Category: Theology

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.

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.

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.

The First and Second Resurrection

The First and Second Resurrection

Whether or not there’s just one (general) resurrection of the dead is one of the hotly debated end-time topics. Some Christians believe that everyone will be raised on the same day. But others say the resurrection from the dead will not occur at the same time.

But what does the Scripture say?

Resurrection at the Last Day

Christians who believe that the bodies of all men will be raised at the same time often quote John 11:24. As Martha weeps for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus assured her that he will rise again. To which Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

John 11:24, NKJV

But do the words “last day” (or last hour) literally mean one literal day? Those who reject one general resurrection for everyone argue that it refers to an undetermined period of time. And it could even stretch over a thousand years.

Indeed, the Greek word translated “day” can have the meaning of an indeterminate amount of time. The Greek word for day in the Greek Lexicon of the New Testament has the following entry: An extended period like the Hebrew word yom.”

The Two Resurrections

There is a serious misconception that there will only be one resurrection. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we taught that! While it is true that all the dead will be raised and judged, neither the place, time, nor the judgments are the same.

Several passages speak of a separate resurrection of believers and unbelievers.

John says there will be two resurrections for two classes of people. One will be raised to “eternal life” while the other to a “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

Luke 14:14 also speaks of a “resurrection of the just.” Since everyone will be resurrected, there has to be a “resurrection of the unjust.” This concept of a separate resurrection of the just and unjust is repeated by Paul in Acts 24:15 when he testified before Felix.

And John makes a clear distinction between the two in Revelation 20:4-5. He says, “… I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God. They lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”

Here, we have the souls of the believing dead waiting for their own resurrection. This takes place after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth.


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.

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

The First Resurrection

The resurrection of the believing dead; those who did not worship the beast and receive his mark is called the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-5).

The fact that there is a first resurrection certainly implies a second resurrection. Furthermore, those who participate in the “first resurrection” are called blessed. On the other hand, those who do not experience this first resurrection will experience the “second death.”

The Second Resurrection

We are told in the same passage that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.”

Let it be made clear that there is at least a one thousand year interval between the First and the Second Resurrection. The people who are raised one thousand years later will be judged and cast into the lake of fire. We read this in Revelation 20:11-15.

If these thousand years are literal, and the two resurrections described are each literal resurrections, then this seems to make two separate resurrections necessary. Consequently, not everyone can be raised and judged at once.

The Order of the Resurrection

In general, the Bible speaks of two future resurrections: the First Resurrection and the Second Resurrection. The former is the resurrection of life while the latter is the resurrection of death.

Three groups of believers will have been raised at different times at the culmination of the First Resurrection. But before looking at these participants, we must note that Jesus Christ is the first to be raised.

Jesus Christ, the Firstfruits

Jesus Christ’s resurrection was the first in God’s program, to be followed by believers. The apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

“But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”

Jesus is called the firstfruits of those who have died. Others will come after.

As Paul preached the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles, he said that Jesus the Messiah would suffer and die. He would be the first to rise from the dead (Acts 26:23); never to die again.

1 Corinthians 15:20

The Church Age Believers

The Rapture is when Christ comes in the air to “snatch away” the living believers and brings them to the Father’s house. But not many Christians realize that church-age believers who have died will also be resurrected.

“For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

It couldn’t be any clearer than this!

Two events will take place when Christ comes at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

  1. The resurrection of the dead in Christ
  2. The catching away of those who are alive and remain

Paul talks about this in greater detail in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Christians who are alive at this time will be “caught up” (raptured) to meet the Lord in the air. As they are being caught up, their bodies will be changed.

The Tribulation Saints

The tribulation saints are those who come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation period. And they will be raised at the Second Coming of Christ.

Note: The Rapture and the Second Coming are not the same events. The former takes place before the 7-year Tribulation while the latter takes place at the end of the Tribulation.

Through the witnesses of the 144,000, multitudes of people will come to the saving knowledge of Christ. However, they will be killed because of their testimony of Christ and the Word of God. They would not worship the beast nor take his mark (Revelation 20:4-6).

These Tribulation saints will come to life just before Christ comes to earth to reign for one thousand years.

