Category: Christology

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

In the Old Testament, God made many promises to Abraham and to the nation of Israel as a whole. But if there is one promise that should make New Testament believers excited is the promise made by God to Abraham that He would make him a channel of great blessings not only to his own family and future descendants but to all the families of the earth.

Has this promise been fulfilled? Indeed! The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham and to his spiritual descendants. In all that Jesus did and said He sought to please His Father in heaven and to bring Him glory.

Bible Verses: Genesis 12:1-3 & Matthew 17:1-3

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Jesus is the Fulfillment of God's Promises

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him (Matthew 17:1-3).

Reflection and Meditation

As we read in the verses quoted above, there is a condition to the promise. This shows that while God’s love is unconditional, all His promises come with a condition.

In the case of God’s promise to bless Abraham, his descendants and all nations of the earth, the condition for its fulfillment was simple and straightforward: “Go from your family and country to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

Abraham not only believed in God’s promise, he promptly obeyed and did as the Lord commanded him. God chose Abraham as His instrument of blessing – that through him and his descendants would come the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who would reveal the glory and blessing of God’s kingdom, and bring salvation for all who would call upon His name.

Jesus, the Fulfillment of God’s Promise

The Lord Jesus came to fulfill all that Moses and the prophets spoke. Like Abraham, He was ready to part with anything that might stand in the way of doing the will of God. Jesus knew that the success of His mission would depend on His willingness to embrace His Father’s will no matter what it might cost Him personally.

On three occasions, Jesus told His disciples that He would undergo suffering and death on a cross to fulfill the mission the Father gave Him. As the time draws near for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross, He takes three of His beloved disciples to the top of a high mountain. And there He was transfigured before them with Moses and Elijah, overlooking the summit of the Promised Land.

Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light (Matthew 17:2).

The Glory of Jesus Revealed

Why did Jesus appear in dazzling light with Moses and Elijah? The book of Exodus tells us that when Moses had met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (Exodus 34:29).

The apostle Paul wrote that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). After Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets had destroyed all the priests and idols of Baal in the land, he took refuge on the mountain of God at Sinai.

There God showed Elijah His glory in great thunder, whirlwind, and fire, and then spoke with him in a still quiet voice. God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” And then directed him to go fulfill the mission given him by God.

Jesus is the Fulfillment of God's Promises

Jesus, likewise, appears in glory with Moses and Elijah, as if to confirm with them that He, too, is ready to fulfill His mission. Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited Him in Jerusalem – betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion.

Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave His approval: “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5).

The Father glorified His son because He was faithful and willing to obey Him in everything. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and His apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10; 19:9; 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10).

Jesus Christ is the Way to Glory

The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see His glory; He wants to share His glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father’s glory. All we need to do is follow Him and obey His words.

Jesus fulfilled His mission of Calvary where He died for our sins so that Paradise and everlasting life would be restored to us. He embraced the cross to win a crown of glory; a crown that awaits each one of us, if we, too, will follow in His footsteps.

Jesus’ Followers are Partakers of His Glory

Luke’s gospel tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were very sleepy, and when they were fully awake they saw His glory along with Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:32).

How much are we missing of God’s glory and action because we often get sleepy spiritually? Many things can keep our minds asleep to the things of God, such as mental lethargy, a very comfortable life, and even sorrow. These things can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions.

Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we, too, are called to be witnesses of His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Lord wants to reveal His glory to us, His beloved disciples. Do you seek His presence with faith and reverence?

Let us desire to see the glory of God and pray that the Lord Jesus will always keep us alert to Him, to His word, action, and presence in our lives.


Jesus in the Order of Melchizedek

Jesus in the Order of Melchizedek

One of the most mysterious and intriguing figures in the Bible is Melchizedek. Who is Melchizedek and why does the author to the Hebrews say that Jesus is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek? Was Melchizedek Jesus Christ?

Who was Melchizedek?

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, is first mentioned in Genesis 14:17-20. After Abram returned from his victory over Chedorlaomer and his allies, Melchizedek, together with the king of Sodom, went out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh.

Melchizedek brought Abram some bread and wine and blessed him saying, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand” (Genesis 14:18-19).

Melchizedek’s family history is different. Although he was a man and had to have a mother and a father, the Old Testament has no record of his genealogy, and this is significant because most great persons in the Old Testament have their ancestry identified.

The name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” in the Hebrew language. The word Salem means “peace” (the Hebrew word shalom) so that Melchizedek is “king of peace” as well as “king of justice.”

Note: Justice and peace are often found together in Scripture. True peace can be experienced only on the basis of righteousness and justice. If we want to enjoy peace with God we must be declared righteous (just) by faith (Romans 5:1). People cannot be right with God by keeping the Old Testament law (Galatians 2:21). Only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross can justice and peace meet.

Melchizedek, a Type of Christ

How is Jesus like Melchizedek?

After his sudden disappearance in the book of Genesis, it is interesting how Melchizedek is presented in Psalm 110:4 as a “type of Christ.” David writes, “The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”

How is Jesus like Melchizedek
Photo Credits: Pinterest (Pin by Kellys Destiny)

The reason Jesus Christ can be a “priest forever” is that He belongs to the “order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek’s priesthood differed from Aaronic priesthood in a number of ways. First, he had no genealogy and thus his priesthood was understood to be eternal.

In Hebrews 7:1-3 we see five qualities of Melchizedek’s priesthood: It is a priesthood of righteousness, peace, a royal priesthood (Melchizedek was a king), a personal priesthood rather than an inherited priesthood, and it is eternal since it has no genealogy, beginning or end.

Jesus Christ: Priest Forever in the Order of Melchizedek

The order of Melchizedek indicates that Christ was not appointed to the Aaronic priesthood of the old covenant but to a priesthood that would replace it and would be greater, just as Melchizedek himself was greater than Aaron and even Abraham himself.

The priest was the only one who could present a gift to God (Hebrews 5:1). He could do so because he had to be chosen to be God’s servant. As the minister of God, the priest had special access to God’s presence and could approach more closely than ordinary worshipers. He was the intermediary between God and the people. He represents the people to God and God to the people.

In the Old Testament economy, the throne and the altar were separated. King Uzziah wanted to be both a priest and a king, and God judged him (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). But Melchizedek had both offices – king and priest. Aaron never had that privilege. And it must be noted that Melchizedek was not a counterfeit priest; he was the “priest of God Most High” and his ministry was legitimate.

Only in Jesus Christ and in pre-law Melchizedek were these two offices combined. Jesus Christ is the High Priest on the throne.

Psalm 110:4, the central verse of David’s messianic psalm, is important to the message of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:17, 21) because it announces that the Messiah will be both King and Priest, something unheard of in the Old Testament history.

More importantly, in this psalm, Melchizedek pictures our Lord as a heavenly High Priest. If Jesus were on earth, He could not minister as a priest because He did not belong to the tribe of Levi. Jesus was born of the seed of David, the tribe of Judah. But because His priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek, who was both king and priest, He can minister in heaven today.

Jesus Christ is Our Great High Priest

In Hebrews 8:1-3 we read that “we have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man; a high priest who is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices.”

This high priest is Jesus Christ. As a High Priest, Jesus must offer gifts and sacrifices (Hebrews 5:1). We must not, however, get the impression that our Lord is offering sacrifices in heaven that corresponds to the Old Testament sacrifices. Rather, Jesus offered Himself once and for all as the sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 7:27).

In Hebrews 10:11-18, the writer contrasts the old covenant high priest with Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. The fact that Jesus sat down after He ascended to the Father proves that His work was completed (Hebrews 1:13; 8:1).

Jesus in the Order of Melchizedek

The ministry of the priests in the Tabernacle and Temple was never done and never different; they would offer the same sacrifices day after day. This constant repetition was proof that their sacrifices did not take away sins. What tens of thousands of animal sacrifices could not accomplish, Jesus accomplished with one sacrifice forever!

