Monday, October 10, 2011

The Palestinians Deserve a State

The reality is that the entire world is crying for the Palestinians to be given a state. I say, “Yes, let’s give them a state.” Now that we are agreed on that though, the first thing we must do is to identify who the real Palestinians are. Neither they nor Palestine are mentioned in the Koran. Why?
A little lesson in history: The etymology of the word “Palestinian” in English is derived from the Old French word “Philistin,” from Late Latin it is “Philistinus,” and from Late Greek, “Philistinoi.” They were not an Arab or a Semitic people, but were more closely related to the ancient Greeks and originated in the Aegean region of Asia Minor. Any student of the Bible knows that the Philistines were enemies of Israel.
In the history of the Philistines is also the story of the young Hebrew man, David, son of Jesse, who was incensed that a Philistine warrior was allowed to challenge the one true God. The enemy of Israel had advanced to the Valley of Elah and there challenged the Israelites. They produced a brobdingnagian (gigantic) champion, Goliath of Gath. David volunteered to fight the giant and went out to face him with his slingshot and five smooth stones he had retrieved from a dry river bed. He slipped one of the stones into his sling and smote the Philistine on the forehead. He used the giant’s own sword to behead him. Jehovah God gave David the courage and skills not only to face Israel’s enemy, but to kill the challenger. The Israelites pursued the Philistines all the way to the city of Ekron.
The Philistines were ultimately defeated, absorbed into the Babylonian/Persian Empire, and by the late fifth century BC, had disappeared.
In 135 BC, Simon bar Kokhba, a Jew, proclaimed himself Prince of Israel, Son of the Star, the Messiah, and led a revolt against the Romans. The Roman governor and two legions of soldiers were defeated. Bar Kokhba controlled the state of Israel from the Fort of Herodium just south of Jerusalem. His coins were inscribed, “Year one—the redemption of Israel.”
The Roman emperor, Hadrian, in response razed 985 villages and killed almost 600,000 Jews. Hadrian wiped Jerusalem and Judea off the map and deliberately renamed the area Palaestinia after the Jews’ ancient enemy, the Philistines.
So, spread the word. Wanted: Non-Arab Philistines. As soon as all these peace-loving nations can prove that Philistines are back, then let’s persuade the Arab League to absorb them as refugees the way Israel did with the Jews and all nations have done. Let them then turn over the territories that have become a nightmare for the Jewish people to the Philistines. You can be certain of one thing: there will probably be some pretty large dudes in the bunch. Goliath was a Philistine, and from what I know about him, he was not what you would call a “happy camper.” I expect life will not be too pleasant for mythological Palestinians when they meet the original Philistines.

To fulfill the reality of a Palestinian state, the world must demand that the vast majority of the land occupied by Arabs in Judea and Samaria be returned to Israel. The people that call themselves “Palestinians” must return to the Arab lands from which they came. Then true Palestinians, the proven descendants of the Philistines, could have their land. Since there are none to be found on this planet, perhaps the next Mars rover will find them.   By Dr. Mike Evans

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peaceful Christianity?

Throughout Church history there have been times of peace. The early apostolic church suffered from very heavy persecutions under Nero, who was trying to wipe out the church and killed many, but instead of wiping out the church, the church grew. The early church continued suffering persecution until Constantine embraced Christianity. 
Unfortunately Constantine compromised with the world and kept many of the pagan symbols and customs of various religions in order to unite all people under the banner of Christianity. At that time there was relative peace in the Empire and the known world. When the Roman Catholic church came into existence in the 4th century, there was relative peace, but they also lorded over the people and kept them in darkness. 
People didn't have Bibles on their own to read and they followed whatever the Pope and the Priest would tell them, many things that had and have no biblical grounds and it was taught in Latin. In the pre- reformation period, the Roman Catholic Church persecuted and killed those who translated the Bible into English. Later with the reformation at the time of Luther, many suffered persecution and death. 
The reformation gave the word of God back to the people into their own hands. People were finally able to read the Bible in their own language and they learned from it that salvation is by God's mercy and Grace. Luther re-introduced the biblical teaching that was lost, that "the just shall live by faith." Something that the Roman Catholic Church did not teach then and even until today. They still teach that salvation is based on works, good behavior and continues membership in the Roman Catholic Church. 
There always have been some kind of persecutions throughout the history of the church. In the 20th century alone, more Christians have been persecuted and killed worldwide then in the 19 previous centuries. Christian are persecuted in the Middle East, Africa, China and many other places. In the US for example there is relative peace to worship and live as a Christian at this time, which may change in the future. The problem with "peaceful Christianity" is that it can lead some Christian's to become complacent and comfortable. The believers that are persecuted worldwide, live out their faith, even unto death. The church has always grown under persecution. 
For example here in the US we have Bibles, we have technology to reach the world, but for whatever reason, there are still many unreached people. Why is that? Have we become comfortable and complacent? Unless someone goes into those unreached areas and preaches the gospel, how will they know about Jesus and the free gift of salvation?  Many sit in the pews on Sunday's and think, well, that was my service for the Lord and they go on with their busy live's during the week. That maybe peaceful but at the same time very comfortable and complacent.  Jesus Himself said this: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  John 16:33. 
There can be peace for a Christian, but that also means that they may have compromised with the world. If anyone anywhere in the world lives and proclaims the name of Jesus and teaches biblical principles, he or she will face some kind of persecution on way or another,  either from the government, religious leader and people in general.

"Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." 2Timothy 3:12.
Here is a so called Christian (I chose him just as an example) that has compromised the Gospel and compromised with the world: The Archbishop of Canterbury. "Dr Rowan Williams also criticized Christianity’s history for its violence, its use of harsh punishments and its betrayal of its peaceful principles." That in part is true, I can not make any excuse for the history of the Church, some terrible things were done in the name of the Lord. But were those crusaders real biblical Christians? Or the inquisitions lead by the Roman Catholic church, real biblical Christianity? I think not. Many horrible things have been done throughout the history by the organized church. Just because someone or a denomination calls themselves Christian, does not necessary make it so. Jesus never told His followers to kill and overthrow governments or persecute those who do not agree with certain dogmas. He said: "love your enemy, do good to those who hate you".

