Archive for April 2013

Epistle to the Hebrews (11:5-6)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsIt was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.”For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:5-6

Enoch is one of the few people in the bible who did not go through death. The few information we have about him was that he was a man who lived and walked in close fellowship with God. This is what we should retain about him. Then God took him alive with Him. If Enoch had to have an epithet, it would have been “A man who lived and walked in close fellowship with God“. Let us remember that Enoch was Cain’s son but he did not follow his father’s way. Enoch was also the father of the man who lived the longest on earth(969 years). In the genealogy recorded in Genesis we see that the author talked about people who lived and died but not so with Enoch.

When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.” Genesis 5:21-24

The author of our epistle did not mention Adam and Eve because they were far from righteous. We have no record in the bible that Adam, Eve or Cain repented. Adam blamed Eve and Cain said “Am I my brother’s keeper?”. But we have seen Abel who revered God and offered the best to him. Now we have this man Enoch who because of his relationship and fellowship with God prophesied on the coming generations. Enoch knew how the ungodly sinners insulted and spoke blasphemy against the Holy God. He could prophesy because he was in fellowship with God.

Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 1:14

Many times we admire Christians like Paul, Hudson Taylor , George Muller or Keith Green. They have served God with all their heart and till today we see the results of their toil. They have left behind them a godly heritage, were reputed for their faith and godliness. One common thing these people shared was fellowship with their Master. Living in constant communion with God was what their soul was longing for.

David was called “a man after God’s own heart” because he had fellowship with God :

I can never escape from your Spirit!I can never get away from your presence!” Ps 139:7

Whom have I in heaven but you?I desire you more than anything on earth.My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,but God remains the strength of my heart;he is mine forever…But as for me, how good it is to be near God!I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter” Ps 73:27-28

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” Ps 84:10

Enoch already enjoyed great fellowship with God. Why should this fellowship temporarily be interrupted by going to the place of rest?

This man loved spending his years in fellowship with God. God was also pleased to have fellowship with him. For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. Enoch was such an exceptional friend to God.

Our author wants also to emphasise a very important aspect in his arguments – It is impossible to please God without faith.

The faith we are talking about here is not about the faith we have for God to provide. The faith we are talking about is about God’s knowledge. You believe and know God’s sovereignty and character. Enoch pleased God because he learned about God’s character for years. If you do not know God how will you know how to please him? How can you please your spouse if you do not know what (s)he likes and dislikes? The faith Abel had was rooted in his knowledge of God. He knew God deserved what cost him the best. Jesus was amazed by the centurion faith. God always commended people who surrendered their abilities and trusted Him instead. When we draw closer to God, have fellowship with Him, we’ll know His will and desires. This will then enable us to ask things we know are God’s will.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is the very element which makes us realise that God is everything we need. He is the sole provider and the only being that should have all our intention. When you really know who God is, you know that everything belongs to Him. You are sure God can provide because you know Him. This is the faith we are talking about. It is not a prayer like “Oh God I’m informing you that I don’t have food, can you please provide?”. It is rather a prayer of faith like a child who knows for sure his parents will give him. The child does not know if there is no money and does not bother where the food will come from but knows for sure that father and mother will provide the food.  Here we are not talking about parents who have no money and still manage to give food to their child. We are talking about the rich, holy and almighty God of Matthew 6 and 7:

You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Mat 7:9

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?… And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Mat 6:30-34

Christians do not receive from God because they do not actually believe God can provide. They do not believe God can provide because they do not know Him enough.  Peter dared to walk on the water because he knew the One calling him. James tells us:

But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” James 1:6-7

Our fellowship with God and our knowledge of Him determine our faith in Him. Those who have doubts are simply those who do not believe God is able. As for me, I am sure God will provide the help I need in the ministry He entrusted me. I am sure of this because I know what He did. If you’re someone who really love your wife, how would you feel if your wife doubted your love? Many times we act like that with God. When we doubt we are actually saying to God that there is still a probability He cannot do it. What an offense to God!

“Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him

Many times people read books about faith to be boost their faith but they still find themselves the same afterwards. The main reason is because they do not know God enough. It is normal that man will doubt God if he never really encountered with Him. I know the abilities of my colleagues at work. I give them task I am sure they can do without even questioning myself if they will do it well. How come? It is because I have worked with them, I observed how they process, I know their reasoning and I saw that they mastered it well. The more we get to know God and have fellowship with Him, the greater our faith in Him increases.

Posted April 27, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:4)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsIt was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith..” Hebrews 11:4

The story of Cain and Abel is a remarkable evidence that God looks more at our heart’s attitude than what we actually offer. Abel did 2 important things. First he took the firstborn lambs which demonstrates that he chose to give the very first fruits of his labor to God. He did not give old lambs who would have soon died anyway but the firstborns. Amidst these firstborns,  he selected the best of them to offer them to God. He offered the very best of his toil to God. It’s like he gave the tithe of the tithes as we saw earlier. God did not reject Cain because he offered fruits from the soil. No, his attitude was not right and this is why his sacrifice was rejected. Most probably he did not offer the best of his work.