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

The Old Testament Saints

Another group of believers who will be raised after the Tribulation period is over are the Old Testament saints.

We read this in Daniel 12:1-2 (NIV):

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.

But at that time your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”

After the tribulation period is over, Jesus Christ returns. He will then resurrect the Old Testament saints.

Consequently, every believer who has died, from the time of Adam until the Second Coming of Christ, will have been resurrected by this time.

The Wicked, Unbelieving Dead

The resurrection of unbelievers will take place after the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. All the unbelieving dead who have ever lived will be resurrected and judged at this time.

This is the Second and Final resurrection that comes at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

Here, Jesus will sit in the righteous judgment of all who refused to acknowledge His Messiahship and Saviourhood. From every part of the earth, the bodies of the wicked dead are raised to receive their final sentence. God will banish them permanently from His presence and they will suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

Closing Words

The Bible teaches that everyone who has ever died will eventually be raised from the dead.

Job 19:25-26 (NIV) says, “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end, He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the confirmation of the resurrection of the human body and future judgment.

“And if Christ has not been raised … those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

If you die in your sins, the judgment is sure. So, if you do not have a relationship with God through Christ, would you accept His gift of salvation today? Confess that you are a sinner and trust Jesus to save you.


Reference: Resurrection and Judgment by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource:

What Happens After Life?: 21 Amazing Revelations About Heaven and Hell by Ron Rhodes

What Happens After Life?: 21 Amazing Revelations About Heaven and Hell by Ron Rhodes

Do you wonder what happens when you die? If so, you’ll love these short, inspirational explanations of the Bible’s most encouraging teachings about heaven.

Trusted Bible teacher Ron Rhodes combines his rock-solid scriptural insight with illustrations from leaders throughout church history.

Each chapter is short enough to read in one sitting and zeroes in on a single encouraging truth. You will quickly find your fears and doubts replaced with confidence in these truths:

  • Death is a transition into a wonderful life, not a fearful end.
  • You will enjoy eternity in a wonderful new body.
  • You will be reunited with Christian loved ones.
  • Sin, sorrow, sickness, and pain will be no more.
  • Best of all, you will enjoy face-to-face fellowship with God.

Bypassing philosophical arguments and contentious debates, this reassuring look at the clear teaching of the Bible will empower you to embrace the future with hope and joy.

Who is the Great Harlot in Revelation?

Who is the Great Harlot in Revelation?

Revelation 17 talks about “the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters” (Revelation 17:1). But who is this prostitute that John is referring to in this passage? Is it possible to come up with the correct interpretation without being labeled a bigot and an extremist?

Religious Idolatry on the Rise

A harlot or prostitute is an individual who has been unfaithful in her wedding vows. In Revelation 17, John portrays an apostate church. Although it professes loyalty to Christ, it cleaves to idols and a false religious system. The Bible calls this spiritual idolatry.

God tells John that the influence of this apostate church is worldwide. “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:15). Indeed, the great harlot is a worldwide false religious system.

In Revelation 17:2, we discover that this “great harlot” seduces “the kings of the earth,” not just the general population. They are stupefied and mesmerized by this worldwide religious system centered in Babylon.

The Ancient City of Babylon
Photo Credit: Learnodo Newtonic

Revival of the Roman Empire

John further writes, “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3).

Going back to Revelation 13:1, we read, “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”

What we see in Revelation 17:3 and Revelation 13:1 is the same. The great harlot sits upon the revived Roman Empire or the nations represented by the European Common Market.

A Deadly Beauty

In Revelation 17:4, John describes the apparel of the great harlot. “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.”

She has the outward appearance of royalty; she is wearing gold and precious stones and pearls. This means she has unlimited wealth. In her hand is “a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.”

Outwardly, the great harlot is beautiful, but the contents of her cup are poison to the nations of the world.

John identifies the great harlot in Revelation 17:5. “And on her forehead, a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Babylon is the “Mother,” which means the source, or the polluted fountain from which all spiritual prostitution flows.

The word “mystery” in the New Testament does not refer to something mysterious. Rather, it refers to some truth not previously presented by God to men. The “mystery” is in the last days, there will be a great worldwide apostate church that will reject Christ and dishonor God.

