Author: Alice A. Anacioco

Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God

Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God

To be a Christian means you do not only believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God but that He is also God. Unfortunately, many people today who claim to be Christians believe that Jesus is nothing but human. They say Jesus was one of the prophets, or that He was a great rabbi (teacher) or a messenger from God.

Is Jesus God or the Son of God? What does the Scripture say? 

The Jews Reject Jesus

In John 10:22-42, we read how the Jews rejected Jesus. During the feast of Jerusalem in wintertime, the Jews surrounded Jesus as He walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch, and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24)

In reply, Jesus said, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:25-28).

Jesus could have stopped right there because He knew that no matter what He will say, they would not believe Him anyway. But He went on to say something that provoked the Jews to anger and they took up stones to stone Him. Why were the religious leaders so upset with Jesus that they wanted to kill Him? It’s because of what He said.

What did Jesus say? He said, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:29-30).

I and the Father are One - John 10:30

Jesus has been teaching them about the kingdom of God and performing many miracles that caused division among the Jewish people. While some said Jesus was demon-possessed, others argued that the words He has been speaking could not be from someone who has a demon and that a demon can’t perform miracles.

Jesus Claims to be God

One of the most common arguments from people who do not believe that Jesus is God is Jesus’ claim that He is the Son of God. They say, “Jesus said that he is the son of God but he never said, “I am God worship me.”

What they are saying is that Jesus is the son of God in the same way that we are the sons of God. Okay! But if this is what Jesus meant, there would be no reason for the religious teachers to get so angry that they wanted Him dead, right?

Clearly, Jesus said something that a modern Bible reader might not fully grasp without considering the fact that Jesus was speaking to a Jewish audience. The fact that the religious leaders charged Jesus with blasphemy for saying that He and the Father are one proves that Jesus spoke of much more than a purpose and will.

Note: The statement of Jesus in John 10:30 holds great importance regarding His deity and the nature of the Godhead. “I and My Father” means that the Father and the Son are not the same Person, refuting the doctrine of “Modalism” or “Sabellianism.” And the words “are one” means that the Father and the Son are equal in nature.

The Jews of Jesus’ day clearly understood what the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Oneness denominations today seem to miss – that Jesus clearly claimed to be God. And for a mere man to claim to equality with God is blasphemy.

The Law of Moses laid down the penalty for such a crime: “And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16).


Recommended Resource: The Forgotten Trinity by Dr. James R. White

The Forgotten Trinity BookWhile many of us struggle to understand it, the Trinity is one of the most important teachings of the Christian faith. It defines God’s very essence and describes how he relates to us. And while it can be a difficult concept to get our heads around, it is crucial for believers to understand how God explains his triune nature in his Word.

In this book, James R. White offers a concise, understandable explanation of what the Trinity is and why it matters. While refuting the distortions of God presented by various cults, Dr. White shows how understanding this teaching leads to renewed worship and a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

And amid today’s emphasis on the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, The Forgotten Trinity is a balanced look at all three persons of the Trinity.

May this book deepen your understanding of this important doctrine while also drawing you closer to the triune God Himself.


Jesus Defends His Claims to be God

When the Jews accused Jesus of making Himself equal with God, instead of denying their accusation He went into great lengths to affirm the charges and proceeds to defend His claims to be God.

In John 10:34-36, Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods?’” (which is a direct quote from Psalm 82:6). If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God?”

This is a rabbinic form of argument that some misunderstand. They claim that Jesus was toning down His claim to deity by showing that the term “gods” can legitimately be used of men in certain ways. Thus, He, a man may be called “the Son of God.” But if this is what Jesus was doing (toning down His claim to deity) the Jews would not have tried to seize Him.

Jesus Backs His Claim with Works

To back His Words, Jesus repeatedly appealed to His works (John 10:25).

When the Jews picked up stones to hurl at Him after His claim to be one with the Father, Jesus said, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me” (John 10:32). Then He adds, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38)?

In each case, Jesus pointed out that His works backed up His verbal claim. As we can see, all that Jesus said and did, especially His miracles confirm that He is God and the son of the Living God.

But despite all this evidence, some still chose to reject Jesus. We would have thought that Jesus would be welcomed in Jerusalem as Messiah because the people there had more than sufficient reasons to believe in Jesus; He was not only rejected but also the people were intent on murdering Him.

The Father Sent His Son

Jesus made two other claims: He was consecrated by the Father for a special task and He was sent into the world to carry out His Father’s mission (John 10:36). The scriptural understanding of sanctification is to make holy for God – to be given over as free-will offering and sacrifice for God.

Jesus made Himself a sin-offering for us, to ransom us from condemnation and slavery to sin. He spoke of His Father sanctifying Him for this mission of salvation. Jesus challenged His opponents to accept His works if they could not accept His words. One can argue with words, but deeds are beyond argument.

Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God

Jesus is the perfect teacher in that He does not base His claims on what He says but on what He does. The Word of God is life and power for those who believe and accept it as God’s word for us.

Jesus shows us the way to walk the path of truth and holiness. And He anoints us with His power to live the Gospel with joy and to be His witnesses in the world.

Are you a doer of God’s word, or a forgetful hearer only?

God and the Coronavirus

God and the Coronavirus

In their daily briefing on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared COVID-2019 a global pandemic. This is due to the rapid escalation in the number of confirmed cases and deaths in more than 100 countries and territories.

As of today, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus has infected more than 529,000 and killed nearly 24,000 people, causing one-third of the world to declare a national lockdown or otherwise dramatically restricted travel. (Source: WHO)

These numbers are so alarming that some Christians started asking if the world is going to end very soon, or if diseases such as the novel coronavirus are a punishment from God. We are definitely in the last days, but thinking that God uses diseases to punish people is another thing.

Does God have something to do with the Coronavirus outbreak that is causing thousands of people, including Christians, to suffer and die?

If God, Why the Coronavirus?

In an 8-minute YouTube video, Dr. Vince Vitale, RZIM’s Regional Director for the Americas and Director of the Zacharias Institute, tackled this question.

First, he said that from a philosophical standpoint, something like the coronavirus is referred to as natural evil. But how can there be such a thing as natural evil when what we are seeing today seems to be so unnatural?

This does not seem like it’s the way things are supposed to be, at least as we know God has originally designed it.

To put it in perspective, Vince said that natural evils are not intrinsically evil in and of themselves. Like if you put a virus under a microscope, it can be beautiful to behold. Furthermore, there is a category of viruses, friendly viruses, that are good for the body.

Here is the video.

Do you sometimes wish that we are not susceptible to diseases? What if the laws of physics have undergone a redesign and the fundamental natural features of our universe altered? The end result? None of us ever would have lived.

We need to understand that God designed the universe to be inhabited by us, human beings. This is called fine-tuning in cosmology.

Fine-tuning refers to the precise balance of cosmological constants that allow the observable universe to exist as it does. Any slightest variation in these constants would make the universe significantly different. More importantly, it would not be possible for human life to exist.

Is the Coronavirus a Punishment from God?

We know that God is love and that He loves us unconditionally because the Bible tells us so.

It sounds like a cliché I know, but it’s true. God loves us so much and He does not want us to be separated from Him for all eternity because of our sin. So, what did God do? He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us just so we can have eternal life (John 3:16).

Yes, God loves us! That’s a fact, and He has our best interest at heart. He wants us to live our lives to the full (John 10:10b) and wants to bless us in every way possible. So why diseases such as Covid-19?

Interestingly, some Christian pastors and leaders believe this is God’s punishment for legalized abortion and gay marriage. Articles like this started circulating after Richard Weber Jr, an attorney for the LGBTQ+ community, died of coronavirus complications.

Meanwhile, conservative pastor Rick Wiles and avid supporter of President Donald Trump, claimed the Covid-19 is God’s punishment to Jews for rejecting Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

If we are to take their words seriously, then why is it that many pastors and Bible-believing Christians got infected with the coronavirus? Several of them even died!

If this virus is a punishment from God for the wicked, why are Christians suffering from it too? Why doesn’t God spare His children to show the world that He is the one true God that every people from every tribe and nation must bow down to and worship?

God and the Coronavirus Outbreak

Can God stop the global pandemic that is affecting the entire world? Sure, He can! God is all-powerful and there is nothing too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27). So why doesn’t God intervene and stop it so everybody can go back to their normal lives?

Amid this crisis that the entire world is going through, where is God? What does He think about all this? I do not believe one bit that God finds satisfaction at the expense of the suffering of His creation. Remember, if there is someone who understands perfectly what suffering means, it’s the Lord Jesus.

Christ suffered at the hands of His own people. He didn’t have to but He did. He endured extreme shame, suffering, and death on the cross for our sake. It is unreasonable for us to think that He doesn’t care about us nor love us. So, why this suffering caused by a very tiny, invisible, yet potent virus?

Instead of asking why God isn’t stopping this pandemic, the question we should be asking is, “What is God’s purpose for allowing the coronavirus outbreak? What does God seek to accomplish by letting the entire world go through this?”


