Christian doctrines represent the salient elements that define what Christian beliefs are.
Christian doctrines go beyond the New Testament. For example, the concept of how sin came into the world is found in Genesis which is in the Old Testament.
The Project Team is not denominational constrained and aims to give an unbiased view of basic Christian doctrines. We have, however, limited our scope to just doctrines found in the New Testament and these include the following:
- Who is God?
- Who is Jesus?
- Who is the Holy Spirit?
- Who is Satan?
- What about doctrines like eternal judgment?
- What does God say about Jesus’ second coming?
We hope that you will find our approach refreshing.
D1 - There is only one God
‘Now this is eternal life that they know you, the ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.’
‘For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth – as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’, yet for us, there is ONE GOD, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and ONE LORD, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.’
Many religious leaders say that there are many roads to heaven; just like there are many roads to Rome. But the Bible has made it clear – that there is only ONE GOD and that belongs to the God of the Bible.
Just like, for example, there can only be one Coca Cola brand, with all others a mere counterfeit of the real thing.
Christians, therefore, do not worship the God of the Bible while having the same relationship with other religious leaders.
In the Old Testament, Exodus 20:5, the relationship is explicit –
‘You shall not bow down to them or serve them (other gods), for I the Lord, your God am a jealous God.’
Like a marriage, God demands us to be faithful to Him and Him alone.
For believers who are interested in history, you might be keen to learn about the Council of Nicaea.
In AD 325, an Alexandrian priest, Arius, raised the issue of Jesus’ divinity because, unlike God (the Father), Jesus was born and hence had a beginning. This ambiguity threatened the church and Emperor Constantine I, who converted to Christianity in AD 312 and who ceased the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, also became a patron of the Church,
As a result, he convened a meeting for all bishops of the region in discussing the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. By the end, the Council established the equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity and asserted that Jesus was the Son incarnate.
For more information, please go HERE.
For a copy of the Nicene Creed, please go HERE.
D2 - God is three in one (Trinity)
The Bible makes it quite unequivocal that God is three in one. In Matt 28:19, Jesus said this just before he ascended back to heaven,
‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’
Consistently, throughout the Bible, it is always three persons but in one – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with the Father as the final authority.
In Matt 24:36, when asked by his disciples when the end of the age will be, Jesus said that
‘But concerning that day and hour (precise timing of Jesus’ second coming) no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.’
It is one of the most difficult concepts to explain – how can there be three in one and yet they are God (in the singular)? It is indeed a mystery. In 1 Cor 13:12, Paul explained it,
‘For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’
Eccl 11:5 (NLT) says,
‘Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.’
It is unusual and we will never know what it means. Our best shot on this side of heaven is that of a ‘perfect’ marriage between a man and his wife; and we know that most marriages are far from perfect.
In a marriage, the two shall be one and it is more than about sex although God does use sex to illustrate that oneness. They are two separate personalities but yet the marriage can operate in perfect harmony where the husband loves his wife, and the wife submits to her husband.
In the case of the Trinity, we have three different personalities but yet one.
D3 - God is all knowing
1 John 3:20 says,
‘If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and he knows all things.’
If God is all knowing, then why should Christians pray? Again, we will not know everything except that God commanded us to do so. The Bible does not say, ‘If you pray’; in Matt 6:15, it says, ‘When you pray.’
Prayer is an expected part of us being Christians.
If God is all knowing, why did he create Lucifer, since he knew that Lucifer would ultimately rebel?
Again, we are not privileged to know everything but God did have a perfect solution ready and that came in the form of his plan in Christ. God’s sovereign plan did include Lucifer (or Satan) and Christ.
D4 - God does not lie
Heb 6:18 – ‘It is impossible for God to lie.’
The Bible is certain about this. Hence, repeatedly, Christians and Jews are told not to lie but to keep their words.
- Ex 20:16 laid out the ninth commandment as ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’
- Prov 30:5 says, ‘Every word of God proves true.’
- Jesus said of God the Father, ‘Your word is truth’ (John 17:17) and again
- In Matt 5:37, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
Put it simply, God does not lie and if God says so, then it must be so. At the same time, if the Bible says so (as the Bible is his words), then it must happen.
For example, the Bible says that Jesus Christ will return into the world again. As believers, we can be certain that it will happen.
God fulfilled and, even now, is fulfilling his promises. Here are some examples:
The promises that God kept regarding Jesus:
- Isa 7:14 said that the Messiah would be born of a virgin –
- Micah 5:2 said that he would be born in Bethlehem,
- Jer 23:5 mentioned that he would be from the lineage of David (Please see D27 – Jesus came from the bloodline of David for more details),
- Isa 40:3 proclaimed that a messenger would prepare his way. We know that John the Baptist met the requirements,
- Ps 16:10 declared that he would rise from the dead.
The promises that are even being fulfilled right now (PS: These predictions were made more than two thousand years ago):
- Isa 66:7-8 asked
‘Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she brought forth her children.’ –
The Nation of Israel, her people were dispersed worldwide for almost two thousand years, was literally formed in one day on 29 November 1947 when the United Nations (UN) voted to reconstitute the Jewish national home in the Jewish people’s ancient homeland in UN Resolution 181.
On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and soon to be the first Prime Minister of Israel, officially declared the establishment of the State of Israel which would come into effect on the termination of the British Mandate at midnight that day.
- Rev 11:9 said that at the end of times, two prophets will appear but will eventually be killed. Their bodies will lie in the street of Jerusalem and will be seen by ‘all peoples and tribes and tongues and nations’.Rev 11:9 foresaw the presence of television and the internet as a global communication media,
- Rev 13:16 spoke about the future of a cashless society where buying and selling transactions could take place with just a mark on one’s right hand or forehead. We can see how this verse is making sense especially if you are living in the developed world or China. Covid 19 has also placed pressure on the monetary authorities to get rid of paper money as diseases could be spread via them.
As a book of prophecies, and the Bible is a book of prophecies, it is exact and precise.
Please also see
- D269, Great Tribulation – The first glimpse of the 666 system is upon us, and
- D262, Believers will be hated by all nations.
It is important that God does not lie because it shows God operates within the rules that he has defined for himself in the Bible and his word is true. It is vital because we know his character to be holy and holiness means that there is no sin in him. It is quintessential because if God could lie, will we place our faith in the Bible and what it says? What if he goes back on his word?
In effect, if God lies, he will be no different from you and I – imperfect beings.
In the Old Testament, Num 23:19 says,
‘God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?’
This may not be true for some religions but not the God of the Bible.
D5 - God is sovereign
1 Tim 6:15 says,
‘He who is blessed and the only Sovereign One, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.’
The Greek word for ‘Sovereign’ is dunastes or a ruler. Here we are not talking just about any ruler – we are addressing Him as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. That means, He is the Supreme One of the universe and He has no limitations.Consider this:
- God is above all things and before all things – He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 1:8).
- God is, and was, and who is to come (Rev 1:8) – He is not limited within time.
- God created all things and holds them together (Col 1:16).
- God knows all things – past, present, and future (Rom 11:33). He is smarter than the smartest brains on earth.
- God can do all things. Nothing is too difficult for Him. He is beyond our creative abilities. (Luke 1:37).
- God is in control and rules over all things. He is the Supreme One of the universe.
It means He is the ultimate source of all power, authority and everything that exists. For more information, please go here.
D6 - God is holy
Heb 12:14 (NIV) goes further when it says that
‘without holiness, no one will see the Lord.’
What does being holy means?
In these instances, the Greek word is hagios or ‘set apart by God/ sacred.’ We are set apart by God for himself.
In order to understand ‘holiness’, it might be worthwhile to turn to the Old Testament. God chose Israel to be holy (set apart). Deut 14:2 says,
‘For you (the nation of Israel) are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the people who are on the face of the earth.’
And within the tribe of Israel, the Levites were selected to be set apart for services to God and his people.
To be ‘set apart’ is a unique thing with special expectations. The Levites were ‘set apart’ because they were the only tribe that did not participate in the worship of the golden calf (Ex 32:25-29). In other words, they ‘earned’ their marks for their fervor for God.
In view of the holiness of God, a priest who must come from the tribe of Levites, had to follow very strict rituals including these:
- He must be a descendant of Aaron in the male line (Num 18:4-7),
- He was not allowed to defile himself by contact with any dead (Lev 21:1-3),
- He cannot marry a divorced woman (Lev 21:7),
- He was not allowed to enter the Sanctuary at all times (Lev 16:2),
- He cannot have any physical blemish if he was to serve (Lev 21:23).
- For more information, please go here.
The God of the Bible also said, ‘You cannot see my face for man shall not see me and live’ (Ex 33:20).
God’s moral holiness is so pure that men will not be able to view God’s glory and live. One of the few people with the unique experience of meeting God and coming back alive was Moses whose ‘skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God’ (Ex 34:29).
But Num 12:3 described him as someone who was ‘very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.’ To see God, Moses had to attain to God’s standard of holiness, or at least close to it.
God’s holiness also explains why He could never lie. All men are measured in accordance to His ‘immeasurable’ standard.
D7 - God is love
1 John 4:8 makes it transparent,
‘Anyone who does not love does not know God because GOD is love.’
The Greek word for love here is agape.
The Greek has various words to describe love. Agape love is one that is faithful, committed and a decision of the will. It is beyond emotions and touchy feely; one moment you are loved and the next you are rejected. It is not dependent on the value or worth of the object of love. One can never be unloved.
2 Tim 2:13 describes this love best:
‘If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.’
God does not just love. He is love itself. It is a decision of the will and a commitment no doubt. He chooses to love and that is the end of it.
‘In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God (chose to) sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.’
The love of the Father caused Him to send his Son, Jesus Christ, to die and save everyone of us who believe in Him, even, and especially, those who do not deserve to be loved.
It is equally a reflection of Jesus
‘who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but (chose to) emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men and being found in human form, he (chose to) humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even (the ultimate, unpleasant, and most cruel) death on the cross.’ (Phil 2:6-8).
To put into context of what agape love is, consider a young married couple who is in love. The love that they have is that of eros, a love that dwells on an appreciation of the beauty within the other person. It is an intimate love, of youthful beauty and of erotic desires.
But through the years, one of them, let us say the wife, may end up in a wheelchair because of sickness and that sickness may rob them of the vitality in the relationship.
When the wife begins to drop in ‘value’ in terms of the normal day-to-day living, does it mean that the husband, who is still well, can walk away from that relationship? But the couple has made a vow – ‘for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.’
What should then take place? Can they still depend on eros love?
The love that we know has evolved. It is now a love of choice and that is, despite the deteriorating condition of the weaker spouse, the husband, through a decision of the will, chooses to remain faithful, committed and loving. Now, we believe that is agape love.
Of course, it can work the other way around for the spouses; the traditional vow helps the couple to stay focus that love is more than eros and through the years, it can evolve into agape, a love of choice and of sacrifice. The vow is all about agape love.
The Bible says,
‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’ (John 13:35).
It also says,
‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone (chooses to) lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).
On a macro level, it was a choice of love for Mother Teresa to go to Calcutta and start the Order of the Missionaries of Charity. It is the same choice that got Bill Wilson to initiate the Metro World Child, a US ministry that focuses on serving the underprivileged inner-city children of the world – to love the unlovable and the less loved.
God is love. God chooses to love regardless of our condition. As his disciples, we are to show this agape love too.
D8 - God is spirit
‘God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’
The Greek word for ‘spirit’ is pneuma. It means wind/ breath/ spirit.
The Trinity consists of God – the Father, God – the Son, and God – the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is alive and a separate person from the other two persons in the Godhead. D75, The Holy Spirit is a person and NOT a force, explains further about the third person in the Godhead. More information of God the Spirit can be found from D74 to D84.
God’s Spirit was already in operation right at the beginning in Gen 1:2 when the verse says, ‘The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.’
The Spirit of God has a creative element.The Spirit is not limited by a physical body but can operate in all places at the same time.
Like God, we also have a spiritual element too. 1 Thes 5:23 says, ‘… may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’.
D9 - God is a person
God is a person; He has a personality. He makes decisions. In Luke 22:42, Jesus asked, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.’
He speaks. In Matt 3:17,
“a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”
In Luke 18:1, Jesus told the parable of a persistent widow who kept bothering the judge for justice. Eventually, it wore him down to the extent that he gave her a hearing. In the same way, Jesus reminded his disciples to always pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1-8). That section reminded us that God can and does hear our prayers and they do influence him. If that is the case, then we know God is a person.
The Old Testament is peppered with incidents to demonstrate his personality. For example, He spoke to Moses face-to-face. Ex 33:11 says,
‘Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.’
When God was about to destroy Israel and transfer His blessings across to Moses, Moses could remind God about His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to which the Lord ‘relented from the disaster’ (Ex 32:14). He could feel and accept Moses’ logic.
In the same way, God also regretted making Saul the king of Israel. 1 Sam 15:10 says,
‘The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”’
God is definitely not a robot. Neither is He cold, separated and unapproachable.
Hence, while God is holy, He is also a person with a personality, one whom we can talk to (pray) and have a conversation with.
D10 - Only God is to be worshiped
In Matt 4:10, during the Temptation of Jesus, Satan challenged Jesus to worship him and promised him good rewards. Jesus responded, ‘For it is written: worship the Lord your God and serve Him ONLY.’
The Greek word for ‘only’ in Matt 4:10 is mono or alone, only, solitary. In other words, there is no other one.
The Greek word for ‘worship’ is proskuneo which means to go down on one’s knees/ do obeisance/ worship.
God does not compete for our attention; He wants our hearts to obey Him fully and to always recognize Him as the only One who can demand our complete obedience.
In the Old Testament, God explicitly says,
‘I the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me’ (Ex 20:5).
The Hebrew word for ‘jealous’ is qanna or jealous. It means that we are not to give of ourselves to any other except God. Hence, the Old Testament is full of imagery of a marital relationship when it talks about the nation of Israel and its relationship with God.
How do we demonstrate our worship on something?
D11 - God is patient (longsuffering) but to a point when judgement sets in
1 Peter 3:20 says that
‘God’s patience waited in the days of Noah’
even as Noah was building his ark. He was hoping that the people would still repent. When they did not, the Lord acted and flooded the earth with water so much so that only eight people of the family of Noah were saved. In 2 Peter 2:4, the Apostle Peter said that God even send the sinful angels to hell.
In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter explained why it was taking so long for Christ to return. He said,
‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you (us), not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’
In these verses, Peter demonstrated to us that while God is love and patient, it does not mean that God will not act to neutralize evil. That point is, what renowned author Malcolm Gladwell has termed as the ‘tipping point’, defined as ‘the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.’
The tipping point for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was ten and less righteous people; God told Abraham that He could not even find ten righteous people in the two cities (Gen 18:32) and that was why acted..
God is longsuffering and then our sins reach the tipping point. That is when God’s judgment will set in.
Ask yourself what implication does it have on the second coming of Jesus? See D298, Jesus returns because the sings of this world will be overflowing.
D12 - God. the Father is the final authority
God, the Father, is at the pinnacle of the Trinity.
In Matt 20:23, when the mother of the sons of Zebedee requested that James and John to sit on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom, Jesus shared that those seats were to be decided by the Father.
Again, in Matt 24:36, Jesus said that only the Father knows when he would return. He even ruled himself out of that privilege.
In the Trinity, there is a decider and that privilege belongs to the Father. Our marriages represent an imperfect mirror image of the Trinity; God has vested the man as the main decision-maker.
See also B75, Honor the structure within a family.
D13 - God, the Father decides on the second coming of Jesus
God, the Father, decides when Jesus will return; not even Jesus is aware of it. The verses in Matthew and Mark made that clear.
In Matt 24:36, Jesus said that only the Father knows when he would return.
Acts 1:7 says,
‘It is not for you (the disciples) to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’
The final decision and authority belongs to God, the Father.
D14 - God is to be feared (Fear of the Lord)
Jesus gave us a logical reason why we should all fear God – Because God holds the authority to decide who ends up in heaven or hell (Luke 12:5) and because God is ultimately the One ‘who can destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matt 10:28).
The Apostle Paul explained his rationale for being God-fearing in 2 Cor 5:10-11,
‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.’
Rev 20:15 reads,
‘And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.’
In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the beggar, Jesus revealed the chasm between heaven and hell as being so wide that
‘those who would pass from here (heaven) to you (in hell) may not be able, and none may cross from there (hell) to us (in heaven)’ (Luke 16:26).
The Greek word for ‘fear’ is phobeo or fear/ dread/ reverence/ terrified.
It is a fear borne out of the fact that in God’s presence, we cannot wiggle our way out using our intelligence and rationale as God knows every of our motive, thought, word, and action and will judge us accordingly.
It is because of this positive fear that many eschew evil.
Prov 23:17 says,
‘Let not your heart envy sinners but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day’
and Prov 14:27 says,
‘The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life that one may turn away from the snares of death.’
Eccl 11:9 (NLT) says,
‘Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.’
When a society lacks the fear of the Lord, sin increases and there is no limit to evilness. Gen 6:5 says,
‘The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’
See also D31, Jesus is the only way to God the Father and D11 – God is patient (longsuffering) but to a point when judgement sets in.
D15 - God created heaven and earth
Acts 4:24 was a prayer of thanks from believers when Peter and John were released from prison. The believers exclaimed,
‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.’
Paul said the same in Acts 17:24.
The God of the Bible created all things. He is not a god or one of the gods as in Hinduism; He is the Lord of lords and the God of gods, the Supreme One (Deut 10:17).
D16 - God (the Lord of heaven and earth) is in control
In Matt 11:25, Jesus called God the Father,
‘Lord of heaven and earth.’
It was also reported in Luke 10:21.
What does it mean when it says that He is the Lord of heaven and earth?
It means that God, the Father has authority over everything – in heaven as well as on earth. It means that he is in control and nothing happens without his permission.
Satan, for example, could only act if God has given permission. Consider Job 1:6-12 when God lavished praises on Job and when Satan accused God of over-protecting Job. Even Satan required permission from God before he could unleash his fury on Job.
The same can be seen in Luke 22:31-32 when Jesus revealed that Satan had asked to test Peter but was countered by Jesus’ prayer for Peter’s faith not to fail. God apparently allowed Jesus’ disciples to be harassed but only within his purpose and intention.
In the Old Testament, you will find these verses to reaffirm that God is in control …
Psalm 115:3 says,
‘Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.’
‘The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.’
Dan 2:21 –
‘He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.’
And, of course, Gen 1:1 –
‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’
D17 - Jesus is the Word of God
John 1 begins,
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning’ (John 1:1-2).
Then, in John 1:14, the Apostle John clarified,
‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.’
In John 14:11, Jesus said,
‘Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.’
John effectively confirmed that Jesus is God and at the same time, He is the Word of God.
In the Old Testament in Gen 1:1-3, we could see the Triune God in operation –
”In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. …… And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters ….. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’”
There was God, the Spirit of God, and then there was the Word – ‘God said’.
No doubt, it is a difficult concept to grasp.
D18 - Jesus is God
In Matt 16:16, when asked by Jesus, ‘Who do you say I am?’, Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ Jesus confirmed Peter’s observation in the next verse when He said, ‘For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven.’
In John 1:14, the Apostle John described as follows: ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.’
So, we know that in John 1:1, John had established the Word was God. Effectively, John claimed that Jesus was God incarnate.
In John 4:26, when the Samaritan woman whom Jesus had given a word of knowledge, shared about the Messiah, Jesus was unabashed when he said,
‘I who speak to you am He.’
In other words, Jesus was confirming that he was the Messiah, the anointed one.
In John 10:30, when speaking to the Jews (the religious leaders of His days), he responded,
‘I and the Father are One.’
The Jews then picked up stones and threw them at Him. Jesus then said, ‘Even though you do not believe me, believe the works’ (John 10:38). Jesus could make that claim through the countless numbers of miracles that he did while he was on earth.
In John 14:11, Jesus reiterated,
‘Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, OR ELSE believe on account of the works themselves.’ The miracles that he performed testified what he claimed to be.’
See D55, Jesus’ supernatural actions in front of eye-witnesses established his uniqueness and credentials.
Jesus had consistently claimed to be the Son of God and a co-equal with God. He said it to his disciples. He announced it to the Pharisees. In John 8:58, Jesus told the religious leaders unequivocally, ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’
When He was approached by the disciples of John the Baptist with the question, ‘Are you the One who was to come?’, Jesus replied,
‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them’ (Luke 7:22).
Muslims do not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God but believe that He was a prophet of Allah and a human being. Jesus, however, left no one in doubt about his claims to be a co-equal with God.
The late CS Lewis, a novelist and a scholar best known for his ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series, summarized it best when he said:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Please see D2, God is three in One, for more information.
D19 - Jesus was God's firstborn, the Son of God
Col 1:15 describes Jesus as the
‘firstborn of all creation’.
The Greek word is prototokos or first-born/ eldest. Meanwhile, in Heb 1:6, it says,
‘ …. When he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”’
The term used was ‘first-born’ and not ‘first created’. Firstborn is a matter of rank, that is, someone who possesses the inheritance and leadership. In fact, the firstborn receives a double portion of blessings (Deut 21:17).
We know that Christ is a co-equal of God. There is much that we do not know what this means; like, was Jesus a created being that was elevated to the status of God by God, the Father (although it was never mentioned that he was created)?
We do not know enough and we probably do not need to know.
We are aware, however, that he submitted himself to God, the Father. In his most difficult period just before his crucifixion, he prayed and yielded to the Father,
‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless not my will but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42).
In Matt 3:17, we hear a voice from heaven that declared,
‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’
And when queried by the chief priests and scribes as to whether he was the Son of God, Jesus replied, ‘You say that I am’ (Luke 22:70); in other words, he did not reject their statement.
In fact, Jesus was crucified because, as the Jewish leaders said,
‘He called himself the Son of God’ (John 19:7).
Please see D2, God is three in One, for more information.
D20 - Jesus is our great High Priest and sacrifice
Heb 2:17 –
‘So He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.’
Heb 4:14 –
‘Since then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.’
‘For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.’
Because of our sin, God had created a system whereby a priest could mediate on our behalf with God. The high priest was the chief religious leader and he came from the tribe of Levites, more specifically via Aaron’s bloodline that had been designated by God to do specific priestly duties (Num 3:12). Once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the High Priest would be cleansed and enter the Holy of Holies to make a sacrifice on behalf of the people.
Jesus had since taken over the role of the High Priest (Heb 4:14) as well as became our perfect sacrifice (Heb 10:14) when he gave up his life for us on the cross. Heb 7:11-17 says that Jesus followed the order of Melchizedek; we know through Scripture that Melchizedek was both King and Priest (Gen 14:18).
The most significant impact to have Jesus as our High Priest is that we can now –
‘with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’ (Heb 4:16).
There is no more an earthly mediator but rather that we can pray directly to God through Jesus Christ. Let that sink in.
D21 - The Bible (Old Testament) testifies of Jesus
In John 5:30 (NLT), Jesus told his audience that
‘The Scriptures (Old Testament) point to me (Jesus)’.
He then went on and said that Moses wrote about him too.
There are many verses in the Old Testament that testify about Jesus’ first coming. Let us look at just a few within the Book of Isaiah, a book written about 700 years before the birth of Christ, with special emphasis on Isaiah 53. Here are the verses that point towards Jesus:
- Isa 7:14 – Jesus would be born of a virgin from the house of David (Luke 1:26-31 testifies to Jesus’ virgin birth),
- Isa 53:1 – He would be widely rejected (John 12:37-38 confirms that),
- Isa 53:4-5 – He would bear our sins and sorrows (Rom 4:25 speaks of it),
- Isa 53:5 – There would be our blood atonement (You can find that in John 19:34 and Rom 8:3),
- Isa 53:6 – He would be our substitute for that atonement (See Rom 5:6-8),
- Isa 53:7 – It would be a voluntary act (This is confirmed in Luke 23:9),
- Isa 53:9 – He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (See Matt 27:57-60),
- Isa 53:12 – He would die for our sins (See John 3:16),
- Isa 53:12 – He would be numbered with transgressors (This is confirmed in Matt 27:38),
Some Non-Christians may argue that the Old Testament is not a reliable document and parts of it could have been written AFTER the birth of Christ in order to make it more authentic.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls provides a clear explanation of why the Old Testament is an accurate document that has stood the test of time.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
South of Jerusalem lies the Dead Sea, It is 420m below sea level or 1,378 feet and is the lowest point on the earth in terms of land not covered by water. It is also the world’s richest source of natural salts. On the way to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem, we will pass by Qumran caves.
