Category: Christology

What is the Mosaic Covenant?

What is the Mosaic Covenant?

The best-known covenant in the Bible is the one God made with Moses on Mount Sinai. This is the second of the theocratic covenants (after the one with Abraham) that elaborates on how God relates to His people as their sovereign Lord.

Unlike the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant was conditional as it is introduced by the condition: “Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19:5).

The Form of Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant was given to and accepted by the nation of Israel (Exodus 19:6-8) so that those who believe God’s promise given to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3) would know how they should conduct themselves.

When God initiated a relationship with Moses and the Israelites at Sinai, He utilized a covenant style universally understood in the second millennium before Christ. The covenant begins with a preamble identifying the Lord as the absolute Sovereign (Exodus 20:1-2; Deuteronomy 1:1-5), followed by a brief history of relations between the Lord and His subject people (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 1:6 – 3:29).

Exodus 20:1-2

The bulk of the covenant is the stipulations that the subject people must observe (Exodus 203 – 31:17; Deuteronomy 4 – 26). The covenant is then sealed with an oath of allegiance and its accompanying blessings for obedience and curse for disobedience (Exodus 24:1-11; Deuteronomy 27:1 – 28:68; Joshua 8:30-35).

Finally, there is a list of witnesses and directions for keeping the covenant (Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:16 – 32:47).

Three Areas of Life Governed by the Covenant

God’s covenant with Moses found originally in Exodus and expanded in Deuteronomy, governed three areas of Israel’s life:

1) Personal Life

First, the (Ten) commandments in the covenant governed the personal lives of the Israelites in their relationship with God (Exodus 20:1-26). While all the Ten Commandments deal with Israel’s (and our) responsibilities toward God, the first four are particularly God-ward (Exodus 20:1-11) while the last six are man-ward (Exodus 20:12-17).

*Related Article: The First and Greatest Commandment of God

Now, why do you think the covenant has its focus first and foremost in the people’s relationship with God? It’s because generally, how we relate to others depends on how we relate to God, for if we love God and obey Him, we’ll also love our neighbors and serve them (Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:8-10).

2) Social Life

The judgments governed the people’s social lives in their relationship with one another Exodus 24:1 – 24:11). Exodus chapters 21 to 24 deal with the rights of each person, his properties (money, animals, etc.), how he should conduct himself, social justice, observance of the sabbatical year and national feasts, conquest regulations and how the covenant is ratified through blood.

Let’s take for instance Exodus 21:12-17. The laws outlined here are laws regarding capital crimes and are the logical application of the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13; Leviticus 24:17). We’re made in God’s image, so to murder a fellow human being is to attack the image of God (Genesis 9:6).

If a person was found guilty of murder on the testimony of two or more witnesses (Numbers 35:30-31), then the murderer was killed.

Exodus 23:1-5 is a call for justice, an amplification of the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16), a warning not to endorse falsehood and promote injustice because of what the crowd is doing (Leviticus 19:15-16; Deuteronomy 22:13-19).

Nor should God’s people be influenced by the wealth or the poverty of the accused or by the bribes people offer them for their support (Exodus 16:18-20; Isaiah 1:23; Micah 3:11). To condemn an innocent person for personal gain is to become guilty before God, and God doesn’t acquit the guilty (Exodus 23:7).

3) Religious Life

Finally, the ordinances governed the people’s religious lives so that they would know how to properly approach God (Exodus 24:12 – 31:18).

The promise of the Lord in Exodus 6:6-8 was now about to move into its third phase. God had redeemed His people (Exodus chapters 1 – 18) and taken them to Himself as His people (Exodus chapters 19 – 24); now He was about to come and dwell among them and be their God (Exodus chapters 25 – 40).

The Covenant between God and Moses

This area governed by the Mosaic Covenant focuses on the design, construction, and dedication of the Tabernacle which is how the people of God can approach Him. Man cannot come to God in any way other than that which He ordained. Therefore, God commanded the Jews to build the Tabernacle so that He can fulfill His promise to be Israel’s God by coming to the camp to dwell with His people.

God met with His people at the Tabernacle of Moses set up for worship and sacrifice. Today, God’s people meet with Him through prayer, Bible reading and meditation, worship, service, and sacrifice which can be done individually (at home or in any in a private setting) or through corporate worship and fellowship (church setting).

Worshiping God is the highest privilege and the greatest responsibility of the Christian life because God is the highest Being in the universe and the One to whom we must one day give account. Everything that we are and do flows out of our relationship with the Lord.

God created us in His image so we might love Him and have fellowship with Him, not because we have to but because we want to. God is seeking people who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Revelation 21:3

Conclusion

The Mosaic Covenant in no way replaced or set aside the Abrahamic Covenant. Its function is clearly set forth by Paul (Galatians 3:17-19), who points out that the law, the Mosaic Covenant, came 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant.

The Mosaic Covenant was added alongside the Abrahamic Covenant so that the people of Israel would know how to conduct their lives until “the Seed,” the Christ, comes and makes the complete and perfect sacrifice, toward which the sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant only point.

The Mosaic Covenant was not given for salvation. The law was not given so that by keeping it people could be saved. Keeping the law does not save. Rather the law keeps and prepares a person for salvation by faith.

The law was given that man might realize that they cannot do what God wants them to do even when God writes it down on tablets of stone; that man is helpless and hopeless when left to himself, and realize that his only hope is to receive the righteousness of God by faith alone in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:22-24).

What is the Fruitful Christian Life?

What is the Fruitful Christian Life?

In the creation story, the very first command given to man by God was “to be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:27-28). Interestingly, Jesus gave the same command to His followers in John 15:16: “to go and bear fruit – fruit that should remain” (or that will last).

But what fruit (or fruits) is Jesus referring to in this passage? What does it mean for a believer to be fruitful? And how are Christians supposed to bear fruit?

The Believer’s Fruit

There are three kinds of fruits that the passage can be referring to: the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of our labor and our good works.

1. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Whenever the Bible speaks of fruit or being fruitful in Christ, it is often in reference to the fruit of the Holy Spirit operating in the life of a believer: love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

Notice that these fruits are attributes of God-like love, peace, faithfulness, and goodness. It is expected that these fruits will closely resemble the parent plant, which in this case is the Spirit of God. While it is true that we cannot see in the human heart to know who is truly born again and who is not, we can see the fruit of a person’s life or the absence thereof.

