Author: Alice A. Anacioco

Why We Believe Jesus is the Only Way

Why We Believe Jesus is the Only Way

Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 that He is the only way to God has raised so many questions. Why should we believe Jesus’ claim about Himself? What reasons do Christians have to continue to believe that personal faith in Jesus is so important?

In this post, let us look at the biblical evidence why Christ is the only way to heaven.

The Uniqueness of Christ

It is undeniable that there are some parallels between the teachings of Christ and other world religions. For instance, Christ’s emphasis on treating others the way we want to be treated is not unique to Christianity.

However, the comparative similarities are only part of the picture. Other major world religions emphasize the importance of human efforts to get us right with God. The gospel of Christ, in contrast, says that no one can come to the Father except through the Lord Jesus.

It’s only by grace through faith in Christ and His finished works on the cross that we can attain salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

JESUS is the Only Way to GOD

Salvation through Christ Alone

Does the Bible say that Christ is the only way to God? The apostle Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).

But Peter did not come up with this conclusion on his own. He was with others when Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Why did the apostles and Jesus’ followers conclude that He had a right to make such amazing claims about Himself? It’s because they were witnesses to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

Can One Be Saved without Hearing the Gospel?

If salvation is through the gospel, what about those who have never heard? We must understand that until the church was born, repentant sinners got saved without hearing the whole gospel message.

One of the thieves who was executed along with Jesus repented and got saved even without the whole gospel. The message of Christ’s death for sin and His subsequent resurrection had not yet been declared. But one of the thieves found mercy when he repented of his sins and asked Jesus to remember him (Luke 23:42-43).

The thief understood he had no hope but divine grace, and that the dispensing of that grace lay in Jesus’ power. This demonstrates true faith on the part of the dying thief, and Christ graciously affirmed the man’s salvation.

To what extent can we apply this example to others who recognize their sin and appeal to the one true God for mercy? We don’t know for sure. But the Bible shows that God sacrificed His own Son to assure salvation for those who will believe (John 3:16).

God is Just and Fair

Perhaps we find ourselves struggling with issues of fairness. Will God give everyone an equal opportunity to hear the message of Christ? It’s troubling to think that many people will suffer in hell because they were not given a chance to hear the gospel.

What about the people who suffer from mental retardation or other diseases? It would be impossible for them to hear and consider the good news of Christ. Some die at a very early age without hearing the gospel message.

In cases like this, we need to trust the Judge of all the earth to do what is right (Genesis 18:25). God is fair and just, no doubt about that; He knows what He’s doing.

Here’s a beautiful prayer song you can sing for the Lord, your Savior.

Jesus is the Son of God

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul also noted the uniqueness of Christ. In Romans 1:1-5, Paul identified some distinctives that he believed set Christ apart from all other religious leaders.

According to Paul, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, who possessed both a human and a divine nature. This was something that he had once found impossible to admit. Well educated in the doctrine and theology of Moses, Paul initially persecuted Jews who followed Jesus.

After a life-changing encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, Paul became convinced that Jesus was both God and Savior (Titus 2:13).

Paul became one of the witnesses of Christ’s resurrection – a resurrection that distinguishes the gospel of Jesus Christ from all other faiths. Unlike all the other religious teachers and leaders, Jesus did not remain dead. And Jesus’ resurrection is God’s vindication of His claim that He is indeed the Son of God (Romans 1:3-4).

Thus, Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

The apostle believed that Christ had provided salvation that needed to be offered first to his countrymen and then to all nations.

Final Words

The Bible could not be more explicit in its proclamation of the exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ. Jesus came to live and die as a substitutionary sacrifice for those who will receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior (John 1:12; John 14:6; John 3:16).

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The consequence of that sin is death or separation from God (Romans 6:23). The good news is that because of God’s love and deep compassion for us, He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).

Have you received Christ and surrendered your life to Him? If not, have you thought about your response to the gospel? It’s not enough to know what the Lord has done for you. You must respond by personal choice.

It’s easy to put off making a decision but God wants you to decide about His Son today. Behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

If you want to receive the Lord’s forgiveness and His gift of eternal life, you can express it in this simple prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I acknowledge I am a sinner and can’t save myself. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for me. I sincerely repent of my sins and receive you as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life and mold me into the kind of person You want me to be. Amen!”

If you sincerely prayed this, you are now a child of God and have the assurance of eternal life.


Recommended Resource:

Is Jesus the Only Way? by Philip Graham Ryken

Is Jesus the Only Way

We’ve all heard people say it: “The problem with Christians is that they think Jesus is the only way to heaven.” Even reason says: We go to the college of our choice, watch the cable channel of our choice, and eat the food of our choice.

So why can’t we pray to the god of our choice and get to heaven by any means we choose?

These are fair questions. Questions that demand an answer if Christians are going to insist that their claims are true—and that all other religions’ claims about salvation are thereby false.

They are questions Philip Ryken confronts head-on in this accessible book.

Within these pages, the four essential Christian beliefs that pluralists find most troublesome are explained in clear, everyday terms. Ryken argues not only that Jesus is the only way, but also why this must be true.

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

Living Out Your Heavenly Citizenship

Many people all around the world want to get to America and eventually become citizens. Why not? I’ve heard many Americans say that the United States is the greatest country on planet earth. And that the poorest people in the United States are the richest people in third-world countries!

So, I get it. People, especially from third-world countries see America as a ticket to a better life. So much so that there are thousands of illegal crossings at the Texas-Mexico border daily. I can’t blame them. Who does not want to live the American dream?

But if there’s one citizenship that every person on planet earth should want to have, it’s heavenly citizenship.

Bible Verse: Philippians 3:20, NLT

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior.”

We must note that in his letter, the apostle Paul was addressing the Philippian believers. When he said, “We are citizens of heaven …” he was referring to himself and the church.

How did they acquire their heavenly citizenship? By acknowledging their sins, repenting, and trusting in Christ as their Lord and Savior.

If you did the very same thing that the church at Philippi did, then you are also a citizen of heaven. You may be holding a Philippine passport, British passport, American passport, etc. But you also have an invisible passport to heaven.

A Heavenly Citizenship

In the sight of God, there are only two kinds of citizenship: earthly and heavenly. Your earthly citizenship is temporary while your heavenly citizenship is for eternity.

God has already predetermined our race and nationality before conception. But that does not mean we can’t choose to become citizens of another country. God does not forbid you to move to another country and become a citizen there.

But God desires for everyone to become citizens of heaven just as He originally designed them to be.

Adan & Eve in the Garden of Eden

Before the fall, Adam and Eve held heavenly citizenship. Didn’t they enjoy intimate daily fellowship with God? However, things changed after they deliberately disobeyed God.

As a result, Adam and Eve’s relationship with God was broken and they forfeited their heavenly citizenship. The good news is that God wanted to restore that broken fellowship. He also wanted to open the pathway for all earthly citizens to become citizens of heaven.

John 3:16 tells us what God did to accomplish that.

How to Live as Citizens of Heaven

The moment a sinner repents and accepts the gift of eternal life from God, he acquires heavenly citizenship. But what does it mean to become a citizen of heaven? How should Christians live out their heavenly citizenship?

1. Do Not Live Like the World

Paul said this to the church in Rome:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind …” (Romans 12:2, ESV).

In the NIV translation, this verse reads, “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world…” This simply means Christians should STOP copying the lifestyle of the world.

Before coming into the knowledge of God’s truth, we were just like the people in the world. We conducted ourselves in the same manner and behavior, held the same beliefs and customs. And whatever the world dictates as acceptable, we also deemed acceptable.