In 1947, just a year before Israel became a nation, a handful of young Bedouin shepherds discovered some ancient manuscripts in a cave at Qumran. These manuscripts eventually found their way to Dr John C Trever, of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) who confirmed the value and authenticity of the discovery.
Subsequently, more excavations were carried out and about 15,000 fragments representing the remains of 800 to 900 original manuscripts were documented.
Most of the manuscripts provide experts with insights into how the community at Qumran lived during that time, reflecting ancient Jewish belief and practice. But about a quarter of the texts are biblical manuscripts.
Some are in complete sets, including:
- Five copies of Genesis,
- Eight copies of Exodus,
- One copy of Leviticus,
- Fourteen copies of Deuteronomy,
- Two copies of Joshua,
- Three copies of Samuel,
- One copy of Proverbs
- Twelve copies of Isaiah,
- Four copies of Jeremiah,
- Three copies of Daniel, and
- Eight copies of the minor prophets,
Several different scientific methods of testing concluded that these manuscripts are from the period of between third century BC (300 BC) and the first century AD (100 AD). For more information, click HERE.
The Dead Sea Scrolls and Biblical Significance
Before the discovery, the oldest Hebrew-language manuscripts of the Bible (Old Testament) were dated around AD 1000. These manuscripts were prepared by Jewish scholars, known as the Masoretes, between AD 500 and AD 950. Hence, they were called Masoretic Text. For more information, click HERE. The Dead Sea Scrolls pushed the date back to 300 BC.
By having these various sets, experts were able to compare the older Dead Sea manuscripts with the ‘newer’ Masoretic Text. It was the moment of truth – the Dead Sea Scrolls would either affirm or repudiate the reliability of the Masoretic manuscripts.
What these experts discovered was the unusual accuracy of transmission. Despite the two sets being more than a thousand years apart, they are almost identical.
Our current Old Testament Bible was translated from the Masoretic text. As the Masoretic text are considered reliable copies of the original works, we can be assured that our current Bible bears the same value as well. For more information, click HERE and HERE.
Mathematically, here are the equations:
- Masoretic text (around AD 1000) = Our current Old Testament Bible,
- Dead Sea Scrolls (around 300 BC) = Masoretic text (Confirmation by scholars). Therefore,
- Dead Sea Scrolls = Our current Old Testament Bible.
Conclusion: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Isaiah
Twelve copies of Isaiah were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They ratify that the Book of Isaiah that we have today is the same as that written during the period of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
D22 - Jesus, the Son, chose to become a man
When sin came into the earth through Adam, God had a plan. That plan involved His son coming down from heaven to earth in order to go to the cross.
Imagine, the richest man in the world, a man who lives in immeasurable opulence where everything is within his grasp. Yet, a man who decides to give up all in order to move to the streets of Calcutta and minister among lepers and the untouchables. How many of us would do that?
Now, consider what the Son of God did. Phil 2:5-8 says,
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
God could have chosen not to be on earth. After all, Jesus is co-equal with God. But Jesus, the Son, chose to become a man and that is part of the measure of salvation.
D23 - Jesus had a supernatural birth (a virgin birth)
In Luke 1:31, it reads,
‘And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus …’
It carries on in Luke 1:34 when Mary said to the angel,
‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’
Mary had conceived the baby without having sex with anyone; her egg was not fertilized by a sperm but rather through the ‘overshadowing’ of the Almighty (Luke 1:35). It was conceived supernaturally as God needed a conduit to allow himself to gain a passage into the world. It was not as if God had sex with Mary in order to create a baby.
Ultimately, God is God and he could have chosen a spacecraft to deliver a baby on earth just like Superman. Yet, God decided for Jesus to come into the world in the most natural way in order to gain the complete experience of being human.
Heb 4:15 called Jesus our ‘high priest’ who could understand our weaknesses and have been
‘tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.’
D24 - Jesus was God (and man)
‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?’
At the Mount of Transfiguration, a voice from heaven boomed,
‘This is my beloved Son; listen to Him’ (Mark 9:7).
Peter, his disciple, after spending time and observing Jesus for a period of time, called him the Messiah (Mark 8:29).
Jesus had always claimed that He was God’s Son. When the High Priest asked him in Matt 26:63-64 (NIV),
‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God,’
Jesus responded, ‘You have said so.’ Jesus, in the flesh, made the ultimate claim – that He was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.
So, we know He was 100% the Son of God. He was the ‘image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15).
Yet, He was 100% man – Col 2:9 says,
‘For in him, the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.’
See D25, Jesus was human which explains his humanity.
D25 - Jesus was human
How do we know that Jesus was human?
- He was hungry. Matt 21:18 says, ‘In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry.’
- He was wearied from his journey. John 4:6.
- He was thirsty. John 4:7 says, ‘Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”’
- He struggled emotionally just before going to the cross. Matt 26:39, ‘And going little farther and bowed with his face to the ground ….’
- He cried. John 11:35 has the shortest verse in the entire Bible. It simply reads, ‘Jesus wept.’
- He got angry with an unfruitful fig tree. Mark 11:14 said he cursed a fig tree that had leaves but not fruit.
Heb 4:15 says,
‘But one (Jesus) who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.’
Remember, Jesus was not exactly like one of the X-men or Superman. He was most ordinary in every way although there were sufficient demonstrations of his divinity.
D26 - Jesus was (is) the King of the Jews
Even before Jesus was born, magi (wise men) from the east came to Jerusalem seeking the ‘King of the Jews’ (Matt 2:2); they were looking for Jesus.
Again, just before Jesus was crucified and at his trial, Pilate asked Him whether he was indeed King of the Jews. In Mark 15:2, Jesus replied, ‘You have said it.’ In other words, he acknowledged the title. And it was for that reason that Pilate sentenced Jesus to death on the crucifix after much pressure from the leading priests (John 19:7).
Yes, despite the heavy objection raised by leading priests, Pilate placed a sign above the crucifix that read, ‘Jesus of Narazeth, the King of the Jews’ (Mark 15:26) in three languages – Aramaic, Latin, and Greek – so that many people could read it (John 19:20).
The Old Testament has many prophecies projecting the arrival of Mashiach (in Hebrew), or the Messiah. These verses included Dan 9:25 as well as Isa 32:1. The prophecies also dictated that the Messiah would come from the line of David (2 Sam 7:12-16) and he would arrive with power as King of the forever kingdom (Jer 23:5-6).
The Greek equivalent for the Hebrew term Mashiach is ‘Christ’ which basically means ‘anointed one’ or ‘chosen one.’ The Book of Matthew addresses Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah) even right from Matt 1:1 and the Apostle Peter declared in Matt 16:16 that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the Living God.
The Jews could never regard Jesus as Mashiach as they could not understand how a king would choose the path of the crucifix.
Jesus is first and foremost the king of the Jews. See also D300, Jesus returns to defeat Satan ….
D27 - Jesus came from the bloodline of King David
In Jer 33:15-26, 2 Sam 7:12, and Isa 11:1-3, these verses explain that the Messiah (or Mashiach, in Hebrew) would descend from the bloodline of David. In Jer 33:20, God made it clear that it was a covenant that cannot be broken.
Micah 5:2 explains that Bethlelem had been chosen as the place where the Messiah would come forth. That was how King Herod knew after enquiring from his wise men that the male child would be born there and passed an order to kill off all the baby boys in Bethlehem (Matt 2:16).
- Matt 1:6 shows the kingly route of Solomon while
- Luke 3:31 reports that Jesus came via Nathan, a less prominent son of King David.
Because the kingly route via Solomon was cursed; Jeconiah, a king and a descendant of Solomon, was cursed in Jer 22:30 with these words,
‘Let the record show that this man, Jeconiah, was childless. He is a failure for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David to rule over Judah.’
Here is the hypothesis because Scripture is unclear; there are two genealogies – one from the line of Joseph and another from the line of Mary. Matt 1 represents the line of Joseph and Luke 3 is that from the line of Mary. And because Jesus was born of a virgin, Matt 1 is not significant but given a mention.
Whichever, both represent a promise kept by God from Jer 33:20.
NB: Mary was undoubtedly a most godly lady to be selected as the conduit of God’s son. While Mary was the earthly mother of Jesus and Jesus submitted to her when he was young, in recognition of the earthly family structure (Luke 2:51),
Mary could never be described as ‘the Mother of God’, and therefore someone who was a co-equal or even more powerful than the God of the Trinity. Nor does she warrant our worship (See D109 – Man is not to be worshiped, for more information).
D28 - Jesus never wanted to be an earthly king
‘Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself’ – John 6:15.
D27 says that Jesus is the King of the Jews. Yet, he never wanted to be an earthly king. Jesus said in John 18:36 that His ‘Kingdom is not of this world.’ At least not until when He returns to earth a second time. Please see D303 – Jesus will rule peacefully and with an iron-hand rule for 1,000 years after his return.
Jesus came to become a king within our hearts and minds. Luke 17:21 says,
‘The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.’
The Greek word for ‘in the midst of you’ is entos and may also mean within or inside. And it cannot be detected by visible or observable signs (v20).
When we repent and become born-again, we move into his kingdom. Col 1:13 reads,
‘He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.’
Jesus wants to be king in our lives. It is currently a spiritual one but eventually it will also be a physical kingdom.
D29 - Jesus was sinless
‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’
Why is it so important that Jesus was sinless?
This is a critical Christian doctrine.
In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices had to be made in order for men to be reconciled to a holy and perfect God. God had laid down certain rules that it was not just any ordinary animal.
This animal then had to be killed and the blood used to sprinkle on the front of the mercy seat (Lev 16:14). It was a serious, bloody, and solemn affair.
It was the sinless blood of Christ alone that reconciled us back to God (Col 1:20).
D30 - Jesus became our perfect passover lamb
And 1 Peter 1:18-19 –
‘a lamb unblemished, and spotless, the blood of Christ.’
What is the Passover Lamb?
The Passover Lamb is an animal sacrifice instituted by God to the Jewish people to perform once a year on the evening of the Passover. It originated on the night of the Exodus from Egypt and is symbolical to demonstrate the need for a sacrifice in view of the condition of our hearts..
Exodus 12 has a complete description of the Passover Lamb. On the eve of the Passover, a lamb or goat was selected for sacrifice. There were specific criteria – that it should be a male, one year old, and without blemish. Each family would select an animal. The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel would slaughter these animals at twilight. Once done, they were to smear some of the blood on the two side posts and tops of the door frames of the houses.
On that night, the angel of death would pass through the land of Egypt striking and killing every firstborn male whose households did not have the blood on their doorposts.
D29 shows that Jesus was indeed sinless. D30 completes the picture how Jesus became our perfect Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7).
D31 - Jesus is the ONLY way to God
“Jesus must be selfish. Does he think he is God to make such a claim?”
Jesus had always said that He was the Messiah; that He was God, and that He was the only way to the Father (God).
In John 10:9, Jesus said,
‘I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.’
John 14:6 reads,
‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,’
and in Matt 11:27, Jesus reiterated,
‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son.’
He said in John 10:38,
‘Even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’
He said that the miracles he did, testified of himself.
Jesus always said that he was God.
In fact, he is the only historical religious leader who claimed to be God (or the Son of God, a co-equal with God).
Not even the founder of Islam, Mohammad dared to lay such a claim. Quran 46:9 says, ‘I am not something original among the messengers; nor do I know what will be done with me, or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner.’ Neither did Buddha.
CS Lewis, the great philosopher, lecturer, and author of the Narnia series, said,
‘I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.’
D32 - Jesus is the truth
Of all religious leaders, Jesus was the only one who unapologetically proclaimed himself to be ‘the Truth’. In John 14:6, he said,
‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me.’
In John 8:31-32, he equated his word as ‘truth’ and said that his word will make a person free.
The Greek word for ‘truth’ is aletheia or truth/ truth of idea, reality, sincerity/ truth in the moral sphere/ divine truth revealed to man.
In John 18:37, Jesus said to Pilate,
‘I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’
To which Pilate, like many of us replied sarcastically, ‘What is truth?’ Jesus never deviated from his daring claim.
Here is what we know:
- Jesus called himself ‘the Truth’ (John 14:6),
- He was full of truth’ (John 1:14),
- Jesus spoke the truth (John 8:40-46); he kept/ keeps promises. That is why Christians are taught to keep promises . For more information, please read B262 – Make a promise, keep a promise,
- He taught about truth (John 8:31-32), and
- He ‘bear witness to the truth’ (John 18:37).
For every genuine Rolex watch, there exists alongside it fake ones.
Similarly, if there is truth, then there will be false, fake, untruth and deception (which is a major form of untruth);
NB: Deception is far more dangerous since a lie may be hidden within the truth.
Christians stand for (absolute) truth and do not celebrate shades of truths. It is unsurprising that Christians are mocked for standing up to absolute truth; please note that Christians are also ‘love’. See B117, Love our neighbor as ourselves.
‘I have given them your word and the world has hated them; for they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world’ (John 17:14).
See D224 – Jesus is Grace and Truth.
D33 - Jesus is the life
Jesus is the life and the opposite of death.
John 1:4 explains that
‘in him was life’ (Note: Not death). And not just life, ‘but to have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).
Jesus wanted us to have lots of life, or lively.
In John 5:24, he reiterated that those who believe in
‘him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life (at that very moment).’
In John 11:25, Jesus said to Martha,
‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.’
Jesus continues to give life.
He was unequivocal; he promised life after death.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life – John 14:6.
The Greek word for ‘life’ is zoe or life – both physical (present) and spiritual (particularly future) existence. He impacts our present life and he had promised us our future existence to be with him.
When a believer faces a death/ life situation, a believer must not forget that Jesus holds the keys to our lives (both present and future).
Indeed, Jesus lives so that we can be assured we will live forever – 1 Cor 15:12-20.
D34 - Jesus' purpose on earth was to reveal to us God, the Father
Jesus said, in Matt 11:27,
‘All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Only Jesus knows the Father and it is He who can reveal the Father to us.
Again, in John 1:18, Jesus said,
‘No one has ever seen God: the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He (Jesus) has made Him (Father) known.’
And if we know Jesus, we would know the Father because he said in John 8:19,
‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also’’
It is also seen in John 10:30,
‘I and the Father are one.’
Finally, in John 17:26, Jesus explained,
‘I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known …’
The purpose of Jesus’ becoming a human is to make known to us who God, the Father, truly is. When we know Jesus, we know the Father.
Jesus’ compassion and love for sinners had been shown repeatedly. Like the Samaritan woman at the well who had five husbands (John 4:18) or the thief who died next to him on the crucifix (Luke 23:43). He healed because he was compassionate (Matt 14:14). His advice remains the same, ‘Go, and from now on, sin no more.’
If Jesus was compassion, then compassion would also be an important part of God’s character.
His preserved word, the Bible, revealed who He was (and is). The Holy Spirit brings us into a relationship with Him.
If we have encountered Jesus, we would have met God.
D35 - Jesus never imposed
After freeing a demon-possessed man from his torment by releasing the demons into a large herd of 2,000 pigs, the pigs then rushed down a steep slope into the lake and drowned. Instead of celebrating with this once-despised man, the villagers came out and begged Jesus to leave them alone (Mark 5:17).
Again, in Mark 6:47, it said that while the disciples were having trouble controlling their boat because of ‘the wind and waves’, Jesus came toward them walking on the water and ‘he intended to go past them’ (Mark 6:48). He only stopped and climbed into the boat when they cried out in terror.
One thing that we know, neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit, will ever impose on us. He may gently remind us who He is. But if we ignore him, He will allow us to continue our path.
See also D78, The Holy Spirit never imposes
D36 - Jesus is more powerful than Satan (and his demons)
There is no doubt that Satan is powerful. In Matt 24:24, Jesus said that these false messiahs (workers of Satan) will
‘appear and perform great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect (Christians).’
But Jesus is more powerful than Satan. Demons had to obey his voice and leave (Mark 5:8). In addition, in Matt 8:31, when Jesus was casting demons out of a man, they also had to seek permission from Jesus before entering into a large herd of pigs. Jesus could also prevent the demons from speaking (Mark 1:34, Luke 4:41). And under the voice of Jesus, they had to answer his queries (Mark 5:9).
Only with the permission of Jesus could Satan act. We see that in Luke 22:31 when Jesus said,
‘Simon, Simon, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.’
It is as if God is the owner of the property and Satan is the occupier with a specific tenancy period. While Satan can do many things within the property, he does not have permission over everything; for instance, he still requires God’s clearance before he can act like the case for Job and Peter.
See also D92, Satan is the prince of this world.
D37 - Jesus came to save the lost
In Matt 18:11, Jesus declared in the parable of the lost sheep – that the
‘Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.’
What was ‘lost’?
We were once spiritually lost without knowing God personally. Our sins separated us from God. But God wanted to fellowship with us and that was only possible through a blood sacrifice.
Jesus became that permanent blood sacrifice through his death on the cross. See D30, Jesus became our perfect Passover Lamb.
Through his death and resurrection, we were reconciled to God; we were found and saved by Jesus Christ.
See also D34, Jesus’ purpose on earth was to reveal to us God, the Father.
D38 - Jesus chose humility and the cross
Phil 2:6-8 (NLT) says,
‘Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he (chose to) gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.’
Jesus chose to humble Himself to go to the cross. It was not exactly a situation that Jesus wanted to be in when he said in Mark 14:36,
‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will.’
Why did Jesus pray that prayer? Because dying on the cross was a most cruel death. On top of that, Jesus, the Son of God, was subject to additional punishment and demeaning insults before he finally died:
- He was scourged (severely bitten with a multi-lashed whip consisting of embedded pieces of bone and metal) (Matt 27:26, Mark 15:15),
- He was forced to wear a twisted crown of thorns on his head (Matt 27:29),
- He was struck on his head with a reed and spat at by soldiers guarding him (Mark 15:19),
- He was stripped of his robe (Matt 27:31),
- He carried his own cross until when he could not manage anymore. Then, Simon of Cyrene was compelled by the Roman soldiers to take over (Matt 27:32),
- He was nailed to the cross (John 19:23, Luke 24:39)
- He was mocked by the chief priests, the scribes and elders as well as the watching public (Matt 27:41-43).
Yet, Jesus chose to obey the will and the eternal plan of God.
In John 10:18, Jesus explained,
‘No one can take my life from me, but I sacrifice it voluntarily.’
It was an act of Jesus’ will – his own choice and decision.
D39 - Jesus rose from the dead on the third day
This is by far, the most significant Christian doctrine that differentiates Jesus from all other religions – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Of all religious leaders, Jesus is the only one who was dead but is now alive; His tomb is the only empty one. None can compare to him.
Prove that Jesus is dead and the fundamental basis of Christianity collapses.
Many people had attempted to do that. Among them, were prominent Christian authors like Frank Morrison, Lee Strobel, and Josh McDowell; both Strobel and McDowell are still ministering in our current times.
Here is the secret –
They were not Christians when they started on the journey; they wanted to disprove the resurrection in order to become famous. But they were genuine about the objectivity of the challenge. All ended up becoming born-again, passion-filled Christians and writing books on why they believed the resurrection to be true.
Strobel is exceptional because he is trained both as a lawyer and a journalist. McDowell’s challenge resulted in him writing an evergreen bestselling book acknowledging the resurrection of Jesus Christ – ‘Evidence that demands a verdict.’
Amazingly, both McDowell’s and Strobel’s children are continuing their legacies – McDowell’s son, Sean McDowell is an Assistant Professor on Historical Theology, and Strobel’s son, Kyle, is an Assistant Professor of Scripture and Theology.
1 Cor 15:4 says,
‘That He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.’ Paul then went on to reiterate, ‘If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.’
Basically, it means that if the resurrection did not take place, all believers would have been doomed because we had believed in a lie; there would be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Paul then said in v18,
‘If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.’ How true and how miserable will we be?
But then, the fact that if the resurrection is true means that it provides us with hope, encouragement and even the willingness to lay down our lives for the cause of Jesus Christ. It pushes men to do incredible and incredulous things.
Jesus was not a myth. His resurrection motivated his twelve disciples to die for him. In fact, Jesus prophesied the death of the Apostle Peter in John 21:18 –
‘Truly, truly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’
The early church fathers were unanimous in claiming that Peter died in Rome, by crucifixion, during the persecution of Nero in AD 64. Some said that he was crucified upside down. The early church fathers also acknowledged that all the apostles were martyred except for John.
Why would all his disciples lay down their lives if Jesus was not God? What motivated them to do so? After all, they knew him intimately.
In addition, how did Christianity spread when it first started?
The Book of Acts provided us with examples – It was through preaching, healing, as well as signs and wonders. It was also through the willingness of his disciples to give up their own lives for the cause of Jesus; for example, James, the brother of John, became the first martyr of Christ (Acts 12:2).
How did the other religions spread their teaching when they first started?
Most, like Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, came from the endorsement of emperors of those days.
Islam’s early evangelism strategy involved conquests, negotiation, and the sword. And anyone who is born into a Muslim family is automatically a Muslim. Renunciation of the faith is considered an apostasy justifiable with ostracization as well as potentially the death penalty.
The resurrection of Jesus is the foremost foundation of Christianity. Destroy it and Christianity will be nothing but a myth.
D40 - Jesus rose from the dead in a physical body
Jesus came back in a resurrected body; it was not a spirit.
Luke 24:39 says,
‘See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’
Readers might like to note that it is not ‘flesh and blood’ but ‘flesh and bones’.
Then, in Luke 24:41-42, Jesus ate a broiled fish in front of them.
In John 20:14-17, it showed that people could touch and feel Jesus. Jesus’ resurrected body was a physical one.
D41 - Jesus' resurrection was witnessed by many, including his disciples
Jesus’ resurrection was not a secret. Acts 1:3 says, ‘He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.’ Amazingly, He ministered with a resurrected body for more than a month and even ate with them (Acts 1:4).
In Acts 1:9 explains that he was then taken up to heaven watched by many of his disciples.
In 2 Peter 1:16, the Apostle Peter made it clear that they were ‘eyewitnesses of his majesty.’
The Apostle John wrote quite a similar line when he concluded in the Book of John (John 21:24) –
‘This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we KNOW that his testimony is true.’
Finally, in selecting a disciple to replace Judas Ischariot, the eleven disciples were so precise that they had to select ‘one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us’ (Acts 1:21).
His disciples were not disillusioned nor did they gain financially from being associated with Jesus. The truth is, these were men were prepared to die for Jesus and many did.
More than that, 1 Cor 15:5 made it clear that Jesus
‘appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now (were still alive when the letter was written by Paul).’
Imagine – ‘appearing to them (disciples) during forty days’ (length of time) and ‘appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time’ (the number) – and these eye-witnesses were always ready to die for Jesus.
D42 - Jesus' death on the cross fulfilled the Law
‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.’
Rom 10:4 –
‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.’
And Gal 3:13 explains how Christ fulfilled the law –
‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.’
Jesus completes the redemption picture. Please see D29 and D30 to explain why Jesus became our Passover Lamb. The Old Testament provides us a picture of who we are – We are but sinners. It laid down the requirements that only a perfect blood sacrifice could help to reconcile us to God and during the old days such an offering had to be carried out on a regular basis.
But Jesus Christ became our perfect sacrifice (being sinless – D29) and his death on the cross thus fulfill the law once and for all (Heb 10:9-10). Hence, we are now no more under the law of Moses but under the law of Christ (Gal 3:23-25) which is grace.
Gal 3:23-25 (NLT) –
‘Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.’
Imagine if a person has committed a crime, for example, bank robbery. Now consider the fact that the criminal has to go before a judge. The judge pronounces the criminal as guilty; the criminal must be punished because the law requires it. There is no way that the criminal can make restitution. But what if the judge decides to come to the rescue of the criminal? What if the judge steps down from the stand and takes the punishment on behalf of the defendant?
That is the story of how Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled the law. That is the love of God on all humanity.
D43 - Jesus death on the cross put Satan on the way to defeat
Interestingly, Scripture never says that Jesus defeated Satan completely on the cross although it is a quite a popular view among many churches. By dying on the cross, Jesus managed to ‘destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (in other words, no more fear of death)’ (Heb 2:14-15).
Satan is the prince of this world. Jesus said so in John 16:11, calling Satan –
‘the ruler/ prince of this world is judged.’
The Greek word is archon or ruler/ governor/ leading man.
In 1 John 5:19, it says that
‘the (whole) world around us is under the control of the evil one.’
The Greek word for ‘world’ is cosmos, or the world/ universe/ inhabitants of the world.
