Category: Theology

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

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

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

1. An Eternal God

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

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

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

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

Psalm 90:2, NKJV

2. Old Testament Predictions

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

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

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

3. Near-Death Experiences

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

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

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

Near-Death Experience: Evidence for Life After Death

4. Jesus’ Statements

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

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

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

5. The Injustices of Life

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

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

Revelation 21:4, NKJV

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

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

6. Longings of the Heart

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

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

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

7. Christ’s Resurrection

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

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

Jesus Rose from the Dead

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

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

Conclusion

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

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


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

Recommended Resource:

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

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

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

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

Join Jim Woodford on this unforgettable journey into the afterlife!

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

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

The Spiritual Gifts in the Bible

The Spiritual Gifts in the Bible

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 focuses on spiritual gifts in the church. What are these spiritual gifts and do they still exist today?

Spiritual gifts are divine enablements for ministry that the Holy Spirit gives in some measure to all believers. They literally mean spiritual qualities or characteristics that are under the control of the Spirit. And these gifts are used for the building of the church for the glory of Christ (Romans 12:4-8).

Do Not Be Led Astray

Notice how the apostle Paul warned the church about being carried away by some idols (1 Corinthians 12:2-3). Incredibly, some church members were mimicking certain dramatic and bizarre practices in their old religion called ecstasy.

This practice is said to be the highest expression of religious experience. It involved supposed supernatural interaction with a deity, induced through frenzied hypnotic chants and ceremonies. The practice of ecstasy frequently included drunkenness and sexual orgies, to which the devotees willfully yielded themselves to sin.

Romans 12:6a

The Spirit Will Not Curse Jesus

To call somebody accursed is the most severe kind of condemnation. Some members of the Corinthian church were fleshly and given over to ecstasies that were controlled by demons.

In that condition, they claimed to be prophesying or teaching in the Spirit while demonically blaspheming the name of the Lord. They were condemning the very same Jesus whom they were supposed to be worshiping. These Corinthian believers had been judging the use of gifts based on experience and not content.

We know that Satan will always assault the person of Christ. Thus, the one cursing Christ could be a pagan claiming to be a Christian. All along, he was holding to a philosophy that all matter was evil, including the human Jesus.

Truth be told – Jesus is Lord. Anyone who affirms the lordship of Jesus has the truth from the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit will never call Jesus accursed! What a person says and believes about Jesus Christ is the test of whether he speaks from the Holy Spirit.

This is why 1 John 4:1 says we are to test every spirit whether they are of God. He who has the Holy Spirit always leads people to Christ’s lordship.

The Different Spiritual Gifts

Contrary to what some people think, these diversities of giftedness are not natural talents, skills, or abilities. These are sovereignly and supernaturally bestowed by the Holy Spirit on all believers. The Spirit gives these gifts to enable believers to spiritually edify each other effectively and thus honor the Lord.

There are two general types of gifts: speaking and serving. Included in the gift of speaking or verbal are prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, teaching, and exhortation. The gift of serving or non-verbal includes leadership, help, giving, mercy, faith, and discernment. All these gifts are permanent and will operate throughout the church age.

Some believers may be gifted categorically similar to others but are personally unique as the Spirit suits each gift to the individual.

Wisdom

In the New Testament, “wisdom” is most often used for the ability to understand God’s Word and His will. This also enables the believer to skillfully apply that understanding to life.

I sometimes read discussions between Christians who have minor theological disagreements. And I find it rather amusing that both of them accuse each other of not having the Holy Spirit. This kind of argument is unhealthy as it often creates division among the follower of Christ.

Difference between Knowledge and Wisdom

Word of Knowledge

In the first century, the gift of knowledge has been revelatory. But today, it refers to the ability to understand and speak God’s truth, with insight into the mysteries of His Word. It is important to emphasize that these cannot be known apart from God’s revelation (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:3; Colossians 1:26; 2:2; 4:3).

How is knowledge different from wisdom? Knowledge majors on grasping the meaning of the truth; wisdom emphasizes the practical conviction and conduct that applies to it.

