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Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Jesus is said to be the most loving and most compassionate person to ever walk the earth. Yet, He was also the most hated person to ever walk the earth. Even the religious leaders of His day hated him more than they hated the actual criminals. Now, why is that?

No one sits and wonders why society despises the wicked, the robber, the rapist, the murderer, etc. That’s completely understandable and justifiable. But I find it troubling when a morally upright person is deemed to be the worst criminal by those who claim to believe in God. What was it about Jesus that earned Him the punishment of crucifixion?

Jesus, the most hated man in history

The Religious Leaders of Jesus’ Time

The indignation of the religious leaders towards Jesus during His time is undeniable. They hated Him so much to the point that they arrested Him, tried Him, and brought Him to Pilate for a death sentence. But what made them so angry at Jesus that they wanted Him dead?

Below are several things about Jesus that outraged them. We will look at each one of them and evaluate if their anger was justified.

The Claims Jesus Made

Jesus made several outrageous claims about Himself. One of which was His claim that He was the Messiah. By claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah, He was saying that His authority outweighed their authority. The religious leaders did not believe any of Jesus’ claims and were angry at the people who believed.

The leaders accused the people of believing Jesus out of ignorance. They were also jealous of the attention that Jesus was getting from the people. The claims Jesus made caused the religious leaders of His day to be indignant towards Him.

John 8:58-59

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

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Jesus Threatened Their Religious System

When Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy in connection to their practices, the religious leaders saw Him as a threat. On two different occasions, Jesus entered the temple precincts and drove out those who were buying and selling (John 2:13-17).

Jesus angered the religious leaders with His claim of authority over the temple. Before Jesus came into the picture, the religious leaders were the respected authority overall activities in the Temple. They could do all they wanted without anyone questioning their actions. Jesus’ arrival threatened their religious system and angered them to the point that they wanted Him dead.

Jesus Disrespected Their Traditions

One of the things that triggered the religious leaders’ hatred towards Jesus was His lack of respect for their religious traditions. Either Jesus ignored these traditions or He deliberately broke them. This is because He knew that these were man-made and not from God.

One common practice that Jesus violated which caused the most outrage was regarding the Sabbath. God had commanded the Sabbath to be a day of rest from labor. Yet the religious leaders added all kinds of restrictions which made it difficult and impossible to observe.

Jesus was grieved and angry at the way they had perverted the Sabbath observance. He asked the religious leaders several specific questions.

Mark 3:4-5

Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

In the presence of the religious leaders, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This healing that Jesus performed on the Sabbath was more than the leaders could endure. Thus, they were convinced that Jesus had to die.

Mark 2:27, NKJV

Jesus Socialized With “Sinners”

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were filled with pride and arrogance. They were particularly proud of not mingling with the outcasts of society. It’s because they did not believe that the Messiah would be with such a crowd. A Pharisee went nuts at the sight of Jesus allowing a woman to wash His feet.

Luke 7:39

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

The religious leaders thought of themselves as righteous men who must never associate with sinners. Seeing Jesus socializing with these kinds of people infuriated the proud Pharisees and other religious leaders.

Jesus Performed Miracles

The miracles Jesus performed before them and many on-lookers also angered the religious Jews. After witnessing the healing of a demon-possessed man, some of the multitudes questioned if Jesus could be the Messiah. But the leaders accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of a demon.

Matthew 12:22-24

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

The miracle was undeniable! The man who was not only deaf and mute but also demon-possessed was healed. But rather than believing Jesus to be the Messiah, these religious leaders attributed His power to the devil.

Since their official explanation for what Jesus did was that His power came from the devil, then He must die.

Jesus Threatened Their Lifestyle

For political reasons, the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. There were some ongoing tensions between the ruling Romans and the Jews. Thus, the thought of a Messiah who might lead an uprising against Rome was the last thing the people wanted.

John 11:49-51

And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now, this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.

Caiaphas was afraid the Romans would intervene if Jesus gained the support of the people. This, among other reasons, is why he insisted that Jesus must die.

Conclusion

The religious leaders’ motive for wanting Jesus dead was not anything godly or righteous. They hated Jesus and wanted to put Him to death because of the above-mentioned reasons.

In the end, it was their pride, arrogance, and hypocrisy that caused them to bring Jesus before Pilate to be crucified. They did not want to hear the truth from God.

Jesus was hated by the world and did not receive Him (John 1:11). And He warned us that because they hated Him first, they would also hate us.

John 15:18-19

“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.”

Many religious people today are easily triggered when a “redeemed” believer dares to point out their wrong beliefs and practices. They tend to become defensive and hostile when told the truth about salvation by grace and not by works.

But no matter how people with a different worldview despises your faith in Christ as your Savior, be patient with them. Keep trying to reach out to them and share God’s gift of salvation. Most of all, keep loving them and praying that they too would come to faith in our Lord Jesus.


Reference:

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ by Don Stewart

What was the world like into which Jesus came? What were the different political and religious divisions of the Holy Land?

This first section will examine the historical background of the world that saw the coming of Christ as well as some of the important characters that were prominent in the four gospels.

Part 2 The Life And Ministry Of Jesus This section examines some of the key elements of the public ministry of Jesus. Although His public life was for a period of a few short years, He has influenced the course of this world like none other.

In this first section, we will find out why He came to this world, His relationship to the Law of Moses, His miraculous deeds, and His relationship to Bible prophecy.

Part 3 The Betrayal, Trial, And Death Of Jesus The Last Days Of Christ This final section will look at some of the events of the end of the life of Jesus. We consider His betrayal and death. When Jesus was a child the first recorded thing that He uttered was that He must be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

On the cross, Jesus’ final words were, “It is finished.” Jesus announced to the world that He had completed His Father’s business.

Our God is a Mighty Fortress

Our God is a Mighty Fortress

Being a Christian does not mean we are free from troubles and problems. There will come a time when we would need a fortress, a place of refuge, to survive the storm. What a comfort to know that God is not only our refuge and strength. He is also always ready to help in times of trouble.

Bible Verse: Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Psalm 46 begins with the poet depending on God for help in difficult times and finding it. So, he could say these things with confidence:

  • God alone is my refuge!
  • God alone is my strength!
  • God is my ever-present help in trouble!

Be still and know that I am God

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Martin Luther, a leader in the Reformation, wrote the powerful words, “A mighty fortress is our God a bulwark never failing. Our helper He, amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing.”

Luther faced death threats from the pope for his opposing view that salvation is by grace through faith alone. He went into hiding for 11 months in Wartburg Castle. He was pressured from every side to back down but he stood firmly for the truth.

Whenever fear and discouragement struck, he would encourage his friend and co-worker to sing the 46th psalm. He wrote, “We sing this Psalm to the praise of God because God is with us. He powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends His church and His word, against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and sin.”

Whatever problems rage against us, know that God is our mighty fortress. God’s Spirit is the ever‑flowing river that sustains us and gives us gladness even while we’re under siege.