Dr Rowa
n Williams also said the Christian belief in the Trinity; "that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost at the same time – "is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims".
"Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with the Islamic view that there is just one all-powerful God."

Considering his influence as a church leader, maybe he could reach out to the Muslim leadership and community and explain why Christians believe in a triune Godhead i.e. the Trinty. The concept of the triune nature of God is found in the very first page of the Bible in the book of Genesis. We as Christians believe in One God, we are monotheist. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and salvation through Him alone is offensive to many, including Islam, Atheist who really are Anti-theist and many that do not want to believe or are blinded by the god of this age.  
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cr 1:18.

We can either compromise with the world, being quiet trying not to offend anyone, or we can speak the truth in love to those who will perish without the Son. Let us pray that many around the world would have their eyes opened through the love of Christ. It is all about Jesus, not a church or denomination, we follow Jesus, not the teachings and opinions of man.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Do not cast your Pearls before Swine

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Mat 7:6
Dogs and swine in this context are those who are hostile to the gospel i.e. the good news. There are many who hear the gospel, but do not receive it and even mock the once sharing the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Pearls of the precious gospel is foolishness to those who do not want to believe. They are blinded by the god of this age (2Cr 4:4). The gospel is foolishness to them: "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 2Cr 2:14.  Instead of receiving the gospel with joy as many, they ridicule and reject the good news of salvation and eternal life. Jesus is basically saying, don't waste your time on those who will not hear, they are too blind to see and they do not want to come to the knowledge of the truth but in return mock and ridicule the Christian who shares with them. This should not discourage us from sharing the gospel, but if rejected over and over again by the same person(s) we are witnessing to, than we need to know when to stop and let the Holy Spirit do the work on that persons heart, we ourselves can not save anybody, it is God that saves. We can only share the good news and know when to step aside, we might miss  another opportunity witnessing to someone with an more open heart. There are many that are seeking the truth, the truth is in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. He paid our penalty that was due, because God loved us even when we were yet sinners. He demonstrated His love for us at he cross.
"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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Abiding in Christ

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4. As followers of Jesus we are ask to bear fruit for the kingdom. We cannot do this on our own powers, we need the help of the Holy Spirit Who gives us the strength to overcome the world with it’s many distractions. Being a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is not always easy. Living in this fallen world with the many distractions that bombard us daily can cause the believer to get side tracked. The world with it’s lies is at war with the believer everyday. The flesh and the desires of the flesh war against the Spirit. “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Gal 5:17. As Christian we are in a battle and Satan who is the prince of this world is relentless in his pursuit to make us stumble and fall and to buy into his deception. We need to put on the whole armor of God and go into battle against his wicked schemes. The world and it’s wisdom never satisfies or fulfills, it may look like it for a little while, but in the end it leaves emptiness and sorrows. So many are addicted to drugs and alcohol, pornography is destroying marriages and the riches and glamor of this world hold people captives. All these promises the world makes ultimately do not fulfill and leaves people searching for more, trying to find the next fix. “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.” 1John 2:16. Many believers me included, have once walked in the way of the world and it’s desires, many of us have fallen into the trap and many of us did not know real peace. Thanks be to Jesus Who saved us from the world and the sins of the world. To those of us who know Jesus, know that He gives us true peace and as we abide in Him we can rejoice.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. The Christian walk is not always easy and from time time we may stumble and fall, but we have Jesus to see us through every situation that may come. We have the power of the Holy Spirit living within us and through His power we also can overcome the world and it’s lust. We can resist the temptations of this world just as Jesus did in the wilderness when Satan tempted Him with the very same things that we face today, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. If we abide in Jesus, we can do all things. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phl 4:13. Let us cling to Jesus, abide in Him and seek the kingdom and all things will be possible. Thank you Jesus for Your love and compassion, patience and long-suffering . Thank You that through You we can overcome and be victorious. You, unlike the world have told us to bring our burdens before you and that you will give us true rest.
“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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Humbleness Of Jesus Christ.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3, 14.
Some of the most beautiful passages in all of the Bible. Jesus,  second person of the triune Godhead became one of us. That is something to meditate on and to grasp. Jesus, even before the foundation of the world already knew that He would become one of us and voluntarily lay down His life for mankind.  “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1Peter 1:20, 21.  Jesus came despite the fact that He would be reject by His people, He came into the world as prophesied long before by the prophets. He became the suffering servant spoken of in Isaiah 53. It blows my mind, thinking about Jesus becoming one of us, because God’s love for us is so big that He gave His only begotten 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.  God in the flesh, who died for the sin of the world. He was full of grace mercy and love. He demonstrated the love of God on the cross at Calvary. His ministry lasted only about 3 1/2 years and He healed the many sick and forgave their sins. He showed love to everyone, without any partiality. Although He is God, at that time He humbled Himself. Paul put it this way: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Phl 2:5-8.  Jesus was in full obedience to the Father, fulfilling the plan of redemption for mankind. This humbleness is something to be behold and comprehend. Even the night before His death on the cross, Jesus was the servant. The disciple on many occasions, argued who would be the greatest among them. Jesus knew man’s heart and He gave the disciples an example that night,  that they would never forget. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5.  It was custom in the middle eastern culture to wash the feet of guest before entering the home. It was regarded however one of the lowest task. Here Jesus who is God in the flesh, stoops down and washes the feet of the disciples. I think they must have felt pretty bad, considering that they argued so many times about who’s being the greatest. Jesus was giving an illustration and He explained it to the disciples after Peter wanted no part of the washing, acting like he was so much more humble than the other disciples over there. “Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:8-15.  Jesus makes a point here, the believer in Him is already washed of his or her sins, but being
human we will not be sinless in these fleshly bodies. We need our feet washed, the body is already clean but we stumble into the dirt with our feet from time to time.  We need to confess and get our feet washed.

