Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The doctrine of the Trinity, simply stated, is as follows: The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is the only God that exists. However, within the nature of this one God are three persons, or three centers of consciousness - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons are co-equal and co-eternal. They are also distinguishable or distinct from one another. These three distinct Persons are the one God. Everything that is true about God is true about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While the Bible teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God it is wrong to say that God is the Father, God is the Son, or God is the Spirit. God's nature consists of three distinct Persons. Therefore it is incorrect to limit God to one particular member of the Trinity.
We find all three members of the Trinity at the baptism of Jesus.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased". Mat 3:16, 17
God the Father acknowledged God the Son, while God the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus.
The doctrine of the Trinity was not clearly formulated until after the New Testament was written. However there are anticipations of the doctrine in the Old Testament. A hint of the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in the first verse of the Bible. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Gen 1:1 The Hebrew word for God is Elohim. Elohim is a plural noun but it is used here with a singular verb bara. In the remainder of the Old Testament, when Elohim speaks of the true God, it is always used with a singular verb. The conclusion to be drawn is that in some sense God is both singular and plural. The doctrine of the Trinity states this – within the nature of the one God there are three eternal persons. We find a further hint of the Trinity in Genesis 1
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth" Gen 1:26
The phrase "let us" again gives the idea of plurality. The word "us" cannot refer to angels because angels do not create.
Therefore, in the first chapter of the Bible we have a hint of the Trinity with the plural title Elohim used with a singular verb and God speaking and saying, "Let us."
The words "let us" is used elsewhere of God speaking in Genesis. After Adam and Eve sinned the Bible records.
Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." Gen 3:22
At the incident at the Tower of Babel we read God saying.
"Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech." Gen 11:7
Isaiah the prophet recorded God saying.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me" Isaiah 6:8
There is one statement in the Old Testament that gives a fairly clear indication of the Trinity.
"Come near me and listen to this: "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there. "And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit. This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Isaiah 48:16, 17
In verse sixteen, God the Son is speaking. He identifies the Father [the Sovereign Lord] and His Spirit as having sent Him. In the next verse, the Son is clearly spoken of as the Lord. Consequently these verses identify three distinct Persons who are God without denying the fact there is only one God.
The concept of the trinity is clearly taught in the Bible, there are many more verses in the OT and of course in the NT where the trinity is more explained. People that try to deny the triune nature of God, do so to diminish Jesus and His deity. The baptism of Jesus mentions all three, Father Son and Holy Spirit. When Thomas who was doubting that Jesus had risen wanted proof. Jesus appeared to him: "Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:27, 28
Thomas clearly calls Jesus God. In Acts we find Peter calling the Holy Spirit God when he confronted Ananias about his deceit: "But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? "While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Acts 5:3, 4
Peter clearly calls the Holy Spirit God. There is one more example, in the account of Steven who was the first martyr we read this: "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Acts 7:56, 57
Here we can clearly see that the Holy Spirit was indwelling Stephen, God the Father on the throne and Jesus standing on the right side of the throne to receive Stephen.
