Author: Alice A. Anacioco

Was Jesus the Predicted Messiah?

Was Jesus the Predicted Messiah?

Although the Bible gives so many predictions about the coming Messiah that were fulfilled by our Lord Jesus, the Jews did not accept Him. As a matter of fact, they are still awaiting the coming of the Messiah.

More than One Messiah?

When Diocletian was abdicated as emperor of Rome, a war of succession between Maxentius and Constantine became inevitable. Maxentius held possession of Rome, but Constantine invaded from Gaul in 312 AD.

In preparation for battle on the Tiber River, Maxentius consulted the Sibylline books for prophetic insight. The relevant oracle declared, “On that day the enemy of Rome will perish.”

Maxentius went into battle confident that Constantine’s doom was at hand. However, he perished in battle, thus identifying who “the enemy of Rome” was. The prophecy was going to be fulfilled one way or the other; its intentional vagueness guaranteed that.

Aren’t the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah equally general so that any number of Jewish males could claim to fulfill them after rising to prominence as a spiritual leader?

While that is true about many of the messianic prophecies taken in isolation, there are more than three hundred separate predictions about the messiah in the pages of the Old Testament. Taken together, they form an imposing barrier to accidental fulfillment or fulfillment-after-the-fact.

300 Prophecies, Only One Messiah

Think of each of the three hundred messianic prophecies as a filter that strains out everyone who does not meet its requirements and you will realize how unlikely it is that anyone but the actual Messiah would pass through all three hundred filters.

If you try to calculate the odds of someone accidentally satisfying three hundred separate personal descriptions, you end up with something like one out of a number with 125 zeros after it – an incomprehensibly unlikely eventuality.


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The Messiah would descend from Eve (Genesis 3:16), Judah (Isaiah 46:10), and David (2 Samuel 7:14). He would be virgin-born (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He would enter Jerusalem riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9).

He would die with sinners but be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9, 12). None of His bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20) during a violent death in which His hands and feet were pierced (Psalm 22:16) so that He cried out to God (Psalm 22:1).

While He died, onlookers would divide His clothes (Psalm 22:18). He came to save Gentiles as well as Jews (Isaiah 49:6). He rose from the dead (Psalm 16:10).

Jesus the Messiah

Was Jesus the predicted Messiah? Yes! But the prophecies say more about Him than that. He shared the divine nature as God’s Son (Psalm 2:7) and human nature as the Son of Man (Genesis 3:16).

As God’s Suffering Servant, He fulfilled Israel’s destiny by keeping the righteous standards of the Law of Moses (Isaiah 49:1-3). He established God’s new covenant with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 26:28).

He is the destiny and focal point of history (Colossians 1:16). We wait for His return to establish justice and righteousness in the millennial kingdom (Malachi 4:1-3; Revelation 19:11–20:4).


Note: Excerpt taken from the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible under the section Evidences.

 

The Lord’s Prayer and How to Pray It

The Lord’s Prayer and How to Pray It

Prayer is a very important aspect of the Christian life because it is how we communicate with God. Simply put, prayer is talking to God. But while many Christians assume that the attitude of prayer comes naturally to every born again believer, we learn from the Scriptures that Jesus’ disciples did not automatically learn how to pray.

They had been with the Lord for three years but never got to understand the importance of communicating with God. Every time Jesus asked them to wait at a certain place while He pours out His heart to the Father, they fell asleep waiting.

So, one time when Jesus had finished praying, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).

To which Jesus replied, “When you pray, say: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’” (Luke 11:2-4).

These statements of Jesus were later became known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” We also read this in Matthew 6:9-13.

A Model Prayer for Christians

The Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer for those who believe in Jesus. However, we need to emphasize that we must not mechanically repeat it. Note that it is a model about how we should pray, not what we should pray.

The disciples of Jesus asked Him to show them how to pray. Therefore, Jesus did not give this prayer so that we would repeat these exact words every time we talk to God. He warned about mindless repetition in prayer (Matthew 6:7-8).

Christians are not to merely recite and mechanically repeat the Lord’s Prayer.

What is the Lord's Prayer and Hos Should We Pray It
Photo Credits: Bibleinfo.Com

Jesus’ Teaching On Prayer

From this model prayer that Jesus gave, there are several things we learn about what God expects from us when we talk to Him.

We Recognize God for Who He is

“Our Father in heaven …”

When we approach God in prayer, we must recognize to whom we are talking – our Father who is in heaven. There is none like Him. The Lord Himself has said, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9).

It is human nature to focus on “self” but when we realize who God is – the Lord Almighty, the One who created the heavens and the earth – it is fitting to begin our prayers with the recognition that we are face to face with the Lord of the universe.

Consequently, we should have a continual attitude of reverence and respect when we talk to the Lord in prayer.

We Magnify His Holy Name

“Hallowed be Your name.”

After we recognize God for who He is, the next thing that is mentioned is the magnifying of the name of the Lord. We are to worship or hallow His name. In this context, God’s name refers to His character.

God deserves our praise and adoration and He alone is worthy to receive all glory and honor. Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

We Ask for His Kingdom to Come

“Your kingdom come …”

We are to pray that the promised Kingdom of the Lord will come to the earth. In fact, this is the last prayer that we find recorded in Scripture. In the final chapter of the Book of Revelation, we read:

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)!

We want to see our Lord ruling on the earth – a rule which will be characterized by righteousness (Hebrews 1:8). This will happen after the Tribulation period when Jesus will rule and reign as King from Jerusalem for a thousand years.

We Pray for God’s Will to be Done

“Your will be done …”

To pray for God to carry out His plans is not to say that He won’t accomplish them without us asking Him to. This part of the prayer is to get our minds in line with God’s purpose. We know that God will carry out His plans and there is not the slightest chance that it cannot be done.

But this part of the prayer is for our benefit; it is to get our minds in line with God’s purpose. This means that His desires are to be our desires and we are to line up our hopes and dreams with the will of the Lord.

When we pray for His will to be done, then we are saying that we will live per His will. Paul said we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord (Romans 12:1).

God's Purpose Always Prevails

We Ask God to Supply Our Daily Needs

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

We then ask God to meet our day-to-day needs. But why does it have to be on a “daily basis?” Can we not ask God to supply our needs for a week, a month, or a year? I believe it’s because God is teaching us to trust in His provision and to be completely dependent on Him.

This reminds me of the Israelites while they were wandering in the wilderness. God specifically instructed them to go out and gather only enough manna and quails for the day, except on the day before the Sabbath when they must gather twice as much (Exodus 16:1-30).

God has promised to supply our needs. When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he said, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

God knows the things we need even before we ask Him. Furthermore, He has promised to fulfill whatever needs we may have. We do not have to be concerned about what we shall eat or wear tomorrow (Matthew 6:32-34). He knows what things are necessary for us and He promised to meet those needs.

We Ask God to Forgive Our Sins

“Forgive us our sins …”

Confession of sins is an important part of prayer. We need to confess our sins because Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

However, this confession is not so that we will get saved. Rather, this prayer is for those who have already placed their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

We confess our sins as we do not want anything to come between us and God. And when we confess, we should be specific about the sins that we have committed. We should ask the Lord to search our hearts and reveal any sin to us (Psalm 139:23-24); we must also confess those sins that we are unaware of (Psalm 19:12).

We Forgive Others Who Have Sinned Against Us

“We also forgive those who sin against us.”

