Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Tag

Prayer   Leave a comment

Prayer

Prayer

Father in Heaven, I acknowledge your holiness and righteousness. You reign and all creatures in heaven bow their knees no matter how glorious and powerful they are. There is no shadow of iniquity in you. You condemned the human race the very moment they sinned. Men have become so depraved and wicked that they even insult your holy name that even the glorious angels so mightily fear to mention. Men rebelled against all authorities you established and became your foe. Your holy wrath was ready to be poured out on all men. In your anger you wanted to get rid of the human race which you said were the best of what you created. Your Righteousness and Holiness were standing as judges against this wicked creation. The fallen angels were condemned without mercy and separated eternally from you.  But we had a different destiny. You so loved the world. You so loved the world that you poured out your wrath on your Son to satisfy justice. How terrible it was for Jesus to be subjected to the wrath of you Almighty God! Your Righteousness and Holiness cried out for justice and justice was made when you crushed your own Son with this mighty wrath reserved for your foes.

And you beloved Son of God you presented yourself as the ransom, as the Redeemer and High priest to remove wholly in God’s eyes the wickedness in my heart! Oh wonderful Advocate who pleads and defend me when the devil night and day accuse me of my failures! Those truly your disciples with tears in their eyes acknowledge your perfect work in making their soul tainted with sin a new creature. You voluntarily presented yourself as the Mediator to represent man in God’s court. In front of the great white throne you said to God “Send me, I will do whatever is required to satisfy your justice”. And you did it when you said “It is done” on that cross. Only you my beloved Savior could and knew how to satisfy God’s Justice. It required deity to meet God’s standard of righteousness and you alone could intervene. You are the expression of God’s love to humanity. Oh Emmanuel you who dwell in my heart, precious Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world why does the world reject you? Long promised Messiah, you who are extol to the highest by the angels in heaven why do the wicked men still insult you? Word of God made flesh, you came to save, teach the world with mighty authority and wisdom. You’re God’s Holiness, Wisdom, Justice, Righteousness and Love manifested. How will I survive without you my Vine? You are the everlasting God, the I AM and the One who is to come. All authorities in heaven belong to you. You are the author of the salvation of every soul from start to finish. My dear Lord, I wait for you to take me home. How my soul longs to see you establish your kingdom on earth and take me in this place you prepared for me! Free me from this sinful world tormenting my soul. My soul groans for this divine rest. Take me home. Let all creatures declare with all their countenance your Sovereignty and Glorious Love. Even the knees of your enemies shall bow when you will return as Judge. You will pour out your mighty wrath on those who deserted you, who led souls away from you, tortured your disciples and insulted your Holy name. Come Lord Jesus, come establish your Kingdom and Judge with your Righteousness this corrupted world.

Spirit of God, my Divine Teacher, oh how my heart bleeds because so many souls reject your teachings. You Divine counselor you live in the heart of the disciples of Jesus. Fill me with your presence so that I can powerfully witness to the world the work of the Son. You have been forming my character and brought me to the life of faith in the Son. Thank  you for leading me and blessing me in details I thought you would not even bother. Forgive me for my resistance and rebellion. You have made me a holy habitation and called it your temple. Cleanse me from wicked thoughts and this evil heart which deceives me. Transform me in the image of the Son, the beautiful and glorious Son. May I truly be submitted to your authority and bear fruits that honors my Father and Savior. Be the Master of my whole being. My mind and soul acknowledge your daily work to prune and mold me. I stand in awe and bow to my knees with the wonderful treasures of wisdom you unveiled to me. I do not deserve that you Lord is so patient to teach me. All spiritual blessings comes from You. Take control of my existence and make me a vessel through which you will bring souls closer to the Son. Here I am to go where you lead. Dear Lord, help me to trust and have faith in you. Grant me wisdom, love and patience. Oh humble this prideful soul when it speaks. You hate pride and arrogance. Leave not the dead man corrupt my wedding garment. Reign in me divine Master and teach me more about the Son, the Father and your characters.

Thank you loving Father for giving me your righteous Son and sending your Holy Spirit to teach me your ways.

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Posted May 5, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Epistle to the Hebrews (10:15-16)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsAnd the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts,and I will write them on their minds. Then he says,I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”and when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.” Hebrews 10:15-18

Our author quotes from Jeremiah 31:33:

““But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.