Oh, the humbleness of Jesus. I see many so called servants of God today exalting themselves, the wear fancy religious outfits, giving themselves titles and have others bow down to them. The wear gold, purple robes and live a life of luxury,  getting served and they love to rule over the people.  They are put in offices exercising power over people. They drive around in a bullet proof car,  allowing themselves to be worshiped.  There are many that think very highly of themselves. That is not humble and a far cry from what Jesus demonstrated. Jesus my Lord and Savior who is God, humbled Himself. He left the glory of heaven to come down to this fallen world to redeem man. He shed His blood for man, it is He who should be exalted and not these arrogant puffed up so called religious leaders. Thank you Lord Jesus for your love and your mercy and grace. I bow my knees before you and thank for your sacrifice
and that by believing in you I will have eternal life and spend eternity with You.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James  4:10.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,..” 1Peter 5:6.
“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.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Buddhist Dilemma

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, although technically it is not a religion but a philosophy.  Buddhism attracts about 376 million followers worldwide and was founded in Northern India between 553 BC and 460 BC. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. Buddhism has many different traditions, but share a common set of fundamental beliefs. One fundamental belief of Buddhism is reincarnation. The concept is basically that people are reborn after dying. The Buddhist believes that most individuals go through many cycles of birth, living, death and rebirth. The person that dies may not ever return to the earth as the same entity, they may be similar but not the same. After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana. This is a state of liberation and freedom from suffering. Besides that, there are many other practices a Buddhist adhere to. I will list just a few short examples: The three trainings or practice: 1. Sila: virtue, good conduct, morality. 2. Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development. Developing one's mind the Buddhist believe, is the path to wisdom which in turn leads to personal freedom. Mental development also strengthens and controls our mind; this helps us maintain good conduct. 3. Pranja: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This according to Buddhist is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm. Buddhist also follow the eightfold path, in order to reach Nirvana.  But in order to reach that enlightenment a Buddhist must master the eightfold path. The Buddhist must also follow rules, such as the five precepts. 1."Do not kill" 2. Do not steal" 3. "Do not lie" 4. "Do not misuse sex" 5. Do not consume alcohol or other drugs". The Eightfold path consist of Panna: Discernment, wisdom: 1. Samma ditthi Right Understanding of the Four Noble Truths.  2. Samma sankappa: Right thinking; following the right path in life. Sila: Virtue and morality: 3) Samma vaca: Right speech: no lying, criticism, condemning, gossip, harsh language. 4 Samma kammanta Right conduct by following the Five Precepts. 5. Samma ajiva: Right livelihood; support yourself without harming others. Samadhi: Concentration, meditation: 6. Samma vayama Right Effort: promote good thoughts; conquer evil thoughts. 7. Samma sati Right Mindfulness: Become aware of your body, mind and feelings. 8. Samma samadhi Right Concentration: Meditate to achieve a higher state of consciousness i.e.Nirvana. And I am sure there is much more a Buddhist has to do in order to achieve a higher consciousness.

This to me looks like a lot of work,  to archive the ultimate goal of eternal bliss. Just as many other religions, Buddhism is a man centered religion/philosophy. It is man's vain attempt to reach perfection or a higher consciousness, i.e. a higher state of mind. It is another attempt of man to be either a god or god like, archiving this by a set of rules, by rules that were implemented by man. The dilemma to me with Buddhism is that the teachers tell the people to live a certain way and if they do and follow all the rules, they will reach Nirvana. It's like somebody telling you, here is Mount Everest, when you reach the top you will have Nirvana. But Buddha and his teachings did not give them any kind of equipment to climb Mount Everest and so people slip and fall, trying desperately to reach the top. I guess that's where the reincarnation comes into play. If you don't make it in this lifetime, try it in the next. If that fails, keep on trying and one day you will arrive.  Buddhism is man's attempt to become a higher enlightened person by their own strength and set of rules, just as other religions wanna come on their own merit to God, making their own version of god. A god that caters to them, a god that no one needs to be accountable to. They have a made themselves a Burger King god, "have it your way."
Christianity teaches the opposite of what many Buddhist believe. The Bible declares that there is only one true and living God and that is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Creator of all things. There is only one absolute truth and that is the truth that comes from God. There are many that will claim to be a good person, but by who's standards?  Man's standards or God's standards? God has declared everyone guilty, we have all violated His Holiness and perfect standard. In God's eyes no one is good: "Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one." Psalm 53:3. In the eyes of God there is none righteous: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God." Rom 3:10, 11. People seek all kinds of ways to be spiritual and many claim to be spiritual or enlightened. They are either following a man made religion or attempt to reach God on their own merit. The problem is that man is spiritually separated from God because of sin and there is not one that has not sinned before God. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom 3:23. It is the sin nature that everyone inherited that keeps man from fellowship with the true God. We are spiritually separated from God because of sin.  God is a Holy God and in Him there is no darkness at all. Mankind apart from God is in darkness and the heart of man is the problem: "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" Jer 17:9. People are deceiving themselves by following teachers, philosophies and religions that promise them eternal life if they do certain things. People wanna come on the own righteousness before God, but no matter how hard someone may try to reach Him or to achieve a higher consciousness, it is in vain, because they are all man driven and self centered.

The Buddhist tries to achieve a higher consciousness, Nirvana the ultimate goal, eternal bliss. The problem with that thinking is that the Bible does not teach about reincarnation, that people can come back and try over and over again until they get it right. Quite the opposite is true: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.." Heb 9:27. There is only one life to live and death will come to everyone sooner or later. The Bible also tells us that there is either eternal life or eternal damnation. Humans have a spirit, in fact we consist of  the flesh i.e. the body, a soul which is our consciousness and a spirit. The spirit of a person will not die after the death of the flesh and there are only two places for the spirit to go, either eternity in heaven or eternity in hell.  Since God has declared everyone guilty it would seem that all go to one destination, Hell. But wait, there is good news, God in His mercy and His grace has provided a way to be reconciled to Him. That way is through Jesus Christ, He died and rose from the dead,  so that those who would believe in Him by faith would be saved from the wrath and judgment of God to come upon sinful man. "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. By believing and trusting in Him alone as Lord and Savior, people are born again of the Spirit and there is now no more gap between them and God the Father. God has reconciled those who believe and trust in the finished work of Christ on their behalf, it is the righteousness of Christ that the Father looks at, not the righteousness of man. The righteousness of Christ is imputed onto all who believe by faith. That to me is so much better than trying to transform myself into a higher consciousness.  God did for me what I could not do for myself, a true transformation through His Son Jesus Christ. Buddha, Krishna, Allah cannot truly transform a person, people may try to better themselves, to become good, but in the end they will fall short of God's glory. Jesus is the only one that truly transforms the life's of people. I thank God for His revelation, His mercy and His grace. I thank Jesus Who became one of us, that loved me so much that He laid down His life for me, so that I can be with Him for eternity. "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.
Only Jesus can give us rest and it is only through Jesus that anyone can be at peace with the Father. Jesus is the only way to heaven and eternal life. Buddha is dead, Jesus lives, He is the true an living God.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jesus Christ, our propitiation

