Category: Christology

5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

5 Hindrances to Answered Prayers

People often ask, “Does God answer all of our prayers?” Many times Christians complain that God did not answer their prayer. They prayed for a particular thing but did not receive what they had asked for. Does this mean that God does not always answer our prayers? What should we conclude when our prayers go unanswered?

God Always Answers Our Prayers

While there are complaints about certain prayers that are left unanswered, such is not the case. The Bible promises that God hears the prayers of those who believe in Him and answers all of them. His answer consists of one of three things; yes, no, or wait.

When God Says YES

Many times God will say “yes” and gives us what we asked for. Let’s take King Hezekiah’s example in 2 Kings 20:1-6. Hezekiah was very ill and at the point of death when God sent Isaiah to inform him of his impending death. He was told to put his house in order because he was going to die and not recover.

Immediately, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord while weeping bitterly. But before Isaiah could leave the King’s palace, God answered Hezekiah’s prayer and sent the prophet to tell him that He has added 15 years to his life.

Hindrances to an Answered Prayer

When God Says NO

However, there are times when God will say “no” and will not grant our prayer request. In other words, not everything we ask for in prayer will be given. Nevertheless, we need to remember that when God says no to our prayers, He does it for our good. After all, God always has our best interest at heart.

The apostle Paul asked the Lord three times to remove a particular problem that he had – a thorn in the flesh. And each time God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). In this case, Paul’s prayer was indeed answered but the answer was “No.”

With the answer of no, God promised Paul that His grace would be sufficient to help him cope with his problem.

When God Says WAIT

There is also the possibility that God will not give us an immediate yes or no answer and tells us to “wait.” However, a delayed answer is not necessarily a “No” answer. We find this in the example of Hannah, Samuel’s mother.

For many years, Hannah prayed to the Lord for a child but did not receive what she asked for (1 Samuel 1:1-8). Finally, in the bitterness of her soul, she wept and prayed in anguish for the Lord to give her a son (1 Samuel 1:9-11). Her prayer was immediately answered and she conceived a son (1 Samuel 1:19-20).

God did not grant Hannah’s request the first time she asked. She waited for years before her son was born. What can we learn from Hannah? God will answer our prayers in His timing, not ours.

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Hindrances to Answered Prayers

Why do so many prayers seem to go unanswered? In other words, why does God say no to our requests? The Bible gives us several reasons as to why this is so.

1. Sin

Psalm 66:18 indicates that sin can hinder our prayers from being answered in the affirmative. We read something similar in Isaiah 59:1-2. This truth is illustrated in John 9:31-32. The blind man healed by Jesus said instructively said that God hears those who worship Him and do His will. However, He will not listen to those who are in sin.

Does this mean we have to be completely free from sin before approaching God in prayer? Of course not! Otherwise, none of us would have our prayers answered. Each of us has certain sinful areas that we must deal with. But we can have the confidence to approach God through Christ, not our own merit.

2. Lack of Faith or Unbelief

A lack of faith can keep our prayers from being answered.

James, the Lord’s brother, wrote about the importance of exercising faith. He said, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

When we pray, we need to do it in faith. We need to believe and do not doubt that the Lord will answer our requests. God has promised to do so and He always keeps His promises.

"Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

3. Unforgiveness

Unable to forgive those who might have wronged us can hinder our prayers. Jesus stressed the importance of forgiving others in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Harboring unforgiveness in our heart can affect our daily relationship with God, which in turn will affect our prayer life. The verse above clearly states that we need to forgive others for what they have done to us so that our heavenly Father may also forgive our sins.

Furthermore, Paul wrote that we need to forgive others just as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). As much as we are able, we need to forgive those who have wronged us.

4. Disobedience

God will answer our prayers if we remain in an obedient relationship with Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).

To remain in Christ and stay joined to Him is to keep His commandments. John wrote of this in 1 John 3:21-22.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

This just goes to say that disobeying God’s commands can keep our prayers from being answered. We must keep in mind that obedience to the Lord is the key.

5. Not in Accordance with God’s Will

Often times, we get a “no” in answer to our prayers because they are not in accordance with the will of God. John emphasized the necessity of praying according to God’s will rather than our own in 1 John 5:14.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

We should not insist that our desires must always be met because most of the time our desires are wrongly motivated. Our desires must match up with God’s desires.

Closing Words

God does hear and answer all our prayers. But that does not necessarily mean He always says “yes.” There will be times when God answers us with a “no” and when that happens, we consider it an unanswered prayer.

The Bible mentions at least 5 hindrances to answered prayers; sin, unforgiveness, lack of faith, disobedience, and asking something that does not line up with God’s will or desire.

Several other reasons why God does not answer our prayers include marital problems (1 Peter 3:7), asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3), and spiritual warfare (Daniel 10:12-14; Ephesians 6:12).

Had there been times when you asked God for something and He said no? What do you think was the reason behind it?

Please feel free to share your testimony in the comment section below.


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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.

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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!

A Bible Study on the Rapture

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture which is the next great event on God’s prophetic calendar is undeniably one of the most debated issues in Christian theology. Although every Christian denomination affirms its belief in the eventual return of Christ, there exists a wide variety of opinions concerning when and how Christ will return.

In this article, we will examine the biblical doctrine of the rapture.

The Meaning of Rapture in the Bible

Those who object to the rapture are quick to point out that the word rapture is not in the Bible. I must say that’s a fair concern. However, the word Trinity is not in the Bible either, or even the word Bible for that matter. Yet we believe that these things are very real.

So, where does the concept of the rapture come from?

The term rapture comes from the words “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Is the Word Rapture in the Bible

Our English word rapture is from the Latin word rapio or raptus, meaning “to snatch up, to seize, or to carry off by force.” When the great scholar Jerome translated the Greek NT into Latin in the 4th century, he translated the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 into the Latin word raeptius. This word was eventually brought into the English as Rapture.

So, while it’s true that the word rapture does not occur in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 clearly contain the concept of a catching away of living believers to meet the Lord.

The rapture could just be well called the “catching away of the church,” “the snatching away of the church,” “the translation of the church,” or “the harpazo of the church.” But “Rapture of the church” is an excellent description and has become the most common title for this event.

Where is Rapture in the Bible?

The rapture of believers is an important biblical concept that appears in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The idea of believers being “caught up” by God is not limited to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. There are several places throughout the Bible where people were “snatched up” from earth to heaven – providing insight regarding aspects of our future rapture.

There are seven raptures of specific people clearly described in Scripture. These involve Enoch, Elijah, Jesus, Philip, Paul, and the two witnesses. It’s possible that John was raptured as well, which would give us eight.

In light of these raptures, any serious theological understanding of biblical eschatology must include the idea of believers being “caught up” into heaven. Christians may differ on their understanding of the timing of the rapture to come, but not the reality that it will take place.

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Interestingly, some critics argue there is no rapture at all for the church. Yet we see the word we refer to as the rapture used 14 times in the New Testament: Matthew 11:12; 12:29; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12, 28, 29; Acts 8:39; 23:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 23; Revelation 12:5.

Of these 14 uses of harpazo, four refer to an actual rapture by God. In addition to believers, both dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:17), these include Philip (Acts 8:39), Paul (2 Corinthians 2:2-3), and the male child (Revelation 12:5).

In addition, several raptures have already taken place in Scripture or are specifically mentioned in the future.