Christ’s position as the great high priest enabled Him to play a special role in our redemption. Because He was appointed priest, Christ was able to offer His death as a sacrifice for others. He became the sacrifice on earth that He might become the High Priest in heaven.

Was Melchizedek Jesus Christ?

Melchizedek was not an angel or some superhuman creature; nor was he an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. He was a real man, a real king, and a real priest in a real city. But as far as the record is concerned, he was not born, nor did he die (Hebrews 7:8). In this way, he pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who is Priest “forever.”

It may not have been obvious to Abram at that time, but the mysterious priesthood of Melchizedek pointed forward to the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ who would minister grace and mercy to us based on His own sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus is our great and eternal High Priest who lives forever. He is the high priest who is Himself sinless and never needs to offer any sacrifices for His own sin. In the offering of Himself, He made the perfect sacrifice which once and for all opened the way to God.

And no other sacrifice needs to be made, hallelujah, praise God!

Have you received Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins?


Recommended Resource: 

Melchizedek’s Alternative Priestly Order: A Compositional Analysis of Genesis 14:18-20
By Joshua Mathews

Product Description:

Genesis 14:18-20 is a brief episode depicting the encounter between Abram and Melchizedek. Taking this episode and its context in the Pentateuch as the starting point, Mathews sets out to analyze the text as it has been composed, in order to understand the biblical and theological significance of this priest-king Melchizedek.

The thesis proposed and investigated is that Melchizedek’s royal priestly portrayal in Genesis initiates a priesthood that is intentionally presented as an alternative to Aaron and his priesthood. The claim is that this distinct priestly order is evident in the biblical text as we have it, and it may be discerned by reading the text carefully, on its own terms, with close attention to its compositional features.

Chapter 1 introduces the study and offers an overview of the history of interpretation related to Genesis 14 and Melchizedek. In chapter 2, various hermeneutical issues and approaches are examined in order to clarify methodology and identify some of the problems being addressed.

 In chapter 3, the heart of the book, Mathews considers Genesis 14:18-20 in the context of the Pentateuch, focusing on Melchizedek in relation to the Abrahamic narrative and covenant, the royal message of the Pentateuch, and Aaron’s priesthood.

Beginning with Psalm 110, chapter 4 identifies echoes of Melchizedek and his priesthood in several texts in the Prophets and Writings. The book concludes in chapter 5 with a summary and synthesis of the preceding analysis as well as some implications and suggestions for further research.

Why Do Wicked People Prosper?

Why Do Wicked People Prosper?

In Psalm 73, Asaph expressed his struggles and doubts which are similar to those we find in the book of Job. Why do wicked people prosper and the righteous suffer? In the first verse (Psalm 73:1), the psalmist affirmed that “God is” so he was not an atheist or an agnostic, and he was certain that the God he worshiped was good.

Furthermore, he knew that the Lord had made a covenant with Israel that promised blessings if the people obeyed Him (Leviticus 26:1-13; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Deuteronomy 30:1-20).

But it was these foundational beliefs that created the problem for him because he observed that the unbelievers don’t face problems “like everyone else” (Psalm 73:5). If the Lord was good and kept His covenant promises, why were His people suffering and the wicked prospering?

When the Wicked Prosper

How often do we see the ungodly shamelessly flaunting their perverted lifestyle during gay rights parades on the evening news? They neglect what God has to say about it (Romans 1:24-28). Take a look at this photo taken in Tel Aviv, Israel in a Gay Pride Parade. Yes, the very nation where Christianity started; God’s chosen nation. 

Why Do Evil People Prosper

And what about those who support abortion and claim that a woman’s right to choose is greater than the life of “unwanted tissue?” They too, neglect what God has to say about life in the womb (Isaiah 44:2). Worse, there are people in the government today who has gone to the extreme of legalizing late-term abortions. 

Yet they seem to be worry-free and are enjoying a wonderful life compared to those who choose to live in accordance with what the Word of God says. When our system of justice seems to abandon all standards of morality, where do God’s people make their appeal?

While we cannot deny the goodness of God in our everyday lives, it is also undeniable that God is good (perhaps too good) to the wicked and proud, thus making it easy for some of us to envy the wicked and their prosperity.

If God is good and just, the plans of the wicked should not succeed, they should be punished and only the righteous should prosper. But that is not what Asaph saw (Psalm 73:12), and it is not what we see either. We see the wicked enjoying the same prosperity, oftentimes more prosperous than God’s people.

This then can cause one to question what the reward of godliness is.

Doubt vs. Unbelief

There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt comes from a struggling mind, while unbelief comes from a stubborn will that refuses surrender to God. The unbelieving person will not believe, while the doubting person struggles to believe.

Based on the evidence he saw around him, Asaph came to the wrong conclusion that he had wasted his time and energy maintaining clean hands and a pure heart. If he had ever read the book of Job, then he had missed its message, for we serve God, not for what we get out of it but because He is worthy of our worship and service regardless of what He allows to come to our lives.

Satan has a commercial view of the life of faith and encourages us to serve God for what we can get from Him, and Asaph bought into that philosophy. Although he knew that what he said about God in the first verse of his Psalm is true, it has always been and will always be true, still, his feet almost slipped (Psalm 73:2).

But before going public with his unbelief and resigning his office, Asaph paused to consider the consequences. How would the younger believers in the land respond if one of the three sanctuary worship leaders turned his back on the Lord, the covenants and the faith (Psalm 73:15)?

To abandon the faith would mean undermining all that he had taught and sung at the sanctuary! The more he pondered the problem the more his heart was pained (Psalm 73:21-22). So he decided to go to the sanctuary and spend time with the Lord in worship.

Godly Life vs. Godless Life

Asaph got a new perspective on the problem when he considered, not the surrounding circumstances, but the destiny before him. He realized that what he saw in the lives of the prosperous, ungodly people was not a true picture but only pretense (Psalm 73:20).

As we continue to Psalm 73:23-28, we see the striking contrast between Asaph’s picture of godly life and the godless life described in Psalm 73:4-12). The ungodly impress each other and attract admirers, but they don’t have God’s presence with them.

The Lord upholds the righteous but casts down the wicked (Psalm 73:18). The righteous are guided by God’s counsel (Psalm 73:24) but the ungodly are deluded by their own fantasies. The destiny of the true believers is glory, but the destiny of the unbelievers is destruction (Psalm 73:19, 27).

Why does God let Evil People Prosper

True Riches Are Found in God Alone

The possessions of the ungodly are but idols that take the place of the Lord, and idolatry is harlotry (Exodus 34:15-16; 1 Chronicles 5:25).

Even death cannot separate God’s people from His blessing, for the spirit goes to heaven to be with the Lord, and the body waits in the grave for resurrection (Psalm 73:25-26; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Justice is Coming

Whenever we face problems and conflicts in our lives, we want to take control and make things happen. But we need to realize that God is just (Psalm 25:8) and vengeance belongs to Him (Psalm 94:1).

Do you feel bad seeing the wicked prosperous and they seem to get away with everything? Don’t fret! A day is coming when all will be set right. When we come before the Supreme Court of Heaven, there is no Fifth Amendment, no jury or evidence tampering, no deception, no fraud, and no dream team of lawyers.

In our Father’s Supreme Court, there is only truth and holiness. There, the Lord will be the defense and the Rock of refuge for the righteous or He will bring on the wicked their own iniquity and cut them off in their wickedness.

Will God be your defender and refuge? Or will He cut you off? Find rest from adversity by following the laws of our Supreme Court Judge.

The Place for Christmas

The Place for Christmas

Although many Christians today say that Jesus Christ is the reason for the season, He is still out of place for many people in all the days of their lives and even during Christmas time. It’s just sad that Christmas is supposed to be all about Jesus, yet people neglect Him because of many concerns, especially for the occasion.