Propitiation,  is a word that many liberal Christians do not like at all. What is propitiation? The Greek word is “hilasterion” which means appeasing or expiating. Another meaning for the word propitiation can also be mercy seat. Paul when writing to the Romans expounded on why the wrath of God would fall on all of mankind who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. He also makes the point that no one can be saved by the works of the law. The law could make no one righteous before God. The rabbinical teachers of Paul’s days taught that by keeping the law i. e. the Torah with it’s 613 commandments would save a person. Paul makes it very clear that no one can keep the law perfectly and that righteousness before God cannot be attained by the works of the law. “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom 3:20.  Righteousness can only come by faith i.e. believing in God and His promises. There is not one righteous, no not one”. Paul writes: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…” Romans 3:9.  Since there is none righteous before God and the works of the law cannot save a person, how than is someone saved? This is where the word propitiation comes in, God in His mercy and grace provided the atonement necessary to appease Him and justify the believer. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Rom 3:21-26
“whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood.” The phrase “by His blood” is to be taken in immediate connection with “propitiation.” Christ, through His expiatory death, is the personal means by whom God shows the mercy of His justifying grace to the sinner who believes. His “blood” stands for the voluntary giving up of His life, by the shedding of His blood in expiatory sacrifice, under Divine judgment righteously due to us as sinners, faith being the sole condition on man’s part. Liberal Christians are very uneasy about this wrath of God and that God needed to be appeased. Some of them even go so far to say that the God of the OT is an angry and blood thirsty God and so different from the God of the NT. Nothing could be further from the truth. The God of the OT is the same God of the NT. “For I am the LORD, I do not change…Mal 3:6. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Heb 13:8. God who is a just and righteous God has to punish sin, He cannot compromise or overlook sin. Otherwise He would not be a just Judge. In the OT before Christ, God judged people, nations and sin either directly or indirectly. In some cases God used Israel as His instrument through which the judgment cam
e to the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. In other instances He brought the wrath directly i.e. the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the rebellion of Korah and others recorded for us in the OT. In the OT times God gave the nations many warnings through His prophets about His judgment if they would not turn from their sins. God was and is long-suffering, take for instance the Amorites, God waited 400 years before He judged them for their iniquities. “Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. “And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. “Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. “But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Gen 15:13-16.   God gave this prophesy to Abram before his son Isaac was even born. We need to keep one thing in mind when unbelievers make the argument that God is a blood thirsty cruel god, who loves to punish people and wipe them out. The nations that God punished in the OT, were the most vile and brutal people. They sacrificed their children on altars to their many gods or burned them. These pagan nations did many ungodly practices that offended the true and living God. Throughout the OT we can read about the judgments of God against these nations and their vile and evil practices, which are also recorded in secular historical writings.

When we come to the NT, God through His Son Jesus the Messiah judged sin once and for all. The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross paid for the sin of the world. There were no more blood sacrifices needed to atone for the sins of the people of Israel as instructed in the law given to Moses. God provided the sacrifice needed to appease Him and justice was served by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. God did what Abraham told Isaac on mount Moriah,  when God tested him and ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son. “But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”  Gen 22:7, 8.  This is a beautiful picture of what God did 2000 years later on the very same spot. God provided the sacrifice, His son as a propitiation for the sins of the people.  The blood of Jesus was sufficient to pay the penalty of sin. The instituted blood sacrifices of animals were done away with, they  could only cover sins, the blood of Jesus took away the sins once and for all. The price was paid in full. Believers in Jesus Christ are justified before God by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. God looks at the believers through the blood of Christ and the believer is declared righteous before God because of what Jesus did for them. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
It is the imputed righteousness of Christ that is imputed onto the believer. There is nothing that anyone can do to appease God, not by works or any other means. People must come through Jesus Christ, the propitiator, the appeaser that justifies the believer. For those who do not believe in the wrath of God and object the propitiation of Jesus,  they will have no excuse at the time of the divine judgment. God has paid a very high price to redeem mankind, the precious blood of Christ.  Those who reject will be judged accordingly and the wrath of God abides on them. These are not my words, but the words of Jesus: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"You Must Be Born Again"