Raptures in the Old Testament

In addition to references to the word translated “rapture” in the New Testament, the Old Testament reveals two occasions on which the Lord “snatched up” a person into heaven. On both occasions, the person was taken alive directly to heaven with the Lord. Thus, the idea of a miraculous rapture of God’s people has precedence in the Old Testament.

Enoch

The first record of such an event has to do with Enoch. He is an intriguing character in Scripture mentioned six times in Genesis, once in a genealogy in 1 Chronicles 1:3, and three times in the New Testament (Luke 3:37; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14).

Enoch was the son of Jared (Genesis 5:18) and became the father of Methuselah at the age of 65, and later he had other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:21-22). Living in the time of the early patriarchs, he lived to the age of 365. Scripture then notes, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

Where is the Word Rapture Mentioned in the Bible

Elijah

The second Old Testament person taken alive directly into heaven was the prophet Elijah. Elijah, meaning, “my God is Yahweh,” was a 9th century BC prophet from Tishbe, in Gilead, on the east bank of the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 17:7). Elijah’s early ministry involved several confrontations with the idolatrous Ahab and Jezebel, the king and queen of Israel. This reached a climax at Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to call down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:19-39).

Despite God’s miraculous intervention, Jezebel was determined to have Elijah killed, so he fled to the desert and hid in a cave (1 Kings 19:1-9). There, God called Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:15). Leaving the cave, he found Elisha and “threw his mantle on him” (1 Kings 19:19). For about the next ten years they ministered together, training “sons of the prophets” (disciples) in the various cities of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 2:3).

Second Kings 2 begins, “And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal” (2 Kings 2:1). His servant Elisha refused to leave his side, staying with Elijah as they walked to Bethel, Jericho, and across the Jordan River after Elijah parted the water by striking it with his cloak (1 Kings 2:8).

2 Kings 2:11-12 report, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more.”

Raptures in the New Testament

Seven raptures are recorded in the New Testament. These include the ascension of Jesus (Greek, harpasthê) in Revelation 12:50, the temporary raptures of Philip and Paul, the calling up (Greek, anaba) of John, the resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:12, and the rapture of all believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Jesus

First, Jesus ascended to heaven following His resurrection. This event known as the ascension is described in Acts 1:9-11. It is also mentioned in Luke 24:51.

What is intriguing about this rapture of Jesus is that the angels reported Jesus will return “in just the same way” as the disciples had watched Him go into heaven. What way was this? Jesus left by being “lifted up” (Greek, epêrthê) and received (Greek, hupelaben) by a cloud.

Jesus’ ascension was physical, personal, visible, and glorious. Jesus promised to one day return in the same way at the second coming (Matthew 24:30; Daniel 7:13) as well as to the same place, the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Philip

The second rapture noted in the New Testament is also recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 8:25-40). In this passage, Philip is led by an angel to meet with an Ethiopian Eunuch. A Hellenistic Jew, Philip was one of the seven original deacons appointed by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7).

After Philip successfully evangelized Samaria (Acts 8:1-8), he was led by an angel to head south toward Gaza, on the edge of the Sinai desert. There, Philip encountered an Ethiopian of African descent who was reading from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Philip shared the good news of Jesus with the eunuch, speaking from Isaiah 53 in response to the eunuch’s question; “Of whom does the prophet say this” (Acts 8:34)?

“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized’” (Acts 8:36)? This powerful account chronicles Philip baptizing the first known convert from Ethiopia. But the eunuch’s baptism was not the end of God’s power in this account.

After the baptism, Philip’s rapture occurs (Acts 8:39-40). John R. W. Stott observes, in this case, Philip was “removed with miraculous velocity … as at the rapture.” He was “snatched away” and reappeared at Azotus (Ashdod) some twenty miles away.

Though Philip was only temporarily raptured to another location, this event highlights an important aspect of the future rapture of the church: Those who remain on the earth will no longer see those who were raptured.

Where is Rapture in the Bible

Paul

The third rapture recorded in the New Testament involves the apostle Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul refers to “a man” who was caught up to heaven. Though he does not directly identify himself in this passage, from the context it is clear that he is speaking of himself.

Though reluctant to speak about his experience, Paul notes several details referring to his being “caught up” to the “third heaven.” The third heaven refers to the place where God lives – beyond the first heaven, or the sky, and the second heaven, or outer space.

First, Paul was raptured “into Paradise.” It was common to speak of heaven as “Paradise” (Luke 23:43; Revelation 2:7). Following his rapture, Paul was in the presence of the Lord immediately. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:52 reveals the rapture of believers will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Second, this rapture occurred to “a man in Christ.” John Drane sees this concept as the heart of Paul’s theology. He writes, “The supreme fact for Paul was that he was ‘a man in Christ.’ It was by being ‘in Christ’ that a person could be justified before God, and share in the new life Jesus had come to bring.”

Third, Paul “heard inexpressible words.” One of the beautiful aspects believers can anticipate about being in the presence of Christ is the supernatural fellowship that will occur from being with the Lord.

Paul could not even speak of what took place during his experience. Imagine how much greater of an experience it will be when we live in Christ’s presence forever.

John

The fourth possible rapture recorded in the New Testament is found in Revelation. Due to the anti-Christian persecution that took place under the Roman emperor Domitian, the apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos. While there, he continued to worship the Lord and wrote the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9-11).

In Revelation 4:1-2, John refers back to this vision and says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”

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John Walvoord observes that while the invitation to John to “come up here” (Greek anaba hòde) is similar to that which the church anticipates at the rapture, “it is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the rapture of the church, as John was not actually translated; in fact, he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos.”

Nevertheless, the idea of his being transported, even in a vision, shows a pattern of a believer being taken to heaven to gain a new perspective on events that would transpire on earth.

Future Raptures

In addition to the raptures that have already taken place throughout Scripture, two future raptures are noted.

The Rapture of Living Believers

While several passages describe the rapture, the three most direct passages that describe this event include John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Note: The focus of this write-up is on the pre-tribulation view of the rapture of all believers in Christ.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus personally describes some aspects of the rapture. First, He explains that one reason for leaving earth is so He can personally prepare a place for us in heaven. This amazing detail reveals Jesus is actively involved in preparing our future heavenly home.

Second, Jesus teaches in John 14:3 that He will come again and receive us to Himself. The order of events is clear. Jesus will leave (the ascension), He will prepare a place for us in heaven, He will come again, He will take us to be with Him (the rapture), and we will be in heaven with Him.

A Bible Study on the Rapture

The Rapture of the Two Witnesses

We read about the rapture of the two witnesses sent by God to testify to the world on His behalf in Revelation 11:3-12. God will grant these two Jewish men authority to witness and prophesy for 42 months, or 1,260 days – this comprises the first 3 ½ years of the seven-year tribulation that will follow the rapture (Revelation 11:2-3).

These two men will minister outside of the rebuilt Jerusalem temple and have the ability to destroy their enemies (Revelation 11:5). At the midpoint of the tribulation, the beast (Antichrist) will kill these two witnesses and leave their bodies in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 ½ days (Revelation 11:7-8).

The people of the world will celebrate their death (Revelation 11:10). Yet these two witnesses will return to life after 3 ½ days, causing great fear among the people (Revelation 11:11). They will then follow the Lord’s command to “come up here,” and they will be raptured to heaven (Revelation 11:12).