Jesus is knocking into our life but we do not have any room for Him because we are too preoccupied with the things of life. People’s thoughts are full of anxieties, parties, wishes of new material things, food and many other more. But God wants to dwell in us.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” 

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Background of the Passage

It was the time when Caesar Augustus wrote a decree that the people should be counted-in in a form of registration, not to where they dwell but rather each to his own home town. At that time, Joseph and Mary were living in Galilee in Nazareth which is about 132km away from Joseph’s hometown, Bethlehem in Judea.

Although Mary was on the verge of delivering baby Jesus, they had to travel in compliance with the decree. There could not be a good reason for the couple to travel to Bethlehem at this point in time, especially when Mary was about to deliver the baby apart from mandatorily complying with the decree

However, this is all in fulfillment of what was prophesied hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus that the ruler of Israel shall come from the clans of Judah in Bethlehem.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2 ESV).

At that time, many people were traveling back to Bethlehem to register and given that Mary was pregnant, they might have taken a slower pace. We could assume that most of the people arrived earlier than they did, such that all the guest rooms in the houses were already crowded with people when they finally arrived.

Why Was Jesus Born in a Manger?

The Bible does not give much detail on the circumstances of the birth of Jesus, perhaps for us to give more attention to the Savior Jesus Christ who was born that night. As to why Mary ended up having baby Jesus laid in a manger rather than on a comfortable warm crib or bed was not explicitly mentioned in the passage.

After all, were they not in Joseph’s hometown where he would have close relatives to welcome and help them out? Did the people just stand from afar watching Mary give birth without extending a helping hand? There are different versions of the Christmas story that we have heard from our childhood which are still popular today.

One version is that they arrived in Bethlehem and no “inn-keeper” was ready to take them in because all rooms were already occupied. No one was ready to give up their own space for an ordinary-looking couple.

Not a single “inn-keeper” was willing to eject anyone in favor of the pregnant couple and so when it was time for Mary to deliver the baby, there was no option other than the place where the animals are kept. Since the birthing place is a stable, then the manger seems to be a reasonable place to lay down the baby.

Another version is that they were already in Bethlehem days before Mary’s time to deliver the baby and since Joseph’s clan (the lineage of David) comes from Bethlehem, they were hosted in a guest room of one of Joseph’s relative’s house.

But because so many people were already there who came before them, the guest room was so crowded that there was not enough space to comfortably deliver the baby with a bit of privacy. This leaves them no other option but the place where the animals are kept. Thus, once again, the stable being the birthing place, makes laying down the baby in a manger reasonable.

There could be so many other versions of the Christmas story within man’s creative imagination but all of them would only agree on what the bible says  “No place”  in the inn and the baby laid in a manger.” The house is full! There was no special treatment, not enough space for Him.

This led to where the delivery could take place other than the comforts and privacy of a room. The birth taking place where the animals are kept makes the manger the safest place for a mother to lay down her baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. What a pitiful sight! Baby Jesus who was and is the Savior of us all, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the beloved Son of God was out of place at the time of His birth. 

The circumstances of Jesus’ birth are not worthy of the Son of God! But all these took place in perfect alignment to the will of God.

God Wants to Dwell in Us

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ESV).

The best place that we could offer to the Lord is our heart. But what kind of heart does the Lord want to dwell in?

A Humble Heart

But He gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV).

There could never be anything better than having the grace of God dwell in the lowly heart so His promised salvation will be received. Because of God’s grace, the blessing will not only be spiritual but material prosperity in this life.

Our prideful aspirations in life cause us more trouble than light. We can never be self-sufficient for it is only by grace, the undeserving favor we receive from God that all circumstances in our life get into the right place.

Jesus Himself had a humble beginning as we just read in the story of His birth. It is not because He deserves all those things but that He wanted to experience the things that most of us go through; the pain the most of us go through. King as He is, with all humility, He submitted Himself to the Father’s will.

The Place for Christmas

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV).

Being a carpenter’s son, Jesus’ family here on earth may not have been rich materially. But because of His great love for us, He gave up His richness as God by setting aside His glory and was born in flesh as an ordinary man so that through His poverty we can become rich.

Paul here does not only mean our spiritual richness but he was also talking about our prosperity in all things, here on earth! We don’t need to wait until we get to heaven to have a glorious life.

We “might” become rich means we may experience God’s provisions; not only what we need but more so that we will have plenty to share with others (2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT).

“Therefore, it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 NLT).

The incarnation was Jesus’ humble way of getting His mission accomplished here on earth. And if we were to be like Christ, we need to have a humble heart for Him to dwell in.

An Empty Heart

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 ESV).

We must be empty so we can be filled! We need to provide a room for Him in our hearts so he can fit in! Our hearts are so populated and polluted by so many things in this life. God and sin cannot co-exist in our hearts. We, therefore, need to empty our hearts of all the heavy loads of sins and invite Jesus to dwell in it.

We need to empty our hearts with our uncleanliness, our filthiness, our anxieties, our worries, our pride, and all the things not pleasing to God. If God can only dwell in a clean heart, let it then always be our prayer and desire that a pure heart be created in us. A clean heart with clean thoughts and good deeds.

No one can do that except through the washing of our sins with the most precious blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in us!

In the same way that God and sin cannot be together, we cannot be cold and warm at the same time. Or else, God won’t reject us (Revelation 3:16 NIV).

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Only those with a pure heart will see and enter the kingdom of God. Having a pure heart means having pure thoughts, pure intentions. Yes, we sin but we do not dwell in sin. We pass through it but we should choose not to stay in it.

“In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21 NLT).

Let us, therefore, get rid of our old heart and keep a pure heart so Jesus can dwell in us and use us for His glory.

An Available Heart

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land (Isaiah 18-19 ESV).

God wants us to respond to His invitation: “Come now and let us talk…let us be clear to one another”. He came to forgive us sins and wash us clean no matter what our past is.

Willingness + Obedience = Availability

God can never use us unless we make our hearts available. All we need is to have an available heart and come to Him. However, we can never escape from God’s call.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Just the same, God invites us to come to Him. So, let us not make excuses and beg off some other time. Let us have an available heart so that Jesus can dwell in us!

“God does not look at your ability; He looks at your availability!”

A Repentant Heart

I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:32 NLT).

Jesus did not come to save the righteous, for no one is righteous. We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We only become righteous through faith because of Christ (Romans 5:1). He came to save the sinners … and that means everyone who comes to Him in repentance.

We cannot be friends with God unless we repent and in order to repent, we must, first of all, accept that we have sinned, confess our sins and turn away from them.

God offers forgiveness to those who come to Him with a repentant heart. We have to confess our sins and come with a repentant heart so we can find mercy and that He can dwell in us.

We should not also hide our sins from God (Proverbs 28:13) for He is an omniscient (all-knowing) God. He loves us and He disciplines those whom He loves (Revelation 3:19 NIV).

A Trusting Heart

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

Jesus is just waiting for us to open up our hearts and put our trust in Him so He can show us which direction we should go. He is looking for a trusting heart so He may dwell in. Seeking His will means submitting our life with a trusting heart. We seek His will to be more like Him and let Him put our life in order.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV).

Trusting is obeying without doubting even if you do not know the reason for it. Faith is believing in something that we do not see. A trusting heart is the best place we can offer Jesus to dwell in not only this Christmas but all the days of our lives.

Summary

The place for Christmas, the best place for Christ to dwell is our H – E – A – R – T.

H – humble Heart

E – empty Heart

A – available Heart

R – repentant Heart

T – trusting Heart

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20 ESV).


Here’s a beautiful Christmas worship song by Paul Baloche called The Newborn King, enjoy singing along!