When Trouble Strikes the Godly

The word trouble describes people in tight places, in a corner, and unable to get out. But there is no problem (physical, emotional, or spiritual) that is too big for our God. If we will learn to trust God and take refuge in Him, we can tackle even the most difficult crisis with confidence. It’s because God is with us and we can confidently lean on Him alone for strength.

The psalmist mentions catastrophic and troubling global changes: storms, severe earthquakes, and wars (Psalm 46:2-3, 6, 9). Yet, he says all things are in the control of our sovereign Lord. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge (Psalm 46:10-11).

Hebrews 11:35-38 talks about all the terrible trials that faithful Christians have to face. God does not always prevent bad things from happening to His people. But when trouble strikes, we don’t have to seek help somewhere else. God will enable us to face every storm of life head-on.

Be Fearless in God’s Refuge

In 2 Chronicles 32, Hezekiah led the men in digging a 1,777 feet long tunnel, passing to the Gihon Spring in Kidron Valley. The clear, cool water of the spring flowed inside the walls of Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah completely covered the spring to keep the enemy from finding it (2 Chronicles 32:1-6).

As the Assyrians stood in the sweltering heat every day, they kept waiting for the people of God to surrender. Inside the walls, the people did not panic or fear because they knew that God’s refuge would stand.

“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8).

When the Assyrian officials threatened Jerusalem, Isaiah told the king, “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me” (2 Kings 19:6). Inside the fortress, God provided for the Israelites’ needs by supporting them with a river.

In the same way, we need not be fearful when faced with a catastrophe. God is bigger than our problems. In the worst disaster that we can imagine, we can always have immediate comfort with God who is our refuge and strength.

God Never Fails

Some people place their trust in wealth, but money can never buy happiness. Others trust knowledge, but the smartest minds cannot agree on the simplest things. Some trust the military for protection, but there is no perfect peace. Still, others trust the company they work for to provide long-term security, but there is no such security.

God is our refuge and strength. We do not have to fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. When we search for answers, He will provide them. When we need shelter, He will provide it. When we need protection, He will provide it.

Believers in Christ have a very present help in trouble. Standing at the cross of Calvary is the Lamb of God with His nail-pierced hands extended. He is our Rock and our Fortress (Psalm 18:2; 31:3; 71:3). He will provide for us a refuge in the storms of life.

God is faithful and He never fails!

Conclusion

The Christian life is not a trouble-free life. Many false teachers may claim that it is God’s will for every believer in Jesus to enjoy a perfect life. But the Bible teaches no such thing. It’s not that God will exempt us from trouble but that God is our help in trouble.

Luther’s song ended with these words, “Let goods and kindred do, this mortal life also. The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.”

When we feel as though life is falling on top of us, we need to run to God’s refuge. Inside we will find safety, security, and love in His shelter that will survive any storm.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

God’s Prayer Book: The Power and Pleasure of Praying the Psalms by Ben Patterson

There is no better place in all of Scripture than the Psalms to learn to be with God and see with the eyes of faith the face of the One who longs to form us fully in his image. The psalms often stretch and perplex as they teach, but they open a divine window on prayer. How could it be otherwise?

The Psalms are God’s prayer book, and they teach us to talk to God in His own language.

Features meditations for more than 75 psalms, arranged in numerical order, Scripture, and topical indexes. Each devotional includes the complete text of the Psalm(s) from the New Living Translation, a “devotional window” (brief meditative thoughts and/or background on the Psalm), a prayer route (one or more key phrases or verses from the Psalm, followed by suggested ways to use the Psalm in prayer).

The First and Second Resurrection

The First and Second Resurrection

Whether or not there’s just one (general) resurrection of the dead is one of the hotly debated end-time topics. Some Christians believe that everyone will be raised on the same day. But others say the resurrection from the dead will not occur at the same time.

But what does the Scripture say?

Resurrection at the Last Day

Christians who believe that the bodies of all men will be raised at the same time often quote John 11:24. As Martha weeps for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus assured her that he will rise again. To which Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

John 11:24, NKJV

But do the words “last day” (or last hour) literally mean one literal day? Those who reject one general resurrection for everyone argue that it refers to an undetermined period of time. And it could even stretch over a thousand years.

Indeed, the Greek word translated “day” can have the meaning of an indeterminate amount of time. The Greek word for day in the Greek Lexicon of the New Testament has the following entry: An extended period like the Hebrew word yom.”

The Two Resurrections

There is a serious misconception that there will only be one resurrection. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we taught that! While it is true that all the dead will be raised and judged, neither the place, time, nor the judgments are the same.

Several passages speak of a separate resurrection of believers and unbelievers.

John says there will be two resurrections for two classes of people. One will be raised to “eternal life” while the other to a “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

Luke 14:14 also speaks of a “resurrection of the just.” Since everyone will be resurrected, there has to be a “resurrection of the unjust.” This concept of a separate resurrection of the just and unjust is repeated by Paul in Acts 24:15 when he testified before Felix.

And John makes a clear distinction between the two in Revelation 20:4-5. He says, “… I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God. They lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”

Here, we have the souls of the believing dead waiting for their own resurrection. This takes place after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

The First Resurrection

The resurrection of the believing dead; those who did not worship the beast and receive his mark is called the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-5).

The fact that there is a first resurrection certainly implies a second resurrection. Furthermore, those who participate in the “first resurrection” are called blessed. On the other hand, those who do not experience this first resurrection will experience the “second death.”

The Second Resurrection

We are told that in the same passage that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.”

Let it be made clear that there is at least a one thousand year interval between the First and the Second Resurrection. The people who are raised one thousand years later will be judged and cast into the lake of fire. We read this in Revelation 20:11-15.

If these thousand years are literal, and the two resurrections described are each literal resurrections, then this seems to make two separate resurrections necessary. Consequently, not everyone can be raised and judged at once.

The Order of the Resurrection

In general, the Bible speaks of two future resurrections: the First Resurrection and the Second Resurrection. The former is the resurrection of life while the latter is the resurrection of death.

Three groups of believers will have been raised at different times at the culmination of the First Resurrection. But before looking at these participants, we must note that Jesus Christ is the first to be raised.

Jesus Christ, the Firstfruits

Jesus Christ’s resurrection was first in God’s program, to be followed by believers. The apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

“But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”

Jesus is called the firstfruits of those who have died. Others will come after.

As Paul preached the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles, he said that Jesus the Messiah would suffer and die. He would be the first to rise from the dead (Acts 26:23); never to die again.

1 Corinthians 15:20

The Church Age Believers

The Rapture is when Christ comes in the air to “snatch away” the living believers and brings them to the Father’s house. But not many Christians realize that church-age believers who have died will also be resurrected.

“For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

It couldn’t be any clearer than this!

Two events will take place when Christ comes at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

  1. The resurrection of the dead in Christ
  2. The catching away of those who are alive and remain

Paul talks about this in greater detail in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Christians who are alive at this time will be “caught up” (raptured) to meet the Lord in the air. As they are being caught up, their bodies will be changed.

The Tribulation Saints

The tribulation saints are those who come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation period. And they will be raised at the Second Coming of Christ.