Satan is definitely not powerless but he is far from being all powerful (See D36, Jesus is more powerful than Satan).
For example, we are greater than Satan – ‘For he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4). The seventy-two followers of Jesus could testify, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name’ (Luke 10:17).
Rom 16:20 says,
‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.’
Satan is not yet completely crushed. That day will arrive with the second coming of Christ, the day of the Lord.
Please see D300, Jesus returns to defeat Satan, and D301, Satan will be bound during Christ’s millennium rule.
Please also See D89 to D102 about Satan for a better understanding.
D44 - Jesus defeated death
‘Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Jesus said, in John 14:19,
‘Because I live, you also will live.’
Jesus also said in John 11:25-26 (NLT),
‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.’
His resurrection, D39, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, is everything. It means Jesus had defeated death and we can be assured that we will rise with Him too.
In Ecclesiastes 9:5, the Preacher lamented,
‘For the living know that they will die but the dead know nothing, and they have no reward for the memory of them is forgotten.’
It is a situation of hopelessness.
- For people who believe in reincarnation like Buddhism or Hinduism, death is the end of everything.
- For Muslims who do not know where they are going at death. It is a sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness because death carries a certain dread of a big unknown.
The good news is, Jesus defeated death although death has not yet been abolished (1 Cor 15:26).
Hence, Christians can be encouraged by the words in Rev 12:11, ‘ …. For they loved not their lives even unto death.’ There is no fear in the face of death.
See D47, Jesus will destroy death at the end to complete the picture.
D45 - Jesus will deliver the kingdom to God at the end
1 Cor 15:24 reads,
‘Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.’
The kingdom of God currently resides in the hearts of his believers. See D28, Jesus never wanted to be an earthly king.
When Jesus returns, he will defeat Satan and establish a physical kingdom (See D300, Jesus returns to defeat Satan). It will be the start of the forever kingdom of our Lord Jesus (Rev 11:15).
D46 - Jesus will reign supreme at the end
1 Cor 15:24 reads, ‘Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.’
Phil 2:9-11 says –
‘Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name (because of that one defining moment – when Jesus chose obedience to go to the cross), so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (universal ruler), and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
At the end, Jesus will reign supreme as the eternal king of our universe. It is almost like a perfect movie. God wins, and Satan is forever defeated and banished to hell.
See D300, Jesus returns to defeat Satan.
D47 - Jesus will defeat death at the end
The Bible lays down the sequence of events chronologically when it says in 1 Cor 15:25-26, ‘For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (which implies that his enemies are still existing now).
The last enemy to be destroyed is death (in D44, Jesus defeated death, we know that death has not been defeated just yet).
That day will come at the very end of times when ‘Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire’ (Rev 20:14) – NB: Death is personified.
To understand where is Hades, please see this link.
Believers know we can all live again because Jesus has become the ‘first fruit’ of resurrection (1 Cor 15:23); that is, Jesus’ resurrection proved that believers will all be resurrected eventually.
D48 - Faith in Jesus Christ makes us righteous before God
We are made righteous by our faith in Jesus. Rom 4:13 declares –
‘For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith (in Jesus).’
See also D30, Jesus became our perfect Passover Lamb and D37, Jesus came to save that which was lost.
D49 - Jesus reconciled us to God through the cross (Peacemaker)
2 Cor 5:17-19 says –
‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.’
Quite simply, Jesus reconciled us to God through the cross. See D30, Jesus became our perfect passover lamb, and D31, Jesus is the ONLY way to God, the Father.
D50 - Jesus intercedes on our behalf to God
Rom 8:34 says,
‘Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.’
Hebrews 7:25 says,
‘Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them.’
The Greek word for intercession is entugchano or call upon, make a petition, or supplication.
In Luke 22:32, Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. Apparently, Satan was also making his request to the Father to
‘sift each of you like wheat’ (Luke 22:31).
But now, here lies the difference, we have Jesus interceding on our behalf. 1 Tim 2:5 says,
‘There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.’
It is beyond our understanding of how intercession works but we can learn that it is powerful and that Jesus is interceding on our behalf to God just like He had interceded for Peter; Jesus is neutralizing the effects of Satan.
D51 - Believing in Jesus grants us eternal life
The ever popular John 3:16 assures us that
‘Everyone who believes in him (Jesus) will not perish but have eternal life.’
‘(Jesus may) give eternal life to all whom you (God the Father) have given him (Jesus). And this is eternal life, that they know you (God the Father), the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’
The Greek word for ‘believes’ is pisteuo or believe/ have faith in/ trust in. It is more than a superficial belief but one that requires us to put our money where our mouth is. Jesus demands that we trust him totally and walk according to his instructions.
But by putting our faith (Yes, our trust) in Him, Jesus promised us eternal life (with the Father).
The flipside of not trusting in God is that
‘whoever does not believe (in Jesus) is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God’ (John 3:18).
What condemns us?
John 12:48 says that our rejection of the words spoken of by Jesus will be that which condemn us on the day of judgment.
D52 - Jesus can speak to non-believers directly
In Acts 9:5, Jesus came and spoke directly to a persecuting zealot of Christians – the Pharisee Saul. When Saul asked the ‘voice’ who he was, the ‘voice’ said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ Jesus was speaking directly to someone who tortured Christians.
And Saul, unlike Cornelius in Acts 10, was not even praying to God.
Why does God speak to some people and not others? Why does God use some ‘ungodly men’ for his purpose?
We will never know, but God can and have spoken to non-believers directly. In recent times, we hear that God is speaking more and more to Muslims.
We cannot and should never limit what God can do and who he uses. Otherwise, He is not God.
D53 - Jesus forgives our sins
Jesus was about to heal a paralyzed man but before He did, He told the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven’ (Matt 9:2).
Again, in Luke 7:48, a woman came into the house with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume which she poured on his head. She carried on by wiping his feet with her hair with her tears. Jesus turned to her and said, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
There were two things that Jesus was interested in doing –
- He always sought to forgive someone of his/ her sins, and then
- He would advise the person not to sin anymore.
Why did He do that?
In the case of the paralyzed man, it showed that he was indeed God because after he had uttered words of forgiveness, he carried on and healed the man.
Forgiveness released the burden of the guilty; sins can and do weigh us down.
Jesus forgives us our sins when we come to seek him, just like the woman with the alabaster box of perfume whom the Lord uttered those words of forgiveness.
Only God can forgive our sins, something which Jesus demonstrated again and again that he was capable of doing so.
Jesus also intimated that every time we return to him, he would forgive us as much as ‘seventy times seven’ (Matt 18:22).
In the Old Testament, Lam 3:22-23 reads,
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’
O, how beautiful it is that ‘his (God’s) steadfast love and mercies are new every morning.’
D54 - Jesus is the healer
Jesus healed. Throughout the New Testament, you see that all the time. People came to him to hear His words but many sought healing from Him.
Matt 8:16-17 says,
‘That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”’
But Jesus’ purpose on earth was not about healing although we are not denying that healing was important. When people were looking for him in Capernaum because ‘he healed many who were sick’ (Mark 1:34), he chose to leave for other towns that ‘I (Jesus) may preach there also, for that is why I came out’ (Mark 1:38).
His primary goal was to seek that which was lost (D37, Jesus came to save that which was lost).
His miracles, including healing, offered indisputable evidence that He was/ is indeed the Son of God.
John 10:25 says,
‘I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.’
D55 - Jesus’ supernatural actions before eye-witnesses established his credentials
Mark 1:21-28, 32, 45; Mark 2:3-12; Mark 5:11-12; Mark 7:37; Matt 8:26-27; Matt 9:25-26; Mark 4:39-41; Mark 6:48-52; Mark 11:14; Luke 4:36-37; Luke 5:9; Luke 7:12, 17; Luke 7:22; Luke 8:24-25; Luke 9:16; Luke 9:28-32; Luke 9:37-42; John 2:6-8; John 5:36; John 6:2; John 6:14; John 10:32-38, John 11:42-45; John 12:9-18; John 14:10-11
The books in the Gospel are full of the miracles of Jesus (his works). More importantly, these miracles were done in the presence of eye-witnesses; the most critical of which was that of the resurrection (D42, Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by many, including his disciples).
These miracles were not carried out in a room but done openly for everyone to see. They included:
- Casting out of unclean spirit(s) – Mark 1:26-28, Mark 5:11-12, Luke 4:36-37, Luke 9:37-43,
- Healing the sick – Mark 1:30-34, Mark 2:3-12, John 6:2,
- Restoring the deaf to hear and the mute to speak – Mark 7:37,
- Calming a raging sea – Matt 8:26-27, Mark 4:39, Luke 8:24,
- Resurrecting a dead person – Matt 9:25-26, Luke 7:12, John 11:43,
- Walking on water – Mark 6:48,
- Cursing an unproductive tree to wither – Mark 11:14,
- Identifying where to catch the most fish – Luke 5:9,
- Multiplying the amount of food from limited resources – Luke 9:16-17, John 2:6-8, John 6:14,
- Meeting with Elijah and Moses – Luke 9:28-32,
- Giving a word of knowledge – John 4:18, John 1:48-50,
- Finding tax money in a fish’s mouth (Matt 17:24-27), and
- Resurrecting His own body (D42, Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by many).
His miracles enhanced his fame across the region.
His miracles testified of who He was; that He was the Son of God (John 5:36). Nicodemus came to him because he saw the ‘works’ (John 3:2). A large crowd went to ‘see Lazarus whom He raised from the dead’ (John 12:9).
It was His miracles that condemned Him to death because the religious elites felt threatened that the ‘world has gone after Him’ – John 12:19.
It was also the same miracles that caused his disciples to believe in him so much so that they were all prepared to die for him, with James, the brother of John, being the first martyr (Acts 12:2). That event energized John instead of disheartening him.
There was no money to be gained in following Christ but none of his disciples went back to their regular way of life; they gave that all up to follow Jesus. They could not deny him; they were eye-witnesses of these events.
The Apostle Peter echoed these words best when He said in John 6:68:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.“
D56 - Jesus did not waste
During the feeding of the multitude, whether there were four or five thousand, he would, without fail, ask his disciples to pick up the leftovers. In Luke 9:17, his disciples collected twelve basketfuls of broken pieces. In Mark 8:8, after feeding four thousand people, it was seven basketfuls.
In John 6:12, Jesus explained the rationale –
‘that nothing will be wasted.’
Jesus hated waste. He was always careful about gathering every bit that remained.
What does it say about God? What does it say about ourselves?
D57 - Jesus believed in order
Matt 21:1-3; Matt 26:18; Matt 26:54; Mark 1:14-15; Mark 14:13-16; Luke 9:14; Luke 19:25-34; Luke 22:10-13; John 6:10; John 13:1-3; John 17:12; John 18:4; John 19:28; John 20:7; 1 Cor 11:3; 1 Cor 14:40
Jesus was an organizer. Everything followed a plan and was never out of order:
- Jesus started his ministry after the arrest of John the Baptist. Only then did he said that ‘the time is fulfilled’ (Mark 1:14).
- He arranged for people to be seated in groups of fifty when it came to feeding the multitude (Luke 9:14),
- Every disciple that was to be saved were saved (John 17:12),
- To celebrate the Passover feast almost at his ‘appointed time’, he had somehow miraculously arranged for a guest room for the occasion (Matt 26:18; Luke 22:10-13),
- When he was going into Jerusalem on the actual Palm Sunday, he had already prepared a donkey to bring him into the city (Matt 21;1-3, Luke 19:25-34),
- He knew that he would have to go to the cross. Hence, he did not activate the angels to rescue him. Everything had to happen the way that was written into the Scripture (Matt 26:53),
- He also knew when he had to die – when ‘everything had now been finished’ (John 19:28),
- When he finally was resurrected, he even folded up the cloth that covered his head (John 20:7),
There is always order in the kingdom of God – like the fact that the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor 11:3). Hence, 1 Cor 14:40 says, ‘But everything must be done in a proper and orderly manner.’
The God of the Bible is a God of order.
D58 - Jesus had everything under his control
God is in control. Jesus is in control. After all, even the waves and water had to obey him.
In Matt 14:28, Jesus invited Peter to come and walk with him on water. The water held firm even as Peter walked on it; until that was when Peter looked around and got worried.
When Jesus was asked to pay tax, he simply asked his disciples to go and catch a fish of which a large silver coin was already inside it (Matt 17:27).
And when Peter claimed that he would never deny the Lord, Jesus said, ‘this very night before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times’ (Matt 26:34). So, it was to be. Jesus knew everything.
Jesus not only had everything in order, he also had everything under his control. There was no rush, just in accordance to what is written in the Scripture.
Hence, his second coming will be just like what he told us in the Scripture. Nothing should therefore take us by surprise.
See D60, Jesus did not want to surprise his disciples.
D59 - Jesus had been given authority over all flesh by God, the Father
John 17:2 says,
‘Since you (the Father) have given him (Jesus) authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.’
God, the Father, had handed the authorization to Jesus. Jesus is the authority in terms of who he grants to have eternal life.
His criteria is found in John 3:16 –
‘That whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.’
NB: ‘Believe’ being the Greek word, pisteuo, or have faith in/ I am entrusted with …
D60 - Jesus did not want to surprise his disciples
Matt 16:21-23; Matt 17:9; Matt 17:22-23; Matt 20:17-19; Matt 24:25; Matt 26:1-2, 32; Mark 4:11; Mark 8:31-32; Mark 9:9; Mark 9:31-32; Mark 10:32-34; Mark 13:23; Mark 14:18-20; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 9:21-22; Luke 9:44; Luke 18:31-34; Luke 22:21-22; John 11:14; John 13:21; John 14:29; John 16:4-5, 25-32; Rev 1:1
Repeatedly, during his first coming, Jesus told his disciples how he would eventually be killed. He said that
- he would ‘suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law,
- he would be killed and that on the third day, he would be raised again (Matt 16:21), He said it again in Matt 17:9, followed by Matt 17:22.
In Matt 20:17-19, he was even more specific, explaining that he would be ‘delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they would condemn him to death, and would hand him over to the Gentiles to (be) mocked and scourged, and crucified, and on the third day, he would be raised up.’
Yet, in Matt 26:1-2, he repeated it with words like,
‘After two days, the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man (Jesus) is to be handed over for crucifixion.’
Finally, just before being arrested by the soldiers, Jesus said,
‘You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered. But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee’ (Matt 26:31-32).
He said it openly,
‘One of you will betray me’ (John 13:21).
Again, just before he was betrayed, he organized a farewell meal in the form of the Passover celebration. Jesus was exceptional in terms of instructions as seen in Mark 14:13-15:
- Go into the city,
- Meet a man carrying a pitcher of water,
- Follow him,
- Tell the master of that house that the Teacher needs a room for the Passover,
- Check the room that you will be shown by the master of the house.
There were no surprises.
In talking about his second coming, Jesus wanted his followers to be aware regarding what would happen prior to his return. Hence, he shared his thoughts openly in the gospels. In Matt 24:25, Jesus explained,
‘See, I have told you in advance.’
Just like the first coming, Jesus treasured his church to know what events would precede his return.
The reason why we have the privilege of knowing this is because, as in Mark 4:11,
‘the secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to us while to those on the outside, everything is expressed in parables.’
Jesus always cherished his followers to know. It is the devil who muddied the waters by getting theologians to confuse believers. It is the devil who comes to ‘steal and kill and destroy’ (John 10:10).
And it is us who fail to listen. Despite Jesus repeatedly telling his disciples in regard to his impending journey to the cross, his disciples only realized the full message after his resurrection –
‘Then, they remembered his words’ (Luke 24:8).
If we read the words of Jesus (NB: Not the Pauline’s epistles as a start), it would provide us with sufficient illumination to know his second advent. Jesus spoke plainly, chronologically, and without parables. He never intended to surprise us.
In John 11:14, Jesus told his disciples ‘plainly’ that Lazarus was dead.
When questioned by the high priest just before his crucifixion in regard to his teaching, Jesus replied –
‘I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said NOTHING IN SECRET.’ (John 18:20)
Even the chief priests and Pharisees were aware of his resurrection claims. A day after Jesus’ death, they went to Pilate and said (Matt 27:63),
“Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’”
Of the three persons in the Trinity, Jesus shared as one in humanity. He was the most upfront, candid, and detailed.
If we want to study about his second coming, we must begin with the words of Jesus.
D61 - Jesus commissioned his disciples to be his ambassadors
In 2 Cor 5:20, Paul reminded believers that ‘we are ambassadors for Christ’. The Greek word is presbeuo and it stands for an elder or an ambassador.
An ambassador is defined as ‘a diplomatic official of the highest rank appointed and accredited as representative in residence by one government or sovereign to another, usually for a specific length of time.’
According to the Congress of Vienna, 1815 – an ambassador has the full authority to represent the government.
In John 20:23, Jesus told his disciples,
‘If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’
In Mark 6:7-13, the Lord summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He also instructed them to go to various places to preach the gospel of repentance. They were also to cast out demons and anoint the sick with oil for healing. That is still the same authority given to all believers by our Lord Jesus.
D62 - Jesus had great compassion
If there is one thing that we learn from reading the gospels, it is that Jesus who walked the earth two thousand years ago, was a totally compassionate person.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy’ (Matt 5:7). In Matt 23:23, Jesus told the Pharisees that the Lord considered justice, mercy, and faithfulness as being more important than tithes.
Jesus had great compassion.
- Jesus healed a leper because he was compassionate (Mark 1:41),
- When he saw the crowds, he was moved with compassion, seeing that they were like ‘sheep without a shepherd’ (Matt 9:36),
- When he realized that a crowd of four thousand had been following him for three days and had hardly eaten, he multiplied food for them because ‘I have compassion on the crowd’ (Matt 15:32),
- When he met a widow whose son had died and was about to be buried, Jesus raised him from the dead because ‘he had compassion on her’ (Luke 7:13),
- When a woman caught in the act of adultery was handed over to Jesus, instead of condemning her like those suggested by the religious people, Jesus chose to encourage her not to sin anymore going forward (John 8:11). Jesus was guided by mercy rather than judgment,
- Even when he rose from the dead, he chose to comfort the women who were there to honor his burial even though he had ‘not yet ascended to the Father’ (John 20:17).
James said it well in James 2:13,
‘Mercy triumphs over judgment.’
As believers, we ought to learn from Jesus to show compassion before judgment although, at the end, God will still apply judgment (Rev 20:15).
D63 - Jesus demonstrated a range of emotions (He was the most personable)
To begin, Jesus showed great compassion (See D62, Jesus had great compassion). Compassion is an emotion. Jesus also demonstrated other emotions.
- Jesus was stressed. Jesus went away to rest because ‘so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat’ (Mark 6:31). In John 12:27, he cried out to God the Father to ‘save him from this hour’ (regarding facing the cross).
- Jesus suffered from physical exhaustion; he was no superman. Like when he met the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in John 4:6.
- Jesus showed anger especially to the religious people who were more interested in religion than the truth. The religious people were guided by a form of God and were lost within their own religious system so much so that God cannot speak to them anymore. He called out the Pharisees as ‘brood of vipers’ (not exactly a complimentary term) in Matt 23:33.
- Jesus was opened with his emotions. In John 11:35, we have the shortest verse in the Bible. It simply reads, ‘Jesus wept’. He cried because his good friend, Lazarus, had died and was buried.
- Other times, Jesus was frustrated at the inability of his disciples to discern the teaching. He called them ‘dull’ (Mark 7:18). Other times, Jesus marveled at their lack of faith (Mark 4:40).
- Finally, just before Jesus went to the cross, he exhibited his full emotions to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22:44) even as he asked God ‘to let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will but as you will’ (Matt 26:39).
His emotions showed that he was no superman but that he was 100 percent human.
Heb 4:15 describes him best as someone who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses as he had been tempted in every respect just as we are.
Hence, of all the three persons in the Godhead, Jesus was the most personable; he came and walked with us …. He became and was one of us ….
See also B301 – Learn to take rest
D64 - Jesus multiplied what was given to him on his request
In feeding of the multitudes, Jesus multiplied the food resources that were given to him on his request.
In feeding the four thousand, Jesus turned a few small fish into seven large baskets full of leftovers while in the feeding of the five thousand, he took five loaves and two fish and collected twelve basketfuls of broken pieces at the end.
As a principle, Jesus demonstrated that he could multiply that which we give to him on his request and we could still end up with plenty of leftovers.
D65 - Jesus was, without doubt, a man of prayer
Jesus taught his believers how to pray, the most basic of which was the Lord’s Prayer. But he also modeled prayer.
Despite the busyness of his schedule, he would consistently set aside time to pray. In Mark 6:46, it explained that after dismissing the crowd,
‘he went up on the mountain to pray.’
Jesus would spend the entire night praying to God (Luke 6:12). He also prayed with his disciples around him (Luke 9:18 and he declared to all that the temple (or we might say, our church) will be a house of prayer (Luke 19:46).
See also D50, Jesus intercedes on our behalf to God.
D66 - Jesus had to stay focus to do the will of God
Most of us are distracted even if we are doing the will of God. Jesus showed us the efforts he took to stay focus.
He prayed and agonized but insisted on following God’s will.
‘Not as I will but as you will’ (Matt 26:39).
He did not flinch but was resolute in going to the cross (Luke 9:51).
He struggled internally but would submit himself to his destiny –
‘Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour’ (John 12:27).
If we find the will of God and do it, will we show the same tenacity and determination to stay on course even if it was difficult and possibly deadly?
D67 - Jesus' first advent was missed by everyone with a just few exceptions
Everyone of those Jewish religious people ‘did not know the time of your (first) visitation’ (Luke 19:44) despite them studying the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).
‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me’ (John 5:39).
After Jesus had walked the earth, only then did Christian theologians go about reconciling the Old Testament verses and concluding how Jesus matched precisely those prophecies that heralded his first arrival. Hindsight, as they say, is always 20-20.
Who were those in a small group who were made aware of his first coming?
- There was a group of shepherds who were supernaturally shown the occasion. They did not study the word but simply had the privilege of knowing (Luke 2:8),
- There was an old prophetess and widow, Anna who never left the temple and was always fasting and praying (Luke 2:37),
- There was ‘righteous and devout’ Simeon who ‘had been revealed by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ’ (Luke 2:26), and finally
- There were the wise men from the east who studied astrology and paid attention to a special star and who journeyed to Jerusalem to worship him (Matt 2:1-12).
Despite all their theological training, while the chief priests and scribes were aware of the important verses, especially Bethlehem being the birthplace of Christ (Matt 2:4-6), they did not believe them enough in the truth of his birth to go there to worship him.
Were they caught up in their own theology so much so that they have failed to accept the observations of those wise men from the east? The nation of Israel and their wise men had all failed to ‘recognize the time of your visitation from God’ (Luke 19:44).
In other words, less than ten people knew or were given knowledge of the first arrival of Jesus.
If so many religious leaders could miss Jesus’ first arrival, is it possible that the same could happen for Jesus’ second coming despite the availability of more Scripture?
D68 - Jesus hated religion and the Jewish religious leaders of his days
When we talk about Jesus, we talk about his love and compassion. However, there was one group that he particularly hated and those were the religious leaders of his days, the elites of the Jewish society.
Why did he abhor them? Here are some reasons:
- They were supposed to teach the people what right living was. Yet, Jesus told the crowd to ‘observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do’ (Matt 23:3). They were not walking the talk.
- They created extra rules and regulations over and beyond those in the Hebrew Bible and were more interested as to whether people were following them (Matt 23:4, John 9:22),
- They wanted to be seen as religious leaders through their external appearance – their ‘broad phylacteries and long fringes’ (Matt 23:5),
- They were proud and arrogant, loving ‘the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the marketplace and being called rabbi by others’ (Matt 23:6-7),
- They loved to be addressed with titles such as ‘Father’ or equivalent (Matt 23:9),
- They interpreted the commandments to fit their own lifestyle (Matt 23:16-22),
- They did not practice justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matt 23:23),
- They were hypocrites (Matt 23:28),
- They killed (despised) real men of God (Matt 23:29),
- They were lovers of money (Luke 16:14),
- They justified themselves in the sight of men (without carefully reflecting on their own behaviors) – Luke 16:14
- They ‘loved the praise of men more than the praise of God’ (John 12:43).
Jesus hated religion, religiosity, and religious leaders who failed to walk-the-talk.
D69 - Jesus did the works of the Father
Jesus did the works of the Father. In John 10:37, Jesus said,
‘If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe me but if I do them, though you do not believe me, believe the works.’