Not only do we confess our sins, but we are also to forgive those who have wronged and offended us. We cannot come to the Lord with a pure heart if we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us in any way.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He said, “When you bring your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Unforgiveness will result in bitterness and resentment. The Bible says that we are not to be bitter toward others (Ephesians 4:31). Unforgiveness is a sin which in effect blocks the answer to our prayers and petitions (Psalm 66:18). Therefore, forgiving others is an important part of prayer.

We Ask God to Lead Us Away from Temptations

“And do not lead us into temptation …”

Christians are not exempted from facing temptations. Jesus Himself was tempted but emerged victoriously. We do not pray that our life will be free from temptation but for God to enable us to overcome all temptations.

It is certainly impossible to be totally free from temptation in this fallen world but God has promised that He will give us enough strength to resist any temptation. Paul wrote this to the Corinthians:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God knows our breaking point and He will never give us more than we can handle. The Lord will not only help us resist temptation but He will also always show us a way out of the various temptations we may have to face.

We Ask God to Protect Us from the Evil One

“And deliver us from the evil one.”

Finally, we are to ask God to protect us from the evil one – Satan. The Bible tells us that Satan, our enemy, is constantly attempting to get Christians to sin (1 Peter 5:8). We need protection. We are likened to sheep – animals that do not have any natural defenses. Therefore, we need God’s protection.

The good news is that the Lord promises to protect those who are His (John 10:27-29). Indeed, God is constantly watching out for us.

Conclusion

While this is called the Lord’s Prayer, it is really a prayer that the disciples of the Lord are to pray. It is the Lord’s Prayer in the sense that this is the sort of thing the Lord commands us to pray. This is the type of prayer that those who believe in Jesus Christ should pray.

However, it is not a prayer that He prayed for Himself. We should note that this prayer is not something that Jesus Himself could pray because, for one thing, it asks God to forgive our sins (Luke 11:4). The Bible is clear that Jesus was without sin (John 8:46). Peter emphasized the same truth about the sinlessness of Jesus (1 Peter 3:18). Paul wrote something similar in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

The Lord’s Prayer, the model prayer that Jesus taught gives believers a good idea of what God wants from His children when they pray to Him.

May each of us learn to put these truths into practice in our daily lives.


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Recommended Resource: A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer by W. Phillip Keller

A fresh look at a famous prayerA Layman Looks at the Lord's Prayer by W. Phillip Keller

“There is inherent in this prayer all the strength and compassion of our Father in heaven. There moves through it a beauty and a serenity which no mortal man can fully explain. It reassures our hearts, strengthens our resolve, and leads us into personal contact with God, our Father.”

In this moving book by “an ordinary man and a child of God,” Phillip Keller takes each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer one-by-one, unfolding it in wonderful detail and sharing insights he’s gained and experiences he’s enjoyed.

Next to Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the most universally beloved passage in Scripture. It has been repeated millions of times by countless individuals for nearly 20 centuries. Yet, in spite of so much use and familiarity it has never lost its luster. 

A Layman’s Look at the Lord’s Prayer presents that luster in a fresh way to help you rediscover its incredible power.

What is the Significance of Jesus’ Baptism?

What is the Significance of Jesus’ Baptism?

We learn from Scripture that water baptism is an important act of obedience on the part of every believer in Jesus in response to the Lord’s command. However, let me emphasize that baptism does not save as some Christians teach. One does not need to be baptized to be saved. We are saved by grace through faith alone in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In other words, water baptism is not a requirement for salvation and anyone who teaches otherwise is gravely mistaken. We submit for water baptism for several reasons that include us publicly declaring our faith in the Lord Jesus and to identify with His death, burial, and resurrection.

But why did the Lord Jesus have to undergo water baptism before beginning His earthly ministry? What is the significance of this act on His part?

The Baptism of Jesus

The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist was one of the highlights of the beginning of our Lord’s earthly ministry. Although gospel authors Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus’ baptism, Matthew gives us a more detailed description by first introducing John the Baptist as the one prophesied by Isaiah as the forerunner of the Messiah.

Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The Baptism of Jesus Matthew 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Here is the story of Jesus coming to John to be baptized by him, and after getting a little resistance from the “baptizer,” Jesus is baptized. Immediately after getting up out of the water, we then have the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven on Jesus and a voice from heaven confirming the person and work of Jesus.

The Necessity of Jesus’ Baptism

John’s response to Jesus’ coming to him for baptism seems to indicate that John did not only know something about Jesus, but he also knew that baptism did not apply to Him (Matthew 3:14).

John had been preaching baptism unto repentance (Matthew 3:11). As the people listened and were convicted of their sins, they repented and were baptized as a witness to and sign of their inner purification.

But when Jesus came to John, he tried to stop him from being baptized because, at that moment, John was looking into the face of the Messiah – the “Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and “the man whose sandals he is unworthy to carry” (Matthew 3:11).

In response, Jesus said, “it was fitting for them in order to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Notice that the Lord used the word “us” – “it is fitting for us.” It was something that both the Sinless one (Jesus) and the sinner (John) had to do to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus was not acting alone; He was acting with John to fulfill God’s plan.

Lord's Guidance Christian Jewelry and Apparel

Jesus’ Baptism Confirmed John’s Ministry

John grew up to be a very special man. But who would have thought that God would use a “wilderness man” to Christ’s forerunner? He was very different from the other people who lived in his time. John was a Nazarite from birth who was filled by the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15).

He chose to live in the desert, wore camel’s hair, and ate locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:3-4). He was very different. After all, who else was preaching in the wilderness? Most people preached in the temple where all the people were. But John was preaching out in the desert.

Perhaps, one could say that John’s mission was to introduce Jesus as God’s promised Messiah. John the Baptist was specially chosen by God. In describing John’s appearance, Matthew links him with Elijah (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3). Why Elijah? Why not Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or the other prophets? It’s because Malachi prophesied that like John, Elijah was a kind of “wilderness man,” a man who lived on the run (Malachi 3:1; 4:5).

John the Baptist

When John the Baptist was first introduced in Matthew’s gospel, his message was an announcement that the kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:2). He was warning the Jewish leaders including the most zealous religious group, the Pharisees, that the King was soon to appear and will bring judgment.

Although John was careful to distinguish his ministry from that of the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:3, 11-12), his preaching was not only the warning of impending judgment; more importantly, it was a call to action. His message was intended to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah, and for the message of salvation, that would be proclaimed after the suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord.

Through John’s ministry, Jesus was introduced by God as the promised and long-awaited Messiah. By asking John to baptize Him, Jesus showed approval of his baptism, confirmed his ministry, and bore witness to it that it was indeed from heaven approved by God.

John played a vital role in the commencement of Jesus’ earthly ministry as he called upon men to prepare for His coming.

Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant

John initially refused to baptize Jesus but Jesus knew that it was His Father’s will for Him to undergo water baptism. Jesus was baptized not because he was a repentant sinner; His baptism identified Himself with tax collectors and sinners, the very people He came to save.

The word “righteousness” as used in the gospel of Matthew draws its meaning from the Old Testament. A full study of righteousness will lead to a meaning for the word as that which “conforms to the standard” which would mean doing the will of God.

To say that Jesus had to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness does not mean Jesus had been unrighteous. It simply means that He is committing Himself to do God’s will for Him, which is to conform to the standard which is the will of God.

