Author: Alice A. Anacioco

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. Macintosh, 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 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 a 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.

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. For 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, 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

Search Me O Lord, Know My Heart

Search Me O Lord, Know My Heart

Few people get to know the real us up close and personal. Our parents, our spouse, our children, and our siblings are the only ones who really know us. We act so differently at home than we do at work.

Yet, even our families do not know us completely. Only God does. In fact, God knows us better than we know ourselves. That’s because God sees our hearts. King David recognized the omniscience of God when he said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me” (Psalm 139:1).

God knows our every thought before we even thought of it. We could not begin a sentence for which God did not already know the end. Because God is omniscient, trying to count all the thoughts of God would be like counting the grains of sand on all the shores of the world.

We Cannot Hide from God

In looking at how God protected and chosen him, David found that it was beyond his capacity to understand all the magnificent deeds the Lord had done (Psalm 139:5-6). David also knew there was no place distant enough, no hiding place small enough, no darkness deep enough to conceal himself from God (Psalm 139:7-12).

Hold on a second, is David describing in verse 8 what we normally think of as hell or Gehenna (Matthew 10:28; 18:9)? Is he saying that even in hell God will be present because there is no place where God cannot be? It appears so. But make no mistake, this does not mean that God dwells in hell the same way He resides in heaven.

O God You Search Me You Know Me

God is transcendent so there is no place that is beyond His reach, even hell. However, we need to understand that God’s presence in hell will radiate none of His grace and mercy; only His righteous judgment.

Because God sees everything, David says to Him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart … And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). David begins and ends this psalm with a plea for God to search him, to look into his heart and see what he is really like and then to lead him into the way of everlasting.

Life Begins at Conception

David also acknowledged that even before he was born, God knew him in the womb and saw his potential and the life that awaited him (Psalm 139:13-16). The fact that God knows and cares for children in the womb means that God’s concern for life begins at the moment of conception.

Abortionists that say an unborn child is just so much unwanted tissue should read this passage as it demonstrates that God sees another person in the mother’s womb. Most people tend to argue that the mother has the right to do as she pleases with her own body, including the moral right to abortion.

God’s heart must be grieved as He sees so much potential thrown into the dumpsters of our land.

Be Open to God’s Searching Eye

David admitted that God knew him better than he knew himself and that he needed God to search and know him (Psalm 139:23-24). David knew that he could not truly know his heart so he asked God to know him; to examine him and look for some evidence of wickedness, worry, unbelief or misplaced trust.

In the end, David declared his complete trust in God to lead him to everlasting life.

If you asked God to search your heart, what would He see? If you asked God to lead you into the way everlasting, would you be ready to go?

A Clear Conscience

A man on his deathbed called his Christian friend to his house one day. This man was very wealthy and had lived a reprobate life. He had never given to the Lord’s work before, but knowing that he was dying, he wanted to give a generous sum of money to the church.

When his Christian friend asked why, he replied, “I want to have a clear conscience.” His friend knew he needed to face the truth so he said, “My friend, you are rich, but you do not have enough money to buy a clear conscience. You have stolen God’s tithes and offerings all your life. You have abused people with your wealth. Your family has suffered because of your indiscretions.”

O God You Search Me You Know Me

As the man was about to say something, his friend continued, “The only thing that can help you clear your conscience is to confess that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for you, and accept Him as your Savior. You need to get right with God.”

The man’s dark eyes blazed with hatred and said, “I am dying. How can you talk to me that way?” His friend did all he could to explain to him God’s gift of salvation but in the end, he rejected it. Death soon came and the man left this world an unrepentant sinner.

He wanted a clear conscience but in reality, he was a bitter, remorseless man.

Tending the Soul

In Mark 8:36, Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Only Jesus could have asked this question. Only Jesus could have possessed all this world’s gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and rubies. He could have had it all, but He knew that riches would not save one soul.

The only way to life everlasting is redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son (Matthew 26:28). Without the shedding of His blood, there is no remission of our sins. No matter how much money we have or how many things we possess, we must come to the place where we give our hearts to the Lord.

Whether we are community-minded, family-oriented, or upwardly mobile, if we have not accepted Christ as Savior, then nothing else matters.