I can testify that this verse has been fulfilled in my life. As I once shared in my testimony, I was seeking for the truth about God. I was going to church since I was a teenager and I was never really explained who Jesus was. I understood Jesus only as a sacrifice for sins or just “the Son of God”. I did not know Him as the exalted God.

I was ignorant about God and wanted to know who He was and one day I came across Isaiah 48:17 “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go”. Though this verse was addressed to Israel, I felt like I could rely on it and trusted that God would teach me who He was. I believe there are many Christians like me who discovered Jesus through the work of the Spirit without much human influence. As Hebrews 11:8 says, “And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord. ’For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already.”

One major issue that was bothering my faith was the claim of Christians that Jesus was God. This did not make sense to me nor did the doctrine of the Trinity. I came across some verses like Matthew 24:36 and John 14:28 which when interpreted in a particular way suggested that Jesus was not God. In my mind I believed that the Father was God and that Jesus was just a sacrifice for sins. I believed that Jesus was just the Son of God and not actually God. I thought He was inferior or just nearly equal to God. How miserable I was when holding on to this belief in ignorance! As Hosea 4:6 says:  “My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.”

There was a turmoil inside me.

I started to search for the truth about Christianity. How could I be sure that I was not living in an illusion and that the disciples did not concoct together stories in the bible? How could I be sure that I was not in a man-made religion and fooled? Why should Christianity be right and other beliefs wrong?

Many Christian scholars gave some biased answers to some problematic questions about Christianity. It seemed to me some Christian scholars had no brains for I could myself refute and challenge them. I was very skeptic and did not trust several Christian theologians because their arguments were biased. There are many fellows with doctorates who defend unscriptural teachings and blindly adhere to the traditions passed on to them. These people are supposed to bring clarity to the layman but they rather make obvious verses complex to understand and end up confusing churches. It is a sad truth that many pastors do not know the doctrines of the bible and blindly defend and teach what their denominations hold on to. Many Christians follow myths and all kinds of weird doctrines. They do not examine or question like the Bereans and it is no wonder that they find themselves stagnant in their faith if not shipwrecked. Ask them what Jesus did for them and they will give you a testimony dated years ago. Ask them who Jesus is and you will be surprised that they either do not really know Him or just have an intellectual knowledge of who He is. They have stereotype answers like “Jesus is my Savior” or “Jesus is Lord” without a deep conviction of what they are confessing.

Many church goers have a deformed understanding of who Jesus is and the aim of this epistle is to actually extol to the highest the Messiah, Jesus-Christ. This was the missing puzzle in my understanding of Christianity. If one can prove Jesus is not God, then he has also proved along that Christianity is a man-made religion which teaches a bunch of moral stuff. I therefore invite every skeptic to prove that Jesus is not God if Christianity is pebble for them to chew. I decided one day to put aside every preconceived idea I had about Christianity. I was even ready to leave Christianity and become an agnostic if I did not get plausible answers to my questions about who Jesus really was.

The divinity of Jesus and the doctrine of the Trinity are central to the Christian faith and yet it is unbelievable that these are among the less taught doctrines. One of the eldest preachers of my country once said that we need not try to understand what the Trinity is because it cannot be explained. He said we just have to believe in it by faith. My left brain punched hard my right brain to reject this blind faith response. Why should I believe in something that could not be explained when this very thing is the pillar of the Christian faith? Contrarily to what I heard some ministers say, we can actually unambiguously and clearly explain what the Trinity is but it is the many why’s behind it that we cannot explain. As a sincere seeker of the truth, I was interested to know what the Trinity was but it did not matter to me why it was like that. I do understand what the solar system is but I find it useless to try to explain why it is set like that and not another way.

God took much patience to teach me His ways. Though not perfectly, but now I know Jesus better. There is no need to go through Moses to know God’s will. This is the glory of the new covenant. It’s such a grace to be personally taught by God. God is the initiator. He said :

I will put my instructions deep within them

I will write them on their hearts.

I will write them on their minds.

I will be their God, and they will be my people.

I will forgive their wickedness

I will never again remember their sins

I will make a new covenant.

