Author: Alice A. Anacioco

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?

Faithlessness is Foolishness

Faithlessness is Foolishness

We live in a world so modern that denying the existence of God is the new norm. In fact, things have become so extreme that people who believe in the uncreated Creator called God are being mocked and labeled as fools.

Wait a minute; doesn’t the Bible say that faithlessness is foolishness? It certainly does in Psalm 14:1. King David paints the portrait of the prince of fools in one sentence: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Psalm 14:1-7 presents a vivid picture of the man who rejects God and his corrupt deeds. David called those who denied the existence of God “fools.” But David did not call them such because they were not smart enough to figure God out. Rather, he had in mind those who simply reject God.

The Meaning of Fool

Our English word “fool” comes from a Latin word that means “bellows,” suggesting that the fool is a person “full of hot air.” In the Hebrew language, there are three basic words for fool: kesyl (the dull and stupid fool), eviyl (the unreasonable and perverted fool), and nabal (morally perverse). Nabal is the word used in Psalm 14:1, which implies aggressive perversity.

The original text does not say that “man is stupid.” We have gone to the moon, transplanted hearts, harnessed atomic power and more. We are not stupid! David knew that too and picked the perfect word to talk about those who are “morally perverse” just like the Nabal of 1 Samuel 25:1:44.

Only the Fool says in his Heart there is no God

Results of Denying God

When men deny God, it will lead them into corruption and abominable works (Psalm 14:2). All that they are, say and do comes from their arrogant (and ignorant) belief that “there is no God.”

This is not to say that all atheists are living immoral lives and all who believe in God are living good lives. It’s just that there is a marked difference in moral behavior between those who take God seriously and those who do not.

When the fools leave God out of their lives, they cause their inner person – the heart, the mind, and the will – to become more and more corrupt. The Hebrew word for corrupt means “rotten, putrid, and decayed,” and evokes an image of milk that has become rancid. It is used to describe Jeremiah’s useless sash (Jeremiah 13:7).

When God looks down to investigate He sees people who are filthy. They have turned their backs on God (Psalm 14:2-3) and refuse to fulfill the purpose for which they were created – to glorify God. We read the same thing in Genesis 6:5, 11-12; 11:5; 18:21 and 1 Kings 14:9-10.

When David says, “There is none who does good; no not one” (Psalm 14:3), he did not mean that there is no human good in this world. But because man is fallen living in a fallen world that he does not do good by instinct. In fact, even the good he may do is tinged with evil.

The indictment is universal; all people, individually or collectively, cannot do anything at all that is good enough to merit heaven – no one, not a single one. The apostle Paul quotes from this passage in Romans 3:10-12 as part of his proof that the whole world is guilty before God and can be saved only by the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

We all need to be Born Again to Enter Heaven

The LORD, He is God Almighty

The word “God” as used in Psalm 14:1-7 is not the normal word Jehovah but El Jehovah, which refers to the God of the covenant, the God who does something for us. El refers to the Almighty God, the God of authority, the Ruler, the Judge, the Lawgiver.

David’s choice of words shows that humans do not want to know a God who demands anything; they want to be free to participate unimpeded in their sinful behavior. This is so true! It’s not the lack of evidence in the existence of God that atheists deny God. They reject God because belief in a divine Being comes with a sense of accountability to that Being.

The atheist’s rejection of the existence of God is due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints God requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. Author Aldous Leonard Huxley has openly admitted that a desire to avoid moral restraints was a motivation for his unbelief.

Indeed, our concept of God will determine how we live. If we see God as a cosmic bellhop in the heavens responding to our paltry tips, we will live a loose, lukewarm, and loveless Christian life. But God is not a bellhop, and He is not a doting grandfather, smiling benignly in the heavens at godless conduct.

God is a God of patience and power, a God of compassion and correction. Hollywood labels God as someone up there who loves us. That’s true. However, He does demand that “we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1).

We are not our own for we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Those who preach the love of God without the discipline of God are preaching a humanistic heresy. Paul taught that if you do not endure chastening, you are illegitimate – not a child of God (Hebrews 12:5-8).

Faithlessness is Foolishness

The fool has deviated faith. The infidel shouts, “I have no belief!” Liar! A man who claims to believe in nothing still believes in something. It requires faith to be an infidel.

The atheist must believe that God is not, that prayer is a waste of time, that heaven is a myth, death is eternal unconscious existence, and that hope for a better tomorrow is weakness. The agnostic has been duped by Satan to believe the wrong things.

The fool defies the creation. The Bible begins with the declaration “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). Without God, there is no creation, no redemption, no deliverance, no healing, no hope. Paul says we can know God by the things He has created (Romans 1:20).

Look at our massive universe with its organization and structure that work together. The fool believes that this magnificent earth is the by-product of an ecological accident. Only a fool would believe that billions of years ago the sun shone on a pond and that life began wiggling in the water and that this life form developed lungs and legs and walked out on land. Finally, it climbed a tree and hung by its tail. Only a fool would believe that!