Paul said the same thing to the believers in Ephesus but reworded and expounded on it. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking” (Ephesians 4:17, NIV).

If we continue reading Ephesians 4:18-32, Paul enumerates all the things that the Gentiles do and tells them how they should live instead. To summarize, Paul said, “Throw off your old sinful nature and put on your new nature.”

Now that we’re no longer earthly citizens, we need to stop behaving just like the people of the world. Instead, we are to start living our new life in Christ as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).

New Life in Christ

2. Do Not Love the World

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15, NASB

This does not mean we should loathe anything and everything that is in the world. Remember, God originally created everything “good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 21, 25).

For instance, marriage and family which are earthly institutions are good. Scientific and advanced medicines are good because they help cure diseases and prolong human life. Technology is good because it connects people who are miles away from each other.

Wealth and riches are good because they allow us to have a comfortable life. The Bible does not say money is the root of all evil. It’s the love of money that is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

The “good things” from God become “bad” only as a result of Satan’s perversion. So, there’s nothing wrong and everything right about enjoying God and the blessings He freely bestows on us in this life.

But let us be careful to not get too attached to this life and the things of this world. This is what it means to not love the world. It’s about setting our priorities straight.

The Word of God reminds us to not start obsessing about the wealth and pleasures of this world. This is because earthly pleasures are not from the Father (1 John 2:16-17, NASB).

Friendship with the World

As citizens of heaven, we should not also be too friendly with the world. Friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God (James 4:4). Intimate friendship requires a commitment. When you choose to side with the world, you just chose to be in opposition to God. It’s because the world is currently ruled by Satan who is the archenemy of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

You can’t be loyal to two opposing parties. As Matthew 6:24 (NIV) says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

Joshua said the same thing (Joshua 24:15), “Choose this day whom you will serve…”

The bottom line is, there is no middle ground, there is no gray area. When you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. If you are friends with the world, you become an enemy of God.

It’s a matter of choice!

James 4:4

3. Live as Pilgrims in a Foreign Country

“Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” – 1 Peter 2:11, NLT

Peter kind of echoed what King David said.

We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” – 1 Chronicles 29:15, NLT

A stranger or foreigner is a temporary resident or traveler in a foreign country, passing through on his way to his home country. This is what we are in this world. Thus, we have a different mentality about life as compared to the permanent residents of this world.

As travelers, we don’t live according to the customs and standards of the foreign country we are in. But for the sake of not offending the locals, we may temporarily adopt some of their customs if they are morally neutral.

For instance, women here in Saudi Arabia are required to wear abayas and keep their heads covered. So, foreign women must do the same when they come here. Also, during Ramadan which is the month of fasting for Muslims, we should not eat or drink in front of them.

4. Set Your Hearts & Minds on Heavenly Things

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:1-2, NIV

To set our minds on things above means we should think of heavenly things; we should meditate on the things of God and His Kingdom.

But what about setting our hearts on the things above? What does this mean? In the Bible, the “heart” always stands for our affection, aspiration, desire, and passion.

Paul’s encouragement to the believers is that their desires align with God’s desires and be passionate about them. And also for them to develop a heavenly mindset – a way of thinking that goes far beyond what humans perceive.

We must note that everything on earth is temporary. Everything visible will come to an end while what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Billy Graham Quote

Know Your Priorities

However, to desire heavenly things and think about the things of God does not mean we should not live in fullness. It does not mean you should not get married and have a family just because our Lord never married.

Or if you have a family, you neglect your responsibilities to them and claim that you are focused on God’s work. And if you’re a mother, you need to take care of your husband and children.

As a man or woman of God, your first ministry is your family. Take care of your family first before attempting to take care of God’s business in the church. You cannot be effective in the church if you can’t even take care of your own family.

It’s the same thing at work. Whatever your job maybe you should, by all means, give your best. Always give it your 100%. As Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV) says, “We must do everything as working for the Lord…”

But as citizens of heaven, we need to always prioritize the Kingdom of God. We have to carry out God’s mandate known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) – witnessing/evangelism and discipleship.

We are to keep building the church by using our God-given talents and resources to serve God and others.

Conclusion

Are you living as citizens of heaven?

We are aliens and strangers on this earth, heading as pilgrims toward heaven. We’ve got to adopt that mindset, which includes constantly remembering that we aren’t staying here for long. Our home is in heaven. We should live like it!

Although we are still in this world, we are not of this world. Many things could go wrong in this world but we shouldn’t get distracted.

As heavenly citizens, we are to remain faithful to God, live in righteousness, and anticipate the promised return of Christ. Philippians 3:21 tells us what happens when Christ returns.

“He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” – Philippians 3:21, NLT

This is the third and final phase of our salvation – the glorification of our bodies. This will take place in the event known as the rapture, our blessed hope.


Recommended Resource: A Place Called Heaven: 10 Surprising Truths about Your Eternal Home by Dr. Robert Jeffress

A Place Called Heaven by Robert Jeffress

If any of us learned we were going to move to a foreign country, we’d do everything we could to learn about that place so that we’d be prepared when moving day arrived.

As Christians, we know someday we will leave our familiar country and be united with God in heaven. And yet many of us know very little about this place called heaven.

In this enlightening book, bestselling author Dr. Robert Jeffress opens the Scriptures to unpack ten surprising truths about heaven and explain who we will see there and how we can prepare to go there someday.

Perfect for believers or skeptics who are curious about heaven.

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

Christmas is just around the corner. And get this … Christmas celebration is not complete without gift-giving! I believe this is the part that makes most people, especially kids, excited about Christmas. This is the highlight of most celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Don’t you love gifts! Everybody loves gifts! I do not know of anyone who doesn’t.

Giving presents and exchanging gifts have become parts of our practices and traditions. And that is not a bad thing! The problem is this, we tend to be choosy.

We want something fancy and expensive. We want to get the best of all gifts. Little do most people realize that God has already given us the best gift. I’m talking about the greatest gift we’ve ever received mentioned in Ephesians 2:8-9.

We are saved by grace

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

This gift of God has nothing to do with our efforts. We didn’t earn it, deserve it, or purchase it. God gave it through His sacrificial gift so our salvation would not be our boast, but His kindness.

What is this gift? Our salvation!

We may not realize it but this gift from God is unlike any other gift that we can buy from the gift shop. Some people may think it’s cheap because it is available to anyone who wants to receive it. But it’s priceless; you can’t put a price tag on it.

It’s because God paid for it with His life. Jesus redeemed us with His blood (Ephesians 1:7). To redeem means “to pay off,” “to buy back,” or “to regain possession of.”

Originally, we belonged to God. But because of sin, we were separated from God. We’re on our way to hell and are destined to spend eternity there. But God did not want us to perish so He sent His Son to redeem us.

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

First of all, Christ did not come down to earth to start a Christmas tradition that includes the giving of gifts to one another. Christ came to offer His life as a ransom for many. He came to give us eternal life.

By doing what He did, God also exemplified the true meaning of gift-giving.

So, what are the things that God wants us to take into consideration whenever we give to others?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

God had one reason and one reason only for giving us the greatest gift of all and that is love. We have no reason to doubt this. You see, God did not have to give His Son but He did it anyway.

Why? It’s all because of His great love. God is not only full of love; God is love (1 John 4:16). Everything God does stems from His great love for us. If God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us, how can He not also give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

What about us? What is our motivation in giving? In goal-setting, they call this “finding your why.” In other words, what’s your reason for doing the things that you do.