This global pandemic could be a wake-up call for all Christians. Have we become complacent in doing the Father’s business? Are we sharing our faith with others the way we should? When was the last time Christians all around the world were united to pray for the nations?

We are in the very last days and we should be working double-time to reach out to the lost.

With the current situation, people need to hear that there is a God who loves them and cares so much about them. When people realize that doctors are running out of solutions, they are most certainly open to something else, or somebody else. One who has the answer to their problems and suffering.

If you’ve been paying close attention to the news, you must have read stories about atheist doctors who started calling out to God for help. This is huge! People who do not believe in God are now asking for His help. Do you know what this means? God is opening for us an opportunity to share the Word; let’s not waste it.

Global Effects of Covid-19

It’s devastating to read about people dying everywhere around the world from the novel coronavirus. What’s even more heartbreaking is that many healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses are dying too. These so-called front liners have risked their lives and continue to do so to help and save people who have been infected.

Healthcare professionals, who are now hailed as modern-day heroes, go to work every day. They leave their families behind not knowing if they will ever see each other again. Some might say, “Hey, isn’t this what they signed up for?” And I say, “That’s right!”

As a healthcare worker myself, I am very much aware of the risks that come with this job. I could be exposed to some lethal chemicals, I could contract certain diseases caused by known or unknown bacteria and viruses and end up dying from it.

In the hospital where I work as a Lab. Tech, there are now a few patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some of our colleagues who were found to have had direct contact with these patients were immediately placed on home quarantine (HQ).

Home Quarantine During Covid-19 Outbreak

Yesterday when I talked to a colleague about the possibility of us getting infected, she was upset that the management refused to give us full details on the current status of our patients who tested positive. While I wasn’t sure what was going through her mind, I could sense her fear, and I understand.

I tried explaining to her that this is one of the risks of working in healthcare. There isn’t any guarantee that no one will get infected among us. All we can do is take the necessary precautions, put on our full PPE (personal protective equipment) such as gown, face mask, face shield, and gloves.

Frequent hand washing and social distancing also play a vital role in staying protected from the virus. More importantly, we need to pray for God’s divine protection and the blood of Jesus to cover us.

God has so many wonderful promises in His Word that we can claim for us and our loved ones. In Psalm 91:1-16, God promises protection, safety, and security for those who trust in the Lord and make Him their refuge and dwelling place.

My concern now is the possible shortage of personnel in healthcare. If doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners continue to get infected with the coronavirus and succumb to it (God forbid), what will happen to the thousands of people who need medical attention?

I can’t even begin to imagine. I can only hope and pray that this crisis will all be over soon.

Impact of the Coronavirus to the World Economy

The effect of the Covid-19 global pandemic is undeniable.

People everywhere are losing their jobs, business establishments are shutting down, the stock market is crashing, the economy is collapsing. We do not know when this crisis is going to end. Will we be able to recover? Will things ever get better?

We are still in lockdown here in Saudi Arabia, just like most territories everywhere else in the world that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 8, 2020, our government imposed a 14-day lockdown in the eastern region after 11 people tested positive for the virus. I thought everything will go back to normal after completing this period. But due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, (and again just like in other countries especially Italy and America), the lockdown period was extended for another 14 days.

God and the Coronavirus

Not only that we cannot go somewhere else. In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government also declared a nationwide coronavirus curfew that started on the evening of Monday, March 23, 2020. For 21 days residents are ordered to stay inside their homes from 7 pm until 6 am.

Excluded from the 11-hour long curfew are people who work in certain industries, including healthcare, food service, and media. The curfew is seriously implemented that violators will be punished with a 10,000-riyal fine, and with jail time after multiple violations.

I just watched a video of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, saying he wanted so badly to re-open the economy in states that are mildly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Trump is getting impatient I guess and is very much concerned about the companies that have shut down.

Will they be able to re-open after this crisis is over?

God is Our Only Hope

As we go through this global crisis, we must not forget that God is our only hope. God is not our last hope; He is not our last resort. We do not go to Him only when all else fails. Instead, we must go to Him first.

In trying times such as this, we are to cry out to God for help. Now more than ever, we need to humble ourselves before God and ask for His grace and mercy. We need to pray fervently for the nations. We are to stand in the gap on behalf of our land.

We do not know what the future holds. Will things ever be the same? We can never tell. 

But one thing we know and can be sure of is that no matter what happens, God is with us, He is for us, and He will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). God has already conquered sickness (1 Peter 2:24) and death (2 Timothy 1:10). There is no reason to live in fear.

In the meantime, let us put our trust in God, hold on to His promises and live each day anticipating the Lord’s return.

Guidelines in Interpreting Bible Prophecy

Guidelines in Interpreting Bible Prophecy

Bible scholars often tell us that approximately twenty-five percent of the Bible was written as prophecy. This is why studying Bible prophecy and knowing how to correctly interpret them is an enormously important subject.

While much of prophecy is simply straightforward and unambiguous, this means that the immediate context usually provides the interpretive framework; there are cases where a prophetic theme does not follow a tight theme with a strict chronological order.

For instance, the scenes described in the prophecy may appear to be like those of a dream with transitory impressions going back and forth in time and between events. In other cases, the prophets made such extensive use of symbolism, thus making it difficult for the Bible reader to understand what the prophecy is about.

So in this article, we will look at some basic guidelines or rules on how to interpret Bible prophecy.

How to Correctly Interpret Prophecy

1. Study each prophecy as a whole – not just isolated parts.

One of the common errors Bible students make when reading and studying the Bible is taking verses out of their original context. In doing so, one can make the text say whatever he wants it to say even if it’s not what the author had in mind when he wrote them.

This is why people who claim to have read the Bible do not always agree on what the Bible has to say about a certain topic or issue.

In the same way, you cannot correctly interpret a prophecy without studying it as a whole. For instance, if you want to study the prophecy about the Antichrist in Daniel 11:36-45, you must start reading from Daniel 10:1.

Rules in Interpreting Prophecy

2. Know the cultural and historical context of the passage.

Every prophecy should be interpreted taking into consideration its historical and cultural contexts. It is also important to know the intended meaning of the author, thus, reading the introduction to the book that contains it will help.

The prophets composed their books from about 850 B.C. till possibly as late as 400 B.C. Generally speaking, this was a time of great tumult politically, militarily, and economically as Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia waxed and waned in power and influence – with the inhabitants of ancient Israel frequently caught in the middle.

It was also a time of religious unfaithfulness on the part of God’s chosen people – even after their return from exile.

3. Bible prophecies should be interpreted in the light of grammatical considerations.

In addition to understanding the historical and cultural settings of the book that contains the prophecy we are studying, following the standard rules of grammar also helps us arrive at the correct interpretation.

We need to understand that words have a particular meaning in a particular context. And the way the words are placed together in sentences and paragraphs will help the reader derive the appropriate message that the writer wanted to communicate.

The same is true with the Bible, God had a reason for moving the writers to choose the words they used and put them together in the order they did. Our goal as Bible readers is to come up with the proper interpretation, which can be done by following common-sense rules.

The strength of this hermeneutical approach is evident in the way the New Testament authors interpreted the Old Testament. This is also the only approach that offers an internal system of “checks and balances” to make sure we are on the right track.

4. Know what the book that contains the prophecy is about.

What is the main theme of the book? In other words, what is the author talking about in the book? Why? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you put the prophecy you are studying in perspective.

Where exactly should you look? If you are using a study Bible, you will find them in the introduction to the book.

5. Know the context of the prophecy you are studying.

To correctly interpret a prophecy, you need to examine the outline and chart that is included at the beginning of the book containing the passage you are studying. Look at the survey section as well.

These study aids provide a wealth of information to familiarize you with the book and make you feel “at home” with it. You must also take into consideration what comes before the prophecy in the book and what comes after it. You can also ask the following questions:

  • Who are the actors?
  • What do they do?
  • What is the result?
  • Where does it happen?


6. Check to see if the symbol or symbolism is introduced or explained earlier in Scripture.

The Bible uses a lot of symbolism and understanding the symbolism, say, in Ezekiel and especially Daniel is crucial to understanding the book of Revelation.

7. Check to see if other prophecies parallel the one you are studying.

Many Bible prophecies can only be understood when read side by side with passages that talk about the same subject. For example, the subject matter of Daniel 2 parallels the subject matter of Daniel 7.

8. Presume the passage or thing being referred to as literal unless it is obviously a symbol or interpreted as such.

This means that unless there is firm evidence in the context that the word is used in some other sense, words are to be understood in their normal, natural sense.

It is also important to distinguish between the symbolic and the literal, the prophecy and the interpretation. The interpretation is not symbolic and is meant to be understood literally.

9. Interpret animals, colors, and numbers literally unless the author reveals that they are approximations by using words such as like, as, or about.

The prophets describe fantastic sights, and there are times when they simply run out of earthly things with which to describe heavenly things.

Examples:

“And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stones in appearance “ (Revelation 4:3).

“The first living creature was like a lion” (Revelation 4:7).

“And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire” (Revelation 15:2).

