Category: Theology

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

Who Do You Say Jesus Christ Is?

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

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

Peter’s Confession of Jesus as the Messiah 

Matthew 16:13-17 

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

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

Background of the Passage

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

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

About Caesarea Philippi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Question of Jesus’ Identity

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

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

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

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

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

The Reply

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

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

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

What do people believe about Jesus
Photo Credits: Bibleinfo.com

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

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

The Unbelief of the People

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

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

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

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

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

The Follow-up Question

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 10:9-10

Peter Confesses Jesus as Christ

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

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

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

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

Jesus Pronounces a Blessing

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

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

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

Who do you say Jesus Christ is?
Photo Credits: rainbowtoken.com

Instead, it was a confession of personal faith that was made possible only by a divinely-regenerated heart.

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

Closing Words

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

“Who do you say I am?”

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

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

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


*Recommended Resource: 

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

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

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

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Prior to His departure, Jesus uttered these words to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV).

Jesus Christ, who is the King of Peace, does not give us the same peace that this world gives. While the peace that this world offers is the absence of conflict which often results from a positive way of thinking, the peace that God gives us is the state of being confident in knowing that He is in full control.

Knowing that Jesus Christ is not only the Prince and Ruler of Peace but also the King of Peace gives us the confidence under any circumstances that we do not have to fear the present and the future. He gives His peace to those who accept it as a result of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.

Jesus Christ: The Prince and Ruler of Peace

In John 12:12-16, we read the account of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey’s colt and a multitude of people came out to meet Him spreading palm branches while shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!”

The Triumphal Entry
Photo Credits: Free Bible Images (Pinterest)

This event is the fulfillment of the first coming of Jesus as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. And if we continue on to Zechariah 9:10-11, we read about the prophecy on Jesus’ second coming which is yet to come.

We refer to these Scriptures among other Scriptures, to see clearly the attributes given to Jesus as not only the “King of Righteousness” but also the “King of Peace.”

He Pardons Our Sins

The King of Peace has the authority to pardon or forgive us from our sins (Matthew 9:6 NIV).

Pardon is synonymous to forgiveness. They have a common denominator, that is, “cancellation of sins.”

In Matthew 9:2 where Jesus forgives and heals a paralyzed man that was brought to Him, He said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” It could have been easier for Jesus to say, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”

But He did this to make known to them that the Son of Man has authority on earth to pardon sins (v.6) and He does pardon our sins!

From this passage and also the Healing of the Lame Man by the Pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem (John 5:14), we can say that sickness is directly associated with sin.

Jesus is the King of Peace

Sickness, however, is part of life in this fallen world as a result of our collective rebellion against God. We can see a lot of convicted murderers and criminals who have sinned against the law of man and the laws of God and yet, are in much better health than some pastors and other faithful servants of God.

This tells us that sickness befell man indiscriminately as we can read in John 9:1-3. Whether sin is associated or not with the sickness of men, one thing is for sure; and that is Jesus our King of Peace has been given the authority to forgive our sins.

This is exactly what He has done in the past, is doing at present and will continue to do in the future for those who will turn back and repent of their sins.

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14

He Enriches Our Lives

The King of Peace is generous to enrich our lives (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The apostle Paul was writing to the believers in Corinth about the generosity of the Churches in Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, that despite their poverty, they have given beyond their ability.

The Corinthian church excels in many ways and Paul desired that they may also excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7). In Paul’s exhortation, he used the example of Jesus who has given all He has.

Jesus who is “rich” in every way became “poor,” in submission to the will of the Father. He assumed human nature and became subject to time, place and other limitations of a man through His incarnation. He did not cease being God but set aside the right to His glory and power.

And He did all these to make us “rich” the moment we received His gift of salvation and eternal life.

“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NLT)

Just like the “seed” used by Paul in his illustration, God wants us to “plant” rather than to hide the provisions that we are receiving from Him in order to produce a greater harvest. God wants us to invest in our service to Him so that He can bless more abundantly for greater service. (See Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Bags of Gold.)

Jesus is the King of Peace

Our God and all His children are rich. But what is the definition of rich in this context? Being rich means sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; has nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Corinthians 6:10). We declare that we are rich with the riches that God has in store for us.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”– 1 Timothy 6:17

He Abides in Us in Trials

The King of Peace never leaves His people (Hebrews 13:5).

God has repeatedly assured us in His word that He will never abandon us; He has promised to be with us even to the end of the age. But why do we feel at times that God has abandoned us? The time that you feel abandoned by God could have been the time that you abandoned God.

It is often said that promises are made to be broken and that’s because we’re humans. But with God, there’s no such thing as broken or unfulfilled promises. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not human that He should lie, not a man that He should change His mind.”

Jesus Christ is the King of PEace

Isaiah 43:2 is another promise of God that we can trust. He said that He will be with us when we pass through the waters and won’t allow us to be swept away. Also when we walk through the fire we will not be burned and the flames will not set us ablaze.

Deep waters, rivers of difficulty and fire of oppression all represent calamities, which in turn represent the different trials and difficulties that God allows to happen in our lifetime. But the time that we go through these calamities is also the time when God says, “I will be with you.”

Other Scripture texts where God promised to abide in us include 1 Chronicles 28:20; Joshua 1:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Genesis 28:15; Joshua 1:9 and Romans 8:39.

He Comforts Us in Troubles

The King of Peace is our comfort and our resting place (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

The kind of comfort that God gives us is far higher to the highest level than the comfort that this world gives us. To be comforted by God does not necessarily mean that we are spared from any trouble. It means we receive strength, encouragement and hope to deal with whatever trouble that comes our way so that we can also comfort those who are in any trouble.

Sometimes God brings us to the oceans not because He wanted us to drown but so that we would learn how to swim. You know what? Our enemies do not know how to swim. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, to those who have been called according to His purpose.”

Jesus Christ is the King of Peace

Before leaving His disciples, Jesus promised that He will not leave them as orphans for He will send the Holy Spirit to be their Teacher and Comforter (John 14:16-17, 26).

Are you weary and heavy-laden? Jesus is inviting you to come to Him and He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus our King of Peace not only promises comfort but also rest. The kinds of rest found in the Lord include physical rest (Psalm 127:2), peace of mind (Philippians 4:6-7) and healing for our soul (Jeremiah 17:14).

He Ensures Us His Love

The King of Peace gives us divine assurance of His everlasting love (John 15:13).

God did not simply tell us that He loves us; He showed us by voluntarily laying down His life for us. He did not have to but He did it anyway in order to assure us of His love and to secure our salvation.