Note: The Rapture and the Second Coming are not the same events. The former takes place before the 7-year Tribulation while the latter takes place at the end of the Tribulation.

Through the witnesses of the 144,000, multitudes of people will come to the saving knowledge of Christ. However, they will be killed because of their testimony of Christ and the Word of God. They would not worship the beast nor take his mark (Revelation 20:4-6).

These Tribulation saints will come to life just before Christ comes to earth to reign for one thousand years.

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The Old Testament Saints

Another group of believers who will be raised after the Tribulation period is over are the Old Testament saints.

We read this in Daniel 12:1-2 (NIV):

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.

But at that time your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”

After the tribulation period is over, Jesus Christ returns. He will then resurrect the Old Testament saints.

Consequently, every believer who has died, from the time of Adam until the Second Coming of Christ, will have been resurrected by this time.

The Wicked, Unbelieving Dead

The resurrection of unbelievers will take place after the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. All the unbelieving dead who have ever lived will be resurrected and judged at this time.

This is the Second and Final resurrection that comes at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

Here, Jesus will sit in righteous judgment of all who refused to acknowledge His Messiahship and Saviourhood. From every part of the earth, the bodies of the wicked dead are raised to receive their final sentence. God will banish them permanently from His presence and they will suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

Closing Words

The Bible teaches that everyone who has ever died will eventually be raised from the dead.

Job 19:25-26 (NIV) says, “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end, He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the confirmation of the resurrection of the human body and future judgment.

“And if Christ has not been raised … those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

If you die in your sins, the judgment is sure. So, if you do not have a relationship with God through Christ, would you accept His gift of salvation today? Confess that you are a sinner and trust Jesus to save you.


Reference: Resurrection and Judgment by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource:

What Happens After Life?: 21 Amazing Revelations About Heaven and Hell by Ron Rhodes

Do you wonder what happens when you die? If so, you’ll love these short, inspirational explanations of the Bible’s most encouraging teachings about heaven. Trusted Bible teacher Ron Rhodes combines his rock-solid scriptural insight with illustrations from leaders throughout church history.

Each chapter is short enough to read in one sitting and zeroes in on a single encouraging truth. You will quickly find your fears and doubts replaced with confidence in these truths:

  • Death is a transition into a wonderful life, not a fearful end.
  • You will enjoy eternity in a wonderful new body.
  • You will be reunited with Christian loved ones.
  • Sin, sorrow, sickness, and pain will be no more.
  • Best of all, you will enjoy face-to-face fellowship with God.

Bypassing philosophical arguments and contentious debates, this reassuring look at the clear teaching of the Bible will empower you to embrace the future with hope and joy.

How Do I Know I’m Going to Heaven?

How Do I Know I’m Going to Heaven?

The Bible says that after we die, we will spend eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell. But can anyone be certain where they’re going? Do you know if you’re going to heaven or hell?

We all want to know exactly where we are going after we die, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to know where they will be spending eternity? But can we really know? The answer is yes!

The Word of God makes it clear that we can indeed know where we will go after this life is over.

The Choice is Ours to Make

Going to heaven or hell is a choice each of us has to make.

Man is destined to hell because of sin. But God so loved the world that He sacrificed His only Son to redeem us. Jesus suffered and died so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Notice that one still needs to trust in Jesus to be saved from eternal condemnation in hell. Jesus’ sacrificial death has opened the way to heaven for everyone. However, this does not mean everyone automatically goes to heaven when they die. We can either accept God’s promise of eternal life or reject it.

Choose Life Not Death

Eventually, the choice we make in this life will determine where we will spend eternity.

If you haven’t accepted God’s gift, would you do so today and be assured of spending eternity in heaven with God? 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

We Can Know Our Final Destination

If we place our faith in the Lord, we can know that we will go to heaven when we die. In 1 John 5:12, we read God’s promise.

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

We can know that we have eternal life if we put out faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. By the way, we need to know that eternal life is something that belongs to believers only. While it’s true that unbelievers will exist for eternity, they will not have eternal life.

Those who willfully reject God will be eternally separated from God; they will be in a state of eternal death. This is in direct contrast to the future of those who have trusted the God of the Bible.

The Scripture also says that “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). The moment we confessed Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God gave us the right to become His children (John 1:12).

And if we are God’s children, we can know for sure that we are going to heaven when we die.

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Believers Already Have Eternal Life

Christians know they have eternal life because God has promised it in His Word. But eternal life is not something believers will possess only in the future. We discover that we have eternal life now.

Jesus said this in John 5:24 (NIV).

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

We have already gone from death to life.

Contrary to what some teach and believe, we can get to enjoy eternal life the moment we trusted in Jesus. We don’t have to wait for “eternal life” because it’s not something that starts when we die. The focus of eternal life is not on our future, but on our current standing in Christ.

Eternal life is ours right now!

Eternal Life is Knowing God

On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He prayed to God the Father on His way to the Garden of Gethsemane.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

What is Eternal Life

Here, Jesus defines eternal life for us. Eternal life is knowing God; it’s a relationship with God the Father through the Son, Jesus Christ. The great news is that it never ends; it is indeed eternal!

Do you know the only true God? Do you have a relationship with the Father through His Son? Enjoy eternal life now and be assured of going to heaven by accepting God’s gift of salvation.

Know the Person You Trust

The apostle Paul said he knew whom he had trusted or believed in (2 Timothy 1:12).

“For this reason, I also suffer these things. Nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

We too can know in whom we have believed. Christians are assured of going to heaven because they can trust in the promises of Christ. Our God who promised is faithful, even when at times we’re not.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

As evident in the New Testament, we can have eternal life by trusting Christ as Savior. The moment we professed our faith in Him, we can be sure that we are going to heaven.

Final Words

Death is real, so are heaven and hell. And the Bible is very clear of who gets to enter heaven; it is limited to those who have trusted in Jesus as their Savior.

Jesus said there is only one way to reach the one God who is in heaven; it is through Him and Him alone (John 14:6).

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Nobody gets to heaven by their good works. Contrary to what many people think, a person does not go to heaven because they’re good. First of all, no one is good enough (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:1-3).

Also, no one is kept out of heaven because they’re bad. Whoever gets to heaven goes there because of God’s grace, not their own good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Our salvation from sin, our eventual entrance into heaven, is a “gift” from God. Have you accepted God’s gift?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home by Randy Alcorn

We all have questions about what Heaven will be like, and after twenty-five years of extensive research, Dr. Randy Alcorn has the answers.

In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date, Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it―a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ’s presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it.

This is a book about real people with real bodies enjoying close relationships with God and each other, eating, drinking, working, playing, traveling, worshiping, and discovering on a New Earth. Earth as God created it. Earth as he intended it to be.

The next time you hear someone say, “We can’t begin to image what Heaven will be like,” you’ll be able to tell them, “I can.”

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Miracles are common in both the Old and New Testaments. But many skeptics, as well as some Christians, are asking, “Can miracles still happen today?”

No one is immune to crisis. Sooner or later, tragedy will strike and in a moment, our calm and peaceful life will become a raging storm. We will then face a crisis only the miracle power of God can see us through.