Closing Words

Jesus said, “And all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:23). Jesus did not die at Calvary for our comfort. There is no crown without the Cross. There is no blessing without the burden. There is no conquest without conflict.

We are to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Take a stand for the Lord. There are burdens to carry and giants to whip. Put your hand to the plow without looking back. Quit whining about your comfort. We are at war with Satan and his armies.

When God searches your heart, will He find a worthy workman? Will you have accomplished the things that He had envisioned for you to do and be?

Here’s a beautiful worship song called, “Lead Me in the Way Everlasting” based on Psalm 139:23-24. Watch and be blessed.

What does the Bible say about the Laying on of Hands?

What does the Bible say about the Laying on of Hands?

The laying on of hands is an act in which one person places his hands upon the body of another person with some definite spiritual purpose.

The laying on of hands has great significance as a religious rite or ceremony in the Bible and in the history of the Christian church. As a matter of fact, it is considered one of the foundational doctrines of the church.

Purposes of the Laying on of Hands

The religious rite of laying on of hands is often associated with the bestowal of divine blessings and authority upon a person; it is also used as a special form of recognition for persons set apart for God’s service, in the Old Testament practice of sacrifice, and for healing.

To Bless and Consecrate

In the old Testament, Abraham and the other patriarchs placed hands on their descendants to confirm a birthright or to convey a special blessing, as when Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph (Genesis 48:14, 18). By this method, the possession of the covenant blessings was transferred from himself to his progeny.

Sometimes, the ceremony also implied the transfer of authority.

Purpose of the Laying On of Hands

In Numbers 27:12-14, God showed Moses the land that He promised to the nation of Israel from afar. But he won’t be able to enter it because he will be gathered to his people as a result of his rebellion at the waters of Meribah.

So Moses appointed Joshua to be his successor and laid his hands on him as the Lord commanded (Numbers 27:18-20). By this act, Moses empowered Joshua and Joshua was said to be “full of the spirit of wisdom” (Deuteronomy 34:9).

Also in Numbers 8:5-20, the Levites were given authority to serve on behalf of the Israelites, when gathered at the Tabernacle, the people placed their hands upon the heads of the Levites.

Transfer of Sins to Sacrificial Animals

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest placed his hands on the head of a goat before releasing it into the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:21-22

“Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land, and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”

Through this rite, the high priest symbolically transferred the sins of the people to the scapegoat. Identification of transfer of sins to sacrificial animals as a substitute for the people may also be implied in the burnt offering presented by the priests in the Old Testament times (Leviticus 1:4).

Commissioned as Representatives before God

In the New Testament, the laying on of hands is used for commissioning God’s people into the ministry. In Acts 6:6, when the church appointed seven men (Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas) to serve as official assistants to the apostles, they prayed and laid their hands on them.

The laying on of hands also served as a formal declaration of identification by the church at Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, whom they were sending out as missionaries (Acts 13:2-3).

Commissioned into God’s Service

Young Timothy was the recipient of grace for his appointed service when the elders placed their hands on him, and Paul instructed him not to neglect the gift given to him by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership (1 Timothy 4:14).

Timothy was sent off for a specific assignment with the public recognition of the church leaders not only by their words but through the visible and tangible laying on of their hands. Later on, Timothy was instructed by Paul to also do his part in commissioning others.

This charge from Paul comes in a section about elders to honor the good and discipline the bad (1 Timothy 5:17-25). So when church leaders formally lay their hands on someone for a particular ministry, they put their seal of approval on the candidate and share in the fruitfulness and failures to come.

For Healing

Placing hands on persons in need of healing has a strong biblical precedent as well. Although there had been times when Jesus healed the sick without necessarily laying His hands on them, He certainly laid His hands on many of those He healed (Mark 6:5; Mark 8:22-25; Luke 4:40; Luke 13:13).

What does the Bible say about the Laying On of Hands

Laying on of hands is one of the ordained ways to heal the sick (Mark 16:18). And Jesus promised that any believer could do this, including you. You can lay hands on the sick and see them get better. You just have to open yourself up to God and allow Him to heal through you.

*Related Article: Why Does God Not Heal Everyone Who Asks in Faith for Healing?

