Category: Theology

Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God

Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God

To be a Christian means you do not only believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God but that He is also God. Unfortunately, many people today who claim to be Christians believe that Jesus is nothing but human. They say Jesus was one of the prophets, or that He was a great rabbi (teacher) or a messenger from God.

Is Jesus God or the Son of God? What does the Scripture say? 

The Jews Reject Jesus

In John 10:22-42, we read how the Jews rejected Jesus. During the feast of Jerusalem in wintertime, the Jews surrounded Jesus as He walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch, and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24)

In reply, Jesus said, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:25-28).

Jesus could have stopped right there because He knew that no matter what He will say, they would not believe Him anyway. But He went on to say something that provoked the Jews to anger and they took up stones to stone Him. Why were the religious leaders so upset with Jesus that they wanted to kill Him? It’s because of what He said.

What did Jesus say? He said, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:29-30).

I and the Father are One - John 10:30

Jesus has been teaching them about the kingdom of God and performing many miracles that caused division among the Jewish people. While some said Jesus was demon-possessed, others argued that the words He has been speaking could not be from someone who has a demon and that a demon can’t perform miracles.

Jesus Claims to be God

One of the most common arguments from people who do not believe that Jesus is God is Jesus’ claim that He is the Son of God. They say, “Jesus said that he is the son of God but he never said, “I am God worship me.”

What they are saying is that Jesus is the son of God in the same way that we are the sons of God. Okay! But if this is what Jesus meant, there would be no reason for the religious teachers to get so angry that they wanted Him dead, right?

Clearly, Jesus said something that a modern Bible reader might not fully grasp without considering the fact that Jesus was speaking to a Jewish audience. The fact that the religious leaders charged Jesus with blasphemy for saying that He and the Father are one proves that Jesus spoke of much more than a purpose and will.

Note: The statement of Jesus in John 10:30 holds great importance regarding His deity and the nature of the Godhead. “I and My Father” means that the Father and the Son are not the same Person, refuting the doctrine of “Modalism” or “Sabellianism.” And the words “are one” means that the Father and the Son are equal in nature.

The Jews of Jesus’ day clearly understood what the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Oneness denominations today seem to miss – that Jesus clearly claimed to be God. And for a mere man to claim to equality with God is blasphemy.

The Law of Moses laid down the penalty for such a crime: “And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16).


Recommended Resource: The Forgotten Trinity by Dr. James R. White

The Forgotten Trinity BookWhile many of us struggle to understand it, the Trinity is one of the most important teachings of the Christian faith. It defines God’s very essence and describes how he relates to us. And while it can be a difficult concept to get our heads around, it is crucial for believers to understand how God explains his triune nature in his Word.

In this book, James R. White offers a concise, understandable explanation of what the Trinity is and why it matters. While refuting the distortions of God presented by various cults, Dr. White shows how understanding this teaching leads to renewed worship and a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

And amid today’s emphasis on the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, The Forgotten Trinity is a balanced look at all three persons of the Trinity.

May this book deepen your understanding of this important doctrine while also drawing you closer to the triune God Himself.


Jesus Defends His Claims to be God

When the Jews accused Jesus of making Himself equal with God, instead of denying their accusation He went into great lengths to affirm the charges and proceeds to defend His claims to be God.

In John 10:34-36, Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods?’” (which is a direct quote from Psalm 82:6). If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God?”

This is a rabbinic form of argument that some misunderstand. They claim that Jesus was toning down His claim to deity by showing that the term “gods” can legitimately be used of men in certain ways. Thus, He, a man may be called “the Son of God.” But if this is what Jesus was doing (toning down His claim to deity) the Jews would not have tried to seize Him.

Jesus Backs His Claim with Works

To back His Words, Jesus repeatedly appealed to His works (John 10:25).

When the Jews picked up stones to hurl at Him after His claim to be one with the Father, Jesus said, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me” (John 10:32). Then He adds, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38)?

In each case, Jesus pointed out that His works backed up His verbal claim. As we can see, all that Jesus said and did, especially His miracles confirm that He is God and the son of the Living God.

But despite all this evidence, some still chose to reject Jesus. We would have thought that Jesus would be welcomed in Jerusalem as Messiah because the people there had more than sufficient reasons to believe in Jesus; He was not only rejected but also the people were intent on murdering Him.

