Category: Christology

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

What is the Cost of Our Salvation?

People often say, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That is sound advice in the world of business where there is always someone – or crowds of someones – trying to separate you from your money. A famous quote by P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute” expresses the starting point of every con artist.

When talking about our salvation, people often question how it is even possible to gain eternal life just by believing in Jesus as stated in John 3:16. Modern readers ask by reflex, “What’s the catch?” There has to be more to it than just believe. It’s a simple fact that nobody gives away anything of great value. There has to be a hidden cost.

John 3:16

Still, many others are offended by the Bible’s offer of free salvation. Why? Because they don’t want anything for which they didn’t work hard and pay dearly.  If God forgives them, they want to be able to say that He had to because they earned it. You know what? That’s a pride thing.

Is God’s Forgiveness Cheap?

Is our salvation really cheap because we can have it for free? If not, how much does it cost? And why did God choose to pay for it? What would He get in return for sacrificing His only begotten Son to die on the cross for man’s redemption?

British Pastor G. Campbell Morgan who spent considerable time in the United States in the period between the two world wars, shared how in one of his evangelistic meetings in England, encountered a coal miner who told him that he would give anything to believe that God would forgive sins, “but I cannot believe He will forgive me if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap.”

In reply, Dr. Morgan said to the man, “You were working in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?” He answered, “The way I usually do. I got into the cage and was pulled to the top.” “How much did you pay to come out of the pit?” Morgan asked. “I didn’t pay anything.”

“Weren’t you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?” The man replied, “Oh no! It was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink that shaft.”

The Cost of Our Salvation

In today’s world of credit cards and electronic banking, it’s pretty easy to disregard the cost of a lot of things that are rather important. This is exactly true with sin. The society we live in teaches us to enjoy temporary pleasures while ignoring the price that God had to pay for the forgiveness of our sins.

Sin is like credit card; enjoy now, pay later

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ suffered the following for our sake:

1) Abandonment

In Jesus’ final hours, He was separated from His Father and their fellowship was broken for the very first time since eternity past (Mark 15:34). Some might think that Jesus feared the cross that is why He was in anguish moment before His crucifixion and started to sweat blood.

Jesus was in extreme, deep anguish as He faces the reality of being separated from His Father, resulting in a rare medical condition known as “Hematidrosis.”

2) God’s wrath

At the cross, the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus because of man’s sin. Christ took on upon Himself the penalty for our sins and the condemnation we all so deserved (Romans 5:9; Isaiah 53:5-6).

Although Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, all of mankind’s sins were placed upon Him and experienced the fullness of our guilt, shame, and transgressions.

3) Physical pain

During the hours that led to His crucifixion, Jesus was mocked, beaten and humiliated (John 19:1-16). And in His weakened state, He was forced to carry the cross on His shoulders which He was eventually nailed to and died an excruciating death.


*Recommended Resource:

He Died for Me: A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
By Mark Marinella, M.D., F.A.C.P.

When you meditate on Jesus’ death, do you ever wonder what He really went through? Offering a physician’s view of Christ’s last hours, Dr. Marinella provides historical background on crucifixion as a method of execution; and offers a medical analysis of the physical and physiological pain Jesus endured.


Closing Thoughts

When God offers forgiveness for our sins if we believe in His Son Jesus, that forgiveness did not come cheap. Jesus suffered the agony and shame of the cross as the bearer of the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). He gave His life in our place. That was a payment of infinite value, and it involved infinite suffering on the part of Jesus.

Jesus Christ our Savior has suffered greatly on our behalf. He shed His blood so we might become part of God’s family (John 1:12), all because He loves us so much and He desires that our broken fellowship with God be restored.

*Read here: What Does John 3:16 Teach About Salvation?

In light of what our salvation cost, we are to give up the pride that insists we don’t want anything we haven’t earned. Instead, let us accept His offer of free salvation and respond to His call for us to live a sacrificial life of service, doing the Father’s business and living to please Him.

Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Do you notice how the ambiance or mood changes whenever the “BER” months start? As early as September 1st when radio stations begin playing our favorite Christmas songs, we all get very excited knowing that Christmas is just around the corner. But what is the true meaning of Christmas and why should Christians celebrate it?

While many Christians today celebrate Christmas, there are others who don’t because they claim that Jesus Christ wasn’t really born on Christmas day which falls on the 25th of December. And they are right.

As I said in my article, Jesus: The Reason for the Christmas Season, historians and Bible scholars have found no solid, documented evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th. But based on Luke 2:8 and other indicators such as the birth of John the Baptist, they place the birth of Christ in the late summer or early autumn (that is September).

A Powerful Story

Before going any further, I would like to share a story that was told by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in one of his Christmas sermons. It’s about a shepherd from New Zealand who woke up one morning and finding himself in a dilemma.

This shepherd had two mother sheep that were ready to give birth to their lambs. But each in its own way ended up with a misfortune. One of them had just given birth to its little lamb but shortly thereafter, the mother had contracted various problems and died, leaving this lamb without a mother to take care of it.

Then shortly thereafter, the other mother sheep gave birth to its own little lamb and rather than her developing complications, the little lamb ended up with problems and lost its life.

So all of a sudden the shepherd looked at that situation which he found himself. On the one hand, he had a kind of a “motherless” lamb. On the other hand, he had a “lambless” mother. The solution looked rather obvious, didn’t it? All the shepherd needed to do was to get this little lamb over to that mother, have it nursed this little one and give it strength and life.

But it’s not as simple as that, because every time he made an attempt to bring this little lamb over to that mother to be fed, the mother, smelling a different aroma on the body of this lamb sensing it wasn’t its own, would turn away and back off from it.

The shepherd came up with a genius plan. He went and found the dead body of the actual little lamb, took the skin off its body, formed a little coat and put it on this one that was still alive. And then he carried this little lamb over to this mother to be nursed. The mother was ready to back off, sensing it was not its own. But suddenly it smelled a different aroma, one that was familiar to it and began to nurse this little one.

Mother sheep feeding little lamb

Meaning of the Story

This story is a powerful little illustration but really points beyond itself to the predicament to which we find ourselves as human beings in a sense of alienation from God. Because of sin, man who used to have an intimate relationship with his Creator was alienated from God (Isaiah 59:2).

Without God, man’s destiny is hell. We can read this in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. But God who is love does not want anyone to perish (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). So what did He do? He sent His only begotten Son to take upon Himself the penalty for our sins, to die on the cross so that everyone who believes will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

*Related Article: What does John 3:16 Teach about Salvation?

God is love but He is also holy and just. He will not just let sin slide and let man get away with it. God made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might bec0me the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In theology this is called the “Doctrine of Justification.” Not only is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us through faith, but our sin is imputed to Christ. That is how Christ paid for our sin debt to God. By having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, we can be seen as sinless, as Jesus is sinless.