A person who is truly saved and belonging to Christ, having already crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, is now living according to the Spirit. And if he is living according to the Spirit then he is also walking according to the Spirit, thereby making the fruits of the flesh less visible (Galatians 5:24-25).

2. The Fruit of His Labor

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave this command to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” and He promised, “I am always with you to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

This mandate is not only for the eleven disciples of Jesus but for every believer in Christ. When we share our faith with others and they respond by acknowledging their sinfulness and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives, they become our fruit.

How many persons have come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because you cared enough to share the gospel message?

3. The Fruit of Good Works

The good works that the believer does can also be counted as fruits. When you show even the simplest acts of kindness to Christians and non-Christian alike that you come in contact with, extend a helping hand to those in need, or share your time and talent (money) in support of your church ministry, you are bearing the fruit of good works.

However, I need to emphasize the cardinal biblical truth that good works do not have any bearing on our salvation. We have been saved by grace through faith alone in the Lord Jesus and this is not from ourselves. Salvation is the gift of God, not by our works so that none of us can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The good works we do are fruits of our salvation. In other words, they are evidence of our genuine faith, which is what is needed to receive God’s gift of salvation. This is actually what James is pointing out in his epistle when he said, “Faith without action is dead” (James 2:14-26).

We do not have to prove to God that our faith is genuine; He knows because He sees our hearts. But our good works will prove to others that we are truly saved and we belong to Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Do not weary doing good to others

The Fruitful Life: Abiding in the Vine

If we read the entire passage wherein Christ appointed His followers to be fruitful, He specifically said that the only way they could carry out this task was for them to abide in Him (John 15:1-10). What does it mean to abide in Christ?

The fact that the word “abide” is mentioned eight times in seven verses (John 15:4-10) strongly points out how the branch cannot produce its own life; it must draw that life from the vine. In other words, it is crucial to abide in Christ if we are to live a fruitful Christian life.

Note: And if you’re reading from the New International Version, the word “remain” is mentioned eleven times (John 15:4-10 NIV).

After Jesus announced to His disciples that He would be leaving them soon and promising the Holy Spirit to abide with them forever, we now come to the seventh and last of the “I am” statements of Christ recorded in the gospel of John.

As Jesus spoke to His disciples probably in the upper room, preparing to leave, He uses the imagery of a vine to describe the new relationship which His disciples are about to enjoy with Him and with the Father. Our Lord is the vine; the believers are the branches, and the Father is the vinedresser (gardener) who tends the vine, removing dead branches and pruning them so that they will become even more fruitful (John 15:1-2).

The Father Prunes

Our heavenly Father is never nearer to us than when He is pruning us. Sometimes He cuts away the dead wood that might cause trouble, but often He cuts off the living tissue that is robbing us of spiritual vigor.

Pruning does not simply mean spiritual surgery that removes what is bad. It can also mean cutting away the good and the better so that we might enjoy the best. Yes, pruning hurts, but it also helps. We may not enjoy it, but we certainly need it.

At times the Father also prunes us (the branches) by allowing difficult circumstances and situations in our lives such as poor finances, poor health, misunderstanding and conflict with others, difficult relationships, etc. These trials are designed to bring us to the end of our own strength and will awaken in us a need for a deeper surrender to the Lord.

*Read here: The Christian Response to Trials

How to Live the Fruitful Christian Life

Jesus Christ is the True Vine

Notice how Jesus speaks of Himself not merely as the “vine,” but as the “True Vine.” The vine was a familiar symbol in the Hebrew Scriptures for the nation of Israel (Psalm 80:7-8, 14-17; Isaiah 5:7; Ezekiel 19:10-14; Hosea 10:1-2). During the Maccabean period, they even adopted it as their national symbol.

However, the use of the vine as an image for the Jewish nation was often used in a negative sense (Ezekiel 15:1-8; 17:1-8; Jeremiah 2:21; Isaiah 5:1-2). The vine, which is the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, did not bear the fruit that God intended because of their unfaithfulness.

In contrast, Jesus is the True Vine, replacing the Jewish nation and Christians must be rooted in Him if they are to bear fruit for God. The vine and branch picture emphasizes complete dependence and the need for constant connection. Of itself, a branch is weak and useless. It is good for either bearing or burning, but not for building (John 15:5-6).

The Lord as the true vine is the source of life, strength, and fruit for the branches (believers). The branches obtain life through the vine; they are sustained by the vine and they produce fruit through the vine. The branches then become the visible manifestation of the life of the vine and God’s instruments for fruit-bearing.

Abiding in Christ: Living in Obedience

The abiding relationship is natural to the branch and the vine, but it must be cultivated in the Christian life. It is not automatic. Rather, it is something that we are commanded to do, and which takes effort and action on our part. To abide in Christ the true vine, demands worship, meditation of God’s Word, prayer, sacrifice, service and above all, obedience to God and His Word.

Jesus made this very clear when He said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9-10). Simply put, to abide in Christ and in His love is to keep His commandments.

By the way, Jesus is not saying here that we abide in His love when we keep the Law. Jesus inseparably joins love and commandment keeping. This is evident when He summed up the Law by two commandments, both of which were commands to love in Matthew 22:34-40.

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

God gave His commandments out of love. What God prohibits, He prohibits for our own good. What God requires, He requires for our own good. God’s commandments are a manifestation of His love for us and He expects us to obey them out of our love for Him.

God’s laws or commandments should be the delight of every Christian because it is a manifestation of God’s love (Psalm 1:1-2). God gave us His commandments to keep us from those things that would destroy us and to point us to Jesus Christ – the One who can save us. So whenever we are tempted to look at God’s commands as something other than the expression of His love, we are headed for serious trouble.

And if we are looking for the best illustration of obedience, we must look no further for Jesus has exemplified the finest illustration of this kind of abiding with His total submission and obedience to the will of the Father (John 8:28-29).

Jesus never acted independently of the Father. In fact, He was completely obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). Christ’s obedience made possible man’s reconciliation with God.

What does it mean to Remain in Christ

Conclusion

Living the fruitful Christian life is the calling for every believer. Not that we chose Jesus, the King of kings, but He chose us, He has called us to be His friends and appointed us to be fruitful (John 15:15-16). It is a humbling experience indeed!

And while it brings glory to the Father when the branches bear much fruit (John 15:8), the branches share in the joy of the vinedresser. The joy and satisfaction that go hand in hand with the bearing of more perfect and abundant fruit are not only reserved for the vinedresser, who is the Father but are shared by the branches as well.