God has given us His unconditional love even when we were so unworthy of Him (Romans 5:8). He gave up His life so that we may be reconciled with God and gain access to the Father. No matter what we do, we can never out-love God. We only know love and are able to love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Should there be times when you feel defeated and you hear the devil telling you that it’s over, stand on the promise of God that you are more than a conqueror and that nothing and no one can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Jesus Christ the King of Peace

Being more than a conqueror means winning with an overwhelming victory. It is not just simply being victorious but going beyond the normal scale of quantifying the win. This is all because we’re not fighting our battles anymore; Jesus is.

Because Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20), nothing else can separate us from the love of God. This is God’s way of letting us know His great love for us so that we can feel totally secure in Him. Nothing can stop His constant presence with us.

We are also secure in the love of God because we have become an heir and legitimate son to our heavenly Father (Romans 8:17). We have lost our rights to our old family and gained the privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit, and as such, nothing can separate us from His love.

Closing Words

To sum it up, Jesus Christ the King of Peace:

Pardons our sins

Enriches our lives

Abides in us in trials

Comforts us in troubles

Ensures us His love

We can surely receive the peace that God offers us if we only learn to put our trust in Him while we remain prayerful, thankful and present our request with a believing heart.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Do you accept the peace that Jesus Christ the King of Peace is offering?

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Review

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Review

Do you know that many people are willing to spend money on psychics and will do almost anything in their quest to know the future? Only to end up disappointed because these fortune-tellers are not able to give accurate predictions.

If you want to have a glimpse into your tomorrows, there is only one place to look – the Bible. Unlike horoscopes, astrological predictions and New Age books, God through His written Word, foretells the future with inerrant accuracy.

The God who created the heavens and the earth knows the end from the beginning and has given us a snapshot of things to come. But you may ask, “How am I supposed to understand a book that has been written several hundred years ago in a culture that’s very different from ours?” This is where a good prophecy study Bible comes in.

In this review of the New King James Prophecy Study Bible, I’ll be giving you a glimpse into what’s in it, its amazing facts and features, and my recommendations.

Product Name: NKJV Prophecy Study Bible (Understanding God’s Message in the Last Days)

General Editor: John Hagee

Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Edition (Year Published): 2015

The Best Place to buy: Christianbook.com

Verdict: Highly Recommended

Features of the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

A. The Bible Text

In order to give the reader a detailed imagery of what the Bible is talking about and to assist them in personal study, special features such as italics, paragraph breaks, quotation marks, etc., have been incorporated both in the text of the Bible and in special study aids on each page.

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Review

B. Introduction to Prophecy and Events of the End Times

Since approximately twenty-seven percent of the Bible was prophetic at the time of its writing, having some guidelines to follow for their proper interpretation is of utmost importance.

This section discusses both prophets and prophecy:

  • Who is a Prophet?
  • What are the Two Purposes of Prophecy?
  • How to Interpret prophecy

It also gives us a short introduction to:

  • The Last Days
  • The Rapture
  • The Tribulation
  • The Second Coming
  • The Millennium

C. Master Index to Bible Prophecy

This is divided into five sections:

  1. Prophecies Fulfilled from the beginning to the Exile of Judah
  2. Prophecies Fulfilled from the Exile of Judah to the First Coming of Christ
  3. Prophecies Fulfilled at the First Coming of Christ
  4. Prophecies Fulfilled during the Church Age
  5. Prophecies Fulfilled after the Rapture of the Church

And within each of these sections are the prophecies listed in biblical order along with their reference texts, a short description of the prophecy and a notation regarding its fulfillment.

D. Monies, Weights, and Measures

Although we cannot make exact equivalents and determine the actual monetary values of the currencies used more than two- or three-thousand years ago, relating them to current values in terms of how much a common laborer gets paid on a daily basis is helpful.

E. Top 20 Questions about Bible Prophecy

This is one of my favorite features of the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible. These articles answer the questions most frequently asked about prophecy and end time events. Questions such as: What is God’s view of the Tribulation? What is Armageddon? Who is the coming Antichrist? How can I know Bible Prophecy is accurate?

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Review

F. Diamonds for Daily Living

Who doesn’t enjoy reading the Psalms? Diamonds for daily living is a series of forty devotions drawn from the Book of Psalms.

While Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life guides you into a 40-day journey to discovering God’s purpose for your life, the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible gives you 40 Diamonds for Daily Living to encourage you, especially during difficult times.

H. God’s Great Salvation

Undoubtedly, the theme of salvation runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God has laid out His plan of salvation for man from the time that Adam and Eve declared their independence and rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden.

Explore God’s Great Salvation with these 20 articles starting with the “Forbidden Fruit and Lost Innocence” on page 11.

I. God’s Great Promises

This series of seventeen articles explores the covenant promises found in God’s written Word, the Bible. We know from reading the Bible that God has made several covenants not only with the nation of Israel but with the Church as well.

But which ones are for Israel only and which ones are for His Church? Does God plan to fulfill them? How confident are we that He will? The covenants God made with Israel are so significant that they say a lot about His covenant with the Church.

Start your study of God’s Great Promises with “The idea of Covenant in the Bible” on page 26.

What is in the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

J. Evidences

The Christian definition of faith is NOT belief without evidence. As Oxford professor John Lennox said, “Faith is not a leap into the unknown, but an evidence-based commitment.”

This series of 47 articles offers a positive apologetic for the Christian faith that includes among others:

  1. The Uncaused Cause of Everything Else
  2. What Happened to Jesus’ Body?
  3. The Trinity
  4. Was Jesus the Predicted Messiah
  5. The Search for the Historical Jesus

K. Spokesman for God

The prophets of the Bible spoke God’s word. Read about the main prophets and their messages in this series of articles.

L. Bible Insights

This collection of over fifty short articles provides additional information about the Bible, its people, its times and its prophetic message.

M. Bible Prophecy Charts

In this feature of the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, there are sixteen charts given on the key aspects of Bible prophecy, including the prophecies of Daniel, the Tribulation, times of the Gentiles, the Rapture and the Millennium.