The Father Sent His Son

Jesus made two other claims: He was consecrated by the Father for a special task and He was sent into the world to carry out His Father’s mission (John 10:36). The scriptural understanding of sanctification is to make holy for God – to be given over as free-will offering and sacrifice for God.

Jesus made Himself a sin-offering for us, to ransom us from condemnation and slavery to sin. He spoke of His Father sanctifying Him for this mission of salvation. Jesus challenged His opponents to accept His works if they could not accept His words. One can argue with words, but deeds are beyond argument.

Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God

Jesus is the perfect teacher in that He does not base His claims on what He says but on what He does. The Word of God is life and power for those who believe and accept it as God’s word for us.

Jesus shows us the way to walk the path of truth and holiness. And He anoints us with His power to live the Gospel with joy and to be His witnesses in the world.

Are you a doer of God’s word, or a forgetful hearer only?

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.

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

In part one of this article, we answered questions that have to do with the origin of the Bible, its nature, the authors, and how they got their message from God. As we continue with the tough questions about the Bible, we will be answering questions about the inspiration and authority of the Bible, its reliability and the reliability of the biblical witnesses.

The Inspiration of the Bible

What do we mean when we say that the Bible is inspired? 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) declares that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Combine this truth with 2 Peter 1:20-21, which affirms that the Scriptures were given by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” and we see that inspiration as a whole is the process by which Spirit-moved writers produced God-breathed writings.

Are the very words of the Bible inspired by God, or only the ideas?

Numerous Scriptures make it evident that the locus of revelation and inspiration is the written Word – the Scriptures (Greek gapha) – not simply the idea or even the writer, but his actual writing.

Notice the reference to revealed or divinely inspired “Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), “words taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), “the Book” (2 Chronicles 34:14), “His (God’s) word” (2 Samuel 23:2), “My (God’s) words” (Isaiah 59:21), and “the words that the Lord Almighty had sent” (Zechariah 7:12).

When referring to the Old Testament as the authoritative Word of God, the New Testament most often (more than ninety times) uses the phrase “it is written” (eg. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Jesus described this written word as that which “comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

So important were the exact words of God that Jeremiah was told, “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word” (Jeremiah 26:2).

What does it mean when we say that the Bible is Inspired

So, it was not simply that men were free to state God’s word in their own words, the very choice of words was from God. Exodus 24:4 records, “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.”

In Deuteronomy 18:18, Moses writes, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”

Sometimes God chose to emphasize even the tenses of verbs.

Jesus said, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). Paul based his argument on a singular versus a plural noun in Galatians 3:16, insisting, “Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”

Even one letter (the letter s, for example) can make a big difference. Jesus went so far as to declare that even parts of letters are inspired. In English, if a t is not crossed, it looked like an i. Thus, Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

Does the Bible claim to be inspired on all topics or just spiritual ones?

Inspiration does guarantee the truth of everything the Bible teaches, implies, or entails (spiritually of factually). Paul affirmed that all Scripture, not just some, is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Peter declared that no prophecy of Scripture comes from man but it all comes from God (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Jesus told His disciples, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). In this same discourse He added, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). And the early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42), recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament, which was considered to be sacred Scripture along with the Old Testament.

The inspiration of God, then, extends to every part of Scripture. It includes everything God affirmed (or denied) about any topic included in Scripture. It is inclusive of not only what the Bible teaches explicitly but also what it teaches implicitly. It covers not only spiritual matters but factual ones as well.

The all-knowing God cannot be wrong about anything He teaches or implies. Jesus verified historical and scientific matters, including the creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5), the flood during Noah’s time (Matthew 24:37-39), and even Jona being swallowed by a great fish (Matthew 12:40-42).

Indeed, Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things” (John 3:12)?

Why do some people misunderstand what is meant by the inspiration of the Bible?

The Bible is inspired by God with regard to everything it teaches. There are, however, a number of common misunderstandings:

  • That every part of a parable has to convey a fact rather than help the parable illustrate its point (see Luke 18:2).
  • That everything it records is true rather than something merely taught or implied (Genesis 3:4).
  • That no exaggerations (hyperboles) are used (Psalm 6:6; Luke 14:26).
  • That all statements about God and creation are purely literal (Job 38:7; Hebrews 4:13).
  • That all factual assertions are technically precise by modern standards as opposed to a common observational standpoint (Joshua 10:12).
  • That all citations of Scripture must be verbatim as opposed to faithful to the meaning (Psalm 2:1 and Acts 4:25).
  • That all citations of Scripture must have the same application as the original (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15) rather than the same interpretation (meaning).
  • That the same truth can be said in only one way as opposed to many ways, as it is in the Gospels.
  • That whatever a writer personally believed, as opposed to merely what he actually affirmed in Scripture, is true (Matthew 15:26).
  • That truth is exhaustively revealed or treated as opposed to adequately presented in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:12).
  • That quotations imply the truth of everything in the source it is citing rather than just the part cited (Titus 1:12).
  • That a particular grammatical construction will always be the customary one rather than an adequate one to convey the truth.