In the same way that the little lamb was eventually cared for, love and nurtured by the mother lamb because it smelled the aroma of its own little lamb that died, we too can come to the Father. Because when God looks at us, He does not see us for who and what we are – sinful and unclean. Instead, He sees the holiness, perfection, and righteousness of Christ.

The True Meaning of Christmas

What then is Christmas all about?

A. Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Man sinned by deliberately disobeying God and so he deserves to be separated from God for all eternity. But because God is forgiving and merciful He made a way for man’s relationship with him to be restored. How? Through Christ!

We are forgiven because Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus gave His life; He shed His blood because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). God did not only forgive us our sins, but He also reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). It’s important to emphasize that God initiated the reconciliation, not man.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness

This is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came so that our sins would be forgiven and be reconciled with God. What then should our response be? We must separate ourselves from the world. This is what it means to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are to share the love of God and the good news of salvation to everyone but we are not to conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2).

B. Love which is demonstrated by Giving

You know what they say, “You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.” God proved this to be true when He sent His Son to die on the cross, even when we were still in our sins so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). God gave first and He gave us the best gift; a gift that we did not deserve.

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given …” We have to understand that Jesus as man has been born but as God, He existed eternally with the Father. And again, this verse tells us that God gave us Jesus Christ His Son, not because we asked Him to but because He knew exactly what we needed.

For God so loved the word - John 3:16

When Christmas comes, are you more focused on what you want to receive or on what you can give to God and your loved ones? There’s nothing wrong with exchanging gifts as part of the Christmas celebration. However, let us not forget that the true meaning of Christmas is love which is demonstrated in our giving. We should aim to be the giver, not the recipient.

C. Life (Physical, Spiritual & Eternal)

Can man live without God? Someone once said, “God without man is still God, but man without God is nothing.” And while we do not find this exact phrase in the Bible, this truth is explicitly stated in many places in Scriptures such as John 15:5, John 1:3 and Jeremiah 10:23 among others.

We are also familiar with the acronym CHRISTIAN which means without CHRIST in my life I Am Nothing (I-A-N). What about those who continuously reject Christ, are they dead? Yes! They may be physically alive but they are spiritually dead and do not have eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death - Romans 6:23

We are all spiritually dead because of sin but the moment we receive God’s offer of salvation, our spirit gets regenerated or born again and we will receive eternal life. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Without God, we would have no life at all. There is no reality outside of Christ; no logic, no reason, and purpose for anything. But all these have changed because Christ came on that first Christmas eve.

D. Hope

It’s because of Christmas that we have hope. And unlike ordinary hope, the hope that we have in Christ does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Why? Because biblical hope – the hope that is found in Christ – is a confident expectation of what God has promised and there is moral certainty in it because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God.

What is biblical hope

When God promises something, He is sure to fulfill it. God remains faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). The Bible says that faithfulness is part of God’s nature. Being faithful isn’t just part of what He does; it’s part of who He is.

Conclusion

So why should Christians celebrate Christmas? We celebrate this season for one reason and one reason only – Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas because a Savior has been born to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christmas is all about God coming in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life of obedience to the Father, set an example for us to follow, to suffer and die on the cross for our sins and to rise again to conquer death and hell, in order to set us free from the power of sin and death and to rescue and deliver us from the wrath of God and the judgment that is to be poured out upon all flesh on the earth in a future event known as the “Great Tribulation.”

If that is not enough reason to celebrate the Christmas season, I don’t know what is. What about you, do you celebrate Christmas? Why or why not?

Understanding the 70 Weeks of Daniel

Understanding the 70 Weeks of Daniel

The prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 which is often called the “Backbone of Bible Prophecy” and “God’s Prophetic Clock” tells us that God has put Israel’s future on a time clock. As I said in my article, “Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Timeline,” this prophetic passage is quite detailed.

Daniel 9:24-27

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.

And after the sixty-two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself, and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war, desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week, He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”

In order for us to have a better understanding of its astounding accuracy and significance, let’s break it down into ten basic keys.

Ten Keys to Understanding the Seventy Weeks of Daniel

1. It’s about weeks of years.

The term “week” refers to sets of seven. It could refer to sets of days, weeks, months, or years. The context determines its meaning. In the context of Daniel 9:24-27, we know that this refers to sets of years because Daniel had already been thinking in terms of years in Daniel 9:1-2.

2. The total time is 490 years.

The period involved is a time period of 490 years (seventy sets of seven-year periods using a 360-day prophetic year).

3. It’s about the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem.

It’s very important to note that the 490 years concerns the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem, not the church. Gabriel tells Daniel this time period is “for your people (Israel) and your holy city (Jerusalem)” (Daniel 9:24).

The Jewish people and Jerusalem

4. The purpose of the seventy weeks.

The purpose of these 490 years is to accomplish six divine goals. The first three have to do with man’s sin, and the last three have to do with God’s righteousness:

  • to finish the transgression
  • to make an end of sin
  • to make atonement for iniquity
  • to bring in everlasting righteousness
  • to seal up vision and prophecy
  • to anoint the most holy place

Christ’s death on the cross made provision for sin, but Israel’s acceptance of this sacrifice will not be realized until they repent at the end of the seventy weeks, in conjunction with Christ’s second coming. The last three of these goals look ahead to the coming Kingdom Age.

5. When the clock starts ticking.

The divine prophetic clock for the seventy weeks or 490-year period began ticking on March 5, 444 BC, when the Persian king Artaxerxes issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8).

6. The first sixty-nine weeks (483 years).

Sixty-nine sets of seven (7 X 69) or 483 years would transpire between the beginning of the countdown and the coming of the Messiah. This exact period of time – 173,880 days – is elapsed from March 5, 444 BC, until March 30, AD 33 – the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the Triumphal Entry (Luke 19:28-44).

The precision of this prophecy is staggering! I call it the greatest prophecy ever given. It stands as a monumental proof of the inspiration of the Bible.

7. The gap called grace.

The first sixty-nine weeks have already run their course. But what about the final period of seven years or what is called the “seventieth week?” When Israel rejected Jesus Christ as its Messiah, God suspended His plan for Israel. So there is a gap or parenthesis of unspecified duration between the sixty-ninth week and seventieth set of seven.

During this parenthesis two specific events are prophesied in Daniel 9:26:

  • The Messiah will be killed – this was fulfilled on April 3, AD 33.
  • Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed – this was fulfilled on August 6, AD 70

God’s prophetic clock for Israel stopped at the end of the sixty-ninth week set of seven. We are living in this gap between week sixty-nine and seventy – it’s called the church age. The church age will end when Christ returns to rapture His bride, the church.

After all, since the church was not around for the first sixty-nine weeks from 444 BC to AD 33, it makes sense the church will not be here for the final week of years either. The seventy weeks have to do with Israel, not the church. This rationale supports the pre-Tribulation Rapture view.