However, this does not mean every sick person you pray for and lay your hands on will be healed. At the end of the day, God is still God and He is sovereign. So whether God chooses to heal or not to heal is all up to Him. But it is every believer’s responsibility to pray for the sick and lay their hands on them.

To Impart the Power of the Holy Spirit

Although the impartation of the Holy Spirit does not always come through the laying on of hands such as what we read in Acts 10:44-46, there appears to be a connection between the laying on of hands and the reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17-19; Acts 19:1-6).

Since the days of the apostles, the laying on of hands after baptism signified the actual moment of the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

The laying on of hands is a powerful biblical truth which the church today should embrace with knowledge and wisdom. God is still in the business of calling people into His service and equip them to be more effective and productive.

1 Timothy 4:14

However, we need to understand that the hands have no power in themselves. It is the Holy Spirit who will work in us and through us; we’ll just have to exercise faith and fully submit ourselves to God and His purpose.

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

The next big event in God’s program for all believers is the coming of Christ to take them to be with Himself. Most theologians call this event the Rapture of the Church. But does the Bible give us any details on what will happen at the second coming of Christ? Yes, it does.

The apostle Paul describes this event in two passages: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 while John refers to it in John 14:1-3 and 1 John 3:2-3.

Who are the Believers?

Before getting into what God has in store in the future for the believers in Jesus Christ, we need to set things straight right from the get-go and define our terms properly. So as mentioned earlier, the return of Christ is something that believers are looking forward to. But who are the believers or Christians?

Admittedly, the term “Christian” is often used in the broadest sense. Most, if not all people automatically assume that if you’re not a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, etc. then you are a Christian. But is this assumption correct? Not really!

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

The believers are those who acknowledged that they are lost and in need of a Savior from sin and as a result have made the decision to repent and completely trust in the Lord Jesus to be Lord of their lives (John 1:12; John 3:16). In other words, they are those who have been redeemed from the power of sin and death through the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are a believer in Jesus and a redeemed Christian, there is a glorious future waiting for you.

What will Happen when Christ Comes?

There are 3 major events that will take place at the second coming of Christ: 1) concerning the Lord Jesus, 2) concerning the believers who had died and, 3) concerning the believers who are alive at the time of the return of Christ.

The Lord Jesus

The first event to transpire when Christ comes to take believers will be that Jesus Himself will descend from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16a).

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

Looking at this verse more closely, three truths become apparent:

A. It will be Jesus and no one else who will come.

Jesus will come personally for the believers as He promised in John 14:1-3. After Jesus announced His soon-to-be departure and Peter’s upcoming betrayal, the apostles were troubled. But Jesus promised to them that this won’t be their last time together because as soon as everything is ready He will return for His people so that they will always be with Him wherever He is.

B. Another truth that is expressed in the above-mentioned verse is that Jesus will be coming from heaven into which He was seen last going.

In Acts 1:9-11, we read how Jesus was taken up into a cloud in full view of the people watching. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, two men in white apparel said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

C. Jesus’ coming will be accompanied by an appropriate signal.

Paul describes the signal that will accompany Christ’s return as being “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

Wait a minute; will there be three different signals? No! Understand that Paul is referencing the signal as a triad in which the last two things describe the first. Paul is saying that Christ’s return will be accompanied by a shout and that shout will be like the voice of an archangel and like the trumpet of God.

So the only sound that will be heard will be the shout and when it is heard some will think that an archangel has spoken or sounded God’s trumpet.

This “shout” is a military term that is used for the signal that was sounded to gather troops together. If we look at other translations such as the New International Version, the verse says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.”

The “shout” that will be heard will be like a loud command by the captain of a troop to gather them. That’s exactly what Jesus will do when He comes – He will gather all believers of this age whether living or dead together to take them to heaven.

The Dead Believers

The second event to transpire at the second coming of Christ will be the resurrection of the bodies of the believing dead to be reunited with their spirits.

Paul says that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16b). Take note of the word “first” which is the most important word in the statement. With this, we know that living believers will not meet the Lord ahead of the believers who have died.

In fact, if we go back to verse 15, Paul points out that believers who have died will not miss out on Christ’s coming. What is the authority of Paul’s instruction? It’s “the word of the Lord,” which lets us know that what he is saying is important and not to be treated lightly because this revelation was one that has been given directly to Paul by God.