The Suffering Servant Isaiah 53

God’s will for Christ was laid out centuries before He came in the book of Isaiah 53. The prophet Isaiah announced that the Suffering Servant was to be “numbered with the transgressors, would bear the sin of many, and make intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

Through His baptism, Jesus began to be identified with sinners. Isaiah further described the Messiah as “God’s righteous Servant who shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). The Father’s statement in Matthew 3:17 saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” also relates Jesus Christ to the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:10).

Well, it’s not that the Father took delight in His Son’s pain but the suffering and death of the Messiah were in fulfillment of God’s plan to make salvation available to everyone who believes (John 3:16). Jesus began to fulfill His work as the Suffering Servant at His baptism where He would identify with sinners, take their sins upon Himself, and justify them through His suffering and death.

Jesus’ water baptism was a picture of His future baptism on the cross. He was rejected and made to suffer and die but He is also seen to come forth in victory.

Conclusion

The baptism of Jesus Christ is not to be identified as one of repentance or as one similar to Christian baptism. Jesus’ baptism was unique, an initiatory right, setting Him apart to His role as a Prophet, Priest, and King, and anticipating His suffering and death on the cross.

No other, before or after, can share this baptism.


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Daily Life Lessons From Proverbs 6

Daily Life Lessons From Proverbs 6

No doubt, we’re living in the “information age,” but we certainly aren’t living in the “age of wisdom.” Many people maybe wizard with their computers but are amateurs when it comes to making a success of their lives.

Computers can store data and obey signals but they can’t give us the ability to use that knowledge wisely. What is needed today is wisdom; godly wisdom that is, and the book of Proverbs does not only talk about godly wisdom, it also teaches us how to get it and how to use it.

In this post, we will look at some life lessons from Proverbs chapter 6.

Proverbs 6 Lessons for Daily Life

Proverbs 6:1-35 deals with three enemies that can destroy a person financially, physically, and morally (or spiritually): unwise financial commitments, laziness, and lust. More often than not, one person will be guilty of all three because laziness and lust often go together.

People who are easily pressured into putting up security for somebody can be pressured into doing other foolish acts, including committing adultery. As Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Learning from the Ant

In Proverbs 6:6-11, Solomon spoke wisdom to the sluggard (lazy person) and said that they should learn from the ant, an insect proverbial for hard work. The ant is wise and worthy of imitation because she works hard without having to be told to work. Ants work hard to get the work done in the summer and the harvest.

Solomon is not saying that we should never sleep. Obviously, every person needs sleep; it is a necessary element for a healthy life. But too much sleep is destructive and often times it makes people lazy. Laborers sleep well because they have worked hard (Ecclesiastes 5:12) but the sleep of a lazy person is a mark of laziness and selfishness.

Bruce Waltke's Quote About Laziness

The result of laziness? Poverty. People often complain about their situation and envy the rich, not knowing how many hours of hard work and effort the rich has to put in to become successful. The lazy man loves to procrastinate and think things can always be done later.

Solomon says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:10-11 NIV). The sluggard will find that poverty and need come upon him quickly – poverty not imposed by circumstances or misfortune but through laziness.

The Future of a Wicked Man

From the sluggard and his poverty, Solomon moves to the worthless and wicked man (Proverbs 6:12-15). “Worthless” is the Hebrew word “belial” used to describe worthless people (Deuteronomy 13:13; Judges 19:22; 1 Samuel 25:25; 1 Kings 21:10, 13).

One of the main features of the worthless and wicked person’s walk is the corruption of his speech and the perversity of his heart. To say that one has a perverse mouth means what they say isn’t true and honest. Rather, they’re a crook!

Proverbs 6:12 illustrates God’s hatred of sin. Some contemporary theology so emphasizes God’s love that it loses its sight of the fact that God also hates sin. We can never over stress that God has no pleasure in sin. On the contrary, sin grieves the Father (Genesis 6:6), the Son (Mark 3:5), and the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Seven Things the Lord Hates

The “six” and “seven” of Proverbs 6:16 have their explanation in their description.

“A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:17-19).

The six are the things and the seventh is the result. Sowing discord among brethren is presented as the result of the six listed things and it is one of the highest among the things that God hates and regards as an abomination.

Notice that most of these sins are connected to something we do, in or through our body. They are also focused on how we treat others. Paul reminds us about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).

We cannot honor God and claim to worship Him in spirit and truth yet we treat others badly.

Warning Against Adultery

First, Solomon spoke about how God’s Word and wisdom will never lead a man to the evil woman or keep him with her. The light of God’s word will wisely keep a man from falling into the flattering tongue of a seductress.

Going back to chapters 5 to 7 of Proverbs, we see how each of the warnings against adultery is prefaced by an admonition to pay attention to the Word of God (Proverbs 5:1-2; 6:20-24; 7:1-5). The Word of God is living and active. We benefit from its power when we cherish and obey it.

As we trust and obey God’s truth, He keeps us from believing the enemy’s lies. God’s Word will lead us wherever we go, keeps us while we sleep, speaks with us when we’re awake, and brings light to us in our darkness (Proverbs 6:22-23).


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The Dangers of Committing Adultery

The results of this immoral liaison lead to being degraded to the lowest level of poverty (Proverbs 6:25-26). See also Luke 15:13-16. If the adultery results in a scandal, a lawsuit, and a divorce, the price will not be cheap. In this day of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, adulterers are also risking health and life.

When Solomon said, “Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes into his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent” (Proverbs 6:27-29), his brilliant wisdom, simplicity, and clarity were displayed.

He warns that anyone who takes up the harlot and plays with fire is sure to be burned. Thus, he must not complain about the strength of the temptation. Why didn’t he avoid it in the first place?

Fire is good as long as it is confined and controlled; it can keep us warm, cook our food, drive our turbines, and manufacture our electricity. Sex is a good gift from God. But like fire, it becomes destructive if it gets out of control. What begins as a “warm” experience soon becomes a burning experience, like holding a torch in the lap or walking on burning coals.

Adultery is Stealing

Certainly, hunger is a strong force in human life and the only way to satisfy hunger is to eat. But if we steal the bread that we eat, we’re breaking the law. We’ll end up paying more for that bread than if we’d gone out and bought a loaf at the bakery. As we sat in jail or stand in court, the enjoyment we had from that bread will soon be forgotten (Proverbs 6:30-31).

Adultery is stealing. “God’s will is for you to be holy, to stay away from all sexual sin … Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 6).

When adultery enters a marriage, everybody loses.

The Foolishness of Adultery

Proverbs 6:32-35 highlights the foolishness of adultery. The angry husband will use every means possible to avenge himself, for a loving husband would rather that his neighbor steal his money than steal his wife.

The offender will have no peace, and no amount of money he offers the husband will be accepted. The adulterer loses his reputation in the community and might actually suffer physical punishment. Of course, he and the woman were supposed to be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22), but this penalty probably was not always exact.

In today’s society, if a person has enough money and clout, he or she might be able to survive an adulterous scandal, but life is still never quite the same. Whether in this life or the next, sinners can be sure that their sins will find them out.

Indulging in sexual sin is always a losing proposition.

Closing Words

God calls us to receive His wisdom and be skillful so that we can make a life that will glorify him. What is important is not how long we live but how we live, not the length but the depth of life.

As never before, the church desperately needs people who understand and practice the skills involved in building a godly life. May we be among them.


