Category: Doctrines

The Abrahamic Covenant Explained

The Abrahamic Covenant Explained

The Bible mentions several covenants that God made with certain individuals or a group of people, such as the covenant in Eden (Genesis 2:15-17), the covenant with Adam (Genesis 2:14-21, the covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1-9), the covenant with Abraham, etc.

But unlike the first three which were God’s general provisions for the entire human race in their existence on earth, God’s Covenant with Abraham is the first of God’s covenants to establish a spiritual relationship with a called, believing people (Genesis 12:1-3).

The Call of Abram

Genesis 12:1-3

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.”

God's Covenant with Abraham ExplainedAbram was seventy-five years old when God called him out of idolatry (Joshua 24:2), while he was in Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:28, 31; 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7), a city devoted to Nannar, the moon-god. God spoke to Abram, and the Word brought about the miracle of faith (Romans 10:17).

Abram did not know the true God and had done nothing to deserve knowing Him, but God graciously called him. Abram did not choose God, but God chose him. In the same way, we Christians did not choose God but He chose us and appointed us (John 15:16).

The call was to separate himself from the corruption around him, and Abram obeyed by faith (Hebrews 11:8). True faith is based on the Word of God and leads to obedience. God would not bless and use Abram and Sarai unless they were in the place of His appointment. That principle still holds true today.

The fact that Abram was well-advanced in age when God called him tells us that age does not need to be an obstacle to faith. He trusted God for one hundred years (Genesis 25:7), and from his experience, we today can learn to walk by faith and live to please the Lord.

Three Areas of Blessings

God’s covenant with Abraham provides for blessings in three areas: national, personal and universal.

1) National Blessing

The covenant anticipated that Abraham and his descendants would not only dwell in a land that they can call their own but that he will become a special nation in the work of God – “I will make you a great nation” (Genesis 12:2a).

So first, God promised to give Abram a land for him and his descendants (Genesis 12:7). But at the time of the call, Abram did not know where this land was. Only when we get to chapter 15 that the full description of the land was given:

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).

Although the land never belonged to Abram in his lifetime and had to buy a portion of the land for a burial site when his wife Sarai died, the title deed to the Promised Land was passed to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:3) and then from Isaac to Jacob (Genesis 28:13). Later on, Israel, under the leadership of Joshua went into the land of Canaan, possessed it and captured major cities.

*Related Article: God Promised a Land to the Jewish People

The second promise was that of a great nation coming from Abram. This promise demanded faith on the part of Abram because they were the least likely candidates to have a family and build a great nation. Abram was already aged and his wife Sarai was incapable of having children (Genesis 11:30).

But God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and by calling and blessing a barren couple, the Lord revealed the greatness of His power and His glory. Abram would be named “Abraham,” which means “father of many nations.”

2) Personal Blessing

The covenant also promised that Abraham would accomplish great things – “I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2b).

God made marvelous promises to the patriarch of the chosen nation. He would be the father of a famous nation; his name would be great because his life would be marked by God’s personal blessings and would be the channel of God’s blessings to many people.

Genesis 13:14-16

While much of Abram’s blessing was to come in the form of his offspring, there was also the blessing that would come in the form of the Messiah, who would bring salvation to God’s people.

God also promised to make Abram’s name great. No one is probably more honored in history than Abraham, who is honored not only by Christians and Jews but also by Muslims.

3) Universal Blessing

Finally, God promised Abraham that He was going to start a spiritual movement through him that would influence every nation of the earth – “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c).

God’s covenant with Abraham reached beyond him to humanity in general. Those people and nations which treated Abraham well and the nation which would descend from him would know God’s favor. On the other hand, those people and nations who mistreated Abraham and his descendants could expect the curse of God to rest on them (Genesis 12:3).

The final universal aspect of God’s covenant with Abraham as implied by the promise that “in him all families of the earth will be blessed” would be Abraham’s most important descendant – the Messiah. The sacrifice and atoning death of the Messiah would make available forgiveness and salvation for the entire world.

This promise made more specific the prophecy in God’s covenant with Adam that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:16).

Christ and the Abrahamic Covenant

God’s covenant with Abraham was more than a personal agreement between a godly man and the Lord; it promised blessings for “all the families of the earth.”

Paul wrote the church in Rome that believing Gentiles, like branches from “a wild olive tree, were grafted in among {believing Israel}, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17). The “root” from which God’s people draw their rich spiritual life is God’s covenant with Abraham.

If You are in Christ, You are Abraham’s Seed

In Galatians 3:17, Paul reasoned that God’s covenant with Abraham was foundational to spiritual life on two bases. First, it predated the Mosaic Law by 430 years. The law must always be understood in light of the covenant with Abraham.

More importantly, Paul insisted that God confirmed His covenant with Abraham “in Christ.” God had made His covenant with Abraham “and his seed” (Genesis 13:15; 15:18, “descendants” literally reads “seed”). Paul contended that God looked through all the generations of Abram’s “seed” to Christ, “the Seed,” as the means of guaranteeing the unconditional provisions of the covenant (Galatians 3:16-17).

Paul wrote, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). The covenant made in Genesis 12:1-3 applied just to the physical descendants of Abraham. In Christ, the blessings promised to the heirs of Abraham find spiritual application to all people of faith (Romans 4:16).

Paul further reasoned that physical descendants of Abraham who rejected Jesus as their Messiah could be compared to Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar (Galatians 4:23-25). People who respond to Jesus with the kind of faith Abraham pioneered could be compared to Isaac, Abraham’s son of promise by Sarah (Galatians 4:28).

Paul called these people “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

All Israel will be Saved

By identifying people of faith in Christ as the heirs of blessings of God’s covenant with Abraham, the New Testament does not deny any future role to the Jewish people in the outworking of that covenant.

As mentioned earlier, the Book of Romans pictures native branches of the domesticated olive tree being broken off to make room for wild branches to be grafted in and draw fruitful life from the roots of Abraham’s covenant (Romans 11:17).

God's Covenant with Abraham Explained

That process is reversible as we read in Romans 11:23. Indeed, the New Testament anticipates a time of spiritual renewal among the physical descendants of Abraham when their ancestry and faith in Christ will align. “Hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26).

Conclusion

Other than being the first theocratic covenant (pertaining to the rule of God) and the basis of all the other theocratic covenants, the Abrahamic covenant was unconditional.

This means it was dependent solely upon God who obligates Himself in grace, indicated by the unconditional declarations, “I will,” without corresponding “you must” demands on Abraham. Though it was given in broad outline in Genesis 12:1-3, it was later confirmed to Abraham at various times in greater detail (Genesis 13:14-17; 15:1-7, 18-21; 17:1-8).

The Abrahamic covenant contained all that God then began to do, has since done throughout history, and will continue to do. All of God’s plans for humanity grow out of this covenant.


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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).