He fulfilled that which was prophesied in the Old Testament. And miracles were happening in their sight.
He could answer the disciples of John the Baptist with these words,
‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor’ (Luke 7:22).
Jesus was indicating that he fulfilled the prophecies found in Isa 61:1 –
‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor ….’
He was also meeting the words of Isa 35:5-6 –
‘Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.’
Yet, despite his good works carried out with ‘many signs before them, they did not believe in him’ (John 12:37).
D70 - Jesus was killed for political reasons
Jesus’ words had always been strong and they irked the Pharisees. In Matt 15:12, the disciples came and told him,
‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying (Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees).’
But according to the Gospel of John, it took on added significance when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. That event sent shivers down the spine of the chief priests and Pharisees (the elites of those days).
John 11:47-48 echoed the words of these elites –
‘What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’
Jesus’ death had to happen in accordance to God’s redemptive plan (see D37, Jesus came to save that which was lost). It was even predicted by High Priest Caiphas who said in John 11:50-52,
‘Do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.’ Now, he did not say this on his own initiative but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation and not for the nation only but in order that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.’
However, on a non-spiritual level, the motivation to kill Jesus was political – the fear of the elites that people might gather around Jesus to make him a Jewish political champion (although Jesus never intended for that. Please see D28, Jesus never wanted to be an earthly king) and the Romans might come and remove their privileges and to impose more restrictions on Israel. Hence, from then onward, the elites conspired to destroy Jesus (Matt 26:3-4).
In his judgment, Pilate ‘knew it was out of envy that they (the Jewish elites) had delivered him (Jesus) up’ (Matt 27:18). Nevertheless, he chose to be swerved by the elites and the mob and took the easy route out by washing his hands before the crowd (Matt 27:24) while delivering Jesus to be crucified.
NB: Many things revolve around politics and the judiciary as the judiciary is responsible for issuing judgment. Judges are powerful and it is difficult for them to remain impartial. Paul’s trial (Acts 23-25; Acts 24:27; Acts 25:9) is another case in point.
How can a Christian judge stay impartial when reviewing a politically sensitive case while staying impartial?
D71 - Jesus (and his name) will be hated more and more by everyone
If there is one promise that the Lord has given us, it is that we ‘will be hated by all for my name’s sake (that is, for being Christians)’ (Matt 10:22) and we are instructed to ‘endure to the end’.
We are beginning to see it more and more now and it is becoming a global phenomenon.This hatred of anyone associated with the name of Jesus will grown into an unexplainable frenzy.
Jesus said in John 15:25,
‘But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: “They hated me without a cause.”’
Jesus said that ‘whoever hates me (Jesus) hates my Father also’ (John 15:23); the hatred is primarily borne out of a hatred for God the Father.
Hence, it should not surprise Christians at all. Christians must be ready to ‘endure to the end.’
D72 - Jesus had to leave so that the Holy Spirit can come
We will never fully grasp why Jesus’ first coming was only for a designated short time span. But he had not left us alone.
In John 16:7, Jesus said,
‘Unless I (Jesus) go away, the Advocate (Helper/Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.’
Then, in John 20:22, he breathed on them and said,
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
One argument suggested Jesus had to leave so that the Holy Spirit can indwell in believers and allow them to do greater things through him. It is empowering believers to carry out his mandate as ‘ambassadors for Christ’ not limited by the physical presence of a person in one particular spot (See D61, Jesus commissioned his followers to be his ambassadors).
Of course we could argue that Jesus could remain on earth to do the same but Jesus is now at the right hand of God advocating on our behalf (Acts 7:55).
See also D50, Jesus intercedes on our behalf to God.
We will never fully understand the rationale of God’s plan.
D73 - Jesus showed us the power of spending time in discipling
Jesus was not so much into church planting as he was into disciple making; if we make disciples, we will naturally plant churches but the opposite may not be true.
Jesus coached his disciples by allowing them to walk alongside him. They asked him questions and saw his behavior at close quarters.
In the parable of the sower, his disciples wanted to know what it meant. And Jesus explained to them the meaning (Matt 13:36). Of course, there were times when even Jesus got frustrated with them like when he explained that ‘it is not what goes into our body that defiles us; we are defiled by what comes from our heart’ (Mark 7:14).
Jesus even exclaimed in Mark 7:18 and called out the disciples with the Greek word, asunetos, or unintelligent/ unwise/ undiscerning – quite heavy words really. Is it the same as calling out someone as being dumb?
Jesus showed them how to do a tough deliverance. And later his disciples wanted to learn. So, Jesus explained to them in Matt 17:19 the importance of having faith. Jesus had ‘been there and done that.’
Then, Jesus got them to practice what they have learned from him. In Mark 6:7, he sent them out ‘two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.’
Even after his resurrection, Jesus continued to disciple, this time using Scriptures to illuminate his purpose (Luke 24:27).
Jesus showed us the art of discipling while he was on earth.
D74 - The Holy Spirit is God
In John 3:5, Jesus made it clear to Nicodemus that to be born of God is to be born ‘of the Spirit.’ The Holy Spirit is his own person.
When we lied to the Holy Spirit, we lied to God. That was what happened in the case of Ananias, who declared that he had released all the money he got from the sale of the land when he actually held back a portion of it (Acts 5:3-4). Peter equated the holy Spirit with God.
The significance of the Holy Spirit is found in Rom 8:9 which says,
‘If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him (Jesus).’
In the doxology, all three members of the Godhead are mentioned. 2 Cor 13:14 says it as such, ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God (the Father), and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’
D75 - The Holy Spirit is a person
Just like God the Father (D10, God is a person), and Jesus (D63, Jesus demonstrated a range of emotions), the Holy Spirit is a person with a personality.
The Holy Spirit helps us to pray and intercedes for us (Rom 8:26-27).
And the Holy Spirit can grieve within us (Eph 4:30).
The Holy Spirit is a person and not a force.
D76 - Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit
In John 14:17, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit
‘abides with us and will be in us.’
Hence, when we become believers, we have the Holy Spirit within us.
1 Cor 6:19 says that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
In Eph 1:13, stronger words are used to describe our relationship with the Holy Spirit – believers are ‘sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise.’
The Greek word for ‘seal’ is sphargizo and it is indeed translated appropriately as seal/ set a seal upon.
The concept of how a believer can be ‘unsealed’ is something which is beyond the scope of explanation here. Please also see the following:
- S139 – Continuous sinning deliberately and wilfully even after knowing Jesus,
- S140 – Sell off our birthrights by disassociating with Jesus permanently,
- S141- Take on the mark of the beast (666).
D77 - The Holy Spirit has many names
The Holy Spirit has many names and they indicate his roles.
D78 - The Holy Spirit never imposes
In all four gospels, they spoke about the experience of Jesus – as he was coming out of the water after being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on him in a bodily form like a dove and rested on him.
The Holy Spirit is often described as a dove. Doves are used as a symbol of love, peace and harmony. They are pure, white, and harmless. They are gentle, faithful (they mate for life) and friendly. They raise their young ones with great care.
Because of the gentle nature of the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus, he will never impose. The Apostle Paul, for example, was told through the Spirit not to go to Jerusalem (Acts:20:22-23; Acts 21:4). Yet, he insisted. The Holy Spirit may direct but we decide the final move.
In addition, the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph 4:30) – the Greek word for ‘grieve’ is lupeo – that is, he can be pained/ grieved/ hurt/ made severely sorrowful. And it will affect the Holy Spirit’s ability to speak to us as well as to flow through us.
How can we grieve the Holy Spirit? Eph 4:17-31 provided us ways in which we can grieve the Holy Spirit – like
- practicing ‘impurity’,
- lying, and falsehood
- having uncontrollable anger,
- stealing, and
- having corrupt conversation.
Basically, we grieve the Holy Spirit when we choose to sin.
D79 - The Holy Spirit is our ultimate teacher
John 14:26 says, ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.’
- It is the Holy Spirit that directs our path and teaches us.
- It is the Holy Spirit that brings into remembrance regarding the lessons taught in the Scripture.
- It is the Holy Spirit that helps to shape the way we think and respond as long as we allow the Holy Spirit to operate freely and not grieve him through our sinful lives
See D78, The Holy Spirit never imposes, for some information.
We learn by being sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
D80 - The Holy Spirit speaks directly to us
In Acts 13:2, while the church was fasting and praying to the Lord, the Holy Spirit said to them to separate Barnabas and Saul (now Paul) for the works of the Kingdom.
Then, in Acts 20:23, the Holy Spirit warned Paul ‘that imprisonment and afflictions await him’ in Jerusalem.
The Bible used the words,
‘The Holy Spirit said.’
There is not much explanation as to how does the Holy Spirit speak to us in the Bible but it is probably an inner witness within our spirit or possibly through the Word of God. It could be a combination of things, including dreams and prophecies.
But if we seek the Lord, he does speak to us – sometimes through coincidences like the case of Peter and the household of Cornelius. (Acts 10:9-19).
See also B244 to B252 under Decision-Making.
D81 - The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus
John 15:26 says that
‘the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness (testify) about Jesus.’
John 16:14 reiterates that the Holy Spirit
‘will glorify me (Jesus) for he will take what is mine (Jesus) and declare it to you.’
Jesus said in Matt 12:30,
‘Whoever is not with me is against me.’
The Holy Spirit will never contradict Jesus but will recognize Jesus as God.
D82 - The Holy Spirit guides us
It was the Holy Spirit who guided Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil – Matt 4:1. We will never completely understand the rationale for it but this is in the Bible and it is part of God’s sovereign plan. Jesus had to pass that test.
See D84 – The Holy Spirit can lead us to be tested.
The Holy Spirit will ‘guide you (us) into all the truth’ – John 16:13
In Mark 13:11, Jesus provided assurance to believers that should we be arrested and had to stand trial because of our beliefs, we are to
‘say what God tells you (us) at that time, for it is not you (us) who will be speaking but the Holy Spirit.’
Which means in difficult times, the Holy Spirit takes over and guides us.
Throughout our lives, the Holy Spirit guides us. The key to our Christian living is the ability to discover the voice of the Holy Spirit and to obey that voice.
D83 - The Holy Spirit is God's powerful presence
Jesus promised in Matt 28:20 that ‘surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.’ That promise is found in the provision of the Holy Spirit.
In John 14:18, Jesus promised,
‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.’
It is the Holy Spirit that
‘convict(s) the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement’ (John 16:7-8).
Jesus’ presence is now in the form of the Holy Spirit.
D84 - The Holy Spirit can lead us to be tested
In D82 – The Holy Spirit guides us, it was mentioned that the Holy Spirit guided Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil – Matt 4:1.
‘We will never completely understand the rationale for it but this is in the Bible and it is part of God’s sovereign plan. Jesus had to pass that test.’
If the Holy Spirit led Jesus to be tested, surely he can lead us to be tested too. In fact, to be examined by God is part and parcel of being a Christian.
Jesus tested his disciples constantly.
‘He was asking this to test him.’
In his newly resurrected body, Jesus chose to walk alongside with Cleopas and Simon, who did not recognize him and he got them talking by asking
‘What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?’ (Luke 24:17).
He already knew that they were talking about the unbelievable resurrection of Jesus but he wanted to hear it from them directly.
Trials are part of learning about the other person as much as allowing the other person to learn about himself/ herself.
In manufacturing, quality checks are carried out as part of a normal process in order to ensure that customers are getting quality products. So, it appears to be the same with God.
Even the great matriarch, Abraham, was tested to find his level of trust in God when he was asked to sacrifice his son of promise, Isaac, on Mt Moriah (Gen 22:1-12).
For more information, please see D128 – Believers will be tested by the Lord.
In this section, we will indicate what we learn about ‘angels’ as in the New Testament. Without doubt, the Old Testament provides us with much information too.
D85 - Angels are real
Angels are for real. They are supernatural beings found in the Bible.
In Matt 1:20, it explains how an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to encourage him to take Mary as his wife. Then, he was also told by angels on how to protect the baby Jesus from King Herod (Matt 2:12-21).
Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, encountered the Angel Gabriel while serving in the temple (Luke 1:11-20).
They are mentioned repeatedly throughout the New Testament.
D86 - Angels are created beings and are not to be worshipped
We should never worship angels.
Like us, angels are created beings who have different functions from us. In fact, Paul explained that one day, believers will judge angels (1 Cor 6:3):
‘Do you not know that we are to judge angels?’
When John fell down at the feet of an angel and worshiped him in the Book of Revelation, the angel’s reply was,
‘Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God’ (Rev 22:8-9).
Believers do not worship angels.
D87 - Angels make announcements on behalf of God
It was the archangel Gabriel who announced to Mary that she was to bear a son, and not just any son but the Son of God. And it was also Gabriel who met Zechariah, the High Priest, earlier to announce the conception of John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah (Luke 1:19).
The archangel Gabriel seemed to be the official angel of announcements for key events.
Angels also comfort. Like the case of Jesus after his temptation by the devil when they came to ‘minister to him’ (Matt 4:11).
D88 - Angels are involved in warfare with the devil
In Rev 12:7, it speaks about a war in heaven in which Michael, the archangel, was stronger and prevailed against Satan whom he dumped to earth together with Satan’s fallen angels.
In Jude 1:9, it talks about a time when archangel Michael disputed with the devil about the body of Moses. What exactly was the discussion, we do not know as this was not highlighted.
Angels have different functions and the Archangel Michael is the one that seemed to be involved in warfare with Satan.
D89 - Satan was an archangel who rebelled against God
In Luke 10:18, Jesus described the scene:
‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’
Rev 12:4 says,
‘His (Satan’s) tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.’
Effectively, Satan rebelled and took one third of the angels with him to earth..
Satan did not want to worship God but to be worshiped (Matt 4:9)
D90 - Satan has a personality
Like God, Satan also has a personality. He is crafty, knows the Scripture and uses deception. In the Temptation of Jesus, it showed him speaking to Jesus in half-truths.
NB: If believers do not know their Scripture well, they will be tripped by the same half-truths from Satan.
In John 10:10, Satan is described as a ‘thief’ that comes ‘to steal, and kill, and destroy.’ He thrives on being evil.
In John 8:44, Jesus addressed him out as a murderer and a father of lies; he lies without guilt.
Satan has many names, each listing his attributes. He is called:
- Satan – Mark 4:15 – or in Greek, satanas, that is an adversary, Satan,
- The tempter (Matt 4:3, 1 Thes 3:5),
- The prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2),
- The god of this age (2 Cor 4:4),
- The prince of this world (John 12:31),
- The ruler of darkness (Eph 6:12),
- A roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8),
- The dragon (Rev 12:7),
- The deceiver (Rev 20:10),
- Apollyon – The destroyer (Rev 9:11),
- Beelzebub – Chief of evil spirits (Matt 12:24),
- Belial – Demon (2 Cor 6:15),
- The evil one (Matt 13:38),
- The accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10),
- An angel of light (disguised) (2 Cor 11:14-15),
- A father of lies (John 8:44),
- A murderer (John 8:44),
- The enemy (Matt 13:39).
He holds onto evil characteristics. His names describes who he is.
D91 - Satan is powerful but not more powerful than God
Satan is powerful. Paul, in 2 Thes 2:9, made it clear that the coming lawless one (the Antichrist)
‘by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders.’
Matt 24:24 confirms that at the end of times,
‘false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect (that is, Christians).’
NB: Astonishingly, even Christians can be deceived by these false messiahs.
In many parts of the world, we can witness the actual manifestation of demonic power. But God is more powerful. Here are some reasons:
- Satan is a created being. God is the Creator – Acts 4:24,
- Satan had to seek God for permission to test Job and even Peter – Job 1:6-22, Luke 22:31. See also D36, Jesus is more powerful than Satan,
- We can resist the devil and he will flee from us – James 4:7,
Satan will ultimately be thrown into the lake of fire – Rev 20:10 –
See also D102, Satan will be defeated for good and forever.
D92 - Satan is the prince of the world
‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.’
In 2 Cor 4:4, Satan is called the ‘god of the age’. The Greek word for ‘god’ is theos or a god and the word for ‘age’ is aion or an age/ a cycle of time especially of the present age as contrasted with the future age.
In Eph 2:2, Satan is addressed as the prince of the power of the air. Again, the Greek word for ‘prince’ is archon and ‘air’ is aer or the lower air we breathe/ air.
1 John 5:19 says that
‘the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.’
Yet, we discover that after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus said in Matt 28:18 that ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Jesus).’
How do we reconcile these verses? Who rules the world?
Consider this imperfect analogy –
- Satan has a leasehold on earth and its atmosphere (1 John 5:19). That is why 2 Cor 4:4 called him the god of the age and Eph 2:2 addressed him as the prince of the power of the air.
- He is powerful (See D91, Satan is powerful but not more powerful than God) although not as powerful as God; see 2 Thes 2:9, Matt 24:24, Job 1:6-22, Luke 22:31-32 .
- Eventually, Satan’s lease will expire and he will have to surrender the earth to Jesus; see Rev 19:11-16.
- But do not expect him to go quietly. He will throw a great outrage on the earth before being forced to exist. Read Rev 12:7-12 (D272 – The Great Tribulation begins when Satan is kicked out of God’s presence).
- Meanwhile, Christians are mighty as the owner (God) has given us ambassadorial recognition (2 Cor 5:20) to operate great things on earth (John 14:12).
Nonetheless, because he is still the prince of this world, children of God are not immune from the harm by Satan.
The Apostle James, the brother of John and one of Jesus’ three closest disciples, for example, became the first Christian martyr when he was killed by a sword under the instruction of King Herod (Acts 12:2).
Satan still has a lease on the earth.
D93 - Satan is the father of lies
The term that Jesus used in Matt 12:27 is ‘Beelzebul’ or the Greek word Beelzebul which stands for the chief of evil spirits or Satan.
One of Satan’s popular tools is deception. Please see D95, Satan’s key weapon is to cause us to doubt.
D94 - Satan will tempt us continuously
Jesus had just endured an intense time of temptation from the devil. It is termed as ‘The Temptation of Jesus’. And Jesus had not caved in despite Satan’s best effort.
Yet, in Luke 4:13, Scripture reports that
‘When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.’
Satan was not yet done.
The same is with us. Satan will tempt us continuously, devouring the weak. Hence, the Apostle Peter could say,
‘Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8).
That was why Paul, in Eph 6:11 reminded us to
‘put on the full armor of God that you (we) may be able to sand against the schemes of the devil.’
D95 - Satan's key weapon is to cause us to doubt
Just like the passage in Genesis during the days of Adam and Eve, one of Satan’s most powerful weapons is doubt. In Gen 3:1, the serpent (the devil) said to the woman,
“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’”
In Matt 4:3-11, at the Temptation of Jesus, the devil (also called the tempter) did a similar take when he said,
‘If you are the Son of God ….’
He started by putting in a doubt for Jesus.
If we observe Matt 4, you would have seen a negotiation pattern taken by Satan. Doubts shake our faith.
D96 - Satan can masquerade as an angel of light
In 2 Cor 11:14, Paul explained that Satan could masquerade/ disguise himself as ‘an angel of light’, describing some of these people as false apostles.
In Matt 24:24, it describes how these false christs may even mislead the elect (Christians/ God’s chosen ones).
D96 describes a group of religious leaders whose mission is to deceive us. Can it also include perceived ‘Christian’ leaders?
D97 - Satan is not to be worshiped
In Matt 4:9, the temptation of Jesus, Satan sought even Jesus to worship him, promising him a great reward.
The Bible has made it clear – Believers only worship God and no one else; not an angel, not a man, not a sport, not a car, not a spouse, and definitely not the devil.
Within the Ten Commandments, Commandment #1 states – ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Ex 20:3).
D98 - Satan can grant power to people that worship him
During the Temptation of Jesus, Satan showed his hands that he was prepared to grant his followers great powers.
Satan told Jesus, ‘All these (the kingdoms of the world and their glory) I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’ (Matt 4:9). Satan could grant Jesus all that he was promised without the need for blood, sweat and tears of the cross.
Satan is powerful. See D91, Satan is powerful but not more powerful than God. It is therefore unsurprising that we see such powers manifested on earth.
As believers, discernment is required to distinguish good and evil power. The occult is very real.
See also S11, Practice sorcery and witchcraft.
D99 - Satan is our accuser
D100 - Satan has access to heaven for now
Rev 12:8 –
‘But he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.’
Satan lost his battle and in v9, it says that he was hurled to earth together with his (fallen) angels. In v12, it says that ‘the devil has come down to you (the earth) in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short.’
That is the time of Satan’s wrath which we will discuss further under the section on Second Coming.
What it does imply from Rev 12:8 is that Satan still has access to heaven although one day, that will cease. And it will not be a comfortable scenario for us on the earth when that happens.
This explains why in Job 1:6, it describes a time when ‘the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord’ and how Satan belittled God’s praise of Job. And it accounts for why Jesus had to intercede on our behalf – D50, Jesus intercedes on our behalf with God.
One day, Satan will be kicked out of heaven completely but that day has not yet arrived.
We will never understand why it is possible for Satan to present himself to God but could only share what the Bible shows.
D101 - Satan needs God's permission before he can act
In Matt 8:31, when Jesus was casting demons out of a man, they had to seek permission from Jesus before entering into a large herd of pigs. Jesus could also prevent the demons from speaking (Mark 1:34, Luke 4:41). And in the Old Testament, Job 1:6-12, when Satan was accusing Job, Satan had to make a request to God.
Satan can ONLY act with God’s permission.
See also D50 – Jesus intercedes on our behalf with God, for more information.
D102 - Satan and his subjects will be defeated for good and forever
The day when Jesus was born was the beginning of the end for the devil. 1 John 3:8 explains that the Son of God came to
‘destroy the works of the devil.’
The resurrection of Christ also spelled the beginning of the end of death and the devil. Heb 2:14 says that
‘by his (Jesus) death, Jesus might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.’
Eventually, Satan and his subjects will be destroyed. In the distant future and at the end of the age, God promises us that
‘the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur’ (Rev 20:9).
D103 - Demons are real
Demons are fallen angels who follow Satan. They are a big number since Rev 12:4 revealed that one-third of God’s angels followed Satan in rebellion.
The Greek word for demons is daimonion or an evil spirit/ demon/ heathen deity. Here are some of their characteristics:
- They can make their abode in a person like the possessed man in Mark 5 who had many demons Mark 5:9.
- They can have many names Mark 5:9,
- They can prevent a person from seeing or speaking – Matt 12:22. They can torment a person (Luke 8:27).
- They can cause sicknesses Luke 13:10-13,
- They can induce convulsions – Luke 9:42,
- They can oppress (or overpower) a person – Acts 10:38,
- They can speak through a possessed person – Luke 4:34
They are real and we can still see some of their manifestations today.
D104 - Demons can cause all sorts of sicknesses
D105 - Demons are subject to Jesus and his disciples
Demons are subject to the voice of Jesus. Mark 5:12 sees the demons entering a herd of pigs after receiving permission from Jesus.
That included the disciples of Jesus. Mark 6:13 says that
‘they (Jesus’ disciples) drove out many demons and healed many of the sick.’
Believers have the presence and authorization of the Holy Spirit to drive out demons.
D106 - All men are created by God
D107 - All men are born sinners
Some religions believe that we are tainted by the environment; that is, we were born without sin. The Bible makes it clear – Like a hereditary medical condition, we inherited the element of sin from our forefather, Adam.
D108 - All men will die because of sins
Rom 5:12 says,
‘Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.’
Again, like a terminal medical condition, sin gives us a terminal existence; we will eventually die. We assume death as a given but if sin was not brought into the world, we could have lived forever.
Like the bit from a deadly and venomous snake, 1 Cor 15:56 describes sin as the ‘sting of death.’
See also D204, All men will be judged on the Day of Judgment.
D109 - Man - dead or alive - is not to be worshiped
In Acts 10:25-26, Cornelius fell down and worshiped Peter when the latter arrived. Yet, Peter made it clear,
‘Stand up; I too am a man.’
It was not as if Peter did not deserve that acknowledgement; he was after all an apostle who moved in the supernatural, but Peter knew that only God was to be worshiped.
Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not to be worshiped; Mary was but a conduit to allow God’s son into the world although she was obviously a very godly and special person. See D27, Jesus came from the bloodline of David.
Christians do not worship angels, the mother of Jesus (Mary), the apostles, as well as other great men (women) even if they are the most humble people on earth. Of course, we can respect and honor them.
D110 - All men are given our free will to choose
All men have the free will to choose. God has not created us as robots. Our decision decides our eternal future.