While the term harpazo is not used to describe the rapture of the two witnesses, the fact of their physical resurrection and rapture is clearly indicated. A voice from heaven called them to “come up here” and they “went up.”

The Rapture is the Blessed Hope

A careful study of the Greek term harpazo and these examples of biblical raptures make it clear that the idea of a future rapture of all believers is certainly biblical. The only real debate is over the matter of the timing of the rapture, not the fact that there will be such an event.

Therefore, any serious discussion about the nature, timing, and significance of the rapture ought to be carried out with the utmost respect for this biblical concept.

If the first Christians viewed the rapture as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), then so should we, regardless of our opinions concerning its timing.

Closing Words

The rapture or the catching away of living believers to heaven is a biblical doctrine. Scripture clearly teaches that at some point in the future, Jesus will come, and every believer in Christ who is alive on earth will be caught up to heaven to meet Him in the air.

One important thing to note: Jesus is not coming for moral people, for people who faithfully attend church, or for people who observe religious rituals, as good as those things maybe. He’s coming for those who are “in Christ” through faith in His atoning death and resurrection.

Are you ready to meet Him?


References:

The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? by Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

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Psalm 23: The Shepherd’s Song

Psalm 23: The Shepherd’s Song

Many Christians are familiar with Psalm 23, also known as the “Shepherd’s Song.” It is often used by preachers and ministers to encourage and comfort people who are going through difficult and trying times.

We live in a society where most people are engulfed with fear and anxiety for what the future holds for them. But how should we as Christians respond to the anxiety in our lives?

David showed us by example how exactly we are supposed to respond in a constructive, God-honoring way.

God is the Shepherd

We know from reading David’s life story that he spent his younger years leading sheep to greener pastures and keeping them safe from danger. For David, using the shepherd, as an illustration, was perfectly natural.

“The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) was David’s way of saying, “the Lord provides for me and protects me from harm.” In writing “The LORD is,” David was referring to the God who was, the God who is, and the God who will always be.

As we face life’s difficulties, we need to know that “God is.” When cancer comes, He is Jehovah Rapha, the healer. When worry consumes us, He is Jehovah Shalom, the peacemaker. When Satan attacks us with false accusations, He is Jehovah Nissi, the spiritual warrior.

The Shepherd Walks with the Sheep

Unlike the Philistine gods of wood, stone, or brass, David describes God as a personal savior in calling him “my shepherd.” And unlike cold, lifeless objects, the Shepherd walks the field with His sheep, taking care of their needs.

Whatever the circumstances, David had learned to want for nothing (Psalm 23:1). When the lion roared against David, God protected him. When the bear came to devour David, god shielded him (1 Samuel 17:34-36). When Goliath laughed at young David and his stones, God gave him power (1 Samuel 17:48-51).

Our Lord calls believers “My sheep” because He died for them (John 10:11), and because the Father gave them to Him (John 17:10, 12). The emphasis is that Jesus is adequate for every need the sheep may have as they are in the pasture.

Whatever trials we face, God helps us find rest and refreshment, leading us to “green pastures” and “still waters” (Psalm 23:2). When we go astray, God pulls us back into the flock, giving us another chance at a relationship with Him (Psalm 23:3). There is nothing we can do that is too bad for God to forgive (see 1 John 1:9).

Psalm 23 The Shepherd's Song

The Shepherd Protects

David had no fear as he walked “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) for he knew that God would be with him and protects him.

“Anoint my head with oil” (Psalm 23:5) could refer to the anointing of David, but it probably refers to the oil shepherds used to put on the cuts that sheep would get from the rock and brambles in the fields. The oil kept out parasites and infection.

When we find ourselves cut and bruised, we can let Jesus pour His anointing oil on us to protect us.

If you are going through some difficult circumstances with your finances, at work or you’re dealing with the untimely death of a family member, you should know that God has not abandoned you. Our Lord, the Good Shepherd may have allowed this to accomplish His greater purpose in your life.

The Shepherd is Eternal

David was confident that God’s goodness and mercy would “follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6). Jesus also used the shepherd analogy when He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

Despite his sins and failures, David had been followed by the Lord’s goodness and mercy, which is the Old Testament equivalent of Romans 8:28.

We need to ask ourselves, “Do I know the Good Shepherd and am I known by Him” (see John 10:14-15)? We can have the confidence that David had, knowing that we will spend eternity in heaven living in the green pastures with the Good Shepherd taking care of our every need.

Closing Thoughts

God is a faithful Shepherd who provides all our needs, guides us into a righteous life for His own sake, protects us not by shielding us from trials and difficulties, and allows in our lives only what is beneficial to us according to His purpose.

We just need to trust Him completely and when we do, we can sing the shepherd’s song joyfully as we wait for that day when we shall meet our Shepherd face to face and be with Him for all eternity.


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Recommended Resource: The Lord Is My Shepherd: Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23 by Robert J. Morgan

Rob Morgan, the bestselling author of Then My Soul Sings, explores the rich meaning behind the world’s best-known and most-loved poem—Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters…

The Lord Is My Shepherd: Resting in the Peace and Power of Psalm 23 by Rob Morgan These are the opening lines to one of the most memorized, inspirational, and comforting passages in the Bible—and one of the greatest poems of all time. In six verses, it provides a microcosm of God’s grace.

When anxiety robs us of sleep, our most powerful “tranquilizer” is Psalm 23. It’s a soul-soother. It appears in the middle of a trilogy of psalms dealing with our past, our present, and our future needs.

In “The Lord is My Shepherd,” Morgan teaches Psalm 23 verse-by-verse, explaining its extraordinary power to change lives and ease our troubles. He shares its fascinating context and colorful background, as well as his own charming, real-life stories of herding sheep.

You’ll find encouragement to enjoy the “green pastures” of life while becoming strengthened by the “dark valleys.” Furthermore, Morgan maintains that some of the Bible’s richest truths are summarized in these six simple verses of Psalm 23.

In knowing the Good Shepherd, we have total resources for all our internal, external, and eternal needs.

Through this clear explanation of the biblical text and great stories that illustrate the love and care of the shepherd, The Lord is My Shepherd will help you rediscover the joy, inspiration, and peace in the green pastures of this beloved psalm.

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

John 14:1-3 is one of the three passages often quoted whenever the topic of the rapture comes into play. Jesus promises that He would go to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us, and then come back to receive us to Himself.

But no matter how wonderful this may sound, those who live in the modern western world do not completely grasp the full significance of this promise. This is because in His promise Jesus was drawing an analogy from Jewish marriage customs in biblical times.

Marriage Covenant in Ancient Israel

Following ancient Jewish wedding traditions, a marriage covenant is established as a result of the father of the bridegroom selecting a bride for his son. He would send his most trusted servant to search for a prospective bride and negotiate with the father of the young woman the purchase price (dowry or mohar in Hebrew).

Note: You may want to read Isaac and Rebekah’s love story in Genesis 24 – 27.

Once the woman accepts the proposal and both families agree to the price, the groom would travel from his father’s house to the home of his prospective bride to establish a betrothal covenant. This betrothal agreement is solemnized by three acts: a solemn oral commitment in the presence of witnesses, a pledge of money, and a written pledge or contract called a ketubah.

The Church is Betrothed to Christ

The betrothal covenant was thereby established and the young man and woman are regarded to be husband and wife, although she remained in her father’s house. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified, set apart exclusively for her bridegroom.