These verses have so much to say. I would like to stress on that part where it says “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”and when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices”

Let us get this right that the past is gone and everything has become new (2 Cor 5:17). Remember that God no longer remembers your sins because He has forgiven them. God will never bring back again to you what He has forgiven. We humans often recall the past hurts someone did to us even if we said we forgave them. But not so with God. Many time people ask God over and over again to forgive them of the bad things they did in the past. These things haunt them and they say “I cannot forgive myself for what I did”. But of course we cannot forgive our sins, if we could then Jesus would not have come. Only God can forgive us and if He said He has forgiven us why do we refuse to believe He did it with all His heart? Why do we still go through mourning and penitence when the Word declares God has forgiven those who trusted in His Son? Jesus did it once for all and believe that you’re forgiven.

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

Christians need pastors and teachers to help them grow in their faith. But these people are not the ultimate source of God’s knowledge. The Holy Spirit is. The Spirit works in us reveal us the Son. Jesus said “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me” John 15:26

So there is no such thing as a pope who has exclusive knowledge or anyone who should be considered a guru/mediator. There is only one mediator, Jesus Christ. No matter who you are and what you did, you form part of God’s will to know Him.

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim 2:5

Many can testify that the Holy Spirit, the Divine Teacher, did a mighty work in their lives. No one knew exactly how to answer the questions in my mind. The Holy Spirit did. The Word of God is really alive and powerful. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” Hebrews 4:12

When I came to know Jesus as God I wondered why no one exposed Jesus as God when I was younger. There is almost an abyss between those who believe that Jesus is God and those who do not. If some church goers do not believe Jesus is God, how do they worship Him then? Should not worship be given only to God? If you worship Jesus as a the little son of God and not as God then you will probably worship Him without the adoration He deserves. One who considers Jesus only as his savior or God’s son will definitely suffer in his prayer requests because He has no assurance that Jesus is able to answer Him. I was like doubting Thomas before studying the Epistle to the Hebrews. When I met with Jesus I cried out like Thomas “My Lord and my God!”  John 20:28

When I read that Epistle, I bowed down to my knees, wept and asked Jesus to forgive me for doubting He was God. How stupid I was to doubt! Today, if there is one thing that I am totally sure about, it is this belief that Jesus is God. On this my faith lies.

When I look back I just stand in awe at what the Holy Spirit has been teaching me. I do not deserve it. Who am I that God took so much patience to teach me who He was? Pastors and teachers can fail us but God will never will.

If you have questions about God and you’re sincere seeker of the truth, I invite you to ask God to reveal Himself to you. No matter how sinful you have been or unworthy you think you are, I invite you to talk to the God I am referring to.

As Isaiah 1:18 says:

Come now, and let us reason together,”Says the Lord,“Though your sins are like scarlet,They shall be as white as snow;Though they are red like crimson,They shall be as wool.”

Posted April 6, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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John 3:16   Leave a comment

John 3:16

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. .” John 3:16

This is probably the most known verse in the bible. If one person would like to get a summary of what there’s in the bible, John 3:16 summarizes it well. In my opinion, John 3:16 resumes the core of the Gospel and Christianity. It also shows who is the God of Christians. It is a God who loves beyond understanding.

1. For God

First of all, this verse implies that God exists. There has been and there are still huge debates on this mighty being. Is there a God? If so, who is this God? The Greeks had many gods and so it is around us. Is it a god who is created by human hands (Ps. 115, Is. 44) and is in need of anything from us to sustain himself (Hag 2:8, Is 66:1-2)? Is it a god we created in our minds? The God of the Christians described in this verse is a God who loves (1 John 4:8). It is the Supreme Being who just spoke and things came into existence (Ps 33:9). The mountains, waters, stars and planets fixed themselves as per His commands (Heb 11:3, Job 38-40).

2. So loved

Is there a being who can love more than God? God is the author of love. Only God can love to the greatest degree and love at 100%. Never a husband will be able to love his wife at 100% (or vice-versa) because we humans are by nature selfish and prideful. Love is not a feeling. Love is action, it is giving and a commitment and is not like emotions which fluctuate with circumstances. Genuine love is independent of what the one who is loved decides. Even if many people hate God, that would not reduce to 1% God’s love for them.  Agape love is a sacrificial, not self-seeking and unconditional love. It’s about giving oneself to the well being of someone else.
3. The world

This God loves everyone. Whether you’re black, white, illiterate or handicapped. God knows by name every human being who exists on this earth . It is not a God for elites who claim to have some super spiritual knowledge or power. Everyone is at least loved by someone and this someone is not just anyone, it is the One who created everything. God wants everyone to know that He loves them but unfortunately many reject Him.

