you have tasted the heavenly gift, AND 3) you have shared in the Holy Spirit, AND 5) you have tasted the goodness of the word of God AND even 6) you have tasted the powers of the age to come.”

My friend, are you grasping the gravity of this passage? Many self-professed Christians have relied on the fact that they once prayed the sinner’s prayer, or onto the fact that they were baptized at their church, or on whatever other experiences they have had or beliefs they hold, to convince themselves that they are born again. Many self-professed Christians have yet to experience just ONE – let alone ALL 6! – evidence(s) listed in Hebrews 6:4-6, and YET they believe to be born again, while this passage confirms that they are not, if indeed once you are saved, you are always saved.

And on the other hand, if indeed one can lose his salvation, then this passage is saying, “How can you, you a born-again, how can you, having experienced ALL THESE THINGS, this manifold grace of God, how in the world can you fall back again into living in the flesh…this is nothing but pure folly and madness, for you are crucifying Jesus, the Son of God AGAIN. It is over for you, you cannot be brought back to repentance, you are doomed and will spend eternity in hell.”

My friends, it is not the intention of this letter to trivialize the ongoing debate on the subject, for the truth of the scriptures, and the truth of the scriptures alone is what we should search for diligently, what we should hold onto dearly, and what we should preach fervently.

Nevertheless, I would like to caution that, as we debate and ponder on this question, we do not lose sight of the more important, and ultimately only truly relevant question that this debate and Hebrews 6 really raise:

AM I BORN AGAIN, AND AM I WALKING? 

This question, is a matter of Life and Death. Oh my people, awake from your sleep! AWAKE! The day is far spent. Do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Do you know if you will be granted another day among the living? So what don’t you rise from your spiritual sleep and walk in a manner worthy of the One you call Lord? Stand up and watch, examine yourself whether you are in the faith, and may the Lord Himself reveal in you that which is lacking, for it is better to enter His Kingdom missing one hand, than for your whole being to be cast away from the presence of God. 

May His grace be upon you. Thanks be to God, the Father, and to Jesus the King of all kings.

Amen.

Do not be overconfident about your faith

Dear Children of the Kingdom;

May God our Father, and His Son, our gracious Lord and Savior Jesus-Christ be with you all, as you read this letter. Could it be that most of us are overconfident about our own faith? When we think of our own love for Jesus or how strongly we believe that the Bible is in fact the Word of God, we say “No one can take away from me what I believe. No one can take my Jesus from me”.

But aren’t those statements a declaration of how we perceive our own faith? We believe that our faith must be strong enough to the point where there is nothing that will ever take it away from us. However, and paradoxically, when times gets really tough, we try to encourage ourselves (or someone tries to encourage us) from the erroneous idea that Jesus said…”you only need faith the size of a mustard seed. Even if your faith is as tiny as a mustard seed, you can move mountains, you can surmount this challenge.”

Is our overconfidence pure ignorance or foolish pride? It must be at least one of the two.

Peter, a close of disciple of Jesus, got to learn just how overconfident he was about his own faith, and the lesson was perhaps the most painful one he had ever received.

On the night He was to be arrested, Jesus said this to His disciples:

Matthew 26: 31,32 – Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

But look at what Peter, being overconfident of his faith, said…

Matthew 26:33 – Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.

To which Jesus responded:

Matthew 26:34,35 – “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Not just Peter, but all the disciples confessed that they will never deny Jesus…and the THEY ALL DID IT THAT SAME NIGHT. You see, their feelings for Jesus was not the problem. Those feelings were genuine.

But it is not by the feelings that one lives, it is not by them that one stands, and it is not by them that one honors Christ. Instead, it is by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God that one lives, stands and honors Christ. And His words were… “This very night you will all fall away on account of me…”.

Are we better than the disciples who walked with Jesus? They were men and women just like us, and we are men and women just like them!

Have you considered the reason Jesus gave for why the time of tribulation will be shortened in the end days.

Matthew 24:21,22 – …there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”

If those days of tribulations are not shortened, no one will make it! But those days are shortened so as not to break the elect!

Do not be overconfident about your faith, it will be your downfall. Instead, continuously strive to grow in that faith!

Look at how that same Peter – much later in his life and just before his death – expresses this truth to you and me

2 Peter 1:4-6 – …make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Take courage my friends. Since we have so many examples that have come before us, let us throw off everything that hinders and sin that entangles us so easily (Hebrews 12:1). Instead, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, not being ignorant or prideful regarding our own faith, but trusting in His Word, for through His Word, and His Word only, we will rise or fall.