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Review

What Others are Saying about the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible

“The Bible helps alone are priceless. There are charts and outlines for every book that list the prophecies with references and give the fulfillment references. I really like the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible and I am excited to have this tool at my disposal. I’d say this is a must for equipping believers to be prepared with truth and ready to give answers to those who question the reason for their faith” – Nellie Dee

“The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible is packed with amazing features that will help beginners and serious students of Bible prophecy. It is filled with special features that offer details designed to bring a clearer understanding of prophetic themes.” – Kara

“The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible is an excellent tool for understanding Bible prophecy and so much more. I wasn’t actually planning on buying it, but couldn’t leave it in the store after looking inside.” – Tommy King

“Pastor John Hagee has done a truly magnificent job with the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible. Each book provides us with information on the author, the time it was written and of “The Christ” of that book. Christ’s words are also in red letters plus there are references that point the reader to parallel verses in order to help them understand better what they’re currently reading. This would make a wonderful gift for our friends and family.” – VicsMediaRoom

Conclusion

The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible is a great material for anyone who is serious about understanding God’s message in the last days. As I said in my article Reasons to Study Bible Prophecy, approximately 1/3 or 27% of the Bible was prophetic at the time of its writing and if we claim to love studying the Bible, we must also love to study Bible prophecy.

What better way to do this than having your own copy of the NKJV Prophecy Study Bible.

Get you copy here: NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition

What is God’s Covenant with Man?

What is God’s Covenant with Man?

We are on a series on the different covenants of God and today’s article deals with God’s covenant relationship with man. When God purposed to create man, God made His covenant with him. What is this covenant and what are the provisions or conditions included in it?

Here is an in-depth explanation of God’s covenant relationship with man by Bishop Moses R. Chungalao, the founder, president and senior minister of the Free Believers in Christ Fellowship International (FBCFI).

The Word Covenant Defined

Another word for covenant is an agreement or a contract. It is much like an employment contract or agreement between an employer and an applicant employee, where all the terms have been set by the employer and the employee only has to agree and sign to be employed.

It’s also like a Lease Agreement of Contract where all the terms have been set by the owner-lessor of the property and the lessee only has to agree and sign the contract to be able to use the property.

In the same way, God already set all the terms of His covenant with man, and man had no part in making the terms and conditions thereof. God’s covenant reveals and expresses His will for man.

What is God's Covenant with Man

The terms are all His commandments, laws, precepts, ordinances or instructions in His word, the Bible. The Bible is full of provisions saying, “These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow…” (Deuteronomy 12:1 NIV) or “Teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).

Man has no choice but to obey the covenant of God. Remember Adam and Eve who were cut off from God and were cast out of the Garden of Eden to suffer the curse because they disobeyed God and broke the covenant.

The Basis of God’s Covenant with Man

The basis of God’s covenant is His immeasurable love because He is love; that is His whole being and character. God is Love, and we say, “All the time.” There’s not a bit of time that He is not Love. That is His nature and the nature of love is it is reciprocated or symbiotic.

Love seeks to be reciprocated; it seeks to be loved back in the same way and measure. So God planned and purposed to create man to be the object of His love. And He decided that the kind of relationship to the man is as a Father so that He would lavish His son with His love and blessings of great prosperity because of His love.

Because of His love, God could not avoid lavishing his son with everything He was going to create in this earth that is why He made and prepared the whole earth and all it contained for man before creating him.

What is God's Covenant with Man

Ephesians 1:4 (NIV) says, “He chose us in Him before the creation of the world…” In fact, God did not only choose to create Adam but He also “chose us” and even knew us by name (Jeremiah 1:5). So God chose (or decided) everything for man and His covenant with man (and with us) before He created the world, and man had no part in making the terms and conditions of the covenant.

They are all God’s terms and conditions. The whole Bible is God’s covenant and everything written in it is God’s terms and will. God’s will are revealed and expressed by His word or covenant.

LOVE
The First Requirement of God’s Covenant with Man

An expert of the law asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Jesus further said, “And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39).

It must be noted that Moses said the exact same thing in Deuteronomy 6:5. Loving your neighbor and yourself is only secondary, including family since your family is part of yourself. To love God is foremost and number 1 priority in God’s covenant with man. Jesus made this very clear in Matthew 10:37.

In fact, Jesus further says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

What is God's covenant with Man

Why is love the first and foremost requirement of God’s covenant with man? It’s because love is the nature and basic character of God, and the nature of love is reciprocal; it is symbiotic. By nature, love wants to be loved in return, and it wants to be loved back in the same way and measure.

Everyone who loves will always want to be loved back because we were created in the image and likeness of God.

OBEDIENCE
The 2nd Requirement of God’s Covenant with Man

God’s covenant with man requires absolute full obedience of man to all the laws, decrees, statutes, precepts, ordinances and commandments in God’s word, the Bible.

The commands of God are very absolute as we read in Genesis 2:16-17. When God said to the man that he will surely die when he eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death here means separation or being cut off from God.

What is God's Covenant with Man

When man disobeyed and violated the command of God, man was cut off from God and was driven out from the Garden, the kingdom of God.

In many passages of Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 4:9, 23; Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 6:12, 17-18, 24; Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 11:8, 13, 16, 22; Deuteronomy 12:1; Deuteronomy 11:26-28; Deuteronomy 28:1-8 and Matthew 7:21, God’s covenant explicitly states absolute obedience demanded of man by God.

WORSHIP
Third Requirement of God’s Covenant with Man

From creation it can be understood from the Bible that God planted the Garden of Eden and put the man He created in that garden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:8, 15). Just like a landlord and a tenant, God already planted the garden and it was profusely bearing fruit.

God gave the garden to the man to work it by planting, harvesting and maintaining it, so the man gave all his time and efforts up-keeping the garden of God. The Garden of Eden was the property or Kingdom of God on earth, which He planted and gave to the man for his heritage as a son.

The garden had everything the man needed; it was a paradise. As the man worked the garden and harvested all the fruits, he worshiped God every day and offered the best portions of his garden products (“first fruits”) and fattest animals (“firstborn”) including the fruit of the 2 trees in the center of the garden, the “tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Sacrificial giving is basic worship, as it is commanded, “No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed” (Deuteronomy 16:16). So the man faithfully offered and worshiped God every day until the devil came to them in the garden and were deceived into disobeying God.

Conditions of God's Covenant with Man

Even after the man and woman were driven from the garden, their sons Cain and Abel continued to worship God by offering the fruits of their works (Genesis 4:3-5). God looked with favor on Abel and his offering but not on Cain and his offering because it was not sacrificial.

We can, therefore, understand from all Scriptures that worship is basically honoring God with our whole body, heart, mind, soul, and strength, which is required by God as our expression of love to Him.

Worship was the first thing Noah did after God destroyed the whole creation on earth with flood and it pleased God not to destroy all lives again (Genesis 8:20-21). Worship was the first things Abram did when God called him and he obeyed. And God appeared to him and promised to give the land to his offspring (Genesis 12:7).