8. The Antichrist’s treaty and the final seven years.

God’s prophetic clock for Israel will begin again after the church has been raptured, when the Antichrist comes onto the scene and ratifies a seven-year treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). This is the seventieth set of seven years, which awaits fulfillment.

Because the first sixty-nine weeks of years were literally fulfilled down to the very day, it stands to reason that this future time of seven years will just as literally fulfilled in the future.

The Antichrist signs a 7-year treaty with Israel

9. The Antichrist breaks the treaty.

In one of the greatest double-crosses of all time, the Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel at its midpoint (after 3 ½ years) and set an abominable, sacrilegious statue or image of himself in the rebuilt Temple of God in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:21); Revelation 13:14-15). The final 3 ½ years will be the “Great Tribulation” Jesus talked about in Matthew 24:21).

10. The end of the seventy weeks.

At the end of the seven years, God will slay the Antichrist (see Daniel 9:27, 2; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20). This event will mark the end of the seventy sets of seven and the beginning of the one thousand year reign of Christ when the six divine goals in Daniel 9:24 will be completely fulfilled (see Revelation 20:1-6).

Closing Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, predicting a time period of 173,880 days to the very day is the greatest prophecy ever given. Be reminded that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on March 30, AD 33, the first sixty-nine weeks of years (483 years) were fulfilled to the very day.

Jesus knew the significance of it when He said to the people, “If you have known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace” (Luke 19:42 NASB). He added those sobering words, “Because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44 NASB).

Jesus emphasized “this day” and “the time” to the Jewish people because He stood before them fulfilling this astonishing prophecy. The time of visitation had come on the exact day prophesied but they had missed it due to their unbelief.

Jesus is coming again someday, maybe very soon. There is a final future “time of visitation” that will also occur right on time according to God’s timetable


*Reference: The End (A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days) by Mark Hitchcock

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: An Act of Love and Humility

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet: An Act of Love and Humility

We live in a society where it is the “norm” for the rich and powerful to be ordering people around, while the poor and the lowly people are the ones serving. In this article, we will delve into a passage where our Lord Jesus changed this standard through His example.

You must be familiar with the scene where Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, recorded in John 13:1-17. (See also Matthew 26:14-39 & Luke 22:24-27.) But for us to conclude this as an act of love and humility on the part of our Lord, a good grasp of the Jewish custom of those days is much-needed.

Background of the Passage

Prior to Jesus’ meeting His disciples at the Upper Room, we read that Jesus had entered Jerusalem on Sunday, and on Monday He had cleansed the Temple. Tuesday was a day of conflict with the religious leaders as they sought to trip Him up in order to get evidence to arrest Him. Wednesday was probably a day of rest, but on Thursday He met with His disciples in order to observe Passover.

*Note: If you’re wondering how I came up with this flow of events, they are recorded in Matthew 21-25.

And reading from Luke’s account (Luke 22:24), we see that while Jesus was nearing the time of His death, His disciples had been arguing who of them would be appointed to the highest cabinet post in Jesus’ coming government.

Jesus Loved His Disciples to the End

When Jesus asked to meet with His disciples, He recognized that it was the time for Him to be glorified through His death, resurrection, and ascension (John 13:1). From the human point of view, it meant suffering, but from the divine point of view, it meant glory.

Jesus knew He would soon leave this world and return to the Father who sent Him, having finished His work on earth (John 17:4). At the Last Supper, on the night before He was about to suffer and die and be betrayed by Judas, Jesus did something interesting for His disciples to show them that He loved them even to the end.

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

Here’s the scenario: The evening meal was in progress and as the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot to betray Jesus and knowing that the Father had put all things under His power, Jesus got up from the meal, took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him (John 13:2-5).

Yes, the Savior did all that! So, what’s the big deal? It was customary in those days that whenever guests came to dinner, the house slave would wash the guest’s feet which were dirty from the dusty roads. There were even garbage and animal wastes on the roads because animals traveled up and down the same streets.

People in the olden times wore sandals

People wore sandals without socks in those days, making their feet very dirty. Take note that in the Jewish custom, people eat dinner around a low table so they didn’t sit on chairs. Instead, they leaned on pillows with their dirty feet exposed behind them. (This could be similar to Japanese or Korean dining today.) Isn’t it hard to enjoy a meal when there is a very bad smell?

However, at the last supper which was held at a private home, there was no slave present, and apparently, none of the disciples had offered to wash the feet of Jesus and the others. Then Jesus did something that must have almost seemed crazy; He began to do the job of the lowest household servant.

Imagine the reaction of the disciples. They must have been so shocked that there was stunning silence while Jesus was washing their feet one after the other. He comes to Peter who probably was able to regain his composure to echo what each of them must be thinking (John 13:6).

Customary Jewish or Japanese Dining
Photo Credits: Vix.com

Regarding the relationship between a teacher and his disciples, a teacher had no right whatsoever to demand or expect his disciples to wash his feet, in accordance with the Jewish laws and traditions. How much more unthinkable for the master to wash his disciples’ feet?

The Meaning & Significance of What Jesus Did

There are several reasons that prompted Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet. Apart from the obvious reason that their feet were dirty and needed washing, Jesus wanted to teach them humility and love. And as their Lord and teacher, He wanted to teach them by setting an example for them to follow.

Jesus knew better that actions speak louder than words. The disciples who had been following Jesus for 3 years must have heard Jesus preach multiple times about love and humility. Yet, they were still quarreling among themselves who should be greater.

And why was no one willing to humble himself and wash Jesus’ feet? Because they could not do this without having to wash the others’ feet as well – a clear admission of inferiority among their fellow competitors for the top position in their hierarchy.

Whoever wants to be great must be servant of all

It must be pride and feelings of animosity. Apparently, their sinful nature was still very much a part of them. So when Jesus wanted to teach His proud and arguing disciples about love and true humility, He didn’t just say it; He showed it.

In the succeeding verses (John 13:12-17), Jesus explains the reason behind His action and calls His disciples to follow His example. Jesus is saying we should serve others. If Jesus who is our master and Lord of all would choose to lower Himself to do the job of the lowest and least important servant by washing His friends’ feet, then we should always be willing to serve others.

Closing Thoughts

The servant (slave) is not greater than his master; so if the master becomes a slave, where does that put the slave? On the same level as the master! Jesus said “we ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14-16). This is the attitude that marks His followers, especially among church leaders.

While the foot-washing is a powerful lesson in humility, let us not overlook the truth behind it, which is that Jesus did all this out of love. Love was what motivated Jesus to wash His disciples’ feet and He is telling us today that when we humble ourselves and serve, it should be out of love, not out of a sense of duty or responsibility.

Although foot-washing during Bible times was very common, it’s not common today. However, there are many things we can do to serve others as an act of love and humility. What practical examples from your everyday life can you give where Jesus’ example should be followed?