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

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

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

Chapter 1: Ruth Remains with Naomi

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

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

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

Ruth 1:16 Ruth's Loyalty to Naomi

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

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

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

Chapter 2: Ruth Gleans in the Field of Boaz

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

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

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Message of the Book of Ruth

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

Chapter 3: Ruth at the Threshing Floor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 4: Boaz Marries Ruth

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

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

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

The Message of the Book of Ruth

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

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

A Kinsman Redeemer

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

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

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

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

An Overview of the Book of Ruth

An Ultimate Purchase

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

The Message of the Book of Ruth

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

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

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


*References:

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

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

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

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

Satan Introduced in the Gospels

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

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

The Meaning of Temptation

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

Lessons from the Temptation of Jesus Christ

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

The First Temptation

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

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

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

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

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

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

Jesus’ Response to the First Temptation

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

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

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

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

The Second Temptation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus’ Response to the Second Temptation

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

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

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

The Third Temptation

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Tempted by Satan in the Wilderness

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

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

Jesus’ Response to the Third Temptation

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

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

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

How to Overcome Temptations

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

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

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

How to Overcome Temptations as a Christian

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Overcome Temptation as a Christian

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

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

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

3. Know the Scriptures well and use them.

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

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

Overcoming Temptation with the Word of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Words

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

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

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


*Recommended Resource:

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

Product Description

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

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

God’s Unconditional Promise to Israel

God’s Unconditional Promise to Israel

Whether the Jews have a right to their land has been the subject of dispute among many nations up until today. Some say that the Jews have occupied a land that wasn’t theirs and that the occupation must be stopped.

However, the Jews claim that the land originally belonged to them and they have every right to it. They base their claim to the land of Israel on at least four premises and one of them is that God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

The Nation of Israel was founded by God

The Bible clearly tells us that Israel is the only nation founded by a sovereign act of God. It all started when God told Abraham to “get out of his country, from his family and from his father’s house, to a land that He will show him” (Genesis 12:1). And then God promised to give him that land (Genesis 12:7).

However, there are two controversies concerning the nation of Israel. The first is whether the promise to Abraham was a promise of literal land or promise of heaven. The second controversy asks whether the promise to Abraham and his seed for a literal land is conditional based upon Israel’s obedience to God or an unconditional promise.

We will then examine Scripture to verify beyond any doubt that God intended for Abraham and the Jewish people to have a literal land upon which they would live.

God's Unconditional Promise to Israel

God Promised a Land

In Genesis 13:14-15, God told Abraham, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are … for all the land which you see I will give to you and your descendants forever.”

And Genesis 15:18 states, “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.’” This is a very literal land. Heaven is not described, even allegorically, as the area between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates.

God told Abraham, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:13-14).

Israel’s departure from the Promised Land was literal because they went into a literal Egypt. After four hundred years they became a nation of two to three million people and they physically left a literal Egypt for a literal Promised Land – not heaven.

God's Unconditional Promise to the Jewish People
Photo Credits: Piano Bible Chapel

The title deed to the Promised Land was passed from Abraham to Isaac. God said to Isaac, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father” (Genesis 26:3).

The title deed to the Promised Land was then passed to Jacob from Isaac. In Genesis 28:13, God said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.”

You have to be in a very literal land to lie on it.

God’s Promise was Unconditional

Was God’s promise to Abraham of a Promised Land conditional or unconditional? Those who believe God’s promise was conditional simply do not understand the blood covenant.

In the Old Testament, there were three ways by which covenants could be made; a shoe covenant, a salt covenant, and a blood covenant.

In the blood covenant, the contracting parties would agree on the terms of the covenant. Then they would take an animal, kill it, split the carcass in half down the backbone, and place the divided parts opposite each other on the ground forming a pathway between the pieces.

The two would join hands, recite the contents of the covenant, and walk between the divided halves of the slain animal. The blood covenant meant they were bound until death, and if either broke the terms of the covenant, his blood should be spilled as the blood of the slain animal. A blood covenant was a permanent and unconditional covenant.

God's Unconditional Covenant with Abaraham and the Jewish People

In Genesis 15, God commanded Abraham to take a heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon; and all were split in half except the birds. God placed Abraham in a deep sleep, for no man can look upon God and live, as He prepared to enter a blood covenant with Abraham.

In his sleep, Abraham saw “a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces” (Genesis 15:17). In the Old Testament, the burning lamp signified the presence of the Shekinah Glory of God. God was binding Himself, unconditionally, by a blood covenant to Abraham and his descendants forever, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land” (Genesis 15:18).

Confirmation that the promise to Abraham and to his seed was unconditional is presented in Psalm 89:30-37. God says, “If his sons [Israel] forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, if they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.”

“Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.” God is saying here that He will not break His covenant.

God’s Promise Fulfilled

What about the future of Israel? Israel was reborn as a nation in one day on May 14, 1948, when the United Nations recognized the state of Israel. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 66:8.

God Promised to bring the Jews back to their own land

Amos writes concerning the restoration of Israel, “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them, says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:14-15).

The prophets of Israel declared the nation of Israel would be reborn, would be rebuilt, and the Jewish people would never again be removed. When the Messiah comes, He will set up His throne in the city of Jerusalem and of His kingdom, there shall be no end.

*Read more of the promises of God to the nation of Israel in this article: The “I Will” Promises of God

Conclusion

God’s covenant with Abraham and the nation of Israel was unconditional, depending solely upon God who obligated Himself in grace. The unconditional character of this covenant is indicated by God’s declarations “I will” that repeat throughout without corresponding “you must” demands of Abraham.

This covenant contained all that God then began to do, has since done throughout history, and will continue to do.


*Reference Material: 

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible {Top 20 Questions About Bible Prophecy & God’s Great Promises}
General Editor: John Hagee 

The Biblical Principles of Worship

The Biblical Principles of Worship

Whenever we hear the words praise and worship, it is always in a church setting. Praise and worship is that part of a church service when the congregation offers songs of praise and adoration to God.

Two months ago I published an article on what praise is all about. In this post, I will be tackling worship. What is the true meaning of worship? What are the elements of Christian worship?

The Meaning of Worship

The dictionary defines worship as an expression of reverence and adoration in thought or in deed to a Supreme Being or deity. Christian worship can then be defined as the expression of reverence and adoration to God.

The word worship is the New Testament Greek word proskuneo, which means “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” In contrast to praise, which involves the stretching of the hands, worship is often coupled with the act of bowing or kneeling, which shows humility and contrition (Psalm 95:6; 2 Chronicles 29:28; Revelation 19:10).

Psalm 95:6

The Object of Worship

The Scripture is very clear in Matthew 4:10; we are to worship the Lord our God and Him only shall we serve. (See also Luke 4:8.) The Bible teaches that God alone is worthy of worship (Psalm 29:2), but it also sadly records accounts of those who worshiped other objects.

Among those were people (Daniel 2:46), false gods (2 Kings 10:19, images and idols (Isaiah 2:8; Daniel 3:5), heavenly bodies (2 Kings 21:3), Satan (Revelation 13:4), and demons (Revelation 9:20). It is indeed tragic that many worshiped gods they could carry and not the God who could carry them.