How do we know these misunderstandings aren’t part of what inspiration covers?

What the Bible says must be understood in view of what the Bible shows. What it preaches must be read in view of what it practices. The doctrine of Scripture is to be understood in light of the data of Scripture.

For instance, the Bible uses round numbers. Thus, when the Bible claims to be true, it does not mean to exclude the use of round numbers (2 Chronicles 4:1-22). The same is true of hyperboles, figures of speech, observational language, and literary genre (as poetry, parable, and the like).

In short, everything the Bible affirms is true, but what is meant by truth must be understood in the light of the phenomena or data of Scripture.

The Authority of the Bible

Does the Bible claim to have divine authority? The Bible uses many other words or phrases to describe itself in ways that validate its divine authority. Jesus said that the Bible is indestructible (Matthew 5:18); it is infallible (or completely reliable and authoritative) or “unbreakable” (see John 10:35); it has final and decisive authority (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10), and it is sufficient for faith and practice.

Jesus spoke of the sufficiency of the Jewish Scriptures, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Paul added this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

How far does this divine authority extend?

The extent of divine authority in Scripture includes all that is written, even the very words – including even the smallest parts of words and the tenses of verbs. Even though the Bible was not verbally dictated by God to humans, nonetheless, the result is just as perfect as if it had been.

For the biblical authors claimed that God is the source of the very words of Scripture, since He supernaturally superintended the process by which they wrote, using their own vocabulary and style to record God’s message (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Reliability of the Bible

Evangelicals affirm the reliability of the biblical text from God to us. Can we trust the Bible historically? Is it really a reliable record?

Since the historical reliability of the Bible is a crucial link in knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, it is important to address these questions.

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible

Does the Bible have errors in it?

The original text of the Bible does not teach any error. The logic of the Bible’s errorlessness is straightforward:

1) God cannot err (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

2) The Bible is God’s Word (John 10:34-35).

3) Therefore, the Bible cannot contain errors.

Since the Scriptures are breathed out by God and God cannot breathe out falsehood, it follows that the Bible cannot contain any falsehood.

Are there errors in Bible Manuscripts and translations?

There are some minor copyist errors in the Bible manuscripts. A couple of examples will suffice. The Masoretic Text of 2 Chronicles 22:2 says Ahaziah was forty-two, yet 2 Kings 8:26 asserts that Ahaziah was twenty-two. He could not have been forty-two (a copyist error), or he would have been older than his father.

Also, 2 Chronicles 9:25 affirms that Solomon had four thousand horse stalls, but the Masoretic Text of 1 Kings 4:26 says he had forty thousand horse stalls, which would have been way more than needed for the twelve thousand horsemen he had.

It is important to keep these things in mind with regard to these copyist errors:

  • No original manuscript has ever been found with an error in it.
  • They are relatively rare.
  • In most cased we know which one is wrong from the context or the material found in parallel passages.
  • In no case is the doctrine of Scripture affected.
  • They vouch for the accuracy of the copying process since the scribes who copied them knew there were errors in the manuscripts but they were duty-bound to copy what the text said.
  • They don’t affect the central message of the Bible.

Someone, may, in fact, receive a message with errors in it, yet have 100 percent of the message come through clearly. For example, suppose you received a message from Western Union that read as follows: “Y#u have won 20 million dollars.”

No doubt you would gladly pick up your money. And if the telegram read in any of the ways that follow, you would have no doubt at all:

  • “Yo# have won 20 million dollars.”
  • “You #ave won 20 million dollars.”
  • You h#ve won 20 million dollars.”

Why would we be surer if there are more errors? Because each error is in a different place, and with it, we get another confirmation of every other letter in the original message.

Three things are important to note. First, even with one line, error and all, 100 percent of the message comes through. Second, the more lines, the more errors – but the more errors, the surer we are of what the intended message really was.

Finally, there are hundreds of times more Bible manuscripts than there are lines in the above example. And there is a greater percentage of error in this telegram than in all the collated biblical manuscripts.