*Recommended Resource:

Full Service: Moving From Self-Serve Christianity to Total Servanthood by Siang-Yang Tan

Is servanthood a way to lead or a way of life? Leadership has its place in Christian ministry, but God calls us, first and foremost, to servanthood. Servant is not a modifier for some other activity but the foundation of the Christian life.

Siang-Yang Tan calls the church back to its primary role of being servants of Christ and other people. This genuine Spirit-inspired servant attitude will enable you to enter more deeply into God’s rest and grace and will revolutionize your life and ministry.

Lessons from the Transfiguration

Lessons from the Transfiguration

There are lessons to learn from every passage in the Bible. The incident known as the “Transfiguration” reveals to us four aspects of the glory of Jesus Christ as King. This event is recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and although the 3 authors do not use the word “transfigure,” they all describe the scene (See Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-13 & Luke 9:28-36).

Mathew and Mark state that the transfiguration took place “six days after” Jesus predicted His suffering and death while Luke says “about eight days after.” However, these statements do not contradict; Luke’s statement is the Jewish equivalent of “about a week later.”

4 Aspects of the Glory of Jesus Christ as King

1) The Glory of His Person

As far as the gospel record is concerned, the transfiguration was the only occasion during Christ’s earthly ministry when He revealed the glory of His person. The word “transfigure” or “transform” gives us the English word “metamorphosis,” which means “a change in appearance that comes from within.” It’s like when a caterpillar builds a cocoon and later emerges as a moth or butterfly, this is due to the process called metamorphosis.

When Jesus transfigured before Peter, James and John, the glory of His person was not reflected, rather, it radiated from within. In other words, the change on the outside that the three disciples saw came from within Jesus as He allowed His essential glory to shine forth (See Hebrews 1:3).

2) The Glory of His Kingdom

The appearance of Moses and Elijah is highly significant. These two particular persons from the Old Testament represent the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), both of which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25-27; Hebrews 1:1-2). Moses had died and his body was buried (Deuteronomy 34:5-6), but Elijah had been raptured to heaven (2 Kings 2:11).

When Jesus returns, He will raise the bodies of the saints who died and will rapture the living saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Every single word in the Old Testament will be fulfilled and God’s glorious kingdom will be established (Luke 1:32-33) as promised. And just as the three disciples saw Jesus glorified on earth, so God’s people will one day see Him in His glorious Kingdom on earth and will actually reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 4:4-6).

3) The Glory of His Cross

The disciples had to learn that suffering and glory go together. Peter opposed Jesus’ going to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 16:22) for he was thinking like a human being. After all, most people want to escape suffering and death. So Jesus had to teach Peter that apart from His suffering and death, there could be no glory. Peter certainly learned the lesson, for in his very first epistle he repeatedly emphasized suffering and glory (1 Peter 1:6-8, 11; 4:12-16; 5:1-4).

Discipleship means denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Christ (Matthew 16:24), but you cannot do that if you selfishly stay on the mount of glory. When Jesus said that anyone who wants to be His followers must do the above, He was saying that whatever happened to Him would happen to them as well. If there was a cross in His future, there would be one in their future.

*Note: Today, a cross is an accepted symbol of love and sacrifice, but in those days, the cross was a horrible means of capital punishment. The Romans who came up with this would not even impose it on a Roman citizen, for this terrible death was reserved only for their enemies.

Philippians 2:8-9

By the way, we need to keep in mind that Jesus is talking about discipleship in Matthew 16:24-26, not sonship. We are not saved by taking up a cross and following Jesus, but because we have placed our trust in the Savior who died on the cross for our sins. We become children of God first, and then we become His disciples.

To become a disciple, we need to “turn from our selfish ways” in order to give ourselves wholly to Christ and share in His shame and death, as described in Philippians 3:7-10, Galatians 2:20 and 1 Peter 4:12-16). The good news is, suffering always leads to glory and that is why Jesus ended His sermon with reference to His glorious Kingdom (Matthew 16:28).

4) The Glory of His Submission

When Jesus told His disciples that He would have to suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed but be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21), Peter could not understand why the Son of God would submit to evil people and willingly suffer.

The transfiguration was God’s way of teaching Peter and the other disciples that Jesus is glorified when we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. The Christian’s philosophy is “Yield yourself to God!” in contrast to that of the world’s which is “Save yourself!” And so, as Jesus stood there in glory, He proved to the three disciples that surrender always leads to glory.

Jesus, who was in very nature God, humbled Himself and submitted in complete obedience to the Father, even to the point of death on the cross. As a result, God the Father exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:6-10). Jesus has set the perfect example of ultimate obedience for us to follow. If we do as Jesus had done, that is, submit to God in all our ways, God is glorified.

Final Thoughts

We may have had glorious, personal experiences of encounter with the Lord Jesus during our devotion and worship; we may even have a spiritual “transfiguration” experience each day as we walk with the Lord. But as wonderful as “mountaintop” experiences are, they are not the basis for a consistent Christian life.

When we surrender our body, mind, and will to God, He will transform us from within so that we are not conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2). As we behold our Savior in the Word, we are “transfigured” by the Spirit. This experience is known in theology as “sanctification,” the process by which we become more like the Lord, which is the Father’s goal for each of His children (1 John 3:2).

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

Belief in the deity of Jesus Christ is essential to salvation (Romans 10:9; John 8:24). Yet, this precious doctrine is attacked mercilessly not only in the west but even within the “Christian world.” In this article, I will be presenting the arguments and Scriptures used by these opponents against the deity of Christ.

Jesus Christ is not God …


1.
Because He had flesh and bones, and God being a spirit, has neither flesh nor bones – John 4:24; Luke 24:39

Answer: Jesus Christ as man had both flesh and bones but as God, He was spirit.

This objection arises from the problem of the dual nature of the Savior. In order for the invisible God to become visible, He must become flesh and bones. Jesus assumed flesh and bones merely for the incarnation. As God He is eternal but to be our Redeemer it was necessary that He become a partaker of humanity.

Jesus is fully God and fully man

a) Jesus is a dual personality.

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5

b) God was manifest in the flesh.

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in
the flesh, 
justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16


2.
Because Christ had a beginning and God had no beginning – John 8:42; Psalm 90:2

Answer: Jesus as a man had a beginning when He was conceived of the Holy Spirit but Jesus as God is without beginning and without end.

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” – John 8:58

The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from beginning, before there was even an earth.” – Proverbs 8:22-23


3.
Because He has been created, and God isn’t; God is the creator – Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14

Answer: The correct translation of Revelation 3:14 is something like this, “He was the witness of the beginning of the creation of God.” Jesus is not a creation but a witness of the creation.