God Almighty alone is worthy of worship. We are to worship the Father (John 4:23). We are to worship Him because of what He has done, loving us and giving His Son for us.

We are to worship the Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (John 9:38). We are to worship Him because of what He has done, His incarnation, life, and sacrifice.

Worship by Israel

The central aspect of Israel’s worship was the object of their worship, the Lord. While other nations paid homage to many gods (Deuteronomy 29:18), only Israel worshiped the one true God (Exodus 20:3). This worship could be private (Exodus 34:8), as a family (Genesis 22:5), or corporate (1 Chronicles 29:20), as a congregation.

Since so much of the Bible is devoted to Israel’s public worship, it deserves special notice. It included offering sacrifices (1 Samuel 1:3), adopting a reverent posture (2 Chronicles 7:6), verbal praise – either spoken (1 Chronicles 16:36) or sung (Psalm 57:7), instrumental praise (Psalm 150:3-5), prayer (2 Chronicles 6:14-42), and the great feasts (Leviticus 23:25).

One needs only to read the Psalms to see the excellent form of worship and spirit in which the godly Israel worshiped.

Matthew 4:10

The first place of worship for the people of Israel was the tabernacle constructed by Moses (Exodus 25-27); 30; 31; 35-40) and later the magnificent temple constructed by King Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:5). These structures served to localize the worship of the entire nation.

This geographic limitation stands in bold contrast to the privilege o immediate and direct access to God now available to the New Testament believer who himself is the temple of God (Hebrews 4:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

Read how Christian praise and worship was patterned from the Jewish way of worship at the Tabernacle of Moses in this article: The Biblical Roots of Christian Praise and Worship

3 Important Elements of Worship

True worship involves at least three important elements:

1. Worship requires reverence.

This includes the honor and respect directed toward the Lord in thought and feeling. It is one thing to obey a superior unwillingly; it is quite another to commit one’s thoughts and emotions in that obedience.

Jesus said that those who worship God must do so “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The term spirit speaks of the personal nature of worship: It is from my person to God’s person and involves the intellect, emotions, and will. In essence, worship gets to the heart of who we are.

Worship is the art of losing self in adoration of another. And that is why in order for us to truly worship God, we must let go of our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before the Lord and surrender every part of our lives to Him and adore Him not only for what He has done but for who He is.

Worship is an attitude of the heart

On the other hand, the word truth speaks of the content of worship. God is pleased when we worship Him, understanding His true character. This is why every worshiper must desire to have a knowledge of what the Bible teaches about who God is.

2. Worship includes public expression.

This was particularly prevalent in the Old Testament because of the sacrificial system. For example, when a believer received a particular blessing for which he wanted to thank God, it was not sufficient to say it privately, the expressed his gratitude publicly with a thankful offering (Leviticus 7:12).

Note: This element of worship will be dealt with more extensively under the subtopic “The Expression of worship.”

3. Worship means service.

These two concepts are often linked together in Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:19). Furthermore, the words for worship in both Testaments originally referred to the labor of slaves for the master.

For the believers in Jesus Christ, service as an expression of worship is always understood to mean getting involved in any of the Church’s five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11). However, the concept of worship must not be restricted to church attendance but should embrace an entire life of obedience to God.

Obedience is the highest form of worship

The Expression of Worship

Since worship encompasses thought, feeling, and deed, there are many expressions of it. Worship especially includes praise, thanksgiving, and adoration which may be expressed privately or publicly, either by grateful declaration (Hebrews 13:15) or by joyful singing (Psalm 100:2; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

Portions of early Christian hymns or worship actually may be observed in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:11-13).

One very important expression of worship for the church is remembering the death of Christ through the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26). The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Christ Himself (Matthew 26:26-28) and judged by Paul not to be taken lightly (1 Corinthians 11:28-32).

Giving is also a way of expressing worship to God. It includes but not limited to:

  • the cheerful giving of money to God’s work (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  • the giving of one’s time to the Lord’s work
  • the use of one’s spiritual gifts in ministry to the body of Christ and occupying a church office (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)
  • ministry in edifying saints and evangelizing sinners

But the single most important act of worship for the Christian is the unqualified presentation of himself to God as an obedient servant. This dedication involves the body and the mind (Romans 12:1-2): the body because it contains the tools by which the will of God is carried out; the mind because it coordinates the actions to be executed by the body.

When the body and mind are gladly devoted to God, they become instruments by which He effects His will on the earth. Such faithful and joyous service makes one’s entire life a performance of worship.

The Reasons for Worship

So why should Christians worship God?

1. Worship is a command.

The first reason for worship is simply that God commands it (1 Chronicles 16:29; Matthew 4:10). The first four of the Ten Commandments, which are also the longest, clearly charge men to worship the one true God and Him alone (Exodus 20:3-10).

To allow any person or things to usurp the position of lordship over us constitutes gross disobedience to the will of God and incurs His terrible wrath (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 27:15). All people are destined to pay homage to God anyway, even if unwillingly (Philippians 2:10).

2. God is worthy and deserving of our worship.

An equally important reason for worship is that God deserves our worship and He is worthy. He alone possesses the attributes that merit our worship and service. Among these are goodness (Psalm 100:4-5), mercy (Exodus 4:31), holiness (Psalm 99:5, 9), and creative power (Revelation 4:110.

The Elements of Christian Worship

When men of biblical times clearly saw the unveiled glory of God, they could not help but fall prostrate in worship. Examples of this response can be seen in the actions of Moses ((Exodus 35:4-8), Paul (Acts 9:3-6), and John (Revelation 1:9-17).

3. Men need to give God worship.

A final reason for worship is that men need to give it. People cannot find personal fulfillment apart from the glad submission of themselves in worshipful obedience to God. He is the Creator and they are the creatures (Revelation 4:11)

People who adopt as their master anything less than God are building their lives on quicksand. They will be no stronger than the object they worship (Psalm 115:4-8). One who worships God, however, not only participates in the occupation of heaven (Revelation 7: 9-12), but finds joyful satisfaction for the present.

Final Thoughts

Just as praise is closely intertwined with thanksgiving, worship is intertwined with surrender. And so it is impossible to worship God and anything else at the same time.

One important thing to remember is that the place where we worship God is immaterial. What matters is the spiritual condition of our hearts. We can worship at home, in the church, etc.

We worship God when we enter into His presence and engage in worship, the highest occupation for every believer.


*Recommended Resource: For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church
By N.T. Wright

This insightful book by N. T. Wright explores both the meaning and the results of Christian worship.

Part 1, “The God Who Is Worthy of Praise,” focuses on what worshiping God actually means. Wright celebrates the greatness and beauty of God as the ground and reason for worship and shows how reflection on who God is leads us to true, heartfelt worship (from “worth-ship”), as we seek to give God all He’s worth.