We find no explicit statement in the Gospels that spells out in detail the return of Christ for the church. That’s why in 1 Corinthians 15:51, Paul says, Behold, I tell you a mystery.” Now let us avoid making the assumption that a mystery is something mysterious.

In the New Testament, a mystery is the revelation of some truth that had been previously given. It is something that has been there from the beginning. But prior to the revelation of a mystery, no one could have had any knowledge or understanding concerning it.

Note: Some theologians believe that the apostle Paul received this revelation at Sinai in Arabia, the same exact place where Moses received “The Law” (The Ten Commandments). After his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul did not go immediately to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles. Instead, he went to Arabia and afterwards returned to Damascus (Galatians 1:10-18).

So again, as Paul said, when Christ returns the dead in Christ shall rise first according to the revelation that he received from God.

Paul Educates the Believers in Thessalonica

In order for us to better understand and properly interpret the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, we need to know his intent.

It is generally believed that Paul stayed in Thessalonica for about three to four weeks. After pioneering a church there, he had to leave the city along with Silas and Timothy into Athens. Although they intended to return, they were hindered (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18).

Paul then sent Timothy from Athens to Thessalonica to see how the church was doing. Upon his return, Timothy reported to Paul that the believers were doing well; except for one problem that concerned some questions and a certain amount of anxiety that some of them were having regarding their loved ones who had died.

The believers in Thessalonica rightly understood that Christ was going to return, as Paul taught them. However, it never crossed their minds that some of their loved ones would die before the event took place. And so all sorts of questions were going through their minds: “Will their dead loved one miss out on Christ’s coming? What will happen to them when Christ returns for the church? Will they have any advantage over the living believers?”

So Paul educates them and assures them that all those who died in Christ prior to the second coming will not miss out on anything; in fact they will already have entered the presence of Christ. He goes on to tell them not to grieve like those who have no hope because when Christ returns God will bring with Him the spirits of the dead believers to be reunited with their glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

What will Happen during the Rapture

The Living Believers

The third event deals with the living believers. Clearly, believers will be living when Christ comes to take them to be with Himself. But what will happen to living believers at the second coming of Christ?

Paul does not answer this question in 1 Thessalonians 4 because his emphasis there is to point out what will happen to those “in Christ” who died physically prior to Christ’s return, since that was the specific concern of the Thessalonians believers.

So we go to 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 where Paul tells us the details of what awaits the living believers at the second coming of Christ.

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

From this passage, we see four things that will happen to the raptured believers:

1. First, they will be immediately glorified.

Believers need to be glorified because unglorified humanity cannot go into God’s presence. A change must take place before mortal physical beings can be equipped for the eternal state. That change is “glorification” which is the final phase of salvation.

All believers will be transformed; everything that makes them mortal is removed and replaced with immortality. This fact is proclaimed in the words, “but we shall all be changed.” This verse summarizes the process that will equip the living saints for an eternal existence. Their bodies will be changed so that they will not wear out or decay. They will truly “inherit the kingdom of God.”

This process of glorification is described in three dimensions:

(1) As it relates to time, it will be “in a moment.” It describes the smallest indivisible unit of time. That is how long it will take for God to effect the change in the body of every living believer when Christ returns.

(2) As it relates to sight, it will be “in the twinkling of an eye.” Paul’s expression is used to describe any rapid movement such as the flapping of wings or the twinkling of lights. The emphasis here is upon speed. The bodies of living believers will be glorified in the same amount of time it takes the eye to twinkle when it is struck by light.

(3) As it relates to sound, “at the last trumpet.” This “last trumpet” is the same trumpet mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. It is the same time at which God will raise the bodies of all the believing dead.

With these three figures, Paul is showing that a lot will happen in a very short period of time. At the same time that the bodies of the believing dead are raised, the bodies of living believers will be changed. 

These two separate programs that God will run when Christ returns will take place successively, but together they will be accomplished so quickly that it will appear as if they happened simultaneously. In the smallest possible moment of time, every body of every believer who has believed in Christ from the day of Pentecost until the day that Christ returns will be raised from the graves in which they have been resting.

Both of these programs of God will be completed in less time than it takes for an eye to twinkle when struck by light. What a glorious future that lies ahead for those who have believed in Jesus!

