GOSPEL part 6

FAITH OR NO FAITH IN HIM [pg 2]

In my last Gospel article, we talked about faith in God and it’s meaning. We asked, ‘how do we put faith in God who is invisible’ unless He let Himself known… which He did. I cited 3 ways for you to get to see Him, know Him and put faith in Him. The first one I cited was based on Romans 1:18-20 where God made His eternal power and divine nature be seen in nature especially when you look with humbling eyes.

Of course, with no other context as guide, the most that we human beings can conclude from nature is that it was made by a great being with power beyond imagining.

Consider the native tribes of both North and South America. Before the advent of Christianity, they believed in an all powerful great spirit of some sort. In ancient times, Norse beliefs as well as other European religions based the identities of their many deities from what they observed in nature. A good example is the Norse god Thor, the god of thunder, who was first named so by the ancients to explain away a violent thunder storm.

Practically every culture in the world interpreted attributes of their respected deity derived from their observation of nature. But their interpretations varied so much, how were human beings to distinguish the true God. Fortunately, God did not leave it up to just our own interpretation of creation as the source of His true character. He made sure that we got His word… His written word.

The Bible Reveals Who God Is

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. It is the account of God’s action in the world, and his purpose with all creation. And it’s considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans.

From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work… [2 Timothy 3:15-17]

There is much more information about the Bible I could add here but I leave it up to you to research it on your own. What I will say is this, as the Bible is God-breathed (that is, written by men who were inspired by Him), it holds the key to life eternal. And God had intended it to be read by all of us so that we may believe.

Romans 10:17
Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Hebrews 4:2
For we also received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, since they did not share the faith of those who comprehended it.

Galatians 3:5
Does God lavish His Spirit on you and work miracles among you because you practice the Law, or because you hear and believe?

But there are always some that doubt the integrity of the Bible. This is where we, that is believers, come in.

Seeing God in the Testimonies of Believers

In the beginning of the book of Hebrews, the author had given us the image that God had first spoken to the ancient Hebrews through many prophets who ultimately wrote the Old Testament of the Bible. The main theme of the Old Testament was to prophetically point to God’s promised Redeemer. Enter Jesus Christ who is God in human form… visible to people. His incredible act and testimony was chronicled in the New Testament of the Bible. From the time Jesus ascended into Heaven, He had set into motion an era of grace that is still going on up until today. How?

On the day of Pentecost, He first set His Spirit to indwell the Apostles and a group of a hundred and twenty believers. Then He sent them out unto the world to share God’s love to people. When people looked at these believers, what they saw was God’s love.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. [1 John 4:12]

As they saw God’s love perfected in believers, they too wanted it and believed. For the past 2000 years, since Jesus walked the Earth, millions upon millions have believed.

You have heard the saying that ‘faith is seeing’, well, I pray for your sake that you would truly open your eyes, for God is not so invisible as many claims. The truth is right before your eyes if you are willing to see.

If you do believe…

———————————-

Well, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.*

* Note: It is not the prayer that saves us but faith in Christ. The prayer is a way express belief.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #2

How, by becoming like little children, can we be saved from eternal damnation?

In Matthew 18, Jesus was approached by his disciples who asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” [vs 1]

It is clear that Jesus saw that pride was behind the question, so, he called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. Then, he said a most astonishing thing.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matt 18:3]

What is it about little kids that we have to emulate? Is it because of their innocence? Well, legally speaking, no child can be held accountable because they lack the maturity to make cognitive responsible decisions. Innocent, really? Well, I love kids but they do the darndest things that I would not exactly call ‘innocent’. They may have angelic faces, but they can be… haha… such little imps. For example, whenever my wife and I were asked to babysit my brother’s 3 kids, after a week, we always go home declaring that we will not have kids of our own. I was kidding, of course, but even the Bible reveal a not so innocent description of a child’s nature.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child… [Proverbs 22:15a]

So, again what in little kids was Jesus really referring to?

As a storyteller, I have regaled many little kids with all kinds of tales. I have observed one consistency among them, that they were quick to believe in my stories, even to those that were fantasies. One other thing, they are also quick to be attracted to the hero figures of those stories.

I believe this is the attribute that Jesus wanted us to focus on. We adults have become so complicated in our thinking that we tend to forget the simplicity of what pleases God, a child-like-faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. [Hebrew 11:6]

GOSPEL part 5

FAITH OR NO FAITH IN HIM [pg 1]

When ever I share that, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8), I always run into those that find the concept a little too good to be true. Somehow, in their minds, they feel that it is way too easy to just believe and they must do more. There are probably multiple possibilities on why they think this. But I will make the assumption that this came more because they do not really know God too well and what He wants.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. [Hebrew 11:6]

The dictionary defines faith as ‘complete trust or confidence in someone or something’.