In His Name Only, majesty without end!

The Grace To Pick Up My Cross

Grace_Title

May the peace and grace of God our Father, and of His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus-Christ, be with you. But grace, Oh the grace of God…what does it mean? As I am seating here in my home in the late hours of the night, I cannot but conclude that, in my day, much of the teachings of the Apostles, and of Jesus-Christ Himself have been lost. Today, thanks to the false teachings of many eloquent men and women, rather than growing in humility, Christians are increasingly proud and boastful. They claim to be humble, pretending to be giving all the glory to Christ, but will not do one of His commands, to follow Him wherever He goes. What they sing at worship they do not do. They admire what He has accomplished in His life and on the cross, but this admiration does not translate into a change of life. They are like one who stares at Jesus on the cross, weeps and is in awe of Him for His ultimate sacrifice, but then return to his former life, leaving Him on the cross.

But the grace of God calls for Christians to take up their own crosses, and to follow Christ even in suffering. That is the only way true grace can be experienced. God told the Apostle Paul “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. To which Paul replied “…therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. But Christians today are proud, and speak as if the power of Christ is a permanent fixture upon them. They avoid insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ. Yet, they have the arrogance to claim that power. How can one fail to notice the proud and triumphalist tone of Christians in the proclamation of their faith? While Christians are called to humility, and urged to constantly pray for God’s help, many a Christian today rest in their own self-assurance that they are in perfect harmony with God through the blood of Christ. They walk around proud, claiming to be forgiven, to be righteous, to be highly favored, that God knows their name, to have eternal life, and that the devil is under their feet. Yet their lives hardly reflect the elevated status they claim to be at. They are not different from those who do not claim to know God, and often times, they are far worse than them.

Grace_5The grace of God has been reduced to a badge of honor for far too many Christians. It is their assurance of eternal life with Jesus Himself, because they recall the day they accepted Him as Lord, or are constantly reminded of such by their favorite preacher. But how can one pride himself in having understood what Christ has accomplished on the cross? Humility, not pride is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Pride, regardless of the domain, is sin, even if it is in regards to who we are today. Because they think they have understood the message of grace, they “rest” in the finished works of Christ, and admire, as under a spell, their “new found identity” in Christ. Yet, they hardly acquaint themselves with the very person they call Lord, and are oblivious to His constant call to join Him in the great work for the Kingdom. They forget that with much suffering and afflictions were the pages of the New Testament written. Peter, Paul, John, and the other apostles all sacrificed much of their life so that the grace of God will be preached and lived.
In their letter to the Galatians, Paul gave us a glimpse of the fight he and his companions had to wage to protect the preaching of Christ, the grace of God. Jude, Peter, John all did the same. Who told us that the fight was over? Why aren’t we picking up our own cross as they did and follow in their footsteps, as they followed in Christ’s? We are hardly ready to lift a finger for our Lord, and that as long as it is not an inconvenience for us. And God forbid if we have to suffer for it. How low have we fallen!

The passages of scriptures that warn us against false teachings, and against living according to our former nature are systematically overlooked. No one wants to hear those warnings. Oh that we will not dare confront a brother or sister, preferring instead to focus on the “goodness of God”, for that approach is “more effective in bringing someone to repentance”, so we say. Should we now teach God? The saying goes that if the message does not make me feel good, then it must not be the gospel. Oh, what a deception from hell, what a disgrace to our Lord and to our God. Should not a loving Father warn and correct His children. Read the Old testament, and see how God dealt severely with Israel. Was it because He hated them, or because He loved them? Has God changed? Could Israel have survived as a nation if God had not dealt with it as a loving Father, blessing every time, but also disciplining when necessary?  Grace_2Why do you suppose Israel kept killing all the true prophets? Was it not because they were offended at their words? Have you read the words of Christ? Or have you considered why many disciples stop following Him? Would you now teach Jesus because He should have known better than offending many?

Conveniently we forget that the Apostles foretold of the time when people will no longer endure sound doctrine, and will choose instead to listen to those teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. Oh how has the Evil One, that Wicked One blinded the eyes of many my brethren.