Here’s a quick video of Rick Warren explaining why it takes more faith to not believe in God than to believe in God.

History Attests God

The fool denies history. Daniel asked God to show him the parade of nations that would come upon the face of the earth. God gave him a vision of the nations in the exact order in which they would appear, the personality of their leaders, and the military methods of conquest (Daniel 7).

How was that known hundreds of years before it happened? An accident? Hardly. There is a God who sits on His throne, who puts kings up and takes kings down (Daniel 2:21).

Want another proof that there is a God? Israel’s history proves God reigns. God’s chosen people were scattered over four continents and sick civilizations. They survived persecution in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and Hitler’s Holocaust. Today the nation of Israel shows that God continues to protect His people.

The Promise of Christ’s Coming

God has promised that the Redeemer will one day come to Zion and deliver His people in mighty power (Psalm 14:7; Isaiah 59:16-21; Jeremiah 31:33-34) and Paul affirmed this at the close of his great discussion of the future redemption of the Jewish nation (Romans 11:25-32).

But what about the wicked? They have no future with the Lord because they preferred not to know the Lord or live for Him. They lived according to the desires of their own heart, not to please the Lord and glorify Him. Those who reject Jesus Christ will spend eternity apart from the Lord and will honestly be able to say in hell, “There is no God – here!”

Closing Words

There is a God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, holy, everlasting, sovereign, unchanging. He is my Father and your Father. He created heaven and earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming again in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

Are you a fool or are you ready to meet Him?

Receive Jesus Christ now as Lord and Savior and confess Him with your mouth for “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).


*Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
By Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek show, first of all, that truth is absolute, exclusive, and knowable. From there, they proceed to demonstrate that the cardinal Christian doctrines are true beyond reasonable doubt, all convincing for you as Christians to believe, but requiring a leap of negative “faith” if an atheist is to disbelieve them.

Geisler and Turek argue that Christianity requires the least faith of all worldviews because it is the most reasonable. A valuable aid to those interested in examining the reasonableness of the Christian faith.

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

Ruth is one of the most significant books in the Old Testament for the Church. It explains like no other book in the Bible, the role and mission of the Kinsman Redeemer. This book is also an essential prerequisite to understanding the Book of Revelation. Before attempting to study Revelation 5, you need to understand the Book of Ruth.

In many respects, Ruth is the ultimate love story. It’s a love story on several levels. It’s a love story because Ruth falls in love with Boaz – that’s the main plotline. But overlaying that is the ultimate love story, a love story written in blood on a wooden cross, erected in Judea more than two thousand years ago.

Chapter 1: Ruth Remains with Naomi

Life was not easy in those days; for during the period of the judges, “Israel had no king so all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). How strange that a famine should hit Bethlehem, a town whose name means “house of bread,” thereby driving a family to Moab.

Elimelech, (which means “God is my king”) and his wife Naomi (“pleasant”) were forced to move to Moab along with their two sons, Mahlon (“unhealthy”) and Chilion (“puny”). The sons marry, but about ten years later all the men died, leaving Naomi destitute.

During those ten years, things began looking better back in Bethlehem, so Naomi decided to go back home. She released her two daughters-in-law from any obligations to her and encouraged them to find new husbands since they were still young. Naomi urged them not to follow her.

Ruth 1:16 Ruth's Loyalty to Naomi

Orpah ultimately decided to stay in Moab but Ruth (which means “desirable”) clung tightly to Naomi. In fact, her commitment is one of the most famous passages in the Bible. Ruth said:

“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Ruth’s statement is one of the most magnificent confessions found anywhere in Scripture. First, she confessed her love for Naomi and her desire to stay with her mother-in-law even unto death. Then she confessed her faith in the true and living God and her decision to worship Him alone. She forsook her father and mother (Ruth 2:11) in order to cleave to Naomi and the God of her people.

Chapter 2: Ruth Gleans in the Field of Boaz

One of the values of the book is that to understand it, you have to do a little homework about the Law of Gleaning and the Law of the Levirate Marriage. The Law of Gleaning was a form of welfare. If you owned a field, your reapers could go through the field once, and only once. Whatever they missed was left for widows, the destitute, orphans, etc.

The existence of the gleaning law was proof of God’s concern for the poor among His people. The nation was instructed to treat the poor with equity (Exodus 23:3, 6; Leviticus 19:15; Proverbs 22:22-23) and with generosity (Leviticus 19:9-10). God was also concerned for the widows, many of whom were poor, and He told the people to care for them (Exodus 22:22-24; Isaiah 10:1-2).

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

In her gleaning, Ruth happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz (which means, “in him is strength”), one of the wealthiest landowners in the area. He was probably the primary leader among the men at the gate.