Note: What is the “mystery” that has been revealed by God directly to Paul? That some believers will not die physically.

Even if Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once and after that faces judgment,” there are believers who will not experience death in their lifetime as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:51.

What will happen at the Second Coming of Christ

Paul used the word “sleep” to describe the physical death of believers both in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. The figure is a beautiful one because when one sleeps he does so to take a rest in the full expectancy of being awakened to continue meaningful activity.

It is important to note that it is not the soul that sleeps but the body. When a believer dies, his body is asleep. That’s why it has to be buried in a cemetery. The English word cemetery comes from two Greek words, koime (sleep) and tere (a keeping place).

Thus, a cemetery is a place where the sleeping bodies of believers are kept until the time that Christ returns to awaken those sleeping bodies, glorify them, and reunite them with their souls that upon death went immediately into God’s presence.

The important thing that Paul is revealing to the Corinthians is that at the time of Christ’s return there will be some believers living but who will undergo a change in order to be able to enter God’s presence.

Clearly, Paul believed that he and his Thessalonian readers might well be alive when the Lord returned. He believed that Christ’s coming was imminent, that it could take place at any moment. Many times he used statements such as “the time is short” (1 Corinthians 7:29) and “the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

2. They will be reunited with the resurrected believers.

After living believers receive their glorified bodies, they will be reunited with the resurrected believers who have preceded them in being glorified . They will be “caught up” together with the resurrected believers (1 Thessalonians 4:17a).

The words “caught up” is harpazo in Greek, which means to seize or snatch away suddenly. In Latin, the word is rapio which is where we get the word “rapture.” In this event, believers will be removed from this earth and reunited with the resurrected believers.

This will be the second meeting of the universal body of believers known as the church, the body of Christ. The first meeting took place on the Day of Pentecost when the church was born. Since that time, the universal church has not met.

3. They will meet Jesus personally in the air.

The third experience that living believers will undergo when Christ returns for them is that they will meet Jesus personally in the air. Paul tells us that this meeting will take place “in the clouds,” which is his way of describing our atmospheric heavens (the second heaven). 

Paul uses a picturesque to describe this meeting. It is a word used of greeting a newly arrived magistrate. Such meetings usually took place outside of the city walls and then they all returned to the regular abode to continue the formalities. This, then, is a picture of how we will meet the Lord and then later will return to reign with Him when He comes to set up His Kingdom.

4. They will be with Jesus forever.

After meeting with the Lord in the air, all believers will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17c).  

With this statement Paul lets us know that this meeting with the Lord will never end. It will be a personal association with resurrected believers and with Christ. This will be the final fulfillment of our Lord’s promise in John 14:3, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you maybe also.”

Comfort for the Believers Today

Knowing that Christ would one day return to take us to be with Him for all eternity should comfort our hearts (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Whenever there is a loss of a loved one, we are to comfort one another. It is true that the death of a loved one brings sadness to us, but we should “not grieve as do the others who have no hope,” for we have comfort. We find comfort in knowing that our loved ones who died will not miss out on Christ’s coming.

In fact, they will have precedence and prominence in it. That is, if they have repented of their sins and accepted God’s gift of salvation prior to their passing.

We also find comfort in knowing that if we would be alive when Christ returns, we will not experience death. But we will be immediately glorified, caught up into the atmospheric heavens to be reunited with our loved ones who died to meet the Lord in the air and be forever with Him.

Believers Must Purify Themselves

Knowing that Christ could return at any moment also causes us to purify our lives (1 John 3:2-3).

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

We should purify our lives because of our present position. We are “children of God,” and we should bear the image of our heavenly Father, which is absolute holiness and purity .

Conclusion

From these passages, we had a glimpse of what the future holds for us as believers in the Lord Jesus. We know that God is faithful and will fulfill His promise to take us from this chaotic world to be forever with Him. This should give us hope, despite the trials and suffering that we might be facing.

Whatever situation we are in right now, no matter how difficult the circumstances we are facing, they are nothing compared to the wonderful and glorious future that awaits us.

 Scriptures on the Return of Jesus Christ

The Second Coming Christ for the Church or the Rapture is the “blessed hope” of the believers; it is our blessed hope. But while we wait, let us reject ungodliness and worldly passions, and let us live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age Titus 2:11-14).