When God gave Abram victory over his enemies, Abram gave “a tenth of everything” in honor and worship (Genesis 14:20). Worship is the first thing God commanded Moses to do with his people after bringing them out from Egypt (Exodus 3:12).

SACRIFICE
An Expression of Man’s Love, Worship, and Obedience to God

In God’s covenant with man, sacrifice is the one word that underlines the love of God to man, the required love of man to God, the required absolute obedience of man to God and the required worship and offerings of man to God.

First of all, the love of God was characterized by sacrifice. When God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, He not only gave His life but also suffered to pay for the redemption of man.

In return, God requires sacrifice on the part of man as proof of his love for God. God commands man to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Sacrificial offering has been the express form of worship from the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the time of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3-4), the time of Noah (Genesis 8:20), the time of Abram (Genesis 14:20) and the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 12:5-6).

What is God's Covenant with Man

The Israelites resolved to obey the laws of God and bring to the Temple all the duties required for the house of God (Nehemiah 10:30-39). The Bible says, “Honor (or worship) the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits (the best) of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your jars will brim over with new wine (Proverbs 3:9-10 NIV).

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). To “be careful to obey every command” is very difficult for sinful man to observe but with the sacrifice to deny ourselves and our self-will to become like Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can become like Him. To become like Christ is possible only if we offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

True worship is definitely and absolutely expressed in sacrificial offering. Giving the best of everything to God in worship is a sacrifice of worship. The devil reversed this principle of God when he deceived Adam and Eve into believing that they must reserve the best of their harvest to themselves and their families and offer to God only too little.

Closing Words

At the start of God’s covenant with man, the facts were established that God created man and put His Spirit on him to be God’s son (Genesis 2:7), lavished the man with everything he needed as proof of His love for him, and established that obedience, worship, and sacrifice are the requirements for man to show his love to God in return.

What is Covenant in the Bible?

What is Covenant in the Bible?

The concept of “covenant” has been revolutionized by research in recent decades of studying the Old Testament. What is the idea of covenant in the Bible?

Many scholars, whether conservative or liberal, have maintained that “covenant” is the organizing principle around which Old Testament theology must be constructed and understood.

It has become clear that in the near eastern world of the second millennium before Christ, formal covenants were the primary way people who were not blood relatives related to one another.

The Meaning of Covenant

The word “covenant” basically means “contract;” it is an agreement between God and His people. In the said agreement, God makes promises to His people and usually requires certain conduct from them.

As used in Scriptures, the word “covenant” is the Hebrew word “Berith” which means “to cut or divide.” This is an allusion to the Jewish sacrificial custom in connection with covenant-making, where the two parties involved would divide the animal by which the covenant was ratified and laid them out in two halves.

After that, the contracting parties would then “walk between the pieces” to establish the covenant.

What is Covenant in the Bible?

In the Greek Septuagint, covenant is the Greek word “Diatheke.” Unlike Hebrew, the Greek differentiates between a covenant where one party is the recipient (diatheke) and the other the benefactor, and other covenant made between equal parties.

If the two parties come together in agreement, making it a two-way arrangement, the word “Suntheke” is used, which means “to place together.”

Of Meals and Marriages

People in Asia Minor, ancient Mesopotamia and first century Palestine depended on covenants to appease the gods, regulate personal affairs, international relations and business deals. All kinds of covenants existed between equal partners, between greater and lesser partners, and between absolute sovereigns and object servants.

Covenants were often memorialized with stone pillars (stellae) as Jacob and Laban did (Genesis 31:44-47). A ceremonial meal between the parties involved would signify the harmonious nature of the new relationship and a marriage between the two families seals the compact.

In every case, the gods of all parties involved were called to witness and guarantee the contract, agreement, vow or treaty.

Fortunately for Bible scholars, the people of the ancient Near East went out of their way to write down all kinds of covenants. All during the twentieth-century archaeologists dug up, dusted off, and deciphered clay tablets and stone monuments that recorded countless covenants regulating the commercial, political and religious life of nation after nation.

Perhaps the most significant covenants for Old Testament studies turned up in the archives of the Hittite monarchs, which were discovered in 1906 among the ruins of Boghaz-koi in Turkey.

*Related Article: What is the Adamic Covenant?

The Covenant Form

It has been demonstrated quite conclusively by Meredith Kline and others that the structure of the Hittite treaties between oriental monarchs and their abject vassals parallels in close detail the covenant format between Yahweh and Israel found in Exodus chapters 20 to 23, Joshua 24 and the Book of Deuteronomy.

When the one, true living God initiated a relationship with the descendants of Abraham, He utilized a covenant style universally understood at the time:

  • a preamble identifying the absolute sovereign
  • a brief history of relations between the absolute sovereign and the subject people
  • the benefits for and obligations of the subject people
  • an oath of allegiance and its accompanying blessings for obedience
  • a list of witnesses and directions for keeping the covenant

At times there followed instructions for periodic renewal of the covenant.

The Old and New Testament

The Bible is divided into an Old Testament and a New Testament. “Testament” was a synonym for “covenant” in the English era of King James I. All of God’s Word concerns an old and a new form of the way in which He provides for a personal, mutually committed relationship between Himself and those who He calls and who respond in faith to Him.

Various other biblical covenants predate the “old covenant” or elaborate aspects of it. People of God’s covenant have a basis for saying, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song 2:16).


*ReferenceNKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition
Understanding God’s Message in the Last Days
General Editor: John Hagee

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 include:

  • Introduction to Bible Prophecy
  • Index to Prophetic Passages
  • Top 20 Questions about Bible Prophecy
  • Diamonds for Daily Living
  • Evidences
  • Spokesmen for God
  • Bible Insights
  • Bible Prophecy Charts
  • Full concordance
What Is God’s Covenant With Adam?

What Is God’s Covenant With Adam?

God’s covenant with Adam, also called the Adamic Covenant found in Genesis 3:14-21, is the second general or universal covenant. But what is this all about? The Adamic Covenant could be called God’s covenant with mankind, for it sets forth the conditions which will hold sway until the curse of sin is lifted.

The conditions within the Adamic covenant include:

  • The serpent, the tool used by Satan to effect the fall of man, is cursed (Genesis 3:14).
  • Satan is judged; he will enjoy limited success but will be judged ultimately (Genesis 3:15).
  • The first prophecy of the coming Messiah is given (Genesis 3:15).
  • Multiplication of conception, necessitated by the introduction of death into the human race (Genesis 3:16).
  • There will be pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16).
  • The woman is made subject to her husband (Genesis 3:16).
  • The ground is cursed and will bring forth weeds among the food which man must eat for his existence (Genesis 3:17-19).
  • Physical change takes place in man; he will perspire when he works and will have to work all his life (Genesis 3:19).
  • In sinning, man dies spiritually and ultimately will die physically. His flesh will decay until it returns to dust from which it was originally taken (Genesis 3:19).