It is said that…

Every body has some type of faith, people have faith in many different things, when we get into our car we have faith that it will crank and get us to our destination, we have faith that our doctor knows what he or she is doing, every body has this mindset of faith of some kind or another. No one can live a single day without exercising faith. [by William D. Brown – sermoncentral.com]

When we see a chair, do we hesitate to sit? Of course not. In fact, even when a chair does fail, we are prone to find another chair and with no hesitation sit in it. Faith in objects had always been easy for us. We know deep down that chairs are mostly dependable. Take note that the our trust to use these objects with no hesitation came from familiarity of constant use.

The same way we put faith in objects is somewhat the same when we put faith in people. The difference is that we are a lot more reserved on whom we place such trust on. That trust is dependent in how much we know about them.

– For a gal to trust a guy, she gets to know him by spending extended time with him.
– Professionals like teachers and doctors are hired based on their credentials which reflects their extensive training.
– Politicians who seek to be elected spends millions so that the masses can get to know them.

Trust in people comes because we got to know their history and test their reliability. But because people are fallible, we can’t help but be wary. So, we continue to watch and reassess.

God desires us to have faith in Him and Jesus Christ whom He sent.

How does one believe in a being whom we can not even see? By ourselves, it is impossible unless God made Himself seen and known. Did He? Yes He did. Allow me to cite 3 ways for you to get to see Him and know Him.

Creation shows His Qualities

In the epistle (letter) of the Apostle Paul to the believers of Rome, he wrote…

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. [Romans 1:18-20]

When I first read the verses above, I wondered why I did not see Him in nature before. I was intrigued to test it in my scrutiny of a tree. At first, I did not know what to make of it, until I learned to ask humbling questions. Can I make a tree? I can grow one by planting a seed then watering it, but that is as far as I can go. I can’t cause the seed to sprout nor could I will it to grow tall. Can anyone?

I always love recalling a poem about a tree by Joyce Kilmer who wrote…

old-oak-tree-w

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I truly believe that Joyce Kilmer got it right. Who could make a tree except only God? At that matter, whenever I look at a plot of flowers of the same kind, I mean, closely comparing one flower to the next… I can not help but see one mind (a mind of a designer) behind them. Look around. Appreciate the maker of all living creatures that fly, walk, crawl and swim. Let’s not forget the cosmos.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. [Psalm 19:1]

Then, there is ourselves. Just look at our own bodies.

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb… I am fearfully and wonderfully made… [Psalm 139:13,14]

So, whenever I look around and appreciate nature, my faith gets a boost of His glorious work. By the way, we (that is, all human beings) have built-in us the ability to see God’s invisible qualities, because He created us in His image. So, if anyone say that they don’t see, it is more than likely that they refuse to see.

I pray that you would look closely at nature with humbling eyes and discover our God. I pray that you would believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. [Hebrew 11:6] And God does want you to seek Him out.

In my next post, we will cover more on how God revealed Himself to us, so that we all will be a people of FAITH. I offer the Bible verse below as basis for my next post.

From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work… [2 Timothy 3:15-17]

———————————————

Well, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.*

* Note: It is not the prayer that saves us but faith in Christ. The prayer is a way express belief.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann #1

Are you considered a Christian when you go to church every Sunday?

Allow me to rephrase the title question above: Because you go to Church every Sunday, does that make you Christian?

Let me now respond with this question – If you go into a garage a lot, does this make you, a car? This is, of course, a humorous attempt, of me saying that a Christian is not a Christian because he goes to church so many times.

So, what makes a person a Christian?

– by the doing of good works?
– when you consider yourself one?
– when others and institutions label you as one?

I’ll let Jesus answer from His Sermon on the Mount.

“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. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’… ” [Matthew 7:21-23]

Jesus gave a ‘nutshell’ picture of the end of times; of people who thought they deserved to enter the kingdom of Heaven. These are people who probably went to church every Sunday thinking they were ‘Okay’. Then Jesus told them that “He never knew them.”

What does this have to do with the question above? If you really think about it, based on the passage above, it is not what we call ourselves that counts, but what Jesus Christ calls you.

So, ask yourself…

What does Jesus call you?

By the way, we go to church because we are “Christians”.