As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the bridegroom and bride would drink from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction has been pronounced.

The Departure of the Groom

After the marriage covenant was sealed, the bridegroom would leave his bride and return to his father’s house to build an addition to the existing dwelling, where he would receive his wife in about twelve months.

He would say to his bride, “I have to go; I’m going to prepare the chuppah (marriage chamber), a place for you at my father’s house.” The bride would then say, “Do not go,” and the groom would respond, “It is better for you that I’ll go but I will come back.”

This period of separation afforded the bride time to focus on her personal preparations: beautification, wedding garments, but most especially her oil lamp, and to prepare for married life.

The Return of the Groom

At the end of the period of the separation, the groom would come to take his bride to live with him. The taking of the bride usually took place at night. The groom, best man, and other male escorts would leave the groom’s father’s house and conduct a torchlight procession to the home of the bride.

Although the bride knew to expect her groom after about a year, she did not know the exact day or hour. For that reason, the bride kept her oil lamps ready at all times, just in case the groom comes in the middle of the night, sounding the shofar (ram’s horn) to lead the bridal procession to the home he had prepared for her.

 

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The Home Taking & Marriage Ceremony

In an ancient Jewish wedding, when the father of the groom saw that the time had come for his son to go and get his bride, he would tell his son, “Go, son, and get your bride and bring her home.” The anxious son would then leave his father’s house to take his bride and present her to his father.

Note: The marriage ceremony consisted mainly of the “taking” of the bride.

Shortly after arrival, the bride and groom would be escorted by other members of the wedding party to the bridal chamber. Before entering the chamber, the bride remained veiled so that no one could see her face. There in the privacy of the chuppah, the bride and groom would enter into physical union for the first time, thereby consummating the marriage that had been covenanted earlier.

After the marriage was consummated, the groom would announce the consummation to the other members of the marriage ceremony outside the chamber (John 3:29). Upon receiving this good news, the wedding guests would feast and make merry for the next seven days.

During the seven days of the wedding festivities, which were sometimes called the “seven days of the chuppah,” the bride remained hidden in the bridal chamber. After these seven days, the groom would bring his bride out of the bridal chamber, now with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was.

The Bride of Christ: The Church

How a wedding in ancient Israel is celebrated is a picture with spiritual parallels to the church of Jesus Christ and even to each individual believer’s relationship to Christ.

The Bridegroom is no other than Jesus Christ.

On one occasion, Jesus was questioned by the Scribes and Pharisees about fasting. They asked Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?” And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them” (Luke 5:33-34)?

John the Baptist answered the question of the Scribes and Pharisees in John 3:27-29.

In the examination of the analogy of Jesus’ promise to His disciples (and to all believers) in John 14:1-3, the first thing that should be noted is the fact that the New Testament clearly pictures the Church as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-23).

Behold, Here Comes the Bridegroom

The Betrothal of Christ with the Church

Also, just as the Jewish bridegroom took the initiative in marriage by leaving his father’s house and traveling to the home of the prospective bride, so Jesus left His Father’s house in heaven and traveled to earth, the home of His prospective bride (the Church), over 2,000 years ago.

In the same manner, as the Jewish bridegroom came to the bride’s home to obtain her through the establishment of a marriage covenant, so Jesus came to earth to obtain the Church through the establishment of a covenant.

On the same night in which Jesus made His promise in John 14:1-3, He instituted communion. As He passed the cup of wine to His disciples, He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood (1 Corinthians 11:25).” This was His way of saying that He would establish a new covenant through the shedding of His blood on the cross.

Parallel to the custom of the Jewish groom paying a price to purchase His bride, Jesus paid a price to purchase His bride, the Church. The price that He paid was His own lifeblood (1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV).

Analogous with the Jewish bride being declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for her groom once the marriage covenant was established, the Church has been declared to be sanctified or set apart exclusively for Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27); 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; Hebrews 10:10; 13:12).

The Coming of the Lord for His Church

In the same manner, as the Jewish groom came to take his bride to live with him at the end of the separation period, so Christ will come to take His bride to live with Him at the end of His period of separation from her (John 14:3).

Analogous with the Jewish bride not knowing the exact time of the groom’s coming for her, the Church does not know the exact time of Christ’s coming for her. This is why the believers need to keep watch because no one knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man comes (Matthew 24:36).


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In the same way that the Jewish groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, so Christ’s arrival to take the Church will be preceded by a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Similar to the Jewish bride’s return with the groom to his father’s house after she departs from her home, the Church will return with Christ to His Father’s house in heaven after she is “caught up” from the earth to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

The Church & the Tribulation

Corresponding with the Jewish bride remaining hidden in the bridal chamber for a period of seven days after arrival at the groom’s father, the Church will remain hidden for a period of seven years after arrival at Christ’s Father’s house in heaven.

While the seven-year Tribulation period is taking place on the earth, the Church will be in heaven totally hidden from the sight of those living on the earth.

Just as the Jewish groom brought his bride out of the bridal chamber at the conclusion of the seven days with her veil removed, so that all could see who his bride was, so Christ will bring His Church out of heaven in His Second Coming at the conclusion of the seven-year Tribulation period in full view of all who are alive, so that all can see who the true Church is (Colossians 3:4).

Conclusion

Someday at the appointed time, the Father in heaven will tell His Son, “Go, Son, and get Your bride and bring her home!” Christ will come to take His bride, and she will be presented to His Father as a glorious, unblemished bride. At this point, the Father will have fulfilled His legal contract when He betrothed us to Christ.

We are still waiting for this presentation phase of the marriage. We are waiting for our Bridegroom to come to take us to Himself. We are waiting to hear the midnight cry, “Behold, here comes the Bridegroom! Come out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6).

Are you ready for the coming of our Bridegroom, to receive us to Himself?

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?

Some assume that Allah, the God of Islam, is just another name for Yahweh or Jehovah, the God of the Bible. Is Allah and Yahweh the same God? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

No! The God of Islam is not the same God revealed in Scripture. This can be seen in two distinct areas. First, the God of the Bible and the God of Islam have different attributes or characteristics. Second, the God of Scripture is a Trinity while the God of Islam is not.

Difference in Attributes

The Christian God and the Muslim God have different attributes. While the Bible and the Quran attribute similar powers to Yahweh and Allah, they are certainly not the same God. This can be seen in several ways.

Yahweh is a God of Love, Allah is Not

Muslims recite ninety-nine names of God, going three times through a prayer strand with thirty-three beads on it. Christians can agree with Muslims on almost every one of these attributes of God. The fourth attribute is that He is the Holy One, and the forty-seventh is that “He is the Loving One.”

However, holiness and love are not driving passions in many Muslim’s understanding of God. This is seen in a contrast between the God of the Bible and the God of Islam. Islam emphasizes Allah’s absolute power and control and Muslims submit to its many rules.

Yet they cannot have any assurance whatsoever about their standing before God, that is until Judgment Day. Islam teaches that God is aloof in His majestic glory; that He is a God who is detached from all else.

In contrast to this, the Bible depicts God as a personal being whose love and compassion toward humanity was shown by the coming of Jesus Christ. The loving God showed His love for this world by sending His Son.

The most famous Bible verse also referred to as the “Heart of the Bible,” speaks of God’s love for the entire world. We read the following.

Is Yahweh and Allah the Same God

God’s love was demonstrated in sending the Messiah, the Christ.

God is also specifically called love in 1 John 4:8. God is not only “full of love;” the God of the Bible is a God of love.

Yahweh Never Lies, Allah Deceives

It has been observed that in three different places, the Quran seems to teach that Allah actually intentionally deceives people. They are as follows:

“And the disbelievers planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners” (Surah 3:54).

Elsewhere it says:

“And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or slay you or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners” (Surah 8:30).

“And when we make people taste of mercy after an affliction touches them, lo! They devise plans against Our communication. Say, Allah is quicker to plan; surely Our messengers write down what you plan” (Surah 10:21).

Note that the English translations of these verses use words like “plan” or “best planner” when speaking of Allah. However, it has been argued that the Arabic word actually means “deceives.” If this is the case, then the Quran teaches that Allah is a God of deception.

This is in contrast to the God of the Bible who does not and cannot lie. Paul wrote this to Titus:

“This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God – who does not lie – promised them before the world began.” (Titus 1:2 NLT).

God cannot and does not lie because this is not part of His nature. We are told the same thing in Hebrews 6:18 (NLT). Indeed, Scripture says that there are two unchangeable things about God: His promise and His oath. Consequently, it is not possible for Him to lie.

Again, the Christian God, the God of the Bible, is the God of truth.

Trinitarian vs. Unitarian

The Quran portrays a different God than that of Christianity. The first duty of a Muslim is to publicly recite the Shahada which says, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”

This statement of faith is primary for the Muslim. Allah alone is God and within his nature, there is only one divine person. Islam rejects the Trinity and the New Testament teaching that Jesus Christ is the eternal God. They consider Him only a prophet, for God does not and could not have a son.

The Quran says, “But it is not suitable for (the Majesty of) the Most Beneficent (Allah) that he should beget a son” (Surah 19:92).

In another place, it says, “And behold God will say, “O Jesus the Son of Mary! Did you say unto men, ‘Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God” (Surah 5:116)?

The Quran assumed that the Trinity consisted of God the Father, God the Son Jesus, and Jesus’ mother Mariam (Mary).

In no uncertain terms, Islam rejects the Trinity. The Quran further says, “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them” (Surah 5:73).

The Quran, therefore, contains direct attacks against the doctrine of the Trinity. The following statement could not be clearer; Allah does not have a son.

“People of the Book, do not exceed the limits of devotion in your religion or say anything about God which is not the Truth. Jesus, son of Mary, is only a Messenger of God, His Word, and a spirit from Him whom He conveyed to Mary. So have faith in God and His Messengers. Do not say that there are three gods. It is better for you to stop believing in the Trinity. There is only One God. He is too glorious to give birth to a son. To God belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God alone is a Sufficient Guardian for all” (Surah 4:171).

The Quran assumes that Christians believe in three gods, Of course, this is blasphemy against Allah, the only God who exists.

The Bible Teaches that God is a Trinity

What should the Christian response be to the accusation of Muslims? The Bible teaches that there is one eternal God who has revealed Himself in three eternal persons, or three centers of consciousness. They are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

These three persons are the one God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity.

Unfortunately, there were some Christians who were teaching false ideas of the Trinity in Mecca. One such distortion of the Trinity claimed that God actually has a wife named Mary. God and Mary produced a child whom they named Jesus.

This is the sort of distortion of the doctrine of the Trinity that Muhammad was acquainted with. He, along with many others, concluded that Christians believed in three gods; “tri-theists.”

Here’s a video of a former Muslim, turned Christian, explaining the Trinity.

The Importance of the Trinity

The importance of the Trinity doctrine cannot be overestimated. There are many reasons why this is so.

This is how God has revealed Himself. God has revealed Himself in Scripture as a Triune God. Scripture teaches that the one God exists in three eternal persons. They are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is what the one true God has said about Himself. He is the only God who exists (Isaiah 45:5; Isaiah 46:9) and He exists as a Trinity.

This is His revelation to us, and we are obligated to believe it, not doubt it, nor question it.

The Trinity is an example of the statement, “God is love.” For all eternity, there has been love between the three members of the Godhead. Consequently, God has never needed anything or anybody because there was love and communication among the different members of the Trinity.

Islam Claims Allah and Yahweh are the Same God

While it is obvious that Allah, the God of Islam, is not the same as Yahweh, the God of the Bible, Muslims insist that it is so. In fact, Islam not only demands that faithful Muslims believe this, it also demands that Jews and Christians believe it as well. This is consistent with their belief that the Quran is the divine revelation from Allah which supersedes the Bible.

Since Muslims acknowledge the Scriptures to be the Word of Allah, they must, therefore, insist that the same God who has been revealed in the Old and New Testament is the same God as revealed in the Quran.

When the Bible and the Quran differ in their characterizations of God, it is the Quran that always provides the final word since it is Allah’s later revelation to humanity.

Of course, Christians and Jews do not accept this line of argumentation since they do not believe the Quran to be the Word of God or Muhammad to be a prophet of God.

Consequently, the differences between the biblical view of God and what the Quran teaches, are further evidence that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam cannot be harmonized.

Conclusion

Although Christianity and Islam each claim that there is only one God that exists, they do not actually believe in the same God. Indeed, the Christian God as the Bible reveals, and the Muslim God, which the Quran speaks of, are entirely different.

As mentioned earlier, Islam believes and teaches about an impersonal God who does not love sinful humanity. He is not someone who can be known on a personal level. This is in contrast to Yahweh, the God of the Bible, who is a personal God and desires to have a personal relationship with each human being.

It is clear: the God of Islam is not the same God as in Christianity. Therefore, the explanation of God, in at least one of these two faiths, must be wrong. Either God is a Trinity or He is not. Islam and Christianity cannot both be true at the same time.

Indeed, Christians and Muslims do not believe in the same God.


Reference: Understanding Islam by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: No God but One: Allah or Jesus? A former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi

Do Christians & Muslims Have the Same God?Having shared his journey of faith in the New York Times bestselling Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi now examines Islam and Christianity in detail, exploring areas of crucial conflict and unpacking the relevant evidence.

In this anticipated follow-up book, Nabeel reveals what he discovered in the decade following his conversion, providing a thorough and careful comparison of the evidence for Islam and Christianity – evidence that wrenched his heart and transformed his life.

In Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi recounted his dramatic journey, describing his departure from Islam and his decision to follow Christ. In the years that followed, he realized that the world’s two largest religions are far more different than they initially appeared.

No God but One: Allah or Jesus? addresses the most important questions at the interface of Islam and Christianity: How do the two religions differ? Are the differences significant? Can we be confident that either Christianity or Islam is true? And most important, is it worth sacrificing everything for the truth?

Nabeel shares stories from his life and ministry, casts new light on current events, and explores pivotal incidents in the histories of both religions, providing a resource that is gripping and thought-provoking, respectful and challenging.

Both Islam and Christianity teach that there is No God but One, but who deserves to be worshiped, Allah or Jesus?

The 7 Judgments of God

The 7 Judgments of God

The Bible tells us that there will come a time when every person shall stand before God to face final judgment (Hebrews 9:27). However, many people do not understand that instead of one final judgment, we read from Scriptures that there are a series of 7 future judgments.