The trinity or triune nature of God is clearly taught in the Bible and was not made up later as some claim, there are some religions like Islam, Cults and even some Christian denominations who would deny the trinity. I personally can not see why anybody would or can deny the trinity given the overwhelming evidence in the Bible about the triune nature of God.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Driving around San Diego County, I see many people texting and talking on their phones while driving. Although there is a law in California against texting while driving and talking on the phone without a hands free device, many choose not to obey that law. Doing so is distracting people and because of it, there have been many accidents in the past, some of them fatal. There is also a law against drinking and driving, but many choose not to obey that law. Many innocent people have been hurt or killed because of the disobedience of some. People are breaking the law of the land everyday, I am not excluded, not always keeping the speed limit of 65mph on the freeways for example. There is a law against using the car pool lanes for single drivers, yet some choose not to obey that law. People that break the law are called law breakers. There are consequences for breaking the law, most likely a fine, in some case even jail time. The governing authorities will persecute law breakers and a just judge will not let a person go unpunished for breaking the law. It make me wonder, if people cannot obey laws set by men, how can they possibly obey the laws given by God? People are breaking God's laws every single day. Just as we have laws given by the governing authorities, so has God given us laws to live by. The Ten commandments given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, sets the standard of God's law by which men will be judged. Many today would argue that the Ten commandments are outdated and do not apply to today's modern society. I tend to disagree with that and I believe that God's law is perfect. The Ten commandments can be grouped in two categories, the first four, man's relationship to God and the remaining six, man's relationship to the community. By these Ten commandments, true theology and true worship, the name of God and the sabbath, family honor, life, marriage and property, truth and virtue are well protected. Many people when asked if they are a good person would answer, Yes I am a good person. Just as the self righteous religious leadership of Jesus' day thought that they were good and obeyed the law of God. Jesus proved them wrong, they thought that they had kept the law perfectly. Jesus showed them how God looks at the law versus how man looks at the law. Jesus actually, put a much higher standard on the law, pointing to man's heart rather then the outward appearance of keeping the law. Jesus said:"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. "I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." Mat 5:17, 18 Jesus fulfilled the law and kept it perfectly, He was without sin and He showed the Pharisees of His day what the law really meant. The Pharisees thought themselves to be righteous and perfect before God, but their supposed righteousness was nothing more than self righteousness and pride. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Mat 5:20
The religious leadership thought they obeyed the law and thus were ok with God, and Jesus pointed them to the last six commandments. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment." The leadership would have answered Jesus that they never murdered anybody. Jesus went on to say: "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire." Mat 5:22 Jesus was saying that if someone hates another person, that they have already committed murder in their heart. The religious leadership of the Jews hated for example the Gentiles, the Samaratian or any others that were not of Jewish descend, they thought that God created the Gentiles for heating up Hell fire. He went on to say: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery." Mat 5:27 Again, the leadership would have said, "we never slept with another women, we have not committed adultery." Jesus: "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Mat 5:28. Again Jesus points to the heart of man, they may not had any adulterous relations but they by just lusting after a woman, committed adultery in their hearts. Jesus went on with some other examples, showing them that it is a heart issue and that they all had broken the law. So even today many call themselves good from an outward perspective, not considering that God looks at the heart. "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." Mat 15:19
If people cannot obey simple laws like not texting and talking on the phone while driving, how can they think that they are ok with God when their day of judgment will come? None of us can keep the law perfectly, Christ has set the believers free from the law that was a tutor to bring us to Christ, He did what we could not do. As believers we are forgiven of all transgressions by the shed blood of Christ on the cross, he died for the sin of the world. By receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior by faith saves the believer from the wrath of God that will come upon all law breakers. If you are not a believer and you either think that God does not exist or that you can defend yourself on the day of judgment, please think again. A just judge must judge just and fair and cannot allow lawbreakers to go free, a price/fine needs to be rendered. Jesus has paid the price, He took the punishment of our transgressions. By believing and asking for forgiveness, a person is declared justified before God, because God has imputed the righteousness of Christ on the believer. Think of what will happen when the day of judgment comes and God declares you guilty and the punishment is eternal separation from God. Why did I refuse to believe? God loves every person, but He cannot allow sin in His kingdom, Jesus cleanses a person from all sin and unrighteousness. God does not want anybody to perish, but it is a choice that you have to make, God does not force Himself on anybody, He has given every man a free will to choose. Eternity is a long time, forever and ever, being tormented, thinking why did I not listen?
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
Thursday, November 18, 2010
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:18, 19
As Christians i.e. followers and disciples of Jesus we are to be separated from the things of the world. We are in this world but not of this world. If we are genuine believers we should separate ourselves from many things that this world has to offer, we are not to participate in the things that the world seeks after. Jesus said: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Mat 6:33.
The apostle John in his second letter warned the Churches of the danger to compromise with the world: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world." 2John 2:15, 16.
