Category: New Life

Results of the New Life

Results of the New Life

By nature, mankind is sinful and that is why we have been separated from God. Thus, we cannot approach God on our own; we must do so on His term. In order for that broken relationship to be restored, we must be separated from sin and set apart to righteousness. We must have new lives in which our sins have been forgiven and obliterated.

But it is one thing to be convinced of the need for the new life; it is an entirely different thing to acquire the new life. Not only that, more importantly, we also get to enjoy the results and benefits of having a new life in Christ.

Everlasting Life

John 5:24

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

One benefit of finding new life in Christ is called in the Bible “everlasting (eternal) life.” The character of this great reality may be summarized by carefully looking at each word. The word life stresses the quality of this new relationship to God (John 10:10).

It does not mean of course, that we are not physically alive before salvation; it simply stresses the fact that we enter a new, personal relationship with God that gives us the fullness of spiritual vitality that we lacked before (John 17:3).

Results of the New Life in Christ

The word everlasting emphasizes life without end. Though it will not be completely fulfilled until our future bodily redemption (Romans 8:23), it is still a present possession that can never perish (John 10:28).

Everlasting life must not be conceived of as an exclusively future possession. Rather, its possession is clearly seen in our actions. Thus, “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Indeed, love is the confirming evidence that we do, in fact, have eternal life (1 John 3:14).

The greatness of this spiritual reality constitutes a wonderful incentive to vigorously proclaim to those who are still “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

A New Nature

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The term new nature refers to the spiritual transformation that occurs within the inner man when a person believes in Christ as Savior. The Christian is now a new man as opposed to the old man that he was before he became a Christian (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 3:9-10).

This concept of newness may be traced to an important choice between two Greek words, both meaning “new.” One word means new in the sense of renovation (to repair), the other in the sense of fresh existence.

It is the latter that is used to describe the Christian. He is not the old man renovated or refreshed; he is a brand new man with a new family, a new set of values, new motivations, and new possessions.

The old man is still present in the new life and expresses himself in corrupting deeds such as lying (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). The new man, to be visible, must be put on as one would put on a new suit of clothes (Colossians 3:10).

In other words, the new nature must be cultivated or nurtured by spiritual decisiveness to grow in Christ. We must not revert to putting on the old suit of the former life; rather we must continue to grow in this new life (Ephesians 5:8).

The message of the new nature is a message of supreme hope: the Spirit of God can accomplish a life-changing transformation for all who will only believe in Christ.

Christ’s Righteousness

Isaiah 61:10a

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

One of the most awesome requirements of God made upon men and women is that they be righteous, that is, conform to His ethical and moral standards (Psalm 15:2; Micah 6:8). Since God is holy, He cannot allow sinners into His presence (Isaiah 6:3-5).

Since we are all sinners, we could not be saved apart from the supernatural intervention of God (Romans 3: 10, 23). The righteous demands of God coupled with the inability of man might present an insoluble dilemma. God Himself, however, has graciously solved the problem.


He sent Christ, who never sinned, to die for our sins and thus satisfy His own wrath against us. Simply put, it means that God, at the cross, treated Christ as though He had committed our sins even though He was righteous.

On the other hand, when we believe in Christ, He treats us as though we were as righteous as Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible calls this type of righteousness “imputed righteousness” (Romans 4:6). That simply means that God puts to our spiritual account the very worth of Christ, much as though He were a banker adding an exhaustible deposit to our bank account.

Sadly, many people still refuse to believe that such an abundant blessing can be theirs as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nevertheless, the Bible clearly urges all men to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Placed Into God’s Family

1 John 3:2

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

In a general sense, all men and women are the offspring of God in that He is the Creator (Acts 17:28-29).

This relationship, however, is not sufficient to offset the penalty of sin, because everybody is a sinner separated from God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, for a sinful person to become a child of God, a miraculous transformation must take place. The Bible refers to this change as being “born again” (John 3:3).

When an individual places his or her faith in Christ as Savior, he or she is born again into a new, spiritual, family relationship with God (Galatians 3:26). They gain God as Father (Ephesians 4:6) and other Christians as brothers and sisters (Hebrews 3:1).

It is significant to note that the term “brotherly love,” which Christians are commanded to have for each other (Hebrews 13:1), is never used in the Greek language to refer to loving others as though they were your brothers. Rather, it is always used of loving those who actually are your brothers.

So it is in the Christian faith; we actually are brothers and sisters with other Christians.

Not only are Christians the children of God by spiritual birth; they are adopted as well (Ephesians 1:5). This figure implies a dramatic transformation of status from slave to son (Galatians 4:1-5). One is no longer in bondage to the master but becomes a free son possessing all the rights and privileges of sonship.

One of these benefits is the right to call God Abba, an affectionate term meaning “father” (Romans 8:15). This marvelous relationship carries responsibilities with it, as well as privileges. Everyone who has the hope of having his sonship perfected someday is presently purifying his own life.

Since Christians or born again believers bear the family relationship to God they must also exhibit the family character.

Empowered By God

Acts 1:8

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

It’s been said that one of the most common excuses for not becoming a Christian is the fear of failure to live the Christian life. Besides overlooking the fact that men cannot be saved on the basis of good works (Titus 3:5), this objection neglects the truth that God provides the power to live the Christian life.

Before Christ was crucified He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to help believers (John 16:13-14). The subsequent events of the Book of Acts supply ample evidence of the fulfillment of this prophecy (Acts 4:7, 33; 6:8).

Results of the New Life in Christ

The power of the Holy Spirit was not designed solely for the first-century church. Rather, all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus have power His power available (1 Corinthians 6:19). However, living the Christian life under the Spirit’s power, must not be thought of as simply allowing the Spirit to take control while the believer does nothing.

The believer still must live the Christian life, though he does it through the Spirit’s power. Romans 8:13 says, “… if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Simply put, it is us who must put to death the sinful deeds of the body, but we are to do it through the Holy Spirit’s power.