Note: This devotional article is taken from The Transformation Study Bible, edited by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe.

The Rapture and Everyday Life

The Rapture and Everyday Life

The Rapture is said to be the greatest end-time event that Christians all around the world are eagerly waiting to take place. This is when the Lord Jesus will come in the clouds to receive every church age believer, dead or alive, and take them to heaven as He promised in John 14:1-3.

Theologians also refer to the Rapture as the blessed hope of the believers (Titus 2:13). But do you know that the Rapture can have a meaning for our everyday life? Every key New Testament passage on the Rapture contains a practical application that is closely associated with it.

The message is crystal clear – anticipating the Rapture should change the way we live. According to the Bible, understanding the Rapture should have at least six life-changing influences on our hearts.

The Rapture and the Church

Converting Influence on Seeking Hearts

With life’s brevity in mind, the most important question for every individual to face is whether he or she has a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior. Salvation through Jesus is a message that contains both bad news and good news.

The bad news is that the Bible declares that all people, including you and me, are sinful, and therefore separated from the holy God of the universe (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23).

God is holy and cannot simply overlook sin. A just payment for the debt must be made. But we are spiritually bankrupt and have no resources within ourselves to pay the huge debt we owe.

The Good News, or Gospel, is that Jesus Christ has come and satisfied our sin debt. He bore our judgment and paid the price for our sins. He died on the cross for our sins and was raised to life on the third day to complete the work of salvation. See Colossians 2:14 and 1 Peter 3:18.

The salvation that Christ accomplished is offered to all of us through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation from sin is a free gift that God offers to sinful people who deserve judgment.

If you have not received that gift yet, I invite you to do it right now. Place your faith and trust in Christ and in Him alone, for your eternal salvation. The Rapture could happen anytime and those who fail to trust Christ will be left behind to endure the Tribulation.

Accept Christ personally by calling upon Him to save you from your sins (Romans 10:9-10, 13). Make sure you are Rapture ready!

Caring Influence on Soul-Winning Hearts

No believer can study Bible prophecy without being gripped by the awesome power of God and the wrath of God. Just a simple reading of Revelation 6 –18 reminds us of what is in store for this earth after the Rapture.

Scripture also describes the eternal horrors that await those who die without trusting Christ. The Bible brings us face-to-face with what is at stake for those who don’t know Christ as their Savior.

2 Corinthians 5:20 reminds us of our calling during this present age: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

Those who have already responded to the message of God’s grace and forgiveness through Christ know the world’s future, and we are Christ’s ambassadors, representing Him and His heart to a perishing world. We should care deeply about those who are still lost, willingly give of our material resources to help spread the gospel message, and regularly ask the Lord for opportunities ad boldness to share the Good news of Christ.

A clear understanding of the Rapture should exert a strong influence on every believer to care about the lost before time runs out.

Cleansing Influence on Sinning Hearts

A proper understanding of the Rapture should produce a life of holiness and purity. Focusing the mind and heart on Christ’s coming can powerfully motivate our efforts toward living a pure life.

Note the certainty: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Here is a perfect prescription for living a life of holiness – focusing on the Rapture.

How can we be riveted by the Rapture and live an impure life at the same time? 1 John 3:3 says it can’t happen. Fixing our hope on Christ and His coming is a purifying hope.

We are to live as if Christ could come at any time, and if this becomes real to us it will transform our lives. The Bible declares that we are to always be looking for Christ’s coming (Titus 2:12-13).

Prophecy and purity are mentioned in Romans 13:11-14 and 2 Peter 3:10-14 presents the practical, cleansing effect of prophecy.

So, when anyone says that studying Bible prophecy is impractical or irrelevant to everyday life, they reveal that they don’t understand what the Bible says about the personal impact of prophecy.


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Calming Influence on Stirring Hearts

Another practical effect of the Rapture is that it calms us down when our hearts are troubled and stirred up. In John 14:1-3, Jesus tells His disciples (and every believer today) to “not let our hearts be troubled.”

The word troubled means “to be stirred up, disturbed, unsettled, or thrown into confusion.” There are many things in our world today to disturb and unsettle us: moral decay, crime, economic uncertainty, terrorism, fear of pandemics, social unrest, and others.

Added to these problems are the personal trials and difficulties we all face in our daily lives. Trouble is the common denominator of all humankind (Job 5:7). Often these troubles and difficulties can leave us distraught, distracted, and disturbed.

However, Jesus emphasizes three things in John 14:1-3 that can calm our troubled hearts: a person, a place, and a promise. The person is our Lord, the place is the heavenly city (new Jerusalem), and the promise is that He will come again to take us to be with Him forever.

One of the great comforts in times like This is to remember that our Lord will someday return to take us to be with Himself.

Comforting Influence on Sorrowing Hearts

Every person has faced or will face the grief of losing a close friend or loved one in death. When death strikes, pious platitudes do little to bring lasting comfort to friends and family. The only real, lasting comfort is the hope that we will see that person again in heaven.

God’s Word tells us with certainty that we are not to sorrow as people who have no hope because we will be reunited with our saved loved ones and friends at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Rapture and Resurrection should transform the way we view death. Death has lost its sting. God has promised that death will ultimately be abolished and that life will reign.

Grief is still appropriate when our friends or loved ones die. Didn’t Jesus weep at the death of His good friend Lazarus (John 11:35)? Stephen’s friends also wept loudly over his battered body (Acts 8:2).

We miss our loved ones when they die. However, the Bible declares that our weeping is not the weeping of despair. There is deep solace, hope, and comfort for our sorrowing hearts in the truth of God’s Word about the future for His children.

Controlling Influence on Serving Hearts

So many today are unstable and unsettled in Christian work. They are constantly vacillating. Knowing about Christ’s coming and future events should cure the problem of instability and inconsistency in Christian labor.

After presenting the truth of the Rapture and the Resurrection, Paul concludes with a strong admonition: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Paul is saying since you know that Christ will someday come to receive you to Himself, let nothing move you, and be strong and steady in your Christian service. Realizing that Christ could return at any time is to make us energetic and excited about serving the Lord.

If the Rapture is a reality to us, it will motivate us to work faithfully for the Lord. The Lord intends for our knowledge of Bible prophecy to translate into devotes service for those around us as we await His return.

The principle in the Bible is clear: waiters are workers. When Christ comes we are to be “dressed for service and keep our lamps burning” (Luke 12:35 NASB).

Final Thoughts

Warren Wiersbe tells a story of when he was a young man preaching on the last days with all the events of prophecy clearly laid out and perfectly planned. At the end of the service, an older gentleman came up to him and whispered in his ear, “I used to have the Lord’s return planned out to the last detail, but years ago I moved from the planning committee to the welcoming committee.”

Certainly, we want to study Bible prophecy and know about God’s plan for the future. But we must be careful not to get too caught up in the planning and forget the welcoming.

Are you on the welcoming committee for the Lord’s coming? Are you living each day to please the Master?

May God help our knowledge of the Rapture to transform our lives as we eagerly await the coming of our Lord and Savior.


Note: This article is an excerpt from Dr. Mark Hitchcock’s book “The End, A complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days.”

Psalm 101: A Pledge to Righteous Living

Psalm 101: A Pledge to Righteous Living

Psalm 101 is said to be written by King David shortly after he ascended the throne. Needless to say, Israel’s confusions and abuses in the hands of Saul had to be reformed. Thus, David felt that he was God’s administrator and pledges his commitment to live and rule righteously.