Part 2, “Reflecting God’s Image in the World,” addresses a range of issues that flow from the activity of worship. Since worship can never remain isolated from the task of the church, Wright here explores how true worship leads to the mission of the church in various specific ways.

Based firmly on sensitive and creative readings of the biblical text, this book is an inspiring call for renewal in the worship and witness of today’s church.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

Next to the Master Teacher Himself (Jesus Christ), the apostle Paul is probably the most eloquent and persuasive teacher in the Bible. Paul is so significant a figure in the New Testament and in the church’s history that he has been called the second founder of Christianity.

This, of course, is not true, for it ignores the continuity between Jesus and Paul and diminishes unfairly the contributions of men such as Peter, John, and Luke. But there is no question that Paul played a vital role in the growth and establishment of the church and in the interpretation and application of God’s grace in Christ.

His epistles make up almost one-fourth of the New Testament, putting Paul just behind Luke in the percentage of the New Testament written by a single individual. And if one adds the sixteen chapters of Acts (Acts 13-28) that are almost entirely devoted to Paul, Paul figures in almost one-third of the New Testament.

Major Teachings of Paul

Misinterpreting Paul and His Letters

One post on a Facebook Group I was invited in questioned how the apostle Paul differed in his teachings about God from every single one of the Old Testament patriarchs and even with Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

While the rest of them taught monotheism, that is, there is only one God; Paul taught polytheism – there is more than one God. Upon reading that, I couldn’t help but conclude that the conversation starter in the group hasn’t really read the Bible. And there’s no doubt that he misunderstood Paul’s teachings, especially about the Triune God.

Exploring Paul’s background will help us understand him better and to interpret his words more accurately. So who was this man Paul?

Paul’s Background

Paul himself provides a rough outline of his own background, but in his epistles, this material is scattered. The basic historical details are conveniently grouped in the speeches Paul gave (as reported by Luke) to a hostile crowd of Jews on the steps of the temple (Acts 22:1-21) and to King Agrippa II and the Roman procurator Festus (Acts 26:2-23).

Saul (Paul’s name before his conversion) was a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 22:3), a region in the extreme southeastern part of Asia Minor. In Paul’s day, the city was the capital of the Roman province Syria-Cilicia (Galatians 1:21). It was prosperous, privileged (it was exempt from Roman taxation), and cultured, being famous for its schools. Not only was Paul born in Tarsus, but he was also a citizen of this “no ordinary city” (Acts 21:39).

More important, however, was the fact that Paul was a citizen of Rome. The Romans did not confer citizenship on just anyone; only a small percentage of people who lived within the Roman Empire possessed this privilege.

Paul’s Roman citizenship was inherited from his family (Paul claims, “I was born a citizen” (Acts 22:28), perhaps because of some deed of service performed by his father or grandfather for the Romans.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

However achieved, Paul’s Roman citizenship was an important and providential qualification for his role as a missionary to the Roman Empire. It enabled him to escape detainment when his preaching brought disfavor (Acts 16:37-39), to avoid punishment (Acts 22:23-29), and to plead his case before the emperor’s court in Rome (Acts 25:10-12).

His statement, “I was brought up in this city, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3), tells us that prior to his conversion on the road to Damascus, not only was Paul by birth a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” he was by conviction a serious and zealous follower of Judaism, a member of its strictest sect (Acts 26:5), the Pharisees.

But Paul’s encounter of the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-11; 26:12-15) has turned him from being the number one persecutor of Christians into not only a follower but a preacher of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Authority as an Apostle

Fundamental to Paul’s ministry was his consciousness of being an apostle. Like the other apostles, he had seen the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1), and the Lord Himself, not any human being, had called Paul to his apostleship (see Galatians 1:1).

Because Paul was an apostle by God’s call, he could claim an authority equal to that of Peter, James, John, and the rest of the twelve—those whom some of Paul’s opponents had labeled “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5). Paul writes from the consciousness of this apostolic authority in every one of his letters.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

True, Paul can sometimes distinguish between his teaching and the teaching of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:6, 10, 12; 2 Corinthians 11:17), and nowhere does Paul make it clear that he thought his letters to be inspired Scripture. Nevertheless, in differentiating his teaching from the Lord’s, Paul does not suggest that his carries any less authority.

And, while not perhaps conscious of writing inspired Scripture, Paul’s apostolic stance enables him to interpret with sovereign freedom the Old Testament Scriptures and to make demands on his people that he considered to be as binding as anything in Scripture.

5 Major Teachings of Paul

We read from his background and the testimony of the Word of God that Paul became a faithful follower of Christ, a dedicated missionary, and a respected leader in the early church.

Here are five of the major doctrines he taught and expounded.

1. Justification by Faith

According to Paul, God ushered in a new era through the death of His Son. Under the old covenant, people such as Abraham were justified by believing God, looking forward to the promise of the coming Messiah (see Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:22).

Now believers are justified, or declared righteous before God, through faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His atoning death on our behalf. Our justification is based on the work of Christ, accomplished through His blood (Romans 5:9), and brought to His people through His resurrection (Romans 4:25).

Justified: The Bible’s Meaning

What does it mean to be justified? To be justified means to be declared right with God by virtue of the remission of sins accomplished by Jesus: Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer, and the believer’s sins are imputed to Christ, who bears them in His body on the tree.

God Who Justifies, The – eBook

By James R. White

The author of The King James Only Controversy calls believers to a fresh appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith. White, a Reformed Baptist, offers an in-depth study that focuses on the pivotal place of this often-ignored principle in church history; and an exegetical defense of key biblical passages in Romans and James.


However, let us not forget that justification is by faith. You are justified only when God the Father, based upon the meritorious work of Jesus Christ in your place, declares you to be so upon the exercise of the gift of faith – faith that is directed solely to the God who justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).

Again, justification is the judicial act of God whereby He forgives the sinner of all his sins – past, present, and future – and declares him righteous in His eyes and free from guilt and punishment. It is an immediate and instantaneous act of God upon the sinner’s confession and his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9).

2. Jesus Christ is the Risen and Living Son of God

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul - Jesus is the Son of God
Saul Encounters the Risen Christ

From the moment Jesus appeared to Paul at his dramatic conversion, Paul immediately started to proclaim without hesitation that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).

Let us not forget who Paul was – a Pharisee utterly devoted to stamping out the new Christian movement. But Jesus sovereignly intervened in his life while he was on Damascus road.

Amazingly, the last words we hear coming out of Saul’s mouth before his conversion are, “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:5); and the first words we hear out of his mouth after his conversion are, “Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).

Paul’s world has just been turned upside down. The Jesus that he thought was dead was not dead. Not only that; He was the living Lord of the universe! Instantly, Paul’s whole worldview collapsed and was rebuilt with great, unshakable and solid pillars of truth about Jesus.

Luke, the author of the book of Acts, surely wants us to see how the doctrine that Jesus is the Son of God is foundational to being a Christian and foundational to the rest of Paul’s life as the greatest missionary who ever lived.