The Sin of Adam

From man’s perspective, Adam’s sin does not seem to be a very great sin. All he did was take a bite of some fruit. But what made Adam’s sin serious is that the fruit was of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of which God specifically said that he was not to eat under the penalty of death (Genesis 2:17).

Up to this time, Adam was morally innocent. But when he sinned, he became a sinner by nature. So he died. He not only died spiritually immediately, but he also began to die physically.

*Related Article: Death Penalty For Sin, Eternal Life In Christ

The story of creation tells us that Adam was the first man ever to live upon the face of the earth. From Adam and Eve has come every other human being who ever has lived. Thus, Adam is the “federal head” from whom every other man came. Like begets like. Dogs beget dogs. Apples beget apples. Human beings beget human beings.

Since Adam sinned before Eve conceived a child, every human descended from him is a sinner just like him except Christ. As a result of Adam’s sin, death entered into the human race (Romans 5:12-14); every human being needs to have the new life (John 3:3, 5-7).

Forbidden Fruit and Lost Innocence

Imagine what may very well have been the single worst moment in the history of humanity: Adam and Eve standing outside the gorgeous Garden of Eden – banished, an angel with a flaming sword to make sure they will never again experience the intimate walks and talks with God or the delicious fruit from the tree of life.

The blissful feelings of joy and security they had felt in the Garden of Eden were forever gone. In their place, Adam and his wife Eve felt only nagging, haunting emotions of fear, guilt, and shame.

Lost Paradise

Adam and Eve had declared their independence by a single act of rebellion against God. What they had done was more than merely eat a piece of forbidden fruit. At a deeper level, they had defied God’s clear-cut command. They chose to listen to the seductive voice of the serpent and succumbed to their own pride.

They made a huge mistake of overtly challenging the right of the Almighty God to guide and direct their lives, exercising authority and power over their own lives. The consequences of that deplorable decision were catastrophic: the curse of God their Maker, sorrow, death, and a life of pain and regret – not only for them but for all their descendants.

We can’t help but think that at some point, Adam and Eve must have taken one last look at Eden before turning away. Were they quiet? Who broke the silence? Did they blame each other? Or did they fall into each other’s arms?

The Curses Pronounced By God

1) A Curse on the Serpent

The first curse of God’s covenant with Adam and mankind is on the serpent, the tool used by Satan to deceive and seduce Adam and Eve into sin (Genesis 3:14-15). The curse affects not only the instrument, the serpent, but also the indwelling Satan who is still working hard to destroy God’s creatures (Revelation 12:9).

Great physical changes took place in the serpent. Apparently, the serpent walked upright before the curse; since, it has gone on its belly (Genesis 3:14). It used to be the most desirable animal of the animal creation; since, it has been the most despicable. The sight or thought of a snake should be an effective reminder of the devastating effects of sin.

The other half of the curse on the serpent is the predicted final judgment of Satan (Genesis 3:15). Satan will injure the “Seed” of the woman; however, ultimately he will be destroyed by the promised “Seed.” Satan wounded Christ through His suffering and death on the cross, but his apparent victory was only a “bruise” as the Resurrection proved.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ delivered the crushing blow to Satan as it defeated death, the legacy of the fall.

2) Curses on the Ground Causing Chaos to Return to Earth

When Adam and Eve sinned in rebellion against God by doing exactly what God has commanded them not to do, God pronounced curses on the ground which Adam and mankind were to tend as God’s representatives (Genesis 3:17-18; Genesis 2:15).

When God had created the earth, He caused order to replace chaos (Genesis 1:2). After Adam sinned, a measure of chaos was brought back into God’s ordered world. “Thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:18) represent everything in life that resists human efforts to create order in God’s name.

Further Effects of Sin

Aside from the two curses, God also proclaimed how sin would affect both genders of humanity. The focus of sin’s effects on women is in childbearing, child rearing and in their relationships with men (Genesis 3:16).

The injection of physical pain into childbearing also hints at the years of emotional pain spent on child rearing. Within women’s relationships with their husbands, they are caught between their desire and need for intimacy and the tendency of their mates to dominate them, a clear violation of God’s intention of loving leadership.

On the other hand, men would find the effects of sin permeating their efforts to provide a livelihood for themselves and their families (Genesis 3:19).

The disorder loosed in the soil and in all human enterprise reduces men to toilers who can never win for long in their efforts to make a living. They continue to struggle in order to get ahead of the chaos represented by the thorns and thistles which in effect will distract them from God.

The Gift of Hope

As Adam and Eve began to reflect on the terrible, final moments in the Garden of Eden, they must have thought of the sorrow in God’s voice when He had called out, “Where are you?” And the puzzling curse on the serpent kept running through their minds (Genesis 3:14-15).

God said the serpent would inflict yet more pain and suffering upon humans, but in the end, he would be crushed by the Seed of Eve. It was a small ray of hope, a glimmer of a promise that Paradise would not remain lost forever, a promise of a Deliverer and Savior (fulfilled in Jesus Christ, see Galatians 3:16, 19-26).

It could be that Adam and Eve also recalled the gentle way the Lord had graciously provided them with clothes before sending them away – a hint of God’s love and mercy. The more they reflected, the more they must have become convinced that God wanted to restore them to Himself.

Great news! The long wait for God’s promised salvation has come. Today, unlike Adam and Eve, we don’t have to wait. The day of salvation is already here (2 Corinthians 6:2). Jesus has already come to save us from our sins. 

Did you receive God’s offer of salvation through the finished works of Christ? If you haven’t, now is the time to do it. Now is the day of salvation!


*Reference: 

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, 2015 Edition   (Understanding God’s Message in the Last Days)

General Editor: John Hagee

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 include:

  • 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
  • Full concordance
Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Why Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Do you notice how the ambiance or mood changes whenever the “BER” months start? As early as September 1st when radio stations begin playing our favorite Christmas songs, we all get very excited knowing that Christmas is just around the corner. But what is the true meaning of Christmas and why should Christians celebrate it?

While many Christians today celebrate Christmas, there are others who don’t because they claim that Jesus Christ wasn’t really born on Christmas day which falls on the 25th of December. And they are right.