10. If a prophecy has not been completely fulfilled in the past, you can assume that it will be fulfilled in the future.

A partial fulfillment, like the foretaste of the kingdom experienced by Peter, James, and John at the Transfiguration of Christ, makes the future fulfillment of the prophecies relating to the kingdom all the more sure. This is Peter’s point in 2 Peter 1:19-20.

Final Thoughts

Many Christians shy away from studying Bible prophecy because there are difficulties in interpreting them. But if we are to take the Bible seriously and we want to know God and His will, we need to study prophecy.

We cannot deny the fact that there have been several erroneous interpretations taught by people claiming to have the Spirit of God. But this should not discourage us from studying prophecy because in so doing will give us a better understanding of what God has done in the past, what He is doing at present and what God has in store for us in the future.


*Recommended Resource: Understanding Prophecy: A Biblical-Theological Approach By Alan S. Bandy & Benjamin L. Merkle

An authoritative guide to clearly understanding the place and meaning of prophecy in the Bible

For thoughtful readers who are curious about biblical prophecy, this book will help them learn the place of prophecy in the message of the Bible and clear up the confusion that often surrounds reading these texts.

Studying biblical prophecy is about much more than predicting end-times events. Rather, a proper approach to prophecy acknowledges that the threads of prophecy crisscross throughout Genesis to Revelation, forming the fabric of canonical Scripture. This is why having a good grasp of the prophetic genre is essential for understanding the message of the entire Bible.

Authors Alan Bandy and Benjamin Merkle not only offer thoughtful and careful explanations of individual biblical prophecies but also give the reader the big picture of how all prophecy relates to and should be interpreted in light of Jesus Christ.

This book examines the nature, themes, purposes, and theology of biblical prophecy and provides a framework for how to interpret any passage in the context of the Bible as a whole.

How to Effectively Witness for Christ

How to Effectively Witness for Christ

Do you still remember how you came to faith in Christ? God must have used somebody to share the good news of salvation to you. Was it a friend, a colleague, or a family member? Regardless of who that might be, now that you have received God’s gift of salvation, it’s your turn to share it with others.

But why should you do that? Why share the good news? It’s because all followers of Christ are to be His witnesses. Every Christian is commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

However, fulfilling this mandate known as the Great Commission can be a real challenge to every follower of Jesus.

So in this article, I am going to share some guidelines or techniques on how to effectively witness for Christ.

Preach the Gospel

Does Mark 16:15 (quoted above) mean that every Christian must become a pastor or a preacher and speak from a pulpit or platform in order to proclaim the good news of salvation? Of course not!

To “preach” does not necessarily mean to deliver a sermon to an assembled group of people. We simply have to reach out to the lost and introduce the gospel to them. And like I said, this was a command (from Jesus), not a suggestion.

Did you know that this command was not obeyed immediately? Jesus’ disciples stayed in Jerusalem for many years after the church was born at Pentecost. It was only when the persecution started that Christianity began to spread to the world. And when it did, it spread robustly and continues to.

The more the church was persecuted, the faster the gospel propagated.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. - Mark 16:15

Important Note:

In many Bibles, Mark 16:9-20 is footnoted in some way because apparently, it did not exist in the earliest Greek manuscripts of the gospel of Mark.

Although the vast majority of later manuscripts include this passage, the two oldest and most respected manuscripts the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (dated from 325 and 340 A.D.) do not contain this section. A few ancient manuscripts put asterisks next to Mark 16:9-20 to indicate that it is an addition to the original text.

Nevertheless, many very early Christians referred to this passage in their writings, which shows that they accepted it as genuine. But whether this portion of Mark’s gospel was written by Mark or was added later on by scribes, it is important to note that it offers no new information, nor does it contradict previously revealed events and/or doctrines.

Why Should Christians Share Their Faith?

Aside from the fact that God has commanded us to do so, we share our faith as a demonstration of our love for God. Jesus said that if we truly loved Him we should keep His commandments (John 14:15).

Christians must also share their faith because all are lost (Romans 3:10, 23) but God desires to save all people (Acts 4:12, 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). Sharing our faith is God’s chosen method to tell all people what Christ has done at Mount Calvary for the forgiveness and salvation of man.

God could have used angels but He didn’t. It’s because only redeemed sinners can tell lost sinners about Christ (Romans 10:14-17; Acts 8:13).

We must share our faith because someone once shared their faith with us. It may have been a faithful Bible teacher, or a godly pastor, or a praying parent. In other words, they have the right to expect that we will do for others what they have done for us.

Effective Witnessing Techniques

1. Be a clean vessel for God.

First, to be an effective witness for Christ, we must be clean vessels. God reminds Isaiah the prophet of this, “Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isaiah 52:11). We cannot expect to share our faith successfully if we are deliberately living in sin and disobedience to God.

We must confess our sins to God and forsake them, then yield our lives completely to God. Although God does not demand golden or silver vessels, He does require clean ones. (Notice that God used and continues to use imperfect people.)

2. Pray, pray, pray.

Prayer is very important if we are to be effective soul-winners for Christ. Before we even attempt to evangelize, we pray not only for the blood covering of Jesus upon us because we will be engaging in a spiritual battle but also for God to open doors so we can proclaim the gospel.

We must pray that God will lead us to the people He wants us to share the gospel with; we pray that God will open their hearts to receive the gospel.

When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch in Syria from speaking to great multitudes at Iconium and Lystra, passing through Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).

We also read in Colossians 4:3-4 that Paul asked the brethren to pray for him and his companions so that God will open a door for the message of the gospel, and for him to proclaim it clearly as he should.


3. Be totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

Before His ascension, Jesus gave a specific instruction to His disciples to not leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them and empower them to become His witnesses not only in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, but also to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:4, 8).

We must acknowledge that we cannot be effective witnesses for Christ without the Holy Spirit to work on our behalf. We can do nothing without God and this includes soul-winning. We do not know the right words to say; many of us may be timid and are not eloquent speakers.

But God did not only promise that He’d give us the courage to speak, but He’d also give us the words to proclaim.

The apostle Paul, who used to be a zealous Jew taught by Gamaliel, said to the church in Corinth in his first letter that he knew nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He then went on to say that he was proclaiming his testimony about God to them not with wise and persuasive words, but with the demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the most powerful sermon ever that led to the conversion of 3,000 souls in one day. How did he do that? The Holy Spirit enabled him.

These two instances in the ministry of Paul and Peter clearly illustrate that without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we cannot possibly share the gospel effectively.

One side note: It’s not your job to convert people to Christ. Your job is to share the Gospel. So do your job of sharing the gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to do His job of convicting.

4. God is patient with lost sinners.

One other thing we need to keep in mind is that God does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

The leaders of Israel had rejected the ministry of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus, yet God gave them another opportunity to repent and be saved. They had denied and slain their own Messiah, yet God patiently held back His judgment and sent His Spirit to deal with them.

God’s people today need patience as they witness to a lost world.

Had there been times when you lost patience with someone you’re witnessing to because it looked like it wasn’t working? Let me just say that whenever you’re tempted to lose patience with the lost and want to give up, remember how God has been patient with you up until today.

Now, the question you may want to ask is: At what point should we stop trying to convince someone their need of a Savior? If after repeatedly sharing with them the bad news (we are all sinners) and the good news (Christ paid for our sins by His suffering and death) but they’re not interested, I believe it’s time to move on to the next person on your list.

Matthew 7:6 says, “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.” In other words, we should not shove the gospel down the throats of people who do not want it; they will just continue to mock God and His Word.

5. Learn to do basic Apologetics.

One of the most effective tools in witnessing is apologetics, from the Greek word apologia, meaning to give a defense.

We first read this word from Peter when he said in his epistle, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

In short, apologetics is the science and art of defending the Christian faith by using reasons and evidence.

When Peter and John were brought before the rulers, elders, scribes and priests, (including Annas the high priest), and was asked in what power or by what name has he been performing miracle healings, Peter implored apologetics. He gave a clear defense of the gospel by declaring to them the fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 4:5-14).

Apologetics - an Effective Tool in Witnessing

Can you give an answer as to why you’re a Christian? Why do you believe Christianity is true? What’s your basis in claiming that the Bible is God’s Word? You do not have to attend seminary school, but as a Christian, you must be able to explain why you believe what you believe.

I often hear many Christians (including pastors) say this to non-Christians: “Just believe.” And I’m like, “What? Seriously?” Haven’t these Christians read how Jesus gave evidence for His claim of divinity by performing miracles? He did not just claim to be God by attributing to Himself God’s name (I Am); He did many miracles to prove it. The climax being His resurrection!

Christianity hinges on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and the historical evidence for the resurrection is very strong and compelling. This alone should be enough to give Christians confidence that they did not believe in vain.

6. Learn Polemics

Polemics is a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.

Polemics is the other side of apologetics. If apologetics is defense, polemics is offense. As Jay Smith always says, “The best defense is a good offense.” In basketball, you don’t win the game just by defending the goal; you win by attacking the basket and scoring against your opponent.

This is not only true in the game of basketball or soccer, but also in witnessing.