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

With the increasing anti-Christian sentiment and the decline of economic and social stability, many Christians today are anxious about the future. In times like these, people tend to look even more closely at the book of Revelation because it encourages Christians to keep hope alive.

Background of the Book of Revelation

The apostle John wrote his great book while he was banished to Patmos – a small, rocky island in the Aegean Sea. While he was shut out from the world, he was shut in to God and received the most extensive revelation of future events shown to any writer of the New Testament.

God very well may have allowed John’s banishment so he could be alone with Him and receive this monumental vision of the future. Sometimes the work God has for us requires removal from our normal environment. Abraham’s call, Joseph’s slavery, Moses’ flight from Egypt, and Daniel’s captivity are some instances.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Many writers isolate themselves by getting away to a mountain retreat or stay in a hotel room so they can concentrate fully on their task. I tend to focus more on my thinking, planning and, writing when left alone in a quiet or remote place.

It becomes quickly apparent as we open the book of Revelation that we are about to encounter a message with a high purpose. Though it bears certain similarities to prophetic passages in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Matthew, Revelation is unique.

What Kind of Book is Revelation?

The book of Revelation tells us what kind of book it is in the first few paragraphs.

A Prophetic Book

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His servant John” (Revelation 1:1).

Revelation 1:1 displays the prophetic nature of what John wrote through the use of one keyword and one key phrase. The keyword is revelation, which is the translation of the Greek word apokalypsis or “apocalypse.” In the Greek New Testament, this is the first word of the entire book.

What comes to mind when you hear the word apocalypse? Horrible disasters associated with the end of the world, right? But in the Greek, the word simply means “an uncovering; an unveiling; a manifestation of.”

While most people believe that the primary purpose of the book of Revelation is to paint a picture of the end times, although it does do that, it was written primarily to unveil, or uncover, the majesty and power of Jesus Christ. This book is neither a puzzle nor an enigma but a disclosure of who Jesus is.

The key prophetic phrase used in Revelation 1:1 is translated “must shortly take place,” which describes something that suddenly comes to pass. It indicates rapid progression after something commences. The idea is not that the event may occur soon but that when it does, it will occur suddenly.

It’s more like an earthquake; we don’t know when the next will come, but we know that it will. And it will come suddenly and without warning.

A Personal Book

“John … bore witness to the end of the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:2).

The book of Revelation is cosmic and far-reaching in its scope, yet it is also very personal. This is a message that John received personally from the Lord (Revelation 1:1-2) and he writes to those with whom he is intimately acquainted, referring to himself as a “brother and companion” in tribulation (Revelation 1:9).

The Lord said to John, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1:11). The seven letters we find in chapters 2 and 3 were personal letters written to actual congregations in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) at the end of the first century AD.

Theologian John Stott said this, “The seven cities mentioned form an irregular circle, and are listed in the order in which a messenger might visit them if commissioned to deliver the letters. Sailing from the island of Patmos … he would arrive at Ephesus. He would then travel north to Smyrna and Pergamum, south-east to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia, and finish his journey at Laodicea.”

Notice how each of the letters begins with the phrase, “I know your works,” and each contains a promise to the one “who overcomes.” But each message between these bookend phrases was personally tailored to the needs of the church to which it was addressed. As such, the letters must be read in their own context.

However, let us not take these letters for granted as there are applications for us today. John may have written these letters with first-century churches in mind, but they accurately identify the kinds of Christians who show up in church in every age – including today.

Anyone who reads the letters will likely think of individuals or churches that fit some of the descriptions. I believe the Lord’s recommendations to these seven churches could solve all the problems modern churches face. The fact that all seven letters were contained in a single parchment meant that each of the churches was required to read the letters written to the others.

A Pictorial Book

“He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Revelation 1:1a-2).

John indicated, on thirty-nine occasions, that he was recording things he saw. His word paint vivid pictures to reveal the future through memorable images and symbols.

Symbols occur throughout Scripture as vehicles for divine revelation, but this book contains more than any other. Sometimes the symbols represent people, such as in the first chapter where Jesus is seen as a judge with a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth.

The Antichrist is presented as a beast coming out of the sea, and the false prophet as a beast originating from the earth, in chapter 13.

You may ask, “Why is there so much symbolism in the book of Revelation?”

First of all, symbolism is not weakened by time. Well-chosen symbols span the centuries and allow us to apply them not only to ancient or future times but also to our own. They create a compelling drama that encourages persecuted and suffering saints throughout the ages.

Second, symbols impart values and arouse emotions. To call a tyrant a beast evokes a primal fear that the word dictator misses. It is also more colorful to refer to the corrupted world system as Babylon the Great than to dull it with a mundane list of descriptions.

This is what Eugene Peterson said about how the imagery in Revelation affects him: “The truth of the gospel is already complete, revealed in Jesus Christ. There is nothing new to say on the subject. But there is a new way to say it. I read the book of Revelation not to get more information but to revive my imagination.”

Last but not least, these symbols functioned as a kind of spiritual code that was generally understood by believers but not by outsiders. John’s book was circulated to the churches during the reign of Domitian (AD 81-96). If it had been written in more direct, prosaic language to fall into the hands of the Romans, those associated with the book would have been executed.

Reasons to Study the Book of Revelation

A Profitable Book

Revelation is the only book in the Bible that motivates its readers by promising a blessing for those who will read and obey it. The promise is made at the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 22:7).

*Related Article: The 7 Blessings in the Book of Revelation

You may be surprised to know that the word blessed as used in the above-mentioned verses means joyous, blissful or happy. So it may seem strange to associate joys with the sometimes chilling drama of the book of Revelation.

But as Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones explained, “Revelation was written in order that God’s people who were passing through terrible persecutions and terrible adversity might still be able to go on rejoicing. This book was written to help men and women who are in trouble by showing them the ultimate victory of the Lord over Satan and all the forces of evil.”

1. Profitable for Personal Application

It often appears that the enemy is winning but the book of Revelation puts everything into perspective. It tells us of God’s plan for the future and assures us that we are on the winning side. Satan may win some present battles, but the outcome of the war has already been determined.

Knowing that this truth gives us the courage to press on and persevere through the downturns.

2. Profitable for Public Assembly

Public reading and exhortation were an integral part of gatherings in the early church. Paul told young Timothy, for example, to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13).

The first-century church met in one place on the first day of the week and memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets were read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president would urge and invite the people to imitate the noble things read.

3. Profitable for Prophetic Anticipation

Revelation 1:3 ends with the phrase “the time is near,” and Revelation 22:10 declares that “the time is at hand.”

The expression, “the time is near” does not necessarily mean the event will occur immediately. It does indicate nearness from the standpoint of prophetic revelation, which operates according to its own timetable. These events were near when John recorded them as they were the next major event on the calendar. And they are even closer today.

Prophecy is God’s way of giving us a fair warning so we can prepare our hearts and minds to be ready for what is ahead.

A Practical Book

More than a century ago, a book entitled, Jesus is Coming: God’s Hope for a Restless World written by William E. Blackstone was published, and interestingly, it had a significant impact on the Christian world that it spurred much of today’s interest in the study of prophecy.

In his book, Blackstone devotes an entire chapter to the practical benefits of studying Bible prophecy, which he calls the true incentive to a holy life. He writes, “No other doctrine in the Word of God presents a deeper motive for crucifying the flesh, for separation to God, to work for souls, and as our hope and joy and crown of rejoicing than this does.”

Three practical benefits that come to us from studying prophecy, especially the book of Revelation:

1. Studying prophecy motivates us to live productive lives.

Contrary to what some people think that a keen awareness of the second coming of Christ will turn us into lazy souls who stand around gazing upward in some kind of useless trance, knowing that Jesus is coming any minute will motivate us, even more, to work for Him to do the Father’s business in these last days.