4. That He gave

The God of Christians is a God who gives. God does not ask anything from us, He already gave what was needed. Is there anything we can bring to God to beg for forgiveness? If someone hurt me, even if he offers millions dollars, he will not be able to buy my forgiveness. It’s disrespectful to try to bargain with God by doing good.  Who can say “Look God how many good things I did, you have to forgive me now!“.

It is a myth to believe that the amount of good things we do will cancel the bad things we did. There’s no such things as a balance in God’s hand. If a priest has been helping people in need during all his life and it happens that one day he exceeded the speed limit while hurrying to an orphanage, he violated the law. He’ll never be able to say to the judge “Look at all the good stuff I did, you have to cancel the charges against me!“. This is indisputable. There’s no relation between cancelling bad deeds with good deeds. This is human’s nature to try to repair mistakes. The righteous God does not work this way.

If God does not want to forgive, no one can force Him. Someone who forgives is someone who gives and this act is closely related to the word ‘grace’. The gift that God is giving here is  called ‘salvation’. God is giving us the chance to repent and be saved from His divine wrath. God did not forgive because we did enough good things but because He knew no one would ever be able to meet His standard of righteousness. Love is giving. If you love someone you’ll give without asking anything in return. This is genuine love. What does God lack that a human being can bring?

5. His one and only Son

God is a generous God and He gave the best. If the scripture read “God so loved the world that He gave a barrel of water”, we would certainly doubt the seriousness of God and the gravity of our offenses. God did not give something which had no value in His eyes. It did not cost something, it cost Him everything. It was His beloved Son whom He sent. Of course, this does not mean that God has a biological son. Jesus was both called son of man and son of God. He was called son of God because He had God’s nature. He was called son of man because He had man’s nature. Jesus is God Himself who took a human body to present Himself as a offering for sin. God through Jesus came to reconcile Himself to man. Why did God take a human body and die on a cross? Simply because it was God’s way to expiate sins. Annihilation of legions of holy angels would not be able to remove a single white lie as they are but creatures like us. It required deity to forgive sin. God’s justice and righteousness could be met only by Himself.  The name of the God of the Christian is Jesus. Jesus is the mediator between sinful humanity and the holy God. When you’re in contact with Jesus, you’re in contact with God Himself. Let us be honest, how can man repair his sins with alms, prayers and good deeds? Man cannot and does not know how to deal with his sins. God Himself took the first step to forgive (Rom 5:6). Jesus is the greatest gift. If the world would like a proof of God’s love, God would say “Look at my Son!”

What is the greatest thing one can give? His money, house, eyes? The greatest thing someone can give is his life for once you give it, you cannot take it back.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives” John 12:24

To cease to live to give life to someone else, this is the greatest proof of love. Jesus did more than that when He chose to offer Himself on the cross. He did not die because He did something wrong but because He was the only righteous being who could present Himself before God and say “Pour out your wrath on me and forgive them!“. Only Jesus understood the exigence of God and knew how to repair our sins.  It’s unbelievable, but where there’s love, crazy things can happen.

6. That whoever believes in him

As mentioned earlier, God does not reveal himself only to some monks, priests or spiritual leaders. God is accessible to anyone and not just to a few. No matter how sinful one can be, God is interested to reveal Himself to any sinners. God would not be shocked by the sins we would like to confess, He already knows them all anyway!

Just believing in Jesus? That simple? It does not make sense to many that forgiveness can be obtained by just trusting Jesus’ sacrifice. What God only asks is that we acknowledge that we are sinners and that He provided Jesus to die on a cross to forgive our sins. We only have to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is enough to forgive our sins. This is only what God requires (John 6:29, Mark 9:7). People think that they have to do many things to get God’s sympathy, approval and indulgence. But a Christian came to the conclusion that he’ll never be able to do enough (or anything) to forgive his sins. Meeting God’s standard of righteousness and holiness is impossible. The Christian accepts God’s forgiveness by grace. It is by God’s grace that our debts are freely cancelled (Col 2:13-14). It is a absolute reliance on the work of the Son of God without anything required from sinful man.