We find no evidence in the Bible that the Father created Jesus or that Jesus is a “lesser God” than the Father. The Bible reveals that from eternity Jesus has the same substance, glory, power, and authority as the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” – Colossians 1:17

When Jesus is called the “first born of all creation,” it does not mean that Jesus was created. Rather, it speaks of the preexistence of Christ. He is not a creature but the eternal Creator.

And every creature which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I hear saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.” – Revelation 5:13

A created being cannot and will not receive worship due only to God.


4.
Because God is not a man (Hosea 11:9) and man is not God (Ezekiel 28:2), but Jesus was called man – John 8:40; 1 Timothy 2:5

Answer: Hosea does not say God could not assume human form of the body and flesh. Nothing is too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17-18). Since God is all powerful He can be manifest in the flesh.

Here’s a video of Nabeel Qureshi answering a Muslim’s question on the Trinity.

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:23

Jesus was both true God and true man in one person without an intermingling of the two natures. Emmanuel means “God with us.”


5.
Because He called God His Father – Matthew 27:46; John 20:17

Answer: The relationship between Jesus and God the Father has always been that of a “father and son.” So it’s not surprising that even as the human person, Jesus called God His Father. In Hebrews 1:8, God calls Jesus “God” but that does not lessen the Father’s position of deity.

But to the son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” – Hebrews 1:8

The relationship between God and Jesus Christ


6.
Because the Father sent Jesus to earth – John 8:42

Answer:  Jesus volunteered to come. But even so, the Father sending the Son to earth does not lessen His position as the Almighty God.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

The co-equal, co-eternal persons of the Trinity are one in divine nature. However, each divine person has a distinct role in salvation and a voluntary submission of roles in the work of redemption. The Son took on human flesh and submitted to the Father by giving His life on the cross.


7.
Because God is His head – 1 Corinthians 11:3

Answer: God the Father and Jesus have the same exact nature; they’re both divine but their relationship is different. God the Father is the head of Christ because Christ was eternally begotten of the Father. But this does not mean that the Father is greater or higher than the Son.

“And now, O Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” – John 17:5

In a triumvirate, it is necessary that one be the chairman but that does not mean that he is greater than the other two. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal but for administrative purposes, the Father acts as the executive administrator.


8.
Christ is not God, but He is the Son of God, just as we may become sons of God – John 3:16

Answer:  When we call Jesus the Son of God we mean that He is of the same nature as God. Fathers create things unlike themselves, but they beget sons like them.

C.S. Lewis explained it this way:

When you make (or create), you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, and man makes a computer. But when you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a bird begets eggs which will turn into little birds, and a beaver begets little beavers.

So when we say, “Jesus is the Son of God,” we simply mean that Jesus is God.

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

By conversion, we become a “son of God” (John 1:12), but Jesus Christ is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16), a unique and special position. God’s Son is equal to the Father (Philippians 2:6), and the saints become an heir with Christ.


9.
Because the Father gave Him power – Matthew 28:18

Answer:  Jesus was, always has been, and always will be God. As God, Jesus has the same power as the Father and the Spirit. When Jesus said that all power and authority has been given to Him, that would include the power that brought the universe into existence.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” – Colossians 1:16

In Philippians 2:5-8, the Son surrenders this power and God restores or returns it to Him after the resurrection. It was always His but He voluntarily yielded it.


10.
Because He was made Lord by God – Acts 2:36

Answer:  How could Jesus be made Lord if He was already the Lord? Jesus was not made Lord by God in the sense that He was made into something He was not already. He was not made Lord in the sense of a promotion.

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” – Colossians 2:9

Acts 2:36 is dealing with Jesus’ status as a man-made under the law and in a lower position. It is in that sense that He was made Lord and Christ by God the Father.


11.
Because He is subject to God and He says that the Father is greater than Him – 1 Corinthians 15:28; John 14:28

Answer:  John 14:28 has often been thought to mean that Jesus is something less than the Father. However, this statement is not referring to Christ’s nature but rather His position. When Jesus came to earth, He came in the form of a servant. He voluntarily chose subjection; it was not imposed on Him against His will.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:8


12.
Because Christ died and God being immortal cannot die – 1 Timothy 1:17

Answer:  People say that Jesus can’t be God because He died and God cannot die. We have to understand that Jesus has two natures: God and man. It was the human nature that died on the cross, not the divine nature.

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” – Hebrews 2:9

Jesus as man died but Jesus as God could not and did not die (Hebrews 2:9, 14). In the person of Jesus Christ, who is a man with the divine nature, we see a biological death, not the death of the divine being who is God.


13.
Because He prayed to the Father and addressed Him as the only true God – John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6

Answer:  This objection ignores the fact that the Son co-exists with the Father; they are one. We need to understand that the Father and the Son had an eternal relationship before Jesus took upon Himself the form of a man.

Jesus prays to the Father - John 17:3

Being fully equal with the Father in nature, Jesus’ manner must be seen more as a supplication and conversation rather than a lesser being who is praying to a greater being.

*Related Article: Death Penalty for Sin, Eternal Life in Christ 

Conclusion

Nothing has changed after 2,000 years. The attack against the deity of Jesus Christ persisted up until today. While the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is God, there are still many groups that deny His deity. From Muslims who teach that Jesus was just a prophet, to the Jehovah Witnesses who reduce Him into a messenger sent by the Father.

The doctrine of Christ’s deity is important to the Christian faith as it not only authenticates the authority and inspiration of Scripture; it also the basis for a believer’s eternal salvation. In other words, if Jesus is not fully God, we have no salvation and ultimately no Christianity.


*Recommended Resource: Forgotten Trinity, The – eBook By James R. White

The Trinity is a basic teaching of the Christian faith. It defines God’s essence and describes how He relates to us. The Forgotten Trinity is a concise, understandable explanation of what the Trinity is and why it matters. It refutes cultic distortions of God. It shows how a grasp of this significant teaching leads to renewed worship and deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

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


Reference Materials:

100 Bible Lessons by Alban Douglas
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

 

 

 

What is the Significance of the Resurrection?

What is the Significance of the Resurrection?

In my previous article, “What if Jesus did not rise from the dead,” I said that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christianity. The Christian faith collapses if the resurrection is proven to be a hoax, because the validity of Christianity depends on the historical truth that Jesus was raised from the dead. But other than that, what is the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

The boast and glory of Christianity is the empty tomb because Christianity is the only religion with a living originator. Buddha is dead; Brahma (Hinduism) is dead; Mohammad (Islam) is dead; Marx (Communism) is dead.

The Significance of the Resurrection

Does it really matter that Jesus was raised from the dead? Isn’t it enough that He suffered and died by crucifixion in order to redeem the world? No!

A. The resurrection guarantees us that we will not remain dead but that we too will be resurrected.

After planting a church in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul together with Silas and Timothy left the city unwillingly and moved on to Athens; they intended to return to the city but were prevented (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18). Finally, Paul and Silas sent Timothy from Athens to see how the Thessalonian Christians were doing.

