BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #11

How does one tempt the Lord your God?

In Matthew 4, Jesus Christ under went some very harsh temptations by the devil after he had spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness. In one of those temptations, Jesus was supernaturally transported to the very top of the Temple the height of which was about 4 stories high. The devil then enticed him…

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” [Matt 4:5,6]

But then Jesus replied with this statement.

“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ “ [Matt 4:7]

In an older translation, it reads, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ [KJV]

So, if Jesus did step off the precipice as the devil encourage, how would he be tempting God?

The truth of the matter is that the devil was right in saying that God could easily command His angels in keeping Jesus safe.

We saw this when an angel protected him when he was just a fetus in Mary’s womb. Mary would have been stoned to death if it were not for an angel revealing the truth to Joseph who claimed her as his legitimate wife. We also saw this when Jesus was a new born baby and it was an angel that protected him from being killed by Herod. There were probably many more untold instances of angels protecting Jesus as he grew up.

But I dare say that that protection was specifically there because Jesus had one goal in his earthly life and that is to die on the cross as a man with no sin at all.

What would have happened if Jesus decided to throw himself off that high ledge for whatever reason? He would have SINNED and be exactly as flawed as you and I! Would God still have angels protecting him? We (including the hypothetical Jesus that sinned) would never know! And this is the whole point of tempting God.

When a rock climber precariously clings on a cliff wall by just his finger tips or anyone else partaking in any extreme sport, do they not tempt fate/providence? Of course, they do. They knowingly know this. In fact, this is the reason why they do it. They willfully do it for the thrill.

When is this sin, however? When they presume that God will protect them even when there is no proof of divine promises.

By the way, Jesus never gave in to any of the devil’s temptations which you can read more about in Matthew 4.

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]

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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.