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

Why do you give to charitable institutions and orphanages? Is it because your friends are doing it? If your reason is that you feel sorry for them, that means your heart is in the right place.

Why do you give in support of God’s work? Why do you give birthday presents to your friends or other people on any occasion?

By the way, giving is not only in terms of material things, like money or anything tangible. It could also mean spending time with your friends and loved ones. Or taking a break from your busy schedule to comfort a colleague or friend who’s going through tough times.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Unconditional means “no strings attached.” It’s just like how God gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. God was not expecting anything in return. All He wanted was to spare us from eternal condemnation.

But these days, when you offer something too good to be true, people are quick to ask, “What’s the catch?” And we can’t blame them. As they always say, “You don’t get anything for free. There are no free hand-outs and if there are, they’re most likely trash.”

When God gave us the greatest gift of all, He did so without condition. How do we know this? It’s because God did it out of love and God’s love is unconditional.

God did not say, “Hey, you need to be a good person first.” Neither did He say, “Turn away from your sin and then I will give My Son to die for you” (Romans 5:8).

God had expectations as some scholars argue, it’s that everyone would receive His gift by faith. And also, for them to share that gift with others. This is why Jesus gave the Great Commission.

But we need to emphasize that what God expects from the recipients of His gift is not for His benefit. Rather, it’s for the people who are still in darkness. Simply put, it’s about giving back or passing it on.

Do we give, expecting something in return? Isn’t it more blessed to give than to receive? This is why it’s always best to give to the people who are unable to give back to us.

This is not to say that the principle of “give and take” is wrong or bad. What is wrong is when a person who has the means to give prefers to be always on the receiving end.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Giving Should be Sacrificial

When we hear the word sacrifice, it always involves doing something difficult and painful. It’s not going to be easy and it would take courage to be able to do it. It’s about setting aside your own comfort and happiness for the sake of others.

God modeled sacrificial giving 2,000 years ago. The Father endured the pain of having to watch His only Son suffer and die at the hands of His creation. But for man to be spared from hell, God had to experience pain.

We all know the story of Abraham who is about to offer his son Isaac on Mount Moriah? That was a foreshadowing of what God would do to His Son about 1,500 years later on Mount Calvary.

I can’t imagine the pain that a parent has to go through when his only child gets brutally killed in front of him. You are blessed to not have to go through this kind of pain.

Have you ever felt pain as a result of “giving” to your family or loved ones? You were saving for a new cellphone but your daughter needed money to pay her lease. Or you wanted to treat yourself to an expensive restaurant but your friend suddenly in need.

These are part of the sacrifice we have to make just so we can give to our loved ones or extend help to those in need.

Giving Should be Purposeful

Why did God give His Son to die on the cross? What was His purpose for sacrificing His only Son? For us to have eternal life! To provide salvation to all who will believe. Again, it’s for the benefit of the recipients.

If we read Isaiah 53:10, it says, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him (the Son), putting Him to grief.” Doesn’t that sound brutal?

But God did not just do this for nothing. God’s giving of His Son was for the sole purpose of saving us from the horrors of hell. It should be the same thing with us when we give anything to someone. It should always be for the benefit of the one who gets the gift.

Is what you’re giving beneficial to the receiver? Is it something they need? Oftentimes, what people want is not necessarily what they need. This is why when we ask God for something that does not benefit us, He won’t give it (1 John 5:14). God will not grant our requests that are harmful to us.

Giving Should Be Purposeful

On our part, when we give a gift or present, we don’t give something just for the sake of giving. We should give it some thought. Again, this comes down to our reason or motivation in giving. When we give out of love, we will surely give what we think is best for the recipient.

No matter how expensive your gift might be if it won’t be useful to the one who gets it, it’s useless. On the other hand, even if the gift is somewhat cheap as long as it’s exactly what the person needs, it will be valued and appreciated.

Bottom line is, it’s not the worth that counts but its usefulness.

Final Thoughts

God modeled the true meaning of gift-giving. God has not only given us so much; He’s also given us the greatest gift of all.

God gave us His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And in the person of Jesus Christ, we find salvation, redemption, reconciliation with God, and eternal life (1 John 5:12).

The least we could do to pay back God for all He’s done is to strive to follow our Lord’s example. We are to share that gift with others as well.

So, to recap what God has taught us about gift-giving, remember the acronym P-L-U-S.

Christ's Example of Gift-Giving

 

Recommended Resource: Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Timothy Keller

From pastor and New York Times, bestselling author Timothy Keller comes the perfect gift for the Christmas holiday—a profoundly moving and intellectually provocative examination of the nativity story.

Even people who are not practicing Christians think they are familiar with the story of the nativity. Every Christmas displays of Baby Jesus resting in a manger decorate lawns and churchyards, and songs about shepherds and angels fill the air.

Yet despite the abundance of these Christian references in popular culture, how many of us have examined the hard edges of this biblical story?

In his new book, Timothy Keller takes readers on an illuminating journey into the surprising background of nativity.

By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way.

The Very First Christian Song

The Very First Christian Song

Let me ask you, Christian, “What do you think is the very first Christian song?” If you are in your 50’s or 60’s you probably know more songs than those in their 20’s. Well, that is if you have been keeping track of every song written about God and for God. With all the Christian singers and bands since time immemorial, not many of us could keep up.

Going back to the question on the first-ever Christian song … it might not be what you’re thinking.

The Role of Music in the Church

Music makes a worship service; that is hard for a preacher to admit. But we also know that music (praise and worship) prepares the soul to hear and receive the Word.

Can we have a church service without music? Why can’t we just pray, listen to the sermon, give our tithes and love offering, and then go home? Can you imagine a church service without music and singing? I bet you couldn’t.

Ascribe to the Lord the Glory due His Name

I’m reminded of the story behind the song, “Heart of Worship.” In his conversation with Crosswalk, Matt Redman admitted that his church was struggling spiritually. This is despite their worship band’s huge contribution to the worship revival in churches worldwide.

He went on to say that there was a dynamic missing. So, the pastor decided to get rid of the sound system and they just sang with their voices. His point was that they’d lost their way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”

By the time they re-introduced the musicians and the sound system, the congregation had gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus.

Joy to the World

It’s December once again, which means Christians around the world are getting ready to celebrate the first coming of Christ. Yeah, I know; Christmas this year may not be the kind of celebration most people used to have. We can blame Covid-19 all we want but doing so won’t make things better. Rather, it would make us feel even more miserable.

Regardless of our current situation, we must never forget what Christmas is all about. The main reason we celebrate the yuletide season is that Christ came to bring salvation to all men (Titus 2:11). The world celebrates Christmas for several other reasons but we celebrate Jesus, God’s greatest gift to us.

Is “Joy to the World” the first Christian song? It may be one of the oldest and most popular Christmas songs ever! What a joy, indeed, when Christ left His throne above. He came down to the earth He created, became a man, and dwelt among us (John 1:14). As wonderful as this song is, it’s not the first Christian song.


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

Operation Joktan

 

In this thrilling first book in a new series, authors Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn draw on true events as well as tactical insights Amir learned from his time in the Israeli Defense Forces.

For believers in God’s life-changing promises, Operation Joktan is a suspense-filled page-turner that illuminates the blessing Israel is to the world.


What Makes a Song Christian

A song isn’t Christian just because the artist or the songwriter are Christians. It’s not also a Christian song because of the rhyme or melody. What makes a Christian song is the lyrics; the words that make up the song. Christian songs include songs that talk about the love of God, His mercy, grace, and compassion.