What are Miracles?

A miracle may have several, different definitions.

1. First, we may define a miracle as “a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.”

This definition takes into account an understanding of God’s providence whereby God preserves, controls, and governs all things. If we understand providence in this way, we will naturally avoid some other common explanations or definitions of miracles.

The Biblical Definition of Miracles

2. We can also define a miracle as “an exception to a natural law” or “God acting contrary to the laws of nature.”

However, this definition does not adequately account for the biblical teaching on providence.

It’s because the phrase “laws of nature” in popular understanding implies that there are certain qualities inherent in the things that exist, “laws of nature” that operate independently of God. Thus, God must intervene or “break” these laws for a miracle to occur.

3. Another definition of a miracle is “God working in the world without using means to bring about the results He wishes.”

Again, this definition is inadequate. To speak of God working “without means” leaves us with very few if any miracles in the Bible. It is hard to think of a miracle that came about with no means at all.

When Jesus healed people, for example, some of the physical properties of the sick person’s body were doubtless involved as part of the healing.

When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, He at least used the original five loaves and two fishes that were there. When He changed water to wine, He used water and made it become wine.

Therefore, the first definition given above, where a miracle is simply “a less common way of God’s working in the world,” seems to be preferable. It is more consistent with the biblical doctrine of God’s providence.

This definition does not say that a miracle is a different kind of working by God, but only that it is a less common way of God’s working. And that it is done to arouse people’s surprise, awe, or amazement in such a way that God bears witness to Himself.

Miracles in the Bible

In the beginning, God separated day from night, flung the glittering stars into space, and set the sun ablaze. He formed the earth and all that was in it. And then He breathed into a handful of dirt and made a living soul. These are miracles!

It was not until Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety did God miraculously bless them with a son. God performed miracles for Moses as he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God let Joshua held the son and stopped the moon (Joshua 10:12-14). Daniel muzzled the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:21-22). And the three Hebrews children came out unscathed from the burning furnace (Daniel 3:23-27).

For us, God sent a Redeemer, His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin. That was a miracle!

Jesus’ Ministry of Miracles

Jesus had a ministry of miracles. He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). He healed the sick and afflicted (Matthew 9:35; 12:15; 14:14, 36; 15:30; Mark 6:56; 7:37). He fed multitudes of people (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39 and raised the dead (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-55; John 11:38-44).

Those were wondrous miracles. But the most important miracle of all was when Jesus died to pay our sin debt, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.

That was a glorious, victorious miracle. And because of that miracle, our sins are forgiven and forgotten.

Jesus' Ministry of Miracles
Jesus Heals the Man with Leprosy
Photo Credits: The Chosen TV Series

The Purposes of Miracles

We read the Bible and we can’t help but ask what the purposes of miracles are.

In the days of Moses, the plagues on Egypt demonstrated that the God of Israel was superior to the gods of Egypt. The miracles that accompanied the Exodus confirmed that God was behind that event and that Moses was the designated leader of His people.

In the days of Elijah, God provided a series of spectacular signs at the hands of His prophets to prove that Baal was a false god. In the days of Jesus, God worked many miracles to confirm the identity of His son and to validate the fledgling church.

In the New Testament, one purpose of miracles is certainly to authenticate the message of the gospel. When miracles occur, they give evidence that God is truly at work and so serve to advance the gospel. The apostle John reported certain miracles of Jesus “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God …” (John 20:31).

The miracles in the Old Testament were intended to stamp with approval God’s unique movements. But the miracles of Jesus went a step further. The final miracle attached to the life of Jesus was His resurrection, which stamped His life and death as extraordinary.

Objections to Miracles

The most common objection to miracles is that they are logically impossible. Even if there is a God, critics will say, “He has set up the world to operate in a certain way. For God to interrupt the order of His creation is to violate what He made and called very good” (Genesis 1:31).

This view assumes whenever supposed miracles are subjected to rigorous examination, the examiners will find insufficient evidence or possible alternative explanations.

These critics accuse people who believe in miracles of circular reasoning. “I want to witness a miracle, so I insist that this unusual event is an act of God.”

This sort of approach in denying miracles is itself circular. The naturalist ends up saying, “Miracles can’t happen in our closed natural universe. Therefore, every unusual event has a natural explanation, even if I can’t figure it out.”

But God exists, and the universe is more than a closed system of physical laws and is subject to the wise power of its Creator. Thus, belief in miracles of time, matter, and space seems reasonable indeed.


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Are Miracles Still Happening Today?

Some have argued that miracles were restricted to the apostles or those closely connected with them. But the unusual concentration of miracles in the ministries of the apostles does not prove that no miracles were performed by others!

In the larger context of the New Testament it is clear that miracles were worked by others who were not apostles, such as Stephen (Acts 6:8) and Philip (Acts 8:6–7). Christians in the several churches in Galatia (Galatians 3:5), and those with gifts of “miracles” in the body of Christ generally (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28) also worked miracles.

What about today?

Many other Christians throughout the first-century church were working miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit is still working miracles today in the lives of Christians.

Although those whom God gifts with the ability to perform miracles may not be able to perform them whenever they wish, the Holy Spirit is continually distributing them to each person “as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Miracle: An Answer to Prayers

There have been many instances when God answered a persistent prayer. For instance, physical healing for which there is no known medical explanation. Although God may do so only after several months or years of prayer, it seems quite clearly to be in response to prayer so that people are amazed and glorify God.

When this happens, there seems no reason to deny that a miracle has occurred simply because the earlier prayers were not answered immediately.

The ministry in the power and glory of the Holy Spirit is characteristic of the new covenant age (2 Corinthians 3:1–4:18). Therefore, we would expect that Christians today would also have the ability to minister the gospel with accompanying miraculous demonstrations of God’s power.

Should Christians Seek Miracles?

It is one thing to say that miracles might occur today. It is quite another thing to ask God for miracles. Is it right then for Christians to ask God to perform miracles?

The answer depends on the purpose for which miracles are sought. Certainly, it is wrong to seek miraculous power to advance one’s own power or fame, as Simon the magician did (Acts 8:21-22).

It is also wrong to seek miracles simply to be entertained, as Herod did (Luke 23:8). It is also wrong for skeptical unbelievers to seek miracles simply to find ground to criticize those who preach the gospel (Matthew 16:1-4).

There is nothing inappropriate in seeking miracles for the proper purposes for which they are given by God.

In the Gospels, many people came to Jesus seeking miracles, and He healed them for these purposes. Moreover, when the Lord sent His disciples out to preach, He required them to seek for miracles to happen.

Do Miracles Exist Today?

Experiencing Miracles

We do not have to understand miracles to experience one. Man has a two-fold nature: physical and spiritual. If we are willing to experience only what our minds can understand, we will never experience a miracle.

The God of the natural is the God of the spiritual. The God who enforces the law of gravity enforces the law of miracles. Nothing is impossible with God!

Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). He also said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

When you need a miracle in your life, remember that miracles happen when you obey the Word.


References:

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Edited by John Hagee & Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

 

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

There’s an ongoing debate among Christians as to the immortality of the soul and spirit. Are the soul and spirit eternal? Do they become extinct upon death?