While in Thessalonica, it was Paul’s custom to go into the synagogues of the Jews for days, months and even years, to argue and reason with them persuasively from the Scriptures about the kingdom of God. He would explain and prove that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead (Acts 17:1-3; 19:8-10).

Do you see what Paul had been doing? He’s on the attack! He did not just wait for the Jewish religious leaders to question him; he went to them and proclaimed the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

So how and where do you begin? You can start the conversation by asking what they believe about life and death, or heaven and hell. Ask them where they think they will go should they die today and why.

7. A changed life is the best defense of the truth of Christianity.

In his evangelistic ministries, Methodist preacher Samuel Chadwick used to pray for “a Lazarus” in every campaign, “some great sinner” whose conversion would shock the community. He got the idea from John 12:9-11.

God answered his prayers in meeting after meeting as infamous wicked individuals trusted Christ and became witnesses through their changed lives.

How to be an Effective Witness for Christ

This is Paul’s exhortation for all Christians in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

You may have heard this exhortation from most pastors about living the faith as followers of Jesus. “Be careful how you live your life because you may be the only Bible unbelievers will ever read.”

Concluding Words

When the disciples asked Jesus what are the signs of His coming and the end of the age, He said to them:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me, you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:5-10).

The end is near, the days are evil. Jesus is coming soon. Christians need to work double-time to witness to the lost.

The Great Commission still stands. Are you fulfilling it?


Recommended Resource:  The Case for Christ, Revised & Updated: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus By Lee Strobel

The Case for Christ by Lee StrobelIs there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the son of God?

Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields.

Strobel challenges them with questions like: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?

In this winner of the Gold Medallion Book Award and two-time nominee for the Christian Book of the Year Award, Strobel’s tough, point-blank questions play like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it’s not fiction. It’s a riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure.

The new edition includes scores of revisions and additions, including updated material on archaeological and manuscript discoveries, fresh recommendations for further study, and an interview with the author that tells dramatic stories about the book’s impact, provides behind-the-scenes information, and responds to critiques of the book by skeptics.

This updated edition will prove even more valuable to contemporary listeners.

Jesus in the Order of Melchizedek

Jesus in the Order of Melchizedek

One of the most mysterious and intriguing figures in the Bible is Melchizedek. Who is Melchizedek and why does the author to the Hebrews say that Jesus is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek? Was Melchizedek Jesus Christ?

Who was Melchizedek?

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, is first mentioned in Genesis 14:17-20. After Abram returned from his victory over Chedorlaomer and his allies, Melchizedek, together with the king of Sodom, went out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh.

Melchizedek brought Abram some bread and wine and blessed him saying, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand” (Genesis 14:18-19).

Melchizedek’s family history is different. Although he was a man and had to have a mother and a father, the Old Testament has no record of his genealogy, and this is significant because most great persons in the Old Testament have their ancestry identified.

The name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” in the Hebrew language. The word Salem means “peace” (the Hebrew word shalom) so that Melchizedek is “king of peace” as well as “king of justice.”

Note: Justice and peace are often found together in Scripture. True peace can be experienced only on the basis of righteousness and justice. If we want to enjoy peace with God we must be declared righteous (just) by faith (Romans 5:1). People cannot be right with God by keeping the Old Testament law (Galatians 2:21). Only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross can justice and peace meet.

Melchizedek, a Type of Christ

How is Jesus like Melchizedek?

After his sudden disappearance in the book of Genesis, it is interesting how Melchizedek is presented in Psalm 110:4 as a “type of Christ.” David writes, “The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”

How is Jesus like Melchizedek
Photo Credits: Pinterest (Pin by Kellys Destiny)

The reason Jesus Christ can be a “priest forever” is that He belongs to the “order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek’s priesthood differed from Aaronic priesthood in a number of ways. First, he had no genealogy and thus his priesthood was understood to be eternal.

In Hebrews 7:1-3 we see five qualities of Melchizedek’s priesthood: It is a priesthood of righteousness, peace, a royal priesthood (Melchizedek was a king), a personal priesthood rather than an inherited priesthood, and it is eternal since it has no genealogy, beginning or end.

Jesus Christ: Priest Forever in the Order of Melchizedek

The order of Melchizedek indicates that Christ was not appointed to the Aaronic priesthood of the old covenant but to a priesthood that would replace it and would be greater, just as Melchizedek himself was greater than Aaron and even Abraham himself.

The priest was the only one who could present a gift to God (Hebrews 5:1). He could do so because he had to be chosen to be God’s servant. As the minister of God, the priest had special access to God’s presence and could approach more closely than ordinary worshipers. He was the intermediary between God and the people. He represents the people to God and God to the people.

In the Old Testament economy, the throne and the altar were separated. King Uzziah wanted to be both a priest and a king, and God judged him (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). But Melchizedek had both offices – king and priest. Aaron never had that privilege. And it must be noted that Melchizedek was not a counterfeit priest; he was the “priest of God Most High” and his ministry was legitimate.

Only in Jesus Christ and in pre-law Melchizedek were these two offices combined. Jesus Christ is the High Priest on the throne.

Psalm 110:4, the central verse of David’s messianic psalm, is important to the message of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:17, 21) because it announces that the Messiah will be both King and Priest, something unheard of in the Old Testament history.

More importantly, in this psalm, Melchizedek pictures our Lord as a heavenly High Priest. If Jesus were on earth, He could not minister as a priest because He did not belong to the tribe of Levi. Jesus was born of the seed of David, the tribe of Judah. But because His priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek, who was both king and priest, He can minister in heaven today.

Jesus Christ is Our Great High Priest

In Hebrews 8:1-3 we read that “we have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man; a high priest who is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices.”

This high priest is Jesus Christ. As a High Priest, Jesus must offer gifts and sacrifices (Hebrews 5:1). We must not, however, get the impression that our Lord is offering sacrifices in heaven that corresponds to the Old Testament sacrifices. Rather, Jesus offered Himself once and for all as the sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 7:27).

In Hebrews 10:11-18, the writer contrasts the old covenant high priest with Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. The fact that Jesus sat down after He ascended to the Father proves that His work was completed (Hebrews 1:13; 8:1).

Jesus in the Order of Melchizedek

The ministry of the priests in the Tabernacle and Temple was never done and never different; they would offer the same sacrifices day after day. This constant repetition was proof that their sacrifices did not take away sins. What tens of thousands of animal sacrifices could not accomplish, Jesus accomplished with one sacrifice forever!

Christ’s position as the great high priest enabled Him to play a special role in our redemption. Because He was appointed priest, Christ was able to offer His death as a sacrifice for others. He became the sacrifice on earth that He might become the High Priest in heaven.

Was Melchizedek Jesus Christ?

Melchizedek was not an angel or some superhuman creature; nor was he an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. He was a real man, a real king, and a real priest in a real city. But as far as the record is concerned, he was not born, nor did he die (Hebrews 7:8). In this way, he pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who is Priest “forever.”

It may not have been obvious to Abram at that time, but the mysterious priesthood of Melchizedek pointed forward to the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ who would minister grace and mercy to us based on His own sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus is our great and eternal High Priest who lives forever. He is the high priest who is Himself sinless and never needs to offer any sacrifices for His own sin. In the offering of Himself, He made the perfect sacrifice which once and for all opened the way to God.

And no other sacrifice needs to be made, hallelujah, praise God!

Have you received Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins?


Recommended Resource: 

Melchizedek’s Alternative Priestly Order: A Compositional Analysis of Genesis 14:18-20
By Joshua Mathews

Product Description:

Genesis 14:18-20 is a brief episode depicting the encounter between Abram and Melchizedek. Taking this episode and its context in the Pentateuch as the starting point, Mathews sets out to analyze the text as it has been composed, in order to understand the biblical and theological significance of this priest-king Melchizedek.

The thesis proposed and investigated is that Melchizedek’s royal priestly portrayal in Genesis initiates a priesthood that is intentionally presented as an alternative to Aaron and his priesthood. The claim is that this distinct priestly order is evident in the biblical text as we have it, and it may be discerned by reading the text carefully, on its own terms, with close attention to its compositional features.

Chapter 1 introduces the study and offers an overview of the history of interpretation related to Genesis 14 and Melchizedek. In chapter 2, various hermeneutical issues and approaches are examined in order to clarify methodology and identify some of the problems being addressed.

 In chapter 3, the heart of the book, Mathews considers Genesis 14:18-20 in the context of the Pentateuch, focusing on Melchizedek in relation to the Abrahamic narrative and covenant, the royal message of the Pentateuch, and Aaron’s priesthood.

Beginning with Psalm 110, chapter 4 identifies echoes of Melchizedek and his priesthood in several texts in the Prophets and Writings. The book concludes in chapter 5 with a summary and synthesis of the preceding analysis as well as some implications and suggestions for further research.

When Christians Doubt God

When Christians Doubt God

How long have you been a Christian? Do you ever struggle with doubt? How did you deal with it? You are not alone. Most Christians at some point in their walk with God have struggled with doubt.

Doubt: What is it?

Doubt may be defined as the uncertainty of belief or lack of confidence in something. It is important to clarify that doubt is not the absence of faith. Doubt is when you question what you already believe.