Worldwide Confusion

Nimrod's Tower of Babel This identification of Babylon as the source of spiritual unfaithfulness takes us back to the Tower of Babel, where it started.

Nimrod, who was the arch apostate of the post-diluvian world, built the Tower of Babel. He was four generations after the flood and is recorded as “the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:8-10).

Nimrod’s generation built the Tower of Babel to cast God and His influence out of the earth. They proposed to build a great tower that would reach into heaven so that they could have the benefits of God without submitting to Him.

God’s reaction was, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So, the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth” (Genesis 11:7-9).

Here’s the critical point: the first organized, idolatrous, religious system in the history of the world was introduced at Babel. John calls Babylon “the Mother of Harlots” because it was the birthplace of spiritual adultery.

One day, the great religious system that began after the Flood will return to the forefront. Man will again organize in rebellion against the Creator just like at the Tower of Babel.

Judgment of the Great Harlot

How will it all end for the great harlot? Revelation 17:16-17 reads, “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.”

In essence, Joh is saying that in the middle of the 7-year Tribulation, the European Common Market will realize that they are mere puppets of the great harlot. They will then turn on her and destroy her with a vengeance.

Conclusion

Revelation 17 focuses on Babylon’s religious character, climaxing in a world religion during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. The major indictment against Babylon is the city’s spiritual idolatry (Revelation 17:4-5).

Millions of Christians will disappear at the Rapture. Meanwhile, the church institution left on earth (void of true believers) will quickly fall into the hands of opportunists. Arnold Fruchtenbaum says this of the prostitute in Revelation 17:

“Babylon the Harlot that represents the one-world religious system will rule over the religious affairs during the first half of the Tribulation. She rules over the nations of the world fully controlling the religious affairs and has the reluctant support of the government. The headquarters of this one-world religion will be the rebuilt city of Babylon, the mother of idolatry, for it was here that idolatry and false religion began.”

Robert Thomas also says, “She leads the world in the pursuit of false religion whether it be paganism or perverted revealed religion. She is the symbol for a system that reaches back to the Tower of Babel which extends into the future when it will peak under the regime of the beast.”


References:

  1. NKJV Prophecy Study Bible edited by John Hagee
  2. The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

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: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) by John F. Walvoord

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!

Are All People God’s Children?

Are All People God’s Children?

I often hear people say, “We are all children of God and so we must treat each other like family.” In a general sense, this is true. All men and women are God’s offspring in that He is the Creator (Acts 17:2-29).

However, this relationship is not sufficient to offset the penalty of sin. It’s because we are all sinners separated from God (Romans 3:23). Therefore, for a sinful person to become a child of God, a miraculous transformation must take place.

The Doctrine of Adoption

In regeneration, God gives us new spiritual life within and in justification; God gives us a right legal standing before Him. But in adoption, God makes us members of His family.

Thus, we can define adoption as an act of God whereby He makes us members of His family. The doctrine of adoption focuses more on the personal relationships that salvation gives us with God and with His people.

That leaves us with the question, “If we only become children of God through adoption, whose children are we before that?”

The Doctrine of Adoption

In John 1:12, we read that only those who receive Christ and believe in His name are given the right to become God’s children. By contrast, those who do not believe in Christ are sons of disobedience and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3; 5:6).

When the Jews who rejected Christ claimed that God was their Father, Jesus said, “…you are of your father, the devil…” (John 8:41-44).

From Slave to Son

When Christians are adopted into God’s family, a dramatic transformation of status takes place from slave to son. As God’s sons, we can call God, “Abba Father,” and become heirs of God through Christ (Galatians 4:6-7, Romans 8:15-17).

But if we are God’s children, are we then related to one another as family members? Certainly! This adoption into God’s family makes us partakers even with the Old Testament-believing Jews. Paul says that we are all Abraham’s children as well and children of the promise (Romans 9:7-8).

Paul explains that this status of adoption into God’s family was not fully realized in the Old Covenant. He says, “Before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law… the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:23-26).

While the people of Israel knew God as their Father, the full benefits and privileges of membership in God’s family did not come until Christ.