But what about some so-called Christian songs by Christian singers and rock bands that are theologically off? Meaning, unscriptural songs? One particular song that comes to mind is “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong. The song starts pretty okay but as we come to the second verse it becomes clear that something is wrong. It says, “You didn’t want heaven without us. So, Jesus, You brought heaven down.”

It’s true; the name of Jesus is beautiful, wonderful, and powerful. He is the Creator, can never be defeated, and has no rival. But to say that God did not want heaven without us? That sure would make people think that they are more important than God.

This is why when worship leaders select songs for their lineup, they must consider the message that the songs communicate. Do these songs line up with Scripture? Do they bring honor and glory to God?

The First Christian Song

We know that followers of Jesus were first referred to as Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:19-25. But how did Christianity begin?

Christianity began with a song. When Christ was born in the manger, an angel went to a nearby field and announced the news to shepherds who were watching their flocks.

Luke 2:13-14

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. They were saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Upon hearing the good news, the shepherds started glorifying and praising God. With hearts full of joy, they sang the very first Christian song. These shepherds are a great example for us to imitate today. They received by faith the message God sent them and went on to give praise to the Most High.

Luke 2:14
Photo Credit: The Skit Guys

Victory Songs

In the Bible, singing was used to celebrate victories. Moses sang a song of victory just after God covered Pharaoh’s chariots with the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1). Surrounded by three enemy armies, Jehoshaphat sent the choir singing unto the Lord before the attacking armies (2 Chronicles 20:21).

Imagine how the enemy laughed. But the songs of praise released the angels of God who attacked and annihilated the enemies. Anointed singing destroys the power of darkness (Psalm 149:5-6). It is spiritual warfare that will cause every demon to run in total terror.

After the Lord’s Supper, the disciples joined Jesus in singing a hymn before they walked to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30). Singing prepared Jesus for the Passion to follow.

After being beaten and surrounded by disease and filth in prison, Paul and Silas could still sing praises to God. God heard them and sent an earthquake to rock the doors open. Paul and Silas walked out of that prison with a convert – the jailer. Singing with anointing moves the hand of God (Acts 16:25).

Final Thoughts

In as much as we enjoy singing and listening to the best Christian songs, one day, we will get to hear God’s newest release.

Revelation 14:3

“They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.”

What a song that will be. Imagine hearing the debut of a new song to usher in the eternal reign of Christ the King.

Are you looking forward to hearing God’s brand new song?

While waiting for that day to come, let us keep singing Christian songs. Let us use music to praise and glorify God and express our love for and gratitude to God.

God’s Principles of Giving

God’s Principles of Giving

Giving, particularly tithing, is just one of the few subjects that often cause division and conflict within the body of Christ. Although God has laid out clear principles of giving in His Word, many Christians still struggle a lot in this area. Some even go to the extreme of accusing the church leadership of just being interested in money.

Why is it that many Christians seem to have the wrong attitude when it comes to the issue of money? It’s pretty easy for many to get involved in the church ministry and sacrifice their time, gifts, and talents. But when asked to give financially for the works of the Lord, suddenly they become indifferent.

In the same way that money is the engine on which our society runs, the church also needs money to run the Father’s business. Outside of the giving of its members, the church has no source of income.

The Role of Money in Society

5 Biblical Principles of Giving

In both the Old and the New Testaments, we see several principles of giving that help us to see money from God’s perspective. May these five principles enable us to handle God’s blessings in a way that is aligned with His will.

Sometimes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with God’s abundant favor that we forget to seek God’s guidance on how to use them. We must never forget that God has a purpose for everything and He is in control of all things. At the end of the day, our purpose is to live for God and His glory.

So, here we go …

#1 Principle: God Owns Everything

There is no argument that God is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth; this is the principle of sovereignty. All things that exist belong to God and God alone (1 Chronicles 29:11).

It was not enough for King David, a noble and successful king, to acknowledge that the entire earth belonged to God. He added that all its fullness also belonged to Him, including the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).

Psalm 24:1, NIV

David emphasized the truth that God’s ownership of the earth extends to the people who live upon it. Through the rights of creation and continuing provision, God has a claim upon every person who has ever lived. This includes everything that they own, possess, and will acquire. Can you think of a more sweeping statement of God’s ownership?

So, if God owns everything, what do you have that rightfully belongs to you? Nothing! Nada! God’s sovereignty gives Him the exclusive right to exercise supreme authority over everything. And that extends even to our personal belongings. All that we are and all that we have are His.

You may ask, “How do I honor God’s sovereignty in my giving?”

#2 Principle: We are but Stewards

Although all things belong to our God, He has entrusted us to care for and use His possessions. This is the principle of stewardship. What is required of a steward? Faithfulness!

As stewards, we must be faithful in the way we use God’s talents and treasures inside and outside the church.

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Paul used the image of the steward. A steward is a servant who manages everything for his master, but who himself owns nothing. As caretakers of God’s money and property, we must do well to use them only for His purpose and glory. Thus, we give in support of the needs of the church and the ministry.

Jesus also gave a parable indicating that one day we will give an account to God on how we handled God’s money. Will God find us faithful and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Are you spending the money entrusted to you by God to honor Him and further His Kingdom?

#3 Principle: Sowing and Reaping

When a farmer sows his seed, he may think that he lost it as it fell from his hand into the ground. In the same way, we may feel we are losing money every time we give. But just as the farmer gives the seed in anticipation of a future harvest, we should give with the same expectation. And the better quality of seeds we sow, the greater will the harvest be.

This is the principle of increase that Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 9:6. We reap in measure as we sow. This principle needs little explanation because we see it operating in everyday life.

The farmer who sows much seed will have a better chance for a bigger harvest. The investor who puts a large sum of money into a company will certainly collect more dividends. As we invest more in the work of the Lord, the more “fruit” will abound to our account.

2 Corinthians 9:6, NLT

Keep in mind that when we give to God, we are never losers. God always rewards the giving heart both now and in eternity. But what do we reap when we sow into God’s Kingdom? We will reap a harvest of blessings, both material and spiritual.

Don’t stop the flow of God’s blessing by disobeying Him in the area of giving.

#4 Principle: God Supplies All Our Needs

In Philippians 4:19, Paul tells the church that God would supply all their needs. Why did Paul believe this? It’s because they met his needs. They call this the supply principle.

The apostle did not see the gifts of the Philippian believers as simply coming from them. He saw it as the supply of his need from heaven. Paul trusted the Lord to provide for his needs and God did through the believers at Philippi.

To paraphrase what Paul said, we might state it this way, “You met my need, God is going to meet yours. You met one need that I have, but my God will meet all your needs. You gave out of your poverty, but God will supply your needs out of His riches in glory.”

There is a direct correlation between God supplying our needs and the liberality with which we supply the needs of others.

2 Corinthians 9:10 also speaks of how God supplies the giver with his own needs and also the means to give to others. As long as God can count on us to supply the needs of others, He will continue to provide for us. God supplies not just our daily needs; He gives excess for us to share with others.

#5 Principle: Our Attitude Towards Giving

This is the principle of sincerity. How do you react every time the offering basket is passed around? Do you often make an excuse to skip this part of the worship service by going to the washroom? Or do you pretend to not know what’s going on? 

I know that many Christians do not believe tithing is commanded in the New Testament. The sad part is that they mock those who do and call them fools for (allegedly) believing their pastor’s lies. I get it; we don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to biblical tithing.