Applied to the Christian life, doubt refers to the lack of confidence in God and His Word that Christians occasionally exhibit.

It is possible that in a moment of infirmity a Christian may doubt the existence of God in spite of the fact that it is not reasonable for a person to disbelieve this obvious truth. As Psalm 14:1 says, “Only the fool will say in his heart that there is no God, for they are corrupt.” Indeed, Faithlessness is Foolishness.

Occasions when Christians Doubt

A Christian is more likely to doubt his salvation after sinning or after a spiritual defeat. A misunderstanding of such verses as 1 John 3:9 contributes to this doubt: “Whoever has been born of God does not sin.” It is crucial to note that this verse speaks of a lifestyle of sin, not instances of sin.

A Christian may also doubt God’s sovereignty or His goodness. In such circumstances as sickness, suffering, injustice, opposition, economic problems, family problems, national calamity, or apparently unanswered prayer, a Christian may be tempted to doubt the goodness of God.

One must remember that it is not always possible to discern God’s good hand in the affairs of life. But the person of faith believes God even when circumstances appear to the contrary.

Sources of Doubt

Why do Christians doubt God? The three common sources of doubt are Satan, the world system, and the Christian himself.

1. Satan

One of the most potent sources of doubt is introduced in the early chapters of Genesis. It is Satan himself who causes Eve to doubt God by questioning His Word.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’” (Genesis 3:1)?

Satan even tries to get the longsuffering Job to curse God (Job 1:11; 2:9).

Satan is also said to be seeking to devour Christians: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

But this statement must not be taken literally; it means that Satan wants to devour the Christian’s commitment to God and their testimony before others. One way he does this is by introducing doubt into their minds.

2. The World

The world system is another source of doubt. Since it has its own set of values and objectives that are opposed to God; it also has its own worldly wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:6). This wisdom stands in direct opposition to the wisdom of God taught by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Sources of Doubt in the Christian Life
Photo Credits: The Stream

While worldly wisdom appeals to the senses and emotions of man, thus telling them to follow their hearts, godly wisdom is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17).

Christians are exhorted by the Word of God to not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) and to not love the world or the things in this world, 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 (1 John 2:15-16).

3. Spiritual Immaturity

Probably the greatest source of doubt Christians face is simply their own immaturity.

James traces doubting in prayer to double-mindedness and instability (James 1:6). Paul explains that when Christians doubt sound doctrine, it is because they are children in the faith and thus are easily deceived (Ephesians 4:14).

If we are to overcome doubt, we need to continue seeking God and His will. We must desire to grow and mature in our spiritual walk with the Lord. One of the signs of spiritual maturity is to be able to stand firm in our faith even when things in life get tough.

How to Overcome Doubt

The cure for doubt depends to some extent on the thing doubted. However, the real problem is not in the object doubted but in the subject who doubts. Therefore, the following steps should be taken by the doubting Christian:

a. Confess the doubt to God as sin.

All doubt may be traced ultimately to unbelief in the Word of God, which affirms beyond question the existence and character of God.

While it is okay to sometimes doubt and question why unpleasant things are happening in our life, it is important that we regard doubt as the sin of unbelief and then confess it to God immediately.

Allowing doubt to linger in our life is one way of giving the devil a foothold in us. Thereby, confronting doubt and confessing it to God is the first step towards overcoming it.

When we do confess, God has promised to hear our confession of even the darkest unbelief.

b. Study the evidence for the Christian faith.

Christians have nothing to fear by looking into the facts from any source of knowledge.

The greatest evidence for the validity of Christianity, the resurrection of Christ, is attested by many proofs. Among these are the empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances, and transformed disciples. Since the Resurrection is true, it verifies everything the Bible says.

To read more of the evidence of the resurrection, you may want to grab your copy of The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas & Michael R. Licona.

*Product Description:

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, along with an interactive CD, will prepare you to make a compelling argument for the historicity of Christ’s resurrection, even to those who do not accept the Bible as divinely inspired.

The authors first develop principles by which a historical event can be accepted as true, then apply them to belief in Christ’s rising from the dead, and finally offer sample scenarios illustrating the use of these principles.

c. Make certain of your salvation.

Paul exhorts Christians to examine themselves to make sure they are Christians (2 Corinthians 13:5). So did the author of Hebrews (Hebrews 6:1-9).

Do you really belong to the body of Christ? Have you confessed Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Are you completely surrendered to God and living according to His Word? Will your faith be proven genuine when tested by fire (1 Peter 1:7)?

Salvation from sin is by simply trusting in Jesus Christ, that is, placing your faith in the finished works of Christ. Until you are assured of your salvation you will be troubled by enormous doubts.

When Christians Doubt God

d. Faithfully study the Word of God.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

We must immerse ourselves in God’s Word. Through the study and application of the Bible, our faith is strengthened and matured. Most especially, we must master the doctrines or basic teachings of the Bible if we are to be stable, mature Christians (1 Timothy 4:13, 16; 2 Timothy 3:16, Titus 2:1, 10).

When our beliefs are established on the truth, we are more likely to stand in times when doubts start kicking in.

e. Pray.

The surest way to face doubts when they come is to have an extensive history of answered prayer.

The more a Christian prays with faith, the more that Christian sees God answer prayer; the more a person sees God answer prayer, the stronger that person’s faith becomes while the doubt becomes less.

Closing Thoughts

Understand that doubting is normal. Abraham, who is called the father of faith, doubted God several times. When his life was in danger, he lied in order to save himself (Genesis 12:10-13). We thought he learned his lesson and has learned to trust God more. Yet, he doubted God’s promise again and repeated his error (Genesis 20:1-2).

When John the Baptist was imprisoned, he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus whether He was really the Messiah, or whether they should expect someone else (Matthew 11:1-3; Luke 7:18-20). What? John the Baptist? The cousin and forerunner of Jesus? The one who baptized Him and saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Him?

John knew the evidence but his sense of being abandoned while in prison brought on emotional doubt.

This can happen to anyone of us and when it does, we can be sure that God understands us and is patient with us. But we need to confess our doubts as sin and trust that God’s presence is with us even when we don’t always feel it (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

What is Sin in the Bible?

What is Sin in the Bible?

In today’s culture where biblical literacy is diminishing, sin has been reduced to some kind of simple misbehavior or minor flaws. Many understand sin to be anything that violates their will and wants. But what is sin according to the Bible? What are the effects of sin and what should be done about it?

What Sin Is

If asked to define sin, people will come up with many different definitions as to what sin is and these are usually the things that the individual does not like. In dealing with sin, it is important to know what sin is.

One of the most common definitions of sin is missing the mark – a failure to live up to an expected standard. The Greek word is hamartia, from the root word hamartanō, an archer’s term meaning to miss the bull’s-eye. The problem with this definition is that it fails to take into account that when the mark is missed, something is hit.

What is Sin According to the Bible

Another definition of sin is found in 1 John 3:4, “sin is lawlessness.” Or as the NLT says, “Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.” Simply put, sin is anything that is contrary to what the Word of God commands or forbids. This definition, however, does not take into account those things about which the Word of God is silent.

The best definition of sin is found in 1 John 5:17, “all unrighteousness is sin.”

The Effects of Sin

Sin, regardless of its degree, always has an effect – death. The entrance of sin into the human race brought with it death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). That man is a sinner is proven by the fact that he dies, for where there is death, there is sin.

The good news is that sin’s penalty, death, can be remedied by life – union with God. This is achieved by believing in Jesus, who died to pay the penalty of man’s sin (Romans 5:21).

*Read here: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ

The Bible tells us that there are two kinds of death: spiritual and physical. And whether spiritual or physical, death always means separation.

1. Spiritual death

Spiritual death is when a person is alive physically, but dead spiritually. Spiritual death is the state of being alienated from God. Every one of us is born spiritually dead, that is, separated from God, because sin separates one from God. As Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities (or sins) have separated you from God.”

Spiritual death became a reality for all humanity as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 explains, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Adam was told that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would die (Genesis 2:17; 3:3). Adam and Eve ate of the tree and immediately died spiritually – their relationship and fellowship with God were broken. And everyone born after them is separated from God.

Good news is, spiritual death need not be a permanent state. God is eager for us to receive the life He is offering. To be rescued from spiritual death, we only need to recognize our sinful state and acknowledge our need of a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son who gave His life to purchase eternal life for us (John 3:16)

2. Physical death

When Adam deliberately disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he did not only die spiritually, he began to die physically. God’s pronouncement of His judgment of death upon Adam spoke of Adam’s body returning to dust (Genesis 3:19). The body that is made up of dust will return to dust.

Physical death is the separation of the spirit (and soul) from the body. The Scriptures testify to this in Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.”

Also, when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter: “But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat” (Luke 8:54-55).

Physical Death is just a Doorway to Heaven

As far as human knowledge is concerned, death is the place of no return; it is the end of all life and existence for a person (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). No matter what your status in life, young or old, rich or poor, sooner or later your body will cease to function. From the moment we are born, we begin to die. That is because the penalty of sin is death.