When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift,but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.” Genesis 4:3-5

If we have again a look at the law, the best production of the land was given to God. It was not given literally to God but to the Levites who served Him. The Levites had no possession and God alone was to be their provider. The Israelites had to give the Levites the best of their toil as if they were giving it to God. This included grain offerings as well. The Levites then used the crops and animals offered by the nation to live on. The fatty portions i.e. the best were not eaten but consumed as a “pleasing aroma”.  Portions like the breast were eaten as a feast by the Levites (Leveticus 4, 7). The idea there is that what we considered the best were not to be ours, but given to God even if was to be consumed by fire. God was not eating that meat or grains so was it like a “wastage” in the heart of the people?  The issue was not with the objects of the offering i.e. meat or grains but always about the attitude of the one offering.  Were their hearts aching when giving the best of the best? Did they think in their heart “I have toiled hard to produce, oh what a wastage to burn the best portions to an invisible God!”?

But Abel gave the best with all his heart. In the book of Malachi, God rebuked the priests because they offered defiled and sick animals. They offered sacrifices which cost them nothing. We cannot call an offering a sacrifice if it does not cost anything anyway. Sacrifice is always an attitude of the heart, it must cost you something. Remember the story of the widow’s offering? What did Jesus say?

While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” Luke 21:1-4

See how the heart’s attitude is much more important than quantity? God does not need our money or feed on our food. God is omnipotent and everything belongs to Him anyway. Jesus did not even say that the rich gave their surplus but a tiny part of their surplus. It really did not cost them anything. But that woman did not give a coin which would have already been 50%, but she went beyond, she gave 100% (Mark 12:44). Remember that this was a widow who had no husband to provide and she was also poor. But she probably loved God much. Is not it amazing that the poor usually give more to support evangelism than the rich? Look in the church, it is very probable that financial supporters of ministries are not the rich. If it does not cost you something, it is not a sacrifice.

How does faith fit in sacrifices? Think about it. How do you think God will take pleasure in what you offer if your attitude is like Cain?

John tells us :

We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.” 1 John 3:12

If our motive and heart’s attitude is evil, it is impossible to please God. What we “offer” will not be a sacrifice but contempt to God’s holy name. It’s better you do not offer anything than attempting to show God “That’s how little you’re worth to me!”.  A sacrifice is a demonstration to God of what He is worth to us. Abel took the best he had and thought in his heart that he should not enjoy it but rather give it. Of course that does not mean we should become ascetic or continuously be penitent in our flesh. The idea here is to give God the best things we know we can give. It must cost us something. Once again, that does not mean we are doing good works to try to gain God’s favor, but it rather demonstrates our reverence to God.

The one who is offering the best he had does so with an attitude of reverence. He knows that even the best he gives will not be enough to honor God. But he does so because he knows who God is. He has faith in God. He offers the best he has because he believes God deserves the best. It is with a heart of faith that he offers a sacrifice and not with a prideful heart. Sacrifice is a demonstration of worship to God. This is what Abel did. He worshiped God by presenting the best he had and God accepted his worship. It is not the quantity of lambs, the crops or the money which matters but the quality of what we are offering. The quality of our gifts reflects the state of our heart and the state of our heart reflects how worthy God is to us. It is because of faith in God’s worthiness that Abel offered a more acceptable offering. Our knowledge of who God is will determine the degree of our reverence to Him. If we do not have faith that God is worthy, it is impossible to please Him. Our sacrifices will be defiled ones. Let us therefore adopt like Abel the right attitude in whatever we do to honor God.

Posted April 26, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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The man whose soul was tormented by the wickedness he saw and heard everyday   Leave a comment

Lot

Lot

Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority.” 2 Peter 2:6-10

Abraham met the Lord while He was going down to destroy it. After the 2 angels and the Lord shared Abraham’s meal, the Lord told him : “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know” Gen. 18:20

While the 2 angels headed towards Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham started to plead with God to spare the righteous.

Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.” Gen 18:23-26

Abraham knew that God was just and also Holy. He knew God was a righteous Judge and would not treat the righteous and the wicked the same way.  Abraham probably had his nephew Lot in his mind whom he knew was a righteous man. So he went on bargaining from 50, 45,40,30,20 and 10.

Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?”And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” Gen 18:32

There were not even 10 righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. This nation was wicked, perverted and corrupted and the Lord then headed to destroy this nation which brought Him disgust through their immoralities.

The two angels who reached Lot’s region were invited as guests by Lot(the angels’ appearances were like men). Lot was living near Sodom and because of that, he was previously captured along by the kings who defeated Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 14:12). Lot could have taken it as warning that he should look for a safer place. He probably preferred to remain there because his flock was being well fed.

Lot treated his guests as Abraham did, he washed their feet and prepared a feast for them.

Before night came, a shocking event happened.

But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” Gen 19:4

There’re several lessons we can draw out in this verse. Apart from Lot, everyone in the land were wicked(even members of his household). We should emphasise here that not only old people were wicked but even the young people participated in this immoral event. They requested Lot to put his guests out so that they can have sex with them! How scandalous! Homosexuality is obviously not a sickness or a mental disorder but a choice. God would not have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah if these practices were not sinful. From Sodom comes the word sodomy. It is an old sin that God still severely condemns.