Are the copies of the Bible reliable?

The biblical scribes were meticulous in how they copied Scripture. The overall reliability has been measured in several ways.

First, with regard to any major doctrine in the Bible, there has been no loss whatsoever. Every important truth of Scripture from the original text has been preserved intact in the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek manuscripts.

Second, errors that exist in the copies are in minor matters, such as numbers that affect no major or minor doctrinal matter in the Bible. In fact, in most of these, we know either from the common sense of the text, the context, or other passages which ones are correct.

Third, not only is 100 percent of all the major truths and the vast majority of minor truth of Scripture preserved in the manuscripts we have (and in the translations based on them), but more than 99 percent of the original text can be reconstructed from the manuscripts we possess.

The reason is twofold: (1) we have thousands of manuscripts, and (2) we have early manuscripts. The proximity to the original text and the multiplicity of the manuscripts enable textual scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with more than 99 percent accuracy.

Renowned Greek scholar Sir Frederic Kenyon affirmed that all manuscripts agree on the essential correctness of 99 percent of the verses in the New Testament. Another noted Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson, said the real concerns of textual criticism are on “a thousand part of the entire text” (making the New Testament 99.9 percent pure).

The Reliability of the Biblical Witnesses

Were the biblical witnesses reliable? Yes, they were very reliable for many reasons.

First, the writers of Scripture were by and large contemporaries of the events. Moses was a witness of the events in Exodus through Deuteronomy (see Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:24). Joshua was a witness of the happenings reported in his book (Joshua 24:26), as were Samuel (1 Samuel 10:25, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah after him.

The same is true in the New Testament. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus. Mark was a contemporary and associate of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:13). Luke was a contemporary who knew the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). And John was a disciple of Jesus and eyewitness of the events (1 John 1:1-2).

Second, in the case of the New Testament writers, all eight (or nine?) of them were either apostles or associated with the apostles as eyewitnesses and/or contemporaries: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude. These were all men who held the highest standards of ethics and were willing to die for their beliefs, as most of them did.

Third, these writers were credible as indicated by:

1. Their tendency to doubt whether Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:3; Luke 24:11; John 20:24-29).

2. The inclusion of material that reflected badly on themselves (see Matthew 16:23; Mark 14:47).

3. The multiple accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc.) that establish their words by two or three witnesses as the court required (Deuteronomy 17:6).

4. The divergence in accounts that reveals they were not in collusion (see Matthew 28:5; John 20:12).

5. Confirmation of the accounts through hundreds of archaeological finds.

6. The evidence for early dates for the basic material about Jesus’ death and resurrection by A.D. 55-60.

Noted historian Colin Hemer confirmed that Luke wrote Acts by A.D. 62. But Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which says the same basic things about Jesus that Matthew and Mark say before he wrote Acts (say, by A.D. 60)

Further, Bible critics admit that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15:1-9, which tells of the death and resurrection of Jesus, by about A.D. 55. This was only twenty-two years after Jesus’ death, while more than 250 witnesses of His resurrection were still alive (see 1 Corinthians 15:6).

Would the New Testament witnesses have stood up in a court of law?

Simon Greenleaf, one of history’s greatest legal minds, former Harvard law professor, and author of a book on legal evidence, carefully applied the rules of legal evidence to the Gospel accounts in his book The Testimony of the Evangelists.

Greenleaf argued that if the Gospels were submitted to the scrutiny of a court of law, “then it is believed that every honest and impartial man will act consistently with that result, by receiving their testimony in all the extent of its import.”

He added, “Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given in a court justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.”

Here’s a 3-minute video presentation by Daniel B. Wallace explaining why we can still trust the New Testament even when the original manuscripts are different.

Conclusion

The Bible both claims and proves to be the Word of God. Both the internal and external evidence overwhelmingly reveal the accuracy of the Bible.

Having examined its origin, nature, and reliability, we may confidently assert that the Scriptures came from God through men of God who recorded it in the Word of God.

Here’ part one of Answering Tough Questions About the Bible.


*Reference:  Who Made God? (Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith)

*Recommended Resource: From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible
By Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix

The Bible was written in multiple languages by dozens of authors whose lives spanned a period of more than fifteen hundred years. How did it all come together?

Best-selling authors Norman Geisler and William Nix thoroughly answer this question and many more in this revised and expanded edition of a classic which has sold more than 78,000 copies. Helpful charts, photos, and indices have been added, rendering this book ideally suited for Bible students, pastors, and professors.