Boaz was introduced to Ruth by an unnamed servant. She obviously caught his eye because he instructed his supervisors not to let the young men touch her, and he gave her protection. He also instructed them to drop handfuls of grain on purpose.

It so happened that Boaz was a kinsman for Naomi’s family, which is why this is so important to us. The Law of Redemption said when someone sold their property; they actually sold only the rights to the property, not the title (the title belonged to God).

If you died, a kinsman of your family could go and pay the money to redeem the land. Naomi sold her property ten years before. Now they were back, but since she was destitute and couldn’t buy it back, a kinsman of hers would have the right to purchase that land from whoever was using it (the Law of Redemption is in Leviticus 25).

There is also a Law of the Levirate Marriage. If you were a widow without issue, you could ask your nearest kinsman to raise up an issue with you. He didn’t have to, but if he did, it would continue the line (see Deuteronomy 25). As we shall see, a family redeemer could rescue relatives from poverty and give them a new beginning.

The purpose of these laws was to preserve the name and protect the property of families in Israel. God owned the land and didn’t want it exploited by rich people who would take advantage of poor people and widows.

As a woman, a poor widow, and an alien, Ruth could have no claims on anyone. She was at the lowest rung of the social ladder. But grace is favor bestowed on someone who doesn’t deserve it and can’t earn it. Ruth received grace and the channel of that grace was Boaz.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Ruth’s faith in God’s Word led her to the field of Boaz. The love of Boaz for Ruth compelled him to pour out his grace upon her and meet her every need. Ruth’s experience of grace gave her new hope as she anticipated what her family redeemer would do.

Chapter 3: Ruth at the Threshing Floor

The threshing floor was usually a raised platform outside the village and often on a hill where it could catch the evening breeze. Once the grain was harvested, the workers would throw the grain into the air, and the breeze would carry the chaff away while the grain fell to the floor. The men often worked in the evening when the breeze was up, and they slept on the threshing floor to protect the harvest.

Naomi understood all of this background. When she realized that Ruth happened upon the field of Boaz, she saw an opportunity because Ruth could put the bite on him to solve everybody’s problem. He could get Naomi back the land she had forfeited years ago and give Ruth a new life. So Naomi instructed Ruth on what to do.

Ruth washed herself, put on perfume and dress in her nicest clothes. Then she went down to the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet and quietly lied down at his feet. When Boaz woke up and realized she was there, Ruth said, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9).

There was no improper behavior implied in this episode; Ruth was asking Boaz to take her as a Levirate bride and put the authority of his house over her. He was flattered because he was much older and because he had learned a lot about her; she had a good reputation. He wanted to do this, but there was a problem: there is a kinsman nearer than him (Ruth 3:12).

A Summary of the Book of Ruth
Threshing Floor in Ancient Israel

Boaz told Ruth that he’ll see how things will go and gave her six measures of barley to take home as a code to Naomi that he would not rest until the matter was resolved. Not only did he calm Ruth’s fears, but he also made a promise to her concerning their future. That brings us to the climax of chapter 4, the redemption itself.

Chapter 4: Boaz Marries Ruth

The key theme of this chapter is redemption. The words “redeem,” “buy,” and “purchase” are used at least fifteen times and they mean “to set free by paying a price.”

In the case of Ruth and Naomi, Elimelech’s property had either been sold or was under some kind of mortgage. This explains why Ruth was also involved in the transaction.

As a near relative, Boaz could redeem the family property that Elimelech had mortgaged when he took his family to Moab. Naomi wasn’t wealthy enough to redeem it, but Boaz could buy it back and keep it in the family. The wife of the deceased went with the property; therefore, the family redeemer had to marry her and bring her up children bearing the name of the deceased. They would then inherit the property, and the family name and family possessions would continue to be theirs.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Boaz was at the gate, which is like the city council, and told the nearer kinsman that Naomi had a piece of land t sell and needed a redeemer. The nearer kinsman said that it was no problem. But Boaz said, “By the way, the man who does this also has to take Ruth to bride.” But the nearer kinsman replied, “I can’t do that; it’ll ruin my inheritance.”

The nearer kinsman took off one shoe and gave it to Boaz, a symbol of him yielding the opportunity of the obligation. So Boaz purchased the land for Naomi and purchased Ruth as his bride. And that’s the term he used: he “purchased a bride.”

A Kinsman Redeemer

Looking at the Book of Ruth from the perspective of a goel, a kinsman redeemer, there are four requirements: 1) he has to be a kinsman; 2) he must be able to perform; 3) he must be willing, and 4) he must assume all of the obligations.

God has a goel for you and me. He has to be a kinsman of Adam. He must be able to perform. Revelation 5 is about the Seventh Sealed Book, the Title Deed of the Earth. No man was found to claim that Deed. It had to be a man. John sobbed convulsively because no man was found to redeem the earth.

But wait! There is one who has prevailed to open the book and loose the seals thereof. “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5).