So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.” Gen 19:6

What happened here is quite astonishing. We could doubt his righteousness at this moment. If some violent homosexuals knocked your door at night and you had guests at home, what would you do? In his panick, Lot was ready to send his 2 virgin daughters to these beasts so as to spare his 2 guests.

If we understand well the context, that would not have changed anything for Lot if he gave his daughters because these wicked men would have also taken up Lot’s house completely anyway. They were ready to attack Lot and his whole family like starving lustful beasts.

These wicked men said : “Stand back!” they shouted. “This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he’s acting like our judge! We’ll treat you far worse than those other men!And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door.”

The angels bolted the door and blinded these lustful men who finally gave up. The angels insisted for Lot to gather quickly his relatives to escape for destruction was coming.

For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it

Destruction was imminent and the angels told them to go in a hurry. The fiancees of Lot’s daughters thought it was a joke and they stayed in that wicked place. Lot himself hesitated to go but because of the Lord’s mercy, the angels grabbed him, his wife and 2 daughters out of the city in rush. Everything seemed going well and all of a sudden a massive destruction was announced. Therefore, Lot could not see the urgency to flee.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished. When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them.“Gen. 19:15-16

The world is more wicked today than it was in Genesis. When God will pour out again His wrath on the world, the heavenly creatures in their stupefaction will see that only God could do such things.We know that Lot’s wife was sad of the destruction and looked back. This area of wickedness probably brought a comfortable life, food facilities and services.  The angels told them not to look back but she disobeyed. Maybe she said in her heart “All these infrastructure destroyed, what a waste!”. Wickedness was everywhere and it even corrupted Lot’s daughters. His daughters managed to make their father drunk in order to have sexual intercourse with him. These descendants of these 2 daughters eventually became bitter enemies of Abraham’s children.

1. Lot was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him

2. Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day

3. The Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials

How should a Christian live in such a wicked world? We can easily judge Lot by saying that he has put his family in a dangerous place in order to enjoy benefits. We can also say that he made compromises by trading his own daughters. What will you do if in your own country this happens (or maybe it is already happening)?

Lot witnessed immoralities everyday. But he probably remained there because it was a region which allowed him to feed his family. We Christians need to work and our workplace is often filled up with immoralities. Our soul is tormented with things we see and we look for a way to escape it. But where shall we go? There’s corruption and immorality everywhere. Should I become like an hermit and bring my whole family on the top of a mountain to escape the world’s corruption? Of course not, otherwise I will need to go out of the world as Paul said:

Paul said : “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” 1 Cor 5:9

There’re evil people around us and we cannot just escape it. But we should not participate in the evil work of darkness.

We are in this world but not part of the world (John 15:19).

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.” Romans 12:2

The Spirit within us is offended because of all the wickedness around. Our soul groans to escape this corrupted world wants to be clothed in holiness, in our heavenly body.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Cor 5:1-5

Does your soul groan because of all the wickedness around you? My soul groans because I’m looking for a way to escape. I want to go to heaven the sooner as possible. I want to flee this corrupted world and be with my Lord. I long for this day where my body will be released from sin and suffering. No more fight between the desires of my flesh and the Spirit’s authority.

For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” Romans 8:22-23

Are you sick of all “the shameful immorality of the wicked” or are you inert to them?

Lot was “tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day”, is your soul tolerant?

Is your soul groaning or is at peace with wickedness? Oh may God bring in us such sensitivity and desire for holiness! The day is coming where God’s mighty wrath will be poured out on the world.  Nations which refused Jesus Christ will be treated worse than Sodom and Gomorrah Jesus said.

If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.” Mat 10:15

Dear readers, don’t you know that your soul groans for the return of Jesus? Our soul cries Maranatha – Come Lord Jesus (1 Cor 16:22)!

Our soul sigh, it longs for this place of rest, peace and holiness. But as our Lord spared Lot from this place of wickedness, He continues to bring us in safer place.

The Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials”

Paul expressed : “ For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” Phil 1:23

We Christians have a living hope and we long to be in this place specially prepared by our Lord Himself. Lot’s wife was torn between 2 desires, the wealth of Sodom and her life. Paul was torn between 2 desires, being with Christ or serving others. Being with Christ is far better than anything or anyone else of this earth.

While we wait for the day our Lord take us home, let us do our best to present ourselves as faithful laborers.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:14

In Jude 1:23 we read : “but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire,hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

Have you tolerated sin around you to the extent that you’re no longer annoyed by it? You’re insensible and not tormented in your soul because of it? Paul tells us that even the garment defiled by sin was to be hated.

Let us flee the evil desires that surround us but pursue righteousness, holiness, love and peace.

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Tim 2:22

Isaiah also felt his unworthiness when he was God’s presence because he had filthy lips and lived among people who had filthy lips :  “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” Is. 6:5

What shall we do then? Should God send an angel to touch our lips with burning coal? No, Jesus’ blood cleanse us of our iniquities. We have everything through Jesus to live a godly life. The more we know Him the more sensible we become. Through Him we can share in the divine nature and escape the corruption caused by evil desires.