King David’s “I Will” Statements

In this psalm, we read King David’s several “I Will” statements which we will break down one by one.

Psalm 101:1

“I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, O Lord, I will sing praises.”

King David opens Psalm 101 exalting the mercy and justice of God. He knows that mercy and justice always go together for mercy can only be understood in light of justice. When justice pronounces its righteous penalty, mercy may grant relief.

Psalm 89:14

David wanted his reign to be characterized by mercy and justice for this is the way God rules the world. (See Psalm 89:14 and Isaiah 16:5.) But he knew that these principles were rooted only in God. Before he can exercise mercy and justice in God’s kingdom, he had to understand and extol the mercy and justice of God.

And when he did, he expressed it in a song of praise. Praise given just to God in private brings Him much pleasure.

Do you extol God for His mercy and justice and sing your praises to Him even during your quiet time?

Psalm 101:2

“I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.”

This is a determination on David’s part to walk uprightly before the Lord. He wanted to do God’s will in his everyday life; he wants to confer with the Lord first before making decisions that would have a great impact on his leadership. David wanted to please God in everything so he asked God to come fellowship with him in his home.

The emphasis here is on the heart, for the heart of leadership is the leader’s devotion to the Lord. This devotion results in a life lived blamelessly to the glory of the Lord not only in public but in private as well.

David made it clear that there must be no separation between the leader’s personal life and his or her official life, the private, and the public. And David was determined to be that kind of leader.

Many people today, including Christians, seem to be pretty nice people when they are out in public, but live terrible lives at home with their families. We should be the same in public and at home.

Psalm 101:3

“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”

In this verse, David moved from the heart of a leader, turned the emphasis to the leader’s eyes, and what he saw or chose not to look at. The heart and the eyes work together, for what the heart loves, the eyes will seek and find (Ecclesiastes 2:10; Jeremiah 22:17).

The eyes are said to be the inlets of lust and are easily caught with objects that inflame the heart. Thus, we must choose wisely and carefully the things we set before our eyes. Your mind is like a computer wherein everything you see or hear goes into that computer and is recorded there.

Ecclesiastes 2:10

You may not realize it but the kind of music you listen to, and the movies and television shows you watch are influencing the way you think and act. Just as Eve’s sin began when she looked at the forbidden fruit with desire in her heart, David’s sin began when he set his eyes on Bathsheba.

Sin begins when we start looking at the things that we should not be looking at in the first place.

Psalm 101:4

“A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.”

It takes determination to pursue a righteous life. King David did not only resolve to not practice wickedness himself and have evil people as his friends, but he also made sure neither to keep bad servants nor to employ those that are wicked.

Notice that David begins by cleaning up his own heart and then refuses to be associated with any evil person who might influence him to do evil. Again, David was determined not to have evil people in his company.

What kind of people do you associate yourself with? 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Bad company corrupts moral character.” We must be very careful in choosing our friends because eventually, we will become like the people we choose to surround ourselves with.

Psalm 101:5

“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure.”

Whether it is said in private or public, God does not approve of slander. David knows this very and he wants to pattern his life according to the life of his Lord. So, he said he will not tolerate anyone who says ugly things about their neighbor.

When David says he will not endure those with a haughty look and a proud heart, he is talking about those people who are inflated with their own importance. David is basing his decisions on the kind of people to choose for his companions on God’s choice. In other words, if God does not approve of them, neither will David.

Again, what kinds of people do you keep in your company?

Psalm 101:6

“My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

As Christ’s eyes are upon faithful persons and on faithful ministers of the Word to preach the Gospel faithfully, King David looked for the “faithful of the land” to set up as leaders. He wants people around him who love the Lord as he does because he knows that people who love God have good morals.

Perverse ideas come from a twisted heart, one that does not conform to God’s will (Proverbs 3:32; 6:16-19). David was also confident that when he chooses faithful people to work for him, they will be loyal to him as they have been to their God.

Godly people in authority are expected to choose godly people to work with them and for them, resulting in a government that is fair and honest.

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Psalm 101:7

“He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.”

Whether it is a big or small lie, it abhors God.

Being a truthful man himself, David cannot tolerate people around him who are not truthful. He would certainly reject anyone who practices deceit and tells lies. David is saying, “If you are working for me and I find out that you are committing these offenses, I will fire you and drive you as far away from my sight as possible.”

David wanted associates who were not defiled by sin, whose walk was blameless, and who would treat people with fairness.

Some people think it’s clever to be deceitful if it gets them where they’re going or helps them achieve their goals. So, you see, not everyone goes by the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 101:8

“Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.”

King David was so determined to rule righteously, favoring the godly and opposing the wicked, that he wanted to do it as early as possible. He was well aware that one rotten apple could ruin the whole basket so he would not delay making decisions.

Although some of those decisions would seem difficult to make and perhaps more difficult to implement, He would have to act immediately and not delay. He would drive away even those that had not done anything worthy of death if he wants his reign to be godly.

Politicians today could take a lesson or two from King David here should they desire to live a righteous life and rule in a godly way.

Final Words

Was David successful in maintaining the high standard of his declaration? No, not completely; but what leader beside Jesus Christ has ever maintained an unblemished record?

David reigned for forty years, during which time he expanded the borders of the kingdom, defeated Israel’s enemies, gathered the wealth used to build the Temple, wrote the psalms, and established the dynasty that eventually brought Jesus Christ into the world.

Like you and me, he had his weaknesses and failings, but overall, he sought to honor the Lord and be a good leader.

Jerusalem later became known as the “City of David” and Jesus as “the Son of David.”


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What is the Day of the Lord?

What is the Day of the Lord?

When talking about the last days and end times, one eschatological term that cannot be ignored is the “Day of the Lord,” which is mentioned at least 19 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament. What is the “Day of the Lord?”

In order to have a clear and concise understanding of the expression the “Day of the Lord,” we must first define what is meant by “day.”

The Word “Day” in the Bible

The word day is used in the Bible in three main ways and all three uses are illustrated in the first two chapters of Genesis.

First, sometimes it is used to refer to daylight; for instance, the hours between dawn and sunset (Genesis 1:5). Second, it is also used to refer to a twenty-four-hour day (Genesis 1:5). The Jewish day began at sunset and continued to the next day at sunset. Third, the word day is used in the Bible as a period of time (Genesis 2:4) just as we use it in English.

Understanding the Day of the Lord

We speak of the day of our youth. Are we saying that we were young only one day? No. Rather, we are referring to the extended period of time in which we were young. The Day of the Lord falls into this final category. It is an extended period of time, not just a twelve-hour or twenty-four-hour period.

The Day of the Lord in the New Testament

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, the Day of the Lord refers to an extended period of time but is given characteristics like a twenty-four-hour day. It is a day that begins at midnight or in the darkness, advancing to dawn and then to daylight.

It will close again with another period of darkness after daylight has passed. Apparently, that is the symbolism involved in the Day of the Lord.

Besides, 1 Peter 3:10-13 indicates that the Day of the Lord will include the destruction of the present heavens and earth and the creation of the new heavens and new earth.

The Day of the Lord in the Old Testament

A few sample passages in the Old Testament give a general overview of the Day of the Lord.

Isaiah 13:9-11 describes a dramatic judgment manifest in the physical world, which will interfere with the light of the sun, moon, and stars. God will put down the proud and deal with sinners in judgment.

