Archive for April 2012

Repentance   Leave a comment

Repentance

Repentance

This man’s clothes were made out of camel’s hair, he wore a leather belt, ate wild honey and locust. He was a strange man to many. This young man lived in the wilderness, away from people(Luke 1:80) and urged people to repent. He was called John also known as The Baptist. He was surnamed The Baptist because he baptised people who wanted to repent of their sins.

John’s clothes were made out of camel’s hair. He had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all of Judea. They also came from the whole area around the Jordan River. When they admitted they had sinned, John baptized them in the Jordan.”

The Greek word used for “admitted they had sinned” is exomologeo which means to declare freely and publicly one’s sin. This is what the context suggest because so many walked to come to a desert place to confess publicly their sins. Who enjoys to know that everyone knows his/her secret sins? History has much to say about people who assassinated someone who knew their bad deeds. Here I guess there were adulterers, robbers and even people who were not that bad who confessed their sins.

I don’t think people found it amusing to tell publicly all their sins. John would not have used his belt against them if they did not want to repent. What was happening on was no joke either. Could you imagine if the one you robbed was there? People realised and confessed they were sinners. Repentance is something between man and God and it was not a prerequisite to make it public. By confessing publicy, they were humbled before man and God. They did it because they were sincere. Near the Jordan river people had a contrived heart and did not care what other people thought. John was just a messenger telling them that they were sinners and needed to take a decision to stop living in a sinful way. I’m sure many refused to turn away from their iniquities because they cherished their sins (e.g. sexual immorality, love of money etc). Those who choose to continue living in debauchery or make a U turn heard the same message of repentance. When someone genuinely repents, he does not hide his sins towards God. He does not justify himself or blame someone else. I don’t see it prideful when someone says publicly that he was a sinner and want to change. Do you?

Have you ever hurt someone or did something you regret bitterly and wished you could repair it? I guess these people who came to repent were genuinely trying to get right with God. It was not just a one day decision where they came to seek forgiveness. It was genuine repentance. It was a radical life change till death.

The word repentance comes from the Greek word Μετανοειτε(metanoeo,metanoia), which means changing one’s perception after reflection. It’s one own choice, you think and understand what that means and implies. In the Old Testament, washing oneself in water cleanse oneself for priesthood services.

Here it was not the body or clothes which were being cleanse.  At the Jordan river, it was the symbol of a decision. It was an outward act of repentance. Repentance starts when someone acknowledges that he is a sinner and is ready to do whatever is needed to be right with God. A husband can wear a ring but can still be unfaithful to his wife. One can take water baptism but still have an unrepentant heart. A ring or water baptism is just a symbol of a decision. A ring does not make someone a husband or wife, it just shows that this person is engaged.  My father does not wear his ring because it no longer fits in his finger, but that does not mean that he’s no longer married and does not love my mother. Water baptism does not make someone a Christian either.

OK. So let’s come to the crux.

John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing. He said to them, “You are like a nest of poisonous snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming of God’s anger? Produce fruit that shows you have turned away from your sins. Don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father.’ I tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham even from these stones.  The ax is already lying at the roots of the trees. All the trees that don’t produce good fruit will be cut down. They will be thrown into the fire.”

Ouch! John was not kind with the Pharisees and Sadducees(religious leaders). Was it some side effects of eating wild honey? How could John dare rebuking them? He did not have a PhD or went to the same theological school as these religious leaders. “You gotta repent you poisonous snakes! Or you’re going to hell!”, this was his message when he saw these unrepentant hearts. Our friend the Baptist did not mince his words. If you think John was too hard with them, Jesus’s curses on them are even harder (Matthew 23). These religious leaders wore white clothes and gave people the impression they were pious people but on the inside they were evil. God does not look on the outside but on the inside. Nothing is hidden to him.

Whether you like it or not, sin is a serious problem. Sin keeps you blind and in slavery and it requires divine wisdom to unveil your eyes and see how miserable you are. You may have the will to stop sinning but cannot.

John the Baptist cursed the religious leaders severely so this implied that they were not to be followed. So who should these repentant hearts follow? John clearly said that the new leader was the Messiah. John was pointing them to Jesus who could free them totally from sin. When Jesus came, John started to step down(John 3:30).

How can we know that someone genuinely repented? The answer is to look at their fruits. If someone really decided to change his life, it must be visible on the outside. Listen him speaking and look at his actions. Whether someone is watching him or not this person has taken the decision to follow Christ.

Jesus preached repentance. If someone wants to repent, He is implying that he wants Jesus to lead his life. He wants Jesus to expose his sins. He wants Jesus to change him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

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Posted April 29, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (3:7-11)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

“The Holy Spirit says, “Listen to his voice today. If you hear it, don’t be stubborn. You were stubborn when you opposed me. You did that when you were put to the test in the desert. There your people of long ago put me to the test.  For 40 years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with them. I said, ‘Their hearts are always going down the wrong path. They have not known my ways.’ So in my anger I took an oath. I said, ‘They will never enjoy the rest I planned for them.‘ ” Hebrews 3:7-11


The author gives another warning here. It’s a warning against unbelief. In verse 5, he said that we must hold on to the hope we take pride in. The author is quoting from Ps 95:7-11.

Israel saw God at work when He sent the plagues in Egypt and spared them. They have eaten manna in the wilderness, they are the only humans in history who walked across the red sea, they drank water from a stone, they received the 10 commandments, saw spectacular things going on mount Sinai…We have a long list of what God did for them and for their ancestors. But how is it possible that after everything God did for them, they stopped to believe and turned to foreign gods? I have been trying to find a logical and valid reason but I could not. If an atheist got meat(quail) from heaven in the wilderness, I guess he might reconsider his belief. The Israelites forgot what God did for them for 40 years. They stopped to believe in God even though they knew the miracles He did. Is not that strange? This is human nature I guess. We quickly forget what God did for us and turn to our former way of life? God considered these people “rebel”, “stubborn”,  “erring heart”…In His wrath, God almighty made an oath that Israel will never enjoy the rest God planned for them. Is not it true in Israel nowadays?

The Israelites had enough evidence that God is real. They no longer wanted to follow God’s ways. Give us a golden calf they said even though they knew Moses went to meet God on mount Sinai.

I can look back at history and pin-point out how many times the Israelites were rebellious people and had an erring heart. Over and other again they will turn to foreign gods, marry strangers and do abominable things. Then they will repent and the next generation will do worse things than their fathers. It was like a cycle. It is so easy to look back and blame them, is not it?

But what about us who had God Himself with us? What about us who have a greater privilege, who received the Spirit, who have part of this new covenant and it’s inherent blessings? Are we going to be treated more fairly if we turn away and stop to believe? You saw God doing miracles in your life but now you start to doubt? You no longer want to follow God’s ways and want to do your own things? Your heart has been hardened and God’s words is no longer having any effect, huh?

The warning here is urgent. TODAY if you hear His voice repent. Tomorrow might not be too late, it’s too late. TODAY is the day for repentance. Don’t be stubborn. Look back and consider everything God did for you. Do you doubt God’s work? Have you forgotten and think God no longer cares? Are you just reasoning like the Israelites did? When we read the Psalms, Ezechiel, Exodus etc we have a sad picture of this erring people of Israel. What if a book was written about us Christians?

These people no longer wanted to obey even though they knew what God did for them. Tragic is not it?

Posted April 9, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (3:1-6)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

We saw in chapter 2 that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers. Once again, the author wants the readers to consider carefully this Jesus. The author is giving Jesus the title of High Priest. A high priest is the only person in Israel who could enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifices for sins on the day of atonement(once a year). Aaron was the first high priest and Moses the great leader of Israel. A high priest was the religious leader in Israel. But in Moses time, it was him who was above everyone, including Aaron. Moses is the pride of the Jewish nation. Up till today the Jews are proud to have Moses as ancestors. The author wants to emphasise to these Hebrews that this Jesus is far greater than Moses. Moses was a servant of Jesus. Moses had the privilege to talk with God and see God(as He passed by) on mount Sinai. No man ever had this privilege to see God. But Jesus is this God. Think carefully about this Jesus. Let’s see one facet of His glory.

Moses’ face was shining when he went to speak with the Lord and had to put back a veil when he spoke to the Israelites.

But Jesus’ face shines brighter. It shines because He is God and not because He saw God.

There in front of them his appearance was changed. His face shone like the sun. His clothes became as white as the light. Just then Moses and Elijah appeared in front of them. Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters. One will be for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud surrounded them. A voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him. Listen to him! When the disciples heard this, they were terrified. They fell with their faces to the ground.” Mat 17:1-5

In the verse above Jesus’ face shone like the sun for some time. But in the book of Revelation His face shines eternally. He is the source of light. Who can compare to the glory He has in Revelation? Are not we going to fall to our knees like John did when he saw “the hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a blazing fire. His feet were like bronze metal glowing in a furnace. His voice sounded like rushing waters.”

To summarise it, Paul said something very pertinent to our discussion to the Corinthians. The glory of the new covenant cannot be compared to the old one because those who inaugurated them cannot be compared. Moses is a servant, Jesus is God.

The glory of the old covenant is nothing compared with the far greater glory of the new. The glory of the old is fading away. How much greater is the glory of the new! It will last forever. Since we have that kind of hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses. He used to cover his face with a veil. That was to keep the people of Israel from looking at his face while the brightness was fading away. But their minds were made stubborn. To this very day, the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. The veil has not been removed. Only faith in Christ can take it away. To this very day, when the Law of Moses is read, a veil covers the minds of those who hear it.But when anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Holy Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is also there. Our faces are not covered with a veil. We all display the Lord’s glory. We are being changed to become more like him so that we have more and more glory. And the glory comes from the Lord, who is the Holy Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:10-18

May I add these beautiful songs:

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

 

Posted April 8, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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