By his divine power, God has given us EVERYTHING we need for living a GODLY LIFE. We have received all of this by coming to KNOW HIM, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his DIVINE NATURE and ESCAPE the world’s CORRUPTION caused by human desires.”2 Peter 1:3,4

Posted April 21, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:1-3)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsFaith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” Hebrews 11:1-3

We have completed the breathtaking doctrinal section of our epistle and we are now putting a foot in the practical christian living section. Our author will go through many figures of the old testament to illustrate the presence and necessity of faith. The last verse of Hebrews 10 ended with:  “And my righteous ones will live by faith.But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” Hebrews 10:38-39

Faith is the substance righteous people live on. It is their subsistence. We will continue to trust in Christ for our salvation. We will not turn away as several Christians do but we will hold fast to our faith. Faith is an essential element in salvation for it is through faith in Christ that the unrighteous are made righteous.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:1

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…”Romans 3:23-25

It is by relying and putting our trust in the work of Christ that we are made righteous. The author in this chapter will not talk about saving faith but about living by faith. Living by faith is an evidence of one’s acknowledgement of God’s Sovereignty. The contrary of faith is unbelief as we have seen is Hebrews 3. Unbelief is a sin because we do not want to trust God but do things by ourselves. God takes no pleasure in an unbelieving heart.

So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.” Hebrews 3

How would you feel if your spouse did not trust you? Would not you feel rejected? When you’re hungry, you don’t eat your wife’s food but order pizzas. How would she feel? Or when the tap is broken your wife calls the neighbor when you’re yourself a plumber? Would not you be anguished that your wife does not trust you? Faith is an important element in our relationship with God. When someone does not love you, you know it. You feel it even if that person does not say anything. Your actions demonstrate if you really consider and love that person. It is the same with our relationship with God, faith is our love language. You trust God for your food, clothes and future.

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’” Mat 6:30,31

People who have a great faith are those people who love God a lot. They would not have put at stake their own existence and future if God was not the One they loved most. Our author defines faith as believing firmly in things we cannot see.  You see not Canaan, you’ve not yet tasted its fruits, you breathe not its air and hear not the sounds of the livestock but yet you know it’s your possession. Faith is the eye of the spiritual world.

When king Aram sent an army to attack the lone Elisha, Elisha saw the armies of God around him but not his servant. :

““Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” 2 Kings 6:17

May God open the eyes of our heart(Eph 1:18) and so that we see through faith God’s presence surrounding us!  We have such an unbelieving heart that we see only the physical realm. Jesus many times made the reproach that his followers do not trust Him enough:

You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Mat 14:31

Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” Mat 8:26

You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Mat 17:20

We see well through these verses that Jesus is not rebuking people who do not have faith at all. These people believed in Him but they had such little faith. They doubted Him. The father of the demon possessed child came to Jesus with the belief Jesus could perhaps do something for him. Jesus rebuked this father because he limited the power of Jesus. Jesus said:

What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.””The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”” Mark 9:22,23

How many times we who call ourselves believers have so little faith. Is not it an oxymoron or contradictory to have such believers? Should not we cry out like this desperate father “help me overcome my unbelief

In the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus said: “I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” Luke 18:8

We have such little faith in our Lord because we do not know Him enough. We wonder, can He do that? If we knew Him more we would not have asked this question. It is lack of knowledge that causes lack of faith. When we know who Jesus is, we understand that everything is possible to those who believe in Him.

One man Jesus admired and commended, was the centurion. He knew Jesus could.

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” Mat 8:8-10

This centurion understood well that Jesus did not have to physically come to his place for his servant to be healed. This centurion knows what it means to be in authority. He just commands and people execute his orders. This officer understood that Jesus was someone in authority and that Jesus only had to say the word and his servant will be healed. Notice well that the words Jesus spoke was not words in the air but commands. Jesus just spoke and things came to be. Like the centurion, the patriarch earned a good reputation because of their faith. The faith we’re talking about is not an intellectual faith where we believe only with our minds but it also involves our hearts and being. This is not a dead faith where we intend to obey God’s laws without a personal relationship with Him. It is not the kind of faith that the devil has in God. The devil believes there is only one God (James 2:19) but has not a repentant heart. This kind of faith is evil since it acknowledges God’s sovereignty. It knows the truth but rebels against it.

Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation

He ordered Lazarus to come out and he did(John 11). He ordered the wind and the waves to calm down and they obeyed (Mat 8:26). He said to the the leper “Be healed” and the man was healed (Mat 8:3).

He said to the fig tree: “May you never bear fruit again. Immediately the tree withered.” (Mat. 21:19)

Jesus is this God who just spoke and light came to be. He is the very Word of God made flesh. He is God’s utterance manifested.

The Lord merely spoke,and the heavens were created.He breathed the word,and all the stars were born.He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him.For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.” Ps 33:6-9

When the centurion said “Just say the word”, I don’t think he realised the whole truth. This Jesus has always been creating things by just commanding. He just speaks and things come to existence. The world was not created from physical matter but from God’s Word alone. The author tells us “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen

Let us once again contemplate our Lord. Let us remove “If you can” in our prayers. This is Jesus-Christ, the Creator, He is the One who just speaks and miracles happen. Faith is this firm assurance that God will do something in the invisible realm. Of course, we should have faith in things God has planned for us and not put God as a puppet to execute our plans.