Christians who struggle in their own strength to live the Christian life will surely fail. We must by faith appropriate daily the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:4-5). To give a practical application, we are to trust the Holy Spirit to empower us in specific instances such as sharing our faith with others, resisting temptation, being truthful, etc.

There is no secret formula that makes the Spirit’s power available. It is simply a reliance on Him to help.

Conclusion

When Christians get “saved” they were given everlasting (eternal) life; they are said to be new creatures; to have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ; to have been adopted into God’s family, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The great news is, these wonderful results of having new life in Christ are offered freely to all who trust in Christ for salvation.

If you have not yet surrendered your life to Christ but want to enjoy these benefits of having a new life, why not make the decision now to acknowledge you’re a sinner in need of a Savior.

Here’s a simple prayer you can recite (from your heart) and invite Jesus into your life:

Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of Your forgiveness. I believe You are the Son of God; that You suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I also believe that You, Lord Jesus, rose from the dead to secure my place in heaven.

And so, right now, I ask that You forgive all my sins and take over my life. I place my faith in You and receive You as Lord and Savior of my life. Come reign in my heart and my life, and help me to live a life that brings glory to Your name.

This is my prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen!

3 Powerful Enemies of the Christian

3 Powerful Enemies of the Christian

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

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

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

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

Enemies of the Christian

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

Powerful Enemies of the Christians

The World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flesh

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

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

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


Recommended Resource: War Room (Christian Movie 2015)


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

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

The Devil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Conclusion

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

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

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

The Christian’s Spiritual Blessings

The Christian’s Spiritual Blessings

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

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

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

Who are the Children of God?

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

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

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

John 1:12

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

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

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

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

Complete in Christ

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

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

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

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

Heirs of God and Co-heirs with Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you not overwhelmed with this?

Finding Your Identity in Christ Quote from Overcomer 2019 Movie

Innocent before God

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

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

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

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

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

Loved Unconditionally

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

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

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

Destined to be with God throughout Eternity

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

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

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

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


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

Ccomplete in Christ

H – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ

Iinnocent before God

L – loved unconditionally &

Ddestined to be with God throughout eternity

Conclusion

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

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


Recommended Resource: Overcomer 2019 Movie (DVD)

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

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

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

Here’s the official trailer:

What is the Biblical Definition of Repentance?

What is the Biblical Definition of Repentance?

A correct understanding of the doctrine of repentance is very important because it is one of the basics of the Christian faith. The author to the Hebrews said:

“So, let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely, we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God” (Hebrews 6:1 NLT).

This is why believers need to take time to study this subject.

Biblical Definition of Repentance

We hear so many definitions of the word repentance. But what does the Bible say? What is repentance according to the Bible?

In the New Testament, there are two different Greek verbs translated “repent,” each with a different meaning.

The first is the word metamelomai which means “a regret of past actions.” It has the idea of being sorry or a feeling of remorse for something that was done, but it does not necessarily result in a change of heart and action.

The second verb metanoia means “to change one’s mind as a result of after knowledge,” resulting in a complete change of attitude. It is important to note that when the Bible encourages believers to repent, what is being encouraged is this latter use of the Greek word “repent.”

What is the Biblical Meaning of Repentance

So, whenever we speak of “repentance,” i.e., the act of repenting, we are not speaking of being sorry for what we have done, or merely having a change of mind about our sins. Biblical repentance results in a complete shift of attitude toward God and our sins.

When John the Baptist preached repentance, he was basically telling the people that they needed to change their ways since the kingdom of God was at hand (Matthew 3:1-2). Luke also records Jesus telling the people they had to repent (Luke 13:3).

In Acts 20:21, repentance is defined as turning from sin and turning to God.

The Nature of True Repentance

Repentance is more than sorrow. Feeling sad or sorrowful does not necessarily mean that a person is repentant. Godly sorrow is what leads to repentance.

In his second letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:8-11 NIV), Paul wrote:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it, I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while, yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point, you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

Repentance results from godly sorrow, which in turn leads to salvation and an actual change in direction.

True Repentance Brings about Regret.

Sinners who genuinely repent cause them to regret how they have acted in the past. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul said this:

“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death” (Romans 6:21)!

True Repentance Leads to Action.

To illustrate true repentance, Jesus used the story of one of the two sons who was asked by their father to work in their vineyard. At first, the lad refused but afterward, he changed his mind and went.

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went” (Matthew 21:28-29).

Jesus taught that true repentance is not merely feeling sorry for something that has been done; it has to be followed by actions.


True Repentance Causes Sinners to See Who They Really Are.

When we are genuinely repentant, we will have a new view of who we are. Let us take a look at some examples in the Bible.

Job

While Job was going through his suffering, he protested his innocence and righteousness. However, this changed when he came face-to-face with God:

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42: 5-6).

Isaiah

Isaiah, though he was a prophet of God, realized his true nature because he was confronted with the holiness of God. Isaiah saw himself for who he truly was in the presence of God.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5 NIV).

Peter

After Jesus performed the miracle of the Great Catch, Peter saw himself in a different light. He recognized his sinfulness in the presence of Jesus. We read about this in the Gospel of Luke:

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).

The Thief on the Cross

The criminal who was next to Jesus on the cross is another example of true repentance. At first, he joined with the other criminal in taunting Jesus. However, he changed his attitude toward Jesus as well as to the other criminal who was crucified when he realized that the one being crucified next to him was the Messiah.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:39-41).

The thief had a change of heart and asked Jesus if He too could be part of God’s kingdom. In response, Jesus promised him that he would enter paradise with Him (Luke 23:42-43).

Judging by human standards, we may regard ourselves as decent and moral people. But when we compare ourselves to the living God, we will have an entirely different view of who we are.