Zephaniah 1:14-16 continues in the same strain. According to the Old Testament, the “Day of the Lord” is a time of God’s judgment and a time of God’s dealing with the world in its sin.

However, the Bible also portrays the Day of the Lord as a time of deliverance and blessing for Israel. The Day of the Lord includes the Millennium – the whole kingdom reign of Christ on earth – in which Christ personally directs the government of the world.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 pictures Israel’s blessings on that day, obviously following the time of judgment. This passage prophesies the praising and rejoicing of Israel during the Millennium on earth. Joel 3:14-18 shed additional light on the blessing phase of the Day of the Lord.

A Time of Judgment and Blessing

Putting all the above-mentioned passages, the Day of the Lord is any time God intervenes directly and dramatically in history to either judge or to bless. God has intervened in this way in the past, and He will do so again in the future.

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There have been specific, past “days of the Lord” when God intervened dramatically to judge. For instance, the destruction of Egypt was called the “Day of the Lord” (Ezekiel 30:1-4). The locust plague in Joel 1 was a day of the Lord when God intervened directly to judge Israel (Joel 1:15).

Yet it is important to remember that all these past, historical days of the Lord prefigure the final, future day of the Lord.

The Future Day of the Lord

As revealed in Scripture, the future day of the Lord is a period of time that will begin with the 7-year Tribulation (the judgment phase) and will continue throughout the entire one-thousand-year reign of Christ, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (the blessing phase).

The future Day of the Lord will stretch from the Rapture to the creation of the new heavens and new earth. It will commence with a time of wrath and judgment upon a wicked and Christ-rejecting world and will culminate in a time of peace and prosperity; Christ will be in the midst of the earth, will rule over the earth, and will bless the nation of Israel

Much like a 24-hour day, the Day of the Lord will begin with the dark night of the Tribulation, continuing with the dawn bursting forth when Christ returns, and then the world will bask in the full sun of daylight during the Kingdom of Christ.

Living in the Day of Grace

Our present time, this current church age is often referred to as the day of grace. This is not to say that God never displayed grace in the previous dispensations. Many of God’s dealings with mankind from the Garden of Eden to the present day have manifested His grace.

People have always been saved by God’s grace through faith. The salvation of every person, no matter when he or she lived, is a work of God’s sovereign grace. But God, during this present age, has uniquely displayed His grace, highlighting it as the basis for salvation and our Christian life.

Another feature of this day of grace is that for the most part, God is not dealing openly and directly with human sin. He may impose a swift judgment in some cases, but evil people often flourish, enjoy health and wealth, and succeed in their endeavors, even though they are not Christians and do not honor the Lord.

God has given us grace in Christ Jesus

A person today may even arrogantly blaspheme God, angrily declare to be an atheist, or openly denounce God and teach destructive ideas. Yet, God seems to do nothing about it. The Lord is not attempting to straighten that out in this day of grace.

The overriding purpose of God in this age is to proclaim His grace so that people may be saved by trusting in Christ and receiving God’s gift of grace. However, after this day of grace has run its course and the church has been “caught up” to be with Christ (an event known as the rapture), the Day of the Lord will begin when God will punish human sin directly in wrath and judgment.

Conclusion

Scripture clearly portrays the Day of the Lord as a day of divine judgment upon the world followed by a time of unparalleled blessing.

In the Day of the Lord, Christ will rule with a rod of iron over the entire earth (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27). He will administer absolute justice (Isaiah 11:1-9). On that day Israel will also be regathered (Isaiah 11:10-12) and brought into the perfect peace of the millennial kingdom (Zephaniah 3:14-20) and on to the creation of the new heaven and new earth.


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Recommended Resource: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy: Over 150 Topics from the World’s Foremost Prophecy Experts 

Edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson

Popular Encyclopedia of Bible ProphecyMore than one-fourth of the Bible was prophetic in nature at the time it was written, and Christ’s second coming is mentioned more than 300 times in Scripture. Clearly, God wants you to anticipate the last days—but Bible prophecy can seem vague and mysterious.

Find the clarity and answers you need in this comprehensive resource filled with thousands of facts about Christ’s return and the end times. Prophecy teachers Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson combine knowledge from an outstanding team of more than 40 experts to bring you…

  • detailed definitions of prophecy-related terms
  • helpful timetables of last-days’ events, including the rapture and the glorious appearing
  • thorough summaries of all the major prophetic viewpoints
  • vital understanding of the key players, such as the Antichrist and the False Prophet

Gain wisdom and insight as you repeatedly reach for this A-to-Z encyclopedia to find biblical answers to your toughest prophecy questions.

How Christians Can Defeat Satan

How Christians Can Defeat Satan

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan through His suffering, death, and resurrection. Clearly, the victory is His. Those of us who have believed in Christ are also victorious. We win because He has won.

While the ultimate victory has been won, we still have to fight spiritual battles as long as we are still upon the earth. Thus, we must desire to achieve victories over the devil. But how can we have victory over the enemy? How can Christians Defeat Satan?

How to Have Victory Over the Devil

The Bible gives us several ways in which we can defeat our enemy, Satan.

1. Know and Understand the Enemy.

To defeat Satan, first, we need to know who he is. This means having a biblical understanding of who he is, what he can do, his limitations, and the various ways in which he works while he is still active. This only comes from a study of Scripture.

If we are going to win our spiritual battles against the devil, we cannot afford to be ignorant of his schemes and tactics, otherwise, Satan will take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11).

How Christians Defeat the Enemy

The Word of God tells us several ways by which the enemy works. Believers must, therefore, be able to spiritually discern what comes from the Lord and what comes from the devil. We do this by testing every spirit (1 John 4:1-3). This means that we do not blindly believe everyone who claims to speak in the name of the Lord.

Unfortunately, there will always be false prophets and counterfeit believers in the world (Matthew 7:15, 24:11; 2 Peter 2:1-2).

2. Always be on Guard.

Christians must actively be on guard against Satan and his attacks. The Word warns us to be watchful and ready at all times because our enemy is actively seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). And when Satan does attack us, we must resist (1 Peter 5:9).

To “resist” means to “withstand” or “stand our ground.” By doing so, we can overcome Satan. Indeed, we should never give in to Satan’s temptations.

3. Know Your Weaknesses.

It is also extremely important that we know our weaknesses. Each of us has an area in our life in which we are vulnerable and we should not pretend we do not. Satan knows these areas and so, we should be especially alert from attacks in the areas where we are the weakest.

The Bible commands us not to give any opportunity for the devil to work. Paul wrote: “And do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27 NIV).

It is important to know the areas in which we are personally weak, admit these weaknesses, and protect ourselves in these particular areas the best way in which we can.

4. Avoid the Situation.

Knowing our weaknesses, we do not want to put ourselves in a position where we can easily fail. As much as possible, we should avoid any situation that can cause us to sin. For one thing, we must always remember that we do not have to sin. Sin is a choice that we make. However, we can flee from sin by staying away from the source of the temptation.

Paul exhorts all believers to stay away from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). By separating ourselves from a particular sin or any situation that may lead us to sin, a temporary victory can be won.

Yes, all victories are only temporary because temptation will always come as long as we are in these sinful bodies.

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5. Realize that You cannot Do it on Your Own.