Major topics addressed include: theories of inspiration, the process of canonization, major manuscripts and recent discoveries, textual criticism, Greek and Latin translations, and modern English translations. The entire field of general biblical introduction is covered.

This is a long-trusted resource for understanding why we can trust the Scriptures really are God’s word.

The Place for Christmas

The Place for Christmas

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

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

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)

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

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Background of the Passage

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

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

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

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

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

Why Was Jesus Born in a Manger?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Wants to Dwell in Us

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

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

A Humble Heart

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

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

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

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

The Place for Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Empty Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Available Heart

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

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

Willingness + Obedience = Availability

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

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

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

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

A Repentant Heart

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

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

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

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

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

A Trusting Heart

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

H – humble Heart

E – empty Heart

A – available Heart

R – repentant Heart

T – trusting Heart

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


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

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

What’s the Book of Revelation About?

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

Background of the Book of Revelation

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

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

What’s the Book of Revelation About

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

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

What Kind of Book is Revelation?

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

A Prophetic Book

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recommended Resource: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) 

What's the Book of Revelation About?The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible.

Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception. Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert?

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally. At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you interpret the last book of the Bible and gain a better grasp of current trends and the climax of history!


A Personal Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Pictorial Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reasons to Study the Book of Revelation

A Profitable Book

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

Related Article: The 7 Blessings in the Book of Revelation

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

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

1. Profitable for Personal Application

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

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

2. Profitable for Public Assembly

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

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

3. Profitable for Prophetic Anticipation

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

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

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

A Practical Book

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

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

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

1. Studying prophecy motivates us to live productive lives.

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

2. Studying prophecy motivates us to live positive lives.

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

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

3. Studying prophecy motivates us to live pure lives.

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

A Purposeful Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the Book of Revelation About

Closing Words

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

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


Reference: Agents of the Apocalypse (A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times) by Dr. David Jeremiah

Understanding the Book of RevelationWho Will Usher in Earth’s Final Days?

Are we living in the end times? Is it possible that the players depicted in the book of Revelation could be out in force today? And if they are, would you know how to recognize them?

In Agents of the Apocalypse, noted prophecy expert Dr. David Jeremiah does what no prophecy expert has done before. He explores the book of Revelation through the lens of its major players―the exiled, the martyrs, the elders, the victor, the king, the judge, the 144,000, the witnesses, the false prophet, and the beast.

One by one, Dr. Jeremiah delves into their individual personalities and motives, and the role that each plays in biblical prophecy. Then he provides readers with the critical clues and information needed to recognize their presence and power in the world today.

The stage is set, and the curtain is about to rise on Earth’s final act. Will you be ready?

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Jesus forgave sins.

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

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

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

4. Jesus selected 12 disciples.

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

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

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

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

5. Jesus taught with divine authority.

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

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

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


Recommended Resource: Jesus Among Secular Gods – Bible Study Book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale

Jesus Among Secular Gods Bible Study Book includes six small-group sessions, applicable Scripture, a leader guide, “How to Use This Study,” and personal-study content and activities.

As belief in the secular gods of atheism, hedonism, relativism, and humanism continues to grow, it’s more important than ever for believers to be able to defend and share the claims of Christ. Of course, this clash of worldviews is nothing new.

Throughout Paul’s writing in the New Testament are references to elemental forces that seek to separate believers from the love and truth of Jesus.

Not only has the Christian worldview been devalued and dismissed by modern culture, but its believers are also openly ridiculed as irrelevant. This six-session Bible study challenges the popular and trending philosophies of the day, skillfully pointing out the fallacies in their claims and presenting compelling evidence for absolute truth as found in Jesus and revealed in Scripture.

This study helps seekers explore the claims of Christ and provides Christians with the knowledge to articulate their faith that Jesus stands tall above all other gods.

Did Jesus Claim to be God or the Son of GodSession titles:

  1. Be Prepared
  2. Atheism and Scientism
  3. Pluralism
  4. Humanism and Relativism
  5. Hedonism
  6. Conversations That Count

Features:

  • Six small-group sessions
  • Personal-study opportunities for ongoing spiritual growth

Benefits:

  • Develop confidence in challenging the philosophies and worldview of the day with the absolute claims of Jesus.
  • Be better equipped to respond to difficult questions posed by unbelievers.
  • Learn to competently counter cultural challenges while sharing the Christian faith.

6. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.”

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

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

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

7. Jesus received Thomas’ worship.

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

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

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

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

8. Salvation depends on peoples’ confession to Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

10. Jesus performed miracles.

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

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

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

Fulfilling the Attributes of God

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

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

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

Is Jesus the Son of God or God Himself?

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

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

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

Read here: God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Who Did Jesus Think He Was?

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

Posted by Reasonable Faith on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Abrahamic Covenant Explained

The Abrahamic Covenant Explained

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

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

The Call of Abram

Genesis 12:1-3

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

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

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

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

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

Three Areas of Blessings

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

1) National Blessing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) Personal Blessing

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

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

Genesis 13:14-16

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

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

3) Universal Blessing

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

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

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

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

Christ and the Abrahamic Covenant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Israel will be Saved

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

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

God's Covenant with Abraham Explained

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

Conclusion

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

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

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


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What is the Mosaic Covenant?

What is the Mosaic Covenant?

The best-known covenant in the Bible is the one God made with Moses on Mount Sinai. This is the second of the theocratic covenants (after the one with Abraham) that elaborates on how God relates to His people as their sovereign Lord.

Unlike the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant was conditional as it is introduced by the condition: “Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19:5).

The Form of Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant was given to and accepted by the nation of Israel (Exodus 19:6-8) so that those who believe God’s promise given to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3) would know how they should conduct themselves.

When God initiated a relationship with Moses and the Israelites at Sinai, He utilized a covenant style universally understood in the second millennium before Christ. The covenant begins with a preamble identifying the Lord as the absolute Sovereign (Exodus 20:1-2; Deuteronomy 1:1-5), followed by a brief history of relations between the Lord and His subject people (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 1:6 – 3:29).

Exodus 20:1-2

The bulk of the covenant is the stipulations that the subject people must observe (Exodus 203 – 31:17; Deuteronomy 4 – 26). The covenant is then sealed with an oath of allegiance and its accompanying blessings for obedience and curse for disobedience (Exodus 24:1-11; Deuteronomy 27:1 – 28:68; Joshua 8:30-35).

Finally, there is a list of witnesses and directions for keeping the covenant (Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:16 – 32:47).

Three Areas of Life Governed by the Covenant

God’s covenant with Moses found originally in Exodus and expanded in Deuteronomy, governed three areas of Israel’s life:

1) Personal Life

First, the (Ten) commandments in the covenant governed the personal lives of the Israelites in their relationship with God (Exodus 20:1-26). While all the Ten Commandments deal with Israel’s (and our) responsibilities toward God, the first four are particularly God-ward (Exodus 20:1-11) while the last six are man-ward (Exodus 20:12-17).

*Related Article: The First and Greatest Commandment of God

Now, why do you think the covenant has its focus first and foremost in the people’s relationship with God? It’s because generally, how we relate to others depends on how we relate to God, for if we love God and obey Him, we’ll also love our neighbors and serve them (Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:8-10).

2) Social Life

The judgments governed the people’s social lives in their relationship with one another Exodus 24:1 – 24:11). Exodus chapters 21 to 24 deal with the rights of each person, his properties (money, animals, etc.), how he should conduct himself, social justice, observance of the sabbatical year and national feasts, conquest regulations and how the covenant is ratified through blood.

Let’s take for instance Exodus 21:12-17. The laws outlined here are laws regarding capital crimes and are the logical application of the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13; Leviticus 24:17). We’re made in God’s image, so to murder a fellow human being is to attack the image of God (Genesis 9:6).

If a person was found guilty of murder on the testimony of two or more witnesses (Numbers 35:30-31), then the murderer was killed.

Exodus 23:1-5 is a call for justice, an amplification of the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16), a warning not to endorse falsehood and promote injustice because of what the crowd is doing (Leviticus 19:15-16; Deuteronomy 22:13-19).

Nor should God’s people be influenced by the wealth or the poverty of the accused or by the bribes people offer them for their support (Exodus 16:18-20; Isaiah 1:23; Micah 3:11). To condemn an innocent person for personal gain is to become guilty before God, and God doesn’t acquit the guilty (Exodus 23:7).

3) Religious Life

Finally, the ordinances governed the people’s religious lives so that they would know how to properly approach God (Exodus 24:12 – 31:18).

The promise of the Lord in Exodus 6:6-8 was now about to move into its third phase. God had redeemed His people (Exodus chapters 1 – 18) and taken them to Himself as His people (Exodus chapters 19 – 24); now He was about to come and dwell among them and be their God (Exodus chapters 25 – 40).