There’re things I know God called me to do. No matter what people think or say, I know that I should do them. I do fall in this category of people whom Jesus rebuked for having so little faith. But how my soul cries out “help me overcome my unbelief”!

James said “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:6-7

If in your prayers you pray with skepticism, it’s better you stop because you can be sure that you’ll not receive anything. You must be sure that if you’re praying according to God’s will you will receive it. If you’re not sure God will do it, do not expect that He will do it. James says that such a person is double-minded and unstable in all he does.

Jesus said : ““Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24

I do not doubt that God will finish what He started to do in me. He will provide the help I need to finish this work He entrusted me to do. I am so sure He is in control and will provide though I see it not right now with my eyes. If you know it will happen, then it is already yours. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen“. The difference between doubt and faith is this: Faith is the belief that it will happen but doubt is the belief that it can happen. Faith is 100% confidence that it will happen, doubt is just less.

Posted April 20, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (10:32-39)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsThink back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things.You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For,“In just a little while,he who is coming will come and will not delay.”And,“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:32-39

Remember brothers and sisters your first love. Remember how zealous you were when you first encountered with Christ. Remember where you come from. Our author has exposed to us the supremacy of Jesus Christ in the previous chapters. We know how exalted the Son is. Our author wants the readers to remember where they come from. Paul said:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” Eph 2:1-3

We were once dead in our sins, we were living in sin, had the devil as master and were enemies of God. We were objects of wrath like everyone else. We were like those we call idolaters and sons of the devil. God no longer remembers our past sinful life because He has forgiven it all. But it keeps us humble when we look back and remember where we come from. It humbles our prideful soul that we were once objects of God’s wrath (Romans 9:22).  As much as you have to remember that God no longer remembers your past sins, do not forget where you come from.

But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” 2 Pet 1:9

The author is here acknowledging that these Hebrews Christians have endured persecution and trials. These people have suffered in the past because of the radical decision they took to abandon Judaism and follow Christ. They were beaten, jailed and deprived of their comforts. They gladly accepted all this because they knew that their real possession was heaven.

 “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” Phil 3:20, 1 Pet. 2:11

But the past should not be a picture we have framed as a souvenir. We should rather take as evidence what God did in the past to boost our confidence for what is yet to come. Do not act like the Israelites who thought God was a God of the past who did miracles for their forefathers. Do not remain on your past achievements, you need to continuously be changed in Christ likeness and grow.

 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

Is it tranquility of mind, ceasefire, attenuance of persecutions which made the Hebrews asleep? Persecution is a factor that cleansed Christians quickly from all kinds of impurities. You really had to trust and love Jesus if you wanted to be His follower. The persecutors thought that beheading Christians would threaten Christians, attenuate their zeal and discourage them but it was the reversed which happened.

And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” Phil. 1:12-14

The persecution has led to the scattering of Christians and thus a quicker spread of the gospel. Remaining in the cocoon of Christian fellowship because everything is safe is not the right thing to do. Jesus said “Therefore GO to all the nations”.  Paul’s radical stand and his love for Christ inspired many Christians who in turned became martyrs for the sake of Christ. Right now, if someone confesses he is a christian in Nigeria, he must really be one because by doing so he is putting his life at stake. Persecution allowed to remove the weeds from the wheat. Persecution boosted Christians in their commitments. No one will put his life at stake for a lie. Christians have been tortured and ill treated because of their commitment to Christ. They really knew in whom they believed (2 Tim 1:12).

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” Mat 5:11

But we must take it as a warning when we no longer feel the pain. You must be contented when you still feel the pain in your bleeding feet but when the pain is gone you need to be more alarmed.

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.“But woe to you who are rich,for you have already received your comfort.Woe to you who are well fed now,for you will go hungry.Woe to you who laugh now,for you will mourn and weep.Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:23-26

It is a sign of ceasefire when there is no conflict between the children of light and those of darkness. The devil will never make a compromise. We should not be politically correct. We should examine ourselves when the world starts to speak well of us. It could be a sign that we are no longer a threat to their works but an ally. The devil will offer you whatever you want to have you by his side in subtle ways. It can be a better job or a smart but unconverted spouse. If all soldiers on the battlefield decide to raise the white flag, lives will be saved but the battle will be lost. Your battle will be lost but the war will be won anyway and you will have to give an account for why you deserted on Judgement Day. The Lord of the heavenly Armies, said :

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul” Mark 8:35

Jesus knew that many of His soldiers will lose their lives because of Him. But what matters is that they were partakers, they were faithful and obedient to the voice of their Commander.

The Spirit within us is in direct opposition to the sinful desires of the flesh.

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Gal 5:17-18

If you do not know, let me tell you that you have enrolled in a holy battle when you decided to follow Jesus. You have to be equipped, for war is not a fictitious game. There are only 2 camps. If you do not fight against the works of the devil, you’re his friend and therefore God’s enemy. If someone in the camp does not attack the enemy, beware wolf in! There is no neutral or peacemaker in this war. The devil is God’s ancient foe, the archenemy. Do not try to bring a truce lest heaven’s armies swords turn against you and consider you a betrayer!

You adulterous people,don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Eph 6:10-13

Paul said “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:3

As Jesus said, those who are not with Him are against Him. Those who do not gather with Him scatters.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters “Mat 12 :30

It is good to remember what a courageous soldier you were in the past but do not say you’re now a war veteran that needs to rest.  Do not give up. Your flesh is weak but not your spirit (Mat 26:41). This war is not against the flesh but a spiritual war against the powers of darkness.

The author wants the Hebrews to persevere. Soon the trials will be over when the Son will establish His Kingdom.

They started well but they need to finish the race.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Cor 9:24-27

Running only a mile without finishing the whole 26 miles marathon does not mean anything. In this race we are running there is not as such a competition between Christians but it is an individual reward that will be given without comparisons with others. It is good to remember that you had a good start in the race but it is another thing to finish that race (Hebrews 10:39). The Galatians started well but eventually began to drift away.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” Gal 1:6

Our author wants to tell us this:

“Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering…You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”

Your past remembers you what God has done. You have enough evidence that God is real. Based on these facts, will you rejoice on past souvenirs or sit down at the Commander’s table for new conquests and establishment God’s Kingdom?

But my righteous one will live by faith.And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

My righteous One says God. This demonstrate a sign of possession and trust. My righteous one, it is this good and faithful servant who rejoices the heart of the Father. This righteous soul’s objective is to do nothing except the will of the Father (John 4:34). Much can be said about this righteous person who lives by faith. His reliance is on the work of the Son of God. He has given full control and authority to the Messiah. He is called God’s possession, “MY righteous one”, God’s friend as Abraham and Moses were. God does not take pleasure in war deserters, in those who shrink back.  We are not among those who have a foot in the sand and the other in the water. We know where we are going to and what we ought to do.

As we have seen earlier, there’re those who started well with Jesus and finally abandoned Him. They trampled on the Son of God. They betrayed Him. These are the people who shrink back to their own destruction. But we are those who remain in Christ, live through His mighty power and are saved by sole reliance on Jesus’ work.

Jesus said that there is a cost in becoming His disciples (Luke 14:28). You’ll be faced with situations where you might have to leave your loved ones, your comforts and status because of His glory. If one wants to be a disciple of Jesus he must sit down and think well because that implies that he will have to give up all his rights. When the commander will say to go and fight, he will have to obey and not desert. It is better to be a fierce enemy than to be a deserter.  Both sides scoff and hate deserters. If you have decided to follow Jesus, you must follow Him till the end or you’ll be judged more severely.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish. “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Jesus has put it clear that if one wants to follow Him, he must give up everything and let Him alone be the Master. Think well about the cost of serving Jesus. In this illustration Jesus talked about “terms of peace”, of course that does not mean that there is a way to make peace between God and the devil. It rather means that if you are not ready to start and finish something, it’s better you do not engage yourself. Do not enroll in war if you think you will desert. If you do not want to follow Jesus, you are already His enemy. The Gospel is free but not a cheap one. We are not rendering Jesus a service when following Him. It is war my friend, you’re either with Him or against Him. It is us who need Jesus to be saved. By becoming His follower we are not increasing His popularity as likes on facebook do. Jesus is God and it is not a mere man who will make Him more radiant in His glory.

When Jesus said that He was the bread of life many of his disciples deserted Him.

David said: “Those who desert him will perish,for you destroy those who abandon you” Ps 73:27

What will you do today? Will you shrink back or follow Him till your last breath on the battlefield?

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:60-67

Jesus never forced someone to follow Him. In fact He knew that the Words of Truth He said would offend many. He did not seek to be popular and he even turned to the 12 saying:

You do not want to leave too, do you?

Will you leave also today if asked the same question? Or proclaim 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.”

Joshua said to the Israelites, ” Decide what you’ll do but as for me and my house we’ll serve the Lord.” Joshua 24

Will you walk with Him through the valley of death and be on the battlefield? Or will you give up, be politically correct, shrink back, lose faith and desert?

Posted April 16, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (10:26-31)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsIf we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 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? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26-31

This warning the author is giving the Hebrews is often dismissed by preachers. The author is not talking about the “common sins” where you lie today or hurt someone. The author is talking about this kind of sin where you persist to do what is wrong and refuse to repent. You know that God hates it but you deliberately continue in it.  You are not losing eternal life because you just said a lie. No, what the author is talking about refers to those Christians who continuously live in lies, they live in adultery, they live in a continuous state of sinful life without any desire to repent. It has become their lifestyles and they deny Him by the way they live.

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.” Titus 1:16

We often fail and are unfaithful to God but He remains faithful to us. We need to persevere till our last breath awaiting this blessed day He will take us to this place He prepared (John 17). We will reign with Him and judge. But if we deny Him, He will deny us. There is no escape. Peter denied Him 3 times before the Jesus’ sacrifice but he was still under the old covenant when he did. Jesus’ life was not yet offered as a sacrifice. When Jesus said “It is finished”, there will no longer be new sacrifices which will remove God’s wrath on those who denied Him.

This is a trustworthy saying:If we die with him,we will also live with him.If we endure hardship,we will reign with him.If we deny him,he will deny us.If we are unfaithful,he remains faithful,for he cannot deny who he is.” 2 Tim. 2:11-13

Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.” 1 John 3:6

As Paul said to Timothy:

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Tim 2:19

If someone who was born again, returned to his past life, he has denied Christ through his lifestyle. What a terrible judgement he will face! As Peter said:

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior 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. 2:20-22

These people portrayed here by Peter were Christians. They were born again and knew Christ. But they were entangled again and returned to their previous life. It is like the Prodigal Son returning to the mud and sow. It would have been better he never knew Christ and experienced justification. What a disgrace to the work of the Son of God!  How could he insult the Holy Spirit who was indwelling in him? This is an unforgivable sin. This person turned his back from the Lord who saved him. This Christians who knew Christ will not be granted repentance again. He is a Judas, a betrayer. On Judgement day he’ll not be able to say he did not know. Never will this person be granted repentance again. He will be like Esau who cried bitterly because he lost his inheritance and could do nothing to get it back.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.” Hebrews 12:16-17

The author says that there is no more sacrifice left for that person. We have seen the majesty of Jesus in the previous chapters. He is the One who was crushed by the Father and to whom God has placed all judgments in His hands. He was the perfect sacrifice and is the perfect mediator. He is God Almighty.

Our author mentioned earlier in Hebrews 6 that it is impossible to bring back such Christians to repentance:

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. When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.” Hebrews 6:4-8

These Christians were enlightened by the truth of the Gospel and experienced the glory of the new covenant.  When we talk about someone who has fallen away or turned away, it actually portraits that this person was previously in a better position.They received the Holy Spirit as a mark of their ownership to Christ but they turned away! How scandalous, what an awful thing!

It is impossible to bring back to repentance such people because they did something awful, they denied the Son! Jesus will never take again a flog or go to the cross again. He offered Himself once for all time. Repentance will not be granted again to them. Grace has been removed and they have been rejected by God. They are like these dry branches severed from the Vine.  Our author says that this field bearing thorns and thistles is useless and will soon be burned up. Jesus clearly portrayed it as such:

““I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.“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.” John 15:1-6

As long as a Christian remains in Christ, He will bear fruits. When a Christian refuses to remain in Christ, he eventually starts to die and withers. This dead component on the Vine has to be removed lest it corrupts other branches. It is cut off from the Vine and thrown away. Such branches are piled up and are headed for destruction through fire.

As 1 John 5 says: “Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 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.”

One who no longer believes in Jesus has no longer life. Eternal life is conditional on our dependance on Christ. We need to remain in Him. He is the source of living water and the bread of life. Apart from Him we die. One who no longer has the Son no longer have eternal life for eternal life is found only in the Son. God will never abandon or forsake us. The devil or any power cannot separate us from God. BUT if we want to turn away from God, He will not force us to remain in Him. Nothing can remove us from God’s mighty hand but if we want to turn away, God will not force us to remain in His loving hands.

God’s wrath will be terrible on those who have figuratively trampled underfoot His beloved Son. They have treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them and have insulted the Spirit of grace. They have rejected the Son of God and nailed him to the cross once again and hold him up to public shame. It is infamy and a slanderous act to deny the Son. God will avenge Himself. He will pour out His mighty wrath on them. That would be a dreadful judgement that even the worst sinners on earth who were not Christians will not face. Under the Mosaic law, people were stoned when they violated the law. 2 or 3 human witnesses were enough to terminate the life of the law breaker. But when trampling on God’s Son, there will be the heavenly armies who will testify, the devil who will accuse, the Son looking this disgrace in the eyes and the Father’s wrath ready to pour out.

Paul was talking to the Galatian Christians and warned them ” I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” How can a Christian continue to live in debauchery and idolatry? It is impossible to have thorns on a fig tree. Paul warned the churches to be careful because there was the possibility to fall away from grace.

To the Christians in Ephesians: “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”   Eph. 5:5

And to the Christians in Corinthians he warned:

Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Cor 6:10

I do not believe a Christian can “lose his salvation” or eternal life when he commits a sin. Otherwise no one will go to heaven for we all sin.

As John said, Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us. He is our High Priest and He intercedes for us.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

BUT if that Christian denies Christ by his lifestyle, refuses to remain in Him or publicly deny Him, He will be denied by Christ and “lose his salvation”. This is not just an unforgivable sin, it is rebellion and a public declaration of opposition against the Son. If the Christian’s lifestyle no longer reflects the beauty of Jesus, how can God claim that He is the Father of that person?  As we have read in the previous passages, these verses were addressed to people who were really Christians and not fake converts.

This is called apostasy i.e. when Christians turn away from the faith. If it were not true, the bible would not have mentioned it. It is therefore a heretical teaching to teach that a Christian cannot turn away from Christ. We have the freewill and God will not force us to remain in Christ. We have to be foolish to turn away from Christ. Calvinism appears to give all glory to God through its so-called teachings about God’s sovereignty. It’s 5 points are very subtle and are awful insults to God’s grace on all men(1 Tim 2:3, John 3:16). With all my countenance and till my last breath I will oppose and fight against its teachings. My rage against calvinism is permanent because of the lies it proliferates. Calvinism implicitly teaches that no matter what how an elect lives, salvation cannot be lost. As we saw above, these verses talked about real Christians. We should not neglect this warning. This is a great deception and it can make believers take salvation for granted. It must be worked out with fear and trembling as Paul said.

Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear” Phil 2:12

This does not mean that we need to add works to what Christ did. No, that would be blasphemy and rebellion against the perfect work of Christ. It rather means that because we are saved, there should be works which follows. Their should be visible results that we are saved, there should be fruits.

The elects are simply Christians and Jesus warned that the devil will even try to seduce the elects (Mat 24:24).

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also,“If the righteous are barely saved,what will happen to godless sinners?” 1 Peter 4:17

It’s only by grace we are saved from God’s wrath. We escape hell because we hold fast to the Vine. Let us not forget that small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life. By the narrow road we have an illustration of continuous perseverance amidst difficulties.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Mat 7:13

Unfortunately, many will be deceived and few will persevere till the end.

Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Mat 24:12

We need to demonstrate the fruits of our salvation. Where are the evidence that we are saved? Do we continue to walk in the flesh or are we led by the Spirit? Are we still slave of some vices? If the righteous are barely saved,what will happen to godless sinners and those who trampled on Him?

You have been redeemed, what have you done with this liberty? You say Christ is your foundation, your solid Rock but how are you building your life upon Him? Is your love to Christ divided? Do you offer Him the best or do you offer Him a blind animal like the priest in Malachi? What are the materials you are using to glorify Him? Is it straw or gold?

Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Cor 3:12-17

Dear readers, Jesus’ work on the cross is not a joke. Those who rejected the Son in ignorance will be judged severely but woe to those who deny and turn away from Him after knowing Him. God crushed His innocent Son with His mighty hands on the cross. What kind of wrath will He pour out on a betrayer, an enemy, a scoffer and a blasphemer?

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God

Posted April 13, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (10:23-25)   1 comment

Epistle to the HebrewsLet us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25

We have gone through magnificent theological arguments and this should have led the Hebrew readers to hold fast and not wander. The author is here encouraging believers to remain in fellowship and incite each other to demonstrate love. We know that we are members of the body of Christ and we should edify each other with the gifts we have. We are not all evangelists but we all called to evangelise. We are not all specially called to teach but we are all called to edify each other. We are not all pastors but we are all required to look after each other.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other...If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” ” 1 Cor 12:7,17

There is a call for unity amidst the diversity. In the church there has always been and there will always be people who do not think alike. We have different spiritual gifts and different characters and we often fail to realise these important facts. A body is not made up of one part but of many. If we were all pastors in the church, it would have been havoc. The Spirit knows what He did, He has put people with different gifts to meet the needs of each other. But this diversity often leads to conflicts when we refuse to walk in love. We should bring the most out of our fellow brothers and sisters. We should toil to fan into flame their spiritual gifts and calling. This will edify themselves and the whole church.

After Paul talked about the different ministries and gifts in 1 Cor. 12, he went on to talk about the ultimate reason for the spiritual gifts – love.

1 Corinthians 13 mentions that:

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

The reason God has given us some special gifts and calling is to bless and edify the church. The Spirit works within us and pours out through us blessings to others. We should be vessels which excite people to charity and promote unity. We should watch over each other and be sensible to their needs. Oh may God forgive us for our selfishness! How many times we boast about our spiritual achievements but neglect the most important command – to love one another. We should leave our comfort zone and seek for those sheep who felt in a pit. May God deliver us from this hypocrisy and evil heart!

There are many reasons why people become frustrated, anguished, bored and discouraged to go to church. Sometimes people leave the church because they could not find themselves fit in. Some leave because they were seeking for meat but were given milk and starving. Some leave because of false teachings, which is a legitimate reason to leave. Another reason is because of sin, Christ is not the central being in the life of that person. But what has the church done to care for that lost sheep?

Someone does not leave Christian fellowship all of a sudden but little by little. There’re often unresolved conflicts which when piled up give enough reasons for that person to leave. Ferocious satan will not miss the opportunity to attack this bleeding and weak sheep with all kind of thoughts and sins. The church is responsible to take care of its members and not chase them. We will have to give an account to God on how we treated His sheep.

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” Mat 18:6

Let us not neglect our meeting together says the author. I submit to you that going to church does not save but the warmth of brothers and sisters keep us zealous and protect us from the snake. They rebuke us, strengthen and encourage us.

As iron sharpens iron,so a friend sharpens a friend. ” Prov 27:17

We are like burning charcoal but when we are isolated from those alike us, we lose heat and eventually become just a mass of cold wood. Jesus’ return is close and will He find faith and love on earth when He will return?

But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” Luke 18:8

Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Mat 24:12

Let us remain in fellowship and drag these isolated charcoals together. Let us build each other in the faith (1 The 5:11). You need to give and receive Christian love. You need to bless others with your spiritual gifts and also receive the blessings of others.

Posted April 13, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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