Paul’s Made-Up Gospel

The accusation that Paul made up his own doctrine about Jesus being the Son of God and God could not be further from the truth. He encountered the risen Christ and the gospel he had taught the early churches during his ministry came by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12, 16). In short, Paul’s was a supernatural gospel.

However, without taking anything away from this point, we must recognize that Paul on other occasions indicates his indebtedness to Christians before him for his teaching. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, for instance, Paul asserts of the Gospel that he preached to the Corinthians, “what I received I passed on to you.”

What Paul seems to be asserting is that elements of his gospel teaching, such as the truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-5), were handed down to him by other people.

To Paul, Jesus was the Messiah, God’s Son, the center of the gospel, and the One whom “all things were created” (Colossians 1:16).

*Related Article: Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

3. The Church is the Body of Christ

The only New Testament writer who speaks of the church as a body, Paul emphasized this fact in such passages as Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:7-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:1 2-27.

Meaning of the Word Church

First of all, the word “church” is derived from and understood in the light of the original Greek word ekklesia or the “called out ones.” So the church is a group of “called out” believers who have been placed into one Body by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) at the moment of their salvation.

All believers have experienced this once-for-all baptism and nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to seek this baptism because we have already experienced it and it need not be repeated.

Jews and Gentiles are joined together to form a new entity through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:6) and the only qualification for membership is faith in the risen Savior. It is clear that every believer since Pentecost, living and dead, is a member of the body of Christ, the universal church.

Major Teachings of Paul
Photo Credits: fohonline.com

Christ is the Head of the Church

Ephesians 1:22 says, “God has put all things under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body.” As believers and members of the church (the body of Christ), Christ is our Head. This means that there is a living connection between us and Christ.

Through the Spirit, we are united to Him as the members of His body. This means that we also share in His death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation (Ephesians 6:3-5). We too are seated in “the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6) and all things are under our feet.

At the same time, Paul reminds Christians that their various gifts were to be used in building up the body of Christ and that they should work together for the common good of the Christian cause (Romans 12:4-5).

4. The Power and Influence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s Life

Paul taught that the Holy Spirit was a more effective power for holy living in the Christian’s life than the old Jewish Law had ever been. The Law told people what to do, but it could not provide the will of the power to do it.

But God’s Spirit could provide the necessary power and motivation (Romans 8:9-17; Galatians 5:16-25). As a loving and wise mother tenderly watches over her child, so the Holy Spirit cares for the children of God.

The Works of the Holy Spirit in Christian Living

a) The Holy Spirit indwells Christians.

The Bible teaches that all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The purpose of this indwelling ministry is to control the newly created nature given at conversion (2 Corinthians 5:17).

b) The Holy Spirit fills believers.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle PaulWe are admonished to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word “filled” means to be controlled. So to be “filled” with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit and is therefore crucial to successfully living the Christian life.

Unlike the indwelling of the Spirit, “filling” is a repeated experience. This is understood by the use of the present tense (“be filled”) as well as by biblical examples of Christians who were filled more than once (Acts 2:4; 4:31). Just as important, we must observe that filling is a command to be obeyed, not an option.

c) The Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer.

Romans 15:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13

The basic meaning of sanctification is “separation” or “to be set apart.” In John 17:19, Jesus spoke of Himself as being sanctified; in other words, He is holy and set apart from sin and so His followers are to be similarly set apart from sin and for God’s use (1 Peter 1:16).

*Read here: Understanding the Personality of the Holy Spirit

In the spiritual sense of a believer’s life, sanctification means to be set apart by God, for God, from sin, unto a holy life and to be made more holy through conforming to the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29).

d) The Holy Spirit produces fruit in the life of the believer.

This fruit is described by Paul: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

The contrast between results and fruit is important. A machine in a factory works and turns out a product, but it could never manufacture fruit. Fruit must grow out of life, and in the case of the believer, it is the life of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

Believers are to live by the Spirit, which means keeping in step with the Spirit if they are to bear fruit in abundance. This involves the Word, prayer, worship, praise, and fellowship with God’s people.

e) The Holy Spirit imparts gifts to Christians.

Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Ephesians 4:7-12

A spiritual gift is an ability imparted to every Christian (1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Peter 4:10). The purpose of these gifts is twofold, namely, to glorify God (Revelation 4:11) and to edify the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).

f) The Holy Spirit teaches believers.

The Holy Spirit will instruct us in all spiritual things as we read the Word of God (John 14:26) and abide in the Son of God (1 John 2:24-27).

5. The Second Coming of Christ

Paul taught that Christ will return to earth at the end of this age and that all Christians will share in His glory in the age to come.

The return of Jesus Christ will happen in two phases:

a) The Rapture which is when Christ will return in the air and take with Him to heaven every person – both living and dead – who has trusted Christ as Savior (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul
Photo Credits: GotQuestions.Org

b) The Second Coming or Second Advent which is the return of Jesus with an army of angels and raptured believers to destroy the forces which are arrayed against God and to deliver the Jewish people (Zechariah 14:4 Revelation 19:11-21).

Bottom Line

Many of the doctrines taught and expounded by the apostle Paul are considered the hallmarks of the Christian faith. He may not be here anymore but he continues to minister to us today through the thirteen epistles he wrote that have become part of the canon of the New Testament.


References:

1) The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Edited by John Hagee

2) An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris

3) The God Who Justifies by James R. White

The Power of the Word of God

The Power of the Word of God

The Word of God is living and powerful as Hebrews 4:12 says. But what is meant by the phrase “the word of God?” In the Bible, there are actually several different meanings taken by this phrase. So before going any further, it is important first of all to distinguish these different senses.

The Different Forms of the Word of God

A. The Word of God as a Person: Jesus Christ

Sometimes the Bible refers to the Son of God as the Word of God in John 1:1. Clearly, John is speaking of the Son of God here, because if we continue to John 1:14 he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …”

Also in Revelation 19:13 where John sees the risen Lord Jesus in heaven and says, “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.”

B. The Word of God as God’s Decrees

At other times God’s words take the form of powerful decrees by God. A decree of God is a word of God that causes events to happen or even cause things to come into being (Genesis 1:3, 24 & Psalm 33:6).

Genesis 1:3 NKJV

These decrees of God do not only include the events of the original creation but also the continuing existence of all things, for Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Christ is continually “upholding all things by the word of His power…”

C. The Word of God as God’s Words of Personal Address

Sometimes God communicates with people on earth by speaking directly to them. There are examples throughout Scriptures, such as when God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17) and after they sinned, God still spoke personally and directly to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:16-19.

Another prominent example of God’s direct personal address to people on earth is found in giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-3) and at Jesus’ baptism wherein God the Father spoke from heaven (Matthew 3:17).

D. God’s Words as Speech through Human Lips

Frequently in Scripture God raises up prophets through whom He speaks. In Deuteronomy 18:18-20, God speaks to Moses about raising up for the Israelites a prophet from among them just like him, puts His words in his mouth and will speak to them all that He will command.

