Archive for January 2013

Epistle to the Hebrews (9:1-5)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsThat first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth.There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place.Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.” Hebrews 9:1-5

Reading the first few verses of this chapter appear to us as the book of Leviticus – with so many boring regulations. In a certain sense, the Epistle is like the conclusion of the book of Leviticus. The book of Leviticus showed us so many rules and regulations that new believers would yawn at reading them. The author is actually pointing out that under the old covenant there were so many regulations for worship. Is not that discouraging to be surrounded by laws and not be free to worship God? On earth we have buildings call churches or “places of worship”. But under the old covenant there was only the tabernacle for the Israelites in Jerusalem. We Christians can worship God wherever we are in our spirit. There’s not really a dedicated place for worship, our heart is itself the temple of the Holy Spirit. Note well that it’s not the author’s objective to explain in detail what the loaves, lampstand etc were used for. The authors are in fact saying “But we cannot explain these things in detail now“.

Aaron’s staff that sprouted, the golden jar manna, the stone tablets reminded the miracles God did to get the Israelites out of Egypt to Canaan. All these are very significant for the Jews and were kept safely in a holy place. As mentioned earlier the design of the tabernacle and the cherubim of divine glory stretching out their wings were a shadow of the actual tabernacle in heaven. In heaven there’re actually angels surrounding God’s throne like that. It will take too much time to go through each item mentioned in the first 5 verses. I’ll pick up the veil for extrapolation since the authors  of the gospels kept some space for it in their writings.

The veil or curtain.

The veil separated the Most Holy place from the rest of the holy places in the temple. This veil was made of many layers of cloth(2m thickness). The Most Holy place was actually where God manifested His presence and where the High Priest feared to tread once a year on the Day of atonement(Exodus 30:10). God’s presence was therefore shielded from the eyes of sinful men. God wanted man to have fellowship with Him but this proximity ended at the veil. The high priest himself had to offer a sacrifice for himself before presenting himself to God there. The day of atonement was therefore a solemn moment for the Jews.

Why was the veil torn when Jesus died?

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart,and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.The Roman officerand the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” Mat 27:50

Do you think this curtain of 2 meters thickness got torn just by luck? Let’s go through Exodus 26:1

Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them by a skilled craftsman. All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide.Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.”

The temple at Jesus’ time probably had a different curtain but it more or less resembled the one in Exodus. If the veil was not really torn, anyone in this era could have argued against what was written by the gospel writers. Let’s think about it, the veil of the Most Holy place is very symbolical and it would not have gone unnoticed if this veil was not actually torn. Anyone could have said “Hey dude, you gotta be kidding, can’t you see the veil hanging over there?”

Anyone could have said that bodies of the godly men were never raised from the dead and discredit what the gospel writers said. One great missionary in my country once said that it was as if some turbulence occurred in the dead’s resting place when Jesus died. An earthquake occurred and dead people rose from the dead when the immortal Son of God went down there to preach repentance to those who died in their sins(1 Peter 3:19, 4:6)!

Take a ream of paper and try to tear it. No matter how strong you are I bet you’ll not be able to tear even an inch of this ream. It required mighty strength to tear down this thick veil. God Almighty Himself tore down this veil!  But wait, was not God himself strict on putting this veil and hiding His presence from sinful men? Yeah but at the instant Jesus died the old covenant and all its laws became obsolete. What do you do when a contract is no longer valid, huh? You tear it down, right? Jesus established a new covenant and God almighty no longer dwelt in the temple but in the heart of His people through the Holy Spirit He promised. Emmanuel, God with us is now living in our hearts. This is a mystery that God dwells in the heart of mere human beings.

This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Col 1:26

The door has now been opened to non-Jews and the destruction of the temple of Solomon did not decrease worship to God. It’s destruction by the Romans in AD 70 confirmed that this temple was no longer needed since God was no longer dwelling in it. God’s dwelling place was only on Jewish land and people from the whole world had to go to the holy land, Jerusalem to worship.

Remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman?

Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:21

The veil reminded sinful man that there is a separation between them and the Holy God. The removal of the veil proved that this separation was removed. No more barriers between God and man. Why? Because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.