The Bible teaches that man is made up of material (body) and immaterial (soul and spirit) components. Life begins when they are united and life ends when they are separated.

Is the Soul Immortal?

Both the Old and New Testaments teach that humans have an immaterial part that will last forever. Thus, we should not see life and death as existence and non-existence. As Dr. Frank Turek often says, “When we die, we don’t cease to exist; we simply change location.”

Death is a transition to a different mode of existence. Therefore, life and death should be viewed as two different states or existence.

Death means Separation of the Body from the Soul and Spirit

What the Old Testament Teaches

The foundational biblical teaching on the subject of the immortality of the soul is the Old Testament.

When Adam sinned against the Lord, it was his body that was judged to go back to its original elements (Genesis 3:19). Adam’s spirit, however, was not judged to return to dust because it was breathed by God into him. Adam’s body became dust but his spirit went elsewhere.

The Bible never teaches that the spirit can be annihilated or become extinct at death.

We read in Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) that humans have been made for all eternity. Our soul and spirit will live forever; death is not the end.

Scriptures make a distinction between the body and the spirit and it implies a continual life of the spirit after the body dies (Ecclesiastes 12:7, ESV). In effect, the spirit will continue to exist but the body does not.

In addition, Isaiah 14:9 (NIV) speaks of Sheol – a place where the dead exists; not utterly annihilated. So, there is an actual place where the dead will reside and do not go out of existence.

Not Everyone Died

Two Old Testament characters did not die but rather went to heaven without dying; Enoch and Elijah.

Genesis 5:24 says this about Enoch, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11 tells us, “… suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

Since Enoch and Elijah did not die, what happened to their bodies? Where did they go? We can’t tell for sure but one thing is certain, there is existence beyond the grave. The immaterial part of humans is not destroyed; it survives beyond this life.

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What the New Testament Teaches

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament also has much to say about those who have died. For one, Jesus promises eternal life to those who put their faith in Him.

In a conversation between Jesus and Martha recorded in John 11:25-26, we read the following:

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?”

We see that Jesus is speaking of life after life. He couldn’t be talking about physical death when He said those who believe in him shall never die. Everyone dies, for sure! Yet, there is a part of each of us that will never die.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Likewise, in His dialogue with the Sadducees, Jesus spoke of the existence of those who had previously died. Matthew 22:31-32 records Jesus saying these:

“But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long been dead when God spoke to Moses. But God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God did not say, “I was their God.”

Jesus was saying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still living though they had died physically. Their physical death did not end their existence. This is an early biblical reference to the fact that the dead do not go out of existence. The body dies but the soul and spirit live on.

I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Moses and Elijah

When Jesus appeared at the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Matthew 17:13 records the following.

“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

This gives further testimony to life after death. Moses had been dead for over a thousand years. Elijah had been taken up in a whirlwind to the presence of the Lord hundreds of years earlier. Yet here they were with Jesus.

Obviously, they survived beyond the grave.

Everyone Will be Judged

In John 5:28-29, Jesus spoke of a judgment of the human race.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

If the dead are going to be judged when the graves are opened, then obviously life does not end with physical death. There must be some type of existence beyond the grave if the human race is going to be judged.

Annihilation of the Soul and Spirit

There is a popular teaching among some Christian denominations that the wicked will not suffer eternal torment. Instead, they will be annihilated and will cease to exist.

However, the Scriptures teach that the soul and spirit cannot be annihilated. While the body will die, the soul and spirit will live on. Thus, death is not the end of conscious life. Death is the separation of the body and spirit.

The body returns to dust where it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The body is just the temporary residence of humans (2 Corinthians 5:1).

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Jesus also made a very powerful statement in Matthew 10:28.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The word “destroy” has the idea of punishment, not annihilation. The destruction of the soul means separation from the life of God. Although living, the soul of the unbeliever has no connection to God whatsoever.

The Souls Under the Altar

The book of Revelation speaks of the souls of the dead under the altar.

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).

These people still existed after their physical death. This is a further indication that physical death does not end our existence. We will live on after death, all of us.

The Second Death

There is a second death mentioned in the book of Revelation. If death were the end of existence, then why does the Bible speak of the second death of unbelievers?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:11).

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

The idea of a second death for unbelievers is another indication that physical death is not the end of existence. A second death assumes there will be a “first death.” Therefore, there can be another death after physical death.

The Immortality of the Soul and Spirit

Nothing Can Separate Us from God

Finally, the Word of God says that nothing will separate the believer from the love of God, not even death.

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote (Romans 8:38-39, NLT):

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing means nothing! Not even death! The believer cannot be separated from God. Not now, not ever. Nothing can keep us apart. Therefore, from the totality of Scripture, it is clear that the immaterial part of us, the spirit or soul, survives death.

Conclusion

While death may end our relationships and plans here upon the earth, it is not the end of us. Death is never seen as extinction, nonexistence, or annihilation. Indeed, it is always separation.

Therefore, physical death is the separation of the spirit or soul from the human body. The spirit or soul can never be destroyed. It will live on for all eternity. The body lies in the grave but the spirit lives on.

This is the message of Scripture from the first page to the last!


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Note: This article is an excerpt from the book “Living in the Light of Eternity” by Don Stewart.

In this first of a five-volume series, best-selling and award-winning author, Don Stewart, explains the all-important subjects of death, dying, and the afterlife in easy to understand language.

Don will answer such questions:

  • Why is there death and suffering?
  • What sin will keep people out of heaven?
  • What about claims of people who say they have died and gone to heaven or hell?
  • What hope does God’s Word give for the dead?
  • Burial or cremation?
  • What does the Bible say about suicide?
The 3 Offices of Christ

The 3 Offices of Christ

Most Christians are familiar with the 3 offices of Christ: prophet, priest, and king. But what’s the scriptural basis for this?

There are three major offices among the people of Israel in the Old Testament: the prophet, the priest, and the king. These three offices were distinct. The prophet spoke God’s words to the people; the priest offered sacrifices, prayers, and praises to God on behalf of the people; and the king ruled over the people as God’s representative.

The three offices foreshadowed Christ’s own work in different ways. As a prophet, He reveals God to us and speaks God’s word to us. As a priest, He both offers a sacrifice to God on our behalf and is Himself the sacrifice that is offered. And as a king, He rules over the church and over the universe as well.

Christ as Prophet

Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch), was the first major Old Testament prophet. After him was a succession of other prophets and wrote God’s words. But Moses predicted that sometime another prophet like himself would come (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).

But looking at the gospels we see that Jesus is not primarily viewed as a prophet or as the prophet like Moses. Often those who call Jesus a “prophet” know very little about Him. For instance, when Jesus asked His disciples what the people said He was (Matthew 16:14; Luke 9:8). Various opinions of Jesus were circulating: “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Moses the First OT Prophet
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When Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead, the people were struck with fear. They said “A great prophet has risen up among us” (Luke 7:16). The Samaritan woman at the well said Jesus was a prophet when He told her something of her past life (John 4:19).