Once again, the only way for believers to be fruitful in Christ is to abide in Him. It is our communion with Christ through the Spirit that makes possible the bearing of the fruit. The sooner we as believers discover that we are but branches, the better we will relate to the Lord, for we will know our own weakness and confess our need for His strength.

Are you bearing fruit for Christ to the glory of the Father in heaven?

Faithlessness is Foolishness

Faithlessness is Foolishness

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

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

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

The Meaning of Fool

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

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

Only the Fool says in his Heart there is no God

Results of Denying God

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all need to be Born Again to Enter Heaven

The LORD, He is God Almighty

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faithlessness is Foolishness

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

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

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

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

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

History Attests God

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

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

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

The Promise of Christ’s Coming

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

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

Closing Words

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

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

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


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

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

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

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

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

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

Chapter 1: Ruth Remains with Naomi

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

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

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

Ruth 1:16 Ruth's Loyalty to Naomi

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

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

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

Chapter 2: Ruth Gleans in the Field of Boaz

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

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

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Message of the Book of Ruth

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

Chapter 3: Ruth at the Threshing Floor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 4: Boaz Marries Ruth

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

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

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

The Message of the Book of Ruth

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

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

A Kinsman Redeemer

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

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

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

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

An Overview of the Book of Ruth

An Ultimate Purchase

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

The Message of the Book of Ruth

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

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

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


*References:

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

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

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

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

Satan Introduced in the Gospels

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

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

The Meaning of Temptation

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

Lessons from the Temptation of Jesus Christ

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

The First Temptation

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

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

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

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

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

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

Jesus’ Response to the First Temptation

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

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

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

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

The Second Temptation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus’ Response to the Second Temptation

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

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

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

The Third Temptation

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Tempted by Satan in the Wilderness

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

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

Jesus’ Response to the Third Temptation

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

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

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

How to Overcome Temptations

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

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

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

How to Overcome Temptations as a Christian

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Overcome Temptation as a Christian

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

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

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

3. Know the Scriptures well and use them.

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

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

Overcoming Temptation with the Word of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Words

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

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

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


*Recommended Resource:

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

Product Description

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

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

4 Ways to Become a Peacemaker

4 Ways to Become a Peacemaker

In the Sermon on the Mount recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus opens with a series of blessings known as the Beatitudes. The 7th beatitude is, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

But what makes a peacemaker? In this article, we name 4 ways by which we can become a peacemaker.

Who are the Peacemakers?

There is a difference between a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. A peacekeeper is someone who maintains peacefulness by seeing to it that things are kept in order. It’s kind of like the sergeant-at-arms in high school who always makes sure everyone in class behaves properly.

A peacemaker on the other hand is someone who makes things to happen in pursuit of bringing God’s peace to mankind and in pursuit of bringing peace between people.

The 7th Beatitude

One can never be a peacemaker unless he has peace in his own heart because as the saying goes, “You cannot give something you don’t have.” And in order to have peace in your heart, you must first make peace with God by acknowledging and repenting of your sins.

However, we need to be reminded that being a peacemaker does not pave the way to our salvation, for it is only by the grace of God that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). And because we have come to faith in Jesus Christ and are led by the Spirit of God, we are now called sons or children of God (Romans 8:14).

As God’s children, we are to bring God’s peace to mankind.

The Bible’s Definition of Peace

Peace in the Bible does not necessarily mean the absence of conflict. Instead, peace means being still and confident even in times of trouble because we know that in whatever circumstance God is with us. God gives us peace unlike what this world has to offer (John 14:27).

A good example of an event in the Philippines where there has been thousands of “peacemakers” all at one place at the same time was the EDSA Revolution in 1986.

Jesus: The Perfect Example of a Peacemaker

No matter how hard one tries, there could never be a perfect example of a peacemaker other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Peace. Jesus is our perfect example of a peacemaker.

We were separated from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2) and were enemies with God but were reconciled to Him by Christ’s death on the cross (Colossians 1:21-22). Jesus paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins and we now have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1-2).

True peace is found in Christ alone

Christ as peacemaker has also united Jews and Gentiles, broken the wall of separation and reconciled them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:14-16). Through His death, Jesus had brought a new covenant and this He has written in the hearts of His people (Hebrews 8:10).

What Makes a Peacemaker? Listed below are 4 things we must do or practice in order to become a peacemaker.

1. CONTROL over Oneself

Self Control is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit laid out in Galatians 5:22-23. What is self-control and why is it so important? Self control is not just about temperament; it is about resisting the temptation to sin by breaking God’s Law.

David is one good example of a peacemaker in whom was found godly fear, despite his power. Although David had the chance to kill Saul, he didn’t. After secretly cutting off a corner of Saul’s robe, David’s heart troubled him. He then restrained his servants from rising against Saul because He acknowledged that Saul was a man anointed by God (1 Samuel 24:1-7).

David spared the life of Saul who he could have easily killed as a result of exercising self-control. In return, Saul spoke blessings to David and said that God will reward him for sparing his life. He further added that David will surely be the king of Israel and the kingdom will be established in his hand (1 Samuel 24:16-20).

To be a peacemaker, one needs to have self-control.

4 Ways to become a Peacemaker

Discipline is Self Control

Discipline is some sort of self-control. The dictionary defines discipline as the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

Paul says that Christians must exercise self-control like the Greek athletes, only our goal is eternal, not temporal (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). In his first letter to the Corinthians, he was teaching them through his own example. Unlike a boxer who beats the air, Paul aims to share the Gospel through self-control and discipline. Otherwise, He finds himself to be a failure.

2. ACT on God’s Word

Bringing God’s peace to others is being active rather than passive by obeying the Word of God. Christians are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). Others must see the peace and goodness of God through the light we bear by obeying what we hear.

In essence, it doesn’t really matter how much of the Bible we know or how often we listen to preachers talk about the importance of knowing the Scriptures, if we do not live them out and put them into action.

We have to be sensitive to the weaknesses of others and bear with their mistakes while peaceably rebuking their ways. It is expected from us who have already been enlightened to do all that leads to peace for the enlightenment of everyone (Romans 14:19 NIV).

What makes a Peacemaker

Nothing good will come from a bad source. If we only work for peace, we will get something good as a result. We cannot harm others and expect peaceful gestures in return. As James 3:18 (NIV) says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

One more thing, as a peacemaker, we must always see to it that we turn away from evil and refrain from deceiving others. If we have nothing good to say, it is far better to keep our mouth shut because a provoking tongue will only reap trouble (1 Peter 3:10-11).

To be a peacemaker, one needs to act on the Word of God.

3. LOVE Difficult People

One of the greatest teachings of the Lord Jesus is for His followers to love not only their friends and family but also their “enemies” (Luke 6:27-28). You might say, “Easier said than done.” And I totally understand. It’s hard to love the people who are against us and especially those who want to harm us.

But Jesus, through His own example, is teaching us not to retaliate and repay evil with evil. Prior to His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus was mocked, spat on, insulted and humiliated beyond imagination. Yet, He did not hold it against them. Rather, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

4 Ways to become a Peacemaker

As the best example of a peacemaker, Jesus demonstrated His love for us even when we were yet in our sins and died on the cross for us (Romans 5:8).

To be a peacemaker, one needs to love even the most unlovable  people.

4. MEDIATE the Conflict

Man’s pride and selfishness drives to contention. Oftentimes, man can’t accept the fact that others have dominion over them. Things get even worse when a hot-tempered person is involved. Some people with impulsive spirits may start a conflict simply by the way they look at others.

When people are into each others’ throats, peacemakers mediate the conflict by trying to calm the parties involved. In case, you do not succeed, it is best to just let the situation cool down. As the saying goes, “If we cannot bridge the gap, don’t fuel the feud.”

What makes a Peacemaker

James 1:19-20 give us three things we must do to get rid of provocation that eventually leads to anger: be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. This is because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

In Genesis 13:5-11, we read the account of Abraham and his nephew Lot in the place where Abraham first built an altar but they had to part company because the land could not support them any longer, for their possessions were so great.

In this passage, Abraham exemplified what it means to be a peacemaker by not only making the decision for him and Lot to separate in order to avoid any quarreling between them and between their herders, he also made Lot choose which area of the land he wanted to live in.

To be a peacemaker, one needs to mediate or avoid a conflict at all cost.

4 Ways to become a Peacemaker

Bottom Line

As God’s people, we are to be peacemakers and there is a blessing that comes with it; Jesus says that “peacemakers shall be called sons of God.” We need to understand that this beatitude does not apply to worldly people. Only those who have trusted in Jesus and received Him as Lord and Savior of their lives are given the right to become sons and children of God.

What does it take to be a peacemaker? We need to be C-A-L-M:

C – control over oneself

A – act on God’s Word

L – Love difficult people

M – mediate the conflict

But again, we cannot be peacemakers without the peace that is found in Jesus alone. Jesus Christ is our peace who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus said that we will have many tribulations in this world but we have peace in Him because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). So we can become peacemakers because of the peace that we have in our hearts given by the Lord Jesus.

The “I Will” Promises of God

The “I Will” Promises of God

We find so many “I will” promises of God in the Bible; promises to the nation of Israel and promises to the Church. These promises assure us that in the face of trials and difficulties, God has something wonderful in store for us. Even at times when we turn our backs on Him, God remains faithful and will always be looking out for us.

This is exactly what God did when the nation of Israel committed the sin of idolatry (spiritual adultery), ingratitude and hypocrisy against Him. Despite their unfaithfulness and rebellion, God, through the prophet Hosea, gave the Jewish people assurance that He has a wonderful future planned for them.

Let us note the six promises of God in Hosea 2:14-23 and see how they can be applied to the church and to the individual Christian.

“I will win her back once again.”

Hosea 2:14

The word used here is “allure.” It means that God is not going to force the nation of Israel (His people) to love Him back. Instead, He woos her or speaks tenderly to her, as a lover woos his beloved, seeking her hand in marriage.

God will win Israel back to Himself
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God did not say He would “drive her,” or “drag her;” not even “draw her.” While the devil tempts and ruins us with sweet words and baits of pleasure, God in His mercy seeks to outbid the devil and win us to Himself with His unconditional love which shall be much stronger than any force of resistance we may offer.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read how the Lord had spoken tenderly to His people through His Word and through the manifold blessings He bestowed on them in their land.

In spite of their rebellion and unfaithfulness, God was always there for them whenever they called upon Him.

Just as He had led the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage into the wilderness through the Red Sea and made a covenant with them at Sinai, so God would meet them again in the wilderness in the last days and lead them into their land and His glorious kingdom.

“I will return her vineyards.”

Hosea 2:15

God promises to bring His people back into their land and will make them prosperous again.

We find numerous passages in the Bible where God says He will scatter the nation of Israel among all the nations as a result of their rebellion. (See Deuteronomy 4:27; 28:64; Leviticus 26:33; Jeremiah 9:16; Ezekiel 12:15; 20:23; 22:15; Jeremiah 13:24; 18:17 and Zechariah 10:9 just to name a few.)

And true to His word, God scattered the Jewish people to all corners of the earth at the destruction of the second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD during the siege of Jerusalem. For many years, the Jews wandered in all corners of the earth and had no place to call home.

After nearly 19 hundred years of Jewish dispersion outside their land, the British government granted a national home for them in Palestine through the Balfour Declaration in 1917. On May 14, 1948, the state of Israel became a sovereign nation and Jews from all around the world started to return to their land.

The I Will Promises of God to the Jewish People

Despite being attacked many times by their neighboring countries, the Jewish people are now residing in their own land and have become prosperous over the years. This is in fulfillment of God’s promise to bring them back into their own land and for the desert land of Israel to prosper and bloom again (Isaiah 43:5-6; Jeremiah 6:14-15; Ezekiel 37:11-13; 36:33-36).

The Bible says, “There is no one is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). We were all born sinners and were alienated from God as a result of Adam’s sin. But God in His grace and mercy desires for us to be reconciled back to Him through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-21); He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him as it was in the beginning before sin entered into the Garden of Eden.

“I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips.”

Hosea 2:16-17

In Hebrew, Baal means “master” and Ishi means “husband.” Both terms were used by Jewish wives to address their husbands. In this verse, God declares an end to idolatry among His people. They would have a new vocabulary and the “baals” would never be named again.

God Promised to Remove Baal Worship Among the Jews

God looks forward to the day when His relationship with His people, an intimate love relationship where they will think of Him as a husband, will be genuinely restored. At that time Israel would no longer prostitute herself before idols and would love and serve the true living God.