These judgments differ with respect to time, purpose, subjects, and circumstances.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

This judgment, also called the Judgment of the Bema, is for the body of Christ only, the church, and it will take place in heaven immediately after the rapture of the church and the resurrection of the believers who have died in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

The 7 Judgments of God

The context of this verse clearly indicates that the judgment seat is not optional, i.e., no believer is exempt. The word we refers to believers in Christ and just so we don’t miss it, Paul includes the word all. Every single member of the body of Christ will appear before the Lord to be “judged.” (See also Romans 14:10-12.)

However, we must understand that the issue at the judgment seat is not salvation but rewards. This judgment is not to determine whether people will enter heaven or hell, or to punish sin. This ultimate issue is decided when one decides to accept or reject God’s gift of eternal life.

At the judgment seat, each believer’s work will be evaluated to demonstrate whether they are good or bad, and rewards will be conferred. You can read more about the judgment seat of Christ in this article.

The Judgment of Old Testament Believers

The resurrection and rewarding of Old Testament saints will take place after the 7-year Tribulation according to Daniel 12:1-2.

“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

After the Tribulation period is over, Jesus Christ will return (with the church saints) to resurrect and reward the Old Testament saints. Consequently, every believer who has died from the time of Adam until the Second Coming of Christ will have been resurrected by this time.

But why aren’t the Church saints and the Old Testament saints resurrected and rewarded at the same time? We read in Hebrews 11:39-40 that they will not receive what has been promised to them apart from us. This means they must wait for the church to be resurrected (and rewarded) first.

The Judgment of Tribulation Believers

Those who trust Christ during the Tribulation period and are martyred will be raised and rewarded at the Second coming of Christ. We read the following in Revelation 20:4-6.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Note: Some believe that the Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints will be resurrected and rewarded together at the Second Coming of Christ, or the end of the 7-year Tribulation.


The Judgment of Living Israel

All Jews who survive the Tribulation will be judged right after the Second coming.

The saved will enter the millennial kingdom, and the lost will be purged (Ezekiel 20:38). The Scripture teaches that before the Messiah can begin to reign, a judgment must take place to determine who will enter the millennial kingdom, “for they are not all Israel who are of Israel” (Romans 9:6b).

Ezekiel 20:34 and Ezekiel 39:28 says that God will bring Israel out from the nations where she has been scattered throughout the times of the Gentiles into her own land. The fulfillment of this prophecy started happening in 1948 when Israel became an independent state once again. From that time on, Jews are seen returning to their land in large numbers.

Read more about God’s promise to bring Israel back to her own land in this article.

So, when Christ returns personally to earth, He will first gather Israel outside the land of Israel, called the “wilderness of the peoples,” to execute judgment on them face to face (Ezekiel 20:35-36). Matthew 24:31 also says, “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

What will be the basis of God’s judgment? As in the church age, salvation in the Tribulation for both the Jews and Gentiles is through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. (See Romans 9-11.)

Every single one of them will have to pass under the “rod of God” and their individual works will be brought into judgment, but not because they are saved by their works, but because their works demonstrate that they failed to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah.

The Judgment of Living Gentiles

Just as the Lord judges the Jews who survive the Tribulation when He personally returns to earth, so He will also judge those Gentiles who remain. This is often referred to as the judgment of the “sheep and goats” (Matthew 25:31-46). The righteous will enter the millennial kingdom and the unrighteous will be cast into hell.

Matthew 25:31-33

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”

What are the 7 Judgments of God

Though salvation is by grace through faith, the saved who survive the Tribulation will be identified by their works in befriending their Jewish brothers. During the Tribulation where universal anti-Semitism is prevalent, befriending Jews is an outward manifestation of one’s salvation.

Matthew 25:40, 45

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

The Final Judgment of Satan and His Demons

Christ will also judge Satan, the created spirit-being who became the devil and his followers when He returns to the earth and sets up His kingdom, and their judgment is certain. They will be sent to the bottomless pit and eventually to the lake of fire where they will be condemned and punished for all eternity.

Revelation 20:10

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Matthew 25:41

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”

See also 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6.

The Great White Throne Judgment

All the unrighteous or unsaved dead from all time will be judged and sent to their final destination, the lake of fire, at the end of the millennium by the One whom they rejected. They will be judged according to their works.

We read this in Revelation 20:11-15.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

“The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Closing Words

While many Bible-believers think there will be only one future “Judgment Day” where every person who has ever lived will be judged, the Scriptures affirm that there are various judgments and will happen in stages.

The question now is this: Which judgment would you like to participate in? Would you like to take part in the judgment seat of Christ where you will be evaluated and rewarded in heaven without having to go through the Tribulation?

Then all you need to do is acknowledge that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, receive God’s forgiveness, and His offer of eternal life by surrendering your life to Him. After which, you are to start living out your faith, grow in His grace and allow Him to use you for His purpose and glory while you wait for His coming (Titus 2:13; Philippians 3:20).

I’m not saying you won’t have a chance to be saved during the Tribulation and be rewarded when Christ comes to set up His earthly kingdom. But why would you choose to experience the outpouring of God’s wrath if you can be assured of eternal life now?

The 7 Future Judgments of God

And you wouldn’t want to appear at the Great White Throne Judgment, right? The vision of this final judgment should cause everyone to stop and think about the eternal implications of this future event.

For those who never trusted in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, it should cause them to want to search out the truth regarding Christ, to accept His free gift of eternal life, and be rescued from eternal doom.

For the believer in Jesus, the future reality of the Great White Throne Judgment should cause deep concern because of the many (including some family, relatives, and friends) who will be participants of this event because they never placed their faith on the Lord Jesus.

Act now before it’s too late.


Recommended Resource: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) by John Walvoord
Edited by Philip E. Rawley and Mark Hitchcock

The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible. Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception. Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert? 

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language. 

3 Powerful Enemies of the Christian

3 Powerful Enemies of the Christian

In the previous post by Brother Jess Cortez, he said that only those who believed in and received Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior were given the right to become children of God based on John 1:12 and that only those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

God’s Word is truth and there is no of going around it. There are only two sides: the Lord’s and that of the devil. You are on either side but not both and there certainly is no middle ground.

And then Bro. Jess went on to enumerate the blessings bestowed on God’s children which are truly amazing. These blessings he mentioned (based on the Word of God, of course) are things I wouldn’t trade for anything else in this world no matter how appealing they may be.

But one thing we often forget is that the moment we decided to be on God’s side is also the day we became enemies with the 3 most powerful forces that seek to constantly defeat the followers of Christ.

Enemies of the Christian

Three powerful enemies are constantly trying to defeat the Christian’s testimony and spiritual success: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Powerful Enemies of the Christians

The World

The Greek word used is kosmos and the root meaning is “order” or “arrangement,” hence beauty (cf. cosmetics and the cosmos flower).

The main meaning of kosmos is the organized system that is under the devil’s control and leaves out God and Christ. According to the apostle John, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).

That being said, it is important to note that kosmos does not always have a negative connotation. John 3:16 uses the word for the people that “God so loved.” This meaning also occurs in the expression “Savior of the world” (John 4:42). Paul also uses kosmos for the created planet in his sermon on Mar’s Hill (Acts 17:24).

Why is the world one of the 3 enemies of the Christian life? This is because it entices us to go against God. In other words, it leads us to sin. This is why the Bible warns us against loving the world or the things in the world; if we do, the love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15).