*Recommended Resource: Preparing for Jesus’ Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope
By A.W. Tozer

This never-before-published book is Tozer’s incomparable teaching on the book of Revelation. Discover his fresh and timely perspective on the purpose of prophecy, which he believed is to lift our gaze from the immediate to the eternal.

Preparing for Jesus’s Return offers a panoramic view of what is to come and examines what it means for you, your church and the world. No one knows when the Lord will return, but the assurance of His coming is our Blessed Hope!

What is the Fruitful Christian Life?

What is the Fruitful Christian Life?

In the creation story, the very first command given to man by God was “to be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:27-28). Interestingly, Jesus gave the same command to His followers in John 15:16: “to go and bear fruit – fruit that should remain” (or that will last).

But what fruit (or fruits) is Jesus referring to in this passage? What does it mean for a believer to be fruitful? And how are Christians supposed to bear fruit?

The Believer’s Fruit

There are three kinds of fruits that the passage can be referring to: the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of our labor and our good works.

1. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Whenever the Bible speaks of fruit or being fruitful in Christ, it is often in reference to the fruit of the Holy Spirit operating in the life of a believer: love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Notice that these fruits are attributes of God-like love, peace, faithfulness, and goodness. It is expected that these fruits will closely resemble the parent plant, which in this case is the Spirit of God. While it is true that we cannot see in the human heart to know who is truly born again and who is not, we can see the fruit of a person’s life or the absence thereof.

A person who is truly saved and belonging to Christ, having already crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, is now living according to the Spirit. And if he is living according to the Spirit then he is also walking according to the Spirit, thereby making the fruits of the flesh less visible (Galatians 5:24-25).

2. The Fruit of His Labor

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave this command to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” and He promised, “I am always with you to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

This mandate is not only for the eleven disciples of Jesus but for every believer in Christ. When we share our faith with others and they respond by acknowledging their sinfulness and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives, they become our fruit.

How many persons have come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because you cared enough to share the gospel message?

3. The Fruit of Good Works

The good works that the believer does can also be counted as fruits. When you show even the simplest acts of kindness to Christians and non-Christian alike that you come in contact with, extend a helping hand to those in need, or share your time and talent (money) in support of your church ministry, you are bearing the fruit of good works.

However, I need to emphasize the cardinal biblical truth that good works do not have any bearing on our salvation. We have been saved by grace through faith alone in the Lord Jesus and this is not from ourselves. Salvation is the gift of God, not by our works so that none of us can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The good works we do are fruits of our salvation. In other words, they are evidence of our genuine faith, which is what is needed to receive God’s gift of salvation. This is actually what James is pointing out in his epistle when he said, “Faith without action is dead” (James 2:14-26).

We do not have to prove to God that our faith is genuine; He knows because He sees our hearts. But our good works will prove to others that we are truly saved and we belong to Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Do not weary doing good to others

The Fruitful Life: Abiding in the Vine

If we read the entire passage wherein Christ appointed His followers to be fruitful, He specifically said that the only way they could carry out this task was for them to abide in Him (John 15:1-10). What does it mean to abide in Christ?

The fact that the word “abide” is mentioned eight times in seven verses (John 15:4-10) strongly points out how the branch cannot produce its own life; it must draw that life from the vine. In other words, it is crucial to abide in Christ if we are to live a fruitful Christian life.

Note: And if you’re reading from the New International Version, the word “remain” is mentioned eleven times (John 15:4-10 NIV).

After Jesus announced to His disciples that He would be leaving them soon and promising the Holy Spirit to abide with them forever, we now come to the seventh and last of the “I am” statements of Christ recorded in the gospel of John.

As Jesus spoke to His disciples probably in the upper room, preparing to leave, He uses the imagery of a vine to describe the new relationship which His disciples are about to enjoy with Him and with the Father. Our Lord is the vine; the believers are the branches, and the Father is the vinedresser (gardener) who tends the vine, removing dead branches and pruning them so that they will become even more fruitful (John 15:1-2).

The Father Prunes

Our heavenly Father is never nearer to us than when He is pruning us. Sometimes He cuts away the dead wood that might cause trouble, but often He cuts off the living tissue that is robbing us of spiritual vigor.