2. Studying prophecy motivates us to live positive lives.

The book of Revelation promotes a positive mindset that as we study it; we begin to realize that everything that’s happening in our world today is heading somewhere. In Revelation, we see God’s sovereign hand upon affairs of the world, as in no other book, and we see Him in control even though so much here on earth seems out of control.

As the conditions of our world worsen, instead of hanging our heads on depression or shake our heads in confusion, we are to lift up our heads in expectation, for our redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).

3. Studying prophecy motivates us to live pure lives.

The third benefit of studying Revelation is that it fosters purity in our lives. The Bible says, “… when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

A Purposeful Book

Revelation 1:7-8 presents the twofold purpose of the entire book, which is to affirm Christ’s return and His ultimate reign over the earth.

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).

Daniel predicted that the Messiah would come through the clouds (Daniel 7:13). In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus spoke of His coming in similar terms (Matthew 24:30). John expanded on Jesus’ words to describe what every person will experience at His second coming (Revelation 1:7).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet that point not only to the eternity of Christ but also to His all-inclusive power.

As the Alpha and Omega, Christ precedes the beginning of Creation and survives the end of humanity’s day. He is the eternal, omnipotent God. And when the time was right, Jesus began His campaign to regain His rightful sovereignty over the earth.

The book of Revelation is the account of that campaign. It tells of His appointment by the Father to the throne, His battle against the forces of evil, His final victory, and His relationship with the redeemed.

As a result of Christ’s triumph, His people are presented as overcomers. The simple meaning of the word overcome is “to conquer” or “to win the victory.” The promise of victory is certain, but its final reality awaits the return of Jesus Christ the King.

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Closing Words

It is in the heart of every believer to join with the saints of old in longing for that day as did John when he completed his scroll: “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Yet while we wait, let us remember that we still need the revelation that John received from Jesus.

In a world where we see Christian’s martyred for their faith each year, the church remaining terribly flawed, we need the Revelation which Jesus gave to John – a Revelation which changes everything; a Revelation that God is still on the throne working out His strategies from the control room of heaven.


*Reference: Agents of the Apocalypse SC (A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times)

By Dr. David Jeremiah

Are we living in the end times? Are the villains and saints in the Book of Revelation walking among us? Would we recognize them? Focusing on Revelation’s key players – the exiled; martyrs; elders; king; judge; 144,000 witnesses; false prophet; and beast – Jeremiah examines their motives and provides critical clues to help us identify their presence in today’s world. 

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

We hear this objection all the time: Jesus never really claimed He was the Son of God, or God Himself. Instead, this belief was superimposed on the Jesus tradition by His overzealous followers years after His death. Critics claim that the real Jesus saw Himself as nothing more than a rabbi.

However, this is not what the evidence clearly shows. This truth was summarized by H. R. Macintosh, a Scottish theologian: “The self-consciousness of Jesus is the greatest fact in history.”

A research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Kevin Vanhoozer, also wrote: “Jesus understood Himself to be the beloved Son of God, chosen by God to bring about the kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins. Our understanding of who Jesus was must correspond to Jesus’ own self-understanding. If we do not confess Jesus as the Christ, then either He was deluded about His identity or we are.”

Ten Factors Pointing to Jesus’ Claim as the Son of God

There are at least ten factors that point toward Jesus as believing He was the one and only Son of God.

1. Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.”

No scholar doubts that the most common way Jesus referred to Himself was “the Son of Man,” which He applied to Himself more than four dozen times, including in the gospel of Mark, which is generally considered to be the earliest of all the four gospels.

While some critics mistakenly believe this is a mere claim of humanity, the scholarly consensus is that this is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man is ushered into the very presence of the Almighty, has “glory, authority, and sovereign power,” receives the worship of “all peoples,” and is someone whose dominion is everlasting.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig said, “The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity.”

Vanhoozer adds an interesting sidelight: “The curious thing about Jesus’ use of the title … is that He linked it not only with the theme of future glory but also with the theme of suffering and death. In doing so, Jesus was teaching His disciples something new about the long-awaited Messiah, namely that, His suffering would precede His glory (Luke 9:22).

2. Jesus applied the “I am” sayings to Himself.

By applying the “I am” sayings to Himself, Jesus made a claim of divinity, at one point declaring, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). This obvious allusion to God’s words to Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14) was such an unmistakable declaration of equality with God.

The Jews understood Jesus perfectly so they thought that He had committed blasphemy for ascribing the Name of God to Himself. So they promptly attempted to stone Jesus. Death by stoning was the proper death penalty for this particular sin (Leviticus 24:12-16). But Jesus had not sinned for He was truly God. He was the great I AM in person.

Other passages where Jesus applied the “I am” statements to Himself include: John 6:35 (I am the bread of life) ; John 8:12 (I am the light of the world); John 10:7 (I am the Door of the sheep); John 10:11 (I am the good Shepherd); John 11:25 (I am the Resurrection and the Life); John 14:6 (I am the Way, the Truth and the Life) and John 15:5 (I am the Vine).

3. Jesus forgave sins.

Jesus made a divine claim when He forgave the sins of the paralytic in Mark 2:5. In response, the Jews said, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God” (Mark 2:7)?

The Jews were correct for only God can forgive sins, for sin is transgression against the law and only the aggrieved person can forgive the guilty one. As theologian D. A. Carson noted, “The only person who can say that sort of thing meaningfully is God Himself, because sin, even if it is against other people, is first and foremost a defiance of God and His laws.”

In forgiving sin, Jesus either blasphemed or He was God. But Jesus was God and could forgive.

4. Jesus selected 12 disciples.

Ever wonder why Jesus selected twelve men to be His disciples? Why not eight, ten, or fifteen? Why twelve? What’s with the number twelve?

According to Ben Witherington III, author of The Christology of Jesus, there was a transcendent claim made by the way Jesus selected His disciples. “If the twelve represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in?” he asked. “He’s not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, He’s forming the group – just as God in the Old Testament formed His people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel.

That’s definitely a clue about what Jesus thought of Himself.

Is Jesus God or the Son of God?
Photo Credits: Jesus.Net

5. Jesus taught with divine authority.

The fifth clue about Jesus’ self-understanding comes through the way He taught – with authority. Whenever Jesus teaches, He begins with the phrase, “Verily, verily, I say unto you …” or “Truly I say to you …” In effect, Jesus is saying, “I swear in advance to the truthfulness of what I’m about to say.”

“This was absolutely revolutionary,” Witherington said. He went on to explain that in Judaism, you needed the testimony of two witnesses … but Jesus witnesses to the truth of His own sayings. Instead of basing His teaching on the authority of others, He speaks on His own authority.

So here is someone who considered Himself to have authority beyond what the Old Testament prophets had. He believed He possessed not only divine inspiration, as King David did, but also divine authority and the power of direct divine utterance.

6. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.”

When relating to God, Jesus used the Aramaic term Abba, or “Father dearest.” This reflects an intimacy that was alien in ancient Judaism, in which devout Jews avoided the use of God’s personal name out of fear they may mispronounce it. Dr. Witherington made this observation:

“The significance of Abba is that Jesus is the initiator of an intimate relationship that was previously unavailable. The question is, what kind of person can initiate a new covenantal relationship with God?”

Jesus is saying that only through having a relationship with Him does this kind of prayer language – this kind of “Abba” relationship with God – becomes possible. That says volumes about how He regarded Himself.

7. Jesus received Thomas’ worship.

Another indicator of Jesus’ self-understanding can be seen in His post-resurrection encounter with the apostle Thomas in John 20. Responding to Jesus’ invitation to personally check out the evidence that He had really risen from the dead, Thomas declares, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)!

Jesus’ reply was very telling. It would have been the height of blasphemy for Him to have knowingly received Thomas’ worship unless Jesus really was God. Yet instead of rebuking him, Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus’ choice to receive Thomas’ worship clearly means He believed He was God and thus worthy of that homage. Similarly, when Simon Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus’ reaction was not to correct him but rather to affirm that this was revealed to him by the Father Himself (Matthew 16:15-17).