The Covenant between God and Moses

This area governed by the Mosaic Covenant focuses on the design, construction, and dedication of the Tabernacle which is how the people of God can approach Him. Man cannot come to God in any way other than that which He ordained. Therefore, God commanded the Jews to build the Tabernacle so that He can fulfill His promise to be Israel’s God by coming to the camp to dwell with His people.

God met with His people at the Tabernacle of Moses set up for worship and sacrifice. Today, God’s people meet with Him through prayer, Bible reading and meditation, worship, service, and sacrifice which can be done individually (at home or in any in a private setting) or through corporate worship and fellowship (church setting).

Worshiping God is the highest privilege and the greatest responsibility of the Christian life because God is the highest Being in the universe and the One to whom we must one day give account. Everything that we are and do flows out of our relationship with the Lord.

God created us in His image so we might love Him and have fellowship with Him, not because we have to but because we want to. God is seeking people who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Revelation 21:3

Conclusion

The Mosaic Covenant in no way replaced or set aside the Abrahamic Covenant. Its function is clearly set forth by Paul (Galatians 3:17-19), who points out that the law, the Mosaic Covenant, came 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant.

The Mosaic Covenant was added alongside the Abrahamic Covenant so that the people of Israel would know how to conduct their lives until “the Seed,” the Christ, comes and makes the complete and perfect sacrifice, toward which the sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant only point.

The Mosaic Covenant was not given for salvation. The law was not given so that by keeping it people could be saved. Keeping the law does not save. Rather the law keeps and prepares a person for salvation by faith.

The law was given that man might realize that they cannot do what God wants them to do even when God writes it down on tablets of stone; that man is helpless and hopeless when left to himself, and realize that his only hope is to receive the righteousness of God by faith alone in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:22-24).

Faithlessness is Foolishness

Faithlessness is Foolishness

We live in a world so modern that denying the existence of God is the new norm. In fact, things have become so extreme that people who believe in the uncreated Creator called God are being mocked and labeled as fools.

Wait a minute; doesn’t the Bible say that faithlessness is foolishness? It certainly does in Psalm 14:1. King David paints the portrait of the prince of fools in one sentence: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Psalm 14:1-7 presents a vivid picture of the man who rejects God and his corrupt deeds. David called those who denied the existence of God “fools.” But David did not call them such because they were not smart enough to figure God out. Rather, he had in mind those who simply reject God.

The Meaning of Fool

Our English word “fool” comes from a Latin word that means “bellows,” suggesting that the fool is a person “full of hot air.” In the Hebrew language, there are three basic words for fool: kesyl (the dull and stupid fool), eviyl (the unreasonable and perverted fool), and nabal (morally perverse). Nabal is the word used in Psalm 14:1, which implies aggressive perversity.

The original text does not say that “man is stupid.” We have gone to the moon, transplanted hearts, harnessed atomic power and more. We are not stupid! David knew that too and picked the perfect word to talk about those who are “morally perverse” just like the Nabal of 1 Samuel 25:1:44.

Only the Fool says in his Heart there is no God

Results of Denying God

When men deny God, it will lead them into corruption and abominable works (Psalm 14:2). All that they are, say and do comes from their arrogant (and ignorant) belief that “there is no God.”

This is not to say that all atheists are living immoral lives and all who believe in God are living good lives. It’s just that there is a marked difference in moral behavior between those who take God seriously and those who do not.

When the fools leave God out of their lives, they cause their inner person – the heart, the mind, and the will – to become more and more corrupt. The Hebrew word for corrupt means “rotten, putrid, and decayed,” and evokes an image of milk that has become rancid. It is used to describe Jeremiah’s useless sash (Jeremiah 13:7).

When God looks down to investigate He sees people who are filthy. They have turned their backs on God (Psalm 14:2-3) and refuse to fulfill the purpose for which they were created – to glorify God. We read the same thing in Genesis 6:5, 11-12; 11:5; 18:21 and 1 Kings 14:9-10.

When David says, “There is none who does good; no not one” (Psalm 14:3), he did not mean that there is no human good in this world. But because man is fallen living in a fallen world that he does not do good by instinct. In fact, even the good he may do is tinged with evil.

