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Without faith it is impossible to please God [Part 2]   Leave a comment

faithYou have so little faith, Jesus said. Why did you doubt me?

Mat. 14:31

 When we decide to adopt living by faith as a lifestyle, it will become evident to us that God is not limited by time, money an science.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.  Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.” Hebrews 11:1

Right now, my wife and I are going through trials. We do not know how we’ll go through but we know we will by trusting God.

Faith is believing that God is not limited by resources

Jesus took 5 breads and 2 fish and fed at least 5000 persons. This miracle Jesus did showed that God is not limited by resources. It is mathematically impossible to explain how people ate as much as they wanted when initially the resources were scarce. If your salary is less than what you spend, how can you make both ends meet? It is mathematically impossible but God works in ways we cannot see to provide our daily needs. Even if we do not know what we will eat tomorrow(Mat. 6:31), we believe God will take care of it. The Zarepthath widow(1 Kings 17:7) can testify how God multiplied flour and oil.

Faith is believing that God can when it is too late

When Jesus learned that Lazarus was sick, He intentionally stayed where He was for 2 days instead of healing Lazarus on the spot(John 11:6). When Jesus reached Bethany, it was 4 days since Lazarus was put in the grave. When Jesus came, Mary thought it was too late and said :

Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died“John 11:32

On the other side, Martha had a little faith and said: “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask” John 11:22

When Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, Martha doubted and could not see it coming and she said:

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” John 11:39-40

Even when all has been said and done, there’s still hope for the dead because Jesus lives.

Abraham’s faith transcended Martha’s faith because he thought that God would raise Isaac from the dead after he offered him since he firmly had faith in God’s promise of a large posterity through Isaac.

Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” Hebrews 11:19

Faith is believing that God can when science says no

Jesus performed many supernatural things like changing water into wine, calming the storm and healing the born blind. These are miracles that defy science .The woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, spent much of her money with doctors but still could not be cured. Science could do nothing for her but Jesus said:  “your faith has made you well. Go in peace” Luke 8:48. When Jesus called Peter to walk on the water (Mat 14:31), it was a supernatural experience that defied the fisherman’s knowledge of water. Though he doubted on the way and sank, this man nevertheless defied the law of science through his faith in Jesus. God is above the law of science and having faith in Him can literally move a mountain to the sea.

Posted October 8, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Without faith it is impossible to please God [Part 1]   Leave a comment

faith

Without faith it is impossible to please God

Hebrews 11:6

When we got married, my wife and I decided to live a life of faith. It was not because we lacked something but it was a lifestyle we wanted to have. It did not took long when God started to test our faith.

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:3

Each time my wife and I had to exercise our faith, we developed more endurance and patience. The first time it all started was when we were looking for a piece of land and house to buy while preparing for marriage. It was a tough situation and each time our parents asked us where we were going to stay, we felt embarrassed as the wedding day was drawing closer. When I told my father that I was relying on God in this situation, he did not understand and thought I was not serious and taking things lightly. I failed many times to keep faith, I was worried, anguished and doubted but was each time, God’s word encouraged me and I had strength to persevere. I have seen miracles happen and God faithfully provided what we needed. When we decide to live by faith we’ve to face constraints like time and money. It is in these situations that we learn that time and money are not issues for God. His timing is perfect. God miraculously provided us a piece of land which we could not afford and orchestrated everything to get the house built.

Before I started to live by faith I was prideful in my heart and thought that everything I had, I got them because of my hard work. When I started to live by faith, it was evident to me that everything I had came from God. I have seen God’s thumbprint in the planks, bulbs and furniture we purchased. Living by faith should be a lifestyle and not the last resort.

Living by faith EVERYDAY

Most often, it’s when we cannot resolve our problems that we turn to God as last resort. We then trust God and have faith in Him. When God has answered our prayers and petitions, we give thanks and take again our destiny in our hands. This behavior gives little opportunity for our faith to grow since we’re not living daily by faith but occasionally when things get tough. The Teacher wants to disciple us to live by faith, one day at a time and not worry about tomorrow(Mat. 6:34). Jesus taught His disciples “Give us TODAY”our daily bread and not “Give us our bread for tomorrow”.

If you train yourself everyday to run 7 miles, when you’ll be asked to run 8 miles it will not be tough because you developed endurance daily. However, if you do not train yourself everyday, you’ll most likely see impossibilities everywhere and fail to complete your race.

If we want to live comfortably we’ll most likely never develop endurance in our faith. It is in adversity, incertitude and impossibilities that faith works better. If you have good health, food, money and have no time constraints then how will you be able to discover a Jesus who can heal the born blind, multiply breads and even raise the dead? I have witnessed that poor people have more faith than rich people because they rely on God EVERYDAY to get their daily bread.

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews gave in chapter 11 examples of the champions of the faith. In Hebrews 12, he then described the people of God as running an individual race of faith in a stadium. Heroes of the faith like Abraham, Moses and Noah are watching and encouraging us to keep running.

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 12:1-2

Posted October 8, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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I’ll make you a fisher of man [Part 2]   Leave a comment

Fisher of man

Fisher of man

Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Mat. 4:19

As mentioned in Part 1 of this post, Jesus taught His disciples to fish.

  • How NOT to fish?

At that time the traditional method of fishing was with nets and not hooks. When we fish for people we do not lure them with a bait or hurt them with a hook. When a person feels being tricked, he is on his defensive and will never listen. We do not promise people that they will become rich when they come to Christ, have many wives in heaven, have spiritual powers or will never be sick. The prosperity gospel is an example of such a luring and fake gospel. We are not catching fish for ourselves but we’re doing it to give them to Jesus to cleanse them.

  • Why Christians do NOT Go?

During the last 10 years, I have observed that churches which do not evangelise often have to deal with disputes. Members do not grow in their faith, do not function like a body, are not Spirit-led and no new souls added to the church. There’re many reasons why people do not share the gospel, I’ll enumerate just a few.

Money and possessions

I have witnessed that God always provide miraculously for this divine cause and even beyond what was needed. I can say with confidence and faith that money should never be considered a prerequisite to share the gospel. God graciously provide if we’re at the center of His will. Jesus said “those who work deserve their pay”. When we do God’s will and humbly go to make disciples, God will generously provide for our needs whether it be financial or not. Money is needed in evangelism but is not a prerequisite.

On the other side, those who are busy to get rich do not find time to evangelize. They have legitimate reasons like they need to provide for their family, pay the bills and live decently. They also feel that they did their part by paying the pastor of missionary organization to do their job. On the other side many people are dying because there’re not sufficient laborers who are clearly sharing to the gospel. We need more people in this great cause, not money. Unless we understand clearly the urgency of bringing people to Christ for their salvation, we’ll always have more important things to do.

The illusion that sinners will come to church

Let us be honest: Fish do not jump from the sea in the boat, do they? The fishermen need to go where the fish are to catch them. While it is true that the Holy Spirit intensively works in the heart of men to drag them to Christ and the church, most people became followers of Jesus when we reached out to them. We need to GO and not wait for people to come to church. People are blinded by their sins, they do not seek God and even less consider of going to church. The disciples of Jesus are the salt and the light of the world. Darkness is the absence of light and Christians need to shine in these places.

Ashamed of the Gospel

Jesus said: “ If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels“Luke 9:26

If our life has really changed when we followed Jesus, then we can deduce by ourselves that His teachings are true and life changing. So why should we be ashamed of something that we have witnessed and experienced as true and real?

Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes” Rom. 1:16

Posted September 25, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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I’ll make you a fisher of man [Part 1]   Leave a comment

Fisher of man

Fisher of man

Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Mat. 4:19

It’s been a few months since I started to ponder on this question: “How to be effective in evangelism?” After reading a blog which somehow addressed this question, I started to meditate more on the Great Commission. Jesus was the one who first taught how to fish for people and gave it as a command to His disciples before ascending to heaven (Mat 28:18). It is therefore interesting to see how Jesus taught His disciples to fish for people.

Why should I fish for people?

On April 2010, the Gulf of Mexico was struck with the greatest oil-spill tragedy which affected severely the marine eco-system . It was estimated that about 5 millions barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf and countless marine animals were intoxicated and died. Scientists captured marine animals for rehabilitation and cleansing but unfortunately could not save all.

Jesus said “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.” Mat. 24:12

Just like oil has been spread over a large surface area, so has sin been spread throughout the world.The Good News is simple: We’re telling people that they have been intoxicated by sin and that only Jesus can save them.

  • Follow me

In order to be effective and efficient fishers of men, we must first be followers of Jesus. The disciples learned how to fish by following the way Jesus did. We cannot make disciples if we’re not ourselves disciples. A disciple is one who obeys the teachings of His master, who allows the divine Potter to mold his character and who submits his entire will to the Holy Spirit.  In a previous post we have seen the difference between a disciple and a believer. If we’re entangled by the things of this world and love our family, our job or life more than Jesus we cannot be a disciple of Jesus(Mat. 10:37). The reason why evangelism became an activity amongst others in churches and not the  main activity of the church is because leaders themselves are entangled by the things of this world and they find it difficult to make it a personal priority. Since it’s not a personal priority for them, the church’s priority is influenced by theirs. The disciples left their jobs and family immediately when Jesus called them to follow Him in this great cause of saving people from hell. The disciples did not know what was awaiting them ahead when they followed Jesus. The more they followed Him, the clearer the vision became when they saw Him heal the sick, cast out demons, teach the crowds and rise the deads. If you follow Jesus, you’ll see what He can do and this will give you faith when He’ll send you to do greater things in His name (Rom. 15:17-19).

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:12-14

We are just messengers telling people that Jesus cleansed us from sin which once stuck like oil in our flesh. Jesus has taken us from darkness to light(Eph. 5:8), gave us living water(John 7:37) and prepared a divine place for us (Jn 14:2).

  • Where to GO?

Jesus’ command was clear: GO !

But where to go?

We need to go to the world, literally everywhere. Your neighbors, colleagues, employees, children and parents all need to hear the Good News.

“Jesus traveled throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching everywhere the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed people who had every kind of sickness disease” Mat.4:23

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road…Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay“Luke 10:5

Jesus said that the harvest is great but there’re few laborers. The tragedy is that among the few laborers, most of them are fishing in the same region. Jesus sent his disciples in small groups in order to be more efficient and effective. Persecution caused Christians to be scattered throughout the world but God turned out this evilness to good as it allowed the Good News (Acts 8:4, 11:19) to reach more people.

I once observed than going to fish in large group is not a good idea as it causes the fish to be scared due to too much disturbances by the fishermen. If all the fishermen were scattered, they would have covered a larger area and had more chances to catch fishes.  It’s the same with fishing for men. Paul also had this strategy:

My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,“Those who have never been told about him will see,and those who have never heard of him will understand.” Rom.15:20, 2 Cor. 10:16

Regions which have been exposed to intensive evangelism programs have become confused, saturated and accuse Christians of brainwashing and targeting weak people. If you live in such a place, GO to places which have never been exposed to the gospel to be more efficient. If most of the people you meet are Christians then it’s most likely that you’ll never catch a fish. We need to go towards those who do not share our faith in order to have a Good News to tell. Jesus was judged by the religious leaders for being a friend of sinners.

Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Mat. 9:11

What would a doctor accomplish good if he examined only healthy people? Eating with sinners never made you one. If you want to be effective and efficient in evangelism, you need to go where the sick people are.

 

Posted September 24, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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To gain the whole world and lose your soul[2]   1 comment

Matthew:16-26

Matthew:16-26

Fire is useful and not a threat as long as we can control it. The closer we get to it and the more it grows, the more precautions should be taken. So is it with possessions.

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Tim. 6:10

It is not money in itself which is evil but the “love of money”. It’s all about the person’s attitude towards money. How far can someone be rich and not be greedy and stingy? It is difficult to be rich and not set our heart on it.

If you lose your spouse and child whom you love dearly, your heart will ache.

So how can you know if you’re entangled by the “things of this world”?

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” Mat. 6:21

If you lose all your possessions, will your heart ache? Our heart aches on things that we value.

I know deep down my heart what are the things in this world that will make my heart ache if I lose them and I prayed the Lord to make me what He wants me to be.

There is no greater comfort to know that you are living your life as God wants it to be. Have you ever struggled with this question “What do I want? What should I do?”

When such questions rise up, it is time to let God answer these questions. When we try to take in our hands our own destiny and push God away, we are putting at stake the destiny of our soul. Most of our world leaders are not followers of Jesus and have been very successful. Do they have the peace, love and joy that only Jesus can give to the soul?

If you reached a crossroads and are wondering about your marriage, home or career path, it’s worth to be still and seek God’s counsels. Even if golden opportunities are at your doorstep do not jump to the conclusion that God brought them to you. The heart is deceitful, no one can trust it. So do not follow your heart or instinct as world leaders or friends tell you to do.

If you’re at a crossroads, be still. If you are bored of hearing the words “Pray and have faith” at this instant, examine if your heart is already set out for something.

If you were at a crossroads and not sure if you took the right decision, it might be worth returning on your steps and let God guide you.

Posted March 17, 2016 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Believer or Disciple?   2 comments

Disciple or Believer?

Disciple or Believer?

Therefore, go and make DISCIPLES of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the COMMANDS I have given you.” Mat. 28:19

While discussing with a friend of Catholic faith, I asked him several questions and his replies left me perplex for several days.

I asked him the following questions and these were his answers:

  1. Who is Jesus for you?

He answered with conviction: “Jesus is my God. He died for my sins. He is a mediator between God and me“.

I had the preconceived idea that he did not know these things about Jesus and his answers left me benumb.

2. Do you believe you’re a sinner?

He said he was a sinner and that he prayed every day to ask Jesus for forgiveness.

3. What is repentance?

So I ask him if he knew the difference between repentance and asking for forgiveness. He answered that repentance is changing completely from a precedent bad habit but asking for forgiveness is something continuous.

4. What is the meaning of Christmas?

As we were in the Christmas’ period, I asked him what it meant for him. He replied that Christmas made him remember that one day Jesus came to die for his sins and that it was important to celebrate it.

This friend of mine had all the knowledge necessary to be saved as per Romans 10:9. He confessed and believed in his heart that Jesus was his Savior. He knew the core message of the Gospel and I wondered why I should evangelize this guy.

One day, while going for a long walk, I decided to make a shortcut by passing through a Catholic church yard. When I passed by the church’s entrance, I heard the priest say clearly that it was necessary to have saving faith in Jesus. This again left me perplex. The Catholics are taught about the saving faith and they believe it. Why then do the Christian claim they are still unsaved?

When Paul wrote to the Romans, he wrote to people who knew nothing about the gospel. The confession of Jesus being their Lord was sufficient evidence of them being saved .

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved“Romans 10:9

It was also crucial for Paul to teach to the Jews and those of non-Jewish that faith in Jesus was sufficient to save one soul apart from good work and following the law(Romans 3:23-26).

My friend also told me that he was a believer but did not really practice the requirements of his religion.

I shared my perplexity with my wife and we went through his answers again.

I reached the conclusion that the Catholic church succeeded in deceiving people by making them believers but not disciples. A disciple is a believer but a believer is not necessarily a disciple.

Jesus’s command in Mat. 28 was clear: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations

Jesus did not say ‘Go and make believers‘.

During Christmas week, I always stand in amazement at seeing all my colleagues of muslim, hindu and catholic faith excited to make Christmas preparations. They all know the meaning of Christmas but this belief or knowledge did not save them.

What then differentiates a believer and a disciple?

My friend demonstrated much allegiance to Jesus but he violated the first commandment for he was an idolater through his prayers to Mary. I saw people of hindu faith worship Jesus, among other gods. One who confesses Jesus is God and worship him is not necessarily a disciple. We therefore need to be careful that in our church we have disciples and not just believers.

 

It was quite easy to discern that my friend was an idolater. However, we can easily ignore that an idolater is someone who worships the things of this world.

Paul says: “You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world” Eph. 5:5

John also warned against idols: “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” 1 John 5:21

A disciple is therefore one who does not worship the things of this world. He does not cling to anything or anyone, except Christ. His joy, peace, assurance and hope is Christ.

Another genuine mark of a disciple is Love.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34

One who does not love, does not know God and is not a disciple.

But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love…But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us…If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers” 1 John 4:7-21

Christ’s command was this: “Teach them to obey all my commands”. All these commands can be summed up in 2 commands: Love God with all your heart and Love people.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Mat. 22:37-40

If one loves God with all his heart, he will not worship idols or the things of this world. If one loves people he will do no harm. He will not lie to his neighbor, gossip, slander, steal, murder or have evil thoughts. The law is therefore fulfilled in these 2 commandments.

One clear evidence of an evil believer of the living God is Satan. He believes everything written in the bible, that Jesus is God and that He died for the sins of man. However, this belief did not have impact on him.

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror” James 2:19

A disciple is therefore someone who loves God and loves people. Do our churches have more believers than disciples?

There has been many crusades and massive amount of money invested in evangelism program. Sadly, many of these programs were fruitless for there has been no follow up after proclaiming the gospel. The biggest work starts at discipleship and this is where many church leaders failed. Discispleship is the greatest omission of the Great Commission.We are therefore left with people who left their religion and became believers and think they are saved. This is a tragedy  and a deception for as we have seen, a believer is not necessarily a disciple.

Posted December 18, 2015 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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Jesus, the divine appointed Advocate[2]   Leave a comment

The evil Accuser and the Divine Advocate

The evil Accuser and the Divine Advocate

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 2:1-2

  • Jesus both a righteous Judge and Advocate

There’re different judiciary bodies where one can call to hear his case if he deems that he did not get a fair trial or judgment. If one has been judged guilty by the highest instance of the judiciary on earth, that person is an offender of the law. However, that same person can be found not guilty in God’s court despite his many crimes if he only believes in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.

The limitation of each court is that the judge or magistrate is unable to forgive offense for the offense has not been made against him but against the law. The judge’s role is to only apply rigorously and righteously the law, not to forgive offense.

However, Jesus is able to declare man not guilty because each sin made is a direct offense against Him(Mat. 9:6). So who will condemn His disciples? It is God who forgives and justifies.

When the woman caught in adultery was brought at Jesus feet to be stoned. The world and the law of Moses were against her. If Jesus was not God and did not wisely intervene, this woman would have died. Jesus pushed away the accusers and forgave that woman of her sins:Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”“No, Lord,” she said.And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:9-11

“Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” Rom. 8:33-34

The book of revelation(20:13) states that the dead will be judged according to their deeds. People will need to give an account of every idle word they spoke(Mat. 12:36) and what they did. Without Jesus, they will need to face alone what has been recorded in the books.

In the parable of the vineyard, we see Jesus as a righteous judge who can show mercy as he pleased even if it seemed unfair to others. When others will protest at God’s act of mercy, He will stand firm to confirm His right to show grace.

  • Jesus knows how to perfectly defend His followers against the devil’s accusation

The Pharisees looked for many opportunities to trap Jesus and his disciples but Jesus always stood as advocate of His followers.

For example, the Pharisees were indignant that the disciples did not follow traditions and religious ordinances. The disciples did not fast(Mat. 9:14), did not wash their hands (Mat 15:2) and harvested on the sabbath day. Jesus immediately stood as a defender of his disciples. Jesus knows the devil’s tactics and when the pharisees came to trap Him regarding Caesar’s tax, he responded wonderfully (Mat 22:18). When the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting our devils by Satan(Mat. 12:24), he asked a question which resembles this: “Your disciples also cast out evil spirit, so does it come from God or not? If it can come only from God, then it is impossible for someone to cast out devil by Satan’s power”

The only time the Great Divine Advocate did not respond to accusations was when he took our sins. Who would not have protested against an injustice if He was about to lose His life for crimes he did not do?

But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.” Mat. 27:12

He was judged guilty by the judiciary of this earth but elevated to the highest place of honor by the Holy One of Heaven (Phil. 2:9).

Posted November 1, 2015 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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