And that unfolds in the story of Ruth. It has to be a kinsman, he has to be able; he was to be willing; he must assume all the obligations; and indeed, He has. “He proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30)!

An Overview of the Book of Ruth

An Ultimate Purchase

Redemption, of which the story of Ruth and Boaz is a vivid illustration, becomes a theme in the New Testament. The primary Greek word used to convey this idea is a commercial word that simply means “to acquire something in the marketplace” (see its commercial use in Matthew 13:44 and Luke 9:13).

But used in reference to Christ and salvation, the word takes on a very important theological meaning. Paul modified this word in Galatians 3:13 and 4:5 with a preposition, so that the term literally means “to buy something and take it out of the marketplace.”

In essence, Paul was saying that by His death on the Cross, Jesus had purchased our pardon. We were under the curse of the Law, enslaved to sin, and destined to eternal death. But Christ redeemed us. He paid the price to buy us out of our sorry state and sad condition.

*Read here: What is the Cost of Our Redemption?

John Hagee said, “If you happen to be old enough to recall trading stamps, you may remember that it seemed to take forever to save the thirty or thirty-five books of stamps needed to purchase a toaster or a croquet set. The cost was high. The wait was agonizing. The taste from licking all those stamps was awful.”

The good news is, redemption in Christ is nothing like that. You don’t have to wait. It can be yours today. And the best of all it’s free because Jesus has already paid the full purchase price with His shed blood on the cross.

Conclusion

Ruth is a cameo story of love , devotion and redemption set in the black context of the days of the judges. It is the story of a Moabite woman who forsakes her pagan heritage in order to cling to the people of Israel and to the God of Israel. Because of her faithfulness in a time of national faithlessness, God rewards her by giving her a new husband (Boaz), a son (Obed), and a privileged position in the lineage of David and  Christ (she is the great grandmother of David).

The book of Ruth is also a harvest story about the Lord of the harvest bringing in the sheaves. Now, Boaz is the Lord of the harvest and he is also the kinsman-redeemer. So Boaz is a type of foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Naomi typifies Israel. She was out of the land; through his redemption, she was brought back into the land. Ruth was the Gentile bride, a type of the Church.

In order for Ruth to be joined to Naomi, Naomi had to be exiled from her land. The nearer kinsman couldn’t take Ruth; it was against the law for an Israelite to marry Maoabite. But what the law could not do, grace did.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Incidentally, Ruth did not replace Naomi. They are different; they are distinctive. Israel and the Church are distinctive; different origins, different missions. Ruth learned the laws of Israel through Naomi, a Jew. We Gentiles learn the ways of God by understanding the Jewish Scriptures. We worship a Jewish King in a Church composed of Jewish leaders using a Jewish Bible as our authority.

In the threshing floor scene, no matter how much Boaz loved Ruth, he had to respond to her move. And Boaz took it upon himself to be her advocate; he was her intercessor. He confronted the nearer kinsman.

You and I are also beneficiaries of a similar love story that was written in blood on a wooden cross erected in Judea almost two thousand years ago. Have you asked your Redeemer to be your God?


*References:

  1. Learn the Bible in 24 Hours by Chuck Missler
  2. NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible 
  3. The Transformation Study Bible (General Editor: Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe)
  4. The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible (General Editor: John Hagee)
The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

The account of Jesus’ temptation recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 and in Luke 4:1-13 was not only God’s way of showing that Jesus was the perfect man, it also exposed the tactics of the enemy and reveals to us how we can overcome when we are tempted.

From the high and holy experience of blessing at the Jordan River, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It is important to note that it was the Spirit of God that led Jesus into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1). This is the same Spirit who descended on Jesus at His baptism and empowered Him (Matthew 3:16).

Satan Introduced in the Gospels

It is in this passage where the devil, Satan is first introduced in the Gospel. This is the same Tempter who showed up in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-5); the fallen angel, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) who came in disguise, in the form of a serpent to deceive Adam and Eve; here Satan did not come in disguise, but in a bold and direct attack on Jesus.

The temptation in the Garden parallels that of Jesus’ temptation. But while the first Adam was tempted in a beautiful garden and failed, the last Adam (Jesus Christ) was tempted in a dangerous wilderness (Mark 1:13) and won the victory.

The Meaning of Temptation

The dictionary defines temptation as an urge or desire to do something, especially something you should not, or it refers to a wrong or forbidden pleasure that is enticing.

Lessons from the Temptation of Jesus Christ

In the Bible the word temptation primarily denotes a trial in which man has a free choice of being faithful or unfaithful to God; only secondarily does it signify allurement or seduction to sin.

The First Temptation

Matthew 4:3 “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

Notice how Satan picks up immediately on the fact that Jesus was hungry because He had not eaten for forty days (Matthew 4:2). By the way, there is no reason to doubt that Jesus really did fast for forty days and forty nights as the text clearly says. But the number “40” is commonly used in the Bible for a period of hardship, difficulty, or suffering.