It’s not enough to have the gift of wisdom. You may understand God’s Word but if you do not know how to apply it, then it does not matter much.

Faith

This gift is distinct from saving faith or persevering faith, which all believers possess. The gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:9a) is exercised in persistent prayer and endurance in intercession. It is coupled with a strong trust in God amid difficult circumstances.

Why do you think some believers start losing hope that God hears their prayers? It’s because they stopped believing that God hears them. Having the gift of faith spells all the difference. No matter how bad things may look, our faith enables us to persevere in prayer.

Healing

The gift of healing is one of the subjects of disagreement among Christians. Some claim this is a temporary sign gift that was limited to the apostles. While others say it continues to manifest today and will cease when Christ returns.

The fact remains that God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous (James 5:13-16).

Miracles

Again, some theologians claim this is a temporary sign gift to authenticate Christ and the apostolic preachers of the gospel. For instance, Acts 2:22 affirms that Jesus did miracles to “attest” that God was working through Him so that people would believe Him.

Whether the gift of miracles has ceased is a matter of dispute. One thing we need to know and be assured of is that God can still do miracles today if He wills to. God is not limited by what we think and believe. The Lord our God is all-powerful; there is nothing He can’t do for nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:27).

Prophecy

The meaning of the word is simply that of “speaking forth,” or “proclaiming publicly.” This connotes that it was added sometime in the Middle Ages.

Since the completion of Scripture, prophecy has not been a means of new revelation. Rather, it is limited to proclaiming what has already been revealed in the written Word. Even the biblical prophets were preachers, proclaimers of God’s truth by revelation and reiteration.

The best definition of this gift is given in 1 Corinthians 14:3 while its importance is in 1 Corinthians 14:1, 39. Its supremacy over other gifts, especially tongues is the theme of 1 Corinthians chapter 14.

2 Peter 1:20-21, NKJV

Distinguishing of Spirits

Satan is the great deceiver (John 8:44) and his demons counterfeited God’s message and work. Christians with the gift of discernment have the God-given ability to recognize lying spirits and to identify deceptive and erroneous doctrines.

In Acts 16:16-18, Paul illustrated the use of this gift, as Peter exercised it in Acts 5:3. When the believers in Corinth were not exercising it, grave distortion of the truth occurred (1 Corinthians 12:3; 14:29).

Although its operation has changed since apostolic times, because of the completion of Scripture, it is still essential to have people with this gift. They are the guardians, the watchmen who protect the church from demonic lies and false doctrines,

As it requires diligent study of the Word to exercise the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, preaching, and teaching, so it does with discernment.

Tongues and Interpretation

The gift of tongues was identified in Acts 2:5-12 as languages that validated the gospel as divine. These languages were given by the Spirit as a sign of judgment to unbelieving Israel.

However, there’s another kind of speaking in tongues discussed by Paul in chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. Although he said it would be more beneficial to prophesy than to speak in tongues, Paul did not deny this gift is of the Spirit.

Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but God (1 Corinthians 14:2). Paul recognized that, normally, when someone spoke in tongues, no one else could understand him. The reason is simple: with the gift of tongues, the intention is to speak to God and not man. Therefore, it is fine if no one understands him because God understands him.

When no one understands the “tongue’s” speaker, it does not mean it isn’t a language, or that they are merely speaking “gibberish.” It means they speak in the spirit and that they speak mysteries.

But Paul emphasized that it would be better if the speaker could interpret what he said so that the church may be edified (1 Corinthians 14:5, 13). The goal must be a mutual benefit at church meetings. If there must be tongues, they must be interpreted, so there can be edification.

The Same God at Work

God gives every believer unique ministry arenas in which to fulfill their giftedness. He also provides varieties of power to energize and accomplish them.

No matter what the gift, ministry, or effect, all spiritual gifts are from the Holy Spirit. They make Him known, understood, and evident in the church, and the world, by spiritually profiting all who receive their ministry.

Final Words

While stressing the diversity of gifts, Paul also stressed the singular source – the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11). He distributes them not according to our will but as the Spirit of God wills it.