As the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and reveals to us how it looks before a holy God, we begin to realize how terrible sin is. This understanding of sin causes in us a change in behavior – repentance.

True Repentance Does Not Always Manifest Itself in Emotion.

We often equate repentance to some emotion of sorrow or remorse but just because the repentant person shows little or no emotion does not mean he is not sincere. True repentance is not showing emotion for our past deeds, it is changing the way we act in the present.

In other words, the key is the change in behavior, not the emotion that is shown. A person who truly repents has determined that his or her life must change.

True repentance is not showing emotion for our past deeds; it is changing the way we act in the present.

True Repentance vs. False Repentance

What is the Biblical Definition of RepentanceThe difference between true repentance and false repentance (mere sorrow for sin) can be seen in the example of Peter and Judas.

Matthew records that when Peter realized he betrayed Jesus; he was sorry for his sins. But it did not stop there. He went outside and wept bitterly. There was genuine sorrow for his actions.

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:73-75).

Judas, on the other hand, decided to take his own life instead of coming to God in repentance. Matthew explained it in this manner:

“So, Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).

Judas only had remorse for what he had done, he did not repent. There is a huge difference between the two.

Results of True and False Repentance

Using the same example as above, we read that after he repented, Peter was restored to fellowship. He received the forgiveness of the Lord and learned that repentance can restore us into a right relationship with the Lord.

Also, Peter was given the honor to preach the very first sermon for the church on the day of Pentecost. And in that sermon, Peter urged the people to do the same thing that he had done – repent.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

When Jesus rose from the dead on that Easter Sunday morning, Peter was found with the other disciples. He did not leave the company of believers, nor did he kill himself. He repented of what he had done and had returned to be with the other believers.

On the other hand, Judas only felt remorse. Instead of repenting and looking to godly people for support, he hanged himself. And according to the Scripture, Judas went to his appointed place of judgment, as explained in the Book of Acts:

“With the payment, he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19)

These two men provide examples of what we as Christians should do and should not do when we sin. Peter showed us that we should not merely feel sorry for what we have done, but we should repent. We must own up to our sin, and have a determination to change our behavior. The Lord will then restore us to fellowship.

This is what genuine repentance is all about.

Closing Words

Biblical repentance does not merely involve feeling sorry or remorse for sin but also a change of mind and heart that leads to a change in action towards sin. To repent is to recognize that we have sinned and our sins are offensive to God.

We are to turn away from sin, turn to God, ask for forgiveness, and walk with God in obedience to His commands.

God is calling everyone to repentance. The focus of Christ’s mission was to call all sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32) and this call for absolute surrender goes out to all people (Luke 13:5).

Have you accepted the call?


Reference: Winning the Spiritual War by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource: Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel by Richard Owen Roberts

It is a serious problem when society misunderstands or disregards sin and repentance. But when the church neglects these doctrines, the impact is profound. This book unfolds the nature and necessity of biblical repentance, but for the church in particular.

Roberts’ in-depth study heavily references both he Old and New Testaments and includes chapters on the myths, maxims, marks, models, and motives of repentance, as well as the graces and fruits that accompany it. There is also a wise warning about the dangers of delayed repentance.

Study Bibles for Beginners

Study Bibles for Beginners

For new believers, understanding and interpreting the Bible on their own could be a real challenge. I know many Christians who are very zealous in sharing the Word and also in encouraging others, and I do admire them for that.

The only issue I have is that they often take verses out of their contexts in support of a topic that is not in any way related to it. This is called “proof-texting,” one of the common errors of biblical interpretation.

How do we avoid committing this error? Having a good study Bible will help. If you are serious about the Word of God, it’s time you invest in a good study Bible that will help you to understand and properly interpret God’s Word.

Regular Bible vs. Study Bible

What is the difference between a study Bible and a regular Bible? They are the same in that they both contain the Word of God: 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

The difference is that a study Bible has additional features such as book introduction, historical context, cross-references to other Bible passages, outlines or maps, extensive study notes and explanations of key doctrines, devotionals, and so much more.

But which study Bibles are recommended for beginners? In this post, I will be sharing with you a list of my recommended study Bibles.

Selecting a Study Bible

Choosing the best study Bible can be overwhelming because there are hundreds of great choices. So how can one possibly determine which one suits them best? Can we even say that one study Bible is better than the rest? I don’t believe so. But I would say that there are a few that are better than the rest.

Let me also mention that in selecting a study Bible, there are certain things you need to consider. First is the translation. We have the NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV, CSV, NLT, and numerous other options. How do you select which one is best for you from among them?

The Best Study Bibles 

If you are a beginner or new believer, I highly recommend that your first study Bible is one that focuses on interpretation rather than on application. You can always purchase an application study Bible later on.

So here we go.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

Top Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: August 23, 2016

Editors: Craig S. Keener & John H. Walton

Description: The Bible was originally written to ancient people removed from us by thousands of years and thousands of miles.

It includes subtle culturally based nuances, undertones, and references to ancient events, literature, and customs that were intuitively understood by those who first heard the texts read.

So, for us to truly understand the Scriptures as they did, we need a window into their world and language. This is what the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides. Every page is packed with expert insight into the customs, culture, and literature of biblical times.

These fascinating explanations will serve to clarify your study of the Scriptures, reinforcing your confidence and bringing difficult passages of Scripture into sharp focus.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible (Third Edition)

What are the Best Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018

Editor: Jack W. Hayford

Description: Take a deep and powerful look at Scripture — and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit as you encounter God in His Word.

This best-selling NKJV Bible draws on the expertise of an expanded team of respected, Spirit-led scholars, led by Pastor Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church on the Way and chancellor of The King’s University.

With over 2 million copies sold, the NKJV Spirit-Filled Life Bible continues to equip God’s people to live in His kingdom, exercise the gifts of the Spirit, and lay hold of God’s promises.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

Quest Study Bible

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersPublisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: November 19, 2011

Editor: Christianity Today Int.