As I said in my article, Jesus: The Reason for the Christmas Season, historians and Bible scholars have found no solid, documented evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th. But based on Luke 2:8 and other indicators such as the birth of John the Baptist, they place the birth of Christ in the late summer or early autumn (that is September).

A Powerful Story

Before going any further, I would like to share a story that was told by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in one of his Christmas sermons. It’s about a shepherd from New Zealand who woke up one morning and finding himself in a dilemma.

This shepherd had two mother sheep that were ready to give birth to their lambs. But each in its own way ended up with a misfortune. One of them had just given birth to its little lamb but shortly thereafter, the mother had contracted various problems and died, leaving this lamb without a mother to take care of it.

Then shortly thereafter, the other mother sheep gave birth to its own little lamb and rather than her developing complications, the little lamb ended up with problems and lost its life.

So all of a sudden the shepherd looked at that situation which he found himself. On the one hand, he had a kind of a “motherless” lamb. On the other hand, he had a “lambless” mother. The solution looked rather obvious, didn’t it? All the shepherd needed to do was to get this little lamb over to that mother, have it nursed this little one and give it strength and life.

But it’s not as simple as that, because every time he made an attempt to bring this little lamb over to that mother to be fed, the mother, smelling a different aroma on the body of this lamb sensing it wasn’t its own, would turn away and back off from it.

The shepherd came up with a genius plan. He went and found the dead body of the actual little lamb, took the skin off its body, formed a little coat and put it on this one that was still alive. And then he carried this little lamb over to this mother to be nursed. The mother was ready to back off, sensing it was not its own. But suddenly it smelled a different aroma, one that was familiar to it and began to nurse this little one.

Mother sheep feeding little lamb

Meaning of the Story

This story is a powerful little illustration but really points beyond itself to the predicament to which we find ourselves as human beings in a sense of alienation from God. Because of sin, man who used to have an intimate relationship with his Creator was alienated from God (Isaiah 59:2).

Without God, man’s destiny is hell. We can read this in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. But God who is love does not want anyone to perish (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). So what did He do? He sent His only begotten Son to take upon Himself the penalty for our sins, to die on the cross so that everyone who believes will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

*Related Article: What does John 3:16 Teach about Salvation?

God is love but He is also holy and just. He will not just let sin slide and let man get away with it. God made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might bec0me the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In theology this is called the “Doctrine of Justification.” Not only is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us through faith, but our sin is imputed to Christ. That is how Christ paid for our sin debt to God. By having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, we can be seen as sinless, as Jesus is sinless.

In the same way that the little lamb was eventually cared for, love and nurtured by the mother lamb because it smelled the aroma of its own little lamb that died, we too can come to the Father. Because when God looks at us, He does not see us for who and what we are – sinful and unclean. Instead, He sees the holiness, perfection, and righteousness of Christ.

The True Meaning of Christmas

What then is Christmas all about?

A. Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Man sinned by deliberately disobeying God and so he deserves to be separated from God for all eternity. But because God is forgiving and merciful He made a way for man’s relationship with him to be restored. How? Through Christ!

We are forgiven because Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for our sins on the cross. Jesus gave His life; He shed His blood because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). God did not only forgive us our sins, but He also reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). It’s important to emphasize that God initiated the reconciliation, not man.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness

This is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came so that our sins would be forgiven and be reconciled with God. What then should our response be? We must separate ourselves from the world. This is what it means to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are to share the love of God and the good news of salvation to everyone but we are not to conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2).

B. Love which is demonstrated by Giving

You know what they say, “You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.” God proved this to be true when He sent His Son to die on the cross, even when we were still in our sins so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). God gave first and He gave us the best gift; a gift that we did not deserve.

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given …” We have to understand that Jesus as man has been born but as God, He existed eternally with the Father. And again, this verse tells us that God gave us Jesus Christ His Son, not because we asked Him to but because He knew exactly what we needed.

For God so loved the word - John 3:16

When Christmas comes, are you more focused on what you want to receive or on what you can give to God and your loved ones? There’s nothing wrong with exchanging gifts as part of the Christmas celebration. However, let us not forget that the true meaning of Christmas is love which is demonstrated in our giving. We should aim to be the giver, not the recipient.

C. Life (Physical, Spiritual & Eternal)

Can man live without God? Someone once said, “God without man is still God, but man without God is nothing.” And while we do not find this exact phrase in the Bible, this truth is explicitly stated in many places in Scriptures such as John 15:5, John 1:3 and Jeremiah 10:23 among others.

We are also familiar with the acronym CHRISTIAN which means without CHRIST in my life I Am Nothing (I-A-N). What about those who continuously reject Christ, are they dead? Yes! They may be physically alive but they are spiritually dead and do not have eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death - Romans 6:23

We are all spiritually dead because of sin but the moment we receive God’s offer of salvation, our spirit gets regenerated or born again and we will receive eternal life. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Without God, we would have no life at all. There is no reality outside of Christ; no logic, no reason, and purpose for anything. But all these have changed because Christ came on that first Christmas eve.

D. Hope

It’s because of Christmas that we have hope. And unlike ordinary hope, the hope that we have in Christ does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Why? Because biblical hope – the hope that is found in Christ – is a confident expectation of what God has promised and there is moral certainty in it because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God.

What is biblical hope

When God promises something, He is sure to fulfill it. God remains faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). The Bible says that faithfulness is part of God’s nature. Being faithful isn’t just part of what He does; it’s part of who He is.

Conclusion

So why should Christians celebrate Christmas? We celebrate this season for one reason and one reason only – Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas because a Savior has been born to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christmas is all about God coming in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life of obedience to the Father, set an example for us to follow, to suffer and die on the cross for our sins and to rise again to conquer death and hell, in order to set us free from the power of sin and death and to rescue and deliver us from the wrath of God and the judgment that is to be poured out upon all flesh on the earth in a future event known as the “Great Tribulation.”

If that is not enough reason to celebrate the Christmas season, I don’t know what is. What about you, do you celebrate Christmas? Why or why not?

Never Ever Doubt God’s Power

Never Ever Doubt God’s Power

Bible Verse: Revelation 17:17 (KJV)

“For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast until the words of God shall be fulfilled.”

Reflection and Challenge

God’s will is always done. Many Christians believe that people can thwart God’s will. That’s like saying we can lose our salvation because we sinned one time. We cannot thwart God’s power. He is in control.

It is true that Christians should be the preserving agent in the world today, but due to the fact that all people are sinners, our sinful nature will result in the destruction of humanity on earth. God must punish the world for rejecting Him.