7. shall not perish but have eternal life

We have seen that God is love. As deep God’s love can be, as deep His wrath is. God is love but also holy and righteous. His wrath on sinners is incomparable. We are talking about a righteous Judge who has no flaws. The Son knew that no human beings would ever be able to escape God’s holy wrath so He presented Himself before God so that God’s justice is made (Hebrews 10:5-9). God in His anger crushed His Son on the cross (Is. 53). Jesus was ready to endure whatever was required to redirect God’s wrath on Him (John 10:17). He was singled out (Hebrews 13:12) and hung alone under God’s judgment for our redemption. It is because we are sinners that we sin. No one has to teach a new born baby how to lie. By himself this baby will learn to sin. We are born with a sinful nature because of Adam’s sin. No one is born righteous. God is a God who loves but is also righteous. Because of His righteousness, He cannot leave sins unpunished. This is why He cannot accept sin in His holy presence. There’s a place of eternal separation for sinners called hell. Right now, sinners cannot understand how hard it will be to live eternally away from God’s presence. Due to the high penalty of disobedience, God sent Jesus to reconcile every sinners to Him. God wants every humans to live eternally in His peaceful presence but unfortunately not everyone wants it. God is merciful because He is not giving us what we deserve i.e. hell and is full of grace because He gave us what we do not deserve i.e. Forgiveness through Jesus.

Trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice is the only way to be spared of God’s wrath on the day of final judgement. Everyday is a new day given by God to each human to receive the forgiveness of sins. Today is the day the bible says (2 Cor 6:2, Heb. 4:7). Some joyfully accept that only Jesus’ sacrifice can save them and want Jesus to be the Master of their life. Others refuse Jesus’ sacrifice and want to continue living in their sins because they like their vices. They fear that all their evil deeds are exposed if Jesus comes into their life.

I have given you my Son, what have you done of this gift?

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God

 

The Preaching of the Gospel

Salvation is free but not cheap. The reason Christians are called to tell about the Good News is because people will not know unless they are told.

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?” Romans 10:14

It is vital that Christians share the gospel with people who have not yet heard it. But woe to those who heard and rejected it. We should not be discouraged if we do not see the result of our work. Paul planted the seeds of the gospel and did not always see its fruit. God made it grow by the Spirit who works in the heart of man.

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.” 1 Cor 3:5-9

Who can genuinely convince man of sin except the Spirit (Jean 16:8)? Christians have not been called to persuade men they are sinners and to repent, this is the work of the Spirit. The mission of Christian is to preach about Jesus crucified for sinners. The Spirit will do that mighty work of convicting hearts. Some people like Apollos just reap what others worked hard. Their work is equally important as they disciple new followers of Christ.

But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.” John 4:36-38

GOD — The Greatest Lover
SO LOVED — The Greatest Degree
THE WORLD — The Greatest Company
THAT HE GAVE — The Greatest Act
HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON — The Greatest Gift
THAT WHOSOEVER — The Greatest Opportunity
BELIEVETH — The Greatest Simplicity
IN HIM — The Greatest Attraction
SHOULD NOT PERISH — The Greatest Promise
BUT — The Greatest Difference
HAVE — The Greatest Certainty
EVERLASTING LIFE. — The Greatest Possesion

J. Edwin Hartill

Posted October 20, 2012 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Ingrafted branches   Leave a comment

We know that we have come to know God if we obey his commands. Suppose someone says, “I know him.” But suppose that person does not do what God commands. Then that person is a liar and is not telling the truth. But if anyone obeys God’s word, then God’s love is truly made complete in that person. Here is how we know we belong to him. Those who claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did. ” 1 John 2:3-4,

Just as Jesus did. I have read the book titled “Like Christ” by Andrew Murray and I was so struck by the reality in these words above. For years I have been wrestling to try to resemble Christ but it was so difficult. I made a lot of efforts and finally concluded that it was impossible. I said to myself that Jesus gave us an example of perfection that we need to try to aim. I thought that Jesus was not literally meaning that we should become exactly like Him. It could not be literal, it must be an ideal. I’m just a man, I live in a world of sin, how can Jesus expect that of me?

Lies! Jesus really expects us to become like Him in all aspects. This is impossible if we try this by ourselves, I can testify that!
If it was my decision to choose to become like Jesus, it would have been a gross sin. No here, it is God the Son who wants His friends, his brothers and sisters to become like Him. It was His prayer (John 17).

These verses talk about these aspects of our life that need to be conform to Christ’s likeness.

John 13:15(Serve), John 15:12(Love), Mat 18:33/Col 3:13(Forgiveness), 1 Thes 4 (Holiness).