When Timothy returned, he reported that they were doing well. Except for one problem that concerned questions and a certain amount of anxiety that some of them were having with regard to their loved ones who had died.

Do mourn like the people who have no hope

The Thessalonians rightly understood that Christ was going to return; however, they had not considered the possibility that some of their loved ones and friends would die before it occurred. All sorts of questions were going through their minds: “What would happen to our loved ones who had died since trusting Christ? Will they miss out on the resurrection? Will those who are alive when Christ returns have an advantage over those who have died?”

So Paul educates these believers about the status of their brethren who have passed away and assures them that all those who died in Christ will be raised up when Christ returns. He told them not mourn like the people who have no hope because when Jesus returns, God will bring with Him those who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

He then goes on to say that the dead in Christ will be resurrected first and those who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet Him ahead of those who died. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then together with them, those who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

The dead in Christ will rise first

*** The Christian doctrine of resurrection assures us that physical death is not the end; death is not the termination of human existence. The grave is not the end. The body goes to sleep but the soul goes to be with the Lord (Philippians 1:20-24). When the Lord returns, He will bring the soul with Him, will raise the body in glory and will unite the body and soul into one being to share His glory forever.

B. The resurrection of Christ gives us an assurance that our salvation is an accomplished fact.

We have been separated from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2) and we are bound to suffer eternally in hell. But because God loved us so much, He made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and be reconciled back to God. Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sins in full at Mount Calvary in order for that broken fellowship to be restored (John 3:16).

However, our salvation is not guaranteed without the resurrection. Our salvation was completed when Jesus died on the cross (John 19:28-30) but the resurrection confirms it. We can be confident that we have been forgiven of our sins and have eternal life because Jesus did not remain on the grave.

The Gospel

Jesus conquered death. Sin is the sting that results in death but thank God for giving us the victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Salvation rests on the resurrection of Christ but one cannot be saved without believing in it (Romans 10:9).

>>> Read: What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 

C. The resurrection proves the deity of Christ.

The deity of Jesus Christ is one of the most attacked doctrines of the Christian faith. There have been a lot of arguments against the deity of Christ, which I will be tackling in my upcoming articles. But the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the strongest and supreme argument that Jesus is God.

Romans 1:4 specifically states that the resurrection declares Jesus as the Son of God. If Jesus were fake, a liar, impostor or a mere man, God would have left Him in the grave until the day of final judgment and condemned Him to hell.

Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega

We also read in Romans 6:4 (NLT) that it was God the Father Himself that raised Jesus from the dead. The Father thus proclaims conclusively to the world the deity of Jesus Christ by raising Him from the dead.

If the resurrection is true, and it is, then Jesus is indeed the Son of God. This is the miracle on which all other miracles stand or fall.

“Resurrection is the greatest power in the world outside of the power of prayer. It surpasses the power of the atom, hydrogen, cobalt or uranium (used in nuclear reactors). These elements have the power to destroy; resurrection has the power to give life to the dead.” – Alban Douglas (One Hundred Bible Lessons)

But while the resurrection provides assurance of salvation and a living hope, it also provides assurance of judgment because the resurrection marks Jesus Christ out as God’s Son and God’s provision of grace for our sins.

There is nothing left for those who reject Christ, but to look fearfully for a day of judgment. While believers are assured of resurrection unto life, unbelievers are assured of a second death (Revelation 21:8).

Conclusion

If you can explode the historical truth that Jesus was raised from the dead, the Christian faith collapses because the resurrection is the basis on which Christianity stands or falls.

Christians can be confident that they will all be transformed when the last trumpet is blown. Those who have died will be raised to live forever and those who are living will be transformed into bodies that will never die (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

The heavenly kingdom is not made for the kind of bodies we now have, bodies of flesh and blood. So when Jesus returns as He promised, the bodies of living believers will be instantly transformed like His body and the dead believers shall be raised with new glorified bodies. Our new bodies will not be subject to decay or death.

God's kingdom is not of this world

This is the hope that believers have because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ was raised and became the firstfruits, then all who belong to Christ will be raised when He comes back (1 Corinthians 15:23).

The important question now is: Do you know Jesus Christ? Did you receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior? Have you placed your trust and hope in Him and in what He has accomplished through His death and resurrection? Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Him though he may die shall live (John 11:25).

Act now before it’s too late, for today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Confess Jesus as Lord and believe that His suffering, death and resurrection guarantee you of eternal life with God (Romans 10:9).

Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb

Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb

Passover or “Pesach” in Hebrew is a feast celebrated by Jews all around the world commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. But Passover and the story of the exodus have great significance for Christians too. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Origin of Passover

The origin of Passover is outlined in the book of Exodus. God promised to deliver His people, the Israelites, from Egyptian bondage and slavery (Exodus 6:6). God sent Moses to Pharaoh, the King of Egypt with the command to “let the people of Israel go” (Exodus 6:10-11).

When King Pharaoh refused, God brought ten plagues on the land of Egypt: 1) plague of blood, 2) plague of frogs, 3) plague of gnats, 4) plague of flies, 5) plague against livestock, 6) plague of boils, 7) plague of hail8) plague of locusts, 9) plague of darkness and 10) the death of all the firstborn in Egypt. The night of the tenth and worst plague was the night of the first Passover.

God instructed every Israelite household to select a year-old male lamb or a young goat without blemish for a sacrifice (Exodus 12:5) and keep it in their house for four days. They are to slaughter the lamb on the night of the “pass over,” making sure that none of its bones are broken, and sprinkle some of its blood on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat them (Exodus 12:7, 22).

Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb

The Israelites were also given specific instructions on how to eat the lamb, “with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. You should eat the meal in urgency for it is the Lord’s Passover” (Exodus 12:11). In other words, the people had to be ready to travel because God will set them completely free from the Egyptians.

On that fateful night at midnight, God passed through the land of Egypt and struck down all the firstborn, both man and beasts to execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12; Exodus 12:29), and there was a great cry in Egypt for there was not a house where there was not one dead (Exodus 12:30).

But when the Lord passed through the nations to strike the Egyptians, He “passed over” every household that has the lamb’s blood on its door and did not allow the destroyer to strike it (Exodus 12:23). The blood was a sign for the Israelites on their houses for God to “pass over” them and not be destroyed. So in a very real way, the Israelites were saved from death because of the blood of the lamb.

Jesus became the Passover Lamb

Going into the New Testament, the writers referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Passover Lamb several times (John 1:29, 35-36; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:6, 13:8). The significance of the phrase “Lamb of God” as it refers to Jesus is that He is the sacrifice for sin which God Himself has provided.