Dear friend, look at what Jesus did:

And so, dear brothers and sisters,we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death,Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19

Enter boldly! No more fear! Remember that Uzza died on the spot when he touched the ark (1 Chr 13) ? When I read that even an animal had to be stoned if it came near mount Sinai, I feared God’s holiness and presence.

Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.” Ex 19:12

But what Jesus did is marvelous.He did not just open the door to earth’s tabernacle but He opened the door to God’s dwelling place in heaven- the Most Holy Place!

Yes this is where we should go, bow down and worship. Do not fear going there for Jesus is with you.  He’ll bring you there to worship God. This is the place Jesus went to prepare for us. Are not we priests of the living God (1 Peter 2:9)?

He said “Here I am with the children I purchased by my blood. Open heaven’s tabernacle for them to worship the Mighty and Holy God!”.

In Hebrews 2:13 Jesus said :

And again,‘I will put my trust in him.’And again he says,‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’

If Jesus who is God brings us in the most Holy Place, why fearing to worship in this place? The veil is torn my friend. There is NOTHING now which stands as a barrier between God and you lest sin dwells in you. What can you ask more? Jesus is the One who rules over God’s house. So run there with a heart of worship!

The blood of the new covenant makes us whole and guarantees our sanctification.

For this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.” Mat 26:28

Here’s a pertinent song to this theme:

Posted January 27, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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What Christian men and women want   Leave a comment

I came across this and it’s as if I was hearing myself speak:

A transcript is also available on the page here. There’re very good reasons to share it.

Posted January 26, 2013 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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“All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me” (Exodus 32:26)   Leave a comment

Gold cow

The Golden calf

So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me..” Exodus 32:26

Moses was on the mount to receive the law and meanwhile the Israelites made a golden calf and were dancing. He destroyed the tablets written by God and burned down the golden calf out of anger.

Moses asked to Aaron:

Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?

Aaron replied:

Don’t get so upset, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know how evil these people are. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will lead us….”

Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies.So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him.

The Levites did not participate in this gross sin. They were on the Lord’s side. Judgment will follow even on the sons and daughters of these Levites. 3000 people died that day.

Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.” Ex 32:29

Moses went to plead for the forgiveness of those who sinned but God refused and sent a plague. This was a terrible moment.

But the Lord replied to Moses, “No, I will erase the name of everyone who has sinned against me. Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about. Look! My angel will lead the way before you. And when I come to call the people to account, I will certainly hold them responsible for their sins.”

Before Joshua died, he assembled the people of Israel to renew God’s covenant.

He asked:

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone.But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates?” Joshua 24:14

Joshua’s decision was clear for him and his family. He said “Hey people I don’t know about you but my family and I will follow the Lord” :

But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord

Choose today who you will serve. Serve the Lord alone. This is what we should ask us today. Are we serving Him alone or do we have some golden calves like the Israelites had?

Elijah said:

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”  1 Kings 18:21

Joshua asked the people well, are you sure you want to serve the Lord? He warned them through these words:

Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!

If we have decided to follow Jesus, we need to think well that this will mean that our whole life will belong to Him. For Jesus is Holy and a jealous God If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you”

Jesus’ standard is holiness and perfection. By ourselves we will not be able to become like Him. He made provision for it and gave us everything we needed to become like Him. What He only asks is to remain in Him and let Him reign in us. We just have to obey and do what He wishes. Let the Spirit of God transforms you! Are you ready for it? There will be no turning back if you say yes. If you turn back after taking this decision, your judgment will be more severe(2 Pet 2:21).

The Israelites said: “No, we will serve the Lord”.

Joshua said again, “Hey people be careful of what you saying!”.

You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord.” Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”“All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.” Jos 24:22

Only Him they will serve and only Him they will obey they said.

Joshua made a covenant that day. No one was forced to take this decision.