God made a similar statement to Jeremiah: Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9).

Although it is evident that these are human words spoken in human ordinary language by ordinary human beings, the authority and truthfulness of these words are in no way diminished; they are still completely God’s words as well.

E. God’s Words in Written Form (the Bible)

The Power of the Word of God
Photo Credits: Bible Gateway

But we also find in Scriptures several instances where God’s words were put in written form. The first of these is found in the narrative of the giving of the two tablets of stone to Moses on which were written the Ten Commandments (Exodus 31:18; 32:16 & 34: 1, 28).

There were further additions to this book of God’s word by Joshua (Joshua 24:26), Isaiah (Isaiah 30:8), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:2; 36:2-4, 27-31 & 51:60) and in the New Testament by Jesus (John 14:26) and the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Peter 3:2).

Once again, it must be noted that even though they are written down mostly by human beings and in human language, these words are still considered to be God’s own words.

Of all the forms of God’s Word, the Bible, which is the written Word of God and how powerful it is, is the focus of this article.

How Powerful is the Word of God?

The Word of God is so powerful it can actually bring about a tremendous change in the life of a believer if they would just let it.

The Word of God Corrects

There are many symbols used to illustrate God’s Word that can be found in the Bible itself.

It can be thought of as a mirror in which the sinner or saint looks and sees a true reflection of himself as portrayed by the Lord Himself (James 1:23-25), a seed regenerating the hearer (1 Peter 1:23), a lamp that illuminates and guides the believer day by day (Psalm 119:105), a sword that convicts the hearer (Hebrews 4:12), and even as food that feeds and nourishes the soul of the hearer (Hebrews 5:12-14).

But the Bible also serves as a measuring rod or ruler. Many teachers have used wooden rulers in their classes not only to give the right measurement but, on occasion, to correct a misbehaving pupil. God’s word likewise can do both on these things. It should be used as a standard against which to measure our beliefs.

As Mike Mazzalongo said, “God’s Word is a standard against which all philosophies, ideas, and proposed solutions for the human condition can be measured for accuracy. If God’s Word approves it, we can run with it; if the Word rejects it, nothing we can do will make it work, make it acceptable, or make it right.” 

What about certain religious groups which claim Christ was not God, or that the Bible is filled with silly tales? Immediately we can reject such claims by using our divine written ruler to discover that such arguments simply do not measure up.

The Power of God's Word

Sometimes our heavenly Father uses His written ruler to correct us when we are in the wrong. Israel’s great King David once experienced this. “You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word . . . Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:65, 67).

There are times when God’s Word can correct believers when they are in honest and unintentional error. Aquila and Priscilla, a godly Christian couple, use the Scriptures to help a powerful young preacher Apollos (Acts 18:24-26). Paul does the same thing for some former disciples of John the Baptist he meets in the city of Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7).

The Word of God Cleanses

One of the pieces of furniture in the Old Testament tabernacle was called the bronze laver (Exodus 38:8). It consisted of a huge upright bronze bowl filled with water resting upon a pedestal. The priests would often stop at this laver and wash.

The Word of God may be thought of in terms of that laver, for it also has the power to cleanse. But while the Old Testament laver could only remove the physical dirt from human hands, the Scripture possesses the ability to take away our moral filth (1 Peter 1:22).

You can learn  more about the Old Testament laver in this article: The Origin of Christian Praise & Worship

So what areas of our lives can the Word of God cleanse?

a) It can cleanse us from wrong thoughts.

Sometimes we are tempted to think critically of others; God’s Word can prevent this (Psalm 1:2). On other occasions fearful thoughts may race through our minds; the Scriptures will prevent this also (Joshua 1:8).

In fact, the Bible will establish our total thought-life if we but allow it to do so (Philippians 4:8-9; 2 Peter 1:5-10).

b) It can cleanse us from wrong words.

Of all the Bible authors, James seems to be God’s expert on the sins of the human tongue. In the first chapter of his book, he deals with this very thing and shows the absolute necessity of dependence upon the Scriptures to keep our words true (James 1:22-26). See also Psalm 119:172.

c. It can cleanse us from wrong actions.

Jesus promised us this would be the case when He says in John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

The Power of God's Word

The Word of God Equips

In a general sense, it can be said that the Bible was written to convict sinners of sin and to equip believers for service.

a. It equips us for evangelism.

Philip the evangelist uses the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah to point the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ in Acts 8:26-35. Peter in his most powerful sermon at Pentecost when he quoted from the prophet Joel and preached to the crowd, who were mostly devout Jews, repentance and the last days in which God would bring to completion His plan of salvation for humankind (Acts 2:14-41).

Believers must also have the knowledge and proper understanding of the Word of God as they go about sharing the Gospel message of salvation to the lost. Without the Word of God as our weapon, we won’t have anything to use to usher in souls into the Kingdom of God.

b. It equips us for using our spiritual gifts from God.

A spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to the believer for the purpose of edifying the church and glorifying God. Paul says in Ephesians 1:17-19, 11-14 that a knowledge of God’s Word will provide us with the maturity we need to use our gifts in the most effective way.

c. It equips us to battle with Satan.

In Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul likens the believers’ armor to that used by Roman foot soldiers. In this comparison, the Word of God is likened to the soldier’s sword.

The Word of God Confirms

To confirm means to fully establish truth or fact. The Bible should be used to confirm the truth in our own hearts.

a. It confirms our salvation.

Often times many Christians are troubled with doubts about their conversion experience. Did God really save them when they asked Him to do so? Are they still saved today? A number of verses may be used to confirm our salvation and one of the strongest is Jesus’ own words in John 5:24. We have assurance of salvation as God promised in His Word.

You may want to compare John 3:16; 6:27, 35, 37, 40; 10:27-29 and Romans 8:1.

b. It confirms the hand of God in all of life’s bitter disappointments.

Undoubtedly the most important verse of reassurance and comfort in the hour of great need is Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

c. It confirms our forgiveness when we sin.

Admittedly, there are times when we carry an unnecessary burden of guilt over our past sins and failures. And although we have already confessed them, we have difficulty believing that God has truly forgiven and cleansed us.

But time and time again the Bible assures us that all confessed sin is instantly and eternally forgiven (Psalm 32:5; Isaiah 38:17).

Conclusion

2 Timothy 3:16-17The Bible which is the Word of God itself is truly inspired and infallible. Although it was penned by ordinary human writers, it has only one author – the Holy Spirit.

We can be confident that every word in the Bible has come directly from God and it has the supernatural power to correct, cleanse, equip and transform every believer into the kind of person that God wants them to be. The Word of God also confirms all the promises of God.

Have you made a personal decision to “be in Christ” by first acknowledging that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior? Have you repented of all your sins and received God’s gift of salvation and eternal life?

If you have been born again, are you immersed in the Word of God and are allowing it to change and empower you so you can be an effective witness for Christ and live the victorious Christian life?