Why would He choose to give a particular gift at a particular moment? The larger reasons may not be apparent, but the goal of the Holy Spirit’s work is always to glorify Jesus and to build His nature and character in us.

The Holy Spirit distributes and we receive.


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

Recommended Resource: The Holy Spirit – Spiritual Gifts: Amazing Power for Everyday People by Susan Rohrer

The Holy Spirit - Spiritual Gifts: Amazing Power for Everyday People by Susan Rohrer Do You Want to Experience God’s Power in Your Everyday Life?

We sit in our pews and hear about the awesome power of God the Father. Also, we marvel at the miracles of Jesus. Then off we go, never expecting those supernatural spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit to flow through us in the here and now.

That’s exactly what this author did, until one day she was confronted with a stunning possibility: that miracles of biblical proportions can and do still happen, even in the lives of the humblest among us. Even you.

The challenge? It meant getting to know the Holy Spirit, that enigmatic Third Person of the Trinity she’d heard so little about in traditional teaching. It meant braving controversy about spiritual gifts, searching the Scriptures, and venturing into new waters in faith.

This scripturally referenced how-to book with workbook-style applications is ideal for individual or group Bible Study, geared at building a highly accessible, scriptural foundation for the Person and supernatural spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Appointed to Die Once

Appointed to Die Once

One reality that nobody could escape is death. The Bible says we are all appointed to die once and after that the judgment. There comes a time when Christians and non-Christians alike will give an account to God on how they lived.

Bible Verse: Hebrews 9:27

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

I used to hear people ask, “What is something you know but at the same time you do not know.”

Tricky question, isn’t it? Think about it; you know for certain it will happen but you don’t know exactly when.

Psalm 90:10, NIV

Death and Judgment

To die once is a general rule for all mankind. There have been very rare exceptions. For instance, Lazarus died twice (John 11:43-44). Those, like Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by a miraculous act, died a second time.

Another exception will be those who don’t die even once, but who will be caught up at the Rapture  (1Thessalonians 4:17). Then there’s Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) who did not die but were taken up alive.

The word judgment is a general term encompassing the judgment of all people; believers and unbelievers. Those who are in Christ will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Unbelievers, on the other hand, will face God at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15).

The Uncertainty of Life

How many people know when they will die? Some die in an accident. Others die from a long-drawn-out illness. Still, others have their life taken from them.

Nobody knows how long we will live on this earth, hence the reason why life is uncertain. We do not know what a day will bring.

In James 4:14, the Lord’s brother exposes the presumptuous folly of the practical atheists he condemned. These people thought they knew what the future holds for them. But it’s God alone who knows what will happen tomorrow or the day after.

When James said, “life is like a vapor,” he is referring to either a puff of smoke or one’s breath that appears for a moment in cold air. It stresses the transitory nature of life. See James 1:10; Job 7:6-7; 9:25-26; 14:1-2; Psalm 39:5, 11; 62:9; 89:47; 90:5-6, 10.

James 4:14, NKJV

Preparing for Eternity

Are you prepared for eternity? How many people are prepared to meet God?

Since there is nothing more sure than death and taxes, how are you preparing for eternity? Or are you just wasting your time?

Every person has a finite amount of time. So, use it wisely. Don’t use your time to glorify yourself. Rather, use it to glorify God. God wants His creation to glorify Him. Sadly, most people in this world want to do their own thing.

Hence, the consequence of disobeying God is found in Hebrew 9:27.

No two people indeed disobey God the same way, but that does not mean anyone is good compared to God. Jesus said in Matthew 19:17 that none is inherently good except God. We are all sinners before God, hence the reason why we all face judgment after we die.

Have you taken care of that sin debt before God by repenting and asking for forgiveness through the finished payment of Jesus Christ? If not, why not now?

Closing Words

For those of us that are saved, are you spreading this glorious news that Jesus came to save sinners? Are we using our finite amount of time to glorify ourselves or God?

Jesus is coming. Can you honestly say that you are prepared to meet Him? Romans 12:1-2 says we are to sacrifice our will to do God’s will; are doing just that?

Too many Christians look at salvation as fire insurance rather than a lifestyle change. When we glorify ourselves over glorifying God, we are acting just like unbelievers.

Do you believe that is what God wants for us? Absolutely not! Jesus died to make us new as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says. Are we living like that is true?


Recommended Resource: 

Preparing for Heaven: What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying, and Eternal Life by Gary Black Jr.

Preparing for Heaven: What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying, and Eternal Life by Gary Black Jr.In his acclaimed books, renowned writer, speaker, and philosophy professor Dallas Willard explored the nature of Christian life in God’s Kingdom.

Yet one topic remained undisclosed: Willard’s understanding of heaven and eternal life. In the months before his death, Willard engaged in moving and insightful conversations about the meaning of life and the life to come with close friend and theologian Gary Black Jr.

These inspiring dialogues were steeped in biblical theology as well as practical wisdom grounded in the here-and-now.

In, Preparing for Heaven, Black reveals not only Willard’s profound and liberating vision of life after death, but he also deftly unpacks the implications these realities hold for our lives today.

Black shows how Willard understood our mortal lives as preparation for what comes next—that death is not the end of one life and the beginning of another, but rather a transition through which we continue the transformational work begun on Earth.

Informative, challenging, and poignant, Willard and Black’s conversations and insights challenge us to reconsider our beliefs—that perhaps the line separating the afterlife from this life is not as absolute as we think, and that there is work to be done both now and in the glorious life to come.

As a result, we will find that our faith is more vibrant—and eternal—than we have dared to imagine.

How Important is the Trinity Doctrine?

How Important is the Trinity Doctrine?

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

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

Belief in a Triune God

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

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

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

John 14:7

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

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

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

God is One, Not Three

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

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

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

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

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

Explaining the Trinity

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

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

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

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

Does It Matter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Triune God Shared Our Pain

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

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

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

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

Final Words

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended Resource:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singing the Song of Fools: A Critique of Traditional Views Held Among Christian Churches

Singing the Song of Fools: A Critique of Traditional Views Held Among Christian Churches

Music has proven to be an integral part of our culture. And it has played a significant role in the way we communicate our deepest emotions. Since the dawn of human history, music has greatly shaped our world and our perceptions of common topics. These include politics, love, sex, and, in some cases, certain behaviors that are tolerable in a sin-stricken society.

I recently came across an article from a Christian blogger named Joshua Infantado. In a 2016 blog post, Joshua offers an argument on our musical tastes and subliminal messages that could be hidden within these songs.

In this presentation, I want to provide a solid yet Biblical argumentation on this subject matter. Here, I want to offer a series of questions to challenge our current viewpoints on morality.

Also, I would like to thoroughly assess and challenge current practices of teaching and presenting hard doctrines, particularly the identity of Satan and the existence of Hell. We will look at this from a sociopolitical and Scriptural perspective, as well as trends during the onslaught of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“I will sing of Your love and justice; to You, LORD, I will sing praise.”

The Essential Question

What does it mean to glorify God [or Satan] from a Biblical and culturally diverse perspective through the lens of music and its underlying themes?

Focus Passage: Ecclesiastes 7:5 (World English Bible)

“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.”

What Music Means to Me

Music has been an essential part of my life ever since I was a toddler. As I lived through my preschool years, I learned how to play the piano, the drums, and the xylophone. Of course, I also learned how to sing.

At age 11, I was a pianist at a church I used to attend before the pandemic. I joined the school band and played as a percussionist until I graduated from middle school in 2019. I am currently a first soprano in a professional children’s choir in Northbrook. My gift of singing has gained attention over the years, including a performance at Carnegie Hall in the summer of 2019.

Our Recent Discussion

As the Vice President of the Agape Christian club at school, I had the wonderful privilege of collaborating with the President. We work together in initiating a whole group discussion on the rapidly evolving trends within the music industry.

In our series “Examining Salvation and the Nature of Satan” we gave the participants several questions to consider while reading Joshua’s piece. Most of which were based on a thorough and holistic examination of Joshua’s critical assessment of popular songs released throughout the past decade.

Together with the lessons from Lil Nas X’s controversial Satan video, we used the answers we got to assess some doctrines. We did this in a critical yet biblical way to expose some practices on controversial topics.

Thus, this presentation is not merely an assessment of Joshua’s theology alone. Rather, it is to examine the moral boundaries that must be drawn from a Christian worldview when such incidents pose such moral questions.

In light of the nature of this discussion, we challenged all members to carefully read through Joshua’s analysis. They must ponder on the points presented in the article, and view his opinions based on his cultural and religious circumstances.

An Overview of Joshua’s Article

In February 2016, Joshua Infantado (author of Becoming Christians) published an article titled “Singing the Song of Fools: Questions Christians Should Ask When Choosing a Song.”

His piece is a comprehensive and coherent analysis of lyrics taken from ten popular songs. These include Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”

The Fingerprints of Satan?

Joshua begins his article by stating that there are catchy songs with hidden subliminal messages within the themes portrayed throughout the song. Through his assessment, he attempts to convey that the music we listen to may not be outrightly immoral.

But if you look deeper into the messages of their lyrics, he said that you will soon discover the FINGERPRINTS OF SATAN in these songs.

The reason I bring this into my analysis is that this is a common theme that is highlighted throughout his work. Joshua’s argument is based on the historical evolution of music throughout a historical period in America known as the Satanic Panic. Webster dictionary defines this event as “a moral panic regarding alleged satanic ritual abuse.” And the fear of such practices within the Occult (YourDictionaryar).

It also stems from the assumption that Lucifer was the angel in charge of music in heaven despite a lack of Scriptural evidence (see Ezekiel 28).

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Blurred Lines: Excerpt

Here is an excerpt from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines:

Ok, now he was close.

Tried to domesticate you.

But you’re an animal

Baby, it’s in your nature

Just let me liberate you

Joshua’s Analysis

Joshua critically condemns the song, citing its references to sexual sin and its use of profanity. In a formal rebuke of the lyrics, Joshua questions why Christians enjoy music like this. He said that Satan is very successful in poisoning the air with so much garbage [filth] and profanity through the music we listen to.

He then concludes his piece by posing five questions to consider when listening to a song. His stance stems from a literal interpretation of Ecclesiastes 7:5, with the assumption that the song of fools is a reference to music that is sung in the world today, with the belief that Satan was the angel of music before his rebellion.

Results From Discussion

In the group discussion, we asked the members to examine this excerpt and to consider behaviors they have observed during class this past school year. As we returned to in-person instruction in August 2021, foul language and other unruly behaviors also increased during class. This is especially during lunch periods.

As a result, more students served detention for various infractions, including those dealing with attendance and poor behavior. And this does not include TikTok trends such as Devious Lick, which encouraged vandalism within the school bathrooms.

Among the most common music genres that students listened to in an average 5-minute passing period were modern hip hop and pop. Needless to say, these are infamous for their explicit content and rappers selling their souls to Satan.

Music Can Influence Our Behavior

The lyrics derived from musical compositions, as well as other rhythmic characteristics, are key communicators of the conscience. These in turn drive our perception of right and wrong, and how the brain responds to our perceptions.

Let us take for instance the song Blurred Lines. A Christian who is tempted to have sex outside of marriage would listen to this song and would consider it to be a lure into that habit. Hence, the like-still of the flesh. And Satan would probably use a song like this to convince us that such behavior is acceptable, as commonly held in society today.

However, this argument fails to consider taking into account those who may not encounter such strong temptations.

Now, let’s examine two scenarios: The book of Psalms and the message of Lil Nas X’s Satan video. While there are contrasting themes within the spectrum, each of them exposes a flaw in the way the church teaches them.

The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms is a song within many songs, a hymn within many hymns. In short, these are works of poetic literature. Their objective? To communicate the glory of God through praise and worship, and in some cases, lamentation.

Most of the things written within the book have been incorporated into hymns commonly sung in churches today. This is an obvious work that glorifies God, as it is taken directly from the Bible, inspired by God.

Lil Nas X

We asked the participants in the discussions to examine the Lil Nas X controversy from a doctrinal perspective. They must not only go beyond the general message of Lil Nas X’s controversial Satan video. But they must critically evaluate how the church today preaches about Satan in a Biblical illiterate generation.

According to an article from Barna, a majority of self-proclaimed Christians fail to believe in absolute morality. Many of them also do not think Satan is a real and active being.

Results from the group discussion further prove this stunning statistic. Hence, the club President suggests that such songs with overt lyrics do not only encourage bad behavior. But it also certainly raises eyebrows, due to its extreme association with the dark side [Seitz].

Furthermore, the answers point to a sad revelation about how the church preaches the hard subject of Satan. Could incidents like Lil Nas X’s scandal be a result of teaching such doctrines out of fear and condemnation, and not taking such knowledge into practical applications in life?

A sermon can only do so much for a topic that is rarely if ever, preached in a sin-stricken world.

Back to the Drawing Board

In summation, the question of whether or not a song glorifies God is not based on its words or images alone. Rather, it is through individual circumstances and their convictions. The fear of judgment is largely due to the way we preach such topics as the identity of Satan.

Based on my assessment, we are not doing a really good job. I am not saying we should take this threat lightly. I am saying that the church needs to go back to the drawing board. That is if we are going to effectively expose others to the evil plagues of this world.

It’s not the message itself. But HOW we deliver the message to others.

Raising Awareness of Satan’s Tactics

Here are eight practical solutions to tackle a complex dilemma posed by a morally declining generation.

1. Maintain empathy.

In Romans 14, Paul tells us to consider the weakness and temptation of our brothers and to not judge him based on his convictions. That doesn’t mean you are excusing the behavior, rather, you are allowing him the opportunity to make decisions.

A preacher whose sole motivation is to sow fear and strife will not only draw them away from Christ. But it will tempt many young believers to deny or run away from these hard truths. The doctrine of Satan and its heavy nature is not easy; it hurts to be exposed to this harsh reality.

The key is to do this through a spirit of gentleness and empathy, with consideration of the weaknesses of others.

2. Be supportive.

Support them in their fight against temptation. Many times when the incidence of satanic music comes up, we are quick to assume that these artists are Satanists. We all see the picture of Satan and not what is being communicated through the artist’s work. Why not view these moments as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than rebuke and shun.

3. Realize that some weaknesses may stay.

It’s a temptation to assume that someone’s a legalist or a false teacher without actually looking into the many trials they face regularly. For some of us, it is hard to resist certain temptations than others; some of which will take years to overcome.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul openly comes forward to confess his own struggle with sin, calling it a thorn in the flesh. Within every fall and affliction lies a working testimony of a broken man’s strength in Jesus.

4. Kill Satan’s hatred through an attitude of LOVE!

The best way to help someone comprehend such doctrines as sin and Satan is through love. Offer them your love, and pray for them when they are being tested. Show them that they are not alone in this lifelong battle and that Jesus is right there.

5. Encourage your congregation to make a difference.

If we are walking in a world ruled by evil, why don’t we take the opportunity to shine the light of Jesus into their souls? Invite your friend over to Red Lobsters on Friday. Don’t be afraid to admit your own assumptions and ask questions.

Strengthen your faith with Christian jewelry, apparel, and wall decors.

6. Listen.

Oh, is that such a lost art in a raging and impulsive world! The best way to alleviate their fears is by simply listening to their story and holding their hand.

7. Less Scripture, More Action!

Whoa! That probably hurts. Many of you may not like what I am about to say, but this is something I believe the Holy Spirit wants each of us to ponder on.

We know Ephesians 6:12 and spruce up the fanciest prayers when we are tested. But, are we truly showing others what it means to have true victory over Satan through Christ?

It’s time we start demonstrating this in real life, and not just through a 45-minute sermon filled with prophecies. Prayer and intercession are only step one. It’s time to do step two. It’s time to show the world that resisting the kingdom of Satan is not done simply through lip service and choosing to not listen to XYZ.

Time to put our weapons to use, and start the long process of winning people to the light!

Closing Prayer

Dear Father in Heaven,

I come before the throne to thank you for getting us through another day.

My prayer goes to those who may be reading this presentation; that they will not only be inspired but challenged to see spiritual truth in a new and enlightening way.

Lord, convict us when we are tempted to jump to rash judgments against our brother, lest we be guilty of any hidden sin that lies in our hearts. Continue to bless all of the writers contributing to this website, and let their talents be used to glorify your name.

May I continue to be a source of hope during a time when the world is being tried and tested as war cries from the sky. Help us be vigilant of who Satan is and embrace the victory that was given through the remission of our sins on the cross.

In Jesus’ name, amen!


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

Recommended Resource: Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of David by Eugene H. Peterson 

Praying with the Psalms: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of David Paperback – July 23, 1993 by Eugene H. Peterson

A devotional prayer book focusing on one year with the Psalms, the most sensitive and honest words written about daily stress and daily blessings.

Why We Believe Jesus is the Only Way

Why We Believe Jesus is the Only Way

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

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

The Uniqueness of Christ

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

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

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

JESUS is the Only Way to GOD

Salvation through Christ Alone

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

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

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

Can One Be Saved without Hearing the Gospel?

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

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

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

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

God is Just and Fair

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

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

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

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

Jesus is the Son of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recommended Resource:

Is Jesus the Only Way? by Philip Graham Ryken

Is Jesus the Only Way

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

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

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

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

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

The Two Trinities of Life

The Two Trinities of Life

Both believers and non-believers in Jesus are familiar with the Doctrine of the Trinity, one of the core tenets of Christianity. Undeniably, people have different views and interpretations as to what this doctrine is all about. Some argue that the Trinity is unbiblical while others say the Bible explicitly teaches it.

But in this post, I will share with you what I call the Two Trinities of Life.

One weekend as I was sleeping, I got a revelation of what makes up the Trinity that we, as believers, understand (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit).

The Trinity Definition

Notice that throughout Scripture, there are several accounts of authors (including Jesus) who understood how these three entities work together. For instance, in the lives of many believers, they unite as one to sanctify and purify them

That same night, I received a revelation about a group of entities that work to create the sinful nature we live in. Here, I will show you how the Holy Trinity works to outweigh the works of the Trinity of Darkness. I will cite some Scriptural evidence and visual objects to support these things.

What are the Two Trinities?

In theological language, the Trinity is the essence of three entities in one. When we think of the Trinity, we often associate this term with the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). However, there is also another “trinity” that we do not often recognize, and it mainly has to do with the sin nature we live in.

The World, The Flesh, and the Devil: A Critique

Many theologians and pastors are in an ongoing debate on the formation of trinities within the Christian doctrine. For example, we have the familiar “world-flesh-devil” trinity. But notice that in the book of Revelation, Satan is also a part of another unholy trinity, preceding with the Antichrist and the false prophet.

Too often, we see the dark trinity as one actual Trinity, just like the Holy Trinity. We associate this “dark,” unholy trinity with the familiar entities associated with the present, including the world. The main problem I have with this theological conclusion is that it neglects the eternality of these very things that align with the sin nature and its consequences.

The Dark Trinity: Satan, Sin, Death

We can see this unity of Satan, sin, and death in Genesis 3 – the chapter that explains how man’s original sin came to be.

Satan

The Dark and Unholy TrinityIn Genesis chapter 3, we see the first encounter that revealed the cunning nature of Satan. We also find in Ezekiel 28:12-18 and Isaiah 14:12-14 some references to the fall of Satan and his angels. This is while making an indirect connection to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, whose spiritual powers came from Satan.

Before God created man, God created angels and even Satan. Thus, we can probably understand that Satan fell from grace before man sinned. Satan’s rebellion against God and his exile from Heaven have set the stage for the fall of man. In other words, Adam and Eve sinned against God as a result of Satan’s rebellion.

However, we must understand that sin cannot take place without a source of temptation or “crafty” influence. This simply means twisting what is bad in God’s eyes into something good in OUR eyes. This is where Satan gets in the picture. He plants the seed of sin through temptation. How exactly does he do it?

Satan deceives people through the twisting of God’s instructions (ex. Scripture), or something within our environment, or the world as a whole. This is why he is on the top of the triangle.

Sin

Sinning is the act of disobeying God’s commandments and giving in to temptations that will only benefit one’s SELF but not God. Going back to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sinned against God because they believed in Satan’s lie.

The devil told them that eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, will give them the wisdom to discern what was good, and what was evil. There was no evil before they sinned, so Satan knew that if he could convince Adam and Eve that they would obtain a divine knowledge of good and evil (without God), they would not ‘die.’

The pride that led them to sin is the same pride that caused Satan to rebel against God. And it is pride that causes us to sin as well.

The world and the flesh are mingled into this portion of the Trinity.

Death

Death is the result of man’s wickedness which was planted by Satan. The punishment of our sin is death (Roman 6:23). What were the results of death? Sin resulted in the death of innocence and perfection in man. Hell, Hades, Sheol, or the Lake of Fire (Second Death) is the eternal punishment of sin. We have also been separated from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:32).

The Second Death

The Holy Trinity

John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but having eternal life.”

God sent His son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all of our iniquities so that we would have the hope of going to Heaven. It is by God’s grace, and by our faith in the finished work of Christ, that we receive the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that guides us on the path to righteousness.

Our sins are forgiven, washed away, and never to be remembered again (Hebrews 8:12)! We are no longer under the authority of Satan! We are under the wonderful presence of God, hallelujah!

My Question for You

What is one sinful seed that has been planted in your life during this pandemic? How can we best support you in your growth with Christ? Please let us know in the comment section below this post.

I think one of the sins I’ve been struggling the most with has been selfishness. It’s because I tend to center a lot of things around myself. Oftentimes, I get anxious about things that I don’t need to worry about. There are also times when I forget that my life is about God and not me.

A Closing Prayer

Dear Father In Heaven,

Be Prayerful I come before you in the name of Jesus. Thank you for this sacred revelation that you have placed in my heart this past weekend. Thank you for your love, mercy, and sovereignty.

Lord, forgive us our sins and seal our souls with the shield of redemption. Continue to comfort those who continue to lose to Covid-19 and acts of hatred against our brothers and sisters.

I pray that you would pour out your Spirit and guide our seniors as they prepare for their future after graduating from high school.

Please, Lord, continue to strengthen me as I continue to lead this virtual movement you have entrusted to me. I ask that you also bless those who are reading this article.

Finally, may we not only examine our shortcomings, but we will love those who have sinned against us. May I continue to be a light that shines in times of tragedy. Dear Lord, please continue to give me the strength and the courage to rise above all of the wiles of Satan.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

God’s Example of Gift-Giving

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

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

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

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

We are saved by grace

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

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

What is this gift? Our salvation!

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

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

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

God’s Greatest Gift to Us

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

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

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

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

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

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

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

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

Giving Should be Motivated by Love

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

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

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

Giving Should Be Unconditional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Should Be Unconditional

Giving Should be Sacrificial

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Should be Purposeful

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

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

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

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

Giving Should Be Purposeful

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Christ's Example of Gift-Giving

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Very First Christian Song

The Very First Christian Song

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

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

The Role of Music in the Church

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

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

Ascribe to the Lord the Glory due His Name

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

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

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

Joy to the World

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

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

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


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

Operation Joktan

 

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

For believers in God’s life-changing promises, Operation Joktan is a suspense-filled page-turner that illuminates the blessing Israel is to the world.


What Makes a Song Christian

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

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

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

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

The First Christian Song

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

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

Luke 2:13-14

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

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

Luke 2:14
Photo Credit: The Skit Guys

Victory Songs

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

Revelation 14:3

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

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

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

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

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

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

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

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

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

The Return of the Son of Man

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

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

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Photo Credit: Pinterest

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

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

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

No One Knows, Not Even the Son

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

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

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

Keep Watch and Pray

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always be Ready

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended Resource:

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

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

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

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

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