Again, the good news for the one who believes in Jesus is that the penalty of sin is broken. Yes, he will die physically (unless he is alive when Jesus returns to take all believers to heaven with Himself in an event called the rapture described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18), but physical death for him is only the doorway into the presence of God.

What Should Be Done About Sin

The believer should never condone or attempt to excuse his sin. There are only two things that should be done about sin: confess it and forsake it (Proverbs 28:13).

1. Confess it.

The Old and New Testaments are agreed on this.

Upon realizing his sin of murder and adultery, David confessed his sin and experienced the Lord’s forgiveness (Psalm 32:5). John agrees as he points out: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

To “confess” means to acknowledge or to say the same thing as. The believer is instructed that he is to say the same thing as God says about his sin, “It is sin.”

When the believer confesses his sin, he has the assurance that God is “faithful” (He can be counted upon to keep His word) and “just” (He is just in dealing with our sins because He paid the price for them) “to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

There is no sin too great and no sin too small – God is able to cleanse us completely from anything that is inconsistent with His own moral character.

2. Forsake it.

Sin in the believer’s life is a terrible thing and is not to be tolerated because it mars his fellowship with God. Sin, whether committed against God or a fellow human being, has a detrimental effect on their relationship and fellowship.

That’s why it is important for the believer, after receiving forgiveness and cleansing, to forsake his sin and yield completely to God. In doing this the believer is restored to full fellowship with God.

Proverbs 28:13 NKJV

Closing Thoughts

As God’s children, He expects us to live a life of godly character and to become more like Him (Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16). We are to build a godly character by remaining faithful to what is right according to God, not what the world thinks is right.

Some say this is quite difficult to do, and I agree. We are all by nature sinful, we are all fallen (Romans 3:23). But because “Jesus Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, we have already died to sins so that we might live for His righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). We are to live by faith that God will give us the strength to resist the urge to sin.

While it is probable that the believer will sin, no one who is in Christ will continue to sin (1 John 3:6) and anyone born of God does not keep on sinning (1 John 5:18 ESV). Is John saying that believers automatically become sinless?

No! He simply means that believers will not continue practicing sin as a way of life. A person who claims to be a Christian but is living contrary to God’s will is showing the world that he or she is not really saved, to begin with. A genuine believer in Jesus will not knowingly, deliberately, and habitually sin.

Do you sometimes feel the urge to commit sin? What are you doing to resist it?

Out of the Darkness into Light

Out of the Darkness into Light

Upon hearing of the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew to Galilee where He started His ministry. Jesus left Nazareth and went on to live in Capernaum in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.

This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah that the good news of salvation would reach Jews and Gentiles as Jesus will draw people out of darkness into His marvelous light (Isaiah 9:1-2).

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” – Matthew 4:15-16

Jesus Brings Light to a Dark World

Why did Jesus leave Nazareth to dwell in Capernaum? This was because the people rejected Him – in His own hometown. So He made His home in Capernaum and not in Nazareth.

As a fulfillment of prophecy, Light has come into the region of Galilee, which was largely populated by Gentiles. D. A. Carson describes Galilee to be a place where people live in darkness, that is, without the religious and cultic advantages of Jerusalem and Judea.

John 8:12

The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would establish God’s rule. That time is now fulfilled in Jesus who brings the light and truth of the Gospel to the world. As Jesus began to preach repentance, light has finally dawned upon “despised” Galilee.

Before coming to faith in Christ, we were all under the power of darkness. But thanks be to God, He sent His Son to deliver us. Although we are still tempted by Satan, we are no longer under his power; we are not his slaves, and he has no rights over us. We must resist him so that the effects of the power of darkness become less and less evident in our lives.

Living in the Light in a Dark World

How do Christians live in the light while residing in a dark world? In Ephesians 5:1-7, Paul exhorts all believers to imitate God by walking in love and getting rid of all forms of sexual immorality, perversion, covetousness and foolish talking.

Paul continues in Ephesians 5:8 by saying, “You were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord, so walk as children of light.”

Take note that Paul does not say believers were “in” darkness, but they “were” darkness. He is saying that darkness is the character of every believer before coming to Christ. And then he says we are to live and walk as children of light. What does it mean to live in light?

Paul McArthur says, “In Scripture, the figurative use of light has two aspects: intellectual and moral. Intellectually it represents truth, whereas morally it represents holiness. Therefore, to live in light means to live in truth and in holiness. The figure of darkness has the same two aspects. Intellectually it represents ignorance and falsehood, whereas morally it connotes evil.”

As children of God, we walk in the light by always remembering that light, not darkness is our nature. Paul uses the term “children of light” to remind us that we have our Father’s nature (2 Peter 1:4). In Psalm 27:1, David calls God “my light and my salvation” and Jesus said He is the light of the world (John 8:12).

That is the nature of God our Father and we have His nature.

Becoming a Light in a World of Darkness

How do Christians become a light in this dark world?

1. Shine your light for all to see.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

In the same way that we always place a lamp in the most advantageous position, we must place our light where it could shine the brightest. We must put our light on a stand for all to see.

*Read here: How to Let Your Light Shine

2. Live to please God.

In order to please God, we must discern what pleases Him by discerning His will. I’ve enumerated several ways by which we can discern God’s will in your life in this article.

3. Have nothing to do with darkness; rather, expose it.

Believers in Jesus are strongly advised to not only stay away from the works of darkness but also to expose them (Ephesians 5:11-12). And one of the ways we do this is by living a holy life.

To be holy means to be separated from the world. We may be “in this world” but we are not “of this world.” As believers, we do not curse, get drunk, cheat, and engage in any form of sexual immorality. We are to live a life that exposes the sin of those around us.

But we must be ready to get mocked and ridiculed by unbelievers who love darkness and hate the light. Living a holy life is indeed both rare and strange in this world. Consider Daniel who was thrown into the lion’s den for praying to the One true God three times a day.

Then there’s Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into the blazing furnace for refusing to bow down to the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar.

Are you willing to welcome the cross of our Savior who was hated by the world? Then be different even if it would result in being treated weird and strange.

Out of the Darkness into Light

4. Produce the fruits of light.

As believers in Jesus who is the light, we must produce the fruits of light: goodness, truth, and righteousness.

Goodness refers to anything that is morally excellent. Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Looking at this verse more closely, we can say that goodness is “love in action.” It’s pretty easy to say, “I love you” but these words do not really mean much if it’s not coupled with action. Like our Lord, we must go out of our way to extend a loving hand to those in need, especially to fellow believers.

Truth has to do with honesty, reliability, and integrity which are the opposite of falsehood and deception. Is the fruit of truth manifested in the way you live your life?

Righteousness has two aspects: as we relate to God and how we live our lives.

As it relates to our relationship with God, we are filthy as rags but the moment we trusted Christ for our salvation, God has imputed on us the righteousness of Christ, making us acceptable in His eyes.

As it relates to how we live, we know that we are justified by faith and are declared righteous before God but as true believers, we must practice a lifestyle of righteousness.

Are you producing the fruits of light in your Christian life?

Closing Words

Light reveals God, light produces fruit, and light also exposes what is wrong. The light reveals the truth and exposes the true character of things.

The idea that we are light is the main thrust of Ephesians 5:7-14, for Paul, was admonishing his readers to “live as children of light.” Now that we are out of the darkness we should “take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness.”

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

As Christians, knowing the will of God in our lives is very important as it will determine the way we think, act and plan our future. No wonder then that I often get the question: “How do I know the will of God in my life?”

I was told that the best way to study a certain subject is by making a clear definition of that subject. So, what do we mean by the will of God? The will of God is that holy and stated purpose of the Father to make His dear children as much like Christ as possible.

Knowing the Will of God through the Scriptures

Without a doubt, the most important factor in finding God’s will is the Bible itself. God speaks to us not in some loud voice, but through the Scriptures.

God’s will is certain and precise.

First, the Scriptures declare God does have a definite will for my life and yours. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” God also says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye,” in Psalm 32:8.

For other Scripture references, you can read Ephesians 2:10 and Hebrews 12:1.

It is God’s desire for us to discover His will.

Second, God desires for us to know and understand what His will in our lives really is and instructs us to not be unwise (Ephesians 5:17). This is what real wisdom is. Understanding the will of the Lord is the opposite of being unwise.

But in order for us to have a good understanding of the will of God, we need to have a good knowledge of His word. As one theologian always say, “The will of God is the Word of God.” Do you want to know the will of God in your life? Know His Word!

God’s will is continuous.

Third, the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures is continuous. It does not begin only when one reaches a certain age. Simply put, the will of God in my life does not begin when I turn thirty years old.

How do I know the Will of God in my Life?

God has a will for children, young people, adults, and even senior citizens. Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

God’s will is specific.

Fourth, God’s will is clearly defined or identified. God always makes sure He speaks to us without ambiguity. He does not make us second-guess His will. Rather, it is given in such a way that we will not doubt whether God is the one speaking or not.

Let’s take a look at Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” When God instructs, He does so with all clarity.

God’s will is profitable.