GOSPEL part 4

SQUARE & ROUND PEG ANALOGY

Good News! Eternal life is in hand for all who believe that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4). Of course, while we are still walking this world, we are yet to experience the unimaginable glory of eternal life. However, God provided a way for believers to get a taste of it in this world. It required a major transformation.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

How does one become ‘a new creature’? At that matter, what exactly kind of creatures were we before becoming a new creature?

Well, we have to go back to the beginning, when God first created Adam and Eve. In the beginning, they were spiritually alive mainly because they were in close relationship with Him in the Garden of Eden. But then they sinned! Though they were physically alive, inside… they were separated from God… that is, they became spiritually dead. When they were cast out of Eden, every human being born outside that Garden were born spiritually dead.

The Apostle Paul laid out our reality in this verse below. Keep in mind that Paul was speaking to believers.

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh a and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. [Ephesians 2:1-3]

{ I will hold off in explaining about the ruler of the kingdom of the air and the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient for later posts. }

But for those who believe, this is what happened.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. [Ephesians 2:4-5]

How would God make us ALIVE?

In John 3, Jesus Himself explained this to a very religious scholar (Nicodemus) who secretly visited him at night. Unapologetically, he basically said that unless Nicodemus (and everyone else, as well) become BORN AGAIN, no one can see the kingdom of God [vs3]. In verses 5-6, Jesus expanded more on the meaning by saying that to enter the kingdom of God, they must be born of water and the Spirit; with flesh giving birth to flesh first, then the Spirit giving birth to spirit.

To better illustrate the meaning, consider this analogy.

How does a square peg fit into a round hole?

Let us imagine that you are a square peg. But you have a problem. There is a desired place to be in and that is at the other side of an obstruction or a thick wall. There is only one opening and that is through a round hole of which you, the square peg, could not fit through because you are the wrong shape.

So, how are you, the square peg, to fit through a round hole? The answer is simple enough. You must be transformed into a round peg. But the reality is that you are unable to change yourself. What is the solution? Enter the woodcrafter.

The woodcrafter sizes you up then proceeds to reshape you into the perfect round peg.

I hope you have guessed what the analogy above is all about.

Again Jesus cited 2 conditions (John 3:5-6) of what it would take be ‘born again’. The first condition is that one has to be born of water. Let me say right here and now, that being born of water has nothing to do with ‘water baptism’ as some had believed. Let’s not beat around the bush. Being born of water is actually our physical birth – flesh giving birth to flesh first (John 3:4). And like the analogy, mankind started out just like the square peg. Like the square peg, mankind too want to fit through the round hole which is a representation to the gate of eternal life. Unfortunately, like the square peg, humans are not the right shape and in our case, (because of sin) we are spiritually dead.

And I too was a square peg. Then, I heard the message of truth, the gospel of my salvation, after which I believed! But that was as far as I was capable of. Enter the woodcrafter… oops, I mean the Lord our God.

When God saw my faith, He took over the process of my transformation… making me into a ‘new creation’. How?

If you recall what Jesus said that we must be ‘born of water and the Spirit’. Well, since I was born physically, this satisfied Jesus’ first criteria, born of water; that leaves being born of ‘Spirit’.

‘Spirit’ is actually referring to the Holy Spirit of God. What Jesus was saying was that what was lacking in my spirit was the Holy Spirit. This made sense since I was spiritually dead or I should say that my soul was empty of which only God could fill. And that was what God did. In 1990, He made me complete spiritually. I was born again. His Spirit in me guaranteed my salvation.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. [Ephesians 1:13-14]

This is my reality today. I am not deserving of it, yet He saved and placed His Spirit in me. For as long I am still in this world, His Spirit guides and equips me. And most especially, His Spirit sustains me even during when I am a quadriplegic today. By every right, I should be depressed and miserable but yet I have real JOY! I credit the Holy Spirit in me.

So, let me ask you…

Are you still a SQUARE PEG?

I pray, you would believe.

———————————————

I encourage you to, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.

GOSPEL part 3

WHAT MAKES THE GOOD NEWS “GOOD”? (pg 2)

Wow! I hope that trip through BAD NEWS country didn’t ruffle your feathers too much, because from here it’s all GOOD NEWS. To give you a better picture of the essence of the Gospel (good news), I will use this iconic Bible verse below as a template to layout what makes the good news GOOD.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16]

I. For God so loved the world…

God’s love for us is the core of the gospel. The reality of which surrounds us day by day, as revealed in the Bible. Scripture after scripture, His love is seen in the awe of creation. It shows His love is steadfast, unchanging and a great comfort to us. Even to those that reject Him, He shows His love.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]

How could everyone come to repentance? God knew mankind was in trouble because of sin. He knew that mankind needed a bridge to span that great chasm that separates us from Him; a bridge that no ordinary human being could ever build.

Enter JESUS CHRIST.

II. That He gave His one and only Son…

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]

This is a BOLD declaration. How do we take in this incredible statement? He is either a liar or a lunatic… Or He spoke TRUTH which, by the way, is undeniably supported by the Bible; most especially the four Gospel books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John).

How was Jesus to pave the way to God? What was He to do?

Do you recall this verse? For the wages of sin is death… [Romans 6:23]

Sin had to be paid!

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God… [1 Peter 3:18a]

By dying for us some 2000 years ago, Jesus COMPLETELY PAID the penalty of our sins.

But how could he, a man, do this? Because Jesus was the only man that walked the earth with no sin.

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. [1 John 3:5]

How could a man be with out sin? Jesus is also God!

In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:1,14]

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save… [Zephaniah 3:17]

What other proof do we need to know that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah and our only Savior? The final proof was His resurrection.

…regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. [Romans 1:3-4]

So, Jesus is the BRIDGE that connects us to God. Where do we go from here?

III. That whoever believes in Him 

I have reiterated time after time in this Gospel blog that there is nothing you can do to pay for the penalty of sin. However, we still have something to do. Good news is, it is not to pay for the penalty of sin. Our loving God took care of that.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]

So, what is our part?

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [John 20:31]

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” [John 14:1]

“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved…” [Acts 15:11a]

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” [Acts 16:31]

The dictionary defines ‘BELIEVE’ as accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of. For myself, this is GOOD NEWS on a personal note. You see, the Lord made sure that our part was something that you and I are capable of doing easily. All God asked of us is to BELIEVE Him… to BELIEVE in what His Son did for us.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.

IV. Shall not perish, but have eternal life

What happens next? This next phase is in God’s court.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. [John 3:36]

What is eternal life?

When Scripture speaks of eternal life, it refers to the gift of God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23]

The gift of eternal life comes to those who believe in Jesus Christ, who is Himself “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The fact that this life is “eternal” indicates that it is perpetual life—it goes on and on and on, with no end.

It is a mistake, however, to view eternal life as simply an unending progression of years. (After all, in eternity, time has no meaning.) A common New Testament word for “eternal” is aiónios, which carries the idea of quality as well as quantity. In fact, eternal life is not really associated with “years” at all, as it is independent of time. Eternal life can function outside of and beyond time, as well as within time.

For this reason, eternal life can be thought of as something that Christians experience now. Believers don’t have to “wait” for eternal life, because it’s not something that starts when they die. Rather, eternal life begins the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. [www.gotquestions.org/what-is-eternal-life]

What makes the good news ‘GOOD’? The personal knowledge of being with God in eternity is by far fantastic.

Meanwhile, for as long as we are still walking this world, there is another effect to our lives that I know will astonish you. We will cover this in my next post. Until then, I offer you the verse below to analyze and meditate on.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

GOSPEL part 2

WHAT MAKES THE GOOD NEWS “GOOD”? [pg 1]

In my last posting, I asked…

Do you want your name to be in the book of life?

But how? This is where the GOSPEL come in.

The Gospel in Greek is ‘euaggelion’ which means ‘good news’. In the Bible, the term ‘gospel’ appears about 99 times. In essence, it is the sum total of God’s message for all of humanity; a message of salvation.

But yet a greater number of people have rejected His gospel… His good news. I include myself some 40 years ago. I heard His message from many who willingly shared the gospel to me but deep down I could not connect.

For myself, I could not connect because I did not believe I needed salvation. I’ll reserve my detailed testimony for later posts. For now, let me just say that my mind was changed for the good because of what I discovered from this question:

What makes good news ‘GOOD’?

Again, for myself, it was when I understood how the BAD NEWS affected me, I saw the true value of the gospel and I acted upon it. So, from here, we have to seriously look at the bad news. This is not going to be easy because each of you have to take a very hard look at your own spiritual condition.

In my last post entitled, ‘DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?’, in the end of the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus gave a ‘nutshell’ picture of a prophetical end time scenario of those people who pleaded to enter eternal life. They thought they were secured but instead they were rejected by Jesus.