Description: Get answers to the Bible questions you have … and questions you haven’t yet pondered!

The NIV Quest Study Bible features over 7,000 notes written in an engaging question and answer format that gives insight into the common, uncommon, and sometimes perplexing passages from the Bible.

You will have the opportunity to consider questions like, “Why did God send angels to Jacob?” “What prevents God from hearing our prayers?” and “Why does God test us?” as you explore God’s Word using the many study helps.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

The Jeremiah Study Bible

What are the Best Study BiblesAuthor: Dr. David Jeremiah

Publisher: Worthy Books

Publishing Date: November 26, 2013

Description: Drawn from more than 40 years of study, Dr. David Jeremiah, one of America’s leading Bible teachers, has produced a deeply personal and comprehensive study Bible packed with features specifically focused to help you discover what Scripture says, what Scripture means and, most importantly, what Scripture means to you.

The Jeremiah Study Bible presents the best of biblical insight and study tools along with clear, practical application to bring about authentic transformation in your life.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

The MacArthur Study Bible

Top Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: November 5, 2013

Editor: John F. MacArthur

Description: The NASB MacArthur Study Bible is a classic resource that is perfect for serious study.

Dr. John MacArthur has collected his pastoral and scholarly work of more than 35 years to create the most comprehensive study Bible available. No other study Bible does such a thorough job of explaining the historical context, unfolding the meaning of the text, and making it practical for your life.

Features: A 25-page concordance, including people and places, more than 20,000 study notes, charts, maps, outlines, and articles from Dr. John MacArthur, Overview of Theology, Index to Key Bible Doctrines.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersNIV Biblical Theology Study Bible

Publisher: Zondervan

Publishing Date: September 4, 2018

General Editor: D.A. Carson

Description: Biblical Theology allows you to ponder the individual stories and themes of Scripture while observing how they all fit together in God’s grand biblical narrative.

It answers the question, “How has God revealed his word historically and organically?”

With three articles introducing Biblical theology and 25 articles unpacking key themes of Scripture, the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible equips you to follow the progressive unfolding of God’s story.

Features: Complete text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV), previously published as NIV Zondervan Study Bible, 28 theologically rich articles by authors such as Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung, 20,000 verse-by-verse study notes, Hundreds of full-color photos, more than 90 maps, and over 60 charts, Comprehensive book introductions, Over 60 trusted contributors, Cross-references and the NIV Comprehensive Concordance, Single-column, black letter edition, Two ribbon markers, and more.

Best Places to buy: Amazon ChristianBook Distributors

The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

What are the Best Study BiblesPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: November 10, 2015

General Editor: John Hagee

Description: The prophecies of the Bible assure us that God will prevail.

The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition has hundreds of pages of special features that offer a broad understanding of prophetic themes, salvation, covenants, and other important doctrines of the Christian faith.

Features: Introduction to Bible Prophecy, Index to Prophetic Passages, Top 20 Questions about Bible Prophecy, Diamonds for Daily Living, God’s Great Promises, God’s Great Salvation, Evidences, Spokesmen for God, Bible Insights, Bible Prophecy Charts, and Full concordance.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

NLT Life Application Study Bible (Third Edition)

Best Rated Study BiblesPublisher: Tyndale

Publishing Date: October 1, 2019

Description: Today’s number 1 selling study Bible, the NLT Life Application Study Bible, has been thoroughly updated and expanded, offering even more relevant insights and spiritual guidance for applying God’s Word to everyday life in today’s world.

This study Bible for women and men answers real-life questions and provides practical yet powerful ways to apply the Bible to your life every day.

Explore the stories and teachings of this NLT study Bible with verse-by-verse commentary. Gain wisdom from people in the Bible by exploring their accomplishments and learning from their mistakes.

Survey the big picture of each book through overviews, vital statistics, outlines, and timelines, and grasp difficult concepts using in-text maps, charts, and diagrams.

Best Places to buy: Amazon & ChristianBook Distributors

Compass Study Bible

Best Study Bibles for BeginnersPublisher: Thomas Nelson

Publishing Date: February 11, 2014

Editor: Ecclesia Bible Society

Description: Do you want to start reading and applying the Bible to your life, but aren’t quite sure where to start? Let Compass point you in the right direction.

Packed with Bible-reading helps and using an energizing, new Bible translation, Compass is a Bible designed with you in mind.

Features: In-text notes that include cultural, historical, theological, and devotional thoughts, God’s Promises—Thomas Nelson’s bestselling guide to Scripture for your every need, Book introductions, Reading plans for every day of the year, Topical Guides to Scripture and notes, and In-text maps.

Best Places to buy: Amazon ChristianBook Distributors

Closing Thoughts

Why do you need a study Bible?

A study Bible is a great supplementary resource that will help you understand Scripture more clearly as you read it. It can also help you interact with God’s Word in a deeper and more meaningful way and to properly apply it in your life.

How to Effectively Witness for Christ

How to Effectively Witness for Christ

Do you still remember how you came to faith in Christ? God must have used somebody to share the good news of salvation to you. Was it a friend, a colleague, or a family member? Regardless of who that might be, now that you have received God’s gift of salvation, it’s your turn to share it with others.

But why should you do that? Why share the good news? It’s because all followers of Christ are to be His witnesses. Every Christian is commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

However, fulfilling this mandate known as the Great Commission can be a real challenge to every follower of Jesus.

So in this article, I am going to share some guidelines or techniques on how to effectively witness for Christ.

Preach the Gospel

Does Mark 16:15 (quoted above) mean that every Christian must become a pastor or a preacher and speak from a pulpit or platform in order to proclaim the good news of salvation? Of course not!

To “preach” does not necessarily mean to deliver a sermon to an assembled group of people. We simply have to reach out to the lost and introduce the gospel to them. And like I said, this was a command (from Jesus), not a suggestion.