Fifth, God’s will is always beneficial and useful. When we choose to align our decisions, plans, and priorities with God’s, we can be sure that we will end up successful and blessed (see Psalm 1:1-3).

When the Lord spoke to Joshua after the death of Moses, He did not just instruct him to lead the children of Israel in conquering Canaan; God specifically told Joshua to “not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

Living according to God’s word, which is His will, is a guarantee of Christian success. However, this does not mean that we will have a life without problems when we choose to heed God’s will. But God assures us that we will be able to deal with anything.

Four Aspects of the Will of God

One thing we need to understand is that the will of God differs from believer to believer. But here are four aspects in the will of God which apply to every Christian:

1. It is God’s will that we learn more about Him.

In Colossians 1:9, Paul prayed that the believers in Colossae would have a knowledge of God’s will through the wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives. But to know God and what He requires of us is our responsibility. We cannot just sit around and expect God to speak to us. We need to do our part by reading and meditating the Word of God.

2. It is God’s will that we grow in grace.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says that the sanctification of believers is the will of God. In this text, the apostle Paul made it clear what the will of God was for the Christian – sanctification.

The basic meaning of sanctification is “separation” or “to be set apart.” In Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation), sanctification is the second phase of salvation which is the process whereby the believer moves from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity over time as he learns God’s Word (2 Peter 2:2) and chooses to live under God’s will.

In short, sanctification means spiritual growth (2 Peter 3:18); it means to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

3. It is God’s will that we study His Word.

We find in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 an important exhortation to continue studying God’s word not only because evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13), but also because as believer in Jesus, we all need to be completed and thoroughly equipped to do God’s work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

To be complete means we are not only hearers but also doers of God’s word and to be equipped to do God’s work does not only mean preparing and delivering sermons that seek to quench people’s thirst. We are in the business of equipping the saints for the work of ministry.

4. It is God’s will that we share our faith.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He specifically told them to wait for the Holy Spirit to empower them so that they would be His witnesses not only in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria but also to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). Jesus did not recommend His followers to share the Gospel, He plainly stated that evangelism would be the immediate result of the Holy Spirit empowering them.

It is God’s will for His disciples to share their faith with everyone who is still in darkness and God’s will for the Christians today to do the same. Because “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (Timothy 2:4).

Knowing the Will of God through Prayer and Fasting

When we read how the Israelites were tricked into signing an unscriptural peace treaty with a group of deceitful pagans after invading Canaan in the days of Joshua, because they did not seek the Lord’s counsel (Joshua 9:1-15), it becomes immediately obvious that one of the most important factors in knowing God’s will for our lives is to pray.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). See also Psalm 143:8, 10 and James 4:2. In light of these passages, it is evident that a Christian must spend time in prayer in order to know God’s will.

In other Bible verses, fasting is linked with prayer (2 Samuel 12:16; Ezra 8:21; 2 Samuel 1:12; Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:24-29; Acts 13:2-3; 14:23).

Knowing the Will of God through Submission to the Holy Spirit

The moment a repenting sinner receives Christ by faith into his heart the Holy Spirit immediately does five things for him:

  • He regenerates the believer, that is, He gives him a new nature (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).
  • He baptizes the believer into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
  • He indwells the believer (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19).
  • He seals the believer (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).
  • He fills the believer (Acts 2:4; 4:8; 7:55; 13:52).

All five of these ministries often occur at conversion. The fifth ministry, however, should be asked for as needed (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16). Actually, the word control is a better term than fill in describing the fifth ministry. It does not mean that we get more of the Spirit, but rather that He gets more of us.

How can a Christian be certain that he is indeed submitted to or controlled by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis?

First, he must consecrate his body as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2). The believer’s body does not belong to him but to God; it is the temple of the Holy Spirit and so he must glorify God with it (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Second, the believer must depend upon the Holy Spirit to convict him of sin. In Psalm 139:23-24, King David came to the God of perfect knowledge and not only asked Him to search and know him at the deepest levels; he also pleaded with Him to lay bare any wickedness in his heart.

How to Know the Will of God in Our Lives

To ask God to reveal to us any unknown or unperceived sin is a dangerous prayer, says Boice, because it invites painful exposures and surgery. However, Boice added that it is what every wise believer should desire. See also Psalm 19:12-14.

Finally, the believer must look to the Holy Spirit for divine power in serving Christ. We cannot say that we no longer commit sin after placing our faith in the Lord Jesus. Yes, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will start to manifest in our life as a result of submitting to Him. But because we are still in the flesh, we are still prone to be tempted and to give in to sin.

What we can do so as not to gratify the lust of the flesh is to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17). To walk in the Spirit means to be open and sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit and to pattern your life after the influence of the Holy Spirit.

You may ask, “How do we know if someone is walking in the Spirit?” When they look a lot like Jesus. Jesus said that the mission of the Holy Spirit would be to promote and speak of Him (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:13-15). Someone who is walking in the Spirit listens to what the Spirit says and is guided in the path of Jesus.

A believer who is in tune with the Holy Spirit will know and discern the will of God for him

Knowing the Will of God through Circumstances and Counsel

While the Christian is to live above his circumstances, he is not to be unaware of them. God often works through circumstances in revealing His perfect will for us. Certainly, Paul’s wonderful statement, “all things work together for good to those who love God,” (Romans 8:28) takes into account our circumstances.

Below are a number of biblical accounts to illustrate this:

1. God directed Abraham to substitute a ram, whose horns had somehow become entangled in a thicket, for the life of Isaac (Genesis 22:13).

2. God arranged for Pharaoh’s daughter to be bathing in the Nile river at the exact time the baby Moses floated by in a little ark of bulrushes (Exodus 2:1-10).

3. Paul’s young nephew happened to overhear a plot to kill his famous uncle. He then reported it to the authorities, thus saving the apostle’s life (Acts 23:12-22)

Surely the above circumstances were providentially arranged. So the Christian should ask when attempting to discover God’s will, “Is the Lord showing me something through my circumstances?”

Counselors also play an important role in finding God’s will. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” However, three things must be kept in mind at this point:

  • Counsel must come from a godly source. The word of God warns us that “confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint (Proverbs 25:19). See also Psalm 1:1-6.
  • Sometimes even the godliest person can unknowingly give us wrong advice. Nathan the prophet did this when he encouraged David to build the temple (2 Samuel 7:1-13).
  • In the final analysis, each person is responsible for knowing God’s revealed purpose for his own life.
Knowing the Will of God through Circumstances and Counsel
Photo Credits: Bible Blender

Conclusion

In finding the will of God in our lives, we need to know that the best way to do this first and foremost is by having an intimate personal relationship with God. In some relationships, one party simply wants to be told what to do while others want to get approval from the other party before finalizing their plan.

Let’s take this analogy from a married couple. A married couple who enjoy an intimate relationship of mutual concern, trust and respect always come to a decision together that it is sometimes impossible to distinguish the parts each played in the process.

It’s the same thing with the will of God. It is not solely divine or human. When we consciously acknowledge God’s presence in our lives and rely on Him in the course of our decision-making, the choices we make are both ours and His.

Let us never forget that because God is love, He honors our choices and never attempts to overpower or force us into doing something we do not like. God guides and directs us in making important decisions when we read and meditate His Word, fast and pray, submit to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and consider our circumstances and listen to godly counselors.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

 

We hear this objection all the time: Jesus never really claimed He was the Son of God, or God Himself. Instead, this belief was superimposed on the Jesus tradition by His overzealous followers years after His death. Critics claim that the real Jesus saw Himself as nothing more than a rabbi.

However, this is not what the evidence clearly shows. This truth was summarized by H. R. Mackintosh, a Scottish theologian: “The self-consciousness of Jesus is the greatest fact in history.”

A research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Kevin Vanhoozer, also wrote: “Jesus understood Himself to be the beloved Son of God, chosen by God to bring about the kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins. Our understanding of who Jesus was must correspond to Jesus’ own self-understanding. If we do not confess Jesus as the Christ, then either He was deluded about His identity or we are.”

Ten Factors Pointing to Jesus’ Claim as the Son of God

There are at least ten factors that point toward Jesus as believing He was the one and only Son of God.

1. Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.”

No scholar doubts that the most common way Jesus referred to Himself was “the Son of Man,” which He applied to Himself more than four dozen times, including in the gospel of Mark, which is generally considered to be the earliest of all the four gospels.

While some critics mistakenly believe this is a mere claim of humanity, the scholarly consensus is that this is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man is ushered into the very presence of the Almighty, has “glory, authority, and sovereign power,” receives the worship of “all peoples,” and is someone whose dominion is everlasting.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig said, “The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity.”

Vanhoozer adds an interesting sidelight: “The curious thing about Jesus’ use of the title … is that He linked it not only with the theme of future glory but also with the theme of suffering and death. In doing so, Jesus was teaching His disciples something new about the long-awaited Messiah, namely that, His suffering would precede His glory (Luke 9:22).

2. Jesus applied the “I am” sayings to Himself.

By applying the “I am” sayings to Himself, Jesus made a claim of divinity, at one point declaring, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). This obvious allusion to God’s words to Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14) was such an unmistakable declaration of equality with God.