Ultimately, we do not and we cannot fight the battle in our own strength. We learn a valuable lesson from Michael the archangel in his dealing with Satan. Jude 9 says, “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

From Michael’s example, we learn that we should not personally defy Satan. Knowing his power, we should neither underestimate nor overestimate him. We must realize that we can only resist and ultimately defeat the devil not on our own strength but by the Spirit of the Lord (Zechariah 4:6).

6. Put On the Full Armor of God.

The Bible speaks of the spiritual weapons of warfare that we possess and we need to use them (Ephesians 6:13-17): the belt of truth, which is the truth of the Word of God, the breastplate of righteousness which enables us to always do the right thing, shoes to spread the good news, the shield of faith to thwart the devil’s attacks, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

These weapons are there for us to win the battle. Victories are achievable when these weapons are employed.

7. Maintain Communication with God.

We are also told to constantly connect with God. Paul said this in his letter to the Ephesians about the necessity of prayer:

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Talking to God regularly and constantly is something believers need to do to advance spiritually.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are commanded to pray unceasingly. It is a must for believers to maintain communication with God as this will help stop the progress of the devil.

8. Realize that You are Part of God’s Family.

The Bible speaks of two families of humanity. There are those who are the children of God (John 1:12), and those who are the children of the devil (John 8:44). Each human being belongs to one of these two families. There is no third group.

Those who are in the family of God have their lives molded after Him. Those who belong to the devil act like their spiritual father. Believers ought to realize which family they are a part of and they should act accordingly.

How Believers can have Victory over the Devil

Believers belong to God’s family. This means that we are to act differently than unbelievers in many situations. We should never compromise our beliefs or behavior.

As God’s children, we are under His care. Satan cannot defeat us because God is always watching out for us. What a comforting truth.

9. Rest in God’s Promises

Finally, we need to rest in the promises of God. Satan has been overcome and the victory is ours (1 Corinthians 15:57). There are no insurmountable problems for believers that the Lord cannot solve.

Conclusion

While we are living in this world-system and battling the attacks of the devil, it is possible to achieve temporary victory over him. But these victories can come only through faith in Jesus Christ.

While victory is always possible, occasional defeat will occur if we fail to do our part. These defeats can hinder our testimony as well as our spiritual growth. Therefore, we need to take these nine necessary steps to defeat Satan and be victorious.


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Can One Be Saved After Death?

Can One Be Saved After Death?

The belief that God will give the lost a second chance to believe after death has been held by many. They argue that those who have died without believing in Christ will have an opportunity to do so in the afterlife. Is there any scriptural support for this claim? Can one be saved after death?

Two days ago, my colleague asked me this question, which did not come as a surprise at all. Her mother passed away almost a year ago, barely three months after being diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. It all happened so quickly that she was not prepared to lose her in such a short time.

She misses her every day but she is holding on to the thought that someday they would see each other again in heaven.

Let me just say this, I do not know her standing in the Lord, nor was her mom’s. As Roman Catholics they believe that Jesus is God; I’m just not sure if they have confessed Him as their Lord and Savior. But every opportunity I get to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with her and God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ, I make sure to get the message across to her loud and clear.

Can One Be Saved After They Die

Judgment Comes After Death

When my colleague asked me if a person can be saved after they die, I said, “No. There isn’t any scriptural evidence to support the claim that God will give anyone a second chance to believe in Christ once this life is over.”

First of all, the Bible says that after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). There is not some type of probation for those who did not believe in this life. The New Living Translation translates the verse this way:

“And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NLT).

It is consistently taught throughout the Scripture that judgment comes after death and there’s not a chance to believe in Jesus Christ.

Eternal Life is Determined in this Life Alone

The Bible is clear that our ultimate destiny is dependent upon what we do in this life and this life alone.

Jesus said this when He spoke to the religious leaders of His day, “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” (John 8:24).

These religious leaders were no different from any other human being. Jesus never gave any indication that they or anyone else can have some type of chance to believe in the afterlife. That being said, each and every person who dies without placing their faith in Christ is forever lost.

Not only is eternal life determined in this life, but also that the state of the dead is forever fixed. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus gave, the great gulf between the believing and the unbelieving dead is permanently put in place so that no one from either side could cross over.

“And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:26).

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The Day of Salvation is Now

The Bible urges people to believe in God’s promises because the day of God’s salvation is now; not tomorrow or sometime after this life is over. Paul wrote:

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV).

Salvation is today; right now. It should never be put off until later and certainly not until someone gets to the next life.

If you haven’t made a decision yet to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do it right now. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow and there is no guarantee that you will still be alive by then. Most people are afraid to die but if we are in a right relationship with God, we do not have to fear death.

God Determines What is Fair

It needs to be emphasized that it is not a sinful human being who decides what is fair and what is not but the God of the Bible. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11), thus it is wrong to accuse Him of unfairness because of what we think He should do.

The following says this about God’s character in Isaiah 40:13-14 (NIV):

“Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as His counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding?”

The answer to the question, of course, is nobody. Nobody tells God what to do; nobody directs Him. God alone makes all the decisions and He does exactly what He wants to do.

Paul made this clear when he wrote to the Romans, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this’” (Romans 9:20 ESV)?

Who are we to question God? He formed us and He knows what’s best for us. Therefore, we need to trust Him in all decisions.

When we die we don't cease to exist; we just change location

God is a Righteous Judge

Another point that needed to be made is that the Lord eventually judges the world and He will do it righteously or fairly. God is the righteous Judge of all the earth and we can be confident that everyone will be treated and judged righteously.

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

We may not know exactly how God will judge but we can conclude from the totality of the evidence in the Bible that God does not give people a chance to be saved after they have died. As far as determining our ultimate destiny, this life is all that there is.

Bottom Line

While many hold to the view that the Lord will be gracious enough to allow people to trust Christ sometime after their death, this is certainly not supported by the Bible. On the contrary, the Scripture emphasizes that now is the day of salvation because there is no chance after death.

What about the millions of people how have died without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ? Again, we need to remember that God determines what is fair and there is no injustice in Him. We need to trust the Lord that whatever way He will judge each and every human being, it will be done fairly and righteously.


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Running the Race to the Finish

Running the Race to the Finish

The Christian life is not only a journey towards heaven which is our final destination; it is also a race wherein Christians are like competitors in an athletic event. Indeed, Christians are running the race of faith and they are exhorted by the author of the book of Hebrews to run the race to the finish.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

The Cloud of Witnesses

Whenever we see the word “therefore” in a sentence, we know that it functions to introduce a logical result or conclusion. That being said, we can confidently say that Hebrews 12:1 is a concluding statement of the previous chapter about the heroes of faith.

Furthermore, it says that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Cloud in both the Greek and Latin refers to a great number of people or things. So, the great cloud of witnesses” is composed of the saints mentioned in chapter 11 of Hebrews: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel, and the prophets.

Run the Race of Faith to the Finish

Some have come to think of these champions of faith as spectators from the heavens, cheering us on as we run the race, like people seated in a stadium. This has led to the belief that people in heaven know and see everything that is happening on earth. But that is inconclusive.

One more thing, if people in heaven can see the difficulties, pain, and suffering that their loved ones are going through on earth, as well as the terror and wickedness of evil people, how can they have complete joy? Isn’t heaven a place of joy where there are no more tears and no more sorrows?

When the writer said we are surrounded by these witnesses, the stress is not on the idea that they are observing us or witnessing what we are doing. Rather, that we look to them and studiously observe them as exemplary individuals given by the author of Hebrews from history to encourage us to persevere.