The Lord desires the same relationship with the Church, His Bride. He wants us to love Him above all else and to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).

“I will make a covenant.”

Hosea 2:18-20

God’s wooing of Israel would result in her yielding to Him and entering into a covenant relationship that would never end. It will be a restored relationship founded on God’s righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, faithfulness, mercy, and compassion, resulting in a much deeper, intimate relationship. Basically, everything that Israel had lacked during her years of separation from her husband (Jehovah God), she will enjoy.

This new covenant would also include a restored creation: a transformed earth (Genesis 9:1-10; Romans 8:18-22) and peace among the nations.

The I Will Promises of God

The Church is included in the new covenant that God made with His people. The Bible tells us that because the Jews rejected God’s offer of salvation, it was brought to the Gentiles, which they gladly received. The Gentiles are spoken of as the wild olive tree branches that are grafted and have become partakers of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Romans 11:11-24).

At the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the Church (Bride of Christ) will receive her rewards from her groom, Jesus Christ, and will spend 7 years in heaven while the Tribulation is happening on earth.

“I will answer.”

Hosea 2:21-22

The I Will Promises of GodIn a tremendous cosmic conversation, God would speak to the heavens and the earth, and they would respond and bring blessings to God’s people.

The heavens would send the rain, the earth would bring forth the produce, and the Lord would send His rich blessings. This pictures a restored universe where sin and death no longer reign (Romans 5:12-21).

What a great blessing as a result of having a real, vibrant relationship with our God. Our thoughts and desires will become aligned with God’s and so when we ask Him to do things, we are actually asking Him to do what He wants to do.

This is the same exact principle we find in John 15:7. If we abide in Him, He will abide in us and we can ask anything we desire and it shall be done for us.

“I will plant.”

Hosea 2:23

The word Jezreel means “God sows,” and God would sow His people in their land the way a farmer sows seed. The Lord would say to them, “You are My people.” And they would respond, “You are our God.” This relates back to the names of the children that God in His grace had changed.

Before coming into a redemptive covenant with God through faith in the Lord Jesus, we belonged to the devil (John 8:44). Praise God for His amazing grace; He loves us so much that He didn’t want us to spend eternity in hell along with the devil and his demons.

The I Will Promises of God
Photo Credits: Now The End Begins

So He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die at Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). God also gave those who believed in the name of Jesus and received Him as Lord and Savior the right to become His children (John 1:12).

The moment we placed our faith in the Lord Jesus, we have become God’s children; we’ve become His peculiar people and He has become our God. We have been granted direct access to God and we can call Him “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15).

Closing Words

What wonderful promises God has given to His people, the nation of Israel. Although a large population of the Jews still does not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, there are already quite a number of Jews who have come into the saving knowledge of God through Christ.

And God is faithful; He will surely keep His promise to save the nation of Israel (Romans 11:25-27).

In the same way, God will surely keep His promise to never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6), to be with us to the ends of the earth as we fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and to keep us from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world (Revelation 3:10).

These are just some of the “I will” promises of God to us that He revealed in His written word. What do we do about them? We have to claim them and believe with all our heart that we already received them.


*Recommended Resource: Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God
By Max Lucado

Nothing lifts us out of fear and weariness like hope. An anchor through life’s storms, hope buoys our spirits and seeks to make a way when we face tough times.

After 40 years of ministry and speaking to hurt hearts, Max Lucado has learned that the promises of God will give you the strength you need. Each chapter in Unshakable Hope explores one Biblical promise that will help equip you to face every day with courage.

Includes reflection questions for individual or group study.

What is the Significance of the Lord’s Supper?

What is the Significance of the Lord’s Supper?

Among the two ordinances established by Jesus Christ and observed by Evangelical Churches is the Lord’s Supper. (The other one is Baptism.) So what is the significance of the Lord’s Supper and why do Christians celebrate it?

Biblical Basis for the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper, which is actually the Last Supper that Jesus had with His disciples the night before He died, is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-25 and Luke 22:14-20).

Each Gospel writer describes Jesus giving thanks, blessing the bread and the cup and giving them to His disciples and saying that the bread is His body and the cup is the new covenant in His blood which is shed for many. In Luke 22:19, Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

What is the Significance of the Lord's Supper
Photo Credits: graceexposed.org

From the earliest records, we can tell that the church did exactly what Jesus said: they reenacted that Last Supper in remembrance of Jesus and His death. This is evident not only in Acts 20:7 but also in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

The Lord’s Supper is not just some afterthought on the part of the church leaders to give the Christian faith more appeal or character. It is not also an ordinance which has somehow evolved with the passing of time. Jesus Himself instituted it and commanded it to be continued.

Elements Used in Celebrating the Lord’s Supper

At the Last Supper, Jesus Christ took the bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

There are two elements used in celebrating the Lord’s Supper: bread and wine (or grape juice). Note that nothing is specified about the kind of bread or wine to be used. But a great deal has been given through the years as to whether the bread should be unleavened or the wine should be fermented or unfermented.

Some say that using unleavened bread seems reasonable to use based on the fact that it is what the ancient Hebrew people who fled from Egypt have used to commemorate the “First Passover.”

Since the physical is only a figure of the spiritual, the choice of elements is secondary. It does not really matter if regular bread or unleavened is used. What we should be concerned about is using playful substitutes like bagels and the like.

What about the wine? We have good reason to believe that the wine mentioned in the New Testament was different from the wine we have come to be familiar with today. One of the early church fathers, Justin Martyr, described the Lord’s Supper around A.D. 150, “Bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president sends up prayers and thanksgiving.”

In Jesus’ day, grape juice could not be kept without fermenting it for they had no modern canning and preserving facilities. So He must have used the very common beverage during those times. However, it was very customary to mix in a ratio of three parts water to one part of wine – the normal mixture in the Passover ritual.

If Jesus used wine, why can’t we also use it today? Because of the problem of alcoholism, it might be the better part of wisdom to avoid the temptation with the use of grape juice to commemorate the Last Supper. Grape juice is easily accessible, inexpensive, and nonalcoholic.

Remembering Christ at Communion

Things to Consider When Partaking of the Lord’s Supper

On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus took the cup and the bread – the ingredients of a common meal in that day – and transformed them into a meaningful spiritual experience for believers.

However, the value of the experience depends on the condition of the hearts of those who participate. So what are the things we need to consider when partaking of the Lord’s Supper?