Pruning does not simply mean spiritual surgery that removes what is bad. It can also mean cutting away the good and the better so that we might enjoy the best. Yes, pruning hurts, but it also helps. We may not enjoy it, but we certainly need it.

At times the Father also prunes us (the branches) by allowing difficult circumstances and situations in our lives such as poor finances, poor health, misunderstanding and conflict with others, difficult relationships, etc. These trials are designed to bring us to the end of our own strength and will awaken in us a need for a deeper surrender to the Lord.

*Read here: The Christian Response to Trials

How to Live the Fruitful Christian Life

Jesus Christ is the True Vine

Notice how Jesus speaks of Himself not merely as the “vine,” but as the “True Vine.” The vine was a familiar symbol in the Hebrew Scriptures for the nation of Israel (Psalm 80:7-8, 14-17; Isaiah 5:7; Ezekiel 19:10-14; Hosea 10:1-2). During the Maccabean period, they even adopted it as their national symbol.

However, the use of the vine as an image for the Jewish nation was often used in a negative sense (Ezekiel 15:1-8; 17:1-8; Jeremiah 2:21; Isaiah 5:1-2). The vine, which is the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, did not bear the fruit that God intended because of their unfaithfulness.

In contrast, Jesus is the True Vine, replacing the Jewish nation and Christians must be rooted in Him if they are to bear fruit for God. The vine and branch picture emphasizes complete dependence and the need for constant connection. Of itself, a branch is weak and useless. It is good for either bearing or burning, but not for building (John 15:5-6).

The Lord as the true vine is the source of life, strength, and fruit for the branches (believers). The branches obtain life through the vine; they are sustained by the vine and they produce fruit through the vine. The branches then become the visible manifestation of the life of the vine and God’s instruments for fruit-bearing.

Abiding in Christ: Living in Obedience

The abiding relationship is natural to the branch and the vine, but it must be cultivated in the Christian life. It is not automatic. Rather, it is something that we are commanded to do, and which takes effort and action on our part. To abide in Christ the true vine, demands worship, meditation of God’s Word, prayer, sacrifice, service and above all, obedience to God and His Word.

Jesus made this very clear when He said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9-10). Simply put, to abide in Christ and in His love is to keep His commandments.

By the way, Jesus is not saying here that we abide in His love when we keep the Law. Jesus inseparably joins love and commandment keeping. This is evident when He summed up the Law by two commandments, both of which were commands to love in Matthew 22:34-40.

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

God gave His commandments out of love. What God prohibits, He prohibits for our own good. What God requires, He requires for our own good. God’s commandments are a manifestation of His love for us and He expects us to obey them out of our love for Him.

God’s laws or commandments should be the delight of every Christian because it is a manifestation of God’s love (Psalm 1:1-2). God gave us His commandments to keep us from those things that would destroy us and to point us to Jesus Christ – the One who can save us. So whenever we are tempted to look at God’s commands as something other than the expression of His love, we are headed for serious trouble.

And if we are looking for the best illustration of obedience, we must look no further for Jesus has exemplified the finest illustration of this kind of abiding with His total submission and obedience to the will of the Father (John 8:28-29).

Jesus never acted independently of the Father. In fact, He was completely obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). Christ’s obedience made possible man’s reconciliation with God.

What does it mean to Remain in Christ

Conclusion

Living the fruitful Christian life is the calling for every believer. Not that we chose Jesus, the King of kings, but He chose us, He has called us to be His friends and appointed us to be fruitful (John 15:15-16). It is a humbling experience indeed!

And while it brings glory to the Father when the branches bear much fruit (John 15:8), the branches share in the joy of the vinedresser. The joy and satisfaction that go hand in hand with the bearing of more perfect and abundant fruit are not only reserved for the vinedresser, who is the Father but are shared by the branches as well.

Once again, the only way for believers to be fruitful in Christ is to abide in Him. It is our communion with Christ through the Spirit that makes possible the bearing of the fruit. The sooner we as believers discover that we are but branches, the better we will relate to the Lord, for we will know our own weakness and confess our need for His strength.

Are you bearing fruit for Christ to the glory of the Father in heaven?