How to Run the Race to Win

For us to run the race of faith to the finish, there are certain things we need to do.

1. Throw Off Everything that Hinders

The verse says we must “lay aside every weight or burden.” This signifies anything which will be an impediment or hindrance in running the race. When running a race, almost anything that adds weight to the runner is a hindrance.

Have you ever seen any athletes competing in their jeans? Or carrying a backpack? No! Not even a bottle of water. They have to be comfortable in what they’re wearing so that they will be in their best, optimal performance.

In the same way, we must get rid of various burdens which delay and impede our spiritual course, which includes:

  • The love of this present life
  • The pleasure of this world and worldly cares
  • The lust of the flesh
  • Riches and honor

These are the same things that John warned us about in 1 John 2:16. This is not to say that we should not enjoy our borrowed time on earth. God wants us to enjoy His blessings but we must resist the notion that happiness is found on the things of this world. We always need to keep in mind that everything in this world is temporary and will soon pass away.

Our priority is to further the works of the Lord and use all the resources He has given us, including our life, for His purpose, and greater glory. Christians are to occupy while waiting for the Lord, our Savior to come back for the church (Titus 2:13).

2. Avoid the Sin that Easily Ensnares Us

Sin is the heaviest burden that impedes us and that is why we are warned to guard against any form of sin. Sin distracts us, sin can hold us back, and most importantly, sin will separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2).

While not naming any specific sin, the writer was probably referring to the sin of unbelief. It is the sin of unbelief that had kept Israel out of the Promised Land, and unbelief hinders us from entering our spiritual inheritance in Christ.

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

3. Live a Life of Discipline

The writer of Hebrews is appealing to us to take all the necessary steps of self-discipline and deal with any areas of our lives that could hinder our spiritual progress. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 that an athlete must be disciplined if he is to win the prize.

Discipline means giving up the good and the better for the best. The athlete must watch his diet. There is nothing wrong with food or fun, but if they interfere with your highest goals then they are hindrances and not “helps.”

Also, when running the race of faith, we must disentangle ourselves from all impediments. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he charged him to pass on to other faithful believers everything he taught him. At the same time, he encouraged his “son in the faith” to endure hardship as a soldier of Jesus Christ and to not get tied up with the affairs of this life to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:1-4).

4. Run the Race with Endurance

What does it mean to run the race of faith with endurance or perseverance? How do we do it? To run the race with endurance is to run the race to the end. It involves determination, commitment, and refuses to be deflected.

We often hear the phrase, “no guts, no glory,” or “no pain, no gain,” which simply means you cannot achieve success without hard work and struggle. In running the race of faith, we need to push through and push hard if we want to win. Despite all the obstacles and distractions we may have to face along the way, we need to keep going and rely on the Lord to give us the strength (Philippians 4:13).

5. Run the Race Marked Out for Us

When Paul addressed the church elders at Ephesus, he told them how he has been faithfully serving the Lord by proclaiming to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ despite his persecution in the hands of the Jews. He pictured himself as a runner who had a race to finish, and nothing would keep him from finishing the race with joy.

“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Let Us Run the Race Marked Out For Us

In this passage, Paul speaks of “my race” – he had his race to run and we have our own. Hebrews 12:1c says we are to run the race that is “set before us.” In other translations, it says, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

There is a race marked out for every believer. We are in a race, and this race has been “set before us.” The point here is that God has mapped out a specific, prescribed course for each of us that we must follow. We are not competing with others but we strive to excel up to our potential in this lifestyle of Christian conquest.

6. Look Unto Jesus, the Author, and Finisher of Our Faith

Looking unto Jesus involves looking away from someone or something else and directing our focus unto Jesus. The NIV translates this beautifully as “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”

We cannot be looking at two things at the same time. If we want to finish the race, we need to look away from anything that could distract us and have our eyes locked on Jesus. We are not to look at the mistakes or sins committed by other Christians, especially our church leaders, and use them as an excuse to quit.

As we run the race, Jesus has to be our focus, our inspiration, and our example; He remains to be the ultimate example of Christian obedience and endurance. Jesus is not only the author but also the finisher of our faith. He started His work in us and He promised to complete it until the day of His return (Philippians 1:6).

Jesus Endured the Cross for Our Sake

Hebrews 12:2b says, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross …” Jesus did not regard the cross itself as a joy, but He was able to look past the horror of the cross for the joy that is beyond it. Jesus knew that His suffering and death would result in the reconciliation of God with man.

One of the prominent elements of the torture of the cross was its extreme shame. Death by crucifixion was the most despised form of death in the Roman Empire, reserved for the worst offenders. Jesus did not welcome this shame – He despised it. Yet He endured through it to victory.

Anytime you are tempted to give up because of the trials and difficulties that you are going through, think about what the Lord Jesus had to endure for your sake. “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3 NIV).

How to Run the Race of Faith

From Crucifixion to Glorification

What was the result of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross? Salvation became available to everyone who believes (John 3:16) and Jesus was exalted and seated at the right hand of the throne of God. This highlights the triumph of the victory of Christ over death.

People often ask, “If Jesus had already won the victory, why do Christians need to suffer?” As children of God, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. And if we suffer with Him, we will also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).

Peter said, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world” (1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT).

Closing Words

In running the race of faith, we should look back upon the past champions of faith from the Old Testament as they can be a source of encouragement. Then, we must look forward as we run the race and do certain things to pursue the course.

Negatively, we are to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up; and positively, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus.

The exhortation to “look” unto Jesus is the ground for this anticipatory victory view of the triumphant Lord of glory who finished His course. We look unto Jesus in contemplation, in considering Him as the conqueror of adversity and suffering, and as the exemplar par excellence for spiritual vision.

Since Christ is the “champion who initiates and perfects our faith,” trusting Him releases His power in our lives. As we see Him in the Word and yield to His Spirit, He increases our faith and enables us to run the race to the finish.

It doesn’t matter how many times we stumble, trip, or fall. Walking or running, limping or stumbling, it does not matter. Fix your eyes on Jesus and finish the race.

At the end of the day, it’s not how you start the race that matters but that you finish and be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).


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Recommended Resource: Let’s Run!: Running the Race with Faith and Perseverance by Jennifer Hayes Yates

Let’s Run!: Running the Race with Faith and Perseverance by Jennifer Hayes Yates Every race is a challenge.

Hills, valleys, dips, and curves; pain, thirst, weariness, and overwhelm—sometimes it’s just easier to take a seat on the sideline and slip off our running shoes.

But God has inspired us in His Word to run the race with faith and perseverance and to finish well. He gives us examples of others who faced some of the same challenges, yet remained faithful.

Let’s Run! explores the faith chapter of Hebrews by taking us back to the Old Testament and the stories of some ordinary people who faced enormous challenges but managed to stay in the race.

This Bible study will give you not only a look at their lives, but also an opportunity to apply the same principles of faith to your own life, to keep you in the race and running toward the prize.

  • Discover how worship and the Word can help your faith grow.
  • Learn how to apply these principles in your own life, family, and church.
  • Develop a strategy for handling challenges to your faith.
  • Gain a new perspective on church and ministry.

Let’s Run! is a 6-week Bible study which includes weekend devotions to recap the principles learned each week, as well as ideas for group study.

Join Jennifer and be inspired to lace up and get back in the race!