“This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:2, 3
Nicodemus came to Jesus because he knew in his heart that Jesus was someone special, nothing that he had ever seen or heard before. He saw the miracles Jesus performed, he heard Him teach with authority. He knew Jesus was no ordinary man, he saw the glory of God in Him. What did Jesus mean when He said to Nicodemus,  “you must be born again?” I’m sure many people have heard Christians use that term, “born again”. What does it mean to be born again? Nicodemus ask Jesus that very question,  not clearly understanding what Jesus was talking about.  Jesus was talking about a spiritual rebirth. Every person that is born, is born of the flesh with a sin nature due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden. The result of their disobedience was sin entering the world and sin brought forth death i.e. spiritual death. Mankind was separated from God because of the inherent sin nature that is passed on throughout the generations. The Bible speaks of iniquity and that all were all born in iniquity. What is the definition of iniquity?  1) lack of justice or righteousness; wickedness; injustice.  2) a wicked act; sin. King David wrote about iniquity in the Psalms. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” Ps 51:5 God also spoke about iniquity when He gave the ten commandments:  “…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:5, 6. This passage make it pretty clear,  that those who hate God and reject Him have a curse upon them, from one generation to another. There is a lot of truth to this, character defects, personalty and behaviors get passed on from generation to generation. Many times we hear of people ending up doing the same things previous family generations have done. For example, the son that had an alcoholic father, has a tendency to be an alcoholic himself. The children of a dysfunctional family have the tendency to be dysfunctional themselves when they start a family. People that are born out of wedlock, most likely end up doing the same thing, bringing forth children born out of wedlock, just as their parent did. Divorces are another example, many children of parents that got divorced end up in divorce themselves. These tendencies get passed on from one generation to another and it is an endless cycle unless that cycle gets broken. The good news is that this generational curse can be broken when a person turns to God. The passage in Exodus states that He will visit the iniquity of people from generation to generation, but only to those who hate Him. “…but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Ex 20:6.
  Once a person turns to God, by repentance i.e. change of mind, that person has broken that endless cycle. He or she has becomes a new person, old things have passed away and all things have become new.  There are countless testimonies of people that have come to faith in Jesus Christ that had a life transforming experience and not only that, many times other family members will come to faith in Christ because of their radical transformation. I am no exception, I grew up in a non believing family and I inherited many of these iniquities/tendencies. My two grandfathers were alcoholics, my three uncles were alcoholic and I ended up being an alcoholic. I had the tendencies to become an alcoholic and I did. There are many other things that I did. Today I can see certain family members displaying the same behaviors and they have not changed, they go around in circles blaming everybody else or society.  So many say, I cannot help myself,  I am an addict or this is how I was made. I don’t believe that they were made that way. There is a way out to break free from this inherent curse. The way to true freedom is through Jesus Christ, He can change the life of anybody, if they are willing to come to Him and submit their will. Most people are self willed, they want to do as they please,  without being accountable for their actions. Actions have consequences and unless the cycle is broken, people will go around in circles doing the same things over and over again, just as the once that came before them, and as the once following them. Jesus wants to set people free from all of this bondage, this heavy load upon peoples lives. Jesus can break this viscous cycle. If you are reading this and find yourself in bondage to sin or in a seemingly endless cycle with no hope or end in sight, may I say that there is? The way out is through Jesus Christ the Savior of mankind who calls you out of this lifestyle of bondage, pain and grief. He wants to set you free from all of this and break the cycle. God loves you and He wants you to return to Him.  Turn to Him now and He will shower you with His love and will embrace you into His loving arms. It is never too late to turn, to turn away from those things that offend God. He will change you life, as He has changed mine and the life of countless others. He will give the believers a life of abundance.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
A lifestyle of sin steals the person of true joy. Sin is deceiving and may look inciting for awhile, but in the end it stings, making life miserable. That is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be free from the heavy load of sin in our lives. Whatever you may be facing in your life right now, turn it over to Jesus and He will set you free. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

“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.” Matthew 11:28-30

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My personal testimony and how Jesus transformed my life.

May 14th 2006, a Sunday morning that began like many other mornings. I felt hungover and lousy after a week of heavy drinking. This wasn’t the first time, I had plenty of those lousy days. Alcohol was a big problem in my life, a huge problem.  Growing up Germany,  alcohol is a part of the lifestyle and culture.  Most of my friends that I hung out with started drinking from an early age. Meeting  your friends, hang out in the Gasthaus/Pub and drink beers. It became a daily routine, getting up for work and meeting my friends afterwards for some beers in the Pub.  At the age of 22 I moved from Germany to San Diego, California. I was pretty tired of Germany, mainly because of the weather, I loved the sunshine. I visited California a few times in the late 70′s and thought,  “that’s the place where I want to be”.  I loved the sun, the beaches, the palm trees and the relaxed lifestyle that many enjoy here in Southern California.  I had good times after I moved to the USA.  I had my own Piano business, played in a Reggae band and just enjoyed the relaxed lifestyle. Later I worked for Taylor Guitars and after that I and landed a great job with a major furniture manufacturer.  Things went pretty well, I got married in 1995 to Kristin and we lived in a nice place in San Diego near the beach. Somehow alcohol was always in my life, drinking some beers after work or at home, or just hanging out with friends after work. That was my life, meeting my drinking buddies, playing darts and whatever else came about. Once the alcohol took over, the judgment went out the window. I came home very late or sometimes not at all. I wasn’t thinking about my wife, my work, it was all about me .  Seeking my own pleasures was way more important than my marriage and the responsibilities that came with it.  In 2003 things got worse, my drinking increased quite a bit. I moved out of the house, found my own place and thought of it as my  little paradise, my sanctuary. But things only got worse from there, I got involved with people who were heavy drinkers and we hung out in various bars around town.  Alcohol influences people and brings out the worse in them. I was never a violent person when drinking,  I was just drinking to have a good time.  Many people believe that drinking is relaxing and brings about a better attitude.  I used to think the same way, somehow I thought after the 2nd or 3rd pint things looked much better and oh, how much fun I had. I used to call it an attitude adjustment. Have you ever hung around people that had a bit too much to drink and they thought they were cool and funny?  Life becomes very miserable when alcohol takes over your life and controls you. Everything starts to revolve around drinking and nothing else matters It becomes snare that entangles a person. I always denied having an alcohol problem, even when people pointed it out to me. I was just in denial as many others, that drink or do drugs. Alcohol and drugs are deceivers, giving pleasure for a short time but than they sting you like a viper and take control over your life. Early 2005, I received the news that my father had died in Germany.  I attended the funeral with my mom and some of my relatives. Hearing the news was terrible, but it really hit me while I was sitting in the small chapel facing my dad’s coffin. I loved my dad, he was a good man and I always had a good relationship with him. My mom of course was devastated and I stayed for 3 month with her  in Germany.  I started going out and drinking in the local pubs. I think I was just tuning out not wanting to deal with the reality that my dad had passed away. I was drowning my sorrows with alcohol.
Coming back to the States, I continued that trend, drinking before work, during work and of course after work. The drinking started to become more and more of a problem, it affected my work and one day I just walked off the job. I began to drink around the clock, going on binges that would last for at least a week. After those binges I got really sick for a few days, promising myself never to drink again. That promise would maybe last for a week or two and I was right back doing the same thing over and over again, a cycle with the same results, feeling terribly sick. I remember the morning of May 14th very well, I sat on my patio chair feeling extremely sick from a week of heavy drinking. As I was sitting there all by myself, I began to cry out: “God, please help me, I don’t want to be like this anymore, this is not me. Please if you are there, help me”.  From that moment on, my life changed. I was still feeling sick, but something happened to me,  something wonderful. I had totally lost the desire of drinking and I started to seek God. I bought a Bible and read for hours and hours taking in every word. Looking at my first Bible and see all the notes that I wrote, the verses that I had underlined, I find myself wondering, when did I do all that? To be honest, I did not know much about God before and what the Bible revealed to me about Him.  I didn’t know anything about repentance, forgiveness, justification and sanctification. I heard about God and of course I heard about Jesus and that He died on the cross, but that’s about it. I never really understood what it meant, God giving His only begotten Son for me and my sins. Reading God’s word opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on life and I believed. The word of God is so wonderful and healing  and it is the absolute truth. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He became my personal Lord and Savior that day.
Today, I am so grateful to God, He continues to change my life day by day. I have become a new creation, old things have passed away. I have since reconciled with my wife, left the old things behind and I never looked back. Satan may accuse me everyday before God,  calling me unworthy and a failure. He is right, I am.  But I also know this, I am what I am, but I am not what I used to be. It is not my righteousness that God looks at, it is the imputed righteousness of Jesus that the Father looks upon. I don’t have any righteousness on my own, on my own I could never please God. The gospel or the good news is that God did for me what I could not do for myself.  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.
For me, it is all about Jesus and what He  accomplished on the cross, the word that became flesh and dwelled among us. Who is this Jesus that transformed my life?  He is God the Son Who became one of us, He came as the suffering servant to shed His blood on the cross for the sin of the world. Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp beyond recognition, the Roman soldiers plucked His beard out, beating Him repeatedly.  He endured the cross, the shame and the mocking of His own countrymen and of the Romans because He loved us. Jesus came for that very purpose, to die on the cross at the appointed time for sinners like me. From the beginning of His ministry to the arrival to Jerusalem on a donkey to the death on the cross, was not only prophesied, but Jesus was on a divine time line determined by the Father long before the foundation of the world. The death of Christ was no accident or just another criminal dying at the hands of the Roman government. Jesus committed no crime, yet He was condemned to death. Jesus despite the shame, willingly laid down His life for you and me.  He gave His life to give eternal life to those who would believe in Him. All you need to do is to ask God for forgiveness and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no sin that you or anyone else has committed that God will not forgive, no matter what a person may have done. God loves the world, all He wants is for you to return to Him and He will heal you and cleanse you from all sin. Jesus has transformed my life and He is continuing to transform my life, He will do the same for you, all you need to do is ask Him to come into your life.
God is not distant, all you need to do, is to stop whatever you are doing,  turn around and He is right there with open arms.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6, 7