Does this mean we should not even think about recreation, books, TV shows, movies, etc? I once had a Christian colleague who said she does not watch movies nor listen to music because she believed it would lead her to sin. She also added that all kinds of entertainment would make her impure and unworthy of God’s love.

While I commend her for making this commitment, I honestly think it would not be fair for her to expect others to do the same. Indeed, Christians should not conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2) but it does not mean we should completely separate ourselves from the people of this world and have a superiority complex.

It’s undeniable that today there are many professing Christians who are walking hand in hand with the world that you can no longer tell the difference between the believer and the unbeliever.

So, where exactly do we draw the line? When considering any activity, think about what God thinks about you doing it. Will He approve of it? Is God glorified? Does this give you an opportunity to let your light shine brightly for those who are still in darkness?

The Flesh

The literal meaning of flesh is found in expressions like “flesh and blood” and “flesh and bones.” Christianity does not teach that the human body is evil, but that it can be used for evil.

The flesh can also refer to a destructive influence. As such, the flesh can be our most insidious enemy because it is inside the believer and ever-present with its depraved cravings.

We cannot say that our old, sinful cravings will completely disappear at the moment of conversion. The Bible teaches that the old nature, with all its corruption, is still there because it is living within us. The urge to sin is ever-present to drag us down and so one should not think that he or she is not a true believer because of such temptations.


Recommended Resource: War Room (Christian Movie 2015)


Even sincere and devout Christians (including the apostle Paul) can have terrific struggles with the flesh. As long as we live in the body we will have to contend with the flesh. The whole terrible catalog of the flesh is recounted in Galatians 5:19-21.

The secret of victory over the flesh is to be led by the Holy Spirit: “Walk (that is, live your life) in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

The Devil

Devil (diabolos) is simply an anglicized form of the Greek word that suggests hurling (slander) back and forth. The devil is a personal enemy who opposes God and His plans and tempts His people. The Bible calls Satan the wicked one (Matthew 13:19), a murderer, a liar and father of lies (John 8:44), an adversary who seeks to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and an accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:9-10).

Although the devil has already been beaten at the cross by Christ, he still has the power to influence men to do his work. As I said earlier, the moment you decided to follow Christ, you became enemies with the devil and he is going to tempt you and will try everything to lead you into sin.

Satan’s most powerful tactic is still deception. He does this by first sowing seeds of doubt in your mind about what God actually said. He did it to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and succeeded. And so, he will continue to do so among God’s people today.

But when Satan does this to you, there would be no point arguing with him, for he is the greatest debater of all time. He will try to disrupt your focus on God and His works, discourage you, and will stop at nothing to destroy your relationship with Christ. How do you fight him? Your best defense against the devil is the Word of God.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness while fasting for 40 days, our Lord in three notable temptations used the Word of God. Upon realizing he lost, the devil left Him and the angels came to attend to Him. You can read about it in this post.

One other thing, although we can defeat Satan with the use of Scriptures, we must also submit to God and resist the devil so that he will flee from us (James 4:7). But before the devil even launches an attack against us and catches us off guard, let us always remember to apply the blood of the Lamb.

Lastly, the Christian’s defense against the devil is the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17). The devil is a defeated foe – Christ bested him at Calvary. Nevertheless, he will remain active in the world until he is locked up for one thousand years. The devil’s ultimate doom is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).


Conclusion

Life here on earth is a battleground and the Christian life is a warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But the Bible tells us that we have victory in Christ because He has already defeated the enemy and has emerged victorious. Christians can live a victorious life because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:57).

This is not to say that everything is going to be “a bed of roses” for the believers in Jesus. Sure, there will be trials and difficulties. In fact, the Lord Jesus Himself said that in this world we will suffer tribulations. But we should not lose heart because He has already overcome the world (John 16:33).

The Christian’s Spiritual Blessings

The Christian’s Spiritual Blessings

In the society or community, we are identified by our given names as well as our family names. On the one hand, it is a prestige to bear the family name of the famous, the rich, the influential, the powerful, and perhaps the heroic.

On the other hand, it is a shame to bear the identity of the fugitive, the criminals, the terrorists, the violent, or the unwanted. People are either looked-up to or looked down on based on their status in life, regardless of their moral or financial position in life.

Identity is the way you think of yourself and the way the rest of the world sees you. In short, it defines who you are.

Who are the Children of God?

When I was a young Christian, I thought that all people, being created by God are all called God’s children. However, as I matured in my relationship with the Almighty, I have learned through His Word that only those who received and believe in Him were given the right to become children of God (John 1:11-13).

We become children of God not because of any merit we earned; not because of our earthly father’s choice but because of God. We become His adopted sons and daughters when we are born again in spirit.

As the Word says, those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God (Romans 8:14). Well, in this world, there are only two choices. If you are not led by the Spirit of God, then you are led by the spirit of darkness. And if you are not with Him, then you are against Him (Matthew 12:30).

John 1:12

For a Christian who received and believed in Jesus Christ, there could never be anything more precious than being identified as a “Child of God.” It is all because of His mercy, greatness, and grace that we were given the right to become children of God. It is not because we chose Him but because He has chosen us.

It could never be more prestigious than such! Unfortunately, we sometimes underrate the blessings of being such a child of God. Many Christians due to their innocence in the true Word of God limit their identity in Jesus to be just like the rest of this world which is not what God planned for us.

Certainly, to be identified as a child of God brings many blessings and calls for many responsibilities. With this, let us unfold a few of the blessings we receive just because of His great love for us.

Because of the greatness of God, we were brought to be:

Complete in Christ

As Christians, we are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and not because of human merit. We are complete and it is all because of Jesus and for all that He has done on the cross.

In this spiritual warfare, we are complete because we have Jesus and we shall not lack anything nor need anyone else. No religion, ceremony, ritual, tradition, custom, or legality in any form is needed to complete His work. We need no further additions or deletions.

Jesus’ death and resurrection were more than enough. As stated in John 19:30, “It is finished.” We have been made complete to salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

So now, we can live in glory because the One who promised, the one in whom we believe, keeps His promises (Hebrews 10:23).

Heirs of God and Co-heirs with Christ

The privileges of being an heir of our earthly parents’ wealth, bring inexplicable joy especially if it is least expected. What more joy can it bring to be an heir of our heavenly Father, not of material things but the glorious everlasting life even if we do not deserve it at all!

While the highest glory only belongs to God, through Christ He made us heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). The route to this heir-ship is open to all but is only received by those who accepted and believed in Him. However, the route to heir-ship has some demands that are in no way light and easy.

And that is, one needs to share with His sufferings so He can also share as a co-heir to His glory.

The inheritance that is given to us, unlike our inheritance from our earthly parents is imperishable. It does not rot and does not need to be replenished. It is an inheritance prepared and kept in heaven just for us (1 Peter 1:3-5).

And because we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, we are highly blessed and greatly favored in many ways.

In our daily walks in life, we encounter unexpected favors that we cannot imagine. All these do not happen coincidentally but intentionally and freely given to us by no other than our Father in heaven through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you not overwhelmed with this?