When Jesus said, “If you are the Son of God …” he was not questioning Jesus’ deity for he knew exactly who Jesus was. He was saying, “Since you are the Son of God, why starve yourself to death? C’mon, just change some stones into bread.”

Satan challenged Jesus to prove or demonstrate that He is the Son of God through miraculous works. He wanted Jesus to use His divine powers to make something to eat. After all, Jesus was done fasting and He had the power to do exactly what Satan was suggesting. Didn’t He multiply food later during His ministry to feed some 4,000 and 5,000 people?

You may ask, “What’s wrong with that? Jesus was hungry and there’s definitely nothing wrong with hunger especially in a spiritual time of fasting. So why was this a temptation?” Because hunger represents human wants, plain and simple! Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in order to focus on the spiritual and away from the physical, that is, the comforts of life. Then came Satan telling Him to use His divine powers to meet His own needs.

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

Jesus’ Response to the First Temptation

Matthew 4:1 It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Jesus responded by quoting from Deuteronomy (Deut. 8:3). But Jesus was not just quoting a favorite verse. Chapter 8 of Deuteronomy talks about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years. After plundering the Egyptians of their gold and silver, God led the Israelites into the wilderness to teach them obedience and dependence on God.

God wanted the Israelites to know that God is all they had and all they needed. He provided them manna from heaven for food but in order to acquire it, they had to follow God’s instructions carefully. The main point is that God would provide their food but they needed to obey Him and submit to His will.

When Jesus refused to give in to Satan’s temptation, it isn’t that He did not want to eat. In fact, He was more than happy to eat what the angels brought to Him when the time of testing was over (Matthew 4:11). It wasn’t a matter of refusing supernatural help. Rather, it was a matter of obedience to the Father and submitting to His will in all things at all times.

The Second Temptation

The second temptation strikes at the very heart of Jesus’ previous victory. Jesus has overcome the first temptation by obeying God even it meant suffering from severe hunger and weakness. So Satan took Jesus into the holy city (Jerusalem), had Him stand on the highest point of the temple and said:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:6).

What Can We Learn from the Temptation of JesusWhat exactly is the temptation here? It was for Jesus to create a crisis and then force or manipulate God to rescue Him. Satan was prompting Jesus to do something spectacular to demonstrate that He is indeed the Son of God.

The pinnacle or highest point of the temple arose some five hundred feet above the Kidron Valley. A leap from there and the appearance of the promised protection of the angels would be a spectacular event that will be in full view of all the assembled people.

Here, Satan appealed to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly displayed. Satan was saying to Jesus, “You are God’s Son and He loves you so if you jump down from here He will send His angels to rescue you. Isn’t that exactly what the Bible says?”

Notice how Satan himself uses Scripture in making the appeal. He quotes from Psalm 91:11-12 but left out the important words, “in all your ways,” thus making the text say what in truth it never promised. True to his nature of being a liar and deceiver, Satan twisted the Word of God in an attempt to make Jesus test God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid.

Jesus’ Response to the Second Temptation

Jesus responded by quoting also from Scripture and applying it correctly: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:7). In other translations, it says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, referencing Massa and Meribah in the wilderness where the Israelites murmured against God and tested Him because they did not believe that He could or would give them water.

Chapter 6 of Deuteronomy is the chapter in the Law that is foundational to Israel’s faith for it had the creedal statement in it, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4)! In this passage, God exhorts the Israelites to keep all His commandments and warns them against disobeying and testing Him.

The Third Temptation

Matthew 4: 9 “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

The third temptation very much sounds like a desperate move on the part of Satan. He realized he was not winning and so he thought this time he would give it his best shot. After all, He had nothing to lose by asking Jesus to worship him.

Satan then took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. Accordingly, there is no mountain in Israel high enough to see much of anything. Scholars say that Satan probably provided some vision of these kingdoms and promised that he would give them to Jesus if He would fall down and worship him.

For the third temptation, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut to His Kingdom. Jesus knew that He would suffer and die before He entered into His glory (Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11, 20). If He bowed down and worshiped Satan just once (this is the force of the Greek verb), He could enjoy all the glory without enduring the suffering.

Satan was saying, “Look, you came as a king to inherit the nations. Here they are! I’m giving them to you in exchange for your worship. Why go through the trouble of being a suffering servant to get to the crown.” If we read the gospel of Luke, he adds that Satan claimed he had been given these kingdoms and he had the right to give them to Jesus if only He would fall down and worship him (Luke 4:6-7).

Jesus Tempted by Satan in the Wilderness

This is a revealing insight into Satan’s heart; worship and recognition from God are far more precious to him than the possession of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Satan has always wanted worship because he has always wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14).