Did you know that this command was not obeyed immediately? Jesus’ disciples stayed in Jerusalem for many years after the church was born at Pentecost. It was only when the persecution started that Christianity began to spread to the world. And when it did, it spread robustly and continues to.

The more the church was persecuted, the faster the gospel propagated.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. - Mark 16:15

Important Note:

In many Bibles, Mark 16:9-20 is footnoted in some way because apparently, it did not exist in the earliest Greek manuscripts of the gospel of Mark.

Although the vast majority of later manuscripts include this passage, the two oldest and most respected manuscripts the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (dated from 325 and 340 A.D.) do not contain this section. A few ancient manuscripts put asterisks next to Mark 16:9-20 to indicate that it is an addition to the original text.

Nevertheless, many very early Christians referred to this passage in their writings, which shows that they accepted it as genuine. But whether this portion of Mark’s gospel was written by Mark or was added later on by scribes, it is important to note that it offers no new information, nor does it contradict previously revealed events and/or doctrines.

Why Should Christians Share Their Faith?

Aside from the fact that God has commanded us to do so, we share our faith as a demonstration of our love for God. Jesus said that if we truly loved Him we should keep His commandments (John 14:15).

Christians must also share their faith because all are lost (Romans 3:10, 23) but God desires to save all people (Acts 4:12, 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). Sharing our faith is God’s chosen method to tell all people what Christ has done at Mount Calvary for the forgiveness and salvation of man.

God could have used angels but He didn’t. It’s because only redeemed sinners can tell lost sinners about Christ (Romans 10:14-17; Acts 8:13).

We must share our faith because someone once shared their faith with us. It may have been a faithful Bible teacher, or a godly pastor, or a praying parent. In other words, they have the right to expect that we will do for others what they have done for us.

Effective Witnessing Techniques

1. Be a clean vessel for God.

First, to be an effective witness for Christ, we must be clean vessels. God reminds Isaiah the prophet of this, “Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isaiah 52:11). We cannot expect to share our faith successfully if we are deliberately living in sin and disobedience to God.

We must confess our sins to God and forsake them, then yield our lives completely to God. Although God does not demand golden or silver vessels, He does require clean ones. (Notice that God used and continues to use imperfect people.)

2. Pray, pray, pray.

Prayer is very important if we are to be effective soul-winners for Christ. Before we even attempt to evangelize, we pray not only for the blood covering of Jesus upon us because we will be engaging in a spiritual battle but also for God to open doors so we can proclaim the gospel.

We must pray that God will lead us to the people He wants us to share the gospel with; we pray that God will open their hearts to receive the gospel.

When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch in Syria from speaking to great multitudes at Iconium and Lystra, passing through Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:27).

We also read in Colossians 4:3-4 that Paul asked the brethren to pray for him and his companions so that God will open a door for the message of the gospel, and for him to proclaim it clearly as he should.


3. Be totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

Before His ascension, Jesus gave a specific instruction to His disciples to not leave Jerusalem but to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them and empower them to become His witnesses not only in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, but also to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:4, 8).

We must acknowledge that we cannot be effective witnesses for Christ without the Holy Spirit to work on our behalf. We can do nothing without God and this includes soul-winning. We do not know the right words to say; many of us may be timid and are not eloquent speakers.

But God did not only promise that He’d give us the courage to speak, but He’d also give us the words to proclaim.

The apostle Paul, who used to be a zealous Jew taught by Gamaliel, said to the church in Corinth in his first letter that he knew nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He then went on to say that he was proclaiming his testimony about God to them not with wise and persuasive words, but with the demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached the most powerful sermon ever that led to the conversion of 3,000 souls in one day. How did he do that? The Holy Spirit enabled him.

These two instances in the ministry of Paul and Peter clearly illustrate that without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we cannot possibly share the gospel effectively.

One side note: It’s not your job to convert people to Christ. Your job is to share the Gospel. So do your job of sharing the gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to do His job of convicting.

4. God is patient with lost sinners.

One other thing we need to keep in mind is that God does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

The leaders of Israel had rejected the ministry of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus, yet God gave them another opportunity to repent and be saved. They had denied and slain their own Messiah, yet God patiently held back His judgment and sent His Spirit to deal with them.

God’s people today need patience as they witness to a lost world.

Had there been times when you lost patience with someone you’re witnessing to because it looked like it wasn’t working? Let me just say that whenever you’re tempted to lose patience with the lost and want to give up, remember how God has been patient with you up until today.

Now, the question you may want to ask is: At what point should we stop trying to convince someone their need of a Savior? If after repeatedly sharing with them the bad news (we are all sinners) and the good news (Christ paid for our sins by His suffering and death) but they’re not interested, I believe it’s time to move on to the next person on your list.

Matthew 7:6 says, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” In other words, we should not shove the gospel down the throats of people who do not want it; they will just continue to mock God and His Word.

5. Learn to do basic Apologetics.

One of the most effective tools in witnessing is apologetics, from the Greek word apologia, meaning to give a defense.

We first read this word from Peter when he said in his epistle, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

In short, apologetics is the science and art of defending the Christian faith by using reasons and evidence.

When Peter and John were brought before the rulers, elders, scribes and priests, (including Annas the high priest), and was asked in what power or by what name has he been performing miracle healings, Peter implored apologetics. He gave a clear defense of the gospel by declaring to them the fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 4:5-14).

Apologetics - an Effective Tool in Witnessing

Can you give an answer as to why you’re a Christian? Why do you believe Christianity is true? What’s your basis in claiming that the Bible is God’s Word? You do not have to attend seminary school, but as a Christian, you must be able to explain why you believe what you believe.