Evidence of Adoption

If we are, indeed, God’s children, what evidence do we see in our lives? The clear evidence is the fact that the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that we are God’s children.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6)!

We also see in John’s first epistle how he places much emphasis on our status as God’s children. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. Beloved, now we are children of God … (1 John 3:1-2).

Notice that John frequently refers to his readers as “children of God.”

Although the New Testament says we are “now children of God,” there is another sense in which our adoption is still future. We will not receive the full benefits and privileges of adoption until Christ returns to give us glorified bodies (Romans 8:23).

How Do We Become Children of God

Adoption vs. Regeneration

There’s a common notion that we become God’s children by regeneration. This is because the imagery of being “born again” in regeneration makes us think of children being born into a human family.

However, the New Testament never connects adoption with regeneration. Rather, the idea of adoption is opposite to the idea of being born into a family. Adoption is connected with saving faith. This is to say that God has adopted us into His family in response to our trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 and Galatians 3:23-26 make it clear that adoption follows conversion as God’s response to our faith. Furthermore, Paul’s statement in Galatians 4:6 does not refer to the giving of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Rather, it is an act of the Holy Spirit in which He begins to bear witness with our spirit that we are members of God’s family.

This work of the Holy Spirit assures us of our adoption. In this sense, Paul says, God causes His Holy Spirit within our hearts to cry, “Abba Father,” after we have become sons.

Adoption vs. Justification

Just like regeneration, justification is distinct from adoption. God could have given us a right legal standing before Him without making us His children. This is why it is important to recognize how great our privileges are in adoption.

As mentioned in the first part of this post, adoption has to do with our relationship with God as our Father. When we were adopted into God’s family, God has given us many of the greatest blessings that we will know for all eternity. When we realize how great these blessings are, knowing that God is not obligated to give any of them to us, we will also exclaim:

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1)!

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

The Benefits of Adoption

I mentioned several times that there are blessings that come with becoming members of God’s family.

1. God Becomes Our Father

The first and greatest benefit or privilege of our adoption is being able to speak to God and have a relationship with Him as a Father. As we pray, “Our Father in heaven …” (Matthew 6:9), we realize that we are His sons, not slaves. Thus, we relate to God as a child relates to his or her father.

This relationship to God as our Father is the foundation of many other blessings of the Christian life. It’s true; God is our Creator, Lord, Master, Judge, Teacher, Provider, Protector, and Sustainer of our existence. But the most intimate role that conveys the highest privilege of our fellowship with God for eternity is Him being our heavenly Father.

2. God Loves Us and Cares for Us

Another benefit of adoption is that God’s love for us and cares deeply for us. As His children, God our Father has compassion on us (Psalm 103:13, NIV). Moreover, our heavenly Father gives us many good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and a great inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:4).

The privilege of being led by the Holy Spirit is also a benefit of adoption (Romans 8:14). This is a moral benefit whereby the Holy Spirit puts in us desires to obey God and live according to His will. As God’s children, we must submit in obedience to the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit.

3. God Disciplines Us

Still, another benefit of adoption that we may not always recognize is God disciplining us (Hebrews 12:5-6; Proverbs 3:11-12). The author of Hebrews explains that God is disciplining us because we are His legitimate children (Hebrews 12:7-8).

As our heavenly Father disciplines us, we grow in righteousness and share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10, NIV).

God Disciplines Those Whom He Love

4. Fellowship with Other Believers

Finally, we also have privileges of adoption that affect the way that we relate to each other and affect our own personal conduct.

Because we are God’s children, our relationship with each other is far deeper and more intimate than the relationship among angels. Many passages throughout the New Testament refer to Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ.

See Romans 1:13; 8:12; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 6:8; James 1:2; Matthew 12:50; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 7:15; Philemon 1:2; and James 2:15.

This indicates the strong consciousness they had of the nature of the church as the family of God. As members of God’s family, we are to work together for the good of the family and the honor of God our Father.

Conclusion

All people on the earth are God’s creation but not all of them are God’s children. Scriptures are clear! Only those who place their faith in Christ become members of God’s family.

Have you received Jesus as your Lord and believed in His name? Did you receive the “Spirit of adoption” by whom you cry out, “Abba Father?”