For this reason, I want us to stick to giving in general, whether it be in tithes or in freewill offerings. What attitudes should not characterize our giving? 2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Here’s a song by Ron Kenoly to encourage us to be faithful in our giving unto the Lord.

No Grudges nor Reluctance

“Grudgingly” literally means “not in grief.” When we give, we should not be sad nor feel like it’s something painful to do. And after giving, we should not regret having done so and complain or murmur.

Not Out of Necessity or Under Compulsion

Do you give out of pressure or because you feel compelled or manipulated? Or is it because you have been made to feel guilty?

The Jews were required to give under the law. For fear of legal and moral punishment, some of them would grudgingly give what necessity obliged them. What about you?

We Give from the Heart

The Christian attitude and motive in giving or in any other activity for the Lord are vitally important. Our giving must come from the heart, and the motive in the heart must please God. Our giving is to be sincere, heartfelt, and in recognition of God’s abundant provisions in our life.

We must not be “sad givers” who give reluctantly or “mad givers” who give in response to pressure. Rather, we should be “glad givers” who cheerfully share what we have because we have experienced the grace of God.

The believers who are motivated by grace reap the blessings of personal enrichment in their lives and characters.

Proverbs 22:9, NASB

Concluding Words

As we pointed out, God is sovereign over everything and has entrusted us with His properties. God also promised an increase when we sow our seeds and will supply all our needs exceedingly so we can share with others. Finally, God is concerned about our character in giving.

You might ask, “If the two negative attitudes mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:7 characterize me, is it better for me not to give?” For sure many would say, “Yes, you should not give if it’s not from your heart.” However, I’d say we should not stop supporting the work of God. 

Instead, we should keep obeying God in this area of giving and ask Him to change our attitude. It may hurt at first to give sacrificially into the ministry. But this should not deter us from continually doing what is morally right.

Whenever we purpose in our hearts the amount of seed that we sow into God’s fertile soil, may we consider these five biblical principles of giving.

God bless us all!


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

Recommended Resource: The Grace of Giving: A Biblical Study of Christian Stewardship by Stephen F. Olford

The Grace of Giving: A Biblical Study of Christian Stewardship by Stephen F. Olford

Financial giving is a topic that many people don’t openly discuss. It is also a topic that many Christians misunderstand and undervalue.

With a solid perspective, Dr. Olford has penned a comprehensive, honest, and deeply perceptive study of financial stewardship that will help many in understanding this important topic.

Becoming God’s Own Children

Becoming God’s Own Children

One of the greatest blessings of the Christian experience is adoption (Ephesians 1:5). First, we become God’s children by regeneration (John 3:3; John 1:12). And then we are adopted into God’s family when God gives us the Holy Spirit as a seal of His ownership over us.

When a sinner trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior, he starts as a spiritual baby who needs to grow (1 Peter 2:2-3). But as far as his position is concerned, he is an adult son who can draw on the Father’s wealth.

Our Relationship with God

In one of my posts, I said that “adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God.” We are not just little children but adult sons (and daughters) of our heavenly Father.

But what does it mean to have a father-child connection with God?

The Bible mentions several ways in which our relationship with God is truly a father-child connection. These are in contrast with that of a slave or servant.

The Same Nature as God’s

As children of God, we have the same nature as the Father, but the servant does not.

When we trust Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, and this means we “share His divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

The law could never give a person the nature of God within. All it could do was reveal to the person his desperate need for God’s nature. So, when the believer goes back into law, he is denying the very nature within. Also, he is allowing the old nature (the flesh) to go to work.

New Creation in Christ

We have become new creatures through the ministry of reconciliation brought about by the works of Christ. Our old, sinful nature is gone and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

Since we have God’s nature within, we need to have an appetite for that which is pure and holy. Our behavior ought to be like that of the Father. We ought to live in that kind of spiritual environment that that is suited to our nature. We ought to associate with that which is true to our nature (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Not Orphans

The servant does not have a father; believers in Christ do.

No servant or slave could ever call his master, “Father.” When a sinner trusts Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit who tells him that he is a child of God (Romans 8:15-16). It is natural for a baby to cry, but not for him to talk to his father.

However, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell a believer, He cries out, “Abba Father.” In response, the believer cries, “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).

The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that is the equivalent of our English word “papa.” This shows the closeness of the child to the father. No servant or slave has this kind of relationship with his master.

What a blessing to be able to call God, “Abba Father!” Christians no longer have to worry even though they do not have a physical father. God as our Father is more than enough. He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. We are no longer orphans, hallelujah!

Obey Out of Love

While a servant obeys his master out of fear, God’s children obey out of love.

The Holy Spirit works in the heart of the believers to quicken and increase their love for God. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is to produce love (Galatians 5:22; Romans 5:5).

Throughout John’s description of the Last Supper, we can’t help but notice the repetition of the word love. If we treasure God’s Word and obey it, then the Father and the Son will share their love with us and make their home in us.

Obedience is Proof of Our Love for God

As the believer yields to the Father, loves the Word, prays, and obeys, his relationship and experience with God will go deeper. If we love God and obey Him, He will manifest His love to us in a deeper way each day.

The Judaizers told the Galatians that they would become better Christians by submitting to the law. But the law can never produce obedience. Only love can do that (John 14:15). When we love, we obey!

God’s Children are Rich

The child of God is rich, while the servant is poor.

As children, God has made us His heirs and we have become co-heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:16-17). And since we are adopted – placed as adult sons in the family – we may begin drawing our inheritance right now.

Everything in heaven and on earth belongs to God, thus, He holds the right to all of it. And since we are God’s children, we are co-owners of all that God owns. We are rich because our heavenly Father is rich.

Now, this does not necessarily mean that every Christian is living a very comfortable life. God wants us to enjoy abundant life. He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Nevertheless, a life of plenty does not always mean owning a mansion or having a fat bank account or being able to travel around the world.

We need to keep in mind that riches are not limited to the kind that the world has to offer. God’s riches are more than just money or wealth.

God has made available to us the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7) and the riches of His glory (Philippians 4:19). As children of God, we also get to enjoy the riches of His goodness (Romans 2:4) and the riches of His wisdom. Above all these, all the riches of God are found in Christ, our Lord, and Savior (Colossians 1:19; 2:3).

What it Means to be Blessed

A Bright Future

God’s children have a bright future, while the servant does not.

While many kind masters do provide for their slaves in old age, they were not required to. But the father always provides for his son (2 Corinthians 12:14).

As children of God, we will never experience lack because the Lord is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). Jesus is adequate for our every need.

We do not have to worry about tomorrow because our heavenly Father is in charge. He promised to take care of our daily needs; we just need to trust Him (Matthew 6:34). Worrying about tomorrow does not help either tomorrow or today. If anything, it robs us of our effectiveness today – which means we will be even less effective tomorrow.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by fear and despair because of all the things that are happening today. The chaos that we see around us may very well find a way to steal our hope and cause us to doubt God’s promise of a bright future. But we need to hold on to the hope that we profess because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

Conclusion

God Almighty is not just our Creator; He is also our Father. This father-child relationship that we have with God allows us to come to Him anytime, anywhere without any hesitation.

Each of us can experience the profound truth that the apostle John expressed. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1a)!

God is your Father, you are His child. Your heavenly Father loves you, cares so much about you, wants to bless you, and is preparing a bright future for you. Never let the enemy convince you into believing otherwise.