Then the question is: “How will this come about?” Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus never changes. God’s methods are always the same. God’s will always happen even if the world thinks their actions benefit them. It is not possible that 10 godly kings would give their power to the Anti-Christ.

Revelation 17:17 definitely says, “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill HIS will, and to agree.” They won’t even do it hesitantly. They will agree that it’s in their best interest. They think giving their power to the Anti-Christ will only hasten the end of the Great Tribulation and their destruction.

There is no beneficial reason to resist God’s will. It only ever leads to pain and suffering for you. God only promises a good ending for those that love Him and keep His commandments. If He does not have your heart, you can’t keep His word.

We all have a choice because we are responsible to suffer the consequences, but that does not mean God’s hands are tied. God always reserves the right to respond. Shouldn’t we all just follow His revealed will found in the Bible rather than hurting ourselves with sin? The choice is yours. How do you respond to His word?

The Names of God Reflected in Psalm 23

The Names of God Reflected in Psalm 23

The Old Testament gives us the many names of God and each one of them has its own meaning. But do you know that Psalm 23 reflects the compound names of Yahweh God (or Jehovah God), the covenant-making God of Israel?

Jehovah – Jireh

means “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14).

The name literally means “The Lord Who Sees,” or “The Lord Who Will See To It.” When we have a personal or special need, we long for the One who will provide. Jehovah-Jireh means the Lord who will see to it that all my needs and yours are met.

Jehovah-Jireh

Jehovah-Jireh knows our every need because He sees. If the Lord was able to meet Abraham’s need by providing a ram caught in the thicket that was offered in place of Isaac, He’s also able to meet our needs in just the right time. The name Jehovah-Jireh assures us that our Heavenly Father is able to provide any need we have.

Jehovah – Shalom

means “The Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24).

When Gideon thought that he would die because the Angel of the Lord visited him, God spoke to him and said, “Peace be with you; do not fear for you shall not die.” This made such a great impression on Gideon that he built an altar to the Lord and gave it the name “Jehovah Shalom” (Judges 6:22-24)

The Hebrew word “shalom” translated as “peace” does not only speak of the absence of noise, strife or conflict; it speaks of wholeness, completeness, soundness, and welfare (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).

One of the many problems we encounter today is the problem of anxiety. Medical experts say that most major disorders of the mind are those related in some way to anxiety. In fact, people who suffer from chronic anxiety often end up physically ill.

Jehovah-Shalom

True and ultimate peace is found in God alone, and this comes to us when we focus our lives on God and trust Him. Are you weary and troubled? Why not place your trust in Jehovah-Shalom and He will keep you in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3)?

Jehovah – Rapha

means “The Lord who heals” (Exodus 15:26).

It was in the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites that God first revealed His name as Jehovah-Rapha. After crossing the Red Sea, Moses led them into the Wilderness of Shur where they went three days without water (Exodus 15:22). Apparently, the Lord was testing their faith.

Eventually, they came across the waters of Marah, but they could not drink them for they were bitter. So they complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we to drink?” Moses then cried to the Lord and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet (Exodus 15:23-25).

Jehovah-Rapha

The Lord does not only heal waters, He heals people too. If the Lord was able to heal the waters at Marah so the Israelites could drink, He is also able to heal us from any disease. When we’re weak, Jehovah-Rapha will renew our strength, the same way He did for David (Psalm 23:3 NLT).

Living in a stressful and chaotic world, the name Jehovah-Rapha speaks to us and our needs today. Yes, we are confronted with new problems every day that often times our body just wants to give up and give in. But we can count upon the Lord to heal and renew our strength. Jehovah is the Great Physician who not only heals the physical and emotional needs of His people; He also heals their spiritual needs.

Jehovah – Tsidkenu

means “The Lord is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16).

When the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were carried into captivity, it would seem that the promises of God would never be fulfilled. However, God spoke through Jeremiah of the day when a righteous king would return to set up His righteous kingdom on earth, and to reign and judge.

To call the Lord Jehovah-Tsidkenu is to say that all He does is righteous and He is the source of all that is righteous and good. This name applies not only to the Father but to Jesus as well. He is our Jehovah-Tsidkenu; He covers us with His righteousness that allows us to stand before His presence (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jehovah-Tsidkenu

The Lord led David down the paths of righteousness during his reign as king and He will do the same for us if we allow Him to shepherd us. It is God’s desires for His children to live a righteous and sanctified life.

Jehovah – Shamma

means “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).

One of the purposes of the Millennial Kingdom is that God might fulfill His promises to His people. During this time, Israel will again trust the Lord, obey Him and worship in His Temple. And the city of Jerusalem will be given the name Jehovah-Shammah to indicate that the once-departed glory of the Lord had returned.

Jehovah-Shamma

In Psalm 23, David relates that the Lord did not leave him in the dark valley. God stayed beside him and calmed his fears. In the same way, God promises the believers that He will always be there for them; that He will never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).

Jehovah – Nissi

means “The Lord is my banner” (Exodus 17:15).

Only once does the name Jehovah-Nissi appear in the Bible, in Exodus 17:15. After the Israelites defeated the Amalekites, a powerful and warlike group of people, Moses built an altar to the Lord and named it Jehovah-Nissi.

Moses recognized that the Lord was Israel’s banner under which they defeated the Amalekites. For as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

Jehovah-Nissi

The revelation of the name Jehovah-Nissi has to do with warfare, and this warfare involved God’s very own. Christians today are involved in warfare; they war against the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:17), against principalities and rulers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:11-12).

The great news is, the Lord our banner desires to give us victory. But we need to maintain a healthy prayer life. We are involved in a spiritual battle every day and the way to fight these battles is to be prayerful at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:17). As quoted by a character in the movie “War Room,Christians must fight their battles on their knees.

Jehovah – M’kaddesh (or Jehovah – Mekoddishkem)

means ‘The Lord who makes you holy” or “The Lord who sanctifies you” (Leviticus 20:8).

The name Jehovah-M’kaddesh is used 7 times in three chapters in Leviticus, the book of life that explains how a people already been redeemed must walk and worship. God wanted the Israelites to consecrate themselves and be holy (Leviticus 20:7).

God’s requirement hasn’t changed; He demands holiness. Although we cannot be holy in and of ourselves, our Jehovah-M’kaddesh will sanctify us daily as we live for Him.

Jehovah-M'kaddesh

The anointing of oil symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. The Holy Spirit not only empowers believers to live the victorious Christian life and equips them to be effective in their ministry, but He also enables them to live holy and sanctified lives.