The man born blind who was healed at the temple said the same thing about Jesus (John 9:17). However, his belief in Jesus’ messiahship and deity did not come until John 9:37, after a subsequent conversation with Jesus. Therefore, “prophet” is no a primary designation of Jesus or one used by Him or about Him.

It is important to note that Jesus is never called a prophet or the prophet in the Epistles. Why did the New Testament epistles avoid calling Jesus a prophet? It’s because while Jesus is the prophet whom Moses predicted, He is far greater than any of the Old Testament prophets.

Jesus is Greater than Any Prophet

Jesus is the one about whom the Old Testament prophecies were made.

When Jesus spoke with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He took them through the Old Testament, showing how the prophecies pointed to Him (Luke 24:25-27). 1 Peter 1:10-11 says the Old Testament prophets were “predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory.”

Thus, the Old Testament prophets looked forward to Christ in what they wrote. Meanwhile, the New Testament apostles looked back to Christ and interpreted His life for the benefit of the church.

Jesus was not merely a messenger of revelation from God like all other prophets but was Himself the source of revelation from God.

Notice that rather than saying, “Thus says the Lord,” as all the Old Testament prophets did, Jesus spoke with divine authority. He would say, “But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:22). The word of the Lord came to the Old Testament prophets, but Jesus spoke on His own authority as the eternal Word of God (John 1:1). Jesus perfectly revealed the Father to us (John 14:9; Hebrews 1:1-2).

In the broader sense of prophet, simply meaning one who reveals God to us and speaks to us the words of God, Christ is of course truly and fully a prophet.

Jesus Teaches with Authority

Christ as Priest

The Old Testament priests were appointed by God to offer sacrifices. They also offered prayers and praise to God on behalf of the people of God. In so doing they “sanctified the people or made them acceptable to come into God’s presence, but in a limited way.

In the New Testament Jesus becomes our great high priest. This theme is developed extensively in the letter to the Hebrews, where we find that Jesus functions as a priest in two ways.

1. Jesus Offered a Perfect Sacrifice for Sin.

The sacrifice which Jesus offered for sins was not the blood of animals such as bulls or goats (Hebrews 10:4). Instead, Jesus offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26). This was a completed and final sacrifice, never to be repeated (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 24-28; 10:1-2, 10, 12, 14; 13:12).

Therefore, Jesus fulfilled all the expectations that were prefigured. Jesus was both the sacrifice and the priest who offered the sacrifice. Jesus is now the “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens” (Hebrews 4:14). He has appeared “appeared in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24) since He has offered a sacrifice that ended for all time the need for any further sacrifice.

2. Jesus Continually Brings Us Near to God.

The Old Testament priests offered sacrifices and came into the presence of God from time to time on behalf of the people.

But Jesus as our perfect high priest continually leads us into God’s presence. We no longer need a Jerusalem temple or a special priesthood to stand between us and God. Jesus has become our high priest forever (Hebrews 6:20). This means that we have a far greater privilege than those people who lived at the time of the Old Testament temple.

Jesus has opened for us the way of access to God. So, now we can continually “draw near” to God “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:21-22).

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Jesus as Priest Continually Prays for Us

One other priestly function in the Old Testament was to pray on behalf of the people. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus also fulfills this function (Hebrews 7:25). Paul affirms the same point when he says Christ is the one “who makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

Both Paul and the author of Hebrews are saying that Jesus continually lives in the presence of God to intercede for us. The thought that Jesus is continually praying for us should give us great encouragement. He always prays for us according to the Father’s will so we can know that His requests will be granted.

Christ as King

In the Old Testament, the king has the authority to rule over the nation of Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus was born to be King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). However, Jesus refused any attempt by people to make Him an earthly king with earthly military and political power (John 6:15).

Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Nonetheless, Jesus did have a kingdom whose arrival He announced in His preaching (Matthew 4:17, 23; 12:28). He is, in fact, the true king of the new people of God.

Thus, Jesus did not rebuke His disciples who cried out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” Luke 19:38). See also Matthew 21:5; John 1:49; Acts 17:7.

After Jesus’ resurrection, the Father gave Him far greater authority over the church and over the universe. God “raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:20-22). See also Matthew 28:18; 1 Corinthians 15:25.

Jesus’ authority over the church and over the universe will be more fully recognized by people when He returns to earth (Matthew 26:64; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 19:11-16). On that day people will acknowledge Him as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) and every knee shall bow to Him (Philippians 2:10).

The Three-Fold Offices of Christ - King

Christians as Prophets, Priests, and Kings

As Christians, we are to imitate Christ in each of these three roles, though in a subordinate way.

We have a prophetic role as we proclaim the gospel to the world. Whenever we speak truthfully about God to others, we are fulfilling a “prophetic” function.

We are priests because Peter calls us “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). As such we are to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The author of Hebrews also views us priests who can enter into the holy of holies (Hebrews 10:19, 22).

We also share in part now in the kingly reign of Christ. God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). God has even now committed to us authority over various areas in this world or the church.

When Christ returns to rule and reign as King, we will once again be true prophets because our knowledge will then be perfect. Then we will speak only the truth about God and His world. We will be priests forever for we will eternally worship and offer prayer to God as we dwell in His presence. We will also in subjection share in ruling the universe (Revelation 22:5).

Conclusion

When Christ came, we saw for the first time the fulfillment of these three roles. As the perfect prophet, He fully declared God’s words to us. Jesus as the perfect high priest offered the supreme sacrifice for sins and brought us near to God. As the true and rightful king of the universe, Jesus will reign forever with a scepter of righteousness over the new heavens and new earth.


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Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus: How the Sacrifice of Jesus Saves the World from Sin by J. D. Meyers

Do you have difficulties reconciling God’s behavior in the Old Testament with that of Jesus in the New?

Do you find yourself trying to rationalize God’s violent demeanor in the Bible to unbelievers or even to yourself?

Does it seem disconcerting that God tells us not to kill others but He then takes part in some of the bloodiest wars and vindictive genocides in history?

In Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, J. D. Myers shows how the death of Jesus on the cross reveals the truth about the five concepts of sin, law, sacrifice, scapegoating, and bloodshed. After carefully defining each, this book shows how these definitions provide clarity on numerous biblical texts.

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

Is Suffering God’s Judgment?

We often hear people say that suffering is a result of God’s judgment. Who is not familiar with the Great Flood in Genesis 7? We read how God was grieved when He saw the extent of human wickedness on the earth. So, God decided to destroy every living thing that He has created (Genesis 6:5-7).

Can we then conclude that the sufferings people are going through are God’s punishment upon them? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God is love (1 John 4:8)? That God’s love caused Him to sacrifice His only Son on the cross to save us (John 3:16)?

Yes; God is love but He is also just and righteous (Psalm 89:14).

God Heals a Man Born Blind

In John chapter 9, we read the story of a man who has been blind since birth. As they passed by where the man was, Jesus’ disciples asked Him “whose fault is it that he was born blind” (John 1:2).