Paul was an imitator of Christ (1 Cor 11). We have been predestined to become like Christ Rom 8:29, 2 Cor 3:18.
Jesus literally wants us to be perfect (Mat 5:48). He is he author and perfecter of our faith, He’ll finish what He has started in us. “Streams of living water will flow from inside him” into those who believe in Him (John 7:38).

It’s all about Him and the Spirit working within us to transform us into Christ’s likeness. It is not about us changing ourselves into Christ image. John 15 portrays it well. We are the branches and He is the Vine.

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.

John 15 is in my opinion the greatest illustration Jesus gave to His disciples of what He is to them and what they are to Him.

If it is not physically possible for us to be what a branch is to the Vine, spiritually it is what Christians are. This chapter explains how a Christian now survives. The Word and the Spirit remove in us all impurities, they prune us from everything that hinders us to bear fruits. When I look at a mango tree, I see the branches holding the fruits. A branch cannot do anything to produce these fruits. The branch just carries to the fruit what the roots extract from the soil. A branch cannot survive without the tree but a tree can survive without a branch.

The Greek word used here to describe the branch is klēma which means a branch ingrafted. We were on another tree before, we were from Adam(Romans 5:15-21). The fruits we were bearing naturally was sin and death. Jesus is God, He is holy and sinless. What He did is this: He removed us from the sinful life we inherited Adam and ingrafted us in Him. It was not natural for us to bear good fruits. Our contact to holiness is Jesus.There’s now nothing common between our old nature and what we are now since we are now nourishing ourselves from a holy sap. We died to our old nature because spiritually we are no longer in Adam.

Anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come! It is all from God. He brought us back to himself through Christ’s death on the cross. And he has given us the task of bringing others back to him through Christ. ” 2 Cor 5:17

An orange branch ingrafted in a lemon tree will produce a mixed fruit. Each of these different species will influence each other. But not so with Christ. We cannot influence Christ with sinful behavior. Jesus removes these branches that do not bear good fruits. Jesus the Vine wants us to bear grapes not thorns. We are now in Him and Him in us. We should be influenced by what He gives, we are to resemble Him.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. ” Rom 6:3-6

Our old self is crucified. It is finish. I can say to my old self “I am finish with you, I do not want to have anything to do with you”.

We are in Christ! Glory to God! What a grace!

Just contemplate the Lord’s prayer:

They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to it. Use the truth to make them holy. Your word is truth. You sent me into the world. In the same way, I have sent them into the world. I make myself holy for them so that they too can be made holy in a true sense.
“I do not pray only for them. I pray also for those who will believe in me because of their message. Father, I pray that all of them will be one, just as you are in me and I am in you. I want them also to be in us. Then the world will believe that you have sent me.”I have given them the glory you gave me. I did this so they would be one, just as we are one. I will be in them, just as you are in me. I want them to be brought together perfectly as one. This will let the world know that you sent me. It will also show the world that you have loved those you gave me, just as you have loved me.”Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. I want them to see my glory, the glory you have given me. You gave it to me because you loved me before the world was created.”Father, you are holy. The world does not know you, but I know you. Those you have given me know you have sent me. I have shown you to them. And I will continue to show you to them. Then the love you have for me will be in them. I myself will be in them.

I in them, they in Me. This was the Lord’s prayer. The ingrafted branches in Me.

Paul saw how his fellow Jews were cut off and Gentiles like us ingrafted. This is what he said:

The first handful of dough that is offered is holy. This makes all of the dough holy. If the root is holy, so are the branches. Some of the natural branches have been broken off. You are a wild olive branch. But you have been joined to the tree with the other branches. Now you enjoy the life-giving sap of the olive tree root. So don’t think you are better than the other branches. Remember, you don’t give life to the root. The root gives life to you. You will say, “Some branches were broken off so that I could be joined to the tree.” That’s true. But they were broken off because they didn’t believe. You stand only because you do believe. So don’t be proud. Be afraid. God didn’t spare the natural branches. He won’t spare you either. Think about how kind God is! Also think about how firm he is! He was hard on those who stopped following him. But he is kind to you. So you must continue to live in his kindness. If you don’t, you also will be cut off. ” Romans 11:16-22

The word of God purifies us.