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Mat 7:7, 8

Jesus is Lord, yet He declares His Lordship through the power of humility and grace…

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of those things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself….
“While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on a cross between two thieves. While he was dying his executors gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth – His coat. When he was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
“Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”  Jesus is Lord – Excerpts from “One Solitary Life” (author unknown)

Jesus is the only true and living God. I am thankful that He has saved me. He is the only One that can transform a persons life. Religions can not transform a person, certain philosophies cannot transform a person. All religions and philosophies are men centered and futile. Man cannot save himself by empty and vain attempts of reaching God on their own merit.  God reached out to mankind through His Son Jesus Christ, He is mighty to save. Only He can change the heart and only He can transform a persons life. Thank you Jesus for the truth and your love that You have shown to me, may others that are currently in a simular situation as I was seek you and find you. Maranatha Lord Jesus.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Speedy's Media: Sources of the Qur'an

Speedy's Media: Sources of the Qur'an
Acknowledgment: This article is in it's entirety written, published and owned by Speedy Media.

Middle East scholars have demonstrated beyond all doubt that every ritual and belief in Islam can be traced back to pre-Islamic Arabian culture. In other words Muhammad did not preach anything new. Everything he taught had been believed and practiced in Arabia long before he was ever born.

Jewish Sources of the Qur'an

Many of the stories in the Quran come from the Jewish Talmud, the Midrash, and many apocryphal works that already been written in 200 CE.

This was pointed out by Abraham Geiger in 1833, and further documented by another Jewish scholar, Dr. Abraham Katsh, of New York University, in 1954 (The Concise Dictionary of Islam, p. 229; Jomier, The Bible and the Quran -- Henry Regency Co., Chicago, 1959, 59ff; Sell, Studies, pp. 163ff.; Guillaume, Islam, p. 13).

1. The source of Sura 3:35-37 is the fanciful book called The Protevangelion's James the Lesser.

2. The source of Sura 87:19 is the Testament of Abraham.

3. The source of Sura 27:17-44 is the Second Targum of Esther.

4. The fantastic tale that God made a man "die for a hundred years" with no ill effects on his food, drink, or donkey was a Jewish fable (Sura 2:259ff.).

5. The idea that Moses was resurrected and other material came from the Jewish Talmud (Sura 2:55, 56, 67).

6. The story in Sura 5:30,31 can also be found in pre-Islamic works from Pirke Rabbi Eleazer, the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziah and the
Targum of Jerusalem.

7. The tale of Abraham being delivered from Nimrod's fire came from the Midrash Rabbah (see Suras 21:51-71; 29:16, 17; 37:97,98).
It must be also pointed out that Nimrod and Abraham did not live at the same time. Muhammad was always mixing people together in the Quran
who did not live at the same time.

8. The non-biblical details of the visit of the Queen of Sheba (Saba) in Sura 27:20-44 came from the Second Targum of the Book of Esther.

9. The source of Sura 2:102 is no doubt the Midrash Yalkut (chapter 44).

10. The story found in Sura 7:171 of God lifting up Mount Sinai and holding it over the heads of the Jews as a threat to squash them if they
rejected the law came from the Jewish book Abodah Sarah.

11. The story of the making of the golden calf in the wilderness, in which the image jumped out of the fire fully formed and actually mooed
(Suras 7:148; 20:88), came from Pirke Rabbi Eleazer.

12, The seven heavens and hells described in the Quran came from the Zohar and the Hagigah.

13. Muhammad utilized the Testament of Abraham to teach that a scale or balance will be used on the day of judgment to weigh good and bad
deeds in order to determine whether one goes to heaven or hell (Suras 42:17; 101:6-9).

Sabean Sources of the Qur'an

Muhammad incorporated parts of the religion of the Sabeans of Arabia into Islam (Encyclopedia off Islam (ed. Eliade), pp. 303ff.; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, pp. 1:219ff.).