- We have a freedom to accept or reject Jesus Christ.
In Matt 11:28, Jesus said,
‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’
It is an invitation to all of us.
The popular John 3:16 has this to say,
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only (begotten) Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’
It is our action under the ‘whoever believes in him.’
- Even when we become Christians, we still have choices. That was why the Apostle Paul reminded believers not to ‘use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’
All of us are given the option to accept or reject the voice of God and in Heb 3:15, the verse encourages us not to harden our hearts if we do hear God’s voice.
D111 - All men are loved and valued
Jesus made it explicit when he told us not to fear as we are ‘more valuable than many sparrows’ (Matt 10:31).
In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus described the love of the Father when he said that he was prepared to leave the ninety-nine sheep in the open pasture just to search for one that was lost (Luke 15:1-10).
We may not know or even feel it but the Lord’s love for all mankind is best exemplified by his willingness to sacrifice his only begotten Son (and the willingness of the Son to lay down his life for mankind) on the cross so that in doing so, Jesus could reconcile us back to God the Father (John 3:16).
D112 - All men have conscience
Many people give excuses about God not being ‘obvious’ enough to be known. But Scripture makes it clear that we already have the requirements of the law written on our hearts. Rom 2:15 says that
our ‘conscience also bears witness’ so that we are without excuse (Rom 2:1).
The Greek word for ‘conscience’ is suneidesis or a persisting notion/ conscience.
Rom 1:20 said that God’s invisible attributes could be seen so that we are ‘without excuse.’ The Greek word for ‘invisible’ is aoratos and it means that which is invisible to the naked eye.
Our conscience (our inside voice) is a reminder that God exists and we are held accountable.
D315 - All men are ordained for work
We are ordained to work. It is a natural part of who we are in God.
2 Thes 3:10 tells us,
‘For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either.’
In fact, as a missionary, the Apostle Paul never slacked and continued to put in his hours of work. He did not lord it over them even as he was ministering the word. 1 Thes 2:9 says,
‘For your recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.’
There are many verses in the Old Testament that explains the requirements as well as the joy of working.
Ex 20:9 says, ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work.’
Ps 104:23 reads, ‘Man goes forth to his work, and to his labor until evening.’
Or consider Ps 128:2 –
‘When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.’
And the sayings of Proverbs in Prov 6:6 –
‘Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise.’
We are ordained for work. In fact, laziness is a sin. Please see S146 – Choose not to work/ Not to use our talents – slothful and lazy.
At the same time, we are also created for rest. Please B301 – Learn to take rest.
Overwork and unwillingness to rest are also sins. In Mark 2:27, Jesus declared –
‘And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”‘
The ability to work while being at peace in God’s rest is the secret to walking as a Christian. Heb 4:13 tells us to,
‘Strive to enter that rest (of God).’
D113 - All believers have been chosen before the foundation of the world
John 6:44 says,
‘No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws him.’
John 15:16 says,
‘You did not choose me, but I chose you.’
Rom 8:29 (NLT) reads,
‘For God knew his people in advance and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.’
This is confirmed in Eph 1:4 which said that God ‘chose us in him before the foundation of the world.’
This is a tough question because it touches on pre-destination, that is, our eternal fate had already been sealed even before we were born.
It raises the issue that if God has already chosen us, why do we need to go out and do outreach? And why do we need to pray?
It is also asking the same question as to why God chose Israel and not, for example, China, to be his chosen people? Some race finds it abhorrent that God should choose the Jews and not their race in order to carry out his task.
But who are we to question God’s wisdom? God chooses some and ignores others. God grants favor to a few and rejects the rest.
In Rom 9:10-13, the verses read,
‘when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”’
Here, God favored Jacob and rejected Esau. Why so? We know, of course, later in the story that Esau was a weak character who sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob, for a good bowl of porridge (Gen 25:33). But was God aware of Esau’s character even before he was born? Even so, Jacob, being a perpetual schemer, was no saint either.
Further down in Rom 9:15, God says to Moses,
‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ Those words are rather heavy duty.
It is one of those mysteries mentioned in 1 Cor 13:12,
‘For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’
What we do know is that there are some people who are more pliable to the message of God than others. What we also realize is that prayers can shift God’s hands and draw people to him.God encourages us to pray without ceasing. See also B197 to B206 on prayers.
Our final outcome is in the hands of God. Hence, always know our position in the greater scheme of things, seek God and ask for his favor. See D14, God is to be feared.
D114 - Believers are known by our fruits
Jesus told us to recognize false prophets by their fruits.
‘Every good tree bears good fruit but the bad tree bears bad fruit’ (Matt 7:15-17).
Luke 6:45 reiterates that a
‘good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good ….. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.’
When John the Baptist sent his disciples to check out Jesus, Jesus said,
‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heart: The blind receive sight, the lame walk ….’ (Luke 7:22).
Jesus was speaking about his good fruits and what they testified of him.
What is good fruit?
Is it not our character and what we do on a day-to-day basis? Does it not show whether we are obeying God’s words based on our actions?
And is good fruit also not related to what comes out of our mouth?
Eph 4:29, ‘Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.’
Believers are known by our good fruits.
Believers are saved for good works and are not saved by good works.
In Matt 6:21, it says,
‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’.
The Greek word for ‘treasure’ is thesauros or storehouse for precious things like a safe. Our heart is guided by where we store our treasure. If we look toward heaven as our storehouse, will we store gold and silver? Or will it be souls of men and women?
Other than our character, could the fruits highlighted represent that of souls won for Jesus?
‘Some men’s passion is for gold. Some men’s passion is for art. Some men’s passion is for fame. My passion is for souls.’
– William Booth, Founder of Salvation Army
D115 - Believers are not perfect (God still forgives)
Rom 7:15-20 shows the struggle that the Apostle Paul faced even as he tried to do good:
‘For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.’
‘Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ or Lord. So, you see how it is: In my mind, I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.’
That is, despite our struggle with sin, we are not condemned because we belong to Christ Jesus. See D30 – Jesus became our perfect passover lamb
Effectively, Christians are sinners saved by grace and we are far from perfect. Those heroes of faith found in Heb 11, including Samson, were very imperfect
That is why in the Lord’s prayer, we continue to seek God’s forgiveness for our own sins,
‘Forgive us our debts (sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors (people who sinned against us)’ (Matt 6:12).
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’
Christians must seek to obey God’s words and purposes in our lives and repent of sins every time the Lord reveals them to us or if we fail because of our human frailties. Thankfully, we are not beyond God’s forgiveness.
Here is one example of the Lord’s message to the Church of Ephesus – Rev 2:5 reads –
‘Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.’ (Read also Rev 2:16, Rev 2:19; Rev 3:3, Rev 3:19).
Rev 2:5 shows that repentance is continuous.
Every time we sin or we are brought to an awareness of our sins, we are to confess and repent of them before our Lord.
James 5:16 which was written in the context of an ailment, suggests –
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
By confessing our sins to one another (very close friends/ family – Note: Not a priest nor a shrink [psychiatrist]), it has the powerful effect of releasing us from self condemnation and guilt as well as gaining forgiveness of sins from our Lord (see James 5:15).
See also S138 to S145, Unpardonable sins.
D116 - Good believers may even be misunderstood (or hated) by other believers
When Jesus was on the earth, the elites hated him. That was why they crucified him on the cross.
Good Christians may be hated by the elites and possibly even their fellow Christians. In fact, John 16:2 says,
‘They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.’
The Apostle Paul suffered tremendously and in the end he was treated as a criminal and martyred. 2 Tim 2:9 says,
‘For which I (Paul) am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal.’
Martin Luther, often acknowledged as the father of Christian reformation, was another hated Christian of the elites. He avoided execution because he had a protector, in the form of Frederick the Wise, the Elector of Saxony (An ‘elector’ was a German prince who could take part in choosing the Holy Roman Emperor).
So was John Wycliffe, the man credited with translating the Bible from Latin into English, was another such man. He challenged the Catholic Church of his days which was demanding more money from its followers. He argued that the church was already very rich. In addition, he questioned their doctrines, including the proposition that the pope and the church were second in authority to Scripture. For that and more, he was severely criticized. Even though he died peacefully at home in bed because of a stroke, the Catholic Church exhumed his body some forty-four years later, burned his bones, and scattered the ashes in a nearby river.
D117 - Believers hold the privilege to know the mysteries of God's kingdom
Following his sharing of the parable of the sower, Jesus’ disciples came to him because they were perplexed; they wanted to know why Jesus spoke only in parables. Jesus expounded in Matt 13:11,
As believers, we have special privileges – we have the Holy Spirit in us and we have the Lord who will reveal future truths to us that the world will not understand.
When it comes to the end-times, many believers claim that no one could possibly know when Day of the Lord would be as 1 Thes 5:2 says,
‘For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.’
But these believers fail to also read on in 1 Thes 5:4-5 which says,
‘But you, brothers, are not in the darkness so that this day (the Day of the Lord) should overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of the light and sons of the day, we do not belong to the night or to the darkness.’
Membership does have its privileges.
Believers do hold the privilege of knowing the mysteries of God’s kingdom.
D118 - Believers are not to be hermits
In 1 Cor 5:9-10, Paul was giving instructions to believers in Corinth ‘not to associate with immoral people’ but he made it clear that he was not asking the people to ‘go out of the world.’
A Christian is not to be a hermit but to be able to mix and mingle with people in order to bring the good news to them.
The mandate in Matt 28:19-20 was to ‘go therefore and make disciples of all the nations’ and not to stay at home.
The same is found in Acts 1:8 which is for followers of Jesus to go to ‘all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
The Gospel is not a private message but one that is to be shared with people around us.
D176 - When we become believers, we gain the rights to be children of God
John 1:12 says,
‘To all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’
Gal 4:7 says,
‘Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.’
‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God.’
Rom 11:24 explains that we have been ‘cut from a wild olive tree and grafted into a cultivated olive tree.’
When we become Christians, we get adopted into the household of God and have become heirs through Christ with all the rights of children of God.
We change allegiance when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
D177 - When we become believers, we become aliens to the world
Jesus said in John 15:19,
‘If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.’
In John 17:6, Jesus called his followers as those
‘whom you gave me out of the world’.’
In other words, we have been ‘removed’ from the world to belong to Jesus.
Heb 11:13 reported how the Patriarchs felt, calling them out as
‘foreigners and strangers on earth.’
When we become Christians, we become aliens to the world. See also D141, Believers are hated because we become ‘aliens’ when we follow Jesus Christ.
D178 - When we become believers, we are given new titles (including saints and elect)
When we become Christians, we are given new names. The names sometimes represent a characteristic of who we are.
James 1:2 mentions all of us as adelphos in Greek, or brothers (and sisters).
In Rev 21:7, we are called huios or a son/ descendant.
In 1 Peter 2:9, we are called
‘chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.’
It explains our privileges and responsibilities –
We are special because we have been chosen (the more accurate word should be ‘elect’) by God. And we are also priests too – acting as go-betweens for the people of the world and God.
And we are also addressed as ‘saints’, or hagios in Greek, in Col 1:2. It means set apart by (or for) God/ Holy/ Sacred. In Paul’s Epistles, he always addressed believers, Jews and Gentiles, as ‘saints’ (hagios) – Col 1:2, Eph 1:1, Phil 1:1, Philemon 1:5. We, believers, are saints.
The Greek word is eklektos or chosen out/ elect/ select/ of those chosen out by God to render a special service to him.
We are a special people indeed as we have been called out.
The word eklektos was used to refer to Christians in the following verses:
- by the Apostle Paul in Col 3:12, Rom 8:33, Titus 1:1 (NB: In these verses, sometimes the translation would use the word, ‘chosen’ in place of ‘elect’), and
- by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 (In almost all translations, the word ‘chosen’ has replaced the more accurate ‘elect’), and in 1 Peter 1:1.
NB: We need to clarify that as some Christian leaders have been teaching that the term, ‘elect’, refers to only Jewish Christians. That is disingenuous, especially since Paul’s writings were to Gentile Christians and the word eklektos used by Paul referred to believers.
In summary, here are the titles given to Christians –
- Brothers (and sisters),
- Sons (and descendants),
- God’s holy people,
- Saints, and finally,
D119 - God has not rejected the Jews
There are some church leaders that reject the Jews because, in their opinion, the Jews were the ones that killed Jesus. That is flawed and dangerous.
This question had been around even in the first century. In Rom 11:1, Paul emphatically stated that God had not rejected his people (the Jews).
‘I ask then, did God reject His people? Certainly not!’
Paul then said that it was precisely because of the sins of the Jews that Gentiles (non-Jews) were given the opportunity of salvation (Rom 11:11). He went on to use the analogy of plant grafting in Rom 11:17-24 to explain this beautiful picture – Gentile Christians were like wild olive shoots grafted into the ‘nourishing root of the (cultivated) olive tree.’
Gentile Christians are specifically reminded
‘do not become proud but fear’ (Rom 11:20).
Peter explained in Acts 3:17 – ‘I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.’
We will never fully understand why these things happened but it is all part of the greater scheme of God’s overall plan to save his people for himself. Rom 11:25 describes this as a ‘mystery’ –
‘I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not be conceited: A hardening in part has come to Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved’
Also check out D119 – God has not rejected the Jews.
D120 - It is implied that signs and wonders follow the apostles
Paul said that the marks of a true apostle included
‘signs and wonders and mighty works’ (2 Cor 12:12).
Scripture tells us of the miracles performed by Jesus’ apostles. For example:
- The Apostles Peter and John were involved in miraculous healing, e.g. a paralyzed man was healed (Acts 3:6),
- The Apostle Peter had specific word of knowledge as seen in the case of Ananias and his wife (Acts 5:1-9),
- Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons could heal others (Acts 19:12). NB: Paul called himself the apostle of the Gentiles (Rom 11:13) although he was not one of Jesus’ twelve original apostles,
- Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples (definitely not a small number) to perform miracles (Luke 10:1-17).
Then, there was Philip who was miraculously ‘teleported’ from the desert to the town of Azotus (Acts 8:40).
Having said that, we know that a cousin of his, John the Baptist, a man commended by Jesus with words like –
‘I tell you among those born of women none is greater than John (the Baptist)’ (Luke 7:28),
D121 - All of us have gifts (talents)
In Matt 25:14-18, Jesus explained the parable of the talents – three servants were given talents – one was entrusted with five talents, another was given two, and the last one with one.
The Greek word for ‘talent’ is talanton and it is a specific amount of silver or gold (something of high monetary value).
All of us are given some talents, with some of us having more than others.
We can quite easily substitute ‘talents’ with ‘gifts’ (or natural abilities) or even ‘skills’; some are natural while others we pick up through learning. Truly, they are intensely valuable and precious.
D122 - We are given different gifts
1 Cor 12:8-10 describes the various gifts given by the Holy Spirit – Word of knowledge, faith, healing, effecting of miracles, prophecy, the ability to distinguish spirits, the ability to speak various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. These are gifts given by the Holy Spirit and many of them are supernatural.
Eph 4:11-13 talks about the gifts of the offices of apostleship, prophecies, evangelist, pastor and then teacher.
Observations will tell us that It does not matter whether we are Christians or non-Christians. As human beings, God has given all of us different types of gifts (natural abilities as well as those [skills and knowledge] we picked up through learning) and because we are ‘made in the image of God’ (James 3:9), we have the ability to use these gifts to create.
We are gifted differently as well as in different proportions.
D123 - We are to use our different gifts to glorify God
‘But now there are many members but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”, or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”’
Regardless of what we are capable of doing, we work together with our different gifts in order to grow the body of Christ and to do good works.
Eph 2:10 explains what we are created to do –
we are ‘created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’
Eph 4:12-13 provides the following reasons:
- To equip the saints for works of ministry, and
- To build up the body of Christ.
Our gifts are to be used. In Matt 25:26, Jesus called out believers who do not use their gifts as ‘wicked, lazy slave.’
The Greek words for ‘wicked’ and ‘lazy’ are poneros and okneros; poneros means evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful, and okneros means slothful, backward, hesitating, irksome.
Those are seriously heavy words and they are given to those who fail to use them for the purposes defined even in Eph 4:12-13.
It is not so much the quantity of talents (or amount of gifts) that we possess but more so in terms of what we do with them. To the one who failed to use his one and only talent, the Master would reply,
‘You wicked, lazy slave’ (Matt 25:26).
D124 - There are supernatural spiritual gifts
1 Cor 12:8-10 describes the various gifts given by the Holy Spirit –
- Word of knowledge,
- effecting of miracles,
- the ability to distinguish spirits,
- the ability to speak various kinds of tongues, and
- the interpretation of tongues.
These are gifts given by the Holy Spirit and many of them are supernatural.
Our Lord Jesus demonstrated the word of knowledge in his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well whom he met for the first time when he could tell her that , You have had five husbands and the one whom you now have is not your husband’ (John 4:18). That brought about a revelation and an evangelistic opportunity to the entire village.
Paul told us in 1 Cor 14:39 to ‘earnestly desire to prophesy.’
As believers, we have the mandate to seek for supernatural spiritual gifts.
D125 - To believers who use their gifts, more will be given
In the parable of the sower, Jesus explained that
‘For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away’ (Matt 13:12).
Jesus then reiterated the same words in the parable of the talents (Matt 25:29).
In the parable of the lamp, he used the same words again (Luke 8:18).
Jesus was never a pure socialist, taking away from the rich and redistributing the wealth to the poor in order to ‘balance a society.’
Having said that, Jesus showed us what true compassion for the disadvantaged was. On one occasion, he inconvenienced himself by taking a boat across the Sea of Galilee to a rural place of Gadarenes just so that he could cast out the demons from two demon-possessed men (Matt 8:28-34).
Jesus expected all believers to use their gifts for the good of the body (community) and those who did, Jesus promised to give them more because of their faithfulness. Meanwhile, to those who did not use that which were given to them, Jesus also had a promise – that
‘from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away’ (Matt 13:12)
And to those who did not use their gifts, Jesus called them ‘wicked and lazy’, terms which are mighty strong.
More than that, Jesus finished by saying,
‘Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place threw will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (that is, in hell)’ (Matt 25:30).
- S146 – Choose not to work/ not to use our talents – slothful and lazy and
- B313 – Makes use of our talents and gifts.
D313 - Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
Prophecies is highlighted here in view of many modern-day prophets declaring ‘Thus saith the Lord.’
Who is a prophet? A prophet is someone who speaks by divine inspiration or s/he is someone to whom the will of God is expressed. That is the definition from The American Heritage Dictionary. Most of the time, we see a prophet as someone who foretells the future.
But this is not how the Bible defines a prophet. For example, God called Abraham a prophet (Gen 20:7) and we know that Abraham did not ‘speak by divine inspiration’ so to speak. Neither did Aaron who was also described as a prophet in Ex 7:1. The same may be said of John the Baptist who was described by Jesus as ‘more than a prophet’ (Matt 11:9).
According to renowned Bible teacher, John Bevere, in his book, Thus Saith the Lord, the easiest way to define a prophet is simply, ‘one who speaks for another’ and it could involve speaking about the future.
‘And he (Jesus) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds (pastors), and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.’
And we know through the New Testament that there were a few prophets, notably the four daughters of Philip found in the Book of Acts (Acts 21:9) as well as the Prophet Agabus whose prophecies were verified and proven to be true (also found in Acts 21).
For instance, Agabus specifically went to Caesarea from Judea in order to meet the Apostle Paul and passed him a visual message – he took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands and declared that the owner of the belt would be handed over to the Gentiles.
But the Apostle Paul also reminded believers to –
‘Not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God …. For many false prophets have gone out into the world’ (1 John 4:1).
Yet, in 1 Thes 5:20-21, we are told ‘not to despise prophetic utterances but to examine (test) everything carefully.’
2 Peter 2:1-3 also said,
‘But false prophets also arose among the people (of God), just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And MANY WILL FOLLOW THEIR SENSUALITY, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their GREED they will exploit you with false words.’
The Greek word, heresies, is hairesis or a self-chosen opinion/ a religious or philosophical sect/ contention.
1 Kings 22 offers us good lessons of true and false prophets as well as prophecies.
Ahab, King of Israel, had approached Jehoshaphat to go with him to fight against Ramoth-gilead. Nonetheless, Jehoshaphat requested the king of Israel, ‘Please inquire first for the word of the Lord.’ (1 Kings 22:5).
So, Ahab assembled his own prophets (or purported prophets), a big group of 400 men, and asked them, ‘Should I go to war against Ramoth Gilead or should I refrain?’
They replied, ‘Go up and the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king.’
We could only suspect that Jehoshaphat might be uncomfortable within his spirit and therefore he asked in v7, ‘Is there not still a prophet of the Lord (not any prophet but one of the Lord) here of whom we can inquire?’
It was here that Micaiah, son of Imlah, was summoned. When the same question was posted to Micaiah, he responded in v 14,
‘As surely as the Lord lives, I will speak whatever the Lord tells me.’
Micaiah’s words should be our guide and the guide for EVERY PROPHET OF GOD.
Micaiah initially gave a positive response but then he added on with a negative imagery …. V17 says, ‘I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd ….’
Of course, Micaiah was right. Ahab was subsequently killed in battle and indeed Israel was scattered.
The mark of a true prophet is whether his/ her words takes place. Many modern-day ‘self-declared’ possibly well-meaning prophets have abused us with their declarations.
In a Western society where we are brought up to provide positive strokes, even our so-called prophets have adopted the same worldly positivity philosophy; always speaking a word of hope and encouragement, sometimes to the sidelining of truth. There is even money involved in being a positivity prophet for who among us do not crave for a good word?
We must test their words and ignore those who are false.
A point to note is that in the Old Testament, the punishment of a false prophet is death (Deut 18:20). Perhaps we should remind some of our current-day prophets regarding the seriousness of the spoken words?
D126 - Temptation is normal and to be expected
1 Cor 10:12-13 (NIV) reads,
‘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.’
The Greek word for temptation is peirasmos or trial/ testing/ being tried/ temptation/ affliction.
The term ‘common to man’ is the Greek word anthropinos or belonging to human beings.
What it does imply is that as humans, temptation is normal. Hence, in the NIV translation, it uses the phrase, ‘when you are tempted.’
None of us are immune to temptations. Even Jesus was tempted. So was Abraham (Heb 11:17). Hence, it is not a sin to be tempted. The devil can only tempt us as far as God has given permission.
See D50 – Jesus intercedes on our behalf with God, for more information.
Why are we tempted?
1 Peter 1:6-7 answers this best:
‘In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’
Like any product, God also has his quality control process; God’s purpose is ‘ to test the genuineness of our faith.’
However, if we should fail, it is important that we return to God and seek his forgiveness because God will forgive us as he has promised in Matt 18:21-22.
Ps 37:23-24 says,
‘The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.’
Please see D115, Believers are not perfect and can still sin.
D127 - Most times, our desires entice us
James 1:14 says, ‘Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.’
All of us have our Achilles’ heel – a spot or area in our lives where we are weak in. Satan knows that and he targets the sector of our vulnerabilities (our own desires).
What are we tempted by? We are all tempted by the human elements described in 1 John 2:16 – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The way we counteract Satan’s temptation is still the same as how Jesus handled his with the words, ‘It is written’, (Matt 4:4).
May our knowledge of him and his words as well as our recognition of him in our walk – that is, our experience and knowledge of who God is, keep us from falling into the traps of the enemy.
For a complete picture, also see D126 – Temptation is normal and to be expected.
D128 - Believers grow through trials, sufferings, and testings
John 6:5-6 explains,
‘Seeing a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.’
Jesus already had the solution. But in asking the question and testing Philip, he caused him to learn and experience the power of God. The Greek word is perirozo or try/ tempt/ test/ make proof of.
In 1 Tim 3:10, Paul explained that people who wanted to serve as deacons must ‘be tested first.’ The Greek word for tested is dokimazo or to put to the test/ prove/ examine/ approve after testing. Quality checking is biblical.
The author of the Book of Hebrews explains the value of disciplining as part of the growing process –
‘For what son is there whom his father does not discipline.’ (Heb 12:7)
In the Old Testament, many of God’s people went through testing. Who could forget Abraham who was challenged by God to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. In Gen 22:2, God said to Abraham:
‘Take 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.”
Of course, we know from Scripture that in the end, God stopped Abraham from planting a knife into Isaac but would Abraham have known that?