1) We should look back (1 Corinthians 11:23-26a).

The broken bread reminds us of Christ’s body, given for us; and the cup reminds us of His blood that was shed. It is a remarkable thing that Jesus wants His followers to remember His death.

Most of us try to forget how those we love died, but Jesus wants us to remember how He died. Why? Because everything we have as Christians centers in that death. We are to consciously call to mind the person of Jesus and His death as a means for the forgiveness of our sins.

2) We should look ahead (1 Corinthians 11:26b).

We observe the Lord’s Supper “until Jesus comes again.” The return of Jesus Christ is the blessed hope of the church and the individual Christian (Titus 2:13). Jesus did not only die for us, but He arose again and ascended to heaven.

And one day He shall return to take us to heaven at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:2-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53) for the rewarding ceremony at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

Today, we are not all that we should be; but when we see Him we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).

3) We should look within (1 Corinthians 11:27-28, 31-32).

The apostle Paul did not say we had to be worthy to partake of the bread and cup, but only that we should partake in a worthy manner. If we are to participate in a worthy manner, we must examine our own hearts, judge our sins, and confess them to the Lord.

To come to communion with unconfessed sin in our lives is to be guilty of Christ’s body and blood, for it was sin that nailed Him to the cross. If we will not judge our own sins, then God will judge us and chasten us until we do confess and forsake our sins.

The believers at Corinth neglected to examine themselves, but they were experts at examining everybody else. When the church gathers together, we must be careful not to become “religious detectives” who watch others while failing to acknowledge our own sins.

No one ought to come to Communion who is not a true believer. Nor should a true believer come to Communion if his heart is not right with God and with his fellow Christians. This is why we are given a time of spiritual preparation before partaking of the Lord’s Supper, lest any of us bring chastening on ourselves.

We are to treat the Lord’s Supper with reverence and to practice it in a spirit of self-examination. If we eat and drink in an unworthy manner, we eat and drink judgment to ourselves, and that is nothing to take lightly.

4) We should look around (1 Corinthians 11:33-34).

We should not look around in order to criticize other believers but in order to honor the Lord’s body (1 Corinthians 11:29b). This perhaps has a dual meaning. We should honor Jesus’ body as symbolized in the bread, but also in the church around us – for the church is the body of Christ.

The Last Supper should be a demonstration of the unity of the church – but there was not much unity in the Corinthian church. In fact, their celebration of the Lord’s Supper was only a demonstration of their disunity.

It isn’t only good manners to wait for one another when partaking of the Lord’s Supper; it also shows love towards others. If we wait for one another, then each one can receive an equal share.

5) We partake of it as often as we can (1 Corinthians 11:25b).

Nothing is said in the New Testament about the frequency of the Lord’s Supper. Some believe it would be good to do it weekly; others practice it quarterly and still, others celebrate it on the first Sunday of each month.

I believe we are free in this matter. But since we take the Lord’s Supper to remember Christ’s death, we should take it fairly often and regularly. In any case, it’s not the frequency that matters but the attitude of our hearts.

Purpose of the Lord’s Supper

1) A Remembrance

First of all, the Lord’s Supper is a remembrance, a recollection. As we partake, we are to dismiss from our thoughts the care of everyday life and focus our attention completely on the Lord Jesus, foundationally remembering His death on the cross for us.

Let us not forget as some often do, how much our Lord has sacrificed for us at Calvary. The Lord in His gracious wisdom instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper as a loving reminder of His death, resurrection and soon-to-be return.

2) Spiritual Nourishment and Inspiration

Just as certain foods are essential to physical well-being, so we need spiritual foods to nourish our spiritual life. Prayer, Bible study and fellowship are a few of these, but the Lord’s Supper is also an important part of our spiritual diet and we should not neglect it.

3) Fellowship

The Lord’s Supper is a means of fellowship with one another in Christ. It is a sign of the union of believers with Christ, their head.

Since the beginning of the church, it was customary for the believers to eat together (Acts 2:42, 46). It was an opportunity for fellowship and for sharing with those who were less privileged.

They called these meals “fellowship meals” since the main emphasis was commemorating the Lord’s love and showing love for the saints by sharing with one another (Jude 12).

4) Means of Preaching the Gospel

Jesus said in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” The word translated “show” in the original language is actually the word for “preach.” So basically, Jesus is saying, “You do preach the Lord’s death until He comes.”

We need to understand that each time we do Communion we are actually preaching a sermon declaring that Christ died for the sins of the world, that He rose from the grave and He is coming again.

Significance of the Lord's Supper

Conclusion

The Lord’s Supper was a supper with great symbolic meaning attached to it. The two prominent symbols being the bread, which is broken into pieces and shared by all, and the wine poured into a common cup and drunk by all.

Jesus taught His disciples that the bread represents His physical body which was given for us so that we might be saved. The wine, on the other hand, represents His blood which was poured out for the atonement of our sins.

Jesus, the eternal Son of God, took on human flesh, adding perfect, sinless humanity to His undiminished deity. He took on a sinless body so that He could die in our place by taking our sins upon Himself.

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we celebrate our Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary for our unmerited benefit and blessing.

Here’s a beautiful song by Matt Redman called “Remembrance.” Listen and be blessed.

Jesus Christ is the One True God

Jesus Christ is the One True God

As Jesus was discussing events that would take place on earth during the time of Tribulation in Matthew 24, He warns His disciples about being deceived by someone claiming to be “the Christ” (Matthew 24:4-5).

Jesus Christ is the one true God but the Jews have often been led astray by false prophets and false christs.

Matthew 24:4-5

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”

The True God can Forgive Sins

Only God has the power to forgive and cleanse sinners from their sins but a false god can’t do so. Mark 2:7 says that only God has the power to forgive sins; this is the statement of the Jewish people, the people that know the very perspective of God when it comes to dealing with sins.

Jesus Christ is the One True God

In this passage, Jesus did not rebuke or correct them. Instead, He proved to them that He has the power to forgive and save (Mark 2:10).

Obviously, saying, “Your sins are forgiven!” would seem to be easier than healing him, because nobody can prove whether or not the forgiveness has really taken place.

So, to back up His words, Jesus immediately healed the man and sent him home. The healing of the man’s body was but an illustration and demonstration of the healing of his soul (Psalm 103:3).