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

Recommended Resource:

Adopted by God: Discover the Life-Transforming Joy of a Neglected Truth by Barton Priebe

Adopted by God: Discover the Life-Transforming Joy of a Neglected Truth by Barton Priebe

Every Christian has been adopted into God’s family. Yet, the great truth of what adoption means has been neglected throughout history and overshadowed by other truths.

In Adopted by God you’ll discover—perhaps for the first time—the life-transforming joy that comes from being adopted as God’s cherished son or daughter.

Through clear biblical teaching and stories from the Priebe family’s journey in adopting their son from China, this book will:

  • Explain what it means to be adopted by God
  • Increase your assurance of God’s acceptance and love
  • Provide you with the strength to face the most difficult trials in life
  • Equip you to gain victory over sins in your life
  • Enable you to relate to others in ways that heal the wounds of racism, sexism, and loneliness

Discover adoption. Encounter joy. Experience transformation.

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

One biblical fact concerning the return of the Lord is that no one knows exactly when it’s going to happen. Proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture call this the “Doctrine of Imminency.”

The return of the Lord in the event known as the Rapture can happen at any moment without any warning. And this is not some kind of made-up argument; it’s the Lord Himself who said it. Thus, there shouldn’t be any question as to whether this is true or not.

Bible Verse: Mark 13:32-33 (NKJV)

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”

The Return of the Son of Man

At the beginning of the Olivet Discourse, we see how the disciples are amazed by the beauty of Jerusalem. One of them said, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here” (Mark 13:1)? And they were astonished for good reasons. The Temple was remodeled by Herod the Great to be one of the magnificent structures of the ancient world.

But as great as the Temple was, Jesus said it was going to be destroyed. He said, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2).

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Jesus’ statement caused His disciples to be anxious about the time of His return. They asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age” (Mark 13:3)?

Even on the day of His ascension to heaven, they asked Him about the timing of things to come (Acts 1:6). But Jesus replied that God had not given them the timetable of His future works.

Jesus expressed this idea in Mark 13:32 in a way that some have found puzzling because of the way He refers to Himself. Doesn’t the Son everything that the Father knows?

No One Knows, Not Even the Son

If Jesus is God, how can He not know the exact day and time of His return? This statement of the Lord has caused some people to doubt His divinity. But this can easily be explained by His dual nature: divine and human.

Jesus as God knew exactly when He will be returning. But He voluntarily submitted to the Father and restricted His knowledge of this event. Jesus is saying that the Father has not published His timing to human beings, to angels, or even to the Son as the Savior and Mediator.

As the second Person of the Godhead, Jesus has always known the appointed time. However, His knowledge of this is not intended for men or angels, and it is not accessible to them. The Father did not intend for Son to reveal this knowledge to His disciples.

Keep Watch and Pray

From the fact that the day and time of His return are not revealed, Jesus draws an important conclusion: we are to “watch and pray” (Mark 13:33). The return of the Lord is certain. Jesus’s warning means that it is also imminent, that is, it could happen at any time.

Watching means living in an attitude of confident expectation (Luke 12:36; Romans 8:25). On the one hand, we must have a constant desire to see Jesus (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:8). On the other hand, we are to be patiently active in the life of good works to which He has called us (Ephesians 2:10).

The Day of the Lord Comes Like a Thief in the Night

At the same time, we need to remain in an attitude of prayer. This does not mean we must be on our knees 24/7 talking with God. Rather, we must be in constant fellowship with our Lord and always follow His lead. The enemy will work triple time to get our focus off of God. He will do everything to get us off track. The only way we will emerge victorious in the end is if we fix our eyes on the Lord.

Watchfulness prepares Christians, enabling them to see whatever signs may precede an event. And we must always pray, that we may be found worthy to escape those things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

The hope that we rely on as we wait must be our foundation for living day by day in obedience to the Lord.

Always be Ready

Jesus cautioned His disciples to be ready for an unexpected coming. He then went on to tell them how they should live while waiting for His return (Mark 13:34-36, NIV).

“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping!”

Jesus said that He will come as a surprise. The Lord’s return for His saints happens at a time that nobody is expecting. Thus, readiness is the key for all end-time events. Anyone ready will not be caught by surprise. But people who aren’t prepared will fail.

Let us be reminded of the five foolish virgins who were not ready when the bridegroom came. Not only did they not have oils in their lamps, but they also fell into a deep slumber while waiting (Matthew 25:1-13).

Here’s a beautiful song to encourage you to be ready for the Lord’s return.

Final Thoughts

There are two aspects of the return of Christ: the Rapture and the Second Coming. The Second Coming, also called Second Advent, is understood to follow the Tribulation, while the Rapture is to come before it. The Rapture could happen at any time without warning. In contrast, the Second Coming will be preceded by certain prophetic signs, and to that extent, its timing will be known.

If you are a believer in Jesus, you are not waiting and preparing for the Second Coming; you’re waiting for the blessed hope. Our blessed hope is the rapture, which is the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). The Lord will descend from heaven and we will be caught up to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

No one knows the day and the hour when this event will take place, thus, we must always be ready. We may not know the exact day and time but we know it is certain to happen.

Are you ready to meet your Lord and Master? Will you hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23)?


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

Recommended Resource:

The Last Hour: An Israeli Insider Looks at the End Times by Amir Tsarfati

Avoiding sensationalism and date-speculating, respected Bible teacher Amir Tsarfati uses his unique perspective as an Israeli Christian to lead you through a fascinating modern-day description of God’s plan for the end of the world.

Grounded from start to finish in Scripture, the book reveals how the Rapture, the imminent rise of the Antichrist, and the tragic horrors of the Great Tribulation will play out in our world today.

He also helps you understand the roles – and fates – of Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey, the European Union, the United States of America, and Israel in the end times, illustrating just how biblical prophecies are being fulfilled in our time.

But above all, he offers hope that amid chaos and horror, God is ultimately in control, and those who belong to Him will be safe with Him.

Would You Deny Our Lord?

Would You Deny Our Lord?

Peter’s denial of Christ 3 times may be one of the lowest points of his life as a follower of Christ. Who would have thought that the disciple who seemed to be the most loyal could turn his back on his “rabbi?” Yet, he did! The fact that Peter denied Christ not just once but thrice is so unthinkable.

When Jesus warned His disciples that they would all “fall away,” Peter vowed that he wouldn’t. And Jesus said to him, “…before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But Peter doubled down and said, “I will not deny You, even if I have to die with You” (Mark 14:27-31).

Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial

Peter’s Three Denials

We can read the story of Peter denying Christ three times in all the 4 gospels (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; and John 18:25-27).

After Jesus got arrested, the guards led Him to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. Here, a group of religious leaders and teachers of the law gathered to put Jesus on trial.

Meanwhile, Peter followed Him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He made sure to stay far enough behind so that no one would notice him. Very cautiously, he entered the courtyard, sat with the guards, and waited to see how it would all end.

However, three different people recognized Peter as one of Jesus’ followers. Yet each time they accused him of being with Jesus, Peter denied it. He even went as far as to swear and say that he didn’t know Him.

The fact that Peter was standing in the enemy’s fire, warming himself, indicates how defeated he was. The denial was even more humiliating because two of the interrogators were servant girls. The third challenge came from a man, one of the bystanders, but Peter failed again.

Listen to the Lord’s Warning

Just as the Lord predicted, Peter denied knowing Him 3 times before the rooster crowed. Take note that Jesus told Peter before He was arrested that he would turn his back on Him. But instead of heeding Jesus’ warning, Peter insisted that he would stick by Him even if it would cost him his life.