It was pride that caused Lucifer to fall from heaven, (Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14). When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he used those three to tempt Jesus to compromise and to worship him. Jesus did not give onto those temptations. Jesus answered all three temptations with scripture, "It is written". Satan is the ruler of this world and Jesus did not deny that, but He did not sub-come the the schemes of the devil. Just as he tempted Jesus, so is he tempting people all over the world today. Satan really has no reasons to change his tactics, he knows mankind too well and knows how to keep the world in his grip. If it is not broken, why fix it? As Christians we have to be very careful not to buy into the deceptiveness of the world. We need to discern the times and stand up against the wiles of the wicked one. We need to put on the whole armor of protection. (Eph 6). Everyday we are getting bombarded with all kinds of temptations, just turn on your TV. Everyday we have to decide, do I wanna serve God or do I want to serve the world? The problem is that the closer we want to be with God, the more Satan attempts to make us fall. Genuine believers have a bulls-eye painted on their chest. Satan could care less about the backsliders or lukewarm Christians, they have already compromised with the world sitting on the fence, one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom. I am not writing this to criticize others, I am including myself in this and I once walked in the things of the world just as most of you have. When I surrendered my life to Jesus, and ask for His forgiveness, my mind was changed, I looked at things differently. I repented, which means a "change of mind". Things that I used to do, just like everybody else, not even thinking that it is wrong in the eyes of God, everybody else is doing it. Looking back now, most of the stuff I did was unfruitful, unimportant and a waste of time. Seeking after the things of the world never satisfied and I was striving after the wind as the wise King Solomon said. Sin may satisfy for a while and there certain pleasure in it, the Bible does not deny that, but in the end it stings. Living after the world is traveling on the broad road that leads to destruction, as Jesus said, "many will enter into it". Traveling down the road of destruction has caused people all kinds of pain, just look at the world, it is so broken and lost, there seems to be no way out. Society is on a moral decline and is sinking deeper and deeper into it. Paul wrote this: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." Rom 1:28-32. Sounds just like the world today, doesn't it? This last part of the verse, "that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." Do we as believers approve of these things, or have we become silent, not speaking out against these things? There are many that have the attitude of "live and let live" like it's ok, let's just not ruffle any feathers. I assure you if we as Christians stand up for the truth and the things of God not giving in to the world standards and it's beliefs, we as people and children of God will suffer persecution, ridicule, mocking and genuine hatred. Just as Jesus said, the world loves it's own, but they will hate us if we stand up and speak up. As disciple of Christ we have to choose, either the narrow gate or the broad road that leads to destruction. Compromising and giving into the world is dangerous and can lead to a broken fellowship with God. Jesus had John write seven letters to the churches, Jesus rebuked all of them to a degree, except the church of Philadelphia. These seven churches were actual churches in then Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) but they were also representative of the churches throughout the church age. I also believe that these seven churches represent different believers, some have compromised, some have mingled with the world and some have become lukewarm. I think that Jesus had a purpose for the letters for us today, we need to examine ourselves if we are truly in the faith and are indeed seeking after the kingdom and not the world.
"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified." 2Cr 13:5
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Mat 7:13, 14
If the world calls us narrow-minded, good, it is better to be narrow minded in the things of God, rather than being on the broad and dark road that will lead to certain destruction in a persons life.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Pontius Pilate was baffled as Joseph of Arimathea came to him and ask to take away the crucified body of Christ. "What do you want with the dead body?" Pilate ask. "I want to lay the body of Jesus into my own newly carved out tomb" Joseph replied. "But why"? Pilate ask, "You are a very old man, and it takes years to carve out another tomb. You may not have enough years left and you are willing to give up your tomb?" "Don't worry Joseph of Arimathea replied, He only needs it for the weekend".
Probably not the way the conversation went down on that day of the crucifixion, but I believe that Joseph of Arimathea knew in his heart that Christ would rise on the third day as prophesied by Jesus to His disciples. Even if he did not fully comprehend the things that had happened, the ministry and first coming of Christ, His brutal death on the cross, but something changed him. Joseph had become a believer. Just as Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, became a follower of Christ, so also Joseph of Arimathea became convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Both Nicodemus and Arimathea who were well respected Pharisees became born again. The impact of Jesus on their lives transformed these two men, they would never be the same. Many people had a life changing transformation by meeting Jesus, yesterday and today. He truly came to save the lost. The apostle Paul is another good example of a radical life transformation, a former persecutor and hater of the believers and followers of Jesus known as "The Way." Saul/Paul was a zealous Jew who hated the Christians with a passion and had them killed, arrested and persecuted. On the road to Damascus seeking to arrest Christians in the city, he met the risen Christ on the road. This encounter changed the man forever and he became the greatest missionary to the gentile world. Paul of course heard about the crucifixion, the death and burial of Christ and the story that was told about the the empty tomb and that Christ had risen. Paul was a changed man and he preached Christ crucified and resurrected. "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1Cr 2:2
Jesus died for the sin of the world, He rose and defeated death to give those who believe in Him forgiveness and eternal life. The Christian faith hinges on the resurrection of Jesus, if the resurrection did not occur, the Christian faith is empty. Paul addresses the death and the resurrection of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15.