But … coming from the father of lies, this was definitely a malicious temptation. Who would knowingly make a deal with the devil? Jesus knew that Satan was a liar and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Did Satan actually imagine for one moment that Jesus would believe him? Even if Jesus gave in to the temptation, never would Satan have given Him the kingdoms.

Jesus’ Response to the Third Temptation

Jesus replied, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”Again, Jesus used the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:13-14) and commanded the devil to leave. The enemy left as a defeated challenger and the angels of God came to minister to Jesus in ways that we cannot quite imagine (Matthew 4:10).

To worship God and God alone is the cardinal truth of Scripture. For the redeemed believers, the thought of bowing down and worshiping the prince of darkness should never come across. Jesus would never, ever worship Satan. He would take back the kingdom in God’s time and in God’s way – by defeating Satan not only here in the temptation but later at the cross.

It’s interesting that the three temptations of our Lord parallel that in 1 John 2:16; the lust of the flesh (stones into bread), the lust of the eyes (the world’s kingdoms and glory), and the pride of life (jump from the pinnacle of the temple).

How to Overcome Temptations

1. Be watchful and prayerful (Matthew 26:41).

Notice that Matthew writes, “When the tempter came …” (Matthew 4:3). In our lives, it’s not a question of if the tempter will come, but when he will come. We will all face temptation until we go to glory. 

In order for us to overcome temptations, first, we must be able to see them for what they are – lies and deception. Jesus triumphed over Satan because He recognized his mode of attack. Primarily, Satan is a liar and a deceiver and for those have been brought into the light of the cross, deception is his only tool.

How to Overcome Temptations as a Christian

Satan has already been disarmed of his “real weapons and power” at the cross. But deception is extremely effective at leading God’s people into sin. Matthew referred to Satan as the “tempter” and his weapons are lies and deception. How do we discern Satan’s temptations? We need to keep watch and pray.

2. Do not test God; instead, trust Him completely and obey Him fully.

Going back to Psalm 91:1-16, if we read it carefully, it is a psalm of trust, telling how God protects His people. God does promise to protect His people but passages like this were never intended to be claimed apart from practical wisdom. God promises protection but He has also given us common sense. 

When Satan prompted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus basically answered, “I trust God completely and I will not test God’s word by doing something foolish like what you’re suggesting to see if the God’s angels would come and save me.” 

Jesus knew that attempting to force or manipulate God the Father into performing some kind of supernatural demonstration would tempt God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid. Those who truly know God and experience the reality of their faith daily do not need to find something spectacular to convince themselves and others.

Of course, God still does miracles but if people seek some miraculous signs in order to believe or to convince themselves of the faith, it portrays a weak faith. We are not to demand something spectacular from God to prove His love or concern for us. He has already given the ultimate demonstration of His love for us at the cross (John 3:16; Romans 5:8), and He can do nothing more “spectacular” than that.

How to Overcome Temptation as a Christian

We also tempt or test God when we willfully get into trouble and then expect Him to rescue us. We tempt God when we force or dare Him to act contrary to his word. God had never promised protection in sinful and forbidden ways.

Satan said it perfectly; he had hit the nail right on the head – Jesus is the Son of God. But the essence of Sonship is obedience to the will of the Father in everything. Jesus said He came only to do the will of the Father who sent Him (John 6:38-39). He would not, therefore, act independently of the will of the Father.

It goes the same with everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. If we really love God we must strive to obey Him in everything even it means giving up the comforts of life.

3. Know the Scriptures well and use them.

Apparently, the devil also has knowledge of Scriptures and is an expert at twisting them in order to confuse and defeat those he tempts. Too often, people quote Scriptures out of context and if you do not have a good grasp of what the Word of God actually says, you will surely fall victim to the deceit of the devil and sheep in wolves’ clothing whose mission is to drive people away from God and His truth.

If you isolate verses from their texts or passages from the total revelation of Scripture or randomly pick out verses from here and there, you can make the Bible say anything you want it to say. This is referred to as “proof-texting,” one of the most common errors of Hermeneutics (Bible interpretation).

Overcoming Temptation with the Word of God

Let’s take Mark 16:17-18 for instance. News has spread about people who died from snake bites because they intentionally played with them and drank poison as a result of some twisted doctrinal teachings by their cult leaders. This is the same tactic used by the devil to deceive Eve and Adam into disobeying God.

In the three temptations of our Lord, He used the Word of God. Jesus is God and had supernatural powers that He could have used against Satan. He could have stood against Satan with a supernatural display of His own glory. Instead, He used the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God as a weapon to defeat Satan and temptation, a weapon that is readily available and accessible to us.

4. Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7).

How to overcome temptation as a Christian
Photo Credits: Jesus Calls

How did Jesus overcome Satan’s third temptation? By resisting him! Let us not forget that the devil will go where there is the least resistance.

I often hear people blame the devil for falling into sin as a result of his promptings. Truth is, the devil can never force anyone to do what they do not want to do.