What many call the gospel of Grace today is nothing more than a doctrine of demons, coming straight from the gates of Hell. It is a gospel of death and not of life. The Holy Spirit, that great comforter is all but forgotten. He is not disliked, just forgotten. Prayer is but a casual act we do before eating or sleeping, or when we are in distress. No one really cares about the feelings of our Lord. Don’t get me wrong, we sure love everything He did, and admire Him for who He is. But that does not mean we love Him. Even our genuine feelings for Him are not proof that we love Him. Obeying His voice, as our master, as the head, that is what matters! Have you but considered that He is afflicted? That He knocks on the door to dine with you but you would not open it because you cannot hear. And you cannot hear because you cannot recognize His voice and are too busy with your own affairs? Yet you claim to know Him! He bore our sins so that you and I would be free to obey Him and be in relationship with Him. Of course, He loves you, but don’t you think He is hurt when you would not listen to Him? We pray only to satisfy our personal wishes, and never beg Him to reveal His plans to us? Unlike Peter, we praise Jesus but will only do it from the comfort of the boat and will not dare to come out of it and walk on the water, even at His command. Yet, we claim to love Him.

We claim to know Him, when we should be screaming… “I have not yet taken hold of Christ, as He took hold of me, but I am pressing toward it, Father, help me in my faith for I am weak”. When are we going to wake up my brothers and sisters? When are we going to go on our knees, not because we want a promotion in our job, or success in our business, but because we disparately need Him to work in us so that day after day we will win the battle against our flesh, and grow in union with Him. So that we will be busy with His affairs, and not our own! Have we thought that He and His Father long to see fruits in our lives? God’s Son is the tree and we are the branches; the Father visits us and desires fruits…but far too often He return empty-handed, for all the branches are barren. Grace_3But we refuse to hid the warning that despite His great love and mercy, there comes a time when the Father will remove those branches that do not produce those fruits Him and His Son so long for.

Oh my people that we would repent from our sinful lives, for we are trampling the grace of God under foot. Oh that God would be gracious to us to remove the veil from our eyes. We are blind, and do not know it. The Children of light are walking in darkness, Oh what a tragedy. Where are the Christians? Where are the Sons of the Kingdom? You my brethren are meant to be the light of the world. You are like a prince that knows He is a prince but brings shame to the name by his riotous living.  How can you be that light if you are proud of your status as a Son of God? Is there such thing as a “good” pride? Is pride acceptable here? How can you be that light if you do not carry your cross and your spiritual armor? Will you stand against the devil without the latter?

Oh that you would remember the words of your Lord that those who exalt themselves will be humbled. Or the twenty-four elders in the book of Revelation. Is there a greater position of honor than to be in the inner circle of God Himself? Yet those elders cast their crowns at His foot saying that He (not them) is worthy! Why don’t we call ourselves “unprofitable servants” instead, for this is what the Lord Himself commanded! He did not call us to brag about ourselves but to humble ourselves and see ourselves as unprofitable, even after doing all He would have commanded us. But if we do not even do those things He commands us, then what are we my brothers and sisters? What we are we?

Oh that my Lord will be gracious to us. Father forgive us, forgive me. Give us more faith to live for you Oh Righteous Father. For the sake of Your Son answer my prayer.  Don’t you desire Father to gather fruits from us? But how can we produce them unless your grace comes to us. Be merciful Father and give us a new heart, for the sake of Your Son, our Lord Jesus, King of Kings, Lord or Lords. Amen.    

What Shall I do to inherit Eternal Life?

Bible-for-LIVING-THE-WORDThere are at least two occasions where Jesus, when He was on earth, was asked this question directly: “What shall I do to inherit Eternal Life?” If we think about it, today, we essentially ask the same question, just differently: How do I know I am saved? Or, Can I lose my salvation? Christ is the only gate to Eternal Life. Therefore, shouldn’t we treasure the answers that our Lord Himself gave to this question? Who – we may ask – better than Christ Himself is qualified to answer this question? Shouldn’t Christ’s words on the matter – the One in whom Eternal Life resides (1 John 5:11) – be esteemed for what they really are: the authoritative answer on the subject of Eternal Life?

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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 International Version (NIV) Bible. The numbers in parenthesis next to each Greek word is the Strong’s Concordance number]

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Some may argue that Christ’s answers are not necessarily applicable today, in the administration of Grace in which we live, since He spoke those words before His death, resurrection, and the advent of the Holy Spirit who now dwells in those who believe. But to that position, we strongly disagree, and we shall submit to you our reasoning for believing that the answers Jesus-Christ gave back then are just as true and relevant to us today as they were to the people who heard them more than 2,000 years ago. But first, let us examine the two records where the Lord Jesus-Christ was asked this question.

