Category: Christology

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

Is there life after death? Among all the different world religions, only Islam, Judaism, and Christianity believe that death is not the end.

In this post, we will look at 7 reasons why we believe in the afterlife.

1. An Eternal God

The Bible describes God as eternal (Psalm 90:2; 102:12); the source of immortality. We also read in the Scriptures that God created us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).

Sin and death entered humanity as a result of Adam’s rebellion (Romans 5:12, 17). But God did not just allow the human race to wallow in sin and live forever in rebellion. Rather, He began to unfold a plan to redeem them from the curse of death and hell.

By grace, we can have eternal life as a gift from God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21; 6:23). And eternal life for those who received Christ as Lord and Savior is not limited here on earth. God intended for His children to live forever with Him in heaven.

If there is no afterlife, God would not have promised His children eternity.

Psalm 90:2, NKJV

2. Old Testament Predictions

Many scholars argue that immortality is a New Testament concept. But the prophet Daniel spoke of a day when “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

In the 73rd Psalm, Asaph described how he almost lost faith in God seeing how evil people prospered while the godly suffered. Only after going into the sanctuary of God that he understood their final destiny. He then said, “Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors” (Psalm 73:18-19, NLT).

Asaph concluded that there is a glorious, eternal future awaiting those who belong to God. “Yet I still belong to You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny” (Psalm 73:23-24, NLT).

3. Near-Death Experiences

A near-death experience (NDE) is an occurrence in which patients who have come close to death have memories of spiritual experience. Many of them claim to have encounters with bright lights, long tunnels, or angelic guides. Some claim they went to heaven while others to hell.

Near-death or out-of-the-body experiences are rare and it’s often hard to assess their significance. However, a new study claims they can offer an unbiased evaluation of people’s descriptions of their experiences.

We now know that there are enough of these kinds of experiences to create a sizable library on the subject. As people approach death, they sense that they are approaching the beginning of another journey.

Near-Death Experience: Evidence for Life After Death

4. Jesus’ Statements

Although some would accuse Jesus of being a false teacher, atheists and non-Christians usually refer to Jesus with respect. Yet, the Lord never spoke ambiguously about the reality of a continuing personal existence after death.

Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Also, in Luke 23:42-43, Jesus promised Paradise to the repentant thief. If there’s no life after death, the thief’s request and Jesus’ promise wouldn’t make sense.

According to Jesus, the most significant issue of life is facing the reality of life after death. He said in Mark 9:47 (NIV), “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”

5. The Injustices of Life

If happiness on earth is all there is to life, what hope do the poor and oppressed have to continue living? If we knew there was nothing beyond the grave, it would be difficult to believe that life is good.

While some people are destined for success and happiness, some are born into terrible relationships and circumstances. If there is nothing to offset the unequal distribution of suffering, cursing the day of your birth becomes valid (Job 3:1-3).

Revelation 21:4, NKJV

But knowing that there is life after death gives hope to everyone, especially the less fortunate. We may suffer the injustices of life here on earth but we have a promising future ahead of us.

The Bible promises faithful believers rewards in the afterlife (Matthew 5:12; James 1:12; Revelation 22:12; 1 Timothy 6:17-19, etc.). That is more than enough to keep us going in this life that we know is just temporary.

6. Longings of the Heart

Some people might think that happiness is found in what this world has to offer. But the human heart hungers for more. King Solomon said that God has not only made everything beautiful in its time. But He has also set eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).

It might be difficult to know exactly what Solomon meant. But apparently, he was referring to an inescapable longing for something that this world can’t satisfy. This is an emptiness of the soul that no one, including King Solomon, could escape. For a while, he tried to fill this inner void with alcohol, work, and pleasure. He tried to satisfy his longings with music, philosophy, and sexual relationships. But it didn’t work.

It was only when Solomon returned to his confidence in a final judgment in the afterlife that he found satisfaction (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

7. Christ’s Resurrection

The greatest evidence for the existence of life after death is the resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah 53:1-12 and Daniel 9:26 predicted that a Messiah would come to defeat sin and death for His people. Jesus’s followers testified exactly that.

The predicted Messiah voluntarily gave His life and was buried in a borrowed tomb (John 19:41-42). Three days later, He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of people for 40 days before ascending to heaven. See Acts 1:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

Jesus Rose from the Dead

Christ’s resurrection gives believers hope that they too will rise when Christ comes at the sounding of the last trumpet.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, NIV).

Conclusion

Nothing offers more courage than the confidence that there is a better life waiting ahead. Knowing that there is life after death is a source of optimism and spiritual betterment. Belief in the unlimited opportunities of eternity has enabled many followers of Christ to endure the trials they are going through.

It’s this reality that enabled Jesus to say in Matthew 16:26-27, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Heaven, an Unexpected Journey: One Man’s Experience with Heaven, Angels, and the Afterlife (An NDE Collection) by Jim Woodford and Dr. Thom Gardner

Heaven, an Unexpected Journey: One Man’s Experience with Heaven, Angels, and the Afterlife by Jim Woodford and Dr. Thom GardnerWhen Jim Woodford died, he spent 11 hours in Heaven. When he came back, he was changed forever.

A successful airline pilot and businessman, Jim had it all—a loving family, substantial wealth, and all of the good things that come with it. But none of this was enough to satisfy the emptiness he felt in his heart. He always hungered for something more. And then he died.

Jim was never a religious man. When it came to matters of God and faith, he was ambivalent. But as he lay in the hospital bed, clinically dead for more than 11 hours, his consciousness was transported to the wonders of Heaven and the horrors of hell. When he returned to this world, he brought back the missing peace his soul had been longing for.

Join Jim Woodford on this unforgettable journey into the afterlife!

  • Awaken to the vivid sights, sounds, and sensations that you can enjoy in Heaven forever.
  • Be inspired by detailed descriptions of the “contrails of prayer” in Heaven’s skies, the “sticky love” of God, what it feels like to hug an angel, and more!
  • Encounter the chilling realities of hell and the sharp claws of destruction that threatened to pull Jim into eternal darkness.
  • Take comfort in the “six simple words” that led Jim into the presence of Christ.

Whether you need hope for tomorrow or strength for today, this story is your invitation to a radical transformation!

How Important is the Trinity Doctrine?

How Important is the Trinity Doctrine?

The Doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most attacked in Christianity. Opponents insist that anyone who believes in a three-in-one God violates the first commandment of Moses (Exodus 20:1-3).

Needless to say, the biblical teaching of a triune God is also of the greatest importance. For many centuries, Bible scholars and theologians have made serious claims in support of the Trinity. They held to the view that the one true God exists in three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Belief in a Triune God

Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant branches of the church all agree that the Doctrine of the Trinity is firmly grounded in Scripture. They all agree that the teaching of a three-in-one God is consistent with the trail of Old Testament evidence of the same doctrine.

In the Old Testament, although there are strong implications that God is one, He is not a solitary Being. For instance, writers of the OT often use language that makes us think of plurality within this unity.

2,570 times in the Old Testament, the word translated “God” is Elohim which is a plural term. Except in five instances, the word refers to the one God who is the Creator, Master, and Sustainer of everything.