Sure, the devil will do all he can to deceive people into going against the will of God but the decision to give in to the temptation is completely in our hands.

The temptations of Jesus remind us that it is no sin to be tempted, as long as the temptation is resisted.

Closing Words

God’s will has no shortcuts. If we want to share in the glory, we must also share in the temptations and suffering. After Jesus Christ had defeated Satan, He was ready to begin His ministry.

Our Lord’s experience of temptation prepared Him for His ministry as our sympathetic High Priest. We should note that Jesus faced the enemy as a human and not as God. Therefore, we can come to Him for the help we need to overcome the tempter.

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in the ways we are (Hebrews 2:16-18; 14-16). We now have in heaven our Lord interceding for us, the Savior who has defeated the enemy completely.


*Recommended Resource:

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition / Special edition
By Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart

Product Description

Enjoy God’s Word to the fullest! This classic reader-friendly manual, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Fourth Edition, explains the different kinds of biblical literature – such as prophecy, Gospels, poetry, and history – so you can get the most from them.

The revised fourth edition includes updated language for today’s generation of readers, a new preface, bracketed Scripture references, and redesigned diagrams.

The Biblical Principles of Worship

The Biblical Principles of Worship

Whenever we hear the words praise and worship, it is always in a church setting. Praise and worship is that part of a church service when the congregation offers songs of praise and adoration to God.

Two months ago I published an article on what praise is all about. In this post, I will be tackling worship. What is the true meaning of worship? What are the elements of Christian worship?

The Meaning of Worship

The dictionary defines worship as an expression of reverence and adoration in thought or in deed to a Supreme Being or deity. Christian worship can then be defined as the expression of reverence and adoration to God.

The word worship is the New Testament Greek word proskuneo, which means “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” In contrast to praise, which involves the stretching of the hands, worship is often coupled with the act of bowing or kneeling, which shows humility and contrition (Psalm 95:6; 2 Chronicles 29:28; Revelation 19:10).

Psalm 95:6

The Object of Worship

The Scripture is very clear in Matthew 4:10; we are to worship the Lord our God and Him only shall we serve. (See also Luke 4:8.) The Bible teaches that God alone is worthy of worship (Psalm 29:2), but it also sadly records accounts of those who worshiped other objects.

Among those were people (Daniel 2:46), false gods (2 Kings 10:19, images and idols (Isaiah 2:8; Daniel 3:5), heavenly bodies (2 Kings 21:3), Satan (Revelation 13:4), and demons (Revelation 9:20). It is indeed tragic that many worshiped gods they could carry and not the God who could carry them.

God Almighty alone is worthy of worship. We are to worship the Father (John 4:23). We are to worship Him because of what He has done, loving us and giving His Son for us.

We are to worship the Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (John 9:38). We are to worship Him because of what He has done, His incarnation, life, and sacrifice.

Worship by Israel

The central aspect of Israel’s worship was the object of their worship, the Lord. While other nations paid homage to many gods (Deuteronomy 29:18), only Israel worshiped the one true God (Exodus 20:3). This worship could be private (Exodus 34:8), as a family (Genesis 22:5), or corporate (1 Chronicles 29:20), as a congregation.

Since so much of the Bible is devoted to Israel’s public worship, it deserves special notice. It included offering sacrifices (1 Samuel 1:3), adopting a reverent posture (2 Chronicles 7:6), verbal praise – either spoken (1 Chronicles 16:36) or sung (Psalm 57:7), instrumental praise (Psalm 150:3-5), prayer (2 Chronicles 6:14-42), and the great feasts (Leviticus 23:25).

One needs only to read the Psalms to see the excellent form of worship and spirit in which the godly Israel worshiped.

Matthew 4:10

The first place of worship for the people of Israel was the tabernacle constructed by Moses (Exodus 25-27); 30; 31; 35-40) and later the magnificent temple constructed by King Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:5). These structures served to localize the worship of the entire nation.

This geographic limitation stands in bold contrast to the privilege o immediate and direct access to God now available to the New Testament believer who himself is the temple of God (Hebrews 4:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

Read how Christian praise and worship was patterned from the Jewish way of worship at the Tabernacle of Moses in this article: The Biblical Roots of Christian Praise and Worship

3 Important Elements of Worship

True worship involves at least three important elements:

1. Worship requires reverence.

This includes the honor and respect directed toward the Lord in thought and feeling. It is one thing to obey a superior unwillingly; it is quite another to commit one’s thoughts and emotions in that obedience.

Jesus said that those who worship God must do so “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The term spirit speaks of the personal nature of worship: It is from my person to God’s person and involves the intellect, emotions, and will. In essence, worship gets to the heart of who we are.

Worship is the art of losing self in adoration of another. And that is why in order for us to truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before the Lord and surrender every part of our lives to Him and adore Him not only for what He has done but for who He is.