If you are not yet a member of God’s family, why don’t you confess your sins right now? Acknowledge you’re a sinner, believe in the Lord Jesus, and receive God’s forgiveness for your sins. In response to your faith, God will give you the right to become His child and adopt you into His family.

As a result of your adoption, you will be able to enjoy the many blessings and privileges of being a child and son of God.


Reference: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

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:

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children by Robert A. Peterson

Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children (November 19, 2001)

In an age of family breakdown, loneliness, and insecurity, we need more than ever to grasp the meaning of being sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Surprisingly, theologians have devoted little attention to the biblical teaching on adoption.

This book views the many facets of God’s saving grace through the lens of the Bible’s family imagery. Combining careful exegesis with gripping personal stories of father-child relationships, Robert A. Peterson brings home the warmth and wonder of biblical adoption.

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Miracles are common in both the Old and New Testaments. But many skeptics, as well as some Christians, are asking, “Can miracles still happen today?”

No one is immune to crisis. Sooner or later, tragedy will strike and in a moment, our calm and peaceful life will become a raging storm. We will then face a crisis only the miracle power of God can see us through.

What are Miracles?

A miracle may have several, different definitions.

1. First, we may define a miracle as “a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.”

This definition takes into account an understanding of God’s providence whereby God preserves, controls, and governs all things. If we understand providence in this way, we will naturally avoid some other common explanations or definitions of miracles.

The Biblical Definition of Miracles

2. We can also define a miracle as “an exception to a natural law” or “God acting contrary to the laws of nature.”

However, this definition does not adequately account for the biblical teaching on providence.

It’s because the phrase “laws of nature” in popular understanding implies that there are certain qualities inherent in the things that exist, “laws of nature” that operate independently of God. Thus, God must intervene or “break” these laws for a miracle to occur.

3. Another definition of a miracle is “God working in the world without using means to bring about the results He wishes.”

Again, this definition is inadequate. To speak of God working “without means” leaves us with very few if any miracles in the Bible. It is hard to think of a miracle that came about with no means at all.

When Jesus healed people, for example, some of the physical properties of the sick person’s body were doubtless involved as part of the healing.

When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, He at least used the original five loaves and two fishes that were there. When He changed water to wine, He used water and made it become wine.

Therefore, the first definition given above, where a miracle is simply “a less common way of God’s working in the world,” seems to be preferable. It is more consistent with the biblical doctrine of God’s providence.

This definition does not say that a miracle is a different kind of working by God, but only that it is a less common way of God’s working. And that it is done to arouse people’s surprise, awe, or amazement in such a way that God bears witness to Himself.

Miracles in the Bible

In the beginning, God separated day from night, flung the glittering stars into space, and set the sun ablaze. He formed the earth and all that was in it. And then He breathed into a handful of dirt and made a living soul. These are miracles!

It was not until Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety did God miraculously bless them with a son. God performed miracles for Moses as he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God let Joshua hold the son and stopped the moon (Joshua 10:12-14). Daniel muzzled the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:21-22). And the three Hebrews children came out unscathed from the burning furnace (Daniel 3:23-27).

For us, God sent a Redeemer, His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin. That was a miracle!

Jesus’ Ministry of Miracles

Jesus had a ministry of miracles. He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). He healed the sick and afflicted (Matthew 9:35; 12:15; 14:14, 36; 15:30; Mark 6:56; 7:37). He fed multitudes of people (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39 and raised the dead (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-55; John 11:38-44).

Those were wondrous miracles. But the most important miracle of all was when Jesus died to pay our sin debt, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.

That was a glorious, victorious miracle. And because of that miracle, our sins are forgiven and forgotten.

Jesus' Ministry of Miracles
Jesus Heals the Man with Leprosy
Photo Credits: The Chosen TV Series

The Purposes of Miracles

We read the Bible and we can’t help but ask what the purposes of miracles are.

In the days of Moses, the plagues on Egypt demonstrated that the God of Israel was superior to the gods of Egypt. The miracles that accompanied the Exodus confirmed that God was behind that event and that Moses was the designated leader of His people.