John 14:7

Sometimes, God used a plural pronoun when speaking of Himself (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22). Moses, in declaring that God is one, used the same word he had employed to describe the “one flesh” relationship of a man and his wife. (See Deuteronomy 6:4 and Genesis 2:24.)

The word one in Deuteronomy 6:4 allows the idea of a plurality of Persons within the unity of the Godhead. Thus, we see that both the Old and New Testaments give us reason to believe that one can be more than one.

This may be beyond our ability to fully understand, but not a reason to reject it.

God is One, Not Three

It is clear from the Scriptures that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. That each has a distinct personality. Does that add up to three Gods? You may say yes if you’re working with mathematics or thinking of three separate people.

However, we are dealing with a God who is revealed in the Bible as one God, who has existed eternally as three distinct Persons. We must emphasize that God is one Being, not three. Therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three separate Gods, but three separate Persons.

As distinct Persons, each functions in His own unique manner. Each Person is self-conscious and self-directing. Yet, not one of them ever acts independently of the others or in opposition to them. Their minds, wills, and emotions are in perfect unity.

The distinction between the three Persons in the Godhead was evident at the time of Christ’s baptism (Matthew 3:16-17). We see the Son coming up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove, and the Father speaking from heaven.

Jesus also affirmed the Trinity when He commanded His disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

Explaining the Trinity

I have heard a lot of illustrations to explain the Trinity. Some people use egg and say, “The yolk, the white, and the shell make up the egg. See, it’s three-in-one!” Others may say that water can exist as ice, liquid, and steam. But in any form, it is just water. There’s your three-in-one!

There could be more illustrations, like a minister being a father to his children, a husband to his wife, and a pastor to his church. But I’d say this is the worst illustration. Why? It’s because this is a repetition of the hearsay that the triune God is just three manifestations of the way God works.

These analogies add little light to the subject of the Trinity. At best, they may only reflect the three-in-oneness of the Creator.

The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? Paperback – June 1, 2009

Does It Matter?

Why do many people put so much emphasis on the doctrine of the Trinity? What difference does it make whether a person believes in it or not? If a person has placed his faith in the risen Savior, isn’t that faith adequate for salvation?

The Trinity is one of the most basic and life-related teachings of the Bible; no Christian should underscore its importance.

Let us take the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16.

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

Anyone who does not believe in the Trinity would have to say that in this verse, God sent His first created being to die so that we might be saved. You may ask, “What’s the big deal with that?” If this was so, then what God did was nothing more than sending one of His creatures to save others.

On the other hand, if you believe in the Trinity, you will accept John 3:16 as a declaration of a breathtaking truth. That God loves us so much that He, in the person of the Son, came to share our pain and provide salvation at a great cost. This in effect, makes Calvary the supreme manifestation of God’s love and holiness.

The Triune God Shared Our Pain

We often put a great deal on what Jesus suffered on the cross. But what about the Father and the Holy Spirit?

Imagine the pain that a mother and father suffer as they watch their child endure pain and suffering. The relationship of the Persons within the Godhead is closer than that of family members. So, how can the Father and the Holy Spirit not be affected by the suffering of the Son?

The Godhead has shared, and still shares, the pain of His creatures. He chose to create and give His moral creatures the freedom to sin that brought pain and death into this world. Yet, He chose to share in our suffering and sorrow.

Aren’t you grateful that we serve a God who, in Christ, suffered for us? God conquered death for us; He understands our pain. Here’s more great news – what Christ did will someday bring all of God’s children into a world without suffering, tears, or death.

Final Words

We may never comprehend God fully because He’s incomprehensible. God is so different from us and so awesomely great. But He is knowable.

The God who exists eternally in three Persons has reached down to us. He has made Himself known to people during the past ages by supernatural appearances and audible speech. But then, 2,000 years ago, God made Himself known to us in the Person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2).

You and I can know God by looking to Jesus and believing in Him. In many passages in the Bible, Jesus tells us that He came to make known the Father to us. Jesus said that anyone who knows Him will know the Father as well (John 14:7). He also said that He came to do the will of the Father who sent Him (John 6:38).

Let us pay attention to the words of our Lord and set ourselves to obey Him. After all, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves Why is God love? Because God is a Trinity.

And why can we be saved? Because God is a Trinity.

How are we able to live the Christian life? Through the Trinity.

In this lively book, we find an introduction to Christianity and the Christian life that is from start to finish rooted in our triune God―Father, Son, and Spirit.

Not only do we understand the person and work of Christ through the Trinity, but also prayer, the church, and every aspect of our faith.

With wit and clarity, Reeves draws from church history down to the present referencing a wide range of notable teachers and preachers.

Here is a rich and enjoyable portrayal of the basic beliefs of Christianity that opens up the profound and life-changing truths of our faith.

Why We Believe Jesus is the Only Way

Why We Believe Jesus is the Only Way

Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 that He is the only way to God has raised so many questions. Why should we believe Jesus’ claim about Himself? What reasons do Christians have to continue to believe that personal faith in Jesus is so important?

In this post, let us look at the biblical evidence why Christ is the only way to heaven.

The Uniqueness of Christ

It is undeniable that there are some parallels between the teachings of Christ and other world religions. For instance, Christ’s emphasis on treating others the way we want to be treated is not unique to Christianity.

However, the comparative similarities are only part of the picture. Other major world religions emphasize the importance of human efforts to get us right with God. The gospel of Christ, in contrast, says that no one can come to the Father except through the Lord Jesus.

It’s only by grace through faith in Christ and His finished works on the cross that we can attain salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

JESUS is the Only Way to GOD

Salvation through Christ Alone

Does the Bible say that Christ is the only way to God? The apostle Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).

But Peter did not come up with this conclusion on his own. He was with others when Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Why did the apostles and Jesus’ followers conclude that He had a right to make such amazing claims about Himself? It’s because they were witnesses to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

Can One Be Saved without Hearing the Gospel?

If salvation is through the gospel, what about those who have never heard? We must understand that until the church was born, repentant sinners got saved without hearing the whole gospel message.

One of the thieves who was executed along with Jesus repented and got saved even without the whole gospel. The message of Christ’s death for sin and His subsequent resurrection had not yet been declared. But one of the thieves found mercy when he repented of his sins and asked Jesus to remember him (Luke 23:42-43).

The thief understood he had no hope but divine grace, and that the dispensing of that grace lay in Jesus’ power. This demonstrates true faith on the part of the dying thief, and Christ graciously affirmed the man’s salvation.

To what extent can we apply this example to others who recognize their sin and appeal to the one true God for mercy? We don’t know for sure. But the Bible shows that God sacrificed His own Son to assure salvation for those who will believe (John 3:16).

God is Just and Fair

Perhaps we find ourselves struggling with issues of fairness. Will God give everyone an equal opportunity to hear the message of Christ? It’s troubling to think that many people will suffer in hell because they were not given a chance to hear the gospel.

What about the people who suffer from mental retardation or other diseases? It would be impossible for them to hear and consider the good news of Christ. Some die at a very early age without hearing the gospel message.

In cases like this, we need to trust the Judge of all the earth to do what is right (Genesis 18:25). God is fair and just, no doubt about that; He knows what He’s doing.

Here’s a beautiful prayer song you can sing for the Lord, your Savior.

Jesus is the Son of God

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul also noted the uniqueness of Christ. In Romans 1:1-5, Paul identified some distinctives that he believed set Christ apart from all other religious leaders.

According to Paul, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, who possessed both a human and a divine nature. This was something that he had once found impossible to admit. Well educated in the doctrine and theology of Moses, Paul initially persecuted Jews who followed Jesus.

After a life-changing encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, Paul became convinced that Jesus was both God and Savior (Titus 2:13).

Paul became one of the witnesses of Christ’s resurrection – a resurrection that distinguishes the gospel of Jesus Christ from all other faiths. Unlike all the other religious teachers and leaders, Jesus did not remain dead. And Jesus’ resurrection is God’s vindication of His claim that He is indeed the Son of God (Romans 1:3-4).

Thus, Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

The apostle believed that Christ had provided salvation that needed to be offered first to his countrymen and then to all nations.

Final Words

The Bible could not be more explicit in its proclamation of the exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ. Jesus came to live and die as a substitutionary sacrifice for those who will receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior (John 1:12; John 14:6; John 3:16).

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The consequence of that sin is death or separation from God (Romans 6:23). The good news is that because of God’s love and deep compassion for us, He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).

Have you received Christ and surrendered your life to Him? If not, have you thought about your response to the gospel? It’s not enough to know what the Lord has done for you. You must respond by personal choice.

It’s easy to put off making a decision but God wants you to decide about His Son today. Behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

If you want to receive the Lord’s forgiveness and His gift of eternal life, you can express it in this simple prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I acknowledge I am a sinner and can’t save myself. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for me. I sincerely repent of my sins and receive you as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life and mold me into the kind of person You want me to be. Amen!”

If you sincerely prayed this, you are now a child of God and have the assurance of eternal life.


Recommended Resource:

Is Jesus the Only Way? by Philip Graham Ryken

Is Jesus the Only Way

We’ve all heard people say it: “The problem with Christians is that they think Jesus is the only way to heaven.” Even reason says: We go to the college of our choice, watch the cable channel of our choice, and eat the food of our choice.

So why can’t we pray to the god of our choice and get to heaven by any means we choose?

These are fair questions. Questions that demand an answer if Christians are going to insist that their claims are true—and that all other religions’ claims about salvation are thereby false.

They are questions Philip Ryken confronts head-on in this accessible book.

Within these pages, the four essential Christian beliefs that pluralists find most troublesome are explained in clear, everyday terms. Ryken argues not only that Jesus is the only way, but also why this must be true.

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

Christmas is just around the corner. And get this … Christmas celebration is not complete without gift-giving! I believe this is the part that makes most people, especially kids, excited about Christmas. This is the highlight of most celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

Don’t you love gifts! Everybody loves gifts! I do not know of anyone who doesn’t.

Giving presents and exchanging gifts have become parts of our practices and traditions. And that is not a bad thing! The problem is this, we tend to be choosy.

We want something fancy and expensive. We want to get the best of all gifts. Little do most people realize that God has already given us the best gift. I’m talking about the greatest gift we’ve ever received mentioned in Ephesians 2:8-9.

We are saved by grace

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

This gift of God has nothing to do with our efforts. We didn’t earn it, deserve it, or purchase it. God gave it through His sacrificial gift so our salvation would not be our boast, but His kindness.

What is this gift? Our salvation!

We may not realize it but this gift from God is unlike any other gift that we can buy from the gift shop. Some people may think it’s cheap because it is available to anyone who wants to receive it. But it’s priceless; you can’t put a price tag on it.

It’s because God paid for it with His life. Jesus redeemed us with His blood (Ephesians 1:7). To redeem means “to pay off,” “to buy back,” or “to regain possession of.”

Originally, we belonged to God. But because of sin, we were separated from God. We’re on our way to hell and are destined to spend eternity there. But God did not want us to perish so He sent His Son to redeem us.

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

First of all, Christ did not come down to earth to start a Christmas tradition that includes the giving of gifts to one another. Christ came to offer His life as a ransom for many. He came to give us eternal life.

By doing what He did, God also exemplified the true meaning of gift-giving.

So, what are the things that God wants us to take into consideration whenever we give to others?

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

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

God had one reason and one reason only for giving us the greatest gift of all and that is love. We have no reason to doubt this. You see, God did not have to give His Son but He did it anyway.

Why? It’s all because of His great love. God is not only full of love; God is love (1 John 4:16). Everything God does stems from His great love for us. If God did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us, how can He not also give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

What about us? What is our motivation in giving? In goal-setting, they call this “finding your why.” In other words, what’s your reason for doing the things that you do.

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

Why do you give to charitable institutions and orphanages? Is it because your friends are doing it? If your reason is that you feel sorry for them, that means your heart is in the right place.

Why do you give in support of God’s work? Why do you give birthday presents to your friends or other people on any occasion?

By the way, giving is not only in terms of material things, like money or anything tangible. It could also mean spending time with your friends and loved ones. Or taking a break from your busy schedule to comfort a colleague or friend who’s going through tough times.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Unconditional means “no strings attached.” It’s just like how God gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. God was not expecting anything in return. All He wanted was to spare us from eternal condemnation.

But these days, when you offer something too good to be true, people are quick to ask, “What’s the catch?” And we can’t blame them. As they always say, “You don’t get anything for free. There are no free hand-outs and if there are, they’re most likely trash.”

When God gave us the greatest gift of all, He did so without condition. How do we know this? It’s because God did it out of love and God’s love is unconditional.

God did not say, “Hey, you need to be a good person first.” Neither did He say, “Turn away from your sin and then I will give My Son to die for you” (Romans 5:8).

God had expectations as some scholars argue, it’s that everyone would receive His gift by faith. And also, for them to share that gift with others. This is why Jesus gave the Great Commission.

But we need to emphasize that what God expects from the recipients of His gift is not for His benefit. Rather, it’s for the people who are still in darkness. Simply put, it’s about giving back or passing it on.

Do we give, expecting something in return? Isn’t it more blessed to give than to receive? This is why it’s always best to give to the people who are unable to give back to us.

This is not to say that the principle of “give and take” is wrong or bad. What is wrong is when a person who has the means to give prefers to be always on the receiving end.

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Giving Should be Sacrificial

When we hear the word sacrifice, it always involves doing something difficult and painful. It’s not going to be easy and it would take courage to be able to do it. It’s about setting aside your own comfort and happiness for the sake of others.

God modeled sacrificial giving 2,000 years ago. The Father endured the pain of having to watch His only Son suffer and die at the hands of His creation. But for man to be spared from hell, God had to experience pain.

We all know the story of Abraham who is about to offer his son Isaac on Mount Moriah? That was a foreshadowing of what God would do to His Son about 1,500 years later on Mount Calvary.

I can’t imagine the pain that a parent has to go through when his only child gets brutally killed in front of him. You are blessed to not have to go through this kind of pain.

Have you ever felt pain as a result of “giving” to your family or loved ones? You were saving for a new cellphone but your daughter needed money to pay her lease. Or you wanted to treat yourself to an expensive restaurant but your friend suddenly in need.

These are part of the sacrifice we have to make just so we can give to our loved ones or extend help to those in need.

Giving Should be Purposeful

Why did God give His Son to die on the cross? What was His purpose for sacrificing His only Son? For us to have eternal life! To provide salvation to all who will believe. Again, it’s for the benefit of the recipients.

If we read Isaiah 53:10, it says, “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him (the Son), putting Him to grief.” Doesn’t that sound brutal?

But God did not just do this for nothing. God’s giving of His Son was for the sole purpose of saving us from the horrors of hell. It should be the same thing with us when we give anything to someone. It should always be for the benefit of the one who gets the gift.

Is what you’re giving beneficial to the receiver? Is it something they need? Oftentimes, what people want is not necessarily what they need. This is why when we ask God for something that does not benefit us, He won’t give it (1 John 5:14). God will not grant our requests that are harmful to us.

Giving Should Be Purposeful

On our part, when we give a gift or present, we don’t give something just for the sake of giving. We should give it some thought. Again, this comes down to our reason or motivation in giving. When we give out of love, we will surely give what we think is best for the recipient.

No matter how expensive your gift might be if it won’t be useful to the one who gets it, it’s useless. On the other hand, even if the gift is somewhat cheap as long as it’s exactly what the person needs, it will be valued and appreciated.

Bottom line is, it’s not the worth that counts but its usefulness.

Final Thoughts

God modeled the true meaning of gift-giving. God has not only given us so much; He’s also given us the greatest gift of all.

God gave us His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And in the person of Jesus Christ, we find salvation, redemption, reconciliation with God, and eternal life (1 John 5:12).

The least we could do to pay back God for all He’s done is to strive to follow our Lord’s example. We are to share that gift with others as well.

So, to recap what God has taught us about gift-giving, remember the acronym P-L-U-S.

Christ's Example of Gift-Giving

 

Recommended Resource: Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Timothy Keller

From pastor and New York Times, bestselling author Timothy Keller comes the perfect gift for the Christmas holiday—a profoundly moving and intellectually provocative examination of the nativity story.

Even people who are not practicing Christians think they are familiar with the story of the nativity. Every Christmas displays of Baby Jesus resting in a manger decorate lawns and churchyards, and songs about shepherds and angels fill the air.

Yet despite the abundance of these Christian references in popular culture, how many of us have examined the hard edges of this biblical story?

In his new book, Timothy Keller takes readers on an illuminating journey into the surprising background of nativity.

By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way.

The Very First Christian Song

The Very First Christian Song

Let me ask you, Christian, “What do you think is the very first Christian song?” If you are in your 50’s or 60’s you probably know more songs than those in their 20’s. Well, that is if you have been keeping track of every song written about God and for God. With all the Christian singers and bands since time immemorial, not many of us could keep up.

Going back to the question on the first-ever Christian song … it might not be what you’re thinking.

The Role of Music in the Church

Music makes a worship service; that is hard for a preacher to admit. But we also know that music (praise and worship) prepares the soul to hear and receive the Word.

Can we have a church service without music? Why can’t we just pray, listen to the sermon, give our tithes and love offering, and then go home? Can you imagine a church service without music and singing? I bet you couldn’t.

Ascribe to the Lord the Glory due His Name

I’m reminded of the story behind the song, “Heart of Worship.” In his conversation with Crosswalk, Matt Redman admitted that his church was struggling spiritually. This is despite their worship band’s huge contribution to the worship revival in churches worldwide.

He went on to say that there was a dynamic missing. So, the pastor decided to get rid of the sound system and they just sang with their voices. His point was that they’d lost their way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”

By the time they re-introduced the musicians and the sound system, the congregation had gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus.

Joy to the World

It’s December once again, which means Christians around the world are getting ready to celebrate the first coming of Christ. Yeah, I know; Christmas this year may not be the kind of celebration most people used to have. We can blame Covid-19 all we want but doing so won’t make things better. Rather, it would make us feel even more miserable.

Regardless of our current situation, we must never forget what Christmas is all about. The main reason we celebrate the yuletide season is that Christ came to bring salvation to all men (Titus 2:11). The world celebrates Christmas for several other reasons but we celebrate Jesus, God’s greatest gift to us.

Is “Joy to the World” the first Christian song? It may be one of the oldest and most popular Christmas songs ever! What a joy, indeed, when Christ left His throne above. He came down to the earth He created, became a man, and dwelt among us (John 1:14). As wonderful as this song is, it’s not the first Christian song.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Operation Joktan

 

In this thrilling first book in a new series, authors Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn draw on true events as well as tactical insights Amir learned from his time in the Israeli Defense Forces.

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What Makes a Song Christian

A song isn’t Christian just because the artist or the songwriter are Christians. It’s not also a Christian song because of the rhyme or melody. What makes a Christian song is the lyrics; the words that make up the song. Christian songs include songs that talk about the love of God, His mercy, grace, and compassion.

But what about some so-called Christian songs by Christian singers and rock bands that are theologically off? Meaning, unscriptural songs? One particular song that comes to mind is “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong. The song starts pretty okay but as we come to the second verse it becomes clear that something is wrong. It says, “You didn’t want heaven without us. So, Jesus, You brought heaven down.”

It’s true; the name of Jesus is beautiful, wonderful, and powerful. He is the Creator, can never be defeated, and has no rival. But to say that God did not want heaven without us? That sure would make people think that they are more important than God.

This is why when worship leaders select songs for their lineup, they must consider the message that the songs communicate. Do these songs line up with Scripture? Do they bring honor and glory to God?

The First Christian Song

We know that followers of Jesus were first referred to as Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:19-25. But how did Christianity begin?

Christianity began with a song. When Christ was born in the manger, an angel went to a nearby field and announced the news to shepherds who were watching their flocks.

Luke 2:13-14

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. They were saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Upon hearing the good news, the shepherds started glorifying and praising God. With hearts full of joy, they sang the very first Christian song. These shepherds are a great example for us to imitate today. They received by faith the message God sent them and went on to give praise to the Most High.

Luke 2:14
Photo Credit: The Skit Guys

Victory Songs

In the Bible, singing was used to celebrate victories. Moses sang a song of victory just after God covered Pharaoh’s chariots with the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1). Surrounded by three enemy armies, Jehoshaphat sent the choir singing unto the Lord before the attacking armies (2 Chronicles 20:21).

Imagine how the enemy laughed. But the songs of praise released the angels of God who attacked and annihilated the enemies. Anointed singing destroys the power of darkness (Psalm 149:5-6). It is spiritual warfare that will cause every demon to run in total terror.

After the Lord’s Supper, the disciples joined Jesus in singing a hymn before they walked to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30). Singing prepared Jesus for the Passion to follow.

After being beaten and surrounded by disease and filth in prison, Paul and Silas could still sing praises to God. God heard them and sent an earthquake to rock the doors open. Paul and Silas walked out of that prison with a convert – the jailer. Singing with anointing moves the hand of God (Acts 16:25).

Final Thoughts

In as much as we enjoy singing and listening to the best Christian songs, one day, we will get to hear God’s newest release.

Revelation 14:3

“They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.”

What a song that will be. Imagine hearing the debut of a new song to usher in the eternal reign of Christ the King.

Are you looking forward to hearing God’s brand new song?

While waiting for that day to come, let us keep singing Christian songs. Let us use music to praise and glorify God and express our love for and gratitude to God.

Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Why Did the Religious Leaders Hate Jesus?

Jesus is said to be the most loving and most compassionate person to ever walk the earth. Yet, He was also the most hated person to ever walk the earth. Even the religious leaders of His day hated him more than they hated the actual criminals. Now, why is that?

No one sits and wonders why society despises the wicked, the robber, the rapist, the murderer, etc. That’s completely understandable and justifiable. But I find it troubling when a morally upright person is deemed to be the worst criminal by those who claim to believe in God. What was it about Jesus that earned Him the punishment of crucifixion?

Jesus, the most hated man in history

The Religious Leaders of Jesus’ Time

The indignation of the religious leaders towards Jesus during His time is undeniable. They hated Him so much to the point that they arrested Him, tried Him, and brought Him to Pilate for a death sentence. But what made them so angry at Jesus that they wanted Him dead?

Below are several things about Jesus that outraged them. We will look at each one of them and evaluate if their anger was justified.

The Claims Jesus Made

Jesus made several outrageous claims about Himself. One of which was His claim that He was the Messiah. By claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah, He was saying that His authority outweighed their authority. The religious leaders did not believe any of Jesus’ claims and were angry at the people who believed.

The leaders accused the people of believing Jesus out of ignorance. They were also jealous of the attention that Jesus was getting from the people. The claims Jesus made caused the religious leaders of His day to be indignant towards Him.

John 8:58-59

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

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Jesus Threatened Their Religious System

When Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy in connection to their practices, the religious leaders saw Him as a threat. On two different occasions, Jesus entered the temple precincts and drove out those who were buying and selling (John 2:13-17).

Jesus angered the religious leaders with His claim of authority over the temple. Before Jesus came into the picture, the religious leaders were the respected authority in overall activities in the Temple. They could do all they wanted without anyone questioning their actions. Jesus’ arrival threatened their religious system and angered them to the point that they wanted Him dead.

Jesus Disrespected Their Traditions

One of the things that triggered the religious leaders’ hatred towards Jesus was His lack of respect for their religious traditions. Either Jesus ignored these traditions or He deliberately broke them. This is because He knew that these were man-made and not from God.

One common practice that Jesus violated which caused the most outrage was regarding the Sabbath. God had commanded the Sabbath to be a day of rest from labor. Yet the religious leaders added all kinds of restrictions which made it difficult and impossible to observe.

Jesus was grieved and angry at the way they had perverted the Sabbath observance. He asked the religious leaders several specific questions.

Mark 3:4-5

Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

In the presence of the religious leaders, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This healing that Jesus performed on the Sabbath was more than the leaders could endure. Thus, they were convinced that Jesus had to die.

Mark 2:27, NKJV

Jesus Socialized With “Sinners”

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were filled with pride and arrogance. They were particularly proud of not mingling with the outcasts of society. It’s because they did not believe that the Messiah would be with such a crowd. A Pharisee went nuts at the sight of Jesus allowing a woman to wash His feet.

Luke 7:39

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

The religious leaders thought of themselves as righteous men who must never associate with sinners. Seeing Jesus socializing with these kinds of people infuriated the proud Pharisees and other religious leaders.

Jesus Performed Miracles

The miracles Jesus performed before them and many on-lookers also angered the religious Jews. After witnessing the healing of a demon-possessed man, some of the multitudes questioned if Jesus could be the Messiah. But the leaders accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of a demon.

Matthew 12:22-24

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind, and mute; and He healed him so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

The miracle was undeniable! The man who was not only deaf and mute but also demon-possessed was healed. But rather than believing Jesus to be the Messiah, these religious leaders attributed His power to the devil.

Since their official explanation for what Jesus did was that His power came from the devil, then He must die.

Jesus Threatened Their Lifestyle

For political reasons, the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. There were some ongoing tensions between the ruling Romans and the Jews. Thus, the thought of a Messiah who might lead an uprising against Rome was the last thing the people wanted.

John 11:49-51

And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now, this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.

Caiaphas was afraid the Romans would intervene if Jesus gained the support of the people. This, among other reasons, is why he insisted that Jesus must die.

Conclusion

The religious leaders’ motive for wanting Jesus dead was not anything godly or righteous. They hated Jesus and wanted to put Him to death because of the above-mentioned reasons.

In the end, it was their pride, arrogance, and hypocrisy that caused them to bring Jesus before Pilate to be crucified. They did not want to hear the truth from God.

Jesus was hated by the world and did not receive Him (John 1:11). And He warned us that because they hated Him first, they would also hate us.

John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Many religious people today are easily triggered when a “redeemed” believer dares to point out their wrong beliefs and practices. They tend to become defensive and hostile when told the truth about salvation by grace and not by works.

But no matter how people with a different worldview despises your faith in Christ as your Savior, be patient with them. Keep trying to reach out to them and share God’s gift of salvation. Most of all, keep loving them and praying that they too would come to faith in our Lord Jesus.


Reference:

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ by Don Stewart

What was the world like into which Jesus came? What were the different political and religious divisions of the Holy Land?

This first section will examine the historical background of the world that saw the coming of Christ as well as some of the important characters that were prominent in the four gospels.

Part 2 The Life And Ministry Of Jesus This section examines some of the key elements of the public ministry of Jesus. Although His public life was for a period of a few short years, He has influenced the course of this world like none other.

In this first section, we will find out why He came to this world, His relationship to the Law of Moses, His miraculous deeds, and His relationship to Bible prophecy.

Part 3 The Betrayal, Trial, And Death Of Jesus The Last Days Of Christ This final section will look at some of the events of the end of the life of Jesus. We consider His betrayal and death. When Jesus was a child the first recorded thing that He uttered was that He must be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

On the cross, Jesus’ final words were, “It is finished.” Jesus announced to the world that He had completed His Father’s business.

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

One biblical fact concerning the return of the Lord is that no one knows exactly when it’s going to happen. Proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture call this the “Doctrine of Imminency.”

The return of the Lord in the event known as the Rapture can happen at any moment without any warning. And this is not some kind of made-up argument; it’s the Lord Himself who said it. Thus, there shouldn’t be any question as to whether this is true or not.

Bible Verse: Mark 13:32-33 (NKJV)

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”

The Return of the Son of Man

At the beginning of the Olivet Discourse, we see how the disciples are amazed by the beauty of Jerusalem. One of them said, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here” (Mark 13:1)? And they were astonished for good reasons. The Temple was remodeled by Herod the Great to be one of the magnificent structures of the ancient world.

But as great as the Temple was, Jesus said it was going to be destroyed. He said, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2).

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Jesus’ statement caused His disciples to be anxious about the time of His return. They asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age” (Mark 13:3)?

Even on the day of His ascension to heaven, they asked Him about the timing of things to come (Acts 1:6). But Jesus replied that God had not given them the timetable of His future works.

Jesus expressed this idea in Mark 13:32 in a way that some have found puzzling because of the way He refers to Himself. Doesn’t the Son everything that the Father knows?

No One Knows, Not Even the Son

If Jesus is God, how can He not know the exact day and time of His return? This statement of the Lord has caused some people to doubt His divinity. But this can easily be explained by His dual nature: divine and human.

Jesus as God knew exactly when He will be returning. But He voluntarily submitted to the Father and restricted His knowledge of this event. Jesus is saying that the Father has not published His timing to human beings, to angels, or even to the Son as the Savior and Mediator.

As the second Person of the Godhead, Jesus has always known the appointed time. However, His knowledge of this is not intended for men or angels, and it is not accessible to them. The Father did not intend for Son to reveal this knowledge to His disciples.

Keep Watch and Pray

From the fact that the day and time of His return are not revealed, Jesus draws an important conclusion: we are to “watch and pray” (Mark 13:33). The return of the Lord is certain. Jesus’s warning means that it is also imminent, that is, it could happen at any time.

Watching means living in an attitude of confident expectation (Luke 12:36; Romans 8:25). On the one hand, we must have a constant desire to see Jesus (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:8). On the other hand, we are to be patiently active in the life of good works to which He has called us (Ephesians 2:10).

The Day of the Lord Comes Like a Thief in the Night

At the same time, we need to remain in an attitude of prayer. This does not mean we must be on our knees 24/7 talking with God. Rather, we must be in constant fellowship with our Lord and always follow His lead. The enemy will work triple time to get our focus off of God. He will do everything to get us off track. The only way we will emerge victorious in the end is if we fix our eyes on the Lord.

Watchfulness prepares Christians, enabling them to see whatever signs may precede an event. And we must always pray, that we may be found worthy to escape those things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

The hope that we rely on as we wait must be our foundation for living day by day in obedience to the Lord.

Always be Ready

Jesus cautioned His disciples to be ready for an unexpected coming. He then went on to tell them how they should live while waiting for His return (Mark 13:34-36, NIV).

“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping!”

Jesus said that He will come as a surprise. The Lord’s return for His saints happens at a time that nobody is expecting. Thus, readiness is the key for all end-time events. Anyone ready will not be caught by surprise. But people who aren’t prepared will fail.

Let us be reminded of the five foolish virgins who were not ready when the bridegroom came. Not only did they not have oils in their lamps, but they also fell into a deep slumber while waiting (Matthew 25:1-13).

Here’s a beautiful song to encourage you to be ready for the Lord’s return.

Final Thoughts

There are two aspects of the return of Christ: the Rapture and the Second Coming. The Second Coming, also called Second Advent, is understood to follow the Tribulation, while the Rapture is to come before it. The Rapture could happen at any time without warning. In contrast, the Second Coming will be preceded by certain prophetic signs, and to that extent, its timing will be known.

If you are a believer in Jesus, you are not waiting and preparing for the Second Coming; you’re waiting for the blessed hope. Our blessed hope is the rapture, which is the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). The Lord will descend from heaven and we will be caught up to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

No one knows the day and the hour when this event will take place, thus, we must always be ready. We may not know the exact day and time but we know it is certain to happen.

Are you ready to meet your Lord and Master? Will you hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23)?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

The Last Hour: An Israeli Insider Looks at the End Times by Amir Tsarfati

Avoiding sensationalism and date-speculating, respected Bible teacher Amir Tsarfati uses his unique perspective as an Israeli Christian to lead you through a fascinating modern-day description of God’s plan for the end of the world.

Grounded from start to finish in Scripture, the book reveals how the Rapture, the imminent rise of the Antichrist, and the tragic horrors of the Great Tribulation will play out in our world today.

He also helps you understand the roles – and fates – of Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey, the European Union, the United States of America, and Israel in the end times, illustrating just how biblical prophecies are being fulfilled in our time.

But above all, he offers hope that amid chaos and horror, God is ultimately in control, and those who belong to Him will be safe with Him.

The First and Second Resurrection

The First and Second Resurrection

Whether or not there’s just one (general) resurrection of the dead is one of the hotly debated end-time topics. Some Christians believe that everyone will be raised on the same day. But others say the resurrection from the dead will not occur at the same time.

But what does the Scripture say?

Resurrection at the Last Day

Christians who believe that the bodies of all men will be raised at the same time often quote John 11:24. As Martha weeps for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus assured her that he will rise again. To which Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

John 11:24, NKJV

But do the words “last day” (or last hour) literally mean one literal day? Those who reject one general resurrection for everyone argue that it refers to an undetermined period of time. And it could even stretch over a thousand years.

Indeed, the Greek word translated “day” can have the meaning of an indeterminate amount of time. The Greek word for day in the Greek Lexicon of the New Testament has the following entry: An extended period like the Hebrew word yom.”

The Two Resurrections

There is a serious misconception that there will only be one resurrection. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we taught that! While it is true that all the dead will be raised and judged, neither the place, time, nor the judgments are the same.

Several passages speak of a separate resurrection of believers and unbelievers.

John says there will be two resurrections for two classes of people. One will be raised to “eternal life” while the other to a “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

Luke 14:14 also speaks of a “resurrection of the just.” Since everyone will be resurrected, there has to be a “resurrection of the unjust.” This concept of a separate resurrection of the just and unjust is repeated by Paul in Acts 24:15 when he testified before Felix.

And John makes a clear distinction between the two in Revelation 20:4-5. He says, “… I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God. They lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”

Here, we have the souls of the believing dead waiting for their own resurrection. This takes place after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

The First Resurrection

The resurrection of the believing dead; those who did not worship the beast and receive his mark is called the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-5).

The fact that there is a first resurrection certainly implies a second resurrection. Furthermore, those who participate in the “first resurrection” are called blessed. On the other hand, those who do not experience this first resurrection will experience the “second death.”

The Second Resurrection

We are told in the same passage that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.”

Let it be made clear that there is at least a one thousand year interval between the First and the Second Resurrection. The people who are raised one thousand years later will be judged and cast into the lake of fire. We read this in Revelation 20:11-15.

If these thousand years are literal, and the two resurrections described are each literal resurrections, then this seems to make two separate resurrections necessary. Consequently, not everyone can be raised and judged at once.

The Order of the Resurrection

In general, the Bible speaks of two future resurrections: the First Resurrection and the Second Resurrection. The former is the resurrection of life while the latter is the resurrection of death.

Three groups of believers will have been raised at different times at the culmination of the First Resurrection. But before looking at these participants, we must note that Jesus Christ is the first to be raised.

Jesus Christ, the Firstfruits

Jesus Christ’s resurrection was the first in God’s program, to be followed by believers. The apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

“But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”

Jesus is called the firstfruits of those who have died. Others will come after.

As Paul preached the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles, he said that Jesus the Messiah would suffer and die. He would be the first to rise from the dead (Acts 26:23); never to die again.

1 Corinthians 15:20

The Church Age Believers

The Rapture is when Christ comes in the air to “snatch away” the living believers and brings them to the Father’s house. But not many Christians realize that church-age believers who have died will also be resurrected.

“For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

It couldn’t be any clearer than this!

Two events will take place when Christ comes at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

  1. The resurrection of the dead in Christ
  2. The catching away of those who are alive and remain

Paul talks about this in greater detail in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

“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.”

Christians who are alive at this time will be “caught up” (raptured) to meet the Lord in the air. As they are being caught up, their bodies will be changed.

The Tribulation Saints

The tribulation saints are those who come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation period. And they will be raised at the Second Coming of Christ.

Note: The Rapture and the Second Coming are not the same events. The former takes place before the 7-year Tribulation while the latter takes place at the end of the Tribulation.

Through the witnesses of the 144,000, multitudes of people will come to the saving knowledge of Christ. However, they will be killed because of their testimony of Christ and the Word of God. They would not worship the beast nor take his mark (Revelation 20:4-6).

These Tribulation saints will come to life just before Christ comes to earth to reign for one thousand years.

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The Old Testament Saints

Another group of believers who will be raised after the Tribulation period is over are the Old Testament saints.

We read this in Daniel 12:1-2 (NIV):

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.

But at that time your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”

After the tribulation period is over, Jesus Christ returns. He will then resurrect the Old Testament saints.

Consequently, every believer who has died, from the time of Adam until the Second Coming of Christ, will have been resurrected by this time.

The Wicked, Unbelieving Dead

The resurrection of unbelievers will take place after the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. All the unbelieving dead who have ever lived will be resurrected and judged at this time.

This is the Second and Final resurrection that comes at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

Here, Jesus will sit in the righteous judgment of all who refused to acknowledge His Messiahship and Saviourhood. From every part of the earth, the bodies of the wicked dead are raised to receive their final sentence. God will banish them permanently from His presence and they will suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

Closing Words

The Bible teaches that everyone who has ever died will eventually be raised from the dead.

Job 19:25-26 (NIV) says, “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end, He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the confirmation of the resurrection of the human body and future judgment.

“And if Christ has not been raised … those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

If you die in your sins, the judgment is sure. So, if you do not have a relationship with God through Christ, would you accept His gift of salvation today? Confess that you are a sinner and trust Jesus to save you.


Reference: Resurrection and Judgment by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource:

What Happens After Life?: 21 Amazing Revelations About Heaven and Hell by Ron Rhodes

What Happens After Life?: 21 Amazing Revelations About Heaven and Hell by Ron Rhodes

Do you wonder what happens when you die? If so, you’ll love these short, inspirational explanations of the Bible’s most encouraging teachings about heaven.

Trusted Bible teacher Ron Rhodes combines his rock-solid scriptural insight with illustrations from leaders throughout church history.

Each chapter is short enough to read in one sitting and zeroes in on a single encouraging truth. You will quickly find your fears and doubts replaced with confidence in these truths:

  • Death is a transition into a wonderful life, not a fearful end.
  • You will enjoy eternity in a wonderful new body.
  • You will be reunited with Christian loved ones.
  • Sin, sorrow, sickness, and pain will be no more.
  • Best of all, you will enjoy face-to-face fellowship with God.

Bypassing philosophical arguments and contentious debates, this reassuring look at the clear teaching of the Bible will empower you to embrace the future with hope and joy.

Is Love Your Greatest Motivation?

Is Love Your Greatest Motivation?

Many people say that they will do almost anything and everything for the people they love. Are you one of them? Is love your greatest motivation for your actions? What about those who kill themselves or others for love?

Bible Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:14a

For the love of Christ compels us.”

What Love Can Do

There is no doubt that John Denver is one of the greatest singers of all time. He started his singing career in the 1970s with folk music. Four years later, he became one of America’s best-selling performers.

If you are a John Denver fan, you must be familiar with his songs which are mostly about love. There’s “Perhaps Love,” “Falling Out of Love,” “Is it Love,” “Love is Everywhere,” and “Love Again” just to name a few.

I think it’s interesting that John Denver knew that “love is the greatest motivation to bring peace to this world.”  I don’t know if he was born again or not because he kept repeating that showing love can bring peace to this world. But as good as that may sound, retribution does not bring peace. 

God's Love for the World

God Demonstrated True Love

Is everyone capable of love? We’re all created in the image of God and love is one of God’s eternal characters. So yes, we all know how to love. The more important question is, can we love with the kind of love that God has for us? Probably not! We may not even know what love is according to God’s definition.

Our problem is God has already defined what love is, which is impossible to imitate without His help. We cannot love the same way God does without Him enabling us. And it takes humility on our part to be able to do it. Unless we humble ourselves before God and admit our inability to love like Him, we are not able to love like Him. 

That was part of the reason why Jesus came to earth to die and rise again. We were all bound to be separated from God for all eternity because of sin. But God loves us so much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus did not only give us the commandment to love, He showed us how to do it (John 13:34).

Experiencing the Love of God

Since Christians have experienced that love, God tells us to go live like that love is real and true.  As 2 Corinthians 5:15 implies, we can only live like it is real and true by living for God. This includes glorifying God in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Glorify God In All You Do

Another way of showing our love for God is by obeying His Word and commandments (John 14:15). Just to get things straight, we don’t obey God so that He will love us. Rather, we obey God because we love Him. As one Bible teacher said, “When we love, we obey.” Love should be our greatest motivation to obey God and His commandments.

Do you ever find it difficult to obey God? You should not because God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3

How well do we know God’s instructions for our life?  How often do we worship and learn what His Word says? Have we all experienced God’s love and received His free gift of salvation?  If not, why not ask Him for it now? 

Loving Others As God Loves Us

If we are going to live out His Word, because it is the Truth, shouldn’t we be loving others as Matthew 22:37-39 and Luke 10:27 says? 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus has silenced the Sadducees, they came to Him to test Him. They asked Jesus which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses. In reply, Jesus told them of the first and greatest commandment “to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.”

But He did not stop there. Jesus went on to say that the second commandment is “to love your neighbor as yourself.” First of all, I do not know of anyone who does not love himself/herself. People take really good care of themselves because they love themselves. We exercise and practice a healthy lifestyle because we love ourselves.

If it’s love that motivates us to do all these things for ourselves, love should also motivate us to want others to be saved. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you wouldn’t want them to depart from this earth without Christ, right?

Loving Others Can be Uncomfortable

Loving others can take many different forms but it can be very difficult or uncomfortable. I know many Christians that do not know how or even want to give the Gospel to other people. If they don’t get saved, they will spend eternity in hell, do you want that blood on your hands (Ezekiel 3:18)? 

The Second Greatest Commandment

I get it; people can be hostile because they don’t want to acknowledge their sinfulness. Your closest friends might hate you; they may even cut ties with you once you start telling them their need for Jesus. But it is more loving to tell someone the good news even when they do not like it than to let them be lost knowing that God could save them.

Jesus died to save all sinners. That includes the people you know. Are you willing to kill your selfish desires to bring others to Jesus?  Do you love them enough to share what Christ has done on the cross to save them from sin?

Final Thoughts

God sacrificed His Son so that we do not have to suffer eternal torment in hell. Christ left His throne in heaven. He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8). God did not have to do any of these but He did. Jesus almost couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from His Father, causing Him to cry in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But Jesus endured the cross because He knew that His sacrifice would mean reconciliation between God and man (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Love is God’s greatest motivation for sending His only son to suffer and die for us. Our Lord gave His life to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin so that we might live with Him for all eternity.

It’s all about love. Love should be the greatest motivation for Christians to obey God and to get others to trust in Jesus as their Savior.

Love requires sacrifice. How much are you willing to sacrifice for God and others?


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Recommended Resource:

The Essential Commandment: A Disciple’s Guide to Loving God and Others by Greg Ogden

The Essential Commandment: A Disciple's Guide to Loving God and Others by Greg Ogden

Is it really possible to live out the Great Commandment? Jesus thinks it is. And with Jesus, Ogden has found, it is possible–and essential.

In this practical, in-depth handbook, Ogden draws from his years of pastoral experience training and discipling others to help us truly be changed by Christ into people who love God and love others with all that we are.

Following the format of his bestselling Discipleship Essentials, each chapter includes:

  • a core truth
  • a memory verse
  • an inductive Bible study
  • reading on one aspect of the Great Commandment

Thoughtful questions will also help you examine your heart and life and move you to open yourself to God’s transforming work. Above all, Ogden helps you see that the Great Commandment is actually a great invitation to join God in bringing His kingdom to earth.

And as you learn to do so, you’ll find that the greatest commandment leads to the greatest life possible.

Are All People God’s Children?

Are All People God’s Children?

I often hear people say, “We are all children of God and so we must treat each other like family.” In a general sense, this is true. All men and women are God’s offspring in that He is the Creator (Acts 17:2-29).

However, this relationship is not sufficient to offset the penalty of sin. It’s because we are all sinners separated from God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, for a sinful person to become a child of God, a miraculous transformation must take place.

The Doctrine of Adoption

In regeneration, God gives us new spiritual life within and in justification; God gives us a right legal standing before Him. But in adoption, God makes us members of His family.

Thus, we can define adoption as an act of God whereby He makes us members of His family. The doctrine of adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God and with His people.

That leaves us with the question, “If we only become children of God through adoption, whose children are we before that?”

The Doctrine of Adoption

In John 1:12, we read that only those who receive Christ and believe in His name are given the right to become God’s children. By contrast, those who do not believe in Christ are sons of disobedience and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3; 5:6).

When the Jews who rejected Christ claimed that God was their Father, Jesus said, “…you are of your father, the devil…” (John 8:41-44).

From Slave to Son

When Christians are adopted into God’s family, a dramatic transformation of status takes place from slave to son. As God’s sons, we can call God, “Abba Father,” and become heirs of God through Christ (Galatians 4:6-7, Romans 8:15-17).

But if we are God’s children, are we then related to one another as family members? Certainly! This adoption into God’s family makes us partakers even with the Old Testament-believing Jews. Paul says that we are all Abraham’s children as well and children of the promise (Romans 9:7-8).

Paul explains that this status of adoption into God’s family was not fully realized in the Old Covenant. He says, “Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law… the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:23-26).

While the people of Israel knew God as their Father, the full benefits and privileges of membership in God’s family did not come until Christ.

Evidence of Adoption

If we are, indeed, God’s children, what evidence do we see in our lives? The clear evidence is the fact that the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that we are God’s children.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6)!

We also see in John’s first epistle how he places much emphasis on our status as God’s children. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. Beloved, now we are children of God … (1 John 3:1-2).

Notice that John frequently refers to his readers as “children of God.”

Although the New Testament says we are “now children of God,” there is another sense in which our adoption is still future. We will not receive the full benefits and privileges of adoption until Christ returns to give us glorified bodies (Romans 8:23).

How Do We Become Children of God

Adoption vs. Regeneration

There’s a common notion that we become God’s children by regeneration. This is because the imagery of being “born again” in regeneration makes us think of children being born into a human family.

However, the New Testament never connects adoption with regeneration. Rather, the idea of adoption is opposite to the idea of being born into a family. Adoption is connected with saving faith. This is to say that God has adopted us into His family in response to our trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 and Galatians 3:23-26 make it clear that adoption follows conversion as God’s response to our faith. Furthermore, Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:6 does not refer to the giving of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Rather, it is an act of the Holy Spirit in which He begins to bear witness with our spirit that we are members of God’s family.

This work of the Holy Spirit assures us of our adoption. In this sense, Paul says, God causes His Holy Spirit within our hearts to cry, “Abba Father,” after we have become sons.

Adoption vs. Justification

Just like regeneration, justification is distinct from adoption. God could have given us a right legal standing before Him without making us His children. This is why it is important to recognize how great our privileges are in adoption.

As mentioned in the first part of this post, adoption has to do with our relationship with God as our Father. When we were adopted into God’s family, God has given us many of the greatest blessings that we will know for all eternity. When we realize how great these blessings are, knowing that God is not obligated to give any of them to us, we will also exclaim:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1)!

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The Benefits of Adoption

I mentioned several times that there are blessings that come with becoming members of God’s family.

1. God Becomes Our Father

The first and greatest benefit or privilege of our adoption is being able to speak to God and have a relationship with Him as a Father. As we pray, “Our Father in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9), we realize that we are His sons, not slaves. Thus, we relate to God as a child relates to his or her father.

This relationship to God as our Father is the foundation of many other blessings of the Christian life. It’s true; God is our Creator, Lord, Master, Judge, Teacher, Provider, Protector, and Sustainer of our existence. But the most intimate role that conveys the highest privilege of our fellowship with God for eternity is Him being our heavenly Father.

2. God Loves Us and Cares for Us

Another benefit of adoption is that God’s love for us and cares deeply for us. As His children, God our Father has compassion on us (Psalm 103:13, NIV). Moreover, our heavenly Father gives us many good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and a great inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4).

The privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit is also a benefit of adoption (Romans 8:14). This is a moral benefit whereby the Holy Spirit puts in us desires to obey God and live according to His will. As God’s children, we must submit in obedience to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit.

3. God Disciplines Us

Still, another benefit of adoption that we may not always recognize is God disciplining us (Hebrews 12:5-6; Proverbs 3:11-12). The author of Hebrews explains that God is disciplining us because we are His legitimate children (Hebrews 12:7-8).

As our heavenly Father disciplines us, we grow in righteousness and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10, NIV).

God Disciplines Those Whom He Love

4. Fellowship with Other Believers

Finally, we also have privileges of adoption that affect the way that we relate to each other and affect our own personal conduct.

Because we are God’s children, our relationship with each other is far deeper and more intimate than the relationship among angels. Many passages throughout the New Testament refer to Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ.

See Romans 1:13; 8:12; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 6:8; James 1:2; Matthew 12:50; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Philemon 1:2; and James 2:15.

This indicates the strong consciousness they had of the nature of the church as the family of God. As members of God’s family, we are to work together for the good of the family and the honor of God our Father.

Conclusion

All people on the earth are God’s creation but not all of them are God’s children. Scriptures are clear! Only those who place their faith in Christ become members of God’s family.

Have you received Jesus as your Lord and believed in His name? Did you receive the “Spirit of adoption” by whom you cry out, “Abba Father?”

If you are not yet a member of God’s family, why don’t you confess your sins right now? Acknowledge you’re a sinner, believe in the Lord Jesus, and receive God’s forgiveness for your sins. In response to your faith, God will give you the right to become His child and adopt you into His family.

As a result of your adoption, you will be able to enjoy the many blessings and privileges of being a child and son of God.


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children by Robert A. Peterson

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children (November 19, 2001)

In an age of family breakdown, loneliness, and insecurity, we need more than ever to grasp the meaning of being sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Surprisingly, theologians have devoted little attention to the biblical teaching on adoption.

This book views the many facets of God’s saving grace through the lens of the Bible’s family imagery. Combining careful exegesis with gripping personal stories of father-child relationships, Robert A. Peterson brings home the warmth and wonder of biblical adoption.