Earlier, Sarah asked Abraham, in a fit of jealousy and rage, to ‘cast out this slave woman (Hagar) with her son (Ishmael), for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son, Isaac’ (Gen 21:10). And God endorsed the proposal with a promise that he would ‘make a nation of the son of the slave woman also because he (Ishmael) is your (Abraham) offspring’ (Gen 21:13). What did Abraham do? The Bible said that ‘Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water’ and he effectively sent both Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness of Beersheba. (Gen 21:14). Abraham’s trust in God was unwavering, believing in his heart that God would keep his promise and look after Ishmael.
In another incident, Job, a most righteous man of God was also subject to intense testing. Yet, Job explained in Job 23:10 –
‘But he (God) knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.’
In Judges 2:22, God explained why he would not be driving out all the enemies of Israel ‘in order to test Israel by them.’
Trials, sufferings and testings are never easy and comfortable. But if God wants to know who we are, we will be tested. Trials, sufferings and testings also enable us to know ourselves like never before.
Consider the experience of Horatio Spafford, a friend of the world-famous evangelist, D L Moody. Both he and his wife were wealthy, recognized (he was an established lawyer) and had five children. One child died of scarlet fever. But it was in 1873 that Spafford suffered his greatest test. Spafford sent his family ahead of himself even as he had to attend to business at home. Among them was his wife, Anna, and four remaining children, ages between two and eleven years old.
On 22 Nov 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the steamship, Ville du Havre, their vessel was struck by an iron sailing ship. All four of Spafford’s daughters perished. Remarkably, Anna Spafford survived and on arrival in Cardiff, South Wales, sent a telegram to her husband with the words, ‘Saved alone …’
Out of this tragedy, Spafford gave us one of the greatest hymns in history, ‘It is well with my soul’, and the first line reads, ‘When peace like a river, attendeth my way ….’ Horatio’s faith in God never faltered.
Or the experience of Thomas Andrew Dorsey, a black musician acknowledged as ‘the father of gospel music’. While out singing at a revival meeting, his wife died when giving birth to their son. Subsequently, his newborn son died as well. It was from such intense pain that a new song was birth – ‘Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand.’ The song has been translated into more than thirty languages. Thomas Dorsey passed away on 25 Jan 1993, at a ripe old age of ninety-four.
Do not belittle and disregard trials, sufferings and testings. We must remember that it was out of the carcass of a dead lion that Samson found honey in it (Judges 14:8).
D129 - Among men, there will be doubters
Jesus had just been resurrected and was interacting with his disciples and others. Yet, in Matt 28:17, it said ‘When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted.’
What was the writer’s motivation for putting the element of ‘doubt’ in the verse? Was not this the perfect ‘high’ and ‘climax’?
It happened even when Lazarus was miraculously resurrected. John 11:45-46 says,
‘But some of them went to the Pharisees (after witnessing Lazarus’ miracle) and told them the things which Jesus had done.’ They were setting Jesus up.
And it occurred even though the elites acknowledged the miracle that John and Peter did when they healed a lame man as an evidential, ‘notable sign’ (Acts 4:16).
Among men, there will always be doubters. Perhaps this is best explained by Jesus when he said,
‘You do not believe because you are not my sheep’ (John 10:26).
See also D113, All believers have been chosen before the foundation of the world.
D130 - Some believers will be disheartened in trials and drop out
! Tim 4:1 is quite upfront when it says,
‘Now, the Spirit expressly says that in later times, some will depart from the faith (Christians) by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.’
Christians will be tested throughout our life journey and only the faithful will endure. Hence, the word of the Lord is for us to endure (Matt 24:13).
The Greek word for ‘endure’ is hypomeinas or stand my ground/ show endurance/ bear up against/ persevere.
Paul shared the case of Demas who ‘in his love of this world’ had deserted him (2 Tim 4:10). So did Alexander the coppersmith who actually ‘did me (Paul) great harm’ (2 Tim 4:14). These people dropped out of being Christians.
Even Jesus suffered from a time when several of his purported disciples departed from him because they found his teachings too difficult. So much so that Jesus turned to his twelve and said, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Only for Simon Peter to reply, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the holy one of God’ (John 6:66-69).
Heb 10:29 describes a situation when someone who had been a believer and decided to turn away and despise the faith. The writer highlighted this as gravely unacceptable. In Heb 6:6, the writer actually said that ‘it is impossible 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.’
There is yet another question – Can Christians lose their salvation?
It is a tough question to answer but continuous sinning and other incidents seem to be render us ‘unchristianed’.
Please see S138 to S145 on Unpardonable sins for more information.
D131 - Marrying is normal and a good thing
Paul said, in 1 Cor 7:9, that
‘If they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.’
Paul knew the dangers of sexual sins. Hence, he was upfront about what a person should do.
In the old days and some cultures (like the Indian culture), arranged marriage is normal and acceptable. However, in most societies, arranged marriage is an affront to young people. As a result, we have a number of unmarried adults including Christians.
Getting married and settling down is a normal thing. In Gen 2:18, the Lord said,
‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’
Hence, he created the animals as his companion; animals can be important in our lives. Yet, in Gen 2:20, it said that
‘for Adam, there was not found a helper fit for him.’ And that was when God created a woman.
Marriage is a good thing and is normal. We encourage unmarried Christian adults to seek opportunity in fellowshipping with other unmarried Christians of the opposite sex. In a biblical sense, we would also not belittle the value of arranged marriages since we have seen good success in them and the practice can be found in the Bible.
- S121 to S131, Sexual immorality, and
- B73, Do not forbid marriage but marry within the family of God.
D132 - Marriage is sacred and binding
Jesus did not advocate divorce. In fact, he said,
‘everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery.’ (Matt 5:32).
A marriage oath is a vow of commitment and ‘until death do us part’ is part of the whole deal. Jesus said in Matt 5:34, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
D133 - Marriage is between a man and a woman
‘But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.”‘ (Mark 10:6-8)
In our current confusing politically correct days in redefining values according to what we consider as right and wrong, it is important to make this explicit.
Click HERE for an excellent article on why marriage is between one man and one woman.
D134 - The only ground for divorce is sexual immorality (unfaithfulness)
Jesus did not advocate divorce. In fact, he said,
‘everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery.’ (Matt 5:32).
The only ground for divorce is unfaithfulness. Jesus repeated the same teaching in Matt 19:9.
Jesus made this transparent so that there is no misinterpretation. See S121 to S131 on Sexual Immorality.
The fact we witness divorced Christians and even divorced Christian ministers does not mean that it is endorsed in the Bible. It represents the weaknesses of men (and women) that this happens.
Jesus said in Matt 19:8 –
“Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
D135 - A Christian who remarries another not because of sexual immorality commits adultery
D136 - A widow/ widower can marry again
Widows and widowers are permitted to remarry.
‘A wife is bound as long as her husband lives but if her husband is dead she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.’
In other words, widows and widowers are to find a believing spouse.
D137 - Singleness (Celibacy) is not for everyone
Paul said, in 1 Cor 7:9, that
‘If they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.’
Paul knew about sexual temptation because sex is natural and part of all things good from God.
Jesus shared the same view earlier on in Matt 19:11-12 –
“Not everyone can accept this word,” Jesus answered, “but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way; others were made that way by men; and still others live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Celibacy is not for everyone. Hence, as far as possible, find a spouse and marry.
D138 - Since the time of Christ, believers have endured persecution
Christ endured persecution, shame, and finally death on the cross (Mark 15:16-20).
The Apostle James, one of Jesus’ three closest disciples, became the first Christian martyr when King Herod had him put to the sword (Acts 12:2).
The Apostle Peter was told by the Lord that he would eventually die an almost similar death to his when Jesus said,
‘Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’- John 21:18.
It was Paul who said that
‘all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tim 3:12).
In fact, Jesus said the same thing even as he encouraged his disciples with positive words in Mark 10:29-30:
‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.’
While there are eternal benefits to be a Christian, Jesus had also promised us persecutions on earth.
Persecution is a given although Paul asked Christians to pray in 1 Tim 2:2, ‘that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’
Jesus said in John 17:15,
‘I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.’
Who likes persecution and suffering?
Most of us with some exceptions generally enjoys peace in this period. But there are uncomfortable signs on the horizon that might be pointing toward a wind of change. Whatever it is, it is important for Christians to note that peaceful coexistence tends to be the exception rather than the norm.
Remember, Jesus never wanted his believers out of the world.
D139 - Persecution should not surprise believers
Matt 5:11-12; Matt 14:10; Matt 16:24-25, Matt 24:9, Mark 1:12-13; Mark 10:30; Luke 6:22-23; Luke 9:22-23; John 15:20; John 16:2, 33; John 17:15; John 21:18-19; Acts 12:1-2, Acts 14:22; 2 Cor 1:4-6; 1 Peter 4:12-16, 1 Thes 3:3-4; 2 Thes 1:4; 2 Tim 3:12;
The Bible never assures believers will be wealthy but it promises us that there will be persecution.
In fact, Christ called out the rich when he said,
‘Woe to you who are rich for you have received your consolation’ (Luke 6:24).
Even in the Beatitudes, Jesus said, in Matt 5:11-12,
‘Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’
Jesus reminded his followers in Matt 16:24-25 that
‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ A cross is not exactly a comfortable thing to carry.
Then, in John 16:33, Jesus reiterated, ‘In the world, you will have tribulation.’ Jesus was transparent about the cost of being his disciples.
Jesus reminded us that
‘”A servant is not greater than his master”. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’
The Apostle Peter told us ‘do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing’ (1 Peter 4:12) and to rejoice as we are able to ‘share the sufferings of Christ.’
It was the same with the Apostle Paul in 2 Thes 1:4 where he was able to
‘boast about your (the Thessalonica church) steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions’
Indeed, Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim 3:12 that
‘All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’
Again, in Phil 3:10, Paul longed to participate in the sufferings of Christ when he said,
‘That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may SHARE HIS SUFFERINGS, becoming like him in his death (Christ died on a crucifix).’
Persecution of God’s elites can be found in the Old Testament. The Prophet Jeremiah, often referred to as the Weeping Prophet, had his own people turned against him. He was whipped and put in prison (Jer 20:1-3), attacked by a mob (Jer 26:8-9), threatened by the king (Jer 36:26), accused of treason (Jer 37:1-15) and thrown into a deep empty well (Jer 38:1-6).
In Jer 15:10, he exclaimed in anguish, ‘Everyone of them curses me.’
So was Ezekiel to whom God told him that his wife would die and he was not to mourn for her (Ezel 24:15-27). And tradition tells us that the Prophet Isaiah was tied inside a sack, placed within the hollow of a tree, and sawed in two. two.
Persecution is even more intensive at the end-times when Jesus said,
‘Then, they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake’ (Matt 24:9).
So, here is the question:
Did Jesus live his life and die on the cross in order to set an example for us to follow, or did he make that sacrifice so that we can avoid tribulation, suffering, and persecution?
The answer from the above verses is obvious; persecution is normal for Christians and it should therefore not surprise us.
- D126, Temptation is normal and to be expected,
- End times, heresies, and persecution in B369 to B385 (including B420).
D140 - Hatred for believers is normal
This is yet another promise that Jesus gave to us. He said in Luke 6:22,
‘Blessed are you when men hate you and ostracize you and insult you and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.’ –
NB: Hate/ Ostracize/ Insult/ Scorn/ Call you evil.
In Luke 6:26, Jesus contrasted it with,
‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.’
Jesus explained why we are hated in John 7:7 –
‘The world cannot hate you but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.’
Jesus said, again, in John 15:19,
‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you.’
We are hated because we associate ourselves with Jesus Christ.
Matt 24:9 says,
‘You will be hated by ALL NATIONS for my name’s sake.’
It is a case of Christ Derangement Syndrome.
1 John 3:13 therefore says,
‘Do not be surprised, brothers (and sisters), that the world hates you.’
Hatred for believers is normal.
D141 - Believers are hated because we have become 'aliens' when we follow Christ
Jesus said in John 15:19,
‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you.’
And he said it again,
‘They are not of the world even as I am not of the world’ (John 17:14-16).
The day we became Christians, we changed our allegiance to Jesus.
Our citizenship is now in heaven (Titus 3:7).
Please read B124 – Do not be ashamed of Jesus (Identify with him openly).
D142 - Persecution is used to refine and perfect believers to produce patience
In Matt 13:21, Jesus explained the purpose of persecution –
‘When tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.’
The first part of the verse reads, ‘Yet he has no root in himself but endures for a (short) while’.
The NLT says it more clearly – ‘But since they don’t have DEEP roots, they don’t last long.’
Persecution tests all of us to discover the level of our beliefs in our Lord.
Rom 3:5 says,
‘Suffering produces endurance (or perseverance).’
We are constantly being perfected by Jesus in our journey of life. Paul should know that. He suffered for the Gospel of Jesus as seen in 2 Cor 11:22-33. So did Peter who said that persecution helped prove the ‘genuineness of our faith’ in 1 Peter 1:7.
Heb 12:26-28 used the analogy of shaking (earthquake) and the writer said,
‘so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.’
The shaking is not viewed negatively but is a ‘quality checking’ process.
In the Old Testament of Isa 48:10, the same concept of ‘quality checking’ is applied:
‘Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.’
In the face of persecution, be prepared to endure.
Please read the following:
- D128 – Believers will be tested by the Lord,
- B124 – Do not be ashamed of Jesus (Identify with him openly).
D143 - Despite the turmoil of tribulations, believers are promised inner peace
It was not as if it was a peace without any struggle for even Jesus had to stay focused. In Luke 22:42, he had to remind himself with these words,
‘Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.’
It was an intense battle that took its toll when Luke 22:44 said that
‘he prayed more earnestly and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.’
It inspired his disciples so much so that when they were flogged and then released in the Book of Acts, they could still rejoice and considered themselves ‘worthy to suffer shame for his name’ (Acts 5:41). Here was from a group consisting mostly of uneducated followers.
Paul described that peace as something that
‘surpasses all comprehension’ (Phil 4:7).
The Bible never promises that believers will live calm and persecution-free lives. Only that despite the suffering and persecution, we can still possess an inner peace that passes all conventional understanding.
D144 - Believers should eschew violence if persecuted
Jesus chose non-violence in the face of his crucifixion.
He could have taken his enemies out with his twelve legions of angels but that was not the plan (Matt 26:52-53).
Look at the example of Jesus as described by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:21-23 –
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
Christians are peacemakers and love is what defines us. The example of Jesus is to eschew violence even if we are being persecuted.
For more information, please turn to B112 to B116 – Relationship with governments.
D145 - Believers must be ready to lay down their lives (martydom)
Jesus said (Luke 14:26),
‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple’.’
These were very heavy words. Maybe, that was why many of his disciples turned their back on him (John 6:66).
To be a Christian, we must be prepared to lay down our lives (and will) for the cause of Christ and not live our lives to satisfy our own ambition.
Rev 12:11 says,
‘And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.’
To love Jesus is to be prepared to die to ourselves and to die for him. All his disciples were ready to lay down their lives for him. We know that James, the brother of John, became the first Christian martyr in Acts 12:2; readers might want to note that John (his brother) did not renounce his faith following Jesus despite the death of his close brother.
We do not have expressed details in the Bible how the other disciples died but early church fathers and secular historians provided us with some records. All except John, the son of Zebedee, died a martyr’s death.
Because they were eye-witnesses to all accounts and works of Jesus, including his resurrection (1 John 1:1).
Even Philemon, a wealthy man, whom the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to in speaking up on behalf of Onesimus, was killed by the Emperor Nero for refusing to denounce his faith for Jesus Christ.
Right now, somewhere in the world, someone is being killed simply for being a Christian.
- D140, Hatred of believers is normal and
- D216 – Eye witnesses are very important in the Bible.
D146 - Trial always come before glory (endure)
The best example of trial before glory is that of Jesus. In Phil 2:7-11, the Apostle Paul showed how Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. In v9, it says,
‘For this reason also, God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.’
The Apostle Peter pointed out in 1 Peter 1:11 that before the glory, there was the sufferings of the Messiah.
And James 4:10 says,
‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.’
For believers who are in persecution, may they endure trials even as they await their glory.
D147 - Sickness is normal even among believers and some may remain sick
God never promises Christians that we will always be in perfect health. God does heal but it does not mean that healing takes place all the time and that healing is the reason that we are Christians. In fact, Jesus’ main purpose on earth was not healing although that was part of his ministry. He stated the purpose of his ministry in John 10:10 –
‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’
Jesus healed mainly because of his compassion (Matt 14:14)
Some Christians make out the Apostle Paul to be a superhuman. It is recorded in the Bible that he had the gift of healing but even he had a sickness which he called a ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor 12:7) and which we should not dismiss lightly as a non-physical ailment.
In Gal 4:13-14, he thanked the Galatia church that despite his bodily illness they did not despise or loathe him but instead ‘received him as an angel of God.’
Paul also shared about others with sickness including:
- Timothy, his spiritual son, who had a troubled stomach – Paul’s counsel to him was to ‘use a little wine’ (1 Tim 5:23),
- Trophimus was someone that Paul left behind in Miletus because he was unwell (2 Tim 4:30). Could not Paul have laid hands on him to be well while he was at Miletus? The Bible does not say anything one way or the other but what we know is that Trophimus ‘was sick’,
- Epaphroditus, a highly respected and loved brother in Christ of Paul, was critically sick to the point of death but ‘God had mercy on him’ (Phil 2:27).
In the Old Testament, we have a few cases of people who died (or suspected to have died) of sicknesses including:
- Prophet Elisha – Yes, the great prophet died of a sickness despite performing miracles (2 Kings 13:14),
- King Hezekiah – He probably died of cancer (2 Kings 20), and
- King David – He probably died of cancer. We can speculate based on his symptoms. (1 Kings 1:1)
In our current days, we have also witnessed the premature death of a few young heroes of the faith –
- Medical Doctor and Evangelist Nabeel Qureshi – the author of New York Times‘ Bestselling book – Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus – who died of stomach cancer in Sep 2017 at a tender age of just 34, and
- XinWei Schroeder who founded the ‘House of Mephibosheth’ which serves the disabled children and abandoned babies in China and who succumbed to breast cancer in July 2015.
Christians are not immune to sickness, just like Christians do get wet when we walk in the rain. Jesus said in Matt 5:45 –
‘For he (God) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’
Some Christians are taught the concept of ‘by his stripes, we are healed’ as found in Isa 53:5 where it says,
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
This is also found in 1 Peter 2:24 –
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
The Hebrew word used in Isaiah is ‘rapha‘ in Isaiah and can be used to describe healing/ purifying/ repairing.
The Greek word in 1 Peter is ‘iaomai‘ and can refer to either physical or spiritual healing.
The context of what is spoken in both verses refers to the disease of sin, a spiritual condition. Perhaps, in our enthusiasm and exuberance to declare all physical healing, we have gone beyond the rightful interpretation.
Without doubt, faith does play an important part in healing. Jesus, for example, went back to Nazareth to minister but
‘he did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief’ (Matt 13:58).
Mark 6:5 said that he could only
‘lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.’
The Greek word for ‘unbelief’ is apistia or unbelief/ unfaithfulness/ distrust. Our faith can release or hinder the healing process.
Christians are to walk in faith, trusting the Lord in all circumstances. Even if we are not yet healed, we must stay in faith and continue praying.
Jesus did heal. Within this site, you can see some reasons for Jesus’ healing but healing is NOT A GIVEN FOR CHRISTIANS although we can still see supernatural healing.
See this short teaching video from Ps Kong Hee of Singapore. Click here.
- D157 – Jesus encouraged those who are not healed to continue believing, and
- D189 – Our faith towards God can do powerful things.
D148 - Sins may result in sickness
In various healing scenarios, Jesus would forgive their sins before he healed them. Like the case of the paralyzed man who was lowered to him by his friends from the roof (Luke 5:20), and a thirty-eight years’ invalid who was lying by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-14). Jesus’ word to the latter was
‘See, you are well. Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you’ (John 5:14).
Does it not imply that the latter was engaged in some form of sin that resulted in his condition?
In 1 Cor 11:27-30, Paul explained that believers ought to examine themselves before they come to partake communion as if we drink the Lord’s cup ‘in an unworthy manner’, we could be bringing ‘judgment to ourselves’. 1 Cor 11:29 –
‘For this reason, many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.’
We know, from a medical perspective, that continuous engagement of a person with various sexual partners can bring about sexual diseases. In the same way, we know that continuous binge consumption of alcohol can bring about a damaged liver.
So, certain sins do bring about sickness. Nonetheless, the context of Jesus’ comments probably covered beyond these illnesses too.
D149 - Some sicknesses maybe linked to demonic possession
Jesus cast out many who were demon possessed. Here are some situations in order to recognize demon possession:
- The unclean spirit would throw the victim into convulsions or spasms (as defined by the Greek word sparasso) – Mark 1:26,
- A person could not talk because it had a mute spirit (Matt 9:33),
- In Matt 12:22, the person was both dumb and blind,
- In Matt 17:15, it talks about seizures (or epilepsy) and falling into the fire or into the water,
Demon possession is real. It was real during the time of Jesus and it is certainly real today. Some sicknesses may in fact be linked to demon possession.
Christians will have to discern before acting as unwise involvement can result in more problems than solutions. There is also the challenge of distinguishing between mental illness and demonic possession.
In our current situation, we have a modern world that does not believe in demons. Hence, exorcism is looked upon with disdain and a demonstration of superstition.
D150 - Sicknesses may represent a trial
Even the Apostle Paul had a sickness that did not go away. In 2 Cor 12:7, he explained it as something that prevented him from being conceited. In effect, it was a personal trial. Paul asked for relief three times and yet each time, the Lord assured him that
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness’ (2 Cor 12:9).
Sickness may be a trial for some of us. Hence, do not be arrogant even if we are doing fine. We will never know the purpose of sickness for the other person.
See D128, The Lord will cause us to grow through test.
D151 - Continuous sinning despite healing can put a person in a dire straits
Luke 11:24-26 talks about a case of a person who has been healed of an unclean spirit and how it returns to its original house (the person) and brings even more spirits to go alongside with him. How is that possible?
It is a consistent instruction from the Lord that once a person is rescued by the Lord, that person should not carry on sinning.
Continuous sinning opens believers up to other forms of spiritual attacks, including severe spiritual possession.
B152 - Jesus healed
The Bible writes and declares unequivocally that Jesus healed:
- Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt 8:14-15),
- He healed people who came to him (Matt 19:2),
- He healed someone who was possessed by an evil spirit (Mark 1:21-28),
- He healed a woman with hunchback (Luke 13:11-13).
These were but a few of his supernatural healing.
Of course, it was reported that he raised the following people from the dead:
- Lazarus (John 11:38-44).
- The daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:49-56),
- and the son of a widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-17).
Healing was part of his ministry although it was not his primary purpose for being on earth. For more information, see the following:
- D34 – Jesus’ purpose on earth was to reveal the Father,
- D37 – Jesus came to save that which was lost, and
- D54 – Jesus is the healer.
D153 - Jesus healed to prove his divinity
If Jesus could bring about a healing miracle, would it not prove a point that he could possibly forgive sins or that he could be divine?
That was what happened when he healed a paralytic and declared,
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” (Mark 2:9).
Hence, Jesus could exclaimed,
‘Even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father’ (John 10:38), as
‘The works that I (Jesus) do in my Father’s name bear witness about me’ (John 10:25).
D154 - Jesus healed out of compassion
Jesus healed because he was compassionate.
Matt 14:14 says,
‘When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed the sick.’
The Greek word for compassion is splagchnizomai or be moved in the inward parts/ feel compassion/ have pity on/ am moved.
Again, in Matt 20:34, he healed a blind man because ‘Jesus in pity (moved with compassion) touched their eyes.’
Jesus showed the compassion of God; God is not a cold, unbending and righteous judge but one who can be moved with compassion.
See D62, Jesus had great compassion for more information.
D155 - Jesus healed because of our faith
To the lady with an issue of blood, Jesus healed and commended that her faith had made her well (Matt 9:22). A little later, he said the same thing to two blind men who were seeking Jesus’ healing (Matt 9:29).
It was similar with a Canaanite woman who sought for miraculous healing of her daughter from being oppressed by a demon (Matt 15:28).
Our faith is a very big deal.
Jesus could not do any healing in Nazareth because
‘he did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief’ (Matt 13:58).
Mark 6:5 said that he could only ‘lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.’
- D147 – Sickness is normal even among believers and some may remain sick.
D156 - Jesus healed people who sought him desperately
In Matt 9:27-29, there were two blind men who followed him while crying out,
‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’
It was a reflection of their desperate faith. In Matt 20:30-34, we see another two blind men, crying out to Jesus as well.
Who can forget blind Bartimaeus, who, went told by others to be silent, decided to raise his voice even more with his desperate cry of ‘Son of David, have mercy on me’ (Mark 10:48)?
Jesus healed people who sought him desperately. But Jesus may not heal all the time.
Please see D150 – Sickness may represent a trial; for despite Paul’s request for healing on three occasions, he was not spared his sickness (2 Cor 12:9).
- D34 – Jesus never imposed and
- D147 – Sickness is normal even among believers and some may remain sick.
D157 - Jesus encouraged those who are not healed to keep believing
When people came to Jairus and told him not to other the Teacher, Jesus’ reply was simply,
‘Don’t be fear, only believe’ (Mark 5:36).
As Christians, we are to continue believing and praying unless the Lord had specifically told us otherwise.
B197 explains why we must pray unceasingly. See also B198, Pray and persist always.
D158 - Jesus healed even when others intercede for the sick
There were many people who made requests of healing for others. And Jesus healed them.
- A well spoken centurion man of great faith made a request of healing for his servant (Matt 8:6, Luke 7:3-4),
- A synagogue leader, Jairus, sought healing for his daughter who had just died (Matt 9:18, Mark 5:23, Luke 8:41),
- A Canaanite woman requested healing for her demon-possessed daughter (Matt 15:22),
- Four men who assisted their paralyzed friend by removing the roof in order to lower him down to Jesus (Mark 2:3-5),
- A group of friends who brought a deaf and speech impeded man to ask for Jesus’ healing (Mark 7:31-35),
- A group of friends who brought a blind man and begged Jesus to heal him (Mark 8:22),
- A father who pleaded on behalf of his son who had a deaf and mute spirit (Mark 9:24),
- A government official whose son was gravely ill (John 4:47-50).
We can request healing on behalf of other people. Please see
- D147, Sickness is normal even among believers and some may remain sick, and
- D157, Jesus encouraged those who are not healed to continue believing.
D159 - Jesus used unorthodox healing methods
In Mark 7:33, while healing a man with impeded speech and deafness, Jesus said:
‘Taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.’
In another incident, while healing someone who was blind, he spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him (Mark 8:23). At another time, he spat on the ground, made some mud, and applied it on the eyes of a blind man (John 9:6-7).
In the Book of Acts, we saw the use of Paul’s handkerchiefs in performing healing (Acts 19:11-12).
Jesus could have spoken to these people to heal them. But he chose a few, unhygienic and unorthodox methods.
Why? We will never know. But unorthodox methods are not to be dismissed because God is oftentimes unconventional and we cannot keep him within our mind-box.
D160 - In some healing situations, only his closest disciples were allowed to be with him
When Jesus raised the twelve year-old daughter of Jarius back to life, he only had his three closest disciples (Peter, James and John, the brother of James) to be with him (Mark 5:37).
It was a very tight inner circle. Prior to that, we know some people were suggesting that it was too late to heal her anymore as she was already dead.
Some Christians proposed that Jesus had limited the number in accompanying him in order to maintain the element of faith in the room. Or it might be just a simple explanation as there was not enough space in the room occupied by the girl. We will never know as there is not enough clarity here.
All we learn is that all times, Jesus sometimes only allowed his closest disciples to follow him.
D161 - Jesus rebuked the sickness
D162 - Jesus rebuked the devil when conducting healing
In Matt 17:18, we have a situation of a boy who kept having seizures and falling into various dangerous elements. When brought before Jesus, he rebuked the demon and healed him.
Jesus must have discerned that it was a devil that was in each of them. Jesus used different approaches to heal the sick.
D163 - Jesus commissioned his disciples to heal the sick
In Matt 10:1, Jesus called his twelve disciples and commissioned them with authority to go out and drive out impure spirits and to heal all sickness. This was a specific ministry.
Again, he did the same with seventy-two of his disciples, getting them to go two by two into towns and places ahead of him and healing the sick (Luke 10:9).
In Acts, the Apostle Peter healed a man named Aeneas who was bedridden for eight years as well as he raised Dorcas (Tabitha) from the dead. Both incidents brought tremendous attention to the power of God so much as that ‘many believed in the Lord’ (Acts 9:42).
Healing was so much a part of these disciples even as they bring the message of Jesus to the people. Healing causes people to sit up and take notice (Acts 9:35).
D164 - Some healing/ exorcism requires prayer and fasting
Some healing cases may require more than a declaration of faith. We might involve faith with prayer and fasting.
D165 - Jesus' healings were verified
Jesus healed a leper. Lepers were considered outcasts and they had to live away from the main population. After the healing, Jesus said to the leper,
‘Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them’ (Mark 1:44).
In today’s terminology, go get an MRI or a blood test to verify that all is well.
Objective verification of healing is endorsed by Jesus.
D166 - Healing happens when the healer has 'power'
In Mark 5:30, while moving among a crowd, Jesus suddenly realized that ‘power had gone out from him.’
In Luke 5:17, it reiterates a day when Jesus was teaching in a village and ‘the power of the Lord was with him to heal.’ It was the same in Luke 6:19 where it described how the crows sought to touch him because ‘power came out from him and healed them all.’ There was power that followed Jesus’ healing.
The Greek word for ‘power’ is dunamis or physical power/ force/ might/ energy. People could feel it.
D167 - God can heal supernaturally even in a non-Christian environment
In John 5:3-4, the Pool of Bethesda was known for its ability to heal. It is reported that an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water. Some biblical versions do not include the part regarding the angels (v4). But we do know that healing took place there as
‘a multitude of invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed’ waited for that moment.
Does God heal beyond his followers?
In his sovereignty, we have biblical evidence that shows God heals supernaturally beyond the walls of the church and his followers.
Why does this take place? We will never know.
D168 - To know God, we must be poor in spirit
Poor in spirit is a quintessential component of being a Christian.
What exactly is ‘poor in spirit’?
Jesus had just asked Peter to drop the net on the other side. It resulted in a huge catch so much so that two boats were so full they began to sink. Peter turned to the Lord and exclaimed,
‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’ (Luke 5:8).
Peter, instead of sensing a business opportunity, saw his own condition and the wretched sinner that he was.
It was the same acknowledgement from the high ranking centurion who appealed to Jesus to heal his servant when he said,
‘Lord, do not trouble yourself further, for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof’ (Luke 7:6).
Yet again, in Luke 18:13-14, Jesus showed two persons – one, a tax collector and the other a Pharisee – while the tax collector pleaded for God’s mercy, the Pharisee was rattling off his moral achievements.
In Mark 2:17, Jesus explained what poor in spirit meant with these words,
‘Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick.’
Anyone who does not recognize his/ her own sinful condition will not be part of the kingdom of God. A believer must first be able to sense and see his/ her own wretched condition when compared to the righteousness of God. Only then do we reach out to Jesus.
The irony is, when we think we are righteous based on our moral ‘works’, then we are not. Rom 3:10 says,
‘As it is written: None is righteous, no not one.’
D169 - As long as we stumble in one (Mosaic) law, we are guilty of all
Rom 3:10 says that there is none righteous.
James 2:10 makes it clear,
‘For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.’
Quite simply, to pass under the Mosaic Covenant, we will need to be perfect.
On a spotless white gown, one single black permanent stain, even if it is very small, would have rendered that pristine gown unacceptable. So it is the same with sin. As long as we stumble in one law, we are guilty of all. It is the standard expected by our examiner, God Almighty.
There are many religions which believe that humans are born sinless but tainted by the world; it is the environment that is the cause.
The Bible makes it clear that we are all born sinners (Rom 3:10). Everyone of us carries the sin gene in our DNA; it is a hereditary genetic disorder of our morals and death is the surest result of that condition (Rom 6:23).
D170 - Sin separates us from the kingdom of God and God himself
God abhors sin and we are separated from God because of our sins.
Rom 3:23 explains it best when it said,
‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’
It is the story of a single permanent black stain on a pristine and spotless white gown; one stain and the gown is completely ruin as it can no more be of the same value.
See also D30- – Jesus became our perfect passover lamb.
D171 - Sin is a bondage and will ultimately leads us to hell
John 8:34 says,
‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin.’
Rom 6:23 says,
‘For the wages of sin is death.’
That was why Jesus said in Luke 12:5,
‘Fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.’
See also D14, God is to be feared.
D172 - Sin results in death
Rom 5:12 says,
‘Just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.’
Through Adam, we inherited that one single gene of sin into our DNA. It is a genetic disease and ultimately, it leads to death (Rom 6:23). None of us will be able to escape from it.
It is not the first death that we should fear but the second death – the lake of fire.
Rev 20:15 says,
‘If anyone was found whose name was not written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.’
D173 - Sin requires blood sacrifice
A blood sacrifice of animals is necessary for us to be cleansed. Heb 9:22 says,
‘All things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.’
Eph 1:7 explains,
‘In him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.’
It is blood that cleanses us, without which there is no forgiveness of sins.
See D30 – Jesus became our perfect sacrifice (passover lamb)
D174 - Salvation comes when we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord
Mark 16:16 says,
‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.’
Salvation comes to him who is prepared to declare with their mouth that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9). We have to speak out that which is in our hearts.
Luke 12:8-9 reports,
‘Everyone who confesses me before men, the Son of men will confess him also before the angels of God but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.’
Finally, salvation also comes to him who is prepared to stand up for Jesus in the world. See also 2 Tim 2:12.
D175 - Salvation is a gift of God to everyone that believes in Jesus
Rom 6:23 reads,
‘For the wages of sin is death but the GIFT of GOD is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Eph 2:8-9 says,
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of GOD, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.’
Salvation is a gift of God to everyone who believes in Jesus. We cannot work toward our salvation like what religions suggest.
Good works is the result of our salvation but not the reason to earn our salvation.
D179 - Our salvation is secured through the sealing of the Holy Spirit
2 Cor 5:5 says that the seal becomes a pledge that we belong to God or you may say that the ‘seal’ represents a deposit that we belong to God.
But does it mean that once we are saved, we are permanently saved? It does not seem that way.
In Heb 6:4-6, the writer explained how someone might lose his/ her salvation as likened to a person who crucified the Son of God all over again. This person would have:
- Been ‘enlightened’ before,
- Tasted the ‘heavenly gift; and have shared in the Holy Spirit (Most likely a believer who had experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit),
- Experienced the goodness of the Word of God (Most likely a believer who knew God’s word well),
- Realized the powers of the age to come (Most probably a believer who experienced the power of the Holy Spirit), and
- Then had fallen away.
The concept of how a believer can be ‘unsealed’ is something which is beyond the scope of explanation here.
Please see the following:
- S139 – Continuous sinning deliberately and wilfully even after knowing Jesus,
- S140 – Sell off our birthrights by disassociating with Jesus permanently,
- S141- Take on the mark of the beast (666).
D180 - Our salvation is our greatest gift
Jesus sent out seventy-two of his disciples to perform great miracles across the land. They had just returned and were on a spiritual high because the power that they saw in Jesus were vested in them; (Luke 10:17 – ‘Even the demons are subject to us in your name!’). These were, without doubt, great achievements.
Yet, astonishingly, Jesus reminded them what was more important – the fact that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20); why? Because ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Rom 6:23) and heaven and hell are for real. Jesus said in Luke 10:20 –
‘ do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
We can accomplish great feats – like becoming the President of a nation, inventing the first computer in the world, or climbing the world’s highest peak, but if our names are not written in heaven, all our works become meaningless and vanity. In Eccl 1:2, Solomon exclaimed, ‘Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.’
Please also see D129, Some believers will be disheartened/ deceived and drop out.
D181 - Our freedom gained from salvation should not be an excuse to continue sinning
Gal 5:13 says,
‘For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.’
1 John 1:6 says,
‘If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.’
Believers cannot walk and live in darkness once we know the truth. And the ‘darkness’ is described as ‘continuing in sin.’
1 John 3:6-9 is quite clear,
‘No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him …. Whoever makes a practice of sinning (NB: ‘practice’ = ‘continuous’ or ‘unrepentant’) is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.’
All religions, except Christianity, attribute good works as the way to salvation. In fact, it was the same for Christians for a long while until when Martin Luther discovered the error of the Catholic Church, nailed his ninety-five theses on the door of a chapel in Wittenberg, Germany and started the Protestant Reformation.
See D175 – Salvation is the gift of God to everyone that believes in Jesus.
The Bible made that clear. It does not mean that Christians do not do good works but that good works is the natural outflow of who we are.
Christians are not saved by good works but saved for good works.
Continuous sinning without repentance and other incidents seem to be able to render us ‘unchristianed’. Please see S138 to S145 on Unpardonable sins for more information.
D182 - Christians are not under the law of Moses
In Acts 15, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas were confronted by the issue of circumcision because ‘some of the sect of the Pharisees’ had believed that it was necessary for the new Gentile Christians to be circumcised. Hence, they referred back to the Council of Jerusalem for advice (Acts 15:2).
The Apostle Peter then stood up and put the issue to rest in Acts 15:10 when he said,
‘Why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the (new) disciples a yoke (also termed as the law of Moses as in Acts 15:5) which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe we are saved through the grace (Greek word is charis and it means a gift/ unmerited favor) of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.’
In Rom 10:4, Paul explained,
‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.’
The Gentiles obviously never knew the law of Moses but the Apostle Paul clarified that Gentiles have their God’s in-built conscience which effectively meant that it rendered them without excuses too (Rom 2:12-15).
Christians are free from the Mosaic Law but are now under the law of Christ (Gal 3:13). Paul, for example, called the observation of ‘days and months and seasons and years’ those beggarly elements of bondage (Gal 4:9-10). In Gal 5:1, he went further and declared:
‘For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (bondage).’
In Col 2:20-23 (NLT), Paul declared them as ‘human teachings’ and ‘may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.’
Instead of looking at the negative on what we should not be doing, Christians have been directed to the positive on the amount of faith that we are placing on our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gal 2:16 explains that
‘We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ’ because ‘by works of the law no one will be justified.’
Luke 16:16 explains –
The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces (comes forward violently and aggressively) his way into it.
It is about our faith in Jesus. Does it mean that we can go on sinning? In Rom 6:1-2, Paul answered this question:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
To understand the elements of sins defined within the context of the New Testament, please go here.
See also –
- D186 – Faith in God is the currency of the kingdom,
- D187 – Faith in God pleases him, and
- D188 – Our growth is measured by our faith in God.
Hence, some issues pale into insignificance –
- Observance of the Sabbath,
- Types of food to eat or not to eat,
- Celebration of certain festivals, and even
- The version of the Bible (for e.g. KJV, NIV, ESV) to use.
- B243, Do not argue over non-essential doctrines, and
- D249 – Church traditions are special but they are only shadows of things to come.
D183 - God gives people plenty of time to repent
2 Peter 3:9 says,
‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’
Life should never be taken for granted but most of us do. Like the case of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, the Father is always looking for the return of his wayward children. We will be given enough time to make our choices because life is a long journey.
Jesus made it clear to the church of Thyatira (one of the seven churches in Revelation) in Rev 2:21 –
‘I gave her time to repent.’
That was why Jesus said in Luke 12:5,
‘Fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.’
See also D14, God is to be feared.
Faith is required for us to receive our salvation.
As we journey in our Christian walk, we should progress into a maturing faith that trusts God more and more.
Please look at B162 to B176 on Foundation – Faith for further information.
D184 - Faith toward God is the first of the two-part salvation package
Eph 2:8 says,
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.’
Faith in who or what?
Acts 20:21 tells us it comes about when we have ‘faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.’
And what does it mean to have faith in our Lord Jesus?
Rom 10:9 explains it well when it says,
‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’
Even the criminal who was on the cross was promised paradise because he placed his faith in Jesus (Luke 23:42-43).
The prerequisites to demonstrate our faith toward God consist of two things:
- Our confession with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and
- Our beliefs with all our hearts that truly God had raised him from the dead.
See also D48, Faith in Jesus Christ makes us righteous before God.
D185 - Repentance is the second of the two-part salvation package
John the Baptist started the ball rolling when he proclaimed,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’ (Mark 1:15).
Jesus continued on the theme of repentance. In Matt 4:17, he said,
‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.’
In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus made it clear to the people around him that if they did not repent, they would also perish.
Whenever Jesus confronted an individual, be it a woman caught in adultery, or an invalid who had been healed of a paralytic condition, his comment to them had always been,
1 John 3:9 says,
‘No one who is born of God practices sin because his seed abides in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God.’
When Peter first preached, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, his invitation to the people had been
What is ‘repentance’?
The Greek word is metanoeo and it means – repent/ change my mind/ change the inner man/ think differently after a change of mind. It means a change of direction to walk the opposite to what you were before becoming a Christian.
It means a determination NOT to carry on sinning and, as in Acts 26:20,
‘that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.’
Good works after repentance is an important fruit of a Christian.
In Matt 3:10, the Lord said,
‘Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
This is consistent with John 15:2 when Jesus said,
‘Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away.’
After putting our faith in the Lord Jesus, two things must follow on:
- We intentionally stop sinning (repentance), and
- We practice love and good works – Heb 10:24.
We are not saved by good works but saved for good works.
Here is the question:
What if we fall short again; that is, we commit a sin?
Please see D314 – Repentance is continuous as well as D115 – Believers are not perfect.
D314 - Repentance is continuous
Repentance is not a once-off but continuous.
Every time we sin or we are brought to an awareness of our sins, we must confess and repent of them before our Lord. In fact, James 5:16 which was written in the context of an ailment, suggests –
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
By confessing our sins to one another (very close friends/ family – Note: Not a priest nor a shrink [psychiatrist]), it has the powerful effect of releasing us from self condemnation and guilt as well as gaining forgiveness of sins from our Lord (see James 5:15).
The Apostle Paul told the Corinth church that he was concerned if he should come again to find its people ‘not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.’ (2 Cor 12:21).
He was asking members of the Corinth church to repent (and continuously repent) of those identified sins.
That is why the Lord taught us to pray regularly with these words –
‘Forgive us our debts (The Greek word is opheiléma and it means sin/ debt/ offense), as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Matt 6:12).
We ought to keep short accounts with God and with men
See also D115 – Believers are not perfect (God still forgives)
D186 - Faith in God is the currency of the kingdom
It was the middle of the night between 3 and 6 am. The disciples were in a boat far away from the shore and they were wide awake as the wind was strong and the waves were rough. Then, they saw someone walking on the water and cried out in fear, only to discover that it was Jesus.
The Apostle Peter, being the vocal one that he was, shouted out to Jesus,
‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water’ (Matt 14:28).
At which point the Lord said, ‘Come!’
For a short while, Peter walked on water and came toward Jesus. Then, all of a sudden, when he realized what he was doing, he froze, began to sink, and cried out to the Lord for help. Instantly, the Lord stretched out his hand, held him up and said,
‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Matt 14:31)..
Heb 11:6 says,
‘And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’
The New Covenant is about believers putting their COMPLETE trust in God and it is best seen in how the patriarchs responded to God.
What is faith?
Jesus gave us a clue there. The Greek word for ‘faith’ is pistis or faith/ belief/ trust/ confidence/ faithfulness.
The faith that the Lord asked of Peter was for him to place his entire trust and confidence on Jesus based on his invitation, ‘Come!’.
Jesus was walking pass in Jerusalem when he encountered a blind man. He decided to intervene to heal him. But he chose an unorthodox and unhygienic method by spitting on the ground to make some mud with his saliva. Then, he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and gave him specific instructions to wash in the pool of Siloam.
Scripture said the man went and washed and came back seeing (John 9:7). The man had to trust Jesus’ words and take action.
The faith expected of us is how much do we trust Jesus at his word when he said,
‘I am the (only) way, the (only) truth, and the (only) life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6).
Was that an arrogant statement? Do we trust Jesus that he is God’s chosen one to reconcile us to the Father?
The basic prerequisite of coming to Jesus is to confess him as Lord and Savior and trust that he actually rose from the dead.
Going forward beyond this initial salvation stage, our strength of relationship with Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) and our spiritual maturity are defined by the amount of trust and confidence that we place on him (through the Holy Spirit) based on what he had taught and told us personally.
Please see B163 to B176 for more information.
D187 - Faith in God pleases him
Heb 11:6 says,
‘And without faith it is impossible to please him ….’
To please God, we must show that we trust him; trust him enough to rely on him entirely. Trust him enough to act on what he tells us to do. Trust him enough to know that our suffering on this earth is incomparable to the joy in the next.
Trust (or faith) is the big element – ‘For without FAITH, it is impossible to please him.’
As in the spiritual, so it is in the natural too.
How does trust enhance our relationships with the people whom we love?
The more we know God, the more we know he is trustworthy (especially in situations when we do not know what is happening ahead of us). And the more we trust him, the more we know God – that God can indeed be trusted.
Heb 11 is a chapter about the people of faith who believed in the God of the Bible to come through despite some of them suffering horrendously and a few even dying without seeing their promises being fulfilled.
Heb 11:36-40 says:
‘Others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.’
Gen 15:6 says,
‘Abram (the old name of Abraham) believed the Lord (The Hebrew word is aman or to confirm/ support/ have assurance/ puts his trust/ sure), and it was credited to him as righteousness.’
D188 - Our growth (maturity) is measured by our faith in God (and not by our adherence to Moses' laws)
We come to Jesus by faith because we place our trust in him based on what we know about him. But God expects us to grow our faith as we know him better.
Faith is a powerful commodity. Jesus compared the amount of faith to that of a mustard seed – a tiniest of seed and it can grow into a huge tree (Matt 17:20). And it could throw a whole mountain into the sea (Matt 21:21).
Jesus promised us that we will do ‘greater things than these because I am going to the Father’ (John 14:12).
In the parable of the determined widow who kept bothering a judge for justice, the Lord concluded with a poignant thought (Luke 18:8) –
‘Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes (in his second advent), will he find faith (The Greek word is pistis or faith/ belief/ trust/ confidence) on earth?’
Heb 3:10 says,
‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’
That verse came from Ps 95:9-11 – The people of Israel had seen the works of God but yet did not know the ways of God.
What does it mean to us as individual believers? How does our walk with him impact our belief in him?
In the New Covenant, faith in Jesus is that which is required, not the adherence to the law of Moses.
Nonetheless, can we neglect good works? Please see D206 – For believers, our salvation is secured but our works will be evaluated and B266 – Do practical social works.
We are saved for good works and not by good works.
See also –
- D182 – Christians are NOT under the laws of Moses,
- D186 – Faith in God is the currency of the Kingdom, and
- B163 to B176 – Foundation – Faith.
D189 - Our faith toward God can do powerful things
When his disciples were caught in the storm while crossing on the Sea of Galilee in a boat, they had to turn to Jesus to rescue them. Jesus’ response was to castigate them for not having enough faith (to believe that they would cross over to the other side). He simply went out and commanded the wind and waves to calm down.
Jesus wanted us to know that we could calm a raging sea and cross over to the other side. In difficult situations, we are to pray and commit to the Lord while remaining in faith.
Jesus said that the secret was
‘not (to) doubt in his heart but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him’ (Mark 11:20-22).
Our words, with beliefs, can change things. All of us have to learn to trust him entirely and not be negative thinkers.
See D186 – Faith is the currency of the Kingdom.
Please also see B15 – Be filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit to get a better understanding regarding the difference between ‘normal faith’ and ‘supernatural faith’.
D190 - Our father wants to bless us with good things
In Matt 7:9-11, Jesus assured his disciples that God only had good things for us. Jesus used logic to put his point across when he said,
‘If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him.’
The Greek word for ‘good’ is agathos or intrinsically good/ good in nature/ good whether it be seen to be so or not.
In Luke 11:11, Jesus said,
‘Which father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?’
In Rom 8:28, Paul said,
‘And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.’
In other words, God only has our welfare at heart and God is a good God.
The question that we asked ourselves is, ‘What does good mean’? Is it directly related to wealth and riches?
- How can it be good when Lazarus was covered in sores while begging for food from a rich man? How can it be a blessing when even the dogs came and licked his wounds? (Luke 16:19-21).
- How can it be great when John the Baptist, without much warning, was beheaded because King Herod granted a request of Herodias’ daughter, following her well-pleasing dance? (Matt 14:8-10).
- How can it be wonderful when James was put to the sword at a young age as in Acts 12:2? Unlike his brother, John, James never saw life of the early church.
- How can it be praiseworthy when Paul was beaten with rods, stoned, and shipwrecked three times, once spending a whole night, and a day adrift at sea (2 Cor 11:25)?
- How can we call it a blessing when ‘we (the apostles) hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands’ (1 Cor 4:11-12)?
What does ‘good’ mean? While many of us yearned for the material blessings of life, God is not a sugar daddy. God sees things from an eternal perspective against an overall plan and not in accordance to our myopic vision.
Paul explained in Rom 8:28 –
‘And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’
God still wants the best for us but one which is aligned to his eternal perspective and his will. James 4:3 says,
‘You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions (pleasure).’
But does it mean that we should not ask God for physical blessings?
‘“Give me a blessing,” she answered. “Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me springs of water as well.”
So Caleb gave her both the upper and lower springs.’
The Hebrew word for ‘blessing’ is berakah and it means a present or gift.
If Acsah could request from Caleb, then surely we can ask of our heavenly Father in faith and trust that he will always want the best for us.
Our faith comes into play as in –
- D186 – Faith in God is the currency of the kingdom and
- D187 – Faith in God pleases him,
- B145 – Do not despise the poor,
- B208 – Be aware that our prayers may have ‘no’ as an answer.
D191 - Christians are commanded to pray
Jesus always prayed. He would take time to pray even in his very busy schedule.
Mark 6:46 said that
‘after bidding them farewell, he left for the mountain to pray.’
In Luke 18:1-8, he followed up with another story regarding a persistent widow who kept petitioning a judge for justice.
If Jesus prayed and he told us to pray, we should therefore pray.
Were his prayers always answered?
For these and more, please look at the instructions regarding prayer in B183 to B213.
Also, look specifically at B208 – Be prepared that our prayers may have ‘no’ as an answer.
D192 - Pray and lay hands for the impartation of the Holy Spirit
Heb 6:2 explains that ‘laying on of hands’ is a foundational truth.
We see the ‘laying on of hands’ in the Book of Acts. In Acts 8:17-18, Peter laid hands on new disciples in Samaria and saw the impartation of the Holy Spirit onto them.
Again, in Acts 9:17, Ananias was directed by God to Saul and Ananias laid hands on him for healing of his sight as well as to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
B319 – Lay hands on others takes a more detailed look but here is a short summary regarding laying of hands:
- It is a foundation truth (Heb 6:2),
- It can be used to impart the baptism with the Holy Spirit on a believer (Acts 8:17-19),
- Healing can take place through it (Luke 4:40), and
- Spiritual gifts can be similarly given to a believer through it (2 Tim 1:6).
- We are to be careful about laying hands on others because there is spiritual significance to the ritual (1 Tim 5:22).
There are tremendous responsibilities in the laying on of hands so much so that Paul made it clear we should not be
‘hasty in the laying on of hands so as not to ‘share in the sins of others’ (1 Tim 5:22).
D193 - Baptism with the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation
In Luke 24:49, Jesus left a specific instruction to his disciples,
‘And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’
In other words, wait in Jerusalem and don’t rush out straightaway. In fact, Acts 1:4 repeated the same instruction.
In John 20:22, Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ Effectively, the disciples already had the Holy Spirit but yet they were told to wait.
Then, the Day of Pentecost arrived and
‘suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves ….’ (Acts 2:1-4).
What were they waiting for?
It was for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It was to receive ‘the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:38).
Yet again, in Acts 8:16, we knew these were quite new believers as they had just been ‘baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus’. But as Peter and John laid hands on them, these believers had a visible sign of receiving the Holy Spirit so much so that a magician, Simon, offered them money for this gift of the Holy Spirit. Here, we see baptism with the Holy Spirit as a separate experience from salvation.
Next, in Acts 10:44-46, even as Peter was sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to Cornelius and his household, the Holy Spirit fell on these new Gentile believers so much so that Peter was amazed,
‘because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.’
In this case, the baptism with the Holy Spirit was at or close to conversion.
Finally, in Acts 19:1-6, we witnessed the experience of twelve disciples of John the Baptist who were baptized once more after hearing the good news from Paul but this time in the name of our Lord Jesus. Then, Paul laid hands on them and
‘the Holy Spirit came on them and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying’ (Acts 19:6).
Based on the experience of early Christians in the Book of Acts, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is shown to be a separate experience from salvation,
D194 - Speaking in tongues is the sign for the baptism with the Holy Spirit
In Acts 2:6, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell on these disciples, they were all speaking in tongues so that those Hellenistic Jews (Jews who were living in foreign land outside of the nation of Judea) who were there could ‘hear their own languages being spoken.’ These disciples were speaking in different languages.
The same was true of Cornelius’ household. When Peter had shared the gospel and Jesus, he witnessed that these new Gentile believers were also given the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’ for ‘they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God’ – (Acts 10:45-46).
As seen from the Book of Acts, the sign (gift) of the baptism with the Holy Spirit seems to be that of ‘tongues’.
Here is a key and it is found in the writing of the Apostle Paul to the Church of Corinth.
1 Cor 12:8-10 tells us the various gifts of the Spirit as follows:
For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
But if we drill it down further, we will discover something intriguing and it lies in the word, ‘another’.
Two Greek words are used in 1 Cor 12:8-10 to describe ‘another’ – Heteros and Allos.
- Heteros is used for both faith and various kinds of tongues while
- Allos is used for all the rest.
Allos means ‘another of the same kind’ while Heteros means ‘another of a different kind’, that is, it is ‘qualitatively different from its counterpart.’
It implies that these elements of ‘faith’ and ‘tongues’ mentioned here are of a ‘different kind’, that is, these refer to ‘supernatural faith’ and ‘supernatural tongues’.
If that is the case, then it makes sense as to why heteros was the word used to describe ‘various kinds of tongues’ in 1 Cor 12:10
Please also see B15 – Be filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit.
D195 - After salvation, a believer ought to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit
In Matt 4:1, in the temptation of Jesus, it says that
‘Jesus was led up by the Spirit.’
So it was the same with Simeon, a righteous and devout man, who was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the baby Jesus. In Luke 2:27, it said that ‘the Spirit led him to the Temple’, just when Mary and Joseph were there to present the baby Jesus to the Lord.
The Book of Acts is full of incidents on the various leading of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 8:29, Philip was supernaturally led by the Holy Spirit to meet the Ethiopian eunuch, a senior court official, who was reading Isaiah.
Then, there was the case of the mission work involving Barnabas and Paul as seen in Acts 13:2 when the Holy Spirit spoke to the church of Antioch to set them apart for his work. During that time, the Holy Spirit directed them to go to certain places while preventing them from going to others (Acts 16:6-7; Acts 20:22).
After salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a believer ought to be sensitive to the leading hands of the Holy Spirit.
Rom 8:9 says,
‘You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.’
See also B11 to B14 – Relationship with the Holy Spirit and especially B13 – Do not quench (suppress/ grieve) the Holy Spirit.
D196 - Water baptism is a symbolic demonstration of a believer's commitment to Christ
Scripture does not make it mandatory that all must be baptized in order to enter the kingdom of God but Scripture implies that it is a natural progression for believers in their walk with the Lord.
In fact, in many countries, baptism is seen as the ultimate confession of a person to be a Christian by many cultures, and especially so if the person is a first-generation Christian.
In the Book of Acts, in his first evangelistic message, Peter asked of his audience to ‘repent and be baptized’ (Acts 2:38).
In Matt 28:19, the Lord said,
‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, BAPTIZING THEM in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’
Even Jesus did the same although he was baptized by John the Baptist (Luke 3:21).
A point to note is that baptism in water is only for believers. In Acts 8:37, Philip laid down the prerequisite for baptism as
‘If you believe with all your heart, you may (be baptized).’
D197 - Immersion is the implied method for water baptism
In John 3:23, Scripture made it clear that John was baptizing at Aenon because
‘water was plentiful there.’
John the Baptist was baptizing people at the river.
‘they both went down into the water’ followed by ‘they came up out of the water.’
If it was a matter of water sprinkling, then it could have been carried out using the water bottle of the Ethiopian official?
D198 - Jesus rose from the dead in a physical body
It is the main theme of the New Testament – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You will read it in all four gospels. There was also Thomas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and the one who doubted about the resurrection. Thomas said in John 20:25,
‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.’
So, eight days later, Jesus came into their locked doors and said to Thomas,
‘Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’ (John 20:27).
NB: Jesus had a physical body but how we will look is irrelevant. In 1 Cor 15:38, the Apostle Paul said, ‘God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.’
1 Cor 15:17 rightly states that
‘if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.’
Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christians have nothing. It was disturbing news then (Acts 4:2). It is still a provoking statement today.
Many non-Christians had tried to prove that Jesus’ resurrection was fake news. For more information, please see D39 – Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
D199 - Jesus became the first fruit to demonstrate that believers will rise again
Jesus’ resurrection showed that we, his disciples, will also be raised again. 1 Cor 15:23 promises that while Christ became the first fruit of resurrection, there will be another group that will resurrect ‘at his coming’.
Finally, all of us will be changed in a
‘twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed’ (1 Cor 15:52).
That is when death is ultimately destroyed by God.
D200 - In resurrection, believers do not marry
Jesus answered the Sadducees with a direct response when he said,
What we will be like is still an unknown element as long as we are on this side of heaven.
D201 - Believers will live with Christ at the end of age
When we die, Jesus promised us that
‘whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’ (John 11:25).
Jesus also promised us that
‘because I live, you also will live’ (John 14:19), and
‘We will always be with the Lord’ (1 Thes 4:17).
D202 - Believers who may be perceived to be first (on earth) may end up being last
Jesus shared that there would be surprises at the end of times when ‘many who are first will be last, and the last first’ (Mark 10:31).
Like an examination, when we finally finish life and be resurrected, some ‘results’ may shock us.
In fact, some ‘Christians’ may not even make it to the Book of Life.
In Luke 13:24-30, Jesus shared about a bunch of people who claimed that they
‘ate and drank in Your (Jesus’) presence’ but Jesus said, ‘I do not know where you are from.’
In the Old Testament, following the death of Saul by his own accord, a young Amalekite came across Saul’s body and seize Saul’s crown and arm band and brought them before David.
He then proclaimed that it was he who killed the dying Saul. Instead of rewarding the Amalekite for his deeds in eliminating David’s perceived archenemy, 2 Sam 1:15-16 reads,
‘Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord’s anointed.’”
Our analysis of who will end up in heaven may not be the same as that from the Father. At the end of the age, there will be many surprises.
Who will be exalted?
Luke 18:14 speaks about a tax collector (a despised person) and a Pharisee (a religious elite). The tax collector stood at a distance and was too afraid to lift up his eyes to heaven, instead exclaiming, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ while the Pharisee declared in his prayers his ‘righteous deeds of fasting and paying tithes.’ Jesus commended the former instead of the Pharisee.
Here is the hint – Those who humble themselves.
See also B234 – Seek for the knowledge of God’s will, and B236 – Labor for that which endures forever.
D203 - There appears to be stages in resurrection
When we become Christians, we are, in effect, resurrected. John 5:25-26 says,
‘“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”‘
But there are stages in resurrection after we are no more on this earth. And these can be seen below:
- In Matt 27:51-52, following the resurrection of Jesus, ‘many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.’
This was the first-fruit resurrection.
- The next stage of resurrection of his saints will arrive ‘at his (second) coming’ (1 Cor 15:23). It is seen in 1 Thes 4:16 when Paul said that
‘For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.’
This is then followed by the rapture when ‘we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air’ (1 Thes 4:17).
Among them are a group of disciples who will be coming back to life and to reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:4-5).
Rev 20:5 calls it ‘the first resurrection’ where the ‘second death has no power over them’ (In other words, these Christians are assured of eternal life as priests of God).
- The final resurrection belongs in Rev 20:12-15 at the end of times when books are opened with one specified as the ‘book of life.’
Rev 20:15 reads ‘if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.’
Resurrection of the dead is linked closely to eternal judgment.
Note: Thanks to the contribution by Melody Nunen regarding the part of ‘resurrection’ when we become Christians (12 June 2020).
- In Matt 27:51-52, following the resurrection of Jesus, ‘many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.’
D204 - All men will be judged
There is such a thing as a ‘day of judgement’. It is in the Bible. It is a very serious day.
2 Cor 5:10 says,
‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.’
2 Peter 3:7 says that
‘Heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly.’
Heb 9:27 says,
‘It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement.’
Hence, see D14, God is to be feared.
D205 - The words of Jesus will be our judge
With the arrival of Jesus, the Father had entrusted all judgement to the Son. John 5:22 says
‘For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son.’
Acts 10:42 says,
‘… to testify that he (Jesus) is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.’
Jesus then handed his judgement to the words which he had spoke while on earth which is recorded in our Bible.
John 12:48 says,
‘The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.’
Hence, we will be judged by the words of Jesus.
D206 - For believers, our salvation is secured but our works will be evaluated
The consistent message of the New Testament is for all to
‘believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
Please see D184 and D185 – Repentance (and Faith toward God) are the two-part salvation package for a thorough explanation.
On our own, we are unrighteous but when we become Christians, we are made righteous since ‘in him (Christ) we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Cor 5:21).
Please see D48 – Faith in Jesus Christ makes us righteous before God
But our Christian lives do not stop there; otherwise, it might be better to cease from living after we have acknowledged Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
We are told in John 6:27 to
‘work for the food that endures to eternal life.’
And we are told in 1 Cor 3:13-15 that at the end of times, our works will be tested with fire to evaluate their quality.
‘If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, you so as through fire.’
That ‘fire’ is to indicate our rewards.
In 1 Cor 4:5, it explains that on judgement day, the Lord will
‘bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart (that is, our motives). Then each one will receive his commendation from God.’
Rev 22:12 says,
‘Behold, I am coming soon, bring my recompense (reward) with me, to repay each one for what he has done.’
What ’works’ are believers expected to do? Please see
- B234 – Seek for the knowledge of God’s will,
- B345 – Accumulate heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones
- B235 – Stay focus on our calling, and
- B236 – Labor for that which endures forever.
In addition, we will also be commended based on our motives (1Cor 4:5).
D207 - Non-Christians will be judged according to their words and works as written in the books
Rev 20:12 says,
‘And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.’
These souls do not seem to come from the group of believers who were resurrected as well as those who were raptured at the return of our Lord.
Please see D203 – There appears to be stages in resurrection.
It appears that this group consists of souls who had chosen to reject Jesus and also those who did not have the chance to hear the gospel.
See D210 – Hell is a real place of eternal damnation.
How will these souls be judged on?
- They will have to give an account ‘for every careless word they speak’ (Matt 12:36),
- They will be judged according to what they have ‘done in the body, whether good or evil’ (2 Cor 5:10, Matt 25:35-37) and according to their conscience (Rom 2:14-15),
- For those who have been given the chance to receive Jesus, they will be asked whether they have received Jesus or listen to his words (Matt 10:14, 2 Thes 1:8),
- They will be judged according to the words of Jesus. John 12:48 says,
‘There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not receive My words: The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day’.
D208 - Only those whose names are in the Book of Life will live with God
The Book of Life is the only book that matters. If we don’t live forever, then this book is meaningless. For those who do not believe in Jesus, this is your warning.
Rev 20:15 says,
‘And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire’.
In Luke 10:1-20, Luke related the story of Jesus sending out seventy-two of his disciples to perform miracles across the land. They had just returned and were on a spiritual high because the power that they saw in Jesus were vested in them; Luke 10:17 –
‘Even the demons are subject to us in your name!’
Yet, amazingly, Jesus reminded them what was more important – that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20) or the Book of Life.
- D14, God is to be feared, and
- D180 – Our salvation is our greatest gift
D209 - Rewards are waiting for faithful believers
Christians are not judged but rewarded.
1 Cor 3:14-15 explains that our works will be subject to fire and
‘if it is burned up, he (a believer) will suffer loss. He himself will be saved but only as if through the flames.’
If our works survive through the fire, then we will be given a reward.
The irony for Christians is that we do not work toward our rewards but rather we are recognized for our faithfulness in going about doing that which we have been tasked by the Lord to do and in following the direction of the Holy Spirit.
In many generations and some places even now, there has been a heavy price to pay in following the Lord. The Lord acknowledged that in Matt 19:29 when he said,
‘Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for my name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.’
In Rom 8:17, it says that
‘we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.’
Many believers will be discouraged. Jesus mentioned that toward the end times, there will be an increase in wickedness, and ‘the love of many will grow cold’ (Matt 24:12).
To stay on as faithful believers, there are the elements of persistence and endurance.
We will be in the presence of God. We will rule and reign.
And the Lord promises us that –
- We will get a ‘crown of glory that will never fade away’ (1 Peter 5:4).
- We will ‘eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God’ (Rev 2:7).
- We will always be in the Book of Life (Rev 3:5) and in the temple of God (Rev 3:12).
- We will also have ‘authority over the nations’ and even judge angels (Rev 2:26, 1 Cor 6:2-3).
He promises that
‘he will dwell with them (us) and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God’ (Rev 21:3).
He also said that
‘they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads’ (Rev 22:4).
And because our God is a God who keeps promises, we know that his words are true. Hence, Rev 22:12 says,
‘Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense (reward) with me, to repay each one for what he has done.’
D210 - Hell is a real place of eternal damnation
Hell is a real place. Jesus confirmed it regularly and spoke about hell more than heaven. He mentioned it as a place of ‘eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt 25:41).
He said that –
The Greek word is hades or the unseen world/ the abode of departed spirits. The other Greek word used is gehenna or a place underneath the earth/ a place of punishment for evil.
Here are the characteristics:
- There is a great gulf between heaven and hell so that souls cannot go across. (Luke 16:23-26).
- It is a place reserved for the unrighteous (Matt 25:46), and for those who are ‘self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness’ (Rom 2:8).
- It is a place of burning sulfur and great torment (Rev 20:10), and one which does not have rest, day or night (Rev 14:11).
- It is a very hot place of agony (Luke 16:23-26) where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:50), and
- It is also a place where the presence of the Lord and the glory of his might is missing (2 Thes 1:9).
D211 - Hell is reserved for the unrighteous
Rev 20:15 says that the lake of fire is reserved for those whose names are not found in the Book of Life.
Matt 25:46 implies that eternal punishment is reserved for the unrighteous. Please see D48 – Faith in Jesus Christ makes us righteous before God. Hence, Christians do not have to worry about going to hell.
We are all unrighteous when we don’t have Christ.
Rom 3:23 says that
‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’.
That is followed by Rom 6:23 which explains that
‘the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
But Christians are made righteous through the work of Christ.
John 1:12 says,
‘To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.’
Hence, to those who reject him, they will not be part of the family. See also Luke 10:16.
John 3:18 says,
‘Whoever believes in him is not condemned but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.’
People who choose to reject Jesus will be condemned.
Rev 21:8 details out the people who will end up in hell as
‘cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexual immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars.’
D212 - Hell was originally created for the devil and his angels
D213 - Death and Hades will be cast into the lake of fire
Rev 20:14 says,
‘Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire.’
This is at the end of times, the end of the end. Death is forever removed from us. And so is Hades, an abode for departed spirits.
There is no more temporary stop, so to speak. The lake of fire is the final destination for the unrighteous.
D214 - God will dwell among us in the New Heaven
Rev 21:3 says that the dwelling place of God is with man.
‘He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’
Rev 22:3-4 explains,
‘The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and his servants will serve him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads.’
How will it be? We honestly do not know. We record what is said in the Bible and accept it by faith.
D215 - There will be no death/ pain/ sorrow/ curse in the New Heaven
Rev 21:4 says that
‘he will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain; the first things have passed away.’
Rev 22:3 reports that there will
‘no longer will there be anything accursed.’
There will be no more curse.
D216 - Eye witness accounts were very important to the early disciples
It was the same with the Book of Acts which was also written by Dr Luke when he said,
‘He (Jesus) presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God’ (Acts 1:3).
The Apostle John did not use the term ‘eyewitnesses’ but said that ‘Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias’ (John 21:1).
Paul testified in 1 Cor 15:8 that the Lord ‘appeared to me (physically)’ whom he called ‘the least of the apostles and not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God.’
In fact, in 1 Cor 15:3-8, Paul used the term, ‘seen by’, FIVE times to emphasize the importance of the account relating to eye witnesses:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
Being eyewitness was a most critical element. It was sufficient for all the disciples of Jesus to lay down their lives and die for the cause.
NB: A point to note is that Jesus’ disciples were devout Jews. The newly minted Christian Council struggled with the issue of circumcision even in Acts 15. The Apostle Peter felt uncomfortable about eating ‘unclean meat’ in Acts 10:9-16. He was even reprimanded by Paul for separating himself from Gentile Christians in Antioch (Gal 2:11-13). They knew that lying was considered an abomination in the Ten Commandments. They also knew the significance of having eyewitness accounts – (Deut 19:15; Deut 17:6).
These were upright men of integrity whose Judaistic foundation would make them difficult to tell a lie.
- D41 – Jesus’ supernatural actions in front of eye-witnesses established his uniqueness and credentials, and
- D145 – Believers must be ready to lay down their lives (martyrdom)
D217 - God does not follow a predictable way to act
God chose various ways to inform people about the arrival of his son, Jesus Christ. For a starter, not all were devout Jews. His methods included the following::
- Wise men from the east who ‘saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him’ (Matt 2:2). They studied the skies and God disclosed to these men who were conscientious students,
- A group of shepherds who just happened to be staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2:8-10). Now this group did not have any religious status; they were just ordinary folks,
- A devout man, Simeon, who was told by the Holy Spirit that ‘he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ’ (Luke 2:26), and
- Finally, a prophetess, Anna, who was ‘advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers (Luke 2:36-37).
NB: Interestingly, the chief priests and scribes of the people (the religious elites [those perceived to be devout men of God] of Jesus’ day), went back to the Hebrew Bible and discovered that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. Yet, NONE went down to worship the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords (Matt 2:3-6).
Jesus did not have a standard method in healing either. His ways included the following:
- A woman, who had had an issue of blood for twelve years, was healed when she touched him (Luke 8:45),
- Jesus ‘spat on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the man’s eyes’ and then told the man to ‘wash in the pool of Siloam’ (John 9:6-7),
- Jesus ‘spit on the man’s eyes and placed his hands on him …’ (Mark 8:24),
- He commanded an invalid man to simply pick up his mat and walk (John 5:8),
- At another time, he touched a man’s ear and healed him (Luke 22:51).
God is not to be locked into a method to operate; God is not in a box.
Yet, God is not a God of surprises.
Read D60 – Jesus did not want to surprise his followers.
D218 - God does not impose on believers to observe the feasts (or other festivals)
Throughout the Book of Acts, we see Paul trying to meet some important Jewish feast dates. In Acts 20:16, he was
‘hastening to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.’
It was significant for him.
In 2 Cor 16:8, it said, ‘I (Paul) will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost.’
Paul was a Hebrew of Hebrews (Phil 3:5-6). He was a real zealot who persecuted the church initially, Hence, we can see his Jewishness in observing the feasts.
But did he enforce it with those he taught?
From the Book of Acts and his writings, it does not seem so. He could have laid it down quite explicitly but he chose not to.
Nonetheless, the Jewish feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles are a good shadow to demonstrate who Jesus is within these feasts.
While there is no mandate to practice them, it serves as a good reminder to Christians about how Jesus fulfilled all these feasts and how he became the perfect Lamb of God to take away our sins.
It might not be as outward demonstration as water baptism but it helps believers on our journey to know God better.
Covenants are critical to the Lord. The dictionary describes ‘covenant’ as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement. Once they are made, they are considered binding. Galatians 3:15 explains:
‘Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. ‘
D219 - God is faithful to the covenants that he establishes with men
The Greek word for ‘covenant’ is diatheke and it represents a will/ testament/ agreement between two or more parties.
Generally, a covenant is made under oath between two equal parties whereby both parties are to carry out their assigned roles.
God does not need to make covenants with men, as being the Creator, he is the superior party. But God chooses to abide by and honor the covenants by swearing by himself (Heb 6:13).
God made a few covenants including the following:
- Adamic Covenant – Gen 2:16-17. The commandment was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the consequence would be death. Death is the direct result of what Adam and Eve did,
- Noahic Covenant – Gen 9:11 – Where the Lord promised never to flood the earth again. The covenant included a sign of the rainbow to demonstrate God’s faithfulness. Of course, we are yet to see the earth enveloped in water except in movies,
- Abrahamic Covenant – Gen 12:1-3 Where the Lord promised blessings to Abraham and to make his name great. Circumcision