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.“ John 15

Use the truth to make them holy. Your word is truth.” John 17

The fruit of the Spirit should naturally be produced in us. We are not the one who do the pruning, it’s the Gardener. We are the clay, not the Potter. What is our role then? Our role is this “Remain in Christ”. Give Christ this honor of transforming you in His image. If we try to be our own hairdresser, it will be a mess. From Christ overflows holiness into us. Can we become like Christ, my answer is yes because He works in us to transform us in His image.

Our faces are not covered with a veil. We all display the Lord’s glory. We are being changed to become more like him so that we have more and more glory. And the glory comes from the Lord, who is the Holy Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18, Gen :26

For quite a long time, I thought that what the bible was expecting from Christians was too demanding, impossible. By my own effort I tried to become like Christ. I always failed. Now I understood that He Himself will do everything. I just have to remain in Him. I just have to let myself molded into His image by Him.

In him we live and move and exist.” Acts 17:28.

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 15:6
Many Christians do not like to hear about it but it’s what the bible teaches over and over again. A branch that does not bear fruits is removed, cut off and thrown into the fire. A good tree(Jesus) cannot bear bad fruits. How can the Holy Vine bear thorns? Is not it a disgrace? How can a branch which bears bad fruits “glorifies the Father in heaven”. Those who claim to be Christians and do not bear good fruits will be removed.

God did and does everything for us to resemble Him. But not everyone wants to leave his dark desires.

He gives us everything we need for life and for holy living. He gives it through His great power. As we come to know Him better, we learn that He called us to share His own shining-greatness and perfect life. Through His shining-greatness and perfect life, He has given us promises. These promises are of great worth and no amount of money can buy them. Through these promises you can have God’s own life in you now that you have gotten away from the sinful things of the world which came from wrong desires of the flesh. ” 2 Peter 1:

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2

Let’s not lower the high standard of priesthood living that Christ called us. God’s children cannot resemble the children of the father of lies. We are princes and princess’ of the Holy King. Our Kingdom is heaven.

Posted February 1, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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An unbiased presentation of Christianity – that’s what our youths need!   2 comments

Young-christians

Young-christians

Young people, I’m writing to you because you have won the battle over the evil one. ” 1 John 2:13

Like a good soldier of Christ Jesus, share in the hard times with us. A soldier does not take part in things that don’t have anything to do with the army. He wants to please his commanding officer. In the same way, anyone who takes part in a sport doesn’t receive the winner’s crown unless he plays by the rules.” 2 Tim 2

Unfortunately, we see our soldiers occupied by things which do not have anything to do with the army.

Pious young people have such power and zeal. But there’re few of them for many reasons.

From my observation, here are the main reasons:

1) Parents did not take their responsibilities of educating their children in the faith.
(This is most probably because the parents themselves do not really know Jesus and that’s why they can’t teach about Him)
2) The church does not encourage them, pray for them and meet their needs.
3) The young persons prefer the “evil desires of youth” instead of remaining in Christ.
Run away from the evil things that young people long for. Try hard to do what is right. Have faith, love and peace. Do these things together with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Tim 2:22.

I’m currently meditating on the roles youths had in evangelism in Paul’s time (e.g. Titus, Timothy, Stephen). David, Samuel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego are some youths which God used to do mighty things in the OT. God has always been using young people for His glory.

Where are these youths who are supposed to have Christ in them? Where are these temples of the Spirit?

Young people have such vitality, power, vision, energy, they like challenges, they are bold and they have such an important role to play in the body of Christ.

I read many blogs of bible teachers who say over and over again that parents play an important role in the child’s decision in following Christ. This is biblical.

Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it.” Prov 22:6

Parents don’t want their children to go to hell, they want their children to live wisely, honor them, be full of love, respect people, be happy and succeed. Jesus can do all this. Why not doing like Hannah, the mother of Samuel? Entrust your daughter and son to Jesus.

My parents went to church but were not good examples of Christians. The only thing that made me follow Christ is the teachings I saw in the bible. My father bought a bible for me in 2001 and it was the greatest gift he gave me without realising it. I could not rely on the church to help me know Christ and put me on the right track.

I was alone to choose the path to take. No counselors, no examples to follow. By God’s grace, by His patience in teaching me, I’m a follower of Jesus-Christ. Calamities came, but I remained in Christ because I know in whom I have believed. People who know all the troubles my family went through consider me a miracle. They wonder how I’m still a Christian.