Record 1: Mark 10:17.

Mark 10:17And when he [Jesus] was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

The following was Christ’s first response:

Mark 10:18, 19“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’

Please note that Christ linked Eternal Life to the observance of the royal commandments that God gave on the two tablets of stone. It is also worth noting that Christ made absolutely no reference to the Law of Moses. And it gets even more interesting from that point. The man responded as follow:

Mark 10:19“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

And to this response, the Lord Jesus said:

Mark 10:20 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

First it says that Jesus “looked” at him. The Greek verb translated “look” is emblepó (1689) which means that Jesus did not just look, but He stared at him with a “locked-in gaze”; He looked at him in a sustained, concentrated way, with special “interest, love or concern”. This was not your regular look. If this man did not have the Lord’s attention before, he certainly had it now. And the verse says that after looking at him in such way…He loved him! Oh Father in heaven…what does that mean?? Father, what do you mean that Christ loved him? Why, Father, did you judge it necessary for us to know that Christ loved this man before answering him again?

After loving him, Christ finally unveiled where the man was falling short. He fully exposed the deepest fleshy passions of his own soul: The man was too attached to his current life. Jesus invited him to leave his current life behind, and to follow Him. And what followed is nothing but pure sadness…

Mark 10:21At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

The English translation does not capture completely the gravity, the intensity, of this moment. The word here translated “sad” is the Greek word lupeó (3076) which means severe sorrow and pain. According to the definition, it is the same word used to express the pain of childbirth! Just imagine the grief in this man’s soul! Perhaps – just perhaps – this is why Jesus first looked at him so intently and then loved him, because He knew the excruciating pain the man was about to experience once He fully exposes his fleshy passions. But you see my friends…our Christ is The Christ, He cannot change Himself, He cannot deny who He is (2 Timothy 2:13)…He will tell us the truth. Nothing is hidden before His face.

But here it is…here was the answer: Question: What should I do to inherit Eternal Life? Answer: Give up your life that you hold so dear, and follow me. It is worth noting that Christ demanded that the man lives his life behind before asking him to follow Him. The reason why this is critical is recorded in Matthew 6. First, we decide to leave the current life behind, then, and only then, can we fully apply ourselves to follow another.

Matthew 6:24No 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.

But what does it mean to follow Christ?

Suppose that you are ready to drive to a city 250 kms away for a special event. You ask your friends to follow you in his or her own car. Everything else being equal, if upon arriving at the destination you look around and your friend is nowhere to be found…did your friend follow you? The correct answer is NO. Does it matter that your friend started to follow you and then stopped at some point? Even if he/she followed you for 200 kms then took an exit, does it matter? No, it does not matter, because when someone asks you to follow him (or her), it is understood that wherever that person will be, and wherever that person will end, you too are expected to be there. Therefore, when Christ asks us to follow Him, it is understood that we should follow Him forever (that is, until we die).

Record 2: Luke 10:25

Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Eternal Life 2

One cannot escape both the similarities in the questions but also the stark contrast in attitude between this person in Luke with the one in Mark 10. The first was genuine in his question, he came running to the Lord, and kneeled before Him. He called Christ good master. He truly wanted to know what He should do to inherit Eternal Life. By contrast, the one here “stood” before speaking and as an expert in the law, his purpose was to “test” Jesus. In other words, he thought he already knew the answer. Nevertheless, here is the Lord’s answer:

Luke 10:26“What is written in the Law?” he [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?”

Very interestingly, Christ points directly to the Law. Which Law? The Law of Moses or the royal Law of God graven on the tablets of stones? The next two verses make it plainly clear that Jesus was referring to the royal Law of God, just as He did with the man in Mark. Note how He, Jesus, approves the answer of the expert.

Luke 10:27, 28He [the expert] 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.”

Here we have, Question: what must I do to inherit eternal life? Answer: Do the royal Law of God.

However, in the next verse, because the man was seeking to justify himself, he replied “And who is my neighbor?” The verb translated “justify” in verse 29 is the Greek verb dikaióō (1344) which means that he sought to demonstrate that he was “already” righteous. The fascinating answer Jesus gave is recorded from verse 30 to 37.