Worship is an attitude of the heart

On the other hand, the word truth speaks of the content of worship. God is pleased when we worship Him, understanding His true character. This is why every worshiper must desire to have a knowledge of what the Bible teaches about who God is.

2. Worship includes public expression.

This was particularly prevalent in the Old Testament because of the sacrificial system. For example, when a believer received a particular blessing for which he wanted to thank God, it was not sufficient to say it privately, the expressed his gratitude publicly with a thankful offering (Leviticus 7:12).

Note: This element of worship will be dealt with more extensively under the subtopic “The Expression of worship.”

3. Worship means service.

These two concepts are often linked together in Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:19). Furthermore, the words for worship in both Testaments originally referred to the labor of slaves for the master.

For the believers in Jesus Christ, service as an expression of worship is always understood to mean getting involved in any of the Church’s five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11). However, the concept of worship must not be restricted to church attendance but should embrace an entire life of obedience to God.

Obedience is the highest form of worship

The Expression of Worship

Since worship encompasses thought, feeling, and deed, there are many expressions of it. Worship especially includes praise, thanksgiving, and adoration which may be expressed privately or publicly, either by grateful declaration (Hebrews 13:15) or by joyful singing (Psalm 100:2; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

Portions of early Christian hymns or worship actually may be observed in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:11-13).

One very important expression of worship for the church is remembering the death of Christ through the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26). The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Christ Himself (Matthew 26:26-28) and judged by Paul not to be taken lightly (1 Corinthians 11:28-32).

Giving is also a way of expressing worship to God. It includes but not limited to:

  • the cheerful giving of money to God’s work (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  • the giving of one’s time to the Lord’s work
  • the use of one’s spiritual gifts in ministry to the body of Christ and occupying a church office (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)
  • ministry in edifying saints and evangelizing sinners

But the single most important act of worship for the Christian is the unqualified presentation of himself to God as an obedient servant. This dedication involves the body and the mind (Romans 12:1-2): the body because it contains the tools by which the will of God is carried out; the mind because it coordinates the actions to be executed by the body.

When the body and mind are gladly devoted to God, they become instruments by which He effects His will on the earth. Such faithful and joyous service makes one’s entire life a performance of worship.

The Reasons for Worship

So why should Christians worship God?

1. Worship is a command.

The first reason for worship is simply that God commands it (1 Chronicles 16:29; Matthew 4:10). The first four of the Ten Commandments, which are also the longest, clearly charge men to worship the one true God and Him alone (Exodus 20:3-10).

To allow any person or things to usurp the position of lordship over us constitutes gross disobedience to the will of God and incurs His terrible wrath (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 27:15). All people are destined to pay homage to God anyway, even if unwillingly (Philippians 2:10).

2. God is worthy and deserving of our worship.

An equally important reason for worship is that God deserves our worship and He is worthy. He alone possesses the attributes that merit our worship and service. Among these are goodness (Psalm 100:4-5), mercy (Exodus 4:31), holiness (Psalm 99:5, 9), and creative power (Revelation 4:110.

The Elements of Christian Worship

When men of biblical times clearly saw the unveiled glory of God, they could not help but fall prostrate in worship. Examples of this response can be seen in the actions of Moses ((Exodus 35:4-8), Paul (Acts 9:3-6), and John (Revelation 1:9-17).

3. Men need to give God worship.

A final reason for worship is that men need to give it. People cannot find personal fulfillment apart from the glad submission of themselves in worshipful obedience to God. He is the Creator and they are the creatures (Revelation 4:11)

People who adopt as their master anything less than God are building their lives on quicksand. They will be no stronger than the object they worship (Psalm 115:4-8). One who worships God, however, not only participates in the occupation of heaven (Revelation 7: 9-12), but finds joyful satisfaction for the present.

Final Thoughts

Just as praise is closely intertwined with thanksgiving, worship is intertwined with surrender. And so it is impossible to worship God and anything else at the same time.

One important thing to remember is that the place where we worship God is immaterial. What matters is the spiritual condition of our hearts. We can worship at home, in the church, etc.

We worship God when we enter into His presence and engage in worship, the highest occupation for every believer.


*Recommended Resource: For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church
By N.T. Wright

This insightful book by N. T. Wright explores both the meaning and the results of Christian worship.

Part 1, “The God Who Is Worthy of Praise,” focuses on what worshiping God actually means. Wright celebrates the greatness and beauty of God as the ground and reason for worship and shows how reflection on who God is leads us to true, heartfelt worship (from “worth-ship”), as we seek to give God all He’s worth.

Part 2, “Reflecting God’s Image in the World,” addresses a range of issues that flow from the activity of worship. Since worship can never remain isolated from the task of the church, Wright here explores how true worship leads to the mission of the church in various specific ways.

Based firmly on sensitive and creative readings of the biblical text, this book is an inspiring call for renewal in the worship and witness of today’s church.