In the days of Elijah, God provided a series of spectacular signs at the hands of His prophets to prove that Baal was a false god. In the days of Jesus, God worked many miracles to confirm the identity of His son and to validate the fledgling church.

In the New Testament, one purpose of miracles is certainly to authenticate the message of the gospel. When miracles occur, they give evidence that God is truly at work and so serve to advance the gospel. The apostle John reported certain miracles of Jesus “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God …” (John 20:31).

The miracles in the Old Testament were intended to stamp with approval God’s unique movements. But the miracles of Jesus went a step further. The final miracle attached to the life of Jesus was His resurrection, which stamped His life and death as extraordinary.

Objections to Miracles

The most common objection to miracles is that they are logically impossible. Even if there is a God, critics will say, “He has set up the world to operate in a certain way. For God to interrupt the order of His creation is to violate what He made and called very good” (Genesis 1:31).

This view assumes whenever supposed miracles are subjected to rigorous examination, the examiners will find insufficient evidence or possible alternative explanations.

These critics accuse people who believe in miracles of circular reasoning. “I want to witness a miracle, so I insist that this unusual event is an act of God.”

This sort of approach to denying miracles is itself circular. The naturalist ends up saying, “Miracles can’t happen in our closed natural universe. Therefore, every unusual event has a natural explanation, even if I can’t figure it out.”

But God exists, and the universe is more than a closed system of physical laws and is subject to the wise power of its Creator. Thus, belief in miracles of time, matter, and space seems reasonable indeed.


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.

Doctrine isn’t just for theologians―it’s important for every Christian because it shows us who God is and how we should live.

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth by John MacArthur

Are Miracles Still Happening Today?

Some have argued that miracles were restricted to the apostles or those closely connected with them. But the unusual concentration of miracles in the ministries of the apostles does not prove that no miracles were performed by others!

In the larger context of the New Testament, it is clear that miracles were worked by others who were not apostles, such as Stephen (Acts 6:8) and Philip (Acts 8:6–7). Christians in the several churches in Galatia (Galatians 3:5), and those with gifts of “miracles” in the body of Christ generally (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28) also worked miracles.

What about today?

Many other Christians throughout the first-century church were working miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit is still working miracles today in the lives of Christians.

Although those whom God gifts with the ability to perform miracles may not be able to perform them whenever they wish, the Holy Spirit is continually distributing them to each person “as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Miracle: An Answer to Prayers

There have been many instances when God answered a persistent prayer. For instance, physical healing for which there is no known medical explanation. Although God may do so only after several months or years of prayer, it seems quite clearly to be in response to prayer so that people are amazed and glorify God.

When this happens, there seems no reason to deny that a miracle has occurred simply because the earlier prayers were not answered immediately.

The ministry in the power and glory of the Holy Spirit is characteristic of the new covenant age (2 Corinthians 3:1–4:18). Therefore, we would expect that Christians today would also have the ability to minister the gospel with accompanying miraculous demonstrations of God’s power.

Should Christians Seek Miracles?

It is one thing to say that miracles might occur today. It is quite another thing to ask God for miracles. Is it right then for Christians to ask God to perform miracles?

The answer depends on the purpose for which miracles are sought. Certainly, it is wrong to seek miraculous power to advance one’s own power or fame, as Simon the magician did (Acts 8:21-22).

It is also wrong to seek miracles simply to be entertained, as Herod did (Luke 23:8). It is also wrong for skeptical unbelievers to seek miracles simply to find ground to criticize those who preach the gospel (Matthew 16:1-4).

There is nothing inappropriate in seeking miracles for the proper purposes for which they are given by God.

In the Gospels, many people came to Jesus seeking miracles, and He healed them for these purposes. Moreover, when the Lord sent His disciples out to preach, He required them to seek for miracles to happen.

Do Miracles Exist Today?

Experiencing Miracles

We do not have to understand miracles to experience one. Man has a two-fold nature: physical and spiritual. If we are willing to experience only what our minds can understand, we will never experience a miracle.

The God of the natural is the God of the spiritual. The God who enforces the law of gravity enforces the law of miracles. Nothing is impossible with God!

Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). He also said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

When you need a miracle in your life, remember that miracles happen when you obey the Word.


References:

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Edited by John Hagee & Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem