BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #9

How do you know when God is answering prayers?

How can we as Christians see, touch, or even feel that God answered our prayers?

First and foremost, the answer is FAITH.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. [Hebrews 11:1]

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. [1 John 5:14-15]

So, when you pray in accordance to God’s will, well… your attitude, that is your settled way of thinking or feeling should be like this next verse.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. [Mark 11:24]

If for some reason, you still don’t know whether God had answered your prayers then I offer the following theories.

  • If you ask, seek or knock and yet don’t get an answer, it may be that the SILENCE is God’s answer. However, God’s SILENCE does not mean an outright NO! We have a tendency to be impatient in our expectation of answered prayers. It would be best to remember that God’s timing is not our own.

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. [Psalm 27:14]

  • If there is still no answer, it may be that your prayer request was not up to par. It may be wise to review your requests.

And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures. [James 4:3]

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #6

Why do Christians say I want to see Jesus but are afraid to die?

I can understand why. For many human beings, death is the great unknown and people fear the unknown. Once upon a time, I too was afraid to die except that I knew where I was going. You see, I knew that if I suddenly died in SIN at that time, I would end up standing before God and He would have cast me into eternal damnation.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment… Hebrews 9:27

Of course, I have been a believer since the 90s and I lost my fear of death because of the Lord’s guarantee of eternal life (Matthew 3:16). In 2015, I went face to face with death when I had to undergo an extremely risky spinal operation. This was in my mind. I wanted to live but not because I was afraid. I was ready to die because it meant I would be with the Lord. But this Bible verse was forefront in my mind.

I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better indeed. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body… Philippians 1:23-24

The Apostle Paul would have loved to be with Christ in Heaven, but for the sake of serving others (the body) as well as those who were lost, he worked hard to stay alive.

When I woke up from that operating table, I was elated not because I was still breathing but because deep down, God still has use of me. And by the way, I am paralyzed and mostly bedridden, but He still cause me to work.

To Him goes all the glory!

If you agree, say “AMEN”

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #5

How should Christians react to the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Based on the media, panic of the unknown seem to be the general reaction of the world. This is both understandable and expected. By God’s grace, the world is rallying together.

As for Christians, this is one of those times to shine brighter than the world for the glory of the Lord.

How?

1. By reflecting such a PEACE in our demeanor because we believe what the Lord promised.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.     Psalm 4:8

2. By being brave in the face of danger.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”     Joshua 1:9

3. By showing trust in God in regards to following government edicts.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.    Romans 13:1

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.    Titus 3:1-2

4. By being pro-active in prayer.

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:15

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.    James 5:13-16

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…    James 5:14-15

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #4

What did Jesus mean ‘Do not judge’ in Matthew 7:1-5?

In the first verse of Matthew 7, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Frankly, how can we not judge especially when we need to ascertain things about other people? By definition, a judgment is an opinion or decision based on thoughts, feelings and evidence. We human beings, regardless of race or creed, can not help making hundreds of judgement calls every day. I mean consider…

“Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, our brain makes 11 different decisions about them including their intelligence, socioeconomic status, education, competence and trustworthiness,” said corporate image consultant and personal brand strategist Anna Hinson.

Making judgments is built in our subconscious. So, is Jesus asking us to curtail what God Himself had created in us? Of course not. So, what was Jesus really talking about? Well, let us again look at the context of the passage.

Matthew 7:1-5 happened to be part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which started in chapter 5. His famed sermon had a recurring theme.

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]

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the ‘super religious’ of the Jewish nation. They were so highly educated that Jesus told the people to learn from them and take advantage of their abilities to impart scriptures. However, these Pharisees had an incredible flaw, so much so, that when Jesus was talking about them to the people, he shared this parable.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

When Jesus said, ‘Do not judge…’, he really meant that we should not form such a haughty opinion of others just like the Pharisee in the parable above. There is a cost if you do.

There is a biblical principle that says what you sow, you will also reap. In other words, what goes around comes around. So, if you judge other people badly you will eventually be judge badly by not just someone of your peer but by One who is greater, God Himself.

So, take heed.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #3

If a Christian commits suicide, does he lose his salvation?

The answer is a definite NO! How can I be sure? Well, first, let us look at the basics of Christianity.

What constitute a Christian?

1. Are we Christians because we call ourselves one?
2. Are we Christians because we just believe in Jesus?
3. Are we Christians because God placed His Holy Spirit in us?

If you chose #3, you were right to do so. For those who chose #2, you are partially right, however the process of salvation is still incomplete.

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]

So, our salvation is guaranteed not by our actions but by the Holy Spirit in us. We also have Jesus’ promise.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one…” [John 10:28-30]

Now, let me tackle the subject about a Christian who might commit suicide. I will only focus on those cases that where they gave into despair and killed themselves.

Personally, I do not know any Christian who committed suicide. Biblically, I believe that Christians are spiritually incapable of ending their lives so tragically.

Jesus will not allow it. Let us look at Jesus’ words again.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one…” [John 10:28-30]

For a Christian to commit suicide, that person would have to have been tempted to a point of absolute despair, willfully rejecting the influence of God’s Spirit in him/her. The Holy Spirit is our guide into all truth. He teaches, convicts and protects us. Christians, while still on this earth, may not be so perfect and can falter into sin, but yet God will always be there to help us recover and give us a way out.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. [1 Corinthians 10:13]

——————————————-
footnote:

Someone asked me about the suicide of Judas Iscariot who hung himself after betraying Jesus. Yes, he was a follower of Jesus and was one of the chosen Twelve. Let me say first that Judas did not have the Holy Spirit indwelled in him. At that matter, none of Jesus’ disciples received the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost. So, they were all very susceptible to temptation of the evil one, most especially Judas who was later controlled by the devil (John 13:27).

Judas’ suicide was even more tragic because I truly believe that if he sought forgiveness, Jesus would have given it with no reservation.

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]