I met with Christ, I know what He did for me. I do not have the slightest doubt that He is God and that He’ll come to earth to judge and reign.

In my opinion, the only thing which can make someone take a radical decision in following Christ is meeting Him personally. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, He saw the Light. He has never been the same since.

Simple as it is, we need to be vessels to show Christ to them. Stop feeding them every sundays with boring sermons(as they consider it), teach them how to read the bible. Teach them to prepare a sharing. Make them think. Let them question Christianity. Don’t be afraid of doing that because Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Life and the Truth. I questioned Jesus and Christianity for years. Jesus never failed to show me that He is what He claimed to be. Let not these youths think that you’re tricking and brainwashing them every Sundays. Encourage them to question what you believe. Only then can they personally have their own opinion and know in whom they are told to believe. A man who has his own opinion about something is definitely stronger than someone who does not know what he believes in. I do not believe in Jesus because of my pastor or my parents. The church can close its doors, my parents can abandon me, I will keep on following Christ. Many people who go to church think they are Christians but they are not. It’s a tragedy. They never met with the Christ of the bible. They worship a fictitious Christ. This should not be the case for this new generation. Stop interpreting a verse for them. Let them think, let them reason. Pious Christians don’t follow God with the heart only, but with their mind also.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.” Mat 22:37

They need to be convinced intellectually that Jesus is the truth. They need to be given an unbiased presentation of Christianity. Only then their faith will be on the Solid Rock.

I’m not saying that we should intellectualize the Gospel, far from it! There’re many honest Bereans(Acts 17) out there who examine what they are taught. Could you imagine what would have happened if the Bereans found some flaws in Paul’s teachings? But no, it’s because they examined that they were personally convinced. The Samaritans said to the Samaritan woman : “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4

Many people believe blindly in a religion because it’s the religion or their parents or country. They were born a hindu/muslim/buddhist/catholic. It should not be so with Christianity and it cannot be so because no one is born a Christian. To become a Christian one has to understand what it’s about and personally commit his/her life to Christ. If we force someone to love someone else, this is not genuine love. We cannot force/brainwash someone to become a Christian. If it has been so, this person is simply not a Christian. A Christian knows in whom he/she believes.

Posted January 23, 2012 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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Epistle to the Hebrews (Intro)   2 comments

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

The Epistle to the Hebrews is the book of the bible which gave me the answers I needed to my many questions on Christianity. This epistle brought life and peace in my heart. I was skeptic about his divinity before reading that epistle. I was told by a a church leader that there were certain things that were difficult to explain and that I just had to accept by faith. My mind was rejecting this faith-in-the-unknown theology. The Trinity is central to the Christian faith so why should I blindly consider the Jesus of the bible to be God? This is a serious statement. There were many teachings in the scripture about wisdom and sin that I saw were true but when it came to the divinity of Jesus I could not digest it and started to have some doubts on the veracity of the scripture.

If all Christians believe that Jesus is God, then why should I? I wanted an unbiased answer. I could vaguely believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that He died for my sins. But I could not believe that He was God. I did not want to be fooled or worship someone whom Christians considered God. How could I be sure that it was not a man-made theology? If I believed in this doctrine then I would be blindly having faith in something I had no conviction of truth. Should I believe in a religious system just because my parents did? I was already baptized in the church, yet Jesus was not the central being of my life. I could not accept that He could be my God. I could not accept the doctrine of the Trinity. Verses that local preachers used e.g. Mat 3:16 could not prove that Jesus was God or prove the Trinity. I read here and there what theologians said and some of the verses they used were not clearly showing the concept behind the Trinity.

If the Trinity cannot be explained then why should I believe in something that cannot be explained?  Why should Christians have a partial understanding of this doctrine or even have a blind faith in it? Having a “faith” that would kill my conscience was hard. Before my study on the Epistle to the Hebrews, I believed that there could be only 1 God whom in my mind was the Father. It was not an entirely wrong belief. For me, there could be only a supreme God. I could not believe that there could be such things as “small gods” since God is by definition the Supreme Being and He cannot have a competitor. The Jehovah’s witnesses for instance believe that Jesus is not God but a “god”. They could solve many questions with this slight adjustment regarding Jesus.The Trinity appeared to me to have 3 Gods and that was problematic for my Christian faith.

Here are some legitimate questions regarding the doctrine of Trinity:

Is Jesus God? Yes. Is the Father God? Yes. Is the Spirit God