Perhaps Peter himself did not expect that he could do what he did. He was not even aware that he was doing exactly what Jesus said he would do. It was only after the rooster crowed that he realized what he has done.

Peter Denies Christ

When the Lord looked at Peter, his heart broke. He knew that he messed up big time! Come to think of it; all Jesus had to do was look at Peter. Jesus warned him that this would happen. Yet, Peter was very confident that his faith won’t fail him no matter what.

Let this be a warning and lesson for the followers of Jesus. Keep in mind what Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth. “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT).

God is Faithful, We are Not

People often say, “Promises are made to be broken.” Sadly, this is used to justify not keeping one’s word. In short, we are validating the argument that it’s okay to not always make good your promise. After all, aren’t promises made to be broken?

While this is maybe true for fallen men, it is never the case with God. Whatever God promised, He will surely bring it to pass. It may not always happen within our timeline but it does not mean God won’t fulfill it.

Therefore, “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).

What promise or promises of God have you claimed that are still waiting to get checked off your list? Do not ever lose hope that you will eventually receive them.

From what we read in the gospel accounts, we can conclude that Peter was always bold and straightforward with the Lord. He was never afraid to express exactly what he was feeling in every given situation. He did not hold back, to the point that in certain situations, Jesus had to openly rebuke him.

Overcoming Fear

Can you imagine how Peter must have felt after realizing what he just did? Were you ever at a point where you had to choose between your safety or being loyal to a friend? You’ve committed to catching a bullet for someone you care so much about. But when the time came to put that loyalty to test, you buckled. Why?

The number one reason most people don’t stick with their friends to the end is fear, and that’s normal. We fear for our safety, we fear for our lives! It’s pretty easy to commit to remaining true to someone when everything is great. But when the situation turns into a matter of life or death, that’s when we give in and give up.

Fear is just one of the weapons that Satan uses against us and he’s good with it. But we can defeat the enemy by not allowing fear to overcome us. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 5:7).

The Lord's Guidance
Strengthen your faith with Christian jewelry, apparel, and wall decors.

Jesus Reinstates Peter

The miracle of the rooster’s crow told Peter that a new day was dawning. After all, that is what the rooster’s call means each day. It was not a new day for Judas or the enemies of the Lord. It was a new day for Peter as he repented and wept bitterly.

The Lord saw how sorry Peter was. And God always gives second chances; He will not reject a broken and repentant heart (Psalm 51:17).

So, on the morning of Resurrection Sunday, the angel sent a special message to encourage Peter (Mark 16:7). More importantly, the Lord Himself appeared to Peter that day and restored him to fellowship (John 21:15-19).

You may be wondering why Jesus had to ask Peter if he loved Him three times. We know that Peter and his Lord had already met privately and no doubt took care of Peter’s sins (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).

But since Peter had denied the Lord publicly, there must be a public restoration. Since Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked him three personal questions. He also encouraged him by giving a three-fold commission that restored Peter to his ministry.

Concluding Words

Peter’s denial is a warning to all of us. For if an apostle who walked with Christ denied Him, what might we do in similar circumstances?

Thus, before we judge Peter too severely, we need to examine our own lives.

How many times have we denied the Lord and lost opportunities to share the gospel with others? Do we, like Peter, talk when we should listen, argue when we should obey? Do we sleep when we should pray and fight when we should submit?

To Peter’s credit, he was sorry for his sins and wept over them. And the Lord was gracious to not only forgive him but also reinstate him.

Did you repent for those times when you denied your Lord?


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

Recommended Resource:

Simon Peter Leader Guide: Flawed but Faithful Disciple by Adam Hamilton

Simon Peter Leader Guide: Flawed but Faithful Disciple by Adam Hamilton

He left everything to follow his teacher and possessed a passion that would change the world. That’s one way to describe Peter. Here’s another: poor, uneducated, quick-tempered, and full of doubts and fears. Doesn’t even sound like the same man.

And that’s the point of Simon Peter, a new book and six-week adult Bible study by Adam Hamilton. Peter was just an ordinary guy who heard and followed God’s extraordinary call.

Discover how you, too, have special gifts, talents, and abilities that God can use to make a difference today.

In addition to the Leader Guide and DVD components for adult studies, corresponding youth and children’s resources, sold separately, can be used to create a churchwide study.

Who is the Great Harlot in Revelation?

Who is the Great Harlot in Revelation?

Revelation 17 talks about “the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters” (Revelation 17:1). But who is this prostitute that John is referring to in this passage? Is it possible to come up with the correct interpretation without being labeled a bigot and an extremist?

Religious Idolatry on the Rise

A harlot or prostitute is an individual who has been unfaithful in her wedding vows. In Revelation 17, John portrays an apostate church. Although it professes loyalty to Christ, it cleaves to idols and a false religious system. The Bible calls this spiritual idolatry.

God tells John that the influence of this apostate church is worldwide. “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:15). Indeed, the great harlot is a worldwide false religious system.

In Revelation 17:2, we discover that this “great harlot” seduces “the kings of the earth,” not just the general population. They are stupefied and mesmerized by this worldwide religious system centered in Babylon.

The Ancient City of Babylon
Photo Credit: Learnodo Newtonic

Revival of the Roman Empire

John further writes, “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3).

Going back to Revelation 13:1, we read, “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”

What we see in Revelation 17:3 and Revelation 13:1 is the same. The great harlot sits upon the revived Roman Empire or the nations represented by the European Common Market.

A Deadly Beauty

In Revelation 17:4, John describes the apparel of the great harlot. “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.”

She has the outward appearance of royalty; she is wearing gold and precious stones and pearls. This means she has unlimited wealth. In her hand is “a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.”

Outwardly, the great harlot is beautiful, but the contents of her cup are poison to the nations of the world.

John identifies the great harlot in Revelation 17:5. “And on her forehead, a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Babylon is the “Mother,” which means the source, or the polluted fountain from which all spiritual prostitution flows.

The word “mystery” in the New Testament does not refer to something mysterious. Rather, it refers to some truth not previously presented by God to men. The “mystery” is in the last days, there will be a great worldwide apostate church that will reject Christ and dishonor God.

Worldwide Confusion

Nimrod's Tower of Babel This identification of Babylon as the source of spiritual unfaithfulness takes us back to the Tower of Babel, where it started.

Nimrod, who was the arch apostate of the post-diluvian world, built the Tower of Babel. He was four generations after the flood and is recorded as “the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:8-10).

Nimrod’s generation built the Tower of Babel to cast God and His influence out of the earth. They proposed to build a great tower that would reach into heaven so that they could have the benefits of God without submitting to Him.

God’s reaction was, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So, the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth” (Genesis 11:7-9).

Here’s the critical point: the first organized, idolatrous, religious system in the history of the world was introduced at Babel. John calls Babylon “the Mother of Harlots” because it was the birthplace of spiritual adultery.

One day, the great religious system that began after the Flood will return to the forefront. Man will again organize in rebellion against the Creator just like at the Tower of Babel.

Judgment of the Great Harlot

How will it all end for the great harlot? Revelation 17:16-17 reads, “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.”

In essence, Joh is saying that in the middle of the 7-year Tribulation, the European Common Market will realize that they are mere puppets of the great harlot. They will then turn on her and destroy her with a vengeance.

Conclusion

Revelation 17 focuses on Babylon’s religious character, climaxing in a world religion during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. The major indictment against Babylon is the city’s spiritual idolatry (Revelation 17:4-5).