"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 (Peter), then by the twelve. 1Cr 15:3-5
There were those who denied the resurrection and Paul writes about the importance of the resurrection.
"Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!" 1Cr 15:12-17
Christianity without the resurrection is dead, as Paul said if Christ was not who He said He is, than we are still in our sins and the most pitiable people. Many unbelievers have tried to disprove the resurrection and have failed miserably and became believers in Christ. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins? Do you believe that He rose and defeated death to give eternal life to those who believe? Have you ask Him for forgiveness and received Him in your heart?
Jesus is the only way to the Father, He came to die for mankind to reconcile all of us that believe to give us peace and eternal life. If you have not received Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, thinking that He was maybe a good man, a good teacher but nothing more, may i encourage you to look into the claims and promises of Jesus? Don't just listen to the media or so called intelligent people who think they have all the answers. Seek Him for yourself and you will find Him. The Bible says:
"In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2Cr 6:2
God does not want anybody to perish, you may say, "how do I know that God loves me?" Look at the cross and you know how much God loves you, He loves you so much that He gave His Son.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
Sunday, November 7, 2010
What does it mean when Christians say "Come as you are?" Many of the unbelievers have the wrong notion thinking that they have to change their habits and lifestyle etc. before they can come to Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness. They think, well I am an alcoholic or a drug user, I am angry or I have too many issues. They think that Jesus will not receive them in their current condition and that they need to clean up their act before asking Jesus for help and forgiveness. Jesus does not see it that way, He had dinner with sinners, He sought out the sinners, just look at the disciples, they were sinners just like anybody else, He chose them in their current sinful condition. Look at the woman who was caught in the act of adultery or the Samaritan woman at the well who had 5 husbands and was living now with a her boyfriend. He did not condemn them, He ministered and reached out to them in their current sinful condition. There are many more examples of Jesus reaching out to the lost, something the religious leaders of the time did not. The religious leaders looked on the outside and not at the heart. They judged purely on appearance, and instead of welcoming them, they cast them out. Many Churches today cast out people simply by their appearance which is a shame and not very "Christ-like". In the late 60's and early 70's many of the Hippies came to faith in Christ and they came to a little country church in Santa Ana Ca. They were long haired "dirty looking" people and not what some might expect coming to church on a Sunday morning. It was small church, and the Pastor was Chuck Smith. The small congregation at the time was upset with Pastor Chuck because they had just installed new carpeting and these long haired hippies were messing up the carpet. Pastor Chuck assured the complaining members of the Church that he would take care of it. They sensed victory and thought that Pastor Chuck would just cast them out. Little did they know, when they saw Pastor Chuck ripping out the carpet and welcomed the hippies with open arms. They came by the thousands and were called "Jesus people" or "Jesus Freaks". The church known as Calvary Chapel has grown into a fellowship of over 1500 churches world wide. Because of one man that did not look upon the outside, many of these broken people that had believed the lie that peace and happiness can be found in sex, drugs and Rock'n Roll, found true peace, happiness and salvation in Jesus Christ. He transformed a generation. Jesus never told anybody, "clean up your act and then come back to me", He received them just as the were. Jesus is the One that transforms lives, He changes people. There are millions of testimonies around the world of transformed lives. Drug addicts, alcoholics, broken people, you name it, they all have a testimony and story to tell about how Jesus changed them when they surrendered their lives to Him. That's what we need to remember when witnessing to unbelievers, no matter what their condition is, no matter what they have done, no matter how grave the sin, Jesus wants to forgive them and save them from a life of sin that leads into destruction and eternal damnation. Jesus wants them to "Come as they are".
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."Mat 11:28-30