*Related Article: Bible Study on Psalm 23

Conclusion

We learn in the Bible that names serve a variety of functions. Interestingly, God often changed the names of people in order for Him to use them more effectively for His own purpose. We also learn that God has several names, some of which are reflected in the contents of Psalm 23.

But why is it important for us to know God’s names and their meanings? Knowing the meaning of each name that God uses for Himself is important because they reveal to us an aspect of His character to help us get to know Him better.

What name or names of God in this Psalm do you most relate to? Please do share it by leaving your comments below.

Is God in Complete Control of Everything?

Is God in Complete Control of Everything?

One of the areas Christians often struggle with has to do with trusting God’s hand in every situation. When things do not happen the way we want them to, we immediately assume that God is silent. But the Bible assures us that God is in complete control of everything.

In theology, this doctrine is called “Divine Providence.” It is the means by which God directs all things – seen and unseen, good and evil, animate and inanimate – toward a worthy purpose. We may not always understand the reason behind every event that transpires in the world and in our lives personally and individually, but God wants us to trust Him because He always works things out for our good.

In just about every book in the Bible, we see God’s Providence at work. God has a hand in everything and He is never OUT OF CONTROL. We also see this taught in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

The verse says, “all things,” which means ALL things – whether good or bad. It may seem to us like evil is tearing the world apart, but if we look at it from God’s perspective, we realize that it is actually playing a secondary role for God to carry out His greater purpose. God allows things for a reason and His plan is always good.

God’s Providence in the Life of Joseph

The Joseph Narrative contained in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-50 is one of the best illustrations of God’s providence. When we read through these chapters, we see that Joseph is the central human character at nearly every point.

Who is Joseph? And how did God use every detail in his life to fulfill His plan? Joseph was the 11th among the 12 sons of Jacob, he was the first son of Jacob with Rachel, he had a younger brother named Benjamin and he was Jacob’s favorite and most loved among all his sons.

A. Joseph Sold by His brothers

Out of hatred, Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill him when he followed them to Shechem and into Dothan pasturing their flocks (Genesis 37:18-20). They hated Joseph for three reasons: 1) he reported to his father the bad things that they were doing (Genesis 37:2), 2) he was their father’s favorite son and made him a coat of many colors (Genesis 37:3-4), and 3) he told them his dreams of arrogant superiority (Genesis 37:6-8, 9-10).

“Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph – a beautiful robe.” – Genesis 37:3

But God used Reuben, their eldest brother, to deliver him out of their hands (Genesis 37:21-22). Eventually, they sold him to the Ishmaelite traders for 20 shekels of silver (Genesis 37:28), who in turn sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard (Genesis 37:36).

B. Joseph becomes a Successful Administrator in Egypt (Genesis 39)

While in Egypt, Joseph worked for his master Potiphar and became a successful administrator. Why? Was it because he was smart and possessed extraordinary administrative skills? Not really!

The Bible clearly identifies the reason. Joseph succeeded in everything he did because the Lord was with himthe Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2-3) and for Joseph’s sake, the Lord blessed Potiphar’s household and all that he had (Genesis 39:5).

Unfairly jailed, Joseph rose to inmate administrator (Genesis 39:19-20). Why? Again, the Bible leaves no doubt as to who is responsible for Joseph’s success. The Lord was with Joseph in the prison; He showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the warden, who put him in charge of all the other prisoners and everything that happened in the prison (Genesis 39:21-23).

“But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison … the Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.” – Genesis 39:21, 23

The inspired narrator pointed to God as the One working things out for Joseph. It’s all God. God is in complete control of everything that‘s happening in the life of Joseph. Whatever managerial skills Joseph might have had clearly played a secondary role in God’s intervention in his life.

C. Joseph Interprets Two Dreams (Genesis 40)

When we read that Joseph was thrown into prison, we would think that it’s the end of the narrative. But God isn’t finished yet, not by a long shot. When Pharaoh’s chief cup bearer and chief baker who were put in prison by their master each had a dream, Joseph interpreted it for them. However, the chief cup bearer who was restored to his former position as Joseph predicted forgot all about him (Genesis 40:23).

D. Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams and was Made the Ruler of Egypt (Genesis 41)

Two full years had passed when Pharaoh had two dreams that no one could interpret; not even the magicians and wise men of Egypt. And that was when the chief cup bearer remembered Joseph who was still in prison. He told Pharaoh about Joseph who interpreted his and the chief baker’s dreams.

Pharaoh sent for Joseph and asked for the interpretation of his two dreams, which are about the 7 years of plenty that are about to come followed by 7 years of famine. Because of the wisdom that God gave Joseph to interpret his dreams, Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over all Egypt, second in rank to him.

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” – Genesis 41:41

During the 7 years of prosperity, Joseph gathered and stored an immeasurable amount of grain in Egypt. So when the 7 years of famine began, people all around the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph.

E. Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

While in Canaan, Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt. So he sent his sons, except Benjamin, to Egypt to buy grain. After 13 years, Joseph came face to face with his brothers once again. But they did not recognize him.

After several trips to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers settled there. Their father Jacob also went to Egypt, along with all his descendants, livestock and goods, and they all settled in Goshen.

God’s Greater Purpose in the Life of Joseph

The entire process of Joseph’s fall and rise to power was God’s doing. His release from prison because of his God-given interpretation skills, his exaltation to power and the opportunity to help his family during the famine all point to God’s providence.

The focus in the narrative was on God, and He can accomplish what He wills. Even the evil intent of Joseph’s brothers toward him was used by God to fulfill His purpose. As he said to his brothers, “Am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20).

The chain of events that took place was part of God’s bigger plan for Israel as a nation. God sent Joseph to Egypt ahead of his family in order to make way for the preservation of the Canaanites and Egyptians together with them during the time of famine. How did God get Joseph to Egypt? By allowing his brothers the freedom to sin.

As it turned out, Egypt was where God built up and multiplied His people. God prepared them there for the exodus and conquest that He would use to give them the land that He promised to Abraham – the land that’s flowing with milk and honey: Canaan.

Conclusion

God is in control of everything. In the same way that God worked in the life of Joseph, and used even his mistakes and allowed him to experience misfortunes in order to accomplish His purpose, God is also working in the life of every believer who loves Him to carry out His will.

Whatever you’re going through, know that God will use them all for your own good. He can even turn the bad things into blessings for you. God called all believers for a purpose and He will accomplish it. We can make many plans but in the end, it’s the Lord’s purpose that will prevail (Proverbs 19:21).