He adopted such pagan rituals as:

1. Worshiping at Kabah
2. Praying five times a day towards Mecca (Muhammad chose five of the same times the Sabeans prayed).
3. Fasting for part of a day for an entire month.
4. The Crescent Moon Symbol- The symbol of the worship of the moon god in Arabian culture and elsewhere throughout the Middle East was the crescent moon.
5. Allah - The Quraysh tribe into which Muhammad was born was particularly devoted to Allah, the moon god, and especially to Allah's three daughters who were viewed as intercessors between the people and Allah.
6. Astral Religions - In Arabia, the sun god was viewed as a female goddess and the moon as the male god. As has been pointed out by many scholars such as Alfred Guilluame, the moon god was called by various names, one of which was Allah! (Islam, p. 7).

Allah, the moon god, was married to the sun goddess. Together they produced three goddesses who were called "the daughters of Allah." These three goddesses were called Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat.

Eastern Religious Sources

Muhammad derived some of his ideas from Eastern religions such as Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. All of these things were in existence long before Muhammad was born.

The Quran records the following things which are ascribed to Muhammad but in reality were previously known stories now attributed to him for the first time (Sell, Studies, pp. 219ff.).

1. The story of a flying trip through seven heavens.
2. The Houries of paradise.
3. Azazil and other spirits coming up from Hades.
4. The "light" of Muhammad.
5. The bridge of Sirat.
6. Paradise with its wine, women, and song (from the Persians).
7. The king of death.
8. The peacock story. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Relationship or Religion?

True and genuine biblical Christianity is not a religion but rather a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There are many religious people out there that think they have to add to the grace of God by their works. They are trying to please God by their works. The problem with all religions is that man is trying to reach God on their own merits.  Christianity teaches the opposite, God has reached down to man. The religious people are trying desperately to please God with their righteous works and deeds. It is not the righteousness of man that God accepts, it is the righteousness of Christ which is imputed by God to every genuine believer.  True Christians do not stand on their own righteousness, they stand on the righteousness which is in Christ.  Our own righteousness are filthy rags before God. "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6.  Salvation is believing in Christ alone, not any church, denomination etc.  Jesus had to deal with religious people in His days i.e. the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were the conservatives and the Sadducess were the liberals of the day.  They were doing all the outward religious practices, the looked and acted holy and people thought of them as the most spiritual people.  Jesus confronted them on many occasions about their religious behaviors and teachings. The religious people thought that they obeyed the law of Moses perfectly. They thought that they have kept the Ten  commandments perfectly.  Jesus showed them otherwise. In the sermon on the mount in the gospel of Matthew especially chapter five, we find how Jesus looked at the law.  It was not the outward obedience and fulfillment of the letter of the law as the religious leadership believed and taught, but it was an issue of the heart.  Here is one example, "you shall not commit adultery".  The religious leader would have boasted, "we never slept with a woman besides our wives, thus we never broke that law." Here is what Jesus said concerning adultery: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' "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 5:27, 28.  Clearly Jesus showed His authority over the law when He said, "but I say to you." He raised the law up a notch, showing them that it was not the letter, but that the law was written upon every man's heart.  It was a matter of the heart, the law was a school master to drive man back to God. Jesus also said: "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. "These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man." Mat 15:18-20. Personally,  I don't care how religious or good some may think they are, or how spiritual,  if the heart is not right, nothing else matters. How does God view man's heart? "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." Jeremiah 17:9, 10.  People that are portraying themselves as more spiritual or claim to have more knowledge, often border on self-righteousness.  The bottom line is that religion, certain rituals, church membership, titles, affiliations or head knowledge that will and cannot save a person. Salvation is in Christ alone through faith. Genuine faith is demonstrated in good works, bearing fruit,  we are not saved by working for our salvation.  Salvation is a true gift of God and the person that believes and has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is justified before God. Christianity has no room for religion.  Justification by God is a one time deal and cannot be improved on or changed. Sanctification is a life long process in which God changes the believer more and more into the image of Christ. It is Christ that has justified us the believers before God and it is God that works in the lives of every believer until they are face to face with Him.  "..being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;…" Phl 1:6

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Jesus wept"

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35) That is the shortest verse in the entire Bible, yet those two words are so profound and powerful. Why did Jesus weep? Might it be because Jesus seeing Martha and Mary in such a grief and anguish over the loss of their beloved brother Lazarus? Jesus already knew that He would raise Lazarus in just a few moments, but He still wept. I believe that Jesus felt compassion, seeing the grief death causes to those who have lost a loved one. Death is not natural and came into the world because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Their sin caused first of all spiritual death i.e. eternal separation from God, and secondly physical death. When God made Adam and Eve, He made them perfect, they were sinless and in communion with him. They had a relationship that was close and intimate, and I believe that they would have lived forever in eternity with God, if it were not for that one act of disobedience. Just think about it, one sin and they were banished from the garden. God gave them the world and they forfeited it to Satan by their disobedience and listening to the deceiver rather than God. Sin brought forth death and with it dire consequences, the first murder, Cain killing his brother Abel. I can just imagine how Adam and Eve must have felt seeing the death of Abel by his brother as a result of their sin. And as we know things got worse from there, being separated from God, people lived after the flesh and the works of the flesh are evident even today: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like (Gal 5:19-21). I think that at the time of Jesus, people had lost hope and Jesus seeing this wept out of compassion for them. People were lost and felt helpless. Jesus came for that very reason, to reconcile mankind to God, to die for the sin of the world and overcome death so that those who believe will have eternal life with God. Jesus loved Martha and Mary and He raised Lazarus from the dead, not only for their benefit but for ours also. Jesus demonstrated His power even over death. "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25, 26. We may all die physically, but the spirit of the believers will be with Jesus at the moment of death. Mankind is lost and it is by the mercy and grace of God, that He has send His only begotten Son to die in our place. When Jesus saw the anguish and pain in the faces of Martha and Mary, He wept for a moment, but knowing full-well that He a few days later would lay down His life for them. Jesus loves us so much that He became sin for us and willingly went to the cross and faced the wrath of God which was reserved for us. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves, He paid the price and appeased and reconciled us to God the Father. "For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." Romans 5:17-19. That is glorious news in which we as believers can rejoice in. Believers in Jesus Christ are justified before God and the righteousness of Christ was imputed onto them. We as believers have nothing to fear, death can not hold us and Satan has no more power over our lives (unless we let him). Just as Jesus wept over the condition of man, so should we have the heart of God for our fellow man, the once that are lost and without hope. Seeing the condition of the world should bring us to tears, weeping as Jesus did. It should make us wanting to share the gospel the good news about Jesus and the salvation through Him. Do we have the compassion Jesus had for the lost? Are we we willing to share with our friends and neighbors about the coming judgment, or are we just plainly satisfied with our own salvation? I hope that we all have a heart for the lost and are eager to share the gospel of truth with them. I hope that we all have the heart of God, the compassion, the mercy, the love that He demonstrated for us by going to the cross. "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