I often hear many Christians (including pastors) say this to non-Christians: “Just believe.” And I’m like, “What? Seriously?” Haven’t these Christians read how Jesus gave evidence for His claim of divinity by performing miracles? He did not just claim to be God by attributing to Himself God’s name (I Am); He did many miracles to prove it. The climax being His resurrection!

Christianity hinges on the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and the historical evidence for the resurrection is very strong and compelling. This alone should be enough to give Christians confidence that they did not believe in vain.

6. Learn Polemics

Polemics is a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.

Polemics is the other side of apologetics. If apologetics is defense, polemics is offense. As Jay Smith always says, “The best defense is a good offense.” In basketball, you don’t win the game just by defending the goal; you win by attacking the basket and scoring against your opponent.

This is not only true in the game of basketball or soccer, but also in witnessing.

While in Thessalonica, it was Paul’s custom to go into the synagogues of the Jews for days, months and even years, to argue and reason with them persuasively from the Scriptures about the kingdom of God. He would explain and prove that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead (Acts 17:1-3; 19:8-10).

Do you see what Paul had been doing? He’s on the attack! He did not just wait for the Jewish religious leaders to question him; he went to them and proclaimed the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

So how and where do you begin? You can start the conversation by asking what they believe about life and death, or heaven and hell. Ask them where they think they will go should they die today and why.

7. A changed life is the best defense of the truth of Christianity.

In his evangelistic ministries, Methodist preacher Samuel Chadwick used to pray for “a Lazarus” in every campaign, “some great sinner” whose conversion would shock the community. He got the idea from John 12:9-11.

God answered his prayers in meeting after meeting as infamous wicked individuals trusted Christ and became witnesses through their changed lives.

How to be an Effective Witness for Christ

This is Paul’s exhortation for all Christians in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

You may have heard this exhortation from most pastors about living the faith as followers of Jesus. “Be careful how you live your life because you may be the only Bible unbelievers will ever read.”

Concluding Words

When the disciples asked Jesus what are the signs of His coming and the end of the age, He said to them:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me, you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mark 13:5-10).

The end is near, the days are evil. Jesus is coming soon. Christians need to work double-time to witness to the lost.

The Great Commission still stands. Are you fulfilling it?


Recommended Resource:  The Case for Christ, Revised & Updated: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus By Lee Strobel

The Case for Christ by Lee StrobelIs there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the son of God?

Retracing his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith, Lee Strobel, former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields.

Strobel challenges them with questions like: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?

In this winner of the Gold Medallion Book Award and two-time nominee for the Christian Book of the Year Award, Strobel’s tough, point-blank questions play like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it’s not fiction. It’s a riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure.

The new edition includes scores of revisions and additions, including updated material on archaeological and manuscript discoveries, fresh recommendations for further study, and an interview with the author that tells dramatic stories about the book’s impact, provides behind-the-scenes information, and responds to critiques of the book by skeptics.

This updated edition will prove even more valuable to contemporary listeners.

Right Motives vs. Wrong Motives

Right Motives vs. Wrong Motives

Everyone, whether they know it or not, has motives. Everyone has their own reasons why they act a certain way and why they do the things they do. Well, motives can be right or wrong. But how do we determine between the two?

Bible Verse: Ephesians 6:5-7

“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”

Reflection

Many people today base their decisions on how they feel. That is a very dangerous place to be since our feelings change on a whim.

Societal logic can change over time. Each society is unique in its own ways as well. Some societies think murdering their children in abortion is good when other societies love their children. What is the one foundation that does not change?

Malachi 3:6 says God does not change. Psalm 119:89 says God’s word does not change. In so many words, they do not change. We can trust them to be true. Do you trust them enough base your decisions on them?

Working as Servants of Jesus

The word “bondservants” (or slaves) in Ephesians 6:5, undoubtedly refers to Christian servants, and servants are obedient “as they would serve Christ.” However, we may certainly apply these words to the Christian employee today.

Ephesians 6:7 says we are to render good service to our employer (master), as to the Lord. This means that all our work, or everything we do, is really done unto the Lord, not unto man. Doing a good job is the will of God. Christianity knows nothing out of sacred and secular.

Working as Servants of Jesus

A Christian can perform any good work as a ministry to Christ, to the glory of God. For this reason, the worker must do his job “with enthusiasm,” since he is serving Christ and doing the will of God.

But in order for us to render good service, first, we need to know how to serve God properly. Do you know what God desires of us? Since the Bible is God’s Life Manual, wouldn’t it be possible we would find God’s desires in it? Are we spending enough time to read God’s Word in order to cultivate biblical motives in our lives?

The Motives of the Heart: Right vs. Wrong

I’ve written about the deceitfulness of the heart and why we must not completely rely on it. The heart has the ability to lead us astray if we follow it blindly without first consulting God, either through His written word or prayer. Why? It’s because the heart has its motives: right or wrong.

Some of the wrong motives include pleasing men to earn their salvation. Based on God’s Word in Ephesians 2:8-9 and Ephesians 6:6, those are wrong motives. Do you only care about pleasing people?

Are you one of those who work hard only while the boss is watching? And when the boss steps out of the room you go back to doing some personal things? This is happening today. How many times have I read complaints against (government) employees who’d rather be on social media instead of attending to their customers’ needs?

Colossians 3:17

You may ask, “What then are some right motives?”

To have the right motives as workers mean doing our job in a way that does not only make our boss happy with our service, but it also pleases God. It means working with a good attitude and without complaining. Every Christian must work hard and gives his employer a full day’s work for his pay. To do anything less is to steal from your employer.

Before salvation, it is impossible to please God, because we are not able to have the right motives. Only after salvation is anyone able to have godly motives. Matthew 22:37-39, John 14:15, and 1 Corinthians 10:31 are three passages that should teach us how to live for God in general.

Challenge for the Christian Employee

If we are genuinely born again believers, shouldn’t we want to glorify God? If we are genuinely saved, shouldn’t we want to follow His Word? If we are genuinely saved, shouldn’t we want to love God and love others? It does not matter what unbelievers or carnal Christians say. You are not accountable to them.