Luke 10: 30-37 – In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Now; while the two individuals in the two records above had two very different attitudes toward Jesus, and very different motives for asking about how one may inherit Eternal Life, there was an implacable consistency in the Lord’s answers, as well as a common theme behind where these two men fell short. The consistency: Do the Law of God, and you will inherit Eternal Life. Christ said in unambiguous terms that to inherit Eternal Life, one must observe the Law of God.

On the other hand, while these two men could not be more different, they had one critical thing in common: They both thought they had fulfilled the Law of God (not the Law of Moses) and both of them were wrong. The man in the Gospel of Mark was wrong because he failed to recognize that when Christ was asking Him to live his current life behind and to follow Him, He was asking him nothing more than to apply the very first commandment of the Law of God:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”. Christ was not adding anything to that Law. He simply translated it in terms that were directly applicable to that man. The man in the Gospel of Luke was wrong because he had failed to understand what the Law meant by a “neighbor” when the Law states: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. In either case, Christ did not add or subtract anything to the Law of God. He simply emphasized the aspect where each of the two men was falling short.

Oh, how perfect is our Lord! What He said elsewhere must really be true my people:

Matthew 5:18For 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.

Can’t we see people? The Law of God that Jesus gave as answers will remain absolutely intact until everything is accomplished and until heaven and earth themselves disappear! We might be under the administration of Grace but it is obvious that neither heaven nor earth has disappeared! So the Law of God stands my people…It stands!

Are Christ’s answers regarding Eternal Life applicable today?

We believe the answer is a resounding YES! First, one should consider that although Christ gave those answers more than 2,000 years ago, Eternal Life is still a future reality today, in the same sense that Christ’s return is still a future reality. However, let us suppose for moment that the answers Christ gave do not apply to us today, because we are in the age of Grace. Let us consider as well what Christ told Peter and the remaining 11 disciples regarding Eternal Life:

Mark 10:28-30Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life.Eternal Life 3

Please note that this exchange between Jesus and Peter took place right after Jesus invited the man in Mark 10:17 to leave his life behind and to follow Him. Christ repeats the exact same thing here, when Peter states that they indeed had left everything to follow Him. Christ confirms that none who does such will fail to receive Eternal Life. But here are some questions: Are not those the same Apostles who later delivered us the message of Grace? When they entered themselves in the age of Grace, did Christ’s message to them regarding salvation become irrelevant to them? Did the cross, where Christ’s work was completed (not started and then completed, but completed!) negate all the work He did during His ministry? Wasn’t the cross the “confirmation” and culmination of all that work? Did not Christ charge His Apostles to teach us today those things He taught them face to face? How therefore could Christ’s answer regarding how one inherits Eternal Life not be applicable to us today? Did the requirements for inheriting Eternal Life change for those people (like the Apostles) who once walked with Christ but also lived long enough to enter the age of Grace? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit remind us of “all” the teachings of Christ, as John 14:26 asserts?

John 14:26But 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.

If Christ’s answer is not applicable to us today, then is the Holy Spirit not only reminding us what Christ said, but also telling us that in reality the message regarding Eternal Life that He gave really does not apply to us? Is that what the Scriptures teach?

On the evidences above, we believe there is simply no ground for discounting Christ’s answer regarding Eternal Life. This is how we inherit Eternal Life, and there is no other way: We follow God’s Law, not falling in the same trap of misunderstanding that the two men in the records above fell. We leave our formal life and we follow Christ (to the end), loving our neighbor as ourselves.

May our Lord speak to our souls my people. Let us remember that Christ was asked the same question we ask today, and He gave a clear answer: Do the Law of God my people, the Law of God! To follow the Law of God is to follow Christ, and to follow Christ is to do the Law of God. But just like Peter was promised Eternity although he was not perfect, today following Christ is not a matter of perfection, but of genuine commitment: a commitment to leave a life behind, and to reach for another; a commitment to look in a different direction, and to follow a new path in our mind, in our words and in our actions; a direction where Christ is Lord and where we obey His voice, for how can you call someone Lord if you do not obey His command? The Holy Spirit, my brothers and sisters, is here to help us. He has been sent more than 2,000 years ago to stay with us, to help us stay on that new direction, if we submit to Him. Let us listen to that Spirit, for He reminds us of the Word of Christ and of His Apostles. And yes, He teaches us about Eternal Life, in the exact same way Christ taught His disciples. Glory to the Amen, Glory to the Son, and may all who call on His name depart from iniquity. Amen.

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.