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

8. Salvation depends on peoples’ confession to Jesus.

Jesus clearly believed that the eternal destiny of people hinged on whether they believed in Him. He said in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

In addition, Jesus said, “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).

William Lane Craig put the implication this way, “Make no mistake: if Jesus were not the divine Son of God, then His claim could only be regarded as the most narrow and objectionable dogmatism. For Jesus is saying that people’s salvation is dependent upon their confession to Jesus Himself.”

9. Jesus said that He and the Father are one.

An equally overt assertion of divinity is found in John 10:30, where Jesus declared outright, “I and My Father are one.” There is no question about whether His listeners understood that Jesus was saying that He and God are one in substance. Promptly they picked up stones to stone Him “for blasphemy because You, being a man make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

10. Jesus performed miracles.

An equally important factor that should be weighed in assessing Jesus’ belief about His identity is His miracles. Jesus stressed that His feats were a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom. “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

Ben Witherington observed that even though others in the Bible also performed miracles, this statement showed that Jesus didn’t merely regard Himself as a wonder-worker: “He sees Himself as the one in whom and through whom the promises of God come to pass. And that’s a not-to-thinly-veiled claim of transcendence.”

British scholar James D. G. Dunn said, “Whatever the ‘facts’ were, Jesus evidently believed that He had cured cases of blindness, lameness, and deafness – indeed, there is no reason to doubt that He believed lepers had been cured under His ministry and restored the dead to life.”

Fulfilling the Attributes of God

Sure, anyone can believe that he or she is God. But Jesus didn’t just consider Himself God’s Son; He also fulfilled the attributes that are unique to God. Philippians 2:5-8 describes how Jesus emptied Himself of the independent use of His attributes – a phenomenon termed kenosis – when He was incarnated.

This explains how he didn’t always choose to exhibit the “omnis” – omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence – in His earthly existence. Even so, the New Testament confirms that all of these qualities were ultimately true of Him.

For example, in John 16:30, John affirms of Jesus, “Now we are sure that You know all things,” which is omniscience. Also in Matthew 28:20, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” which is omnipresence. And He declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18), which is omnipotence. 

Is Jesus the Son of God or God Himself?

Indeed, Colossians 2:9 reads, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”Jesus’ eternality is confirmed in John 1:1, which declares of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus’ immutability is shown in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His sinlessness is seen in John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”

Hebrews 1:3 declares Jesus to be “the brightness (or radiance) of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” Colossians 1:17 says, “Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Matthew 25:31-32 affirms He will be the judge of all mankind. And in Hebrews 1:8, the Father Himself specifically makes reference to Jesus as being God.

The very names used to paint a portrait of God in the Old Testament – names such as Alpha and Omega, Lord, Savior, King, Judge, Light, Rock, Redeemer, Shepherd, Creator, giver of life, forgiver of sin, and speaker with divine authority – are also applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

*Read here: God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

Conclusion

Did Jesus claim to be the only Son of God and God Himself? Absolutely! Although we do not read Jesus saying this directly to the effects of “I am the Son of God” or “I am God, worship Me,” He did so in ways that His audience and readers during His time clearly understood.

Who did Jesus believe He was? In his book, New Approaches to Jesus and the Gospels, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Royce Gruenler, comes to this conclusion: “It is a striking fact of modern New Testament research that the essential clues for correctly reading the implicit Christological self-understanding of Jesus are abundantly clear.”

Beyond just believing He was God, Jesus also proved it by working supernatural deeds, by fulfilling ancient prophecies against all mathematical odds, and ultimately by conquering the grave.

Who did Jesus think He was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus!

Who Did Jesus Think He Was?

Who did Jesus think he was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus! #Apologetics #Jesus

Posted by Reasonable Faith on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse: Blueprint to the End Times

The Olivet Discourse is a sermon that Jesus preached from the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem, three days before His crucifixion. The Olivet discourse is recorded in its most complete form in Matthew 24:1-25, and in more abbreviated forms in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

Jesus preached this sermon to a select group of His disciples in response to their question about the destruction of the Temple and the end of the age (Matthew 24:1-3). Mark 13:3 says that Jesus’ audience consisted of only four men: Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Imagine what it must have been like to hear the Savior outline the blueprint of the end times in such an intimate setting.

Christ’s Return at the End of the Age

For clarification purposes, the return of Christ at the end of the age is different from His return for the Church described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. In essence, there are two phases of the “Second Coming.”

The first phase is when Christ returns in the air to “receive the believers unto Himself” (John 14:3) and the second phase will be when Christ returns to the earth with His saints (the believers) and He will stand on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem at the end of the Tribulation period to defeat the Antichrist (Zechariah 14:4; Revelation 19:19).

Going back to the Olivet discourse, we read that before Jesus delivered this sermon, He and His disciples had been in the Temple in Jerusalem. “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down’” (Matthew 24:1-2).

As Jesus and the disciples crossed the Kidron Valley on the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ words must have been seared into the minds of the disciples. They must have wondered how this could be. When would this happen? When would the end come?

Matthew 24:1-2

So when they finally arrived at the Mount of Olives, the four men came to Him immediately for clarification (Matthew 24:3). The disciples were asking Jesus one big question with three parts. Clearly, the disciples’ question focuses on Christ’s return and the end of the age.

The disciples could not fathom the destruction of the Temple apart from the end of the age. For them, the destruction of the Temple, the coming of the Messiah, and the end of the world were tied together (Zechariah 14:1-11). This sermon, therefore, addresses the seven-year Tribulation period that will occur just before Christ returns.

While many futuristic scholars believe that a part of the Olivet discourse has already been fulfilled in 70 AD, particularly the destruction of the Temple, they say that the remainder of the discourse is yet to be fulfilled. They’re saying that Jesus began by speaking events that would be fulfilled in 70 AD, but then looked ahead to events that would be fulfilled near the end of human history.

The Olivet Discourse: The Mini Apocalypse

The Olivet discourse of Jesus is often called “The Mini Apocalypse” because it provides a concise yet comprehensive overview of the end times. In this sermon, Jesus gives us the basic blueprint for the end – a checklist of the signs of the times for Christ’s Second Advent. In twenty-seven verses, Matthew 24:4-31 moves from the beginning of the future Tribulation to the second coming of Christ.

Looking at Matthew 24:4-14, Jesus lists eight key signs He likens to birth pains that will be the signs of His coming: false Christs (v. 5); wars (vv. 6-7); famines (v. 7); earthquakes (v. 7); persecution (vv. 9-10); false prophets (v. 11); lawlessness (v. 12); and worldwide preaching of the gospel (v. 14).

The comparison with birth pains indicates that as the time of Christ’s coming draws near, the judgments will increase immensely in frequency and intensity.

In Matthew 24:15, Jesus directly appeals to the prophecies of Daniel and specifically to Daniel 9:27. Jesus goes on to describe the terrors of that time. Matthew 24:15-20 marks the midpoint of the Tribulation when the Antichrist breaks his treaty with Israel, invades the nation, and desecrates the Temple.

The Olivet Dsicourse Explained

Beginning in Matthew 24:21, the final 3 ½ years of this age are graphically outlined. The terrors will be so great that God will shorten the time for the sake of His people (Matthew 24:22). There will be people pointing here and there, claiming to have identified the Messiah, but Jesus warns against believing such claims (Matthew 24:23-26).

After the Tribulation, the second coming of Christ is presented (Matthew 24:29). He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally His coming and gathering of His elect from around the world. He describes it as being “like the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37).

Jesus encourages the disciples to look for the signs, like leaves on a fig tree (Mark 13:28), even though the day of His return is unknown. Nonetheless, He encourages them to keep watch and remain faithful (Mark 13:35-36; Matthew 24:42; Luke 21:36).

The Generation that will Not Pass Away

Some scholars argue that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 fulfilled Jesus’ predictions in Matthew 24. This view is based primarily on Matthew 24:34, which says, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Proponents maintain that “this generation” must refer to the generation that originally heard the words of Jesus. The chief problem with this view is that the destruction of Jerusalem did not fulfill all the events described in Matthew 24, so Jesus could not have been referring to that time period

In the context, “this generation” probably refers to those living during the Tribulation who will personally witness the events described in Matthew 24:4-31. Jesus is emphasizing that those who see the signs that He listed, and experience the Great Tribulation, will also witness the Second Coming.

Jesus is saying that those who are alive to see the beginning of the birth pangs will also witness the birth.


Matthew 24 is Futuristic

Reading the passage more carefully, there are two key points from the surrounding context that strongly suggest that all the conditions and characteristics in Matthew 24-4-28 are future events that will occur during the Tribulation, immediately preceding the return of Christ.

First, Jesus established the time frame for this sermon in Matthew 23:39, “For I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Jesus was telling His disciples that He was going to leave this world but that He would come again only when the Jewish people would repent and receive Him as their Messiah.

This statement is very significant as it forms the backdrop and context for what Jesus says in Matthew 24. Jewish repentance, which has never occurred and certainly didn’t occur in AD 70, is the ultimate event that will trigger His return. At the end of the Tribulation, the Jewish people will repent, and their Messiah will return to rescue them from the Antichrist (Zechariah 12:10).

Matthew 24:3

Second, when the disciples asked Jesus about the end of the world, they were thinking of when the Messiah would come to establish His glorious Kingdom in Israel. In fact, Jesus Himself used this exact terminology, “the end of the world (or age),” twice before to refer to the final judgment (Matthew 13:39, 49).

John Mac Arthur summarized it this way:

“It seems more sensible and more consistent, therefore, to take a futuristic approach with respect to the Olivet Discourse – to interpret the entire discourse as a prophetic picture of a “generation” and events that would take place long after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. These are events that will immediately precede Christ’s coming to establish His kingdom, and therefore they are events that are yet future even today.”

Conclusion

Jesus used the prophetic sermon known as the “Olivet Discourse” to outline the events that will lead up to the return of Israel’s Messiah to establish His Kingdom on earth and to call His people to faithfulness in view of that coming.

Although the events in Matthew 24 – 25 are futuristic, the parables encourage us to love Christ’s appearing, to look for His appearing and to labor faithfully until He comes. We should be watching, witnessing, and working. We may not be successful in many people’s eyes or even popular with others. But if we are faithful and profitable, we shall receive our reward.

And no matter what view of prophecy we take, we know that Jesus is coming again. As Christians, we must be alert and ready. We must not waste our opportunities. We may not have a great deal of ability or a great many gifts, but we can still be faithful in the calling God has given us.


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

The first comprehensive overview of biblical prophecy and the end times in more than 50 years. Presenting various eschatological viewpoints, Hitchcock offers a solid biblical foundation to guide you in exploring the essential truths surrounding this often misunderstood topic – and the earthly and celestial events that will mark Christ’s second coming.

Includes helpful charts. (520 pages, hardcover from Tyndale)

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

The next big event in God’s program for all believers is the coming of Christ to take them to be with Himself. Most theologians call this event the Rapture of the Church. But does the Bible give us any details on what will happen at the second coming of Christ? Yes, it does.

The apostle Paul describes this event in two passages: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 while John refers to it in John 14:1-3 and 1 John 3:2-3.

Who are the Believers?

Before getting into what God has in store in the future for the believers in Jesus Christ, we need to set things straight right from the get-go and define our terms properly. So as mentioned earlier, the return of Christ is something that believers are looking forward to. But who are the believers or Christians?

Admittedly, the term “Christian” is often used in the broadest sense. Most, if not all people automatically assume that if you’re not a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, etc. then you are a Christian. But is this assumption correct? Not really!

What Happens at the Second Coming of Christ

The believers are those who acknowledged that they are lost and in need of a Savior from sin and as a result have made the decision to repent and completely trust in the Lord Jesus to be Lord of their lives (John 1:12; John 3:16). In other words, they are those who have been redeemed from the power of sin and death through the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are a believer in Jesus and a redeemed Christian, there is a glorious future waiting for you.

What will Happen when Christ Comes?

There are 3 major events that will take place at the second coming of Christ: 1) concerning the Lord Jesus, 2) concerning the believers who had died and, 3) concerning the believers who are alive at the time of the return of Christ.

The Lord Jesus

The first event to transpire when Christ comes to take believers will be that Jesus Himself will descend from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16a).

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

Looking at this verse more closely, three truths become apparent:

A. It will be Jesus and no one else who will come.

Jesus will come personally for the believers as He promised in John 14:1-3. After Jesus announced His soon-to-be departure and Peter’s upcoming betrayal, the apostles were troubled. But Jesus promised to them that this won’t be their last time together because as soon as everything is ready He will return for His people so that they will always be with Him wherever He is.

B. Another truth that is expressed in the above-mentioned verse is that Jesus will be coming from heaven into which He was seen last going.

In Acts 1:9-11, we read how Jesus was taken up into a cloud in full view of the people watching. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, two men in white apparel said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

C. Jesus’ coming will be accompanied by an appropriate signal.

Paul describes the signal that will accompany Christ’s return as being “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

Wait a minute; will there be three different signals? No! Understand that Paul is referencing the signal as a triad in which the last two things describe the first. Paul is saying that Christ’s return will be accompanied by a shout and that shout will be like the voice of an archangel and like the trumpet of God.

So the only sound that will be heard will be the shout and when it is heard some will think that an archangel has spoken or sounded God’s trumpet.

This “shout” is a military term that is used for the signal that was sounded to gather troops together. If we look at other translations such as the New International Version, the verse says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.”

The “shout” that will be heard will be like a loud command by the captain of a troop to gather them. That’s exactly what Jesus will do when He comes – He will gather all believers of this age whether living or dead together to take them to heaven.

The Dead Believers

The second event to transpire at the second coming of Christ will be the resurrection of the bodies of the believing dead to be reunited with their spirits.

Paul says that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16b). Take note of the word “first” which is the most important word in the statement. With this, we know that living believers will not meet the Lord ahead of the believers who have died.

In fact, if we go back to verse 15, Paul points out that believers who have died will not miss out on Christ’s coming. What is the authority of Paul’s instruction? It’s “the word of the Lord,” which lets us know that what he is saying is important and not to be treated lightly because this revelation was one that has been given directly to Paul by God.

We find no explicit statement in the Gospels that spells out in detail the return of Christ for the church. That’s why in 1 Corinthians 15:51, Paul says, Behold, I tell you a mystery.” Now let us avoid making the assumption that a mystery is something mysterious.

In the New Testament, a mystery is the revelation of some truth that had been previously given. It is something that has been there from the beginning. But prior to the revelation of a mystery, no one could have had any knowledge or understanding concerning it.

Note: Some theologians believe that the apostle Paul received this revelation at Sinai in Arabia, the same exact place where Moses received “The Law” (The Ten Commandments). After his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul did not go immediately to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles. Instead, he went to Arabia and afterwards returned to Damascus (Galatians 1:10-18).

So again, as Paul said, when Christ returns the dead in Christ shall rise first according to the revelation that he received from God.

Paul Educates the Believers in Thessalonica

In order for us to better understand and properly interpret the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, we need to know his intent.

It is generally believed that Paul stayed in Thessalonica for about three to four weeks. After pioneering a church there, he had to leave the city along with Silas and Timothy into Athens. Although they intended to return, they were hindered (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18).