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day at Shechem, committing them to follow the decrees and regulations of the Lord. Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the Lord.Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the Lord said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.” v25

Have you taken this radical decision to follow Jesus? If yes, remember how serious it is. You’re accountable for it for no one forced you to follow and obey Him. If you have not decided to follow Jesus, TODAY is the right time the bible says:

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor 6:2

Don’t say tomorrow, tomorrow is too late. Today is the day to choose if you want to follow Jesus. There’s no guarantee you’ll say yes tomorrow if you say no TODAY. Repent now if you want to follow Jesus and make a covenant with Him. But be careful! If you choose TODAY to follow Him, you’ll have to abide in Him and obey. Your life will change. No one can force you to take this decision.

Hebrews 3:7 says:

That is why the Holy Spirit says,

Today when you hear his voice,don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled,when they tested me in the wilderness.There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,even though they saw my miracles for forty years.So I was angry with them, and I said,‘Their hearts always turn away from me.They refuse to do what I tell them.’So in my anger I took an oath:‘They will never enter my place of rest. Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says:“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”

TODAY if you hear His voice don’t harden your heart like a stone. Don’t rebel but repent. If your heart has been hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, repent now! If you have started to backslide, TODAY is the day to get right with God! Do not say you did not know. TODAY is the day to reconcile.

We are like the Levites, the elects. We are those who Christ purchased by His blood and made out a kingdom of priest(1 Pet 2:9) prepared to do good works. We belong to Him. If Jesus asked : “All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me” ,will you be the one on the Lord’s side or the one rejoicing because of the golden calf?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Hebrews 12:1

There’re many godly people who came before us and left a good example for us to follow. They are like in a stadium watching and shouting out “Keep on running”. Get rid of everything which is hindering you. We are like running on a rolling stairs in the opposite direction.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Rom 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world. The world is always pulling us and if we stop to walk we are being dragged in it’s direction like being on rolling stairs.

If you walk you remain in the same place and the only way to move forward is to run. We run towards perfection.

Paul said:

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” 1 Cor 9:24

Paul is using a metaphor to explain the attitude of the runner. He does not run with a sad face but runs with confidence. He runs because He wants to finish this race as soon as possible. It’s not a competition between Christians but an individual attitude to demonstrate our willingness to get this prize as soon as possible. Our prizes will differ because God has different plans for us. But we should run with a purpose. God has his own way to make us run with endurance. You train yourself by letting God mold you. You get rid of things entangling you and want to meet your Master on the finishing line. Your race might be shorter or longer than others, it does not matter. It’s between your Trainer and you. You’re not running because of others but because of your Master. This race will permit your Trainer to make you in His image(2 Cor3:18). An athlete will not find improvements in his performance if he stops to run and parties. On the contrary, he will gain weight and regress. Run this special marathon God specially designed for you!

If TODAY you realise you’re not in a God’s marathon, get engaged with Jesus TODAY. If you have already taken this engagement to follow Jesus and found that you stopped to run on the way, TODAY is the day to start again your training. It might not be easy at the beginning but with time you’ll lose those unnecessary weight slowing you and be more fit to run that race. If you’re running, keep on improving your endurance!

Posted January 19, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Epistle to the Hebrews (8:8-13)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsBut God found fault with the people and said: ‘The days are coming, declares the Lord,when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,and I turned away from them,declares the Lord…” Hebrews 8:8-13

The author is continuing to argue that the new covenant is superior and gives some reasons for it. He quotes Jeremiah 31:33 to support his arguments. The people under the old covenant could not be perfect by following imperfect laws and an imperfect covenant.

We have an example in Luke 6:

Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there.Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’He looked round at them all, and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

In Mat 12 it says:

Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one!Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.”

The pharisees were very legalistic and believed that the Jews should absolutely not work on the sabbath day. They had a distorted view of the sabbath law. The goal of the sabbath was to make people remember that they should also rest and seek God after a week of work(Ex 20). The sabbath formed part of the 10 commandments given to Moses. But the pharisees twisted this law, they did things to the extreme. Love has precedence above laws and Jesus healed on the sabbath day. Jesus is Lord of the sabbath and He worked on sabbath day to do good. What good is it to put aside a day for God but during this day you don’t do what you know is good? Even worst, the pharisees’ heart were evil and did not rejoice when the sick man was healed. They rather plotted on the sabbath day to kill Jesus!

Laws were given to make people do what is good but the laws obviously proved to be fallible According to the law, if someone saw a sheep in a well he should pull him out. But what if this sheep felt in a well on sabbath day? That would make 2 laws conflict with each other. Taking the sheep out had precedence over the overemphasized sabbath law.

At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”  Matthew 12

The pharisees were right to say that harvesting grain was forbidden on the day of the sabbath. Jesus did not deny it.

What he replied was this:

Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!

The sabbath is a law which applied to everyone but did that mean that the priest should have stop their duties? The law conflicted another law. Jesus is Lord of the sabbath and he was removing the yoke brought by the law.

To clear out all this, Jesus gave only 2 “laws” and these laws summarised all the law (Rom 13:8, Gal 5:14).

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.”

Love God and love people. If you love God you’ll consecrate yourself and do beyond the requirements of the sabbath. If you love your neighbor, you’ll take out his sheep when you see it in a well even on sabbath day.

Jesus clearly showed that He was Lord of the sabbath and worked to do good on this day.

So we see well that the sabbath law given under the old covenant was imperfect and God found faults in the Israelites who failed to be faithful to His covenant. There’s not a man who has been able to fulfill all the requirements of the law(except Jesus). All have sinned, everyone has violated the law. But God said that He will make a new covenant. This new covenant is going to be perfect. Under the old covenant the pharisees and scribes twisted the laws given by God for their own glory. People had to depend on the teachers of the law to know God but these teachers were misleading them.

We read the woes of Jesus in Matthew 23:

So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.”

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.

These pharisees twisted the scripture and made the requirements of God difficult to bear. They wanted to show people that they gave a lot, prayed a lot and knew the scripture a lot but they were washed tombs Jesus said. They thought they were super spiritual and were the only one who were the pious ones. They were careful to give a tithe of their income even from herbs in their garden! Not only that they forbidden people to know God.

For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”

Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

These pharisees knew the laws in their head but not in their heart. They should have teach the people about God’s laws but they twisted it instead. People were ignorant and misled in their faith because of them. The list could go long to explain the feebleness of the old covenant and the failures of its spiritual leaders. What could be done to make people know God then?

God made a new covenant where his laws will not be written on tablets of stones but on our heart(2 Cor 3:3).

But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:I will put my laws in their minds,and I will write them on their hearts.I will be their God,and they will be my people.”

Who is going to teach the people of God? Will those under the new covenant be dependent on pharisees or teachers of the law to know God? NO! God made a new covenant, He will teach them Himself through His Holy Spirit.

And they will not need to teach their neighbors,nor will they need to teach their relatives,saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’For everyone, from the least to the greatest,will know me already.”

This verse really touched me when I was searching for God. Before I knew Jesus, I asked God “How can I really know you? Who will teach me rightly in your ways? Who can I trust to tell me who you are really?

God did not fail to answer this prayer, reveal Himself to me and teach me in His ways! I believe He is ready to do it for anyone. There’s no excuse for a Christian to be ignorant about God.

Every Christian should know God no matter his social rank or who he is. Pastors/teachers are not indispensable for people to know God. If there cease to be pastors and teachers, Christians will not stop to exist. Pastors are there to lead and feed but above them is the Good Shepherd. He is not a hired hand like pharisees or false teachers. Understand well what it means to be under the new covenant. A Christian is born again whole, he lacks nothing. When God’s law is written on your heart, you obey it because you love it. You don’t obey it grudgingly or because you’re forced by a law. This is the beauty of the new covenant. I believe perfection is possible under the new covenant because the Mediator wants us to be perfect.

Earlier we read that the people did not remain faithful and God turned away from them.

Under the new covenant we read :

And I will forgive their wickedness,and I will never again remember their sins

The author ends part of his argument with this verse:

When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.”

Do you understand that the old is gone? The Son of man came to fulfill the law and brought something better. We are no longer required to follow the sabbath, to tithe(see post Hebrews 7:6), do sacrifices(see post Hebrews 7:27), circumcise and follow the Judaic laws. These are obsolete and has been replaced by a better covenant. This covenant is established on better promises, is perfect and will last eternally. We don’t need priests, we are ourselves priests of the living God.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

The Son is Himself the Mediator and guarantees the validity of this new covenant. Think again about this grace of being taught by God Himself!

Posted January 12, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Who is a Christian?   2 comments

Lukewarm Christian

Lukewarm Christian

The church is sick because of pseudo-Christians. I felt very concerned and always wanted to know why many Christians wander away from the truth and follow myths.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” 2 Tim 4:3

If you don’t know that we are living in the time Paul is talking about, just look at TBN and God Tv channel. There’re many false teachers and many who follow what they say. Big churches or big congregation does not necessarily mean that God’s blessing is pouring out on them. It can just be a deception brought by the deceiver, the father of lies.

I read a good book by Alfred Kuen regarding the Church history. I read several articles written by pious Christians demonstrating their sad hearts for the lack of maturity in Christ amidst God’s people. The heart of many pastors, teachers and evangelists weep with the lack of God’s knowledge amongst God’s people. Many talk about the need for revival, many books have been written to try to encourage Christians and God speaks through sermons at least 50 times a year to His church.

I found out that there are 4 categories of people in churches:

1. Those who are not Christians.

These are those who are not born again and know they are not Christians. They are these people whom Christians should bring the gospel to.

Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.” Romans 1:28

2. Those who think or profess to be Christians.

Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.” Tit 1:16

They are pseudo-Christians. Fake conversions like Simon the magician (Acts 8:20). They can be believers of the bible but are not Christians. Sadly, that means that our churches need to be evangelised from the inside. It’s not because they came to the altar and said a “sinners prayer” that they became a Christian. Evidence of being a Christian is seen by the fruits. You do not really see the difference between them and non-Christians. They can be in the church for years and still be fruitless. They have a fictitious Christ in mind and are not yet Christians. A non-christian usually demonstrates quicker genuine repentance than those who profess to be Christians. It is always more difficult to wake up someone who is pretending to sleep than one who actually does.

These are their characteristics:

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Gal 5:19

It is abnormal to have a hot-cold Christian – lukewarm the bible calls it. They are spitted out for ice and fire cannot coexist in harmony.

Who is to be blamed for the state of the church?

Let us first exclude God. Many pray and ask God to send revival. In my opinion, revival in the church is simply when Christians do what the bible says. Born again Christians have life and don’t need to be revived unless they never had Life.

One reason could be that the devil has his agents called false teachers and false prophets. There have been many at Paul’s time and there are many around us. They do bring confusions and lies. But God’s sheep won’t follow a stranger’s voice. It’s those who don’t really know Jesus who will be trapped.

I have been thinking repeatedly about the church’s state. My conclusion is that many church goers don’t really know Jesus. If they knew Jesus their life would not be their own and the same. Like Moses their faces would have changed when contemplating the beauty and radiance of the Son of God. The Epistle to the Hebrews talks about hearts which have been hardened, lack of perseverance, lack of faith, negligence and about passivity. It does not happen in a twinkling of an eye for a heart to become passive and hardened. With time the heart hardens itself by sin’s deceitfulness. It’s when you allow the statu quo and refuse changes.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’ Hebrews 3:13

What does it mean to have a hardened heart? It’s when a pseudo-Christian read all the verses I mentioned above and is inert to them. He does not feel this urge to repent now! The bible says TODAY is the day to repent. This pseudo-Christian listened to the gospel many times but is still the same. For years he has been sitting in the church listening to sermons and has not grown. This is tragic. One cannot meet with the Jesus of the bible and still be the same.

When someone is cold he knows he is far from God and it is often easier to bring the gospel to that person. This person is like a dry land which will absorb water and be receptive to the gospel. This is why many hindus or muslims converts have a faith stronger than those who grew up in the church. They met with the real Jesus and not a Jesus deformed by false teachers or mercenaries. When you have always been eating in the green pastures, you think it’s greener elsewhere. But those who starved know how better fed they are now with the Good Shepherd. Like the Israelites these fake Christians murmur when eating manna. God will also give meat and still the pseudo-Christians will find everything wrong. They argue about stupid things and don’t have a Christ-like character.

When someone is lukewarm, he knows he is not cold but think he is hot and knows everything about Christianity. He is arrogant and rebellious.

3. Those who were Christians

These people knew God and received the Holy Spirit. But they wandered away, denied Christ by their life and abandoned the faith. This is called apostasy. For them there is no way to be granted repentance again because they denied and trampled on the Son of God underfoot. Yeah they were once sanctified by the blood, they received the Holy Spirit but they turned away and spit on the grace of God. They can only await judgement for they were in the truth but turned away. No one or anything can remove us from God’s hand but if we want to abandon Christ, He won’t force us to remain with Him. Branches which no longer remain in Him wither, no longer bear fruits, are cut off from the Vine and are thrown away (John 15).

How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

If we endure hardship,we will reign with him.If we deny him, he will deny us.” 2 Tim 2:12

For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.” Hebrews 6:4

Some of those who knew Christ left the church to return to a worse life. But there’re still some of these branches cut off from the Vine (John 15, Hebrews 6:8) in the church. Their decomposing  body is infectious and makes the church sick.

These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’ If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’” 2 Pet 2:17

They are wolves in sheep clothing. It’s subtle. They are often these false teachers and false prophets which arise among us. They are like pharisees and seem  to be very spiritual. The can have degree in theology, be televangelists and even perform miracles.  Be careful about this category who want to lead Christians astray with them. They are already lost and want to drag the maximum down with them.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Tim 4:3

Those who follow them are usually those who never really met with the Jesus of the bible. They want to hear things pleasing to their ears. Talk about grace, money and a loving God but don’t talk about Judgement, God’s wrath, surrender, hell, sin and holiness – you’ll only get their disapproval. They will call you legalistic and judgmental. God is patient with sinners because He wants them to repent but that does not mean He tolerates sin. God can get angry even if He is slow to anger. When He did, think about the wrath He poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. Those who are actually Christians.

We know who they are and there’s too much to say about them. They are the good soil. It’s those who love Him and keep his teachings.

Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23

It’s those who pass by you and leave you impregnated by their life.

It’s those who bear the fruit of the Spirit and have this fragrance of Christ.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control.” Gal 5:22

They are those who remain in the Vine(John 15) and want to live up to the standard Christ has set. They run towards perfection and don’t aim any less. They want to become like their Master (2 Cor 3:18) in love, purity and attitude(Mat 5:48, 1 Pet 1:15). They have surrendered their life to Christ and they really know Jesus. For them Christ is their life and nothing on earth has more value than Him.

  • Our responsibility

The #2 and #3 categories are those handicapping the church. The second category urgently needs to repent and the third corrupts the church members with its sins.

The bible talks about grace and God’s love. We cannot fully grasp that God’s grace is “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” if we don’t understand this part “so that whosoever believes in Him shall not PERISH?“. How can you understand the richness of God’s grace if you never acknowledged you were a sinner? It’s because of sin and hell that grace and love manifested. A Christian needs to understand the gravity of his sins to understand the necessity of grace.

Many church leaders are too tolerant and lower the standards Christ has set. Jesus is God and He could not set a low standard for His disciples. His standard is perfection and it’s not going to be lowered. How can fornication, adultery, homosexuality, greed for money and false teachings be tolerated in our churches? It’s better to be in a small church which has genuine Christians than in a mega-church which resembles a den of robbers. Do you think Jesus finds pleasure to be in a church packed with immoral people who profess to be His disciples? My house will be called a house of prayer He said and don’t find it weird if you see the Lord overturning tables.

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘“My house will be called a house of prayer,”but you are making it “a den of robbers.” Mat 21:12

If you have in mind the inoffensive baby Jesus of Bethlehem you’ve not yet met with the Lion of Judah.

These leaders who don’t uphold God’s standards or remain silent when sin is not being dealt with, will also have to give an account to God.

Christians leaders should be the first to promote biblical values and uphold them. Woe to those who preach a diluted Gospel to avoid offending sinners. The gospel of salvation is free but not a cheap one. Many of Jesus disciples abandoned Him because they were offended (John 6:66) so don’t be surprised if people reject you also.  But remember there are still some who confess like Peter ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Preach the Gospel of Jesus as it is, nothing more, nothing less. The Gospel is complete and is all powerful to change one’s life as it is.

How many preachers exalt Jesus as God in their sermons? When you know Jesus is God, the way you pray and adore Him is different from those who know Him just as a sacrifice for sins. Do you really know Jesus? Repent now if you have a doubt that you’re saved. If you believe in Jesus and know Him you don’t fear to die. I honestly don’t fear to die today because I know I have eternal life and know in whom I have believed.

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12

Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day“. 2 Tim 1:12

One day Jesus asked his disciples:  ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’

They replied “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

Jesus replied:‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?

If Jesus asked you today: But what about you, __yourname__’ . ‘Who do you say I am?’

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” 2 Cor 13:5

Posted January 6, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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The God who forms our character   Leave a comment

The Potter and the clay

The Potter and the clay

What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’Does the pot exclaim,‘How clumsy can you be?’ Isaiah 45:9

God has always been working to form the character of his people(Jer 18:4, Deut. 8:2)

I heard Christians say that they have such a bad character and temper and that they just can’t change it. They resist God . This is a lie and the devil likes this kind of statu quo. I know very well an orphan who faced terrible things in her youth and was ill-treated by her husband for years. She had lot of difficulties and did not like herself. The psychiatrist told her that she was a victim of her past experience and gave her pills to ‘relieve’ her. These pills made her even more aggressive and many times she attempted suicide. People would say that the events in her life made her a monster.

She has been going to church for years. Christians have been praying for her and many of them gave up because she no longer wanted to live. Non-Christian would explain this deformed character through psychology. God did a miracle some few months ago in her life.  This aggressive lion became a meek sheep. Now she prays, she has a smile on her face and is different. Those who do not know her now still have a bad opinion of her.

On the day of judgement this woman would never have been able to justify her bad character or her sins because of the bad things which happened to her. This woman is my mother. Bad experiences cannot be used as a pretext for Christians to have a bad character. We do have different personalities and background for God in His wisdom did not create clones. As Christians we should be transformed.

Your parents or friends have probably deformed your character. You have perhaps a bad temper, you are rebellious and disobedient. If you say you’re a Christian, there is no excuse to continue living in the flesh.

Is not our Good Lord willing and able to change us into His likeness?

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Cor 3:18

When Paul talked about the fruit of the Spirit, he did not categorise some of them for those who have the choleric, sanguine or melancholic personality. The fruit of the Spirit is valid for different types of personalities.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

At this time there were Christians who were still slaves and beaten by their masters. Was not it normal for these slaves to lack self control and have bitterness inside? It’s normal but when you know Jesus, He molds your character. He shapes you.

Many Christians want to take a resolution to be better every year. If this is true then our character cannot worsen after years but be more like Christ. Our attitude should be more and more like Christ (Phil 2:5).

You need to surrender. It’s often pride which forbids you to change. If you want to give the impression that you are strong through your hard core character, you’re just fooling yourself. It is non-submission to God if you refuse to let yourself transformed. It does hurt to be pruned but it’s for our own good.

A Christian is not just anyone. If there’s something which really gives honor to God, it’s when we surrender and let Him transform us like He desires. God will not force us. We should not limit what the Spirit can do. If you’ve been deformed by life’s circumstances, God can crush this lump of clay and start it all over!

God said to Jeremiah :“Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.” Jer 18:2

We should not have this defeated attitude regarding some bad characters we have. Is not our good Lord able to change us? Repent now if you ever said that you cannot change. Yield yourself to the divine Potter so that He makes you into Christ’s likeness. Lion-like characters can be tamed to sheep-like character.

Jesus was not exaggerating when He said we should love like Him:

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  ” John 15:9-12

Jesus was not joking when He said we should forgive like Him:

Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’ Mat 18:33

Jesus was not kidding when He said we should be perfect like Him:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mat 5:48

It is God’s desire that we become holy as Him:

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15

James admitted that the tongue is like the fire of hell and that no man is able to tame it (James 3:6). Of course, it is not because no man can tame it that we should have a defeated attitude when we say inappropriate words. No man can tame it, but God can!

It is impossible to change ourselves but if we remain in the divine Vine(John 15), we’ll be changed. Our Father wants to prune our character.

 Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”

You might say that Jesus has set such a high standard. Oh yeah He did because He really wants us to become like Him. His holiness could not permit Him lower the standards anyway. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and God will continue this good work in us to make us into His likeness.

We Christians have been predestined to become like Christ:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Rom 8:30

When we talk about conversion we talk about transformation. We are transformed in our attitude and in our mind.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom 12:1

It is a worship unto God when you willingly offer yourself to Him and let Him mold your character.

Posted January 2, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Epistle to the Hebrews (8:6-7)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.” Hebrews (8:6-7)

Under the first covenant the Israelites had not the power to remain faithful(8:9). They became idolatrous and could not resist sin since they had not yet a Savior who explicitly came to deal with it. A slave of sin is never free to serve God in liberty.

But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” 1 John 3:8-9

They could not remain faithful to God’s covenant because it was difficult to obey laws. Under Christ’s leadership, the Good Shepherd, the One who fulfilled the law and brought grace, obedience is easier. Gladly should we yield to Him who gives us a light yoke. The sins of those under the old covenant were covered by animals blood(Hebrews 10:4) and not entirely removed as under the new covenant by Jesus’ blood. God’s Spirit indwells us and is a guarantee of God’s promises(Eph 1:13).

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” 1 Cor 3:16

This Jesus ministers as High Priest and is the Mediator of a new covenant. This reflects again the person of Melchisedek who was both king of Salem and priest of the God most high. Kingship demonstrates power and priesthood Holiness. Who is all powerful and most holy if not God almighty? This is why we have such a mediator. His holiness and power prove that He has first the credential to be a mediator and secondly the ability to make it endure forever.

As per the Oxford dictionary, the mediator is someone who “intervenes in a dispute to bring about an agreement or reconciliation‘.

So who can stand as advocate and mediator between God and man if not Jesus the righteous man(1 John 2:1)? The old covenant had nothing or no one who could guarantee its continuation. A mortal man like Moses could not stand as mediator to keep this covenant alive.

Jesus is this High Priest who also acts as mediator. Remember that Moses was mediator and pleaded for Israel when they sinned while Aaron was the high priest? Now we have One who is both. Is it exaggeration to say that our Lord has a far superior ministry?

The covenant is based on better promises. We read in Ephesians 1:3  “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”

We have the promises that He went to prepare a place for us, that He is with us everyday and that He will never leave or forsake us. He sent His Spirit to dwell in us and teach us(John 16:13).

Under Moses’ leadership you could have a point that the covenant was imperfect or that the leader was imperfect. You could blame Moses. Yeah, Moses was not faultless, he did disobey God when he struck the rock. Aaron made a golden calf and it was scandalous for the one who was to become the high priest of Israel.

Now you have no excuses. There’s not going to be another covenant or another leader. Why? Because first we have a faultless covenant and secondly a perfect High Priest. The Good Shepherd is not a hired hand, He really cares about His sheep. The new covenant is no longer imperfect, it’s going to be eternal. If you think you’re one of His sheep and you’re not eating in the green pastures, bear in mind that you cannot blame the Shepherd. If this new covenant is not helping you to get closer with God, bear also in mind that you cannot blame the Mediator either. Is not it scandalous to see Christians arguing against their mediator and advocate?

In judiciary, advocates sometimes exploit some weaknesses in the law to get a guilty person out of affair. We are now talking about a faultless covenant and don’t imagine that you’ll be able to stand before God and defend yourself. You will not be able to say that you did not know or it was unclear of who Jesus was or what He did. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. We often talk about grace but rarely mention the responsibilities of those who received grace. Let us be on our guard since it’s not another covenant given on mount Sinai on tablets of stone through a mortal man. No sir, God Himself came and spoke clearly. On our hearts and minds now He does write His laws (8:10).  Let us therefore consider Jesus in all His splendor.

Posted January 1, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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