Since we still have a sinful nature, we need to choose to have godly motives. What are your motivations? Do they glorify God or do they fulfill your selfish desires?

Out of the Darkness into Light

Out of the Darkness into Light

Upon hearing of the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew to Galilee where He started His ministry. Jesus left Nazareth and went on to live in Capernaum in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.

This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah that the good news of salvation would reach Jews and Gentiles as Jesus will draw people out of darkness into His marvelous light (Isaiah 9:1-2).

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” – Matthew 4:15-16

Jesus Brings Light to a Dark World

Why did Jesus leave Nazareth to dwell in Capernaum? This was because the people rejected Him – in His own hometown. So He made His home in Capernaum and not in Nazareth.

As a fulfillment of prophecy, Light has come into the region of Galilee, which was largely populated by Gentiles. D. A. Carson describes Galilee to be a place where people live in darkness, that is, without the religious and cultic advantages of Jerusalem and Judea.

John 8:12

The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would establish God’s rule. That time is now fulfilled in Jesus who brings the light and truth of the Gospel to the world. As Jesus began to preach repentance, light has finally dawned upon “despised” Galilee.

Before coming to faith in Christ, we were all under the power of darkness. But thanks be to God, He sent His Son to deliver us. Although we are still tempted by Satan, we are no longer under his power; we are not his slaves, and he has no rights over us. We must resist him so that the effects of the power of darkness become less and less evident in our lives.

Living in the Light in a Dark World

How do Christians live in the light while residing in a dark world? In Ephesians 5:1-7, Paul exhorts all believers to imitate God by walking in love and getting rid of all forms of sexual immorality, perversion, covetousness and foolish talking.

Paul continues in Ephesians 5:8 by saying, “You were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord, so walk as children of light.”

Take note that Paul does not say believers were “in” darkness, but they “were” darkness. He is saying that darkness is the character of every believer before coming to Christ. And then he says we are to live and walk as children of light. What does it mean to live in light?

Paul McArthur says, “In Scripture, the figurative use of light has two aspects: intellectual and moral. Intellectually it represents truth, whereas morally it represents holiness. Therefore, to live in light means to live in truth and in holiness. The figure of darkness has the same two aspects. Intellectually it represents ignorance and falsehood, whereas morally it connotes evil.”

As children of God, we walk in the light by always remembering that light, not darkness is our nature. Paul uses the term “children of light” to remind us that we have our Father’s nature (2 Peter 1:4). In Psalm 27:1, David calls God “my light and my salvation” and Jesus said He is the light of the world (John 8:12).

That is the nature of God our Father and we have His nature.

Becoming a Light in a World of Darkness

How do Christians become a light in this dark world?

1. Shine your light for all to see.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

In the same way that we always place a lamp in the most advantageous position, we must place our light where it could shine the brightest. We must put our light on a stand for all to see.

*Read here: How to Let Your Light Shine

2. Live to please God.

In order to please God, we must discern what pleases Him by discerning His will. I’ve enumerated several ways by which we can discern God’s will in your life in this article.

3. Have nothing to do with darkness; rather, expose it.

Believers in Jesus are strongly advised to not only stay away from the works of darkness but also to expose them (Ephesians 5:11-12). And one of the ways we do this is by living a holy life.

To be holy means to be separated from the world. We may be “in this world” but we are not “of this world.” As believers, we do not curse, get drunk, cheat, and engage in any form of sexual immorality. We are to live a life that exposes the sin of those around us.

But we must be ready to get mocked and ridiculed by unbelievers who love darkness and hate the light. Living a holy life is indeed both rare and strange in this world. Consider Daniel who was thrown into the lion’s den for praying to the One true God three times a day.

Then there’s Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were thrown into the blazing furnace for refusing to bow down to the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar.

Are you willing to welcome the cross of our Savior who was hated by the world? Then be different even if it would result in being treated weird and strange.

Out of the Darkness into Light

4. Produce the fruits of light.

As believers in Jesus who is the light, we must produce the fruits of light: goodness, truth, and righteousness.

Goodness refers to anything that is morally excellent. Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Looking at this verse more closely, we can say that goodness is “love in action.” It’s pretty easy to say, “I love you” but these words do not really mean much if it’s not coupled with action. Like our Lord, we must go out of our way to extend a loving hand to those in need, especially to fellow believers.

Truth has to do with honesty, reliability, and integrity which are the opposite of falsehood and deception. Is the fruit of truth manifested in the way you live your life?

Righteousness has two aspects: as we relate to God and how we live our lives.

As it relates to our relationship with God, we are filthy as rags but the moment we trusted Christ for our salvation, God has imputed on us the righteousness of Christ, making us acceptable in His eyes.

As it relates to how we live, we know that we are justified by faith and are declared righteous before God but as true believers, we must practice a lifestyle of righteousness.

Are you producing the fruits of light in your Christian life?

Closing Words

Light reveals God, light produces fruit, and light also exposes what is wrong. The light reveals the truth and exposes the true character of things.

The idea that we are light is the main thrust of Ephesians 5:7-14, for Paul, was admonishing his readers to “live as children of light.” Now that we are out of the darkness we should “take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness.”

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

We are exhorted by the Word of God to not lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5). Yet, oftentimes, we choose to trust our own heart; we choose to trust ourselves. Do you know that trusting the heart is just another way of trusting in man?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Now, why did the prophet Jeremiah say this? Why did he warn the people to be cautious about the directions and inclinations of the heart?

It has everything to do with what happened to the people of Judah. Instead of giving their devotion and obedience to the true and living God, who had blessed them, the Jews followed the dictates of their evil hearts which eventually led them astray.

The Folly of Trusting You Own Heart

It’s interesting that the Bible calls it foolishness to trust and follow your own heart.