“I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” [Matthew 7:23]

Ouch! I don’t think anyone want to hear that! But Jesus intended everyone to seriously take heed especially those who were first to hear of it on the Sermon of the Mount. You see, his audience, some 2000 years ago, stood on a small mountain not too far from the ancient city of Capernaum, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, all believed that because they were the ‘chosen’ people, they were ‘OK’ in God’s sight. Every Jewish child grew up with this basic principle.

But Jesus had a rude awakening for them.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20]

Among the Jews of the first century, the Pharisees were the super-religious of the people. However, super-religious or not, they… as well as all mankind… have a SIN problem.

Buckle-up, people! This is going to be a bumpy ride for you. By definition, anything that goes against God’s will is SIN. And SIN is the core of the BAD NEWS part of this message and mankind… you… will be affected by it.

Sin fact #1: Everyone sinned…

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… [Romans 3:23 NIV]

…everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. [Romans 3:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

No matter what we believe, we all have and continue to sin for as long as we are still in this world. And because we are not able to avoid sin, we fall short of God’s ideal.

Jesus described it as a great chasm between you and God… that is unreachable by you and me.

Sin fact #2: Sin = Death

For the wages of sin is death… [Romans 6:23 NIV]

For sin pays its wage–death… [Romans 6:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

Here we go. This is going to be hard for you to take in. But keep in mind the truth of the word and take on a position in humility. (Trust me, this will free you. I’ll explain later in my other posts.)

Sin brings on death and it started with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. We are the inheritors of this.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned… [Romans 5:12]

What is Death? Death is the permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions or the end of life. We have seen it. We know about it. We fear it. And we eventually expect it to happen to us. There is no escape!

And by the way Romans 3:23 implements the term ‘wages’, because of sin we EARNED death. We deserve death!

Ouch! Take a deep breath for we had not reached the worst part of the BAD NEWS.

Sin fact #3: Sin = The Second Death

Death is not just physical! When we die, we don’t just cease to exist. When God created mankind, He created us in His image. That means (according to His word) we are not just physical creatures, we are also ‘SPIRITUAL’ like Him… well, not exactly like Him for God is without sin. Eternity is our destiny. The only question is DESTINATION.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 NIV]

But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars–the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 Catholic Bible – GNT]

The final place for sinners is the second death… that is HELL!

This is the place that every sane person should fear. But I have met a great number of people who have a nonchalant approach to hell. Some have even joked that hell was a place to party. I truly fear for them. The Bible provides a much more scarier description besides being the lake burning with fire and sulfur.

From the oldest book of the Bible (Job) to the last book (Revelation), darkness is consistently associated with hell. Job writes of a “land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder,” (Job 10:21-22) a “realm of darkness” (Job 17:13), even a “day of darkness” (Job 15:23). Other references throughout the Bible include:

“Realm of darkness” (Nahum 1:8)
“Thrown outside into the darkness” (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13;                                   Matthew 25:30)
“Blackest darkness” (Jude 1:13)
“Plunged into darkness” (Revelation 16:10)

For myself, this verse in Isaiah 66 scared me the worst. Boy, do I hate the thought of worms eating in me forever.

“…the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” [Isaiah 66:24]

To sum it all…

“Hell is total, conscious, eternal separation from the blessings of God. People think of it as a lake of fire and that certainly is a biblical image. Also, the Bible describes hell as lashing or scorpions or darkness where there’s great gnashing of teeth. There’s not just one biblical image of hell. Hell is a place for the soul of extreme torment by being separated from the blessings of God.” [by Bryan Chapell, Christianity.com]

In Hell, there is no reprieve… no pardon… and there is nothing any person can do. Just an eternity of ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. (Matthew 13:50)

I truly hope you now understand how the BAD NEWS involves you.

In my next post, I will lay out for you why the gospel is GOOD! FANTASTIC! Until then, I offer you this iconic verse for you to analyze and meditate on. It will blow your mind.

John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

 

GOSPEL part 1

DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?

As a Filipino, I live in a country that is mostly Roman Catholic. I myself is still ‘technically’ a catholic except that I am more Bible based in my practices. One time, I was told a joke about ‘how many Catholics would enter Heaven’. I never got the punchline, because I bluntly shocked the teller of the joke that in all probability very few might ever enter the kingdom of heaven. You can well imagine that at that time, my revelation was less than receptive and I was not given a chance to explain. In retrospect, I should have been gentler in my approach. So, in this blog, I hope to explain clearly in what I was trying to disclose and then impart to you Good News.