The True God Sanctifies

Only the true Jesus is able to keep you sanctified; the false Jesus will require your sin offering every time you sin. At times, he demands you to come to another god (such as names of men or mystical gods) or demands you “to do” good works like feeding the poor.

In Philippians 1:6, it says that whatever good God has begun in the life of a believer, He will bring it to completion until the day of the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 teaches the same thing.

The True God Answers Prayers

Only Jesus, the one true God has the power to answer all prayers. The false god requires another name such as the names of angels or saints to come to God. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “Jesus is the only mediator between God and men.”

The biblical account of “The Contest on Mount Carmel” in 1 Kings 18:20-40 is a great illustration of the power of the true God to answer prayers.

In this passage, the prophet Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to set up an altar of wood with a bull offering on it and then call on the name of their gods to consume the offering by setting it on fire.

From morning until noon the prophets of Baal called on the name of Baal; they even danced around the altar they made and cut themselves with knives until the blood gushed out on them as was their custom, but there was no answer.

Then it was Elijah’s turn to call on the name of the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to set the altar he prepared on fire.

“Then the fire of the Lord fell on the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’” (1 Kings 18:38-39).

The True God Answers Prayers
Photo Credits: pastorerickson.com

The True God Saves

Only Jesus, the one true God, has the power to give salvation while the false Jesus will require another name for salvation (Acts 4:12). The false Jesus or false god can’t give eternal life; only the true God can.

God gave His only begotten Son so that we might receive eternal life if we will repent and put our trust in Christ; we need to believe in Him (John 3:16). To believe in Jesus does not only mean having “head knowledge” about Him. Rather, having a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The True God Has Power Over All Demons

Only the true Jesus has the name that has power over demons and “all” spiritual wickedness in high places. We read in Luke 8:26-39 how Jesus healed a demon-possessed man. Satan tried to destroy this man, but Jesus came to deliver him. By the power of His word, Jesus cast out the demons and set the man free.

We can tell by reading the passage that even demons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and has the authority to command them (Luke 8:29). Demons even believe in prayer for they begged Jesus not to send them into the abyss.

The True God Brings Transformation

Only the true Jesus can bring change in our lives and bring forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit. While the false Jesus requires you to be a part of religion and keep their traditions in order to FEEL PURE.

In John 15:4-5, the apostle John wrote Jesus’ word, that only those grafted in the true Jesus will show good fruits, for apart from Him, no one will able to bear the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The Fruit of the Spirit does not rely on feelings because God’s words are not about our feelings but based on God’s faithfulness. God promised that He will give the true believer the Holy Spirit to help them walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh.

The True God Has Resurrected

Only the true Jesus has resurrected from the grave and has power over death but the false Jesus will die and remain dead unless he too will believe in the true Jesus. He will then rise from the grave too at the time on the day of the rapture.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 records the risen Christ being seen by the first witnesses of His resurrection. John 20:26-29 records Thomas asking Jesus to show him His nail-pierced hands. He touched them and upon hearing Jesus’ voice he realized he was standing face-to-face with the true Jesus,

So Thomas cried, “My Lord and My God!” Doubting Thomas was convinced more than ever that Christ had risen!

The True God is the Creator

Only Jesus, the true God created everything, seen or unseen but the false Jesus was created and does not exist from eternity to eternity. John 1:3 says that “ALL” were made by Him and nothing was made without Him.

John 1:1 says the Word was with God and the Word was God, the Word here refers to Jesus in reference to Revelation 19:13.

Jesus Christ is the One True God

The true Jesus is part of the Trinity or the One God in three persons while the false Jesus separates himself from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

In John 17:21 (and the whole context of this passage), Jesus teaches that the Father and His Spirit together with the Holy Spirit will make their abode in the believer so that we will become “One” in them as “THEY ARE ONE”.

The True God Leads Us to the Father

The true Jesus is the only way to Father while the false Jesus needs another name to go to the Father, such as in order to get to heaven, we need to be a member of certain church, in order to get to the Father, we need to go to certain name of saints (man) or Angels.

In Acts 4:12 says that only the name Jesus Christ was given for men’s salvation, In 1 Timothy 2:5 says that only the name Jesus Christ we have a mediator between God and man. In John 14:6 Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life, none can come to the Father except through Him.

Narrow is the Way that Leads to God

Dear readers, Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, that many will choose the wide gate leading to hell and few will find the right narrow gate leading to God’s Kingdom.

And Jesus continues in Matthew 7:21 that many “will call to Me Lord! Lord!” (The name Lord KURIOS in Greek, the name for God, which Jesus uses on that day).

It would be blasphemy if Jesus will be called Lord on that day in heaven on the Judgment day for only God/ELOHIM/One God in three persons, will stand with us on the Day of Judgment.

Again Jesus said, “FEW” will be saved while “MANY” will be condemned. Religions are many but few have a true relationship with God.

Religion or traditions will not save you; you need to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ!

Conclusion

My friend, only Jesus Christ the one true God can save you; a false Christ has no power to forgive “ALL” your sins (past, present, and future). The true Christ has PAID ALL YOUR SINS while the false Christ will demand you to pay some of your sins or demands you to do something for God. (Hebrew 10:14, Philippians 1:6, Galatians 5:4).

Examine your faith. Are you a follower of Jesus the one true God? Have you considered the messages above? Will you repent of your sins and believe in the real Jesus?

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

Peter’s confession of who Jesus is in Matthew 16:16 has been considered by many as pivotal and climactic in the entire narrative of Matthew. That’s because it was on this confession that Jesus built and established the Church. Who do people say Jesus Christ is? Who do you say He is?

We learn from the Gospel accounts that people followed Jesus around wherever He went during His earthly ministry, either to listen to Him teach, have the sick and demon-possessed healed and delivered, or in the case of the religious leaders, to test and trap Him.

Peter’s Confession of Jesus as the Messiah 

Matthew 16:13-17 

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

Background of the Passage

After the account of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58), the feeding of the five thousand at or near Bethsaida (Matthew 14:13-21), His encounter with the Canaanite woman who has great faith in the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28), and the feeding of the four thousand on a mountainside near the sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples withdrew to the region of Caesarea Philippi.

This move was likely a retreat from the pressing crowds. Do you notice in the Gospels that whenever Jesus wanted to teach His disciples some very important “Kingdom” truths, He would take them to a private or remote place?

About Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi was a Gentile city at the northernmost region of ancient Israel, some 25 miles or 40 km north of the Sea of Galilee, 50 miles southwest of Damascus and situated in a beautiful location at the foot of Mount Hermon.