Finding Your Identity in Christ Quote from Overcomer 2019 Movie

Innocent before God

Because of the sin that separated God and man, it took heaven’s dearest to take the blame so that we can be declared innocent in the eyes of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

He took our place on the cross that we may have eternal life in the heavenly realms. By His mercy and love, He took from us something we deserve, and by His grace, replaced it with something we do not deserve at all. We deserve the sure punishment in the flames of hell but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23)

No one is righteous but by the grace of Christ, we have become the righteousness of God. By receiving Him, we become children of God. We have been saved from guaranteed destruction. By His grace we are justified freely (Romans 3:24) and He polished us into a new creation in Christ Jesus.

God withheld the punishment for our sins in the past until the time that He sent Christ as an offering for the forgiveness of our sins. It is because Jesus has taken our place that we no longer are to be condemned (Romans 8:1).

Because of Christ, we are now free from condemnation. We were dead but now we are alive in Christ.

Loved Unconditionally

God knew us from the start. He knows us so well that He even knows the number of our hair (Luke 12:7, Matthew 10:30). While we did not even know Him and while we were wallowing in sin, God already showed His love for us by giving His only son to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

God did not mind what we are, who we are, and what wrongful things we’ve done. He has forgiven our sins and He loves us unconditionally (Romans 5:8). The love of the Father is so great that He loves to call us his children (1 John 3:1).

Indeed, the Lord loved us long before we even knew Him and He remains faithfully loving us, no matter what. Until when will God love us? Until eternity! (Psalm 136:1)

Destined to be with God throughout Eternity

It is God’s special purpose to have us be called His own through Jesus Christ. That is why heaven rejoices for every soul that receives Jesus as their Savior. It gives Him great pleasure to bring us to His own family (Ephesians 1:5)

As the apostle Paul said, everything we do from now on, founded on the hope of our eternal life, would not mean anything had Jesus not risen from the dead and we could have been the most pitied people in this world (1 Corinthians 15:19). But because He is faithful in keeping His promises to us, His children, we look forward to that day when He will come back to take us to be with Him.

Jesus promised that He would go ahead of us to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3). Are we really going to have physical mansions within our Father’s house? Will it be a huge one? Or will it be a room within a house? We can only answer that when we get there.

But one thing is certain; if it is a “place” prepared by Jesus for me, it will be extra special. Whether it be a mansion or a green pasture in the field, it will be a glorious one because I will be living in eternity with God! This is the joy and glory of being a child of God!


In summary, it is all because of the greatness of God that we were brought to be:

Ccomplete in Christ

H – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ

Iinnocent before God

L – loved unconditionally &

Ddestined to be with God throughout eternity

Conclusion

Because of God’s grace and mercy, we receive the right to become children of God. It is the greatest blessing to be redeemed and be called a child of God. It gives us the authority to sit on heavenly realms but this also brings responsibility to each one of us.

As children of God, we bear His image and we become the light of this world. Let us all be encouraged to keep our light shining brightly so that others who are still in darkness may also come into the light.


Recommended Resource: Overcomer 2019 Movie (DVD)

From the creators of the #1 box-office hit War Room.

Life changes overnight for coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) after he loses his basketball team and is challenged by the school’s principal, Olivia (Priscilla Shirer), to coach a new sport he doesn’t know or like.

As John questions his own worth, he dares to help the least likely runner take on the biggest race of the year. Filled with a powerful mix of faith, humor, and heart, this inspirational story will have you on the edge of your seat.

Here’s the official trailer:

How Does One Today Commit the Unforgivable Sin?

How Does One Today Commit the Unforgivable Sin?

In the previous article, we said that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the one sin that cannot and will not be forgiven in this life or in eternity. In Jesus’ day, this sin was committed by the religious leaders when they attributed the miraculous works of Jesus Christ, performed through the power of the Holy Spirit to the devil (Matthew 12:22-24).

Since the ministry of the Holy Spirit gave clear testimony to Jesus being the Messiah, those who rejected this truth could not be forgiven. Indeed, apart from Jesus Christ, there is no forgiveness of sin.

This brings up and all-important question. Since Jesus is no longer on the earth, how does one blaspheme the Holy Spirit today? How does a person commit the “unforgivable sin?”

In other words, what sin does a person commit that will keep them out of heaven for all eternity?

Explaining the Unforgivable Sin Today

We certainly do not want to be guilty of committing the unforgivable sin. So, how can it be avoided? We need to understand that this particular situation, where Jesus spoke of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, was unique. 

Jesus Christ was physically present on the earth, performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit to testify that He was the promised Messiah. The religious leaders rejected His miraculous deeds as coming from the Lord. Instead, they attributed them to a demonic source.

Thus, how they insulted or blasphemed the Holy Spirit was clear.

How Does One Commit the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

But Jesus Christ is not with us today in a physical presence like He was in the first century. Indeed, Christ is not on the earth to personally work His miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.

How then does the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit occur in our day and age without Jesus’ presence? Can a person still commit the unforgivable sin?

The World Still Needs Forgiveness

To begin with, we find that the work of the Holy Spirit is still the same; nothing has changed. His mission is to testify about Jesus Christ and to show the world it needs His forgiveness (John 15:26).

On the night of His betrayal, Jesus said to His disciples that it is to their advantage that He goes away, for if He does not go away, the Helper will not come to them. But when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11).

Among other things, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict the unbelieving world of sin. His mission is to show them their need of Jesus Christ as Savior.

The Unforgivable Sin Today: Unbelief in Jesus

Today, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unbelief in Jesus.

It is insulting or rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit which testifies that Christ is Savior and Lord. This is confirmed by what Jesus said in Luke 12:8-12 (NIV), where He equated the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit with the preaching of the message by His disciples.

The message of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, is still to be proclaimed today. Those who reject it are actually insulting the God of the Bible. It follows that those who continually reject the Holy Spirit’s ministry of portraying Jesus Christ as the only Savior of humanity are blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

If this state of sin continues they will not receive forgiveness for their sins but rather the wrath, or judgment, of God, will remain on them. The Word of God makes their fate clear in John 3:36.

Those who reject the Son can only expect to experience God’s wrath. They cannot ever receive forgiveness for their sin, neither in this world nor in the next.

A State of Continuous Unbelief

Today, as in Christ’s time, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a continuous state of unbelief rather than the commission of one particular sin. Unless that state of unbelief changes, the person will suffer eternal separation from the Lord.

The Bible speaks of the state of condemnation unbelievers now find themselves in John 3:18. Those who have rejected Jesus Christ are in this state of unbelief. This unbelief will result in eternal condemnation unless a person turns to Christ for forgiveness.

John 3:36

Conclusion

How does one commit the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in our day and age? Today, one blasphemes the Holy Spirit by rejecting the ministry of the Holy Spirit that speaks of the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as Savior.

Jesus specifically said the Holy Spirit was to come into the world and convict the unbelievers of their sin. If they did not respond to His work, then there is no hope for them. There would be no forgiveness in this life or the next.

Jesus also made this clear when He spoke of the future ministry of His disciples. Those who rejected their testimony about Jesus would also be blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, in our day and age, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the state of unbelief in Jesus Christ as Savior. It is more of a continuing and persistent rejection of the Holy Spirit than one particular sin.

To sum it up, the only unforgivable sin which will keep people out of heaven is the rejection of Jesus Christ as their Savior. Every other sin we do commit can and will be forgiven.

On the other hand, once a person trusts Christ as their Savior, then there is no possibility of them committing the unforgivable sin.


*Excerpt is taken from“Living in the Light of Eternity” (The After Life Series Volume 1) by Don Stewart.