*References:

  1. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
  2. NKJV Prophecy Study Bible
The Elements of Praise

The Elements of Praise

Whether you celebrate the Lord’s Day on a Saturday, Sunday or other days of the week, praise and worship have become a regular part of the service. But what is praise and what is worship? What are the differences between the two? The focus of this article is praise and all its elements.

The Meaning of Praise

The word praise is from the Hebrew word yadah, which means “To stretch out the hand.” That is, to hold out the hands in reverence, to open the hands and let go of everything, to just stand and praise God open-handedly.

Praise is closely intertwined with thanksgiving, which is the joyful recounting of all God has done for us. When we praise God, we are actually offering Him back appreciation for His mighty works on our behalf. In other words, praise is an expression of our thankfulness.

But is that what praise is all about? An expression of thankfulness to God for all the great things He has done for us? Of course not! To praise God is to acknowledge the glories of His excellent person.

As Charles Spurgeon said, “When we praise God, we simply say what He is because the praises of God are simply the facts about Himself.”

The Elements of Praise

In Scripture, praise is usually presented as energetic, lively or active and uninhibited.

Praise the Lord

Considering that Psalms is a book of praise, it is fitting that the last five chapters (Psalm 146-150) begin with Hallelu Yahhallelujah“Praise the Lord!” The exclamation point denotes an excitement, an exuberance, a shouting.

Jehovah (or Yah, for Yahweh) is the covenant name of the Lord. It reminds us that He loves us and has covenanted to save us, keep us, care for us, and eventually glorify us, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Son, on the cross.

The greatness of God is something to shout about. He created all that is. He cared for all He created. He provided salvation when mankind fell into sin. The power of the blood of Jesus has forever broken Satan’s reign over us; the time is coming when He will be forever banished to the eternal fire.

God promises a kingdom to come and we serve a risen Savior who has gone to prepare a place for us so we can spend eternity with Him. No wonder that “praise from the upright is beautiful” (Psalm 33:1).

Praise is Obligatory

Praise is a command. Angels and heavenly hosts are commanded to praise the Lord (Psalm 89:5; Psalm 103:20; Psalm 148:2) and all inhabitants of the earth are instructed to praise the Lord (Psalm 117:1; Psalm 138:4; Matthew 21:16; Psalm 148:1-14).

From the heavens, in the heights, the sun, moon, stars, water, the sea creatures, the depths, stormy wind, the mountains and hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle, all peoples: young men, maidens, old men, children – praise the name of the Lord!

Thanksgiving Expressed Through PraisePsalm 148:1-14 reads like a roll call asking for every created thing to celebrate God’s greatness. God created all that is. He also sustains all that is. Were it not for Jesus Christ “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3) the entire universe would fly apart, totally disintegrate into nothingness.

Ever since creation, God has continued to hold His creation together. Further, He supplies the needs of His creation. Psalm 104 lists just a few of the ways God provides for the creatures He made, including mankind.

God invites all kinds of praise from His creation. In fact, Jesus said that if people don’t praise God, even the stones will cry out (Luke 19:40).

How to Praise the Lord

1. We praise the Lord with joyful singing.

Psalm 9:11

“Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people.”

In Psalm 9, David offers wholehearted praise to the Lord for delivering him and his army from the enemy nations that attacked Israel. He also calls upon the suffering remnant to sing praises to God because He is on their side and fights their battles.

The emphasis is on joyful praise and David’s aim was to honor the Lord, not to glorify himself.

Psalm 149:2, 5

“Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud on their beds.”

In the Old Testament, songs were written to commemorate important events. A song of praise reminds us that God takes pleasure in our joyful praise.

Joy is a matter of choice, a positive attitude that we choose to express. Joy is not a gift delivered to our door each morning. When the events of our life seem out of control, we must find our joy in the Lord, which produces the strength we need to get through the tough times.

*Related Article: The Biblical Roots of Christian Praise & Worship

Children will praise the Lord with great joy as they sing songs like “Jesus Loves Me.” Their trusting and meek spirit makes a beautiful melody. When the children were in the temple shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” the priests and scribes were upset by these words.

Jesus asked them, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” (Matthew 21:16).

We need to take a lesson on praising the Lord from our children and let our praise be a song of testimony about the greatness and glory of God.

2. We praise the Lord with shouting.

Psalm 66:1

“Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!!”

As in the previous and the next psalm, Psalm 66 has the whole earth in view and not only Israel. The psalmist understood that God was not only God over Israel but the entire universe. The psalmist then invites all the Gentile nations to praise God with joyful shouting for what He had done for Israel (Psalm 66:5-7).

We offer to the Lord shouts of praise in response to his marvelous works.

3. We praise the Lord with dancing and musical instruments.

Psalm 149:3 (Also Psalm 150:4-5)

“Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.”

The Jews were very expressive people; they used musical instruments, songs, and dances in their worship of the Lord. These dances, of course, were not modern ballroom or club dances but rather interpretive dances that pointed to the Lord and not to a person’s talent (see Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34).

Here’s a beautiful messianic praise dance on the song Baruch Adonai by the Restored to Glory Dance Ministry. Watch and be blessed.

To dance before the Lord the way King David did calls for an unreserved celebration of our faith. Since the Christian life is a life of joy and celebration, we are able to freely dance in celebration of our joy in the Lord.

Why We Praise the Lord

The Bible gives us numerous reasons to praise the Lord:

  • Because of His majesty, greatness, and power (Psalm 145:3-5; Psalm 21:13).
  • Because of His glory and excellency (Psalm 138:5; Psalm 148:13).
  • Because of His goodness and mercy (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21; 2 Chronicles 20:21).
  • Because of His loving kindness, faithfulness and truth (Psalm 138:2; Isaiah 25:1).
  • Because He has provided salvation (Luke 1:68-69) and has done wonderful works (Psalm 150:2; Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31).

In today’s world of uncertainty, God is worthy to be praised for the reason that He alone can be trusted.

Psalm 146:5

“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”

When times are unsure, there is only one sure hope – God. Not rank or position. Not military might. Not reputation. Not wealth. Not political friends. Not social status. All these power plays are empty when it comes to building a sure foundation for life, especially eternal life.

People and circumstances come and go like the fog every morning. To trust in them for ultimate help is foolish. But “the Lord shall reign forever” (Psalm 146:10). He is able and sure to help.

Praise the Lord in Times of Trouble

Psalm 147:3, 5

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”

When we are in the dessert of our days, we need to praise the Lord. When we are in the valley of the shadow of death, we need to praise the Lord. When we are surrounded by our enemies, we need to praise the Lord. When are discouraged and weary, and overwhelmed with problems, we need to praise Him.

As Jeff and Sheri Easter’s song says, “When everything fall apart, praise His name…”

Praise His Name Lyrics and Chords

We are never closer to God than we humble ourselves completely in His presence (Psalm 147:6). There in the shelter of His arms, we will find that His love never changes, and His mercy endures forever (Psalm 136:1-26).