Something noteworthy is the historical fact that Caesarea Philippi was a region strongly identified with pagan religions and idol worship. In his commentary, Barclay says, “The area was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship.”

Originally, Caesarea Philippi was called Paneas in honor of the pagan god Pan. And during the reign of King Herod the Great, he built a temple there to honor Augustus Caesar.

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?
Photo Credits: enterthebible.org

When Herod’s son Philip took over, he developed and expanded the city and renamed it Caesarea in honor of Emperor Caesar. He then added his name to distinguish it from other regions named Caesarea, hence, Caesarea Philippi.

What a setting for Jesus to ask a very important question. They had just left the city where there were a lot of false teachings about Jesus. (See Matthew 16:5-12 where Jesus warned His disciples about the yeasts/leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.)

And as they came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, they saw the temple built by King Herod with all the statues of gods. Some commentators even suggest that Jesus and His disciples could be standing in front of the temple when the conversation took place.

The Question of Jesus’ Identity

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked a pointed question – a question of His identity: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am?” In other translations, it reads, “Who do people say the son of Man is?”

In other words, Jesus was asking what men in general, whether high or low, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, are saying about Him. Why did Jesus ask this question? Was He interested to know who people thought He was?

Is Jesus having some kind of identity crisis? Didn’t He know who He was? Or was it because He’s so concerned about other people’s opinion of Him? Of course not! Jesus knew exactly who He was.

Some say that one probable reason for asking this question was the changing opinions about Him under the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Consider this scenario: Every time Jesus finishes teaching a certain crowd, the religious teachers would step right in to teach the people something else contrary to what Jesus taught them.

No wonder then that despite all the wonders and miracles that Jesus performed which the people witnessed with their own eyes, they still couldn’t figure Him out.

The Reply

“Some say John the Baptist, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14).

Obviously, people who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist (such as Herod the tetrarch in Matthew 14:1-3) didn’t know much about Him; or they would have known that Jesus and John had ministered at the same time.

Apparently, some people thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance like John the Baptist.

What do people believe about Jesus
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But why Elijah? Because of the miracles that Jesus performed, some people believed He was the forerunner of the Messiah and a famous worker of miracles. The Jews knew their Torah so very well and were familiar with the various miracles that Elijah performed (in the name of God).

And still, others thought Jesus was someone who spoke the word of God, like Jeremiah and the prophets.

The Unbelief of the People

Notice that no group was officially confessing Jesus as the Messiah. Regardless of the fact that in His words and His works, Jesus gave every evidence to the people that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, the people did not get the message.

They never denied that Jesus was a great teacher and prophet; they did not deny that He performed many miracles. Yet they chose to listen to popular opinions and followed them, instead of diligently seeking for the truth, just as many people do today.

Instead of following their convictions, the people chose to rely on their opinion and the opinions of others, and this is what led them all astray.

While the opinions of the crowd were complimentary towards Jesus, they were inaccurate. Jesus was much more than a national reformer like John the Baptist, more than a miracle worker than Elijah and more than a prophet like Jeremiah.

We might think that the above answers as to who Jesus is are not in any way bad or negative. However, the general tendency was to underestimate Jesus and to give Him a measure of respect and honor but end up falling short of the honor due to Him for who He really is.

The Follow-up Question

Going back to the question of Jesus’ identity, Jesus asked the question as an introduction to a more important follow-up question.

Upon hearing the different opinions of men concerning Him, I find it interesting that Jesus did not make any reflections or comments. Instead, He immediately redirected the question to His disciples. He asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15)?

The disciples had been with Jesus for three years. They left everything and followed Him when He called them and became His disciples. Why? Because they believed in Him. You wouldn’t follow someone unless you believe in him, right?

On the part of Jesus, He knew exactly what kind of faith His disciples had on Him. He could see right through them and that is why He often rebuked them for their little faith and told them to increase their faith.

Why did Jesus have to ask His disciples who they thought He was? Because it was not enough to just believe in Him, they must confess Him as well. A confession has to be made as Romans 10:9-10 clearly says.

Romans 10:9-10

Peter Confesses Jesus as Christ

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16)! In other translations, it says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Note: “The Christ” is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew “the Messiah,” meaning, the Anointed One.

In his answer, Peter was saying, “You are the Anointed One, the only Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Life Everlasting.”

Peter understood that Jesus was not only the Messiah but also God Himself. In the Jewish context, to receive the title “The Son of the Living God” in a unique sense was to make a claim to deity itself.

Jesus Pronounces a Blessing

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

You see, Christ’s messianic claims had always been subtle allusions to Old Testament prophecies, combined with miraculous works that substantiated those claims. Jesus had never explicitly taught His disciples the fullness of His deity.

So what happened was, God the Father had opened Peter’s eyes and heart and revealed to him who Jesus really was. When Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), the son of the Living God, it did not come out as a mere expression of an academic opinion about the identity of Jesus.

Who do you say Jesus Christ is?
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Instead, it was a confession of personal faith that was made possible only by a divinely-regenerated heart.

The carnal man does not have any idea who Jesus is (2 Corinthians 2:14). Only true believers are the ones who understand who Jesus really is. Unless God reveals to us in our spirit, we will never truly understand who Jesus really is.

Closing Words

We know that many people today do not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world. But what about us as individuals, what do we believe about Jesus. Who do we say Jesus is?

“Who do you say I am?”

This is the question placed before us today and all who hear of Jesus. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? The Messiah? The son of the Living God? The Life Everlasting? Did you confess with your mouth His lordship over your life? Do you believe in your heart that Jesus is who He claimed to be?

Believing Jesus is the Messiah is one thing, confessing Him as Lord and Savior of your life is another thing, especially these days when talking about Jesus, Christianity and the Bible is not the most popular thing to do.

What you and I believe and confess about Jesus is a matter of life and death. We deserve the death penalty as a result of our sin but we receive eternal life as a gift from God when we place our faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.


*Recommended Resource: 

Who Do You Say that I AM?: A Fresh Encounter for Deeper Faith
By Becky Harling

Who Do You Say That I Am? is an 8-week study of the “I AM” statements of Jesus that will help women draw deeper into the Word of God for a more personal relationship with Christ. He wants your answer to his question, “Who do you say that I AM?”

The Study Book contains five days of study for each of the 8 weeks along with reflection questions.