Instead of seeing the man as an object of mercy, the disciples saw him as a subject for a theological discussion. The disciples had been trained as young men in the Mosaic law. They learned that “God does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7, NIV). That “God punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

The Healing of the Man Born Blind

Note: Some ancient rabbinic writings also speculated on the possibility of sinning in the womb or a preexistent state.

The disciples were sure that the man’s congenital blindness was caused by sin, either his own or his parents. But Jesus disagreed with them (John 9:3).

The Consequences of Sin

Adam’s disobedience brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).

Adam and Eve sinned, and their offspring grew increasingly wicked and rebellious (Genesis 4:1-24). David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the death of her husband (2 Samuel 11). David’s children grew up to cause him continual distress through their violence and selfishness.

Only in rare cases, after God’s longsuffering and mercy have been exhausted did He punish His sinful people. We read in 1 Samuel 2:12-36 how God dealt with the family of Eli. Also, God sent Judah and Israel into captivity (Hosea 11:1-8; Jeremiah 25:1-11) because of their idolatry and disobedience.

In the final analysis, all physical problems and human sufferings are the results of our fall in Adam. The consequences of sin that come upon sinners and their descendants are usually natural consequences rather than God’s divine judgment.

So, to blame a specific disability on a specific sin committed by a specific person is beyond any man’s authority. Only God knows why babies are born handicapped. And only God can turn them into something that will bring good to people and glory to His name.

God brought about suffering in the life of the blind man to reveal God’s work in him (John 9:3). This also happened so that he might become a blessing to the disciples and a blessing to those who would read John’s gospel.

The Consequence of Sin

Does God Carry Grudges?

The concern of the disciples about the man born blind sounds more like the superstitious fear of many in the world.

They think that God holds a grudge against them because they have offended Him in some way. They feel guilty for not acknowledging or confessing their sins. This often distorts their perception of God’s attitude toward them. And they expect Him to bring judgment into their lives at any moment.

Repentance, confession, and acceptance of God’s forgiveness are important ingredients for spiritual peace and good mental health. Inner turmoil caused by a guilty conscience can cause all sorts of fears about divine punishment.

God carries no grudges. If there should be a situation in which God needs to correct our life through suffering, He will let us know. God disciplines us as a godly father disciplines a child. Never will our heavenly Father corrects us vindictively. Rather, He does it in a kindly fashion (Hebrews 12:5-11).

God’s Intent for Suffering

Trials and sufferings are part of life and Christians are not exempt. Some might have expected life to be easy and smooth sailing after becoming followers of Christ. But such is not the case; it’s going to be a battle all the way!

Dealing with the trials of life is never easy. But knowing the promises of God’s love in His Word enables us to experience inner peace and joy.

Suffering is painful and perplexing but we know that God has a purpose for allowing us to experience them. God uses suffering for our spiritual development.

Final Thoughts

When we see other Christians suffering, it is never our place to presume God’s intent for them. There might be instances when people suffer as a consequence of their actions. But oftentimes in the Bible God uses sufferings to enact tremendous good rather than to punish.

God has an infinite capacity to effect goodness amid our pain and difficulty. We see this principle in the life of Joseph, Job, and of course, the Lord Jesus Himself.

Let us love and comfort our fellowmen in their suffering and trust that God will work all things out for their good (Romans 8:28).


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Recommended Resource: If God Is Good: Why Do We Hurt? by Randy Alcorn

Out of the deepest hurts of the human condition, Randy Alcorn brings into clear focus our most pressing questions about evil and suffering—including those that wrench our souls when we or someone we love is victimized by evil or assaulted by disease.

He faces these questions with seasoned sensitivity, skillful insight, and a heart of compassion. He dodges none of the difficulties, and never lapses into platitudes, hand-wringing, or oversimplification.

On this troubling but inescapable topic, you’ll find frank acknowledgment of the inherent limitations that set humanity apart from the God who has none. There’s also generous, real encouragement that brings God nearer in our understanding when we need His comfort the most.

And amid our heavy doubts and swirling confusion on this topic, Randy Alcorn points us ultimately toward Jesus as “the only answer bigger than the questions.”

Recognizing a True Church

Recognizing a True Church

There are true and false churches. How do we recognize a true church? But what makes a church true or false? Is it possible that a group of people who claim to be Christians does not exhibit the qualities of a true church?

In the early centuries of the Christian church, the idea of a false church is unpopular. There was only one worldwide church, the “visible” church throughout the world, and that was, of course, the true church. This church had bishops and local clergymen and church buildings that everyone could see. Any heretics who were found to be in serious doctrinal error were simply excluded from the church.

What is the church?

The church is the community of all true believers for all time. It is made up of all those who are truly saved. Paul says this in Ephesians 5:25, “… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

The term “the church” here is applied to all those whom Christ died to redeem, all those who are saved by the death of Christ. They include all true believers for all time, both believers in the New Testament age and believers in the Old Testament age as well.

How to Recognize a True Church
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Metaphors for the Church

Scripture uses a wide range of metaphors and images to describe to us what the church is like. In several passages, Paul views the church as a family (1 Timothy 5:1-2; Ephesians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). We are therefore brothers and sisters with each other in God’s family (Matthew 12:49-50; 1 John 3:14-18).

A somewhat different family metaphor is seen when Paul refers to the church as the bride of Christ. He says that the relationship between a husband and wife “refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). He goes further to say that it resembles an engagement between a bride and her husband-to-be (2 Corinthians 11:2).

The Bible uses other metaphors for the church such as:

  • Branches on a vine (John 15:5)
  • A building (1 Corinthians 3:9)
  • A field of crops (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
  • An olive tree (Romans 11:17-24
  • A harvest (Matthew 13:1-30; John 4:35)

The church is also viewed as a new temple not built with literal stones but built with Christian people who are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) built upon the “cornerstone” who is Christ Jesus (1 Peter 2:4–8).

We are also viewed as God’s house (Hebrews 3:6), with Jesus Christ Himself viewed as the “builder” of the house (Hebrews 3:3). The church is also viewed as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Finally, the church is viewed as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into the church.

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The Marks of a True Church

At the Reformation, a crucial question came up: How can we recognize a true church? Is the Roman Catholic Church a true church or not? To answer that question, people had to decide what were the “marks” of a true church. What are the distinguishing characteristics that lead us to recognize it as a true church?

The Bible does speak of false churches. Paul says of the pagan temples in Corinth, “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20). He tells the Corinthians, “You were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols” (1 Corinthians 12:2).

These pagan temples were certainly false churches or false religious assemblies.

What constitutes a true church?

1. The Word of God is Rightly Taught

In large measure, there was an agreement between Luther and Calvin on the question of what constituted a true church.

In the Lutheran statement of faith, they defined the church as “the congregation of saints in which the gospel is rightly taught.” Similarly, John Calvin said, “Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists.”

It seems appropriate that we take Luther and Calvin’s view on the marks of a true church as correct still today. Certainly, if the Word of God is not being preached, but simply false doctrines or doctrines of men, then there is no true church.