Friday, January 14, 2011

Judging others

It seems to me that some Christians are quick to attack and judge various ministries and servants of God. Let me say this up front , I strongly believe that we as believers need to speak out against false teachers, heresies, etc. The Bible even exhorts us to expose these false ministers and teachers and those who contradict the word of God and teach others to follow their example. But I see people on social networks and blogs criticizing true servants of God, like for example, Billy Graham. They are quick to point out that Billy Graham said this or he said that. Billy Graham has been a faithful minister and follower of Jesus Christ from his early days as an evangelist. Today in his nineties, he still proclaims Christ when appearing on TV or in public. His son Franklin Graham, carries on the ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Samaritan Purse. Franklin has been raised by Godly parents and the evidence is shown in their faithful ministry and the compassion and love for the less fortunate and needy of the world. Their love for Christ is evident, exemplified by their world wide ministry that bears fruit and helps people all over the world in places like Haiti, after the devastating earth quake. None of this would have been possible without Billy Graham and the groundwork he laid. God has blessed his ministry and who are those who criticize him? They point to something that he may have said in an interview or on TV like the Larry King show, something that they may not agree with. Even if at times Billy may have said something that appeared to be compromising to some, I feel they have no grounds to persecute him as bad Christian. How many times have we said something that didn't come out the way we meant it, or was misunderstood or taken out of context? Some Christians find fault in almost anybody else but themselves, which to me borders on self-righteousness. Who are we to judge another servant of God? Who are we to judge another believer in Christ Jesus? If we judge, do we not do those very things Jesus told us not to do?

"Judge not, that you be not judged. "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Mat 7:1-5

"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

How many people have come to the Lord through ministries like Billy Graham's and others? How many have received the love of Christ and the forgiveness that He gives to those who believe?  The Billy Graham crusades have brought thousand upon thousands to Christ. How many have come to Christ by those who love to criticize and judge others? How many have they led to the Lord? I think we all need to reflect sometimes on ourselves. Judging comes very easily to us, it is our human nature. I catch myself from time to time engaging in criticism or judgment, which leads nowhere. We as believers should have love for one another and if some are found in error, we should gently correct them. None of us is perfect, none of us is sinless but we should all be of the same mind and spirit. Those who frequently love to judge others are divisive and cause strive among other believers. The are critical of others, not looking at themselves, they have a spirit of contention and not of love. Therefore, let us not judge one another. Let us walk in love and if some believers are caught up with false teachers or live in a compromised state, let us gently exhort them and show them their error in love,  found in the infallible word of God.

"Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." Romans 14:4

"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." Romans 14:-12 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Simply teach the word Simply

I have been involved for quite some time now using social networks and other internet sites to post Christian oriented videos, writing from a biblical perspective. I have made many friends (some enemies) and met some very interesting people. It is a blessing to see so many people using the internet and various sites to promote and proclaim the gospel. The whole world is within reach, people from all over the world are just a few mouse clicks away. There are many people out there that are lost and seeking for the truth.  Many have questions about the Christian faith, what we believe and why we believe and how to live the Christian life. Questions like, why is Jesus the only way to salvation and to heaven, and  why do Christians believe that the Bible is the infallible and true word of God? What is the difference between Jesus or Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna and other spiritual philosophies?  What is the difference between Christianity and Islam or any other religion, do we not all believe in the same God? Are there not many path that lead to everlasting life and eternity besides Jesus?  These and many other questions are asked every day by people that are truly seeking. What a great opportunity for us as believers to share our faith with them. I believe that if we study the word of God and present the gospel in it's purest form, that many will see that the gospel is very simple. God has made salvation available for those who want it and there are no ladders to climb, nirvana's to reach or fences to break down. The difference between Christianity and other religions is that in religion man is trying to reach up to God. All religions are man centered. Christianity is quite the opposite, God reaches down to fallen man and that is much easier for me to comprehend than working for my salvation and proofing myself to God, never knowing if I will ever be good enough. Christians are not perfect or better people than anybody else, Christians are sinners that have been forgiven because they have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Heaven is not full of good people, heaven is full of forgiven people. God by His mercy and His grace has reconciled us to Him through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and shed blood on the cross. The gospel means good news and we as Christians have good news to share: God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. "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.  That is the good news, Jesus who knew no sin was made sin for us. Unfortunately, there are those on the same internet sites that are proclaiming to be Christians, complicating the word of God. They have perverted the gospel, twisted the truth and compromised the word of God. They are false teachers, they are wolves in sheep's clothing, drawing people into their destructive heresies. They are misleading many onto the broad road that leads to destruction, missing the narrow gate. They pose as wise men, fulfilling their desires of the flesh and prey on the weak. Followers and disciples of Christ have an obligation to warn those who are being led astray and to rebuke those who teach the way of Balaam. The internet can be used for the furthering of the kingdom in a mighty way, but as we all know it also can be used to destroy and kill. Satan is not sleeping, he is never resting, neither should we. He knows his time is coming to an end and he is trying to keep as many as possible away from the truth. This is where I think we as true and genuine believers can make a difference. We may not be perfect, but we can be honest and share the truth so that many can be saved and find the true and simple way which is only through Jesus Christ. God is not the author of confusion and if we proclaim and teach the word for what it is and not make it into what it is not, chance are that people will listen. Simply teach the word simply. The gospel is foolishness to the world. The gospel is simple, lets us keep it simple and explain the gospel in a simple unadulterated way. Let us have the heart of God, loving one another and care for each other. Let us proclaim the truth to the world as God desires it, Simply.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cr 1:18

"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." 1Cr 1:21

"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD." 1Cr 1:25-31