Even though praise, as mentioned earlier, is intertwined with thanksgiving, we should not praise God only when things are going our way. We should praise the Lord for anything and everything (Philippians 4:6).

Closing Thoughts

In the sacrifice of praise, we bow in humble adoration before the Savior. While some people may see that as a sign of weakness and think we’re foolish, we praise God because we believe in a risen Savior. We praise God for all that we have and all that we are. In doing so, we witness to the unbelieving world that Jesus lives.

Praise An Expression of Thankfulness

Jesus Christ died at Calvary as God’s sacrifice for our sins. When He said, “It is finished,” the ritual of sacrifices was over – forever. He does not want a goat, a dove or a lamb.

The only sacrifice God wants now is the sacrifice of our praise. He wants living, praising men and women. 

Hidden Messages in Genesis 5

Hidden Messages in Genesis 5

The fifth chapter of Genesis includes the first genealogy in Scripture and introduces “the written account of the descendants of Adam.” Ten generations are listed here, from Adam to Noah, just as ten generations are listed from Shem to Abraham in the “account of Shem’s family” (Genesis 11:10-26).

But how true is it that there are actually hidden messages in Genesis 5? Adam and his descendants lived a long time but Methuselah lived the longest. Methuselah is well-known as the oldest man in the Bible, yet he died before his father. How can that be?

Enoch didn’t Die

Enoch, Methuselah’s father, didn’t die; he was transferred directly to heaven without passing through death (“raptured,” as some would say). Instead of the echoed words “and then he died,” Enoch’s life’s story ends with the statement, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

It was “by faith” that Enoch was taken to heaven (Hebrews 11:5). He believed God, walked with God, and went to be with God, which is an example for all of us to follow. It must have been difficult to live in close fellowship with God during those years before the flood when vice and violence were prevalent and only a remnant of people believed God (Genesis 6:5).

Hidden Messages in Genesis 5

But Enoch’s life of faith wasn’t a private thing, for he boldly announced that God would come to judge the world’s sins. Isn’t it interesting that the oldest prophecy in the Bible was uttered by Enoch before the flood of Noah concerning the Second Coming of Christ?

It is not found here in Genesis but in the next-to-last book of the Bible, Jude.

Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” – Jude 14-15

Enoch’s life and witness remind us that it is possible to be faithful to God “in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:15).

The Birth of Methuselah

The birth of Methuselah when Enoch was 65 was a turning point in his life because he then began to live “in close fellowship with God.” The Bible says, “After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years” (Genesis 5:21-22).

Hidden Messages in Genesis 5

“If men walk contrary to God, he will not walk with them, but contrary to them. Walking together implies amity, friendship, intimacy, love, and these cannot exist between God and the soul unless the man is acceptable unto the Lord.” – Charles Spurgeon

Did the responsibility of raising a son in such a godless world so challenged Enoch that he knew he needed God’s help? Or when the baby was born, did God give Enoch insight into the future so that he knew the flood was coming? We do not know, but we do know that (as history has repeatedly demonstrated) the arrival of Methuselah changed his father’s life.

What’s in a Name?

Enoch named his son using two Hebrew roots: muth, which means “his death,” and shellac, which is a verb form that means “bring,” or “sent forth.” So the name Methuselah means, “his death shall bring.”

It seems that when Methuselah was born, Enoch was told that as long as his son was alive, the forthcoming judgment of the flood (the Flood of Noah) would be withheld. So as we can see, the flood of Noah did not come as a surprise; it had been predicted for four generations.

This significance behind the name Methuselah also hints that a message might be hidden behind these other names found in chapter 5 of Genesis. Adam had a son named Seth; Seth had a son named Enoch, and so on.

The problem with Genesis 5 is that these proper names are not translated for the reader from their Hebrew meanings, so you have to unravel these by digging into the meaning of the Hebrew roots that make up the names.

  • Adam: (adomah) “man”
  • Seth: “appointed” (Genesis 4:25)
  • Enosh: (from root anash, “to be incurable”) “mortal,” “frail,” “miserable”
  • Kenan: “sorrow,” “dirge,” “elegy”
  • Mahalal’el: “the Blessed God” – (mahalal) “blessed”; (El) the name of God
  • Jared: (from the verb yaradh) “shall come down”
  • Enoch: “commencement” or “teaching”
  • Methuselah: “his death shall bring”muth, a root that means “death”; shalach means “bring” or “send forth”
  • Lamech: “despairing” (from which we get “lament” or “lamentation”)
  • Noah: (derived from nacham) “comfort” or “rest” (Genesis 5:29)

We now can look at the genealogy with more insight. The sequence: Adam > Seth > Enosh > Kenan > Mahalaleel > Jared > Enoch > Methuselah > Lamech > Noah reads, in English, “Man [is] appointed mortal sorrow; [but] the blessed God shall come down teaching [that] His death shall bring [the] despairing rest.”

Hidden in the meaning of the names in the genealogy is a beautiful presentation of the Gospel of God’s saving grace.

Lessons in Genesis 5

There are several profound lessons here. First, here is a summary of the New Testament Gospel tucked away in a genealogy in the Torah. This demonstrates something we will encounter throughout all the Scripture: every detail is there by design.

It was only after Methuselah died that the flood came. This tells us one thing: It was no accident that Methuselah lived for nine hundred and sixty-nine years. God kept him alive longer than anybody to give people as long as possible to repent.

It also tells us that God’s plan of redemption was not a knee-jerk reaction to Genesis chapter 3 (The Fall of Man). God had ordained it before the foundation of the world.

It is also noteworthy that the words “and he died” occur eight times in this chapter, emphasizing the fact that death was now reigning over mankind because of Adam’s sin (see Romans 5:12-17, 21). Sin and death still rule today, but through Jesus Christ, we can “live in triumph over sin and death” (Romans 5:17).

God's Plan of Redemption Revealed in Genesis

Conclusion

There are hidden messages in the Bible, and they’re not just the equidistant letter sequences that have caused such controversies in recent years. There are dozens of other kinds of codes that don’t require a computer to decipher; they are there if we know how to look.

The Scripture is inexhaustible – we can never get to the bottom of its depth. And this is exactly what every Bible reader would expect from God.

As Chuck Missler and Perry Stone always say, “The New Testament is the Old Testament concealed, and the Old Testament is the New Testament revealed.”

In other words, many things in the Old Testament do not make sense until you illuminate them with the New Testament.


*Reference:  

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours by Dr. Chuck Missler

For those who have tried and failed to follow through on a plan to study the entire Bible, Chuck Missler has the answer. Learn the Bible in 24 Hours is an ideal study aid to help you grasp the big picture of Scripture. Each chapter is designed for study in an hour or less.

Features include:

  • Sound, fresh teaching on Scripture
  • Historical and cultural insight into biblical passages
  • Sidebars that highlight the primary concepts of the chapter