Preach the Word

2. The Right Administration of the Sacraments

This was probably stated in opposition to the Roman Catholic view that saving grace came through the sacraments. Thus, the sacraments were made “works” by which we earned merit for salvation. In this way, the Roman Catholic Church was insisting on payment rather than teaching faith as the means of obtaining salvation.

There are two ordinances of the church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. An organization that practices baptism and the Lord’s Supper is a continuing organization and is attempting to function as a church. But it is not merely about instituting these sacraments; it’s more about administering them the “right way.”

Groups who do not administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper signify that they are not intending to function as a church.

True and False Churches Today

People often ask, “Is the Roman Catholic today a true church?”

We cannot simply decide for the Roman Catholic Church as a whole because it is far too diverse. Some Roman Catholic parishes certainly lack both marks. And some view participation in the sacraments as a “work” that can earn merit with God. Such groups of people are not the true Christian church.

On the other hand, there are many Roman Catholic parishes in various parts of the world today where the local priest has a genuine saving knowledge of Christ. They also have a vital personal relationship with Christ in prayer and Bible study.

JW's and Mormons: Are they False Churches?

What about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

We might have difficulty determining just how much wrong doctrines can be tolerated before a church can no longer be considered a true church. But there are many clear cases where we can say that a true church does not exist.

The Mormon church does not hold to any major Christian doctrines concerning salvation or the person of God or the person and work of Christ. Clearly, it is a false church.

Similarly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach salvation by works, not by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. This is a fundamental doctrinal deviation because if people believe the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they simply will not be saved. So the Jehovah’s Witnesses also must be considered a false church.

Bottom Line

When the preaching of a church conceals the gospel message of salvation by faith alone from its members so that the gospel message is not proclaimed, the group meeting there is not a church. When a group does not administer baptism and the Lord’s supper the right way, they are not a true church.

We can distinguish between a true and false church by using the Word of God. A true church has Christ not only as its foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) but also the cornerstone of that foundation (1 Peter 2:7). One last thing, the true church governs itself by the authority of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Are you in a true church?


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Reference Material: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell.

Bible Doctrine takes a highly commended upper-level textbook on systematic theology and makes it accessible to the average reader. Abridged from Wayne Grudem’s award-winning Systematic Theology, Bible Doctrine covers the same essentials of the faith, giving you a firm grasp on seven key topics:

  • The Doctrine of the Word of God
  • The Doctrine of God
  • The Doctrine of Man
  • The Doctrine of Christ
  • The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
  • The Doctrine of the Church
  • The Doctrine of the Future

Like Systematic Theology, this book is marked by its clarity, its strong scriptural emphasis, its thoroughness in scope and detail, and its treatment of such timely topics as spiritual warfare and the gifts of the Spirit.

But you don’t need to have had several years of Bible school to reap the full benefits of Bible Doctrine. It’s easy to understand–and it’s packed with solid, biblical answers to your most important questions.

What Nature Says About God

What Nature Says About God

One of the best arguments for the existence of God is the existence of creation. When people say, “Give me concrete evidence that God exists.” Just politely respond, “You simply have to look at nature and you’ll know that God exists.”

Paul told the Athenians on the Aeropagus that God had arranged the world so that people “should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).

Bible Verse: Psalm 19:1

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

The Creation Bears Evidence

“The heavens declare the glory of God” to every person every day and even to those who have never heard a preacher or read a Bible. Have you ever gazed into the heavens and felt the presence of God? Have you ever scanned the skies? Or watched the stars glitter like an ocean of diamonds sprinkled against the velvet blackness of God’s infinite canopy?

Long before the gospel was written in sacred Scriptures, it was written in the sky dotted by dazzling stars. It was highlighted by the blazing sun and the gentle glow of the moon. The power, presence, and personality of God are evident in all His creation.

What Nature Says About God

Although “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ (Psalm 14:1), yet all creation says that anyone who can see the sky can know of God.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

God in the Highest Heavens

The “heavens” is plural because we know there are three. One is the heaven we see with our eyes. The second is the heaven where Satan has his throne. He was there talking to God about Job (Job 1:6-12). Also, Paul says that we wrestle “against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The third heaven is where God has His throne. From there, He looks down on Satan, reminding him that time is limited and he will soon be thrown into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:10-15).

In the Bible, God uses His creation (nature) to teach and explain. He told Abraham to look toward heaven and count the stars if he was able. The stars represented the promised descendants (Genesis 22:17. The moon and the sun witness His faithfulness to the covenant He has made with Israel (Psalm 89:34-37).

He led the wise men from the East by a star (Matthew 2:2). God uses the stars to declare the glory He gives to soul-winners (Daniel 12:3). The Lord will also use the sun, moon, and stars to announce the Second Coming of Christ, and because of His promises, I follow the “Bright and Morning star” (Revelation 22:16).

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Living in a Glorious World

The world around us is like a mystery novel. God made it and scattered clues about Himself around it. Unlike the villains of murder mysteries, God is a good character who wants to be found.

The beauty of the heavens and the stars speaks eloquently every night of God’s infinitely varied and intelligent design (Psalm 19:1-4). The grandeur of the mountains tells of His power (Psalm 121:1); the endless sweep and motion of the oceans hint of the infinite, timeless character of God (Job 38:16; Psalm 33:7; 89:9).

The wide variety of plant and animal life God created suggests that He cares about living things (Job 39:1-30) and shows His power to meet their needs (Luke 12:6-7, 24).

The more people study the marvelous order and complexity of God’s creation, the more they glimpse about Him (Romans 1:20).

How Great Thou Art

One evening during a thunderstorm, as Stuart Hine walked through a forest observing God’s power and majesty all around him he was inspired to write the song “How Great Thou Art.”

When we look to the heavens let us sing, “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art, how great Thou art.”

Seeking God Beyond Measure

When we read the “book of nature” we can grasp certain things about the power, majesty, and glory of God. But we are left guessing about His personality and His attitudes toward us.

“The book of nature” should leave us wanting a second “book” that speaks more directly about God.

Psalm 19, which begins extolling the general revelation of the heavens, ends up praising the perfection of the special revelation found in the Bible. The heavens may let us “touch the face of God,” but it takes God’s written Word to tell us what kind of Person wears that face and how we can have a love relationship with Him.

Final Words

The existence of creation implied the existence of a Creator. The nature of the creation implied that He was wise enough to plan it and powerful enough to execute His plan and maintain what He had made.

So complex a universe demands a Creator who can do anything, who knows everything, and who is present everywhere.


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Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L Geisler and Frank Turek

To some, the concept of having faith in a higher power or a set of religious beliefs is nonsensical. Indeed, many view religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as unfounded and unreasonable. 

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek argue, however, that Christianity is not only more reasonable than all other belief systems, but is indeed more rational than unbelief itself.

With conviction and clear thinking, Geisler and Turek guide readers through some of the traditional, tested arguments for the existence of a creator God. They move into an examination of the source of morality and the reliability of the New Testament accounts concerning Jesus.

The final section of the book deals with a detailed investigation of the claims of Christ. This volume will be an interesting read for those skeptical about Christianity, as well as a helpful resource for Christians seeking to articulate a more sophisticated defense of their faith.