Paul then sent Timothy from Athens to Thessalonica to see how the church was doing. Upon his return, Timothy reported to Paul that the believers were doing well; except for one problem that concerned some questions and a certain amount of anxiety that some of them were having regarding their loved ones who had died.

The believers in Thessalonica rightly understood that Christ was going to return, as Paul taught them. However, it never crossed their minds that some of their loved ones would die before the event took place. And so all sorts of questions were going through their minds: “Will their dead loved one miss out on Christ’s coming? What will happen to them when Christ returns for the church? Will they have any advantage over the living believers?”

So Paul educates them and assures them that all those who died in Christ prior to the second coming will not miss out on anything; in fact they will already have entered the presence of Christ. He goes on to tell them not to grieve like those who have no hope because when Christ returns God will bring with Him the spirits of the dead believers to be reunited with their glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

What will Happen during the Rapture

The Living Believers

The third event deals with the living believers. Clearly, believers will be living when Christ comes to take them to be with Himself. But what will happen to living believers at the second coming of Christ?

Paul does not answer this question in 1 Thessalonians 4 because his emphasis there is to point out what will happen to those “in Christ” who died physically prior to Christ’s return, since that was the specific concern of the Thessalonians believers.

So we go to 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 where Paul tells us the details of what awaits the living believers at the second coming of Christ.

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

From this passage, we see four things that will happen to the raptured believers:

1. First, they will be immediately glorified.

Believers need to be glorified because unglorified humanity cannot go into God’s presence. A change must take place before mortal physical beings can be equipped for the eternal state. That change is “glorification” which is the final phase of salvation.

All believers will be transformed; everything that makes them mortal is removed and replaced with immortality. This fact is proclaimed in the words, “but we shall all be changed.” This verse summarizes the process that will equip the living saints for an eternal existence. Their bodies will be changed so that they will not wear out or decay. They will truly “inherit the kingdom of God.”

This process of glorification is described in three dimensions:

(1) As it relates to time, it will be “in a moment.” It describes the smallest indivisible unit of time. That is how long it will take for God to effect the change in the body of every living believer when Christ returns.

(2) As it relates to sight, it will be “in the twinkling of an eye.” Paul’s expression is used to describe any rapid movement such as the flapping of wings or the twinkling of lights. The emphasis here is upon speed. The bodies of living believers will be glorified in the same amount of time it takes the eye to twinkle when it is struck by light.

(3) As it relates to sound, “at the last trumpet.” This “last trumpet” is the same trumpet mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. It is the same time at which God will raise the bodies of all the believing dead.

With these three figures, Paul is showing that a lot will happen in a very short period of time. At the same time that the bodies of the believing dead are raised, the bodies of living believers will be changed. 

These two separate programs that God will run when Christ returns will take place successively, but together they will be accomplished so quickly that it will appear as if they happened simultaneously. In the smallest possible moment of time, every body of every believer who has believed in Christ from the day of Pentecost until the day that Christ returns will be raised from the graves in which they have been resting.

Both of these programs of God will be completed in less time than it takes for an eye to twinkle when struck by light. What a glorious future that lies ahead for those who have believed in Jesus!

Note: What is the “mystery” that has been revealed by God directly to Paul? That some believers will not die physically.

Even if Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once and after that faces judgment,” there are believers who will not experience death in their lifetime as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:51.

What will happen at the Second Coming of Christ

Paul used the word “sleep” to describe the physical death of believers both in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. The figure is a beautiful one because when one sleeps he does so to take a rest in the full expectancy of being awakened to continue meaningful activity.

It is important to note that it is not the soul that sleeps but the body. When a believer dies, his body is asleep. That’s why it has to be buried in a cemetery. The English word cemetery comes from two Greek words, koime (sleep) and tere (a keeping place).

Thus, a cemetery is a place where the sleeping bodies of believers are kept until the time that Christ returns to awaken those sleeping bodies, glorify them, and reunite them with their souls that upon death went immediately into God’s presence.

The important thing that Paul is revealing to the Corinthians is that at the time of Christ’s return there will be some believers living but who will undergo a change in order to be able to enter God’s presence.

Clearly, Paul believed that he and his Thessalonian readers might well be alive when the Lord returned. He believed that Christ’s coming was imminent, that it could take place at any moment. Many times he used statements such as “the time is short” (1 Corinthians 7:29) and “the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

2. They will be reunited with the resurrected believers.

After living believers receive their glorified bodies, they will be reunited with the resurrected believers who have preceded them in being glorified . They will be “caught up” together with the resurrected believers (1 Thessalonians 4:17a).

The words “caught up” is harpazo in Greek, which means to seize or snatch away suddenly. In Latin, the word is rapio which is where we get the word “rapture.” In this event, believers will be removed from this earth and reunited with the resurrected believers.

This will be the second meeting of the universal body of believers known as the church, the body of Christ. The first meeting took place on the Day of Pentecost when the church was born. Since that time, the universal church has not met.

3. They will meet Jesus personally in the air.

The third experience that living believers will undergo when Christ returns for them is that they will meet Jesus personally in the air. Paul tells us that this meeting will take place “in the clouds,” which is his way of describing our atmospheric heavens (the second heaven). 

Paul uses a picturesque to describe this meeting. It is a word used of greeting a newly arrived magistrate. Such meetings usually took place outside of the city walls and then they all returned to the regular abode to continue the formalities. This, then, is a picture of how we will meet the Lord and then later will return to reign with Him when He comes to set up His Kingdom.

4. They will be with Jesus forever.

After meeting with the Lord in the air, all believers will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17c).  

With this statement Paul lets us know that this meeting with the Lord will never end. It will be a personal association with resurrected believers and with Christ. This will be the final fulfillment of our Lord’s promise in John 14:3, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you maybe also.”

Comfort for the Believers Today

Knowing that Christ would one day return to take us to be with Him for all eternity should comfort our hearts (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Whenever there is a loss of a loved one, we are to comfort one another. It is true that the death of a loved one brings sadness to us, but we should “not grieve as do the others who have no hope,” for we have comfort. We find comfort in knowing that our loved ones who died will not miss out on Christ’s coming.

In fact, they will have precedence and prominence in it. That is, if they have repented of their sins and accepted God’s gift of salvation prior to their passing.

We also find comfort in knowing that if we would be alive when Christ returns, we will not experience death. But we will be immediately glorified, caught up into the atmospheric heavens to be reunited with our loved ones who died to meet the Lord in the air and be forever with Him.

Believers Must Purify Themselves

Knowing that Christ could return at any moment also causes us to purify our lives (1 John 3:2-3).

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

We should purify our lives because of our present position. We are “children of God,” and we should bear the image of our heavenly Father, which is absolute holiness and purity .

Conclusion

From these passages, we had a glimpse of what the future holds for us as believers in the Lord Jesus. We know that God is faithful and will fulfill His promise to take us from this chaotic world to be forever with Him. This should give us hope, despite the trials and suffering that we might be facing.

Whatever situation we are in right now, no matter how difficult the circumstances we are facing, they are nothing compared to the wonderful and glorious future that awaits us.

 Scriptures on the Return of Jesus Christ

The Second Coming Christ for the Church or the Rapture is the “blessed hope” of the believers; it is our blessed hope. But while we wait, let us reject ungodliness and worldly passions, and let us live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age Titus 2:11-14).


*Recommended Resource: Preparing for Jesus’ Return: Daily Live the Blessed Hope
By A.W. Tozer

This never-before-published book is Tozer’s incomparable teaching on the book of Revelation. Discover his fresh and timely perspective on the purpose of prophecy, which he believed is to lift our gaze from the immediate to the eternal.

Preparing for Jesus’s Return offers a panoramic view of what is to come and examines what it means for you, your church and the world. No one knows when the Lord will return, but the assurance of His coming is our Blessed Hope!

What is the 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?