Millions of Christians will disappear at the Rapture. Meanwhile, the church institution left on earth (void of true believers) will quickly fall into the hands of opportunists. Arnold Fruchtenbaum says this of the prostitute in Revelation 17:

“Babylon the Harlot that represents the one-world religious system will rule over the religious affairs during the first half of the Tribulation. She rules over the nations of the world fully controlling the religious affairs and has the reluctant support of the government. The headquarters of this one-world religion will be the rebuilt city of Babylon, the mother of idolatry, for it was here that idolatry and false religion began.”

Robert Thomas also says, “She leads the world in the pursuit of false religion whether it be paganism or perverted revealed religion. She is the symbol for a system that reaches back to the Tower of Babel which extends into the future when it will peak under the regime of the beast.”


References:

  1. NKJV Prophecy Study Bible edited by John Hagee
  2. The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

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

Recommended Resource: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) by John F. Walvoord

What's the Book of Revelation About?The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible. Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception.

Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert?

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally.

At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you interpret the last book of the Bible and gain a better grasp of current trends and the climax of history!

Are All People God’s Children?

Are All People God’s Children?

I often hear people say, “We are all children of God and so we must treat each other like family.” In a general sense, this is true. All men and women are God’s offspring in that He is the Creator (Acts 17:2-29).

However, this relationship is not sufficient to offset the penalty of sin. It’s because we are all sinners separated from God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, for a sinful person to become a child of God, a miraculous transformation must take place.

The Doctrine of Adoption

In regeneration, God gives us new spiritual life within and in justification; God gives us a right legal standing before Him. But in adoption, God makes us members of His family.

Thus, we can define adoption as an act of God whereby He makes us members of His family. The doctrine of adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God and with His people.

That leaves us with the question, “If we only become children of God through adoption, whose children are we before that?”

The Doctrine of Adoption

In John 1:12, we read that only those who receive Christ and believe in His name are given the right to become God’s children. By contrast, those who do not believe in Christ are sons of disobedience and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3; 5:6).

When the Jews who rejected Christ claimed that God was their Father, Jesus said, “…you are of your father, the devil…” (John 8:41-44).

From Slave to Son

When Christians are adopted into God’s family, a dramatic transformation of status takes place from slave to son. As God’s sons, we can call God, “Abba Father,” and become heirs of God through Christ (Galatians 4:6-7, Romans 8:15-17).

But if we are God’s children, are we then related to one another as family members? Certainly! This adoption into God’s family makes us partakers even with the Old Testament-believing Jews. Paul says that we are all Abraham’s children as well and children of the promise (Romans 9:7-8).

Paul explains that this status of adoption into God’s family was not fully realized in the Old Covenant. He says, “Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law… the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:23-26).

While the people of Israel knew God as their Father, the full benefits and privileges of membership in God’s family did not come until Christ.

Evidence of Adoption

If we are, indeed, God’s children, what evidence do we see in our lives? The clear evidence is the fact that the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that we are God’s children.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6)!

We also see in John’s first epistle how he places much emphasis on our status as God’s children. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. Beloved, now we are children of God … (1 John 3:1-2).

Notice that John frequently refers to his readers as “children of God.”

Although the New Testament says we are “now children of God,” there is another sense in which our adoption is still future. We will not receive the full benefits and privileges of adoption until Christ returns to give us glorified bodies (Romans 8:23).

How Do We Become Children of God

Adoption vs. Regeneration

There’s a common notion that we become God’s children by regeneration. This is because the imagery of being “born again” in regeneration makes us think of children being born into a human family.

However, the New Testament never connects adoption with regeneration. Rather, the idea of adoption is opposite to the idea of being born into a family. Adoption is connected with saving faith. This is to say that God has adopted us into His family in response to our trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 and Galatians 3:23-26 make it clear that adoption follows conversion as God’s response to our faith. Furthermore, Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:6 does not refer to the giving of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Rather, it is an act of the Holy Spirit in which He begins to bear witness with our spirit that we are members of God’s family.

This work of the Holy Spirit assures us of our adoption. In this sense, Paul says, God causes His Holy Spirit within our hearts to cry, “Abba Father,” after we have become sons.

Adoption vs. Justification

Just like regeneration, justification is distinct from adoption. God could have given us a right legal standing before Him without making us His children. This is why it is important to recognize how great our privileges are in adoption.

As mentioned in the first part of this post, adoption has to do with our relationship with God as our Father. When we were adopted into God’s family, God has given us many of the greatest blessings that we will know for all eternity. When we realize how great these blessings are, knowing that God is not obligated to give any of them to us, we will also exclaim:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1)!

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The Benefits of Adoption

I mentioned several times that there are blessings that come with becoming members of God’s family.

1. God Becomes Our Father

The first and greatest benefit or privilege of our adoption is being able to speak to God and have a relationship with Him as a Father. As we pray, “Our Father in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9), we realize that we are His sons, not slaves. Thus, we relate to God as a child relates to his or her father.

This relationship to God as our Father is the foundation of many other blessings of the Christian life. It’s true; God is our Creator, Lord, Master, Judge, Teacher, Provider, Protector, and Sustainer of our existence. But the most intimate role that conveys the highest privilege of our fellowship with God for eternity is Him being our heavenly Father.

2. God Loves Us and Cares for Us

Another benefit of adoption is that God’s love for us and cares deeply for us. As His children, God our Father has compassion on us (Psalm 103:13, NIV). Moreover, our heavenly Father gives us many good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and a great inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4).

The privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit is also a benefit of adoption (Romans 8:14). This is a moral benefit whereby the Holy Spirit puts in us desires to obey God and live according to His will. As God’s children, we must submit in obedience to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit.

3. God Disciplines Us

Still, another benefit of adoption that we may not always recognize is God disciplining us (Hebrews 12:5-6; Proverbs 3:11-12). The author of Hebrews explains that God is disciplining us because we are His legitimate children (Hebrews 12:7-8).

As our heavenly Father disciplines us, we grow in righteousness and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10, NIV).

God Disciplines Those Whom He Love

4. Fellowship with Other Believers

Finally, we also have privileges of adoption that affect the way that we relate to each other and affect our own personal conduct.

Because we are God’s children, our relationship with each other is far deeper and more intimate than the relationship among angels. Many passages throughout the New Testament refer to Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ.

See Romans 1:13; 8:12; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 6:8; James 1:2; Matthew 12:50; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Philemon 1:2; and James 2:15.

This indicates the strong consciousness they had of the nature of the church as the family of God. As members of God’s family, we are to work together for the good of the family and the honor of God our Father.

Conclusion

All people on the earth are God’s creation but not all of them are God’s children. Scriptures are clear! Only those who place their faith in Christ become members of God’s family.

Have you received Jesus as your Lord and believed in His name? Did you receive the “Spirit of adoption” by whom you cry out, “Abba Father?”

If you are not yet a member of God’s family, why don’t you confess your sins right now? Acknowledge you’re a sinner, believe in the Lord Jesus, and receive God’s forgiveness for your sins. In response to your faith, God will give you the right to become His child and adopt you into His family.

As a result of your adoption, you will be able to enjoy the many blessings and privileges of being a child and son of God.


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

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

Recommended Resource:

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children by Robert A. Peterson

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children (November 19, 2001)

In an age of family breakdown, loneliness, and insecurity, we need more than ever to grasp the meaning of being sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Surprisingly, theologians have devoted little attention to the biblical teaching on adoption.

This book views the many facets of God’s saving grace through the lens of the Bible’s family imagery. Combining careful exegesis with gripping personal stories of father-child relationships, Robert A. Peterson brings home the warmth and wonder of biblical adoption.