First thing first, the basis of my disclosure came from the words of Jesus himself in his Sermon on the Mouth. He said…

v21 “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.
v22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
v23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’… ” 

Matthew 7

When the teller of the joke asked me ‘how many Catholics would enter Heaven?’, this particular passage was forefront in my mind. At that matter, it is always forefront in my mind. Why? The seriousness of it is the reason why I think about it all the time especially when I am among people; strangers, friends and family alike. I mean, who would want to hear Jesus say, ‘I never knew you’?

When Jesus spoke these words, he was in the conclusive end of his sermon. These three verses is a ‘nutshell’ picture of the end of times. In the book of Revelation, John the Apostle described the final event of the end time with the returning of Jesus to the Earth… not anymore as our Savior… but as Judge! He came to judge ‘the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…’ (Rev 20:12) then they were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.’ (Rev 20:14)

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I can understand the evil being thrown into Hell, but then, how could Jesus cast those…

– that prophesied in his name…
– drove out demons in his name…
– performed many miracles in his name…
– and those that called him, ‘Lord Lord’…

…into Hell?

The answer can be found within the same passage. Those that can enter the kingdom of heaven are the ones who do the will of my Father’.

Let’s look closer at those who stood before Jesus the Judge in verse 22 of Matthew 7 and see how they did not live up to His will.

‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

These people were just denied entry and were pleading for ‘justice’. Their arguments was that they deserved to go into heaven because of the ‘good’ things they did in Jesus’ name.

How could this be against God’s will?

As a catholic, I was taught to always do good works with the belief that this would save me from Hell. But as I read the Bible, I learned that this was contrary to God’s will which says that…

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This verse as well as more in Scripture indicate that good works whether done in his name or not, were never meant as a way to enter into heaven. This is fundamental.

But, of course, I have gotten into trouble with people whenever I try to impart with this part of the message. Some have accused me, even in tears, that I have devalued their works of good intentions and have branded them as ‘evil’. I admit that I have hesitated to approach teaching people with the bad news aspects of the gospel; fearing that I would be branded as being negative all the time.

Let me say that the message is not yet complete. The gospel which means “good news” is still to come.

Remember! Jesus is giving us a peak into an ‘end time’ event. Rule of thumb – when the Lord provides a prophecy like this, He is giving you an opportunity to seriously check where you are and ask yourselves…

Does Jesus know you?

Some have asked on how could Jesus not know who they were? Is he not God and all knowing? Of course, He is! So, how can he say, “I never knew you”?

Again, let’s take a closer look at Revelation 20:12.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. [Rev 20:12]

Two books were opened. One book clearly cites all the deeds and all the secrets that mankind hated to bring to light. The other is the book of life. In that book is a list of names of those who will enter the kingdom of heaven… that is, eternal life. I believe when Jesus says “I never knew you” is because your name was not in the book of life. So, I again ask…

Does Jesus know you?

Is your NAME in the Book of Life?

I apologize for being so blunt again. I must ask this of you because I care. I must risk alienation so that you will be aware. You see, Jesus ended his Sermon on the Mount with these words as a way of splashing ice cold water on your face to WAKE YOU UP!

Now, I must ask…

Do you want your name to be in the book of life?

I invite you to wait for my next GOSPEL post. Meanwhile, below are three verses that I challenge you to observe, analyze and then meditate about it on your own. It is eye opening.

1 Corinthians 15:2-4
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Roman 3:28
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Sketching HIStory #23

Gen 22 – God tested Abraham

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Some time later… probably when Isaac was a pre-teen… God tested Abraham.

He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [Gen 22:1-2]

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Where is Moriah?

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Note: This mountain is the future place of Solomon’s Temple.

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Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. [Gen 22:3]

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On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. [Gen 22:4-8]

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When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” [Gen 22:9-12]

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Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

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The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. [Gen 22:13-19]

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What was in Abraham’s heart as he was about to plunge the knife?

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Hebrews 11:17-19

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Sketching HIStory #22

Gen 21 – Isaac is born & the fate of Ishmael

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Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” [Gen 21:1-8]

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CRIMSON THREAD

Luke 3:23,34

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph… the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham…

Another Christmas parallel:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah… and his wife Elizabeth… Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant … [Luke 1:5-7; 11-13; 24]

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gen-21-ysmael-mocking-w.jpgThe child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking… [Gen 21:9]

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…and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. [Gen 21:10-14]

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God’s Promise Connection

 

vs 12  – “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 

Gen 12:3   “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

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She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. [Gen 21:14-21]