The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart. Indeed, our heart often deceives us. It convinces us that heart-fulfillment is the key to happiness. Our heart tells us that if we would just be true to it and fulfill all its desires then we will be happy. However, what we desire is often not what we need.

But the human heart is not only deceitful but also desperately wicked. By following their heart without judging it by the measure of God’s truth, many people have been led to disobedience, rebellion, and eventually great sorrow. I’d say the advice to “always follow your heart” is not good advice at all.

God Has Given Us a New Heart

As believers under the New Covenant, we have a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), we have been made a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and have become a new man according to the image of our Creator (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).

Ezekiel 36:26

Although there are still some elements of sin and flesh remaining in us and we still have to deal with inward deceit and wickedness, we can be confident that the Lord will give us the strength and grace to overcome. We just need to trust in the Lord to guide and lead us and allow Him to carry out His plans and purpose in our lives.

God searches the heart and mind and knows exactly how to reward each one of us. If we want to know how our hearts are like, we must read the Word and let the Spirit teach us.

God is Continually Transforming Our Hearts

In Philippians 2:12-13, the apostle Paul exhorts us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who is working in us.”

A very important note in regard to this verse. Paul is definitely not saying that we must work to earn our salvation. Rather, Paul calls the Philippians (and every believer today) to put forth real effort into their Christian lives. The Christian is to make evident in every area of their lives the salvation that God has given them freely.

God does not automatically make you a sanctified Christian. You have to put the work into it to foster that relationship with God.

It’s kind’ a like a plant. After a seed is planted in fertile soil, it sprouts. That is when salvation occurs, but it is only a baby plant. Now, it needs to grow, but if it does not have the right conditions, it can’t grow.

We need the water of the Word and sunlight. God is described in many places in the Bible as being the Light (Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:19; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5). We need an unobstructed view of the Light. We need to make sure we do not have any obstructions in our view.

God is our main priority, our main focus. And our main motive is our love for God. You may want to read Deuteronomy 5:29 again.

Has God Changed Your Heart?

As people, we are predisposed to sin. Why? It’s because our hearts desire to sin. We are not able to change that. Romans 7:18 says “nothing good dwells in men.” So when God saves us, He saves us by first allowing our hearts to change.

As I said earlier, sanctification is not automatic after salvation. We did not automatically get a heart for God the moment we got born again. Rather, we need to allow God to work in us and through us. And it starts by submitting to the will of God as shown by our obedience to Him and His commandments.

In his appeal to Israel, Moses urged the people to remember the majesty of God and respect the Word of God. He quoted Yahweh’s own words, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever” (Deuteronomy 5:29)!

Obedience is always a matter of the heart, and if we love the Lord, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21-24). There is no conflict between the greatness of God and the grace of God, His transcendence and His immanence, for we can love the Lord and fear the Lord with the same heart (Psalm 2:10-12; 34:8-9).

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

As God changes our hearts, we will fear Him more and more. When we love Him, we will keep His commandments. God does not want us to be petrified of Him. He is our Father.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

We are children of God and He wants to bless us for our obedience. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 that we can “swap our burden of sin, for His burden is light.” Why? It’s because we want to live for Him.

Are you serious about putting your heart, soul, mind, and strength into loving God? If not, why not start now? God has done so much for you, how are you going to say thank you to Him?

Closing Words

Why is the human heart deceitful and wicked? Because it often desires things that are contrary to what God wants for us. And if we let our own hearts make decisions without taking into consideration what the Word of God says, we will be led astray.

Let us learn from the Jewish people who allowed their hearts to turn away from the Lord and His truth. Consequently, they made unwise decisions and plunged the nation into ruin.

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

In Mark 1:14-15, we read that after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The Gospel of God

John 3:16As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began His in Galilee, His home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence Him, but the gospel cannot be silenced.

What is the Gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word “gospel” literally means “good news.”

When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement – such as the birth of a newborn king or the victory over an invading army or occupied force.

God sent His prophets to announce the coming of God’s anointed King and Messiah.

After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit He begins His ministry of preaching the Gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls His disciples to believe in the gospel – the good news He has come to deliver.

What is the good news?

It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God as Ephesians 6:15 says), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (He rewards those who seek Him – Ephesians 3:6), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).

God sent us His Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into His heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of His gospel message.

God Rules over All

What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority.

The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The Scriptures tell us that God’s throne is in heaven and His rule is over all (Psalm 103:19).

God’s kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor or glory (Psalm 145:11-13).

In the Book of Daniel, we read that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King.”

Conditions for Entering the Kingdom of God

How does one enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do in order to enter the kingdom of God: repent and believe.

A. Repent

Repentance is the first step. Repentance means to change – to change our way of thinking and our attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of our hearts rather than sin, selfishness, and greed.

If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us.

True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us the grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of His love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with His will.

God’s grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from His love and truth.

B. Believe

To believe is to take Jesus at His word and to recognize that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to free us from the bondage of sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of His Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with Himself. He is our Father and He wants us to live as His sons and daughters. God loved us first (1 John 4:19) and He invites us in love to surrender our lives to Him.

When we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives and believe the gospel message, the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of His kingdom. He gives us the grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31).

Do you believe that the gospel – the good news of Jesus – has the power to free you from the bondage of sin and fear?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God

Becoming Fishers of Men

Like fishermen, we are called to gather in people for the kingdom of God. When Jesus preached the gospel message, He called others to follow as His disciples and He gave them a mission “to catch people for the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:16-20).

What kinds of disciples did Jesus choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles, we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work: He chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages.

Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under His direction and power.

God Chooses Ordinary People to Catch People

When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think that we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like you and me, can offer and uses it for greatness in His kingdom.

Do you believe that God wants to work in and through you for His glory?

Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel.

Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel? Do you pray for your neighbor, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of His love?