The indictment is universal; all people, individually or collectively, cannot do anything at all that is good enough to merit heaven – no one, not a single one. The apostle Paul quotes from this passage in Romans 3:10-12 as part of his proof that the whole world is guilty before God and can be saved only by the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

We all need to be Born Again to Enter Heaven

The LORD, He is God Almighty

The word “God” as used in Psalm 14:1-7 is not the normal word Jehovah but El Jehovah, which refers to the God of the covenant, the God who does something for us. El refers to the Almighty God, the God of authority, the Ruler, the Judge, the Lawgiver.

David’s choice of words shows that humans do not want to know a God who demands anything; they want to be free to participate unimpeded in their sinful behavior. This is so true! It’s not the lack of evidence in the existence of God that atheists deny God. They reject God because belief in a divine Being comes with a sense of accountability to that Being.

The atheist’s rejection of the existence of God is due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints God requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. Author Aldous Leonard Huxley has openly admitted that a desire to avoid moral restraints was a motivation for his unbelief.

Indeed, our concept of God will determine how we live. If we see God as a cosmic bellhop in the heavens responding to our paltry tips, we will live a loose, lukewarm, and loveless Christian life. But God is not a bellhop, and He is not a doting grandfather, smiling benignly in the heavens at godless conduct.

God is a God of patience and power, a God of compassion and correction. Hollywood labels God as someone up there who loves us. That’s true. However, He does demand that “we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1).

We are not our own for we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Those who preach the love of God without the discipline of God are preaching a humanistic heresy. Paul taught that if you do not endure chastening, you are illegitimate – not a child of God (Hebrews 12:5-8).

Faithlessness is Foolishness

The fool has deviated faith. The infidel shouts, “I have no belief!” Liar! A man who claims to believe in nothing still believes in something. It requires faith to be an infidel.

The atheist must believe that God is not, that prayer is a waste of time, that heaven is a myth, death is eternal unconscious existence, and that hope for a better tomorrow is weakness. The agnostic has been duped by Satan to believe the wrong things.

The fool defies the creation. The Bible begins with the declaration “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). Without God, there is no creation, no redemption, no deliverance, no healing, no hope. Paul says we can know God by the things He has created (Romans 1:20).

Look at our massive universe with its organization and structure that work together. The fool believes that this magnificent earth is the by-product of an ecological accident. Only a fool would believe that billions of years ago the sun shone on a pond and that life began wiggling in the water and that this life form developed lungs and legs and walked out on land. Finally, it climbed a tree and hung by its tail. Only a fool would believe that!

Here’s a quick video of Rick Warren explaining why it takes more faith to not believe in God than to believe in God.

History Attests God

The fool denies history. Daniel asked God to show him the parade of nations that would come upon the face of the earth. God gave him a vision of the nations in the exact order in which they would appear, the personality of their leaders, and the military methods of conquest (Daniel 7).

How was that known hundreds of years before it happened? An accident? Hardly. There is a God who sits on His throne, who puts kings up and takes kings down (Daniel 2:21).

Want another proof that there is a God? Israel’s history proves God reigns. God’s chosen people were scattered over four continents and sick civilizations. They survived persecution in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and Hitler’s Holocaust. Today the nation of Israel shows that God continues to protect His people.

The Promise of Christ’s Coming

God has promised that the Redeemer will one day come to Zion and deliver His people in mighty power (Psalm 14:7; Isaiah 59:16-21; Jeremiah 31:33-34) and Paul affirmed this at the close of his great discussion of the future redemption of the Jewish nation (Romans 11:25-32).

But what about the wicked? They have no future with the Lord because they preferred not to know the Lord or live for Him. They lived according to the desires of their own heart, not to please the Lord and glorify Him. Those who reject Jesus Christ will spend eternity apart from the Lord and will honestly be able to say in hell, “There is no God – here!”

Closing Words

There is a God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, holy, everlasting, sovereign, unchanging. He is my Father and your Father. He created heaven and earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming again in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

Are you a fool or are you ready to meet Him?

Receive Jesus Christ now as Lord and Savior and confess Him with your mouth for “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).


*Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
By Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek show, first of all, that truth is absolute, exclusive, and knowable. From there, they proceed to demonstrate that the cardinal Christian doctrines are true beyond reasonable doubt, all convincing for you as Christians to believe, but requiring a leap of negative “faith” if an atheist is to disbelieve them.

Geisler and Turek argue that Christianity requires the least faith of all worldviews because it is the most reasonable. A valuable aid to those interested in examining the reasonableness of the Christian faith.