Just as each Hebrew family was instructed to select an animal and keep it for four days in their home to make sure it was perfect before sacrificing it to the Lord for Passover; Jesus came and dwelt among Israel. Just before Passover, Jesus moved into Jerusalem where the Temple was built along with the rest of Israel (The Triumphal Entry – Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19). Living in Jerusalem before Passover was like the lamb living in the family’s house.

In the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14), we see a foreshadowing of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. At the instruction of God, Abraham took his son Isaac to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him there as a burnt offering to God. When the boy asked where the sacrificial lamb was, Abraham replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8).

Abraham was willing to offer his beloved son Isaac, but God stopped him and provided a ram to be sacrificed instead. On a greater scale, God provided the Lamb for us – His own Son. Two thousand years ago at Mount Calvary, God offered His beloved Son to be the sacrificial Lamb for us; a sacrifice that is truly sufficient for our atonement (Hebrews 9:12, 14).

*Read the story of Abraham and Isaac >>> When God Tests Your Faith 

Abraham and Isaac

The people of Israel were familiar with lambs for the sacrifices because at Passover, each family had to have a lamb, and during the year, two lambs a day were sacrificed at the Temple altar, plus all the other lambs brought for personal sacrifices. But while those lambs were brought by men to men, Jesus is God’s Lamb given by God to men.

The blood of the lamb in the Old Testament did not only serve as the protector of the Israelites but it is also seen as the atoner for them so that they could commune with God. It is because of the blood of the lamb that they were spared from death.

Jesus’ sacrifice does the same for us. It is Jesus’ blood that atones for our sins and restores our relationship with God. Just as the Passover lamb’s blood applied to the Israelites doorposts caused the destroyer to “pass over” each household, the blood of Christ applied causes God’s judgment to “pass over” sinners to give life to believers (Romans 6:23).

Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament sacrificial system when He became the “once for all” offering for our sins (Hebrews 10:1-18). It is by His sacrifice that our communion with God is restored and by His blood covering that we are spared from eternal death.

Conclusion

The Passover was instituted by God to protect the Israelites from the final plague, the death of the firstborn. A lamb without defect was killed and its blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of the house, as a sign for God to “pass over” them, sparing the firstborn of that house.

Today, Jesus is our Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for us. Jesus’ death was the fulfillment of the original Passover night. His blood not only saves the firstborn son’s life, but every person who trusts in Him. It is because of His blood that our sins are forgiven and we are spared from God’s judgment – everlasting death.

As the first Passover marked the Israelites’ release from Egyptian slavery, so the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin and death (Romans 8:2). While the Jews celebrate the first Passover as an annual feast, Christians are to memorialize the Lord’s death in communion until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Holy Communion/Lord's Supper

Hope for the Hopeless (Lyrics and chords)

Hope for the Hopeless (Lyrics and chords)

One of the most powerful truths that we can offer whenever we are placed in a position to engage with the world in order to defend our Christian commitment is true hope. For only Jesus Christ offers real hope for the hopeless.

Someone once said that people can survive with little food, water, clothing, shelter, transportation, and even affection but not without hope. Hope is the essence of the Christian faith. We hope that God answers us when we call to Him; we hope that our labor will not be in vain and we hope that someday we will go to heaven to spend eternity with God.

What is Hope?

Outside of the Christian context, the word “hope” entails wishful thinking or the desire to receive something we might not receive. For instance, we may hope for a better job or good health, without assurance if we will receive them. We may hope for a better day yet we do not really know what a day may bring.

Jesus Christ is our Hope

But the Christian hope refers to an assurance concerning the future; it is a desire for something we are certain to receive. No matter how uncertain our circumstances, we know for certain that God will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS Lyrics and Chords

Here’s Pastora Rachel Chungalao’s rendition of the song “Hope for the Hopeless” + “Awiting Makalangit” by the Free Believers in Christ Concert Team.


Please like and share, God bless!

What is the Character of Christ?

What is the Character of Christ?

We often pray or sing, “I want to be like Jesus.” But however noble this desire maybe, what exactly do we mean by this? What is the character of Christ that we must imitate and must be conformed to as it says in Romans 8:29?

In order to be like Jesus and be conformed (or transformed) into His image, we are to emulate Him in more than just one point. And we are only able to do this if we know who Christ really is. That is why we need to know the character of Christ.

This article is an attempt to tell what kind of person Jesus really was according to the Scriptures.

A. Loving

In the Bible, our Savior’s love was manifested in two ways: to His Father and to mankind.

To the Father

Christ’s love to the Father was evident in His complete obedience to Him. Anyone reading the gospel of John cannot but be impressed with the place the Son takes in obedience to His Father’s will. Where every other man sought to do his own will, Jesus sought only His Father’s will (John 5:30; John 6:38; John 17:4; John 19:30).

Jesus Christ delighted in His Father’s will, even if it meant death for Him, for we hear Him speak of it as an expression of His love to the Father in obedience, where He says in John 14:31, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do.”

* Through His death, Jesus not only kept the law to love the Lord His God with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself, but His obedience to His God and Father infinitely transcended what was required of man by the law; for Jesus’ life of obedience exhibited God’s nature and character of love.

What is the character of Christ
Photo Credits: Revolution Church

To mankind

Christ showed His love first by coming to earth from heaven. The opening verses of the gospel of John and Philippians 2:5-8 present Jesus Christ in divine glory, existing in eternity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, as the creator of all things, and as the one who has life in Himself. Yet, He willingly left His throne, emptied Himself of His Godhead form to become a man that He might pay the penalty for our sin and save us from punishment in the lake of fire.

The supreme proof of the love of Christ was voluntarily dying for us (John 15:13). Sometimes people may give their lives willingly for a friend, relative or other “good” people who they deem as worthy, but Christ’s love goes beyond that.

The love of Christ toward mankind was demonstrated in so many ways, but He ultimately proved it through His suffering, death and resurrection. Christ’s love extends even to those who are most unworthy of it. He gave the most He could give for those who deserved it the least. Romans 5:6-8 says that Christ died for the ungodly and He died for us even when we were still in our sins.

* Knowing how much Christ loves us and what He had to sacrifice in order to save us, must compel us to love Him by submitting to Him and obeying Him. As Christ showed His love to the Father through His obedience, we also show our love to Him by obeying Him (John 14:15; 23-24).

John 14:15

* How do we love like Jesus? Only He can provide the strength and ability to give the same love to another person. God loves us unconditionally and He wants us to love Him and love others the same way (Matthew 22:37-39). To love others unconditionally means putting others’ needs above our own and doing what’s best for them regardless of how we feel.

B. Holy

Holiness means free from defilement; so to say that Christ was absolutely holy is to say that He is absolutely pure. The New Testament teaches clearly that Jesus was and is absolutely holy, for He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; and 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Moreover, Jesus did not commit any sin and always did which was correct and pure. He manifested his holiness in loving righteousness and hating inequity as seen in His cleansing of the temple (John 2:13-22) and His denunciation of sin and hypocrisy (Matthew 7:3-5; Matthew 23:27; Romans 12:9).