The Jews understood Jesus perfectly so they thought that He had committed blasphemy for ascribing the Name of God to Himself. So they promptly attempted to stone Jesus. Death by stoning was the proper death penalty for this particular sin (Leviticus 24:12-16). But Jesus had not sinned for He was truly God. He was the great I AM in person.

Other passages where Jesus applied the “I am” statements to Himself include John 6:35 (I am the bread of life); John 8:12 (I am the light of the world); John 10:7 (I am the Door of the sheep); John 10:11 (I am the good Shepherd); John 11:25 (I am the Resurrection and the Life); John 14:6 (I am the Way, the Truth and the Life) and John 15:5 (I am the Vine).

3. Jesus forgave sins.

Jesus made a divine claim when He forgave the sins of the paralytic in Mark 2:5. In response, the Jews said, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God” (Mark 2:7)?

The Jews were correct for only God can forgive sins, for sin is a transgression against the law and only the aggrieved person can forgive the guilty one. As theologian D. A. Carson noted, “The only person who can say that sort of thing meaningfully is God Himself, because sin, even if it is against other people, is first and foremost defiance of God and His laws.”

In forgiving sin, Jesus either blasphemed or He was God. But Jesus was God and could forgive.

4. Jesus selected 12 disciples.

Ever wonder why Jesus selected twelve men to be His disciples? Why not eight, ten, or fifteen? Why twelve? What’s with the number twelve?

According to Ben Witherington III, author of The Christology of Jesus, there was a transcendent claim made by the way Jesus selected His disciples. “If the twelve represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in?” he asked. “He’s not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, He’s forming the group – just as God in the Old Testament formed His people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel.

That’s definitely a clue about what Jesus thought of Himself.

Is Jesus God or the Son of God?
Photo Credits: Jesus.Net

5. Jesus taught with divine authority.

The fifth clue about Jesus’ self-understanding comes through the way He taught – with authority. Whenever Jesus teaches, He begins with the phrase, “Verily, verily, I say unto you …” or “Truly I say to you …” In effect, Jesus is saying, “I swear in advance to the truthfulness of what I’m about to say.”

“This was absolutely revolutionary,” Witherington said. He went on to explain that in Judaism, you needed the testimony of two witnesses … but Jesus witnesses to the truth of His own sayings. Instead of basing His teaching on the authority of others, He speaks on His own authority.

So here is someone who considered Himself to have authority beyond what the Old Testament prophets had. He believed He possessed not only divine inspiration, as King David did, but also divine authority and the power of direct divine utterance.


Recommended Resource: Jesus Among Secular Gods – Bible Study Book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale

Jesus Among Secular Gods Bible Study Book includes six small-group sessions, applicable Scripture, a leader guide, “How to Use This Study,” and personal-study content and activities.

As belief in the secular gods of atheism, hedonism, relativism, and humanism continues to grow, it’s more important than ever for believers to be able to defend and share the claims of Christ. Of course, this clash of worldviews is nothing new.

Throughout Paul’s writing in the New Testament are references to elemental forces that seek to separate believers from the love and truth of Jesus.

Not only has the Christian worldview been devalued and dismissed by modern culture, but its believers are also openly ridiculed as irrelevant. This six-session Bible study challenges the popular and trending philosophies of the day, skillfully pointing out the fallacies in their claims and presenting compelling evidence for absolute truth as found in Jesus and revealed in Scripture.

This study helps seekers explore the claims of Christ and provides Christians with the knowledge to articulate their faith that Jesus stands tall above all other gods.

Did Jesus Claim to be God or the Son of GodSession titles:

  1. Be Prepared
  2. Atheism and Scientism
  3. Pluralism
  4. Humanism and Relativism
  5. Hedonism
  6. Conversations That Count

Features:

  • Six small-group sessions
  • Personal-study opportunities for ongoing spiritual growth

Benefits:

  • Develop confidence in challenging the philosophies and worldview of the day with the absolute claims of Jesus.
  • Be better equipped to respond to difficult questions posed by unbelievers.
  • Learn to competently counter cultural challenges while sharing the Christian faith.

6. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.”

When relating to God, Jesus used the Aramaic term Abba, or “Father dearest.” This reflects an intimacy that was alien in ancient Judaism, in which devout Jews avoided the use of God’s personal name out of fear they may mispronounce it. Dr. Witherington made this observation:

“The significance of Abba is that Jesus is the initiator of an intimate relationship that was previously unavailable. The question is, what kind of person can initiate a new covenantal relationship with God?”

Jesus is saying that only through having a relationship with Him does this kind of prayer language – this kind of “Abba” relationship with God – becomes possible. That says volumes about how He regarded Himself.

7. Jesus received Thomas’ worship.

Another indicator of Jesus’ self-understanding can be seen in His post-resurrection encounter with the apostle Thomas in John 20. Responding to Jesus’ invitation to personally check out the evidence that He had really risen from the dead, Thomas declares, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)!

Jesus’ reply was very telling. It would have been the height of blasphemy for Him to have knowingly received Thomas’ worship unless Jesus really was God. Yet instead of rebuking him, Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus’ choice to receive Thomas’ worship clearly means He believed He was God and thus worthy of that homage. Similarly, when Simon Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus’ reaction was not to correct him but rather to affirm that this was revealed to him by the Father Himself (Matthew 16:15-17).

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

8. Salvation depends on peoples’ confession to Jesus.

Jesus clearly believed that the eternal destiny of people hinged on whether they believed in Him. He said in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

In addition, Jesus said, “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).

William Lane Craig put the implication this way, “Make no mistake: if Jesus were not the divine Son of God, then His claim could only be regarded as the most narrow and objectionable dogmatism. Jesus is saying that people’s salvation is dependent upon their confession to Jesus Himself.”

9. Jesus said that He and the Father are one.

An equally overt assertion of divinity is found in John 10:30, where Jesus declared outright, “I and My Father are one.” There is no question about whether His listeners understood that Jesus was saying that He and God are one in substance. Promptly they picked up stones to stone Him “for blasphemy because You, being a man make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

10. Jesus performed miracles.

An equally important factor that should be weighed in assessing Jesus’ belief about His identity is His miracles. Jesus stressed that His feats were a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom. “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

Ben Witherington observed that even though others in the Bible also performed miracles, this statement showed that Jesus didn’t merely regard Himself as a wonder-worker: “He sees Himself as the one in whom and through whom the promises of God come to pass. And that’s a not-to-thinly-veiled claim of transcendence.”

British scholar James D. G. Dunn said, “Whatever the ‘facts’ were, Jesus evidently believed that He had cured cases of blindness, lameness, and deafness – indeed, there is no reason to doubt that He believed lepers had been cured under His ministry and restored the dead to life.”

Fulfilling the Attributes of God

Sure, anyone can believe that he or she is God. But Jesus didn’t just consider Himself God’s Son; He also fulfilled the attributes that are unique to God. Philippians 2:5-8 describes how Jesus emptied Himself of the independent use of His attributes – a phenomenon termed kenosis – when He was incarnated.

This explains how he didn’t always choose to exhibit the “omnis” – omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence – in His earthly existence. Even so, the New Testament confirms that all of these qualities were ultimately true of Him.

For example, in John 16:30, John affirms of Jesus, “Now we are sure that You know all things,” which is omniscience. Also in Matthew 28:20, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” which is omnipresence. And He declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18), which is omnipotence. 

Is Jesus the Son of God or God Himself?

Indeed, Colossians 2:9 reads, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”Jesus’ eternality is confirmed in John 1:1, which declares of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus’ immutability is shown in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His sinlessness is seen in John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”

Hebrews 1:3 declares Jesus to be “the brightness (or radiance) of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” Colossians 1:17 says, “Jesus is before all things, and in Him, all things consist.” Matthew 25:31-32 affirms He will be the judge of all mankind. And in Hebrews 1:8, the Father Himself specifically makes reference to Jesus as being God.

The very names used to paint a portrait of God in the Old Testament – names such as Alpha and Omega, Lord, Savior, King, Judge, Light, Rock, Redeemer, Shepherd, Creator, the giver of life, forgiver of sin, and speaker with divine authority – are also applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

Read here: God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

Conclusion

Did Jesus claim to be the only Son of God and God Himself? Absolutely! Although we do not read Jesus saying this directly to the effects of “I am the Son of God” or “I am God, worship Me,” He did so in ways that His audience and readers during His time clearly understood.

Who did Jesus believe He was? In his book, New Approaches to Jesus and the Gospels, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Royce Gruenler, comes to this conclusion: “It is a striking fact of modern New Testament research that the essential clues for correctly reading the implicit Christological self-understanding of Jesus are abundantly clear.”

Beyond just believing He was God, Jesus also proved it by working supernatural deeds, by fulfilling ancient prophecies against all mathematical odds, and ultimately by conquering the grave.

Who did Jesus think He was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus!

Who Did Jesus Think He Was?

Who did Jesus think he was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus! #Apologetics #Jesus

Posted by Reasonable Faith on Tuesday, November 26, 2019