Jesus hates sin so much that He was willing to die on Calvary to defeat sin and offer righteousness to all who believe in Him (Romans 3:25).

“The sinlessness of Christ does not merely serve as an example to us. It is fundamental and necessary for our salvation. Had Christ not been ‘the lamb without blemish’ He not only could not have secured anyone’s salvation, but would have needed a Savior Himself. The multiple sins Christ bore on the cross required a perfect sacrifice and that sacrifice had to be made by one who was sinless.” R.C. Sproul (Essential Truths of the Christian Faith)

* God calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16) and to be holy means to be “set apart” or to be “separate.” When God calls us to holiness, it means that we are to be set apart from the world unto God, separate from all sin. The Bible exhorts us to not conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2) but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

We are called to be like Christ

* This is the stage in our salvation called “sanctification,” where we grow in our spiritual walk with the Lord by reading and meditating the word of God and applying them in our lives.

C. Meek and humble

Meekness

Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

The concept of biblical meekness must not be confused with wimpiness or fear, lack of strength and moral character. Meekness is the attitude of the mind that is opposed to harshness and contentiousness. It manifests itself in gentleness and tenderness toward others. Jesus was meek and yet He spoke out boldly, even knowing that it would lead to torture and execution.

Jesus Christ manifested meekness in not breaking the bruised reed or quenching the smoking flax (Matthew 12:20), in his gentle and tender reproof of Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him (John 13:21; 27), in His gentle rebuke of doubting Thomas (John 20:29), in his tender rebuke of Peter’s self-confidence and unfaithfulness, and in praying for His murderers (Luke 23:34).

Humility

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

Jesus was not only meek, He was also humble. But you might say, “Christ isn’t humble. How could He be humble when He is Lord of creation? If being humble means seeing oneself lower than others, then of course God cannot be humble.”

What does it mean to be humble? Like meekness, humility is a word that is often misunderstood and a quality that is often viewed as weakness. Funk and Wagnalls defines humble as being free from pride or vanity; being modest, respectful and unpretentious.

Jesus Christ was humble for He sought not His own glory (John 8:50), washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5), kept silent under outrageous charges (Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:23), associated with publicans and sinners (Luke 15:1-2) and humbled himself even to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).

Jesus washes His disciples' feet
Jesus washes His disciples’ feet

* 1 Peter 3:15 is a text that challenges Christians to defend their faith; we are to make a case for Christ but present it with gentleness and respect. Christians are not called on to condemn those who are curious about our hopefulness. Nor are we vindictive, vengeful, proud or insulting to those who disagree. We display a Christ-like character of meekness and humility by explaining it without harshness or dismissiveness.

D. Compassionate

The word compassion, as it is used in the Bible means, “to be moved inwardly, to yearn with tender mercy, affection, pity and empathy.” It refers to the deepest possible feelings.

The Bible tells us that God is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:15). Jesus Christ exemplified all of His Father’s attributes and characters, including compassion. The gospels tell us how Christ was moved deeply in his inner being by the needs of those around Him and He demonstrated it with actions.

When Lazarus died, Jesus felt compassion for His friends and wept alongside them (John 11:33-35). Jesus was moved with compassion by the suffering of others that He healed the large crowds who came to Him (Matthew 14:14), healed the blind (Matthew 20:34; John 9) and cleansed the lepers (Mark 1:40-41; Luke 5:12-15).

We also read in Matthew 9:36 and Mark 6:34 that Jesus was moved with compassion over the multitudes. When He saw them wondering and weak without a shepherd, He saw the great work that needed to be done and He started teaching them.

* Compassion is not just pity and sympathy; it needs to be accompanied by a desire to help change things. Compassion moves us to do something! It is not enough to have pity for someone. We need a deep awareness of the suffering of others and have the desire to do something for others.

Be compassionate

E. Prayerful

Jesus was a man of prayer. Being one of us while on this earth, Jesus was subjected to the same temptations, joys, sorrows and frustrations that affect us all today. And through it all, Jesus did not simply offer up prayers and petitions; He prayed with passion.

Why did Jesus pray? Prayer was an important part of Jesus’ life because it was His way of communicating with God the Father. Having an eternal relationship with the Father, Jesus enjoyed talking to Him continually and regularly. Jesus’ prayer life also serves as a model for Christians to follow. Just like our Lord Jesus, we need to pray and rely on the power of God every day to help us walk with Him, whether in a season of great success or great trial.

How did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed all night (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12), He prayed in submission to the Father (Matthew 26:42), He prayed openly to the Father for miracles (Matthew 14:19; John 11:41-42), He prayed before great experiences such as baptism, temptation, etc. (Luke 3:21; John 6:15) and He prayed for others (Matthew 19:13; John 17:6-12).

Jesus not only taught His disciples to pray but also told us to do likewise (Matthew 6:9-13). And although Jesus sometimes prayed with His disciples (Matthew 14:13; Luke 9:28; Luke 22:31-32), He often sought to be alone in prayer (Luke 5:16, and He ended His earthly life with a prayer (Luke 23:46). Jesus Christ is still praying for us even now in heaven at His Father’s right hand.

No man prayed as Jesus prayed. To Him, prayer occupied no secondary place. Prayer was the secret of His power, the law of His life, the inspiration of His toil and the source of His wealth, His joy, His communion and His strength.

* If we are to act like Christ, our prayer lives must be conformed to His. Jesus modeled a lifestyle of prayer and He is still our example today. We do not have to sweat blood in our prayers but we can be passionate about prayer. The Bible exhorts us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), whether we need anything from God or not, for God loves it when we earnestly and passionately seek and trust Him.

Pray for one another

* To pray without ceasing does not mean we put our life on hold and be on our knees all the time. Prayer is our means of communicating with God, which we can do anytime, anywhere. But even if we can talk with God upon waking up or while getting ready for work, in the car and even when we are at work, it is still important to set aside a specific time of the day to commune with God. This is what is known as our “quiet time,” our appointment with God in order to pour out our heart to Him, worship Him and listen from Him.

* In the same way that Jesus prayed for others, we also ought to pray for one another and for everyone with all prayers, petitions and supplications (Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:1). How is your prayer life???

Conclusion

The New Testament reveals Jesus Christ to be the perfect standard by which to measure our character, personal growth and development as a Christian. But how are we supposed to imitate Christ and be conformed to His image?

If we are going to develop the character of Christ, we must aim to really do it. Let us build our life on the teachings of Jesus by applying the principles of Scriptures to our thoughts and conduct, conforming to the will of God in all things.

When we allow the word of God to mold and renew our mind, a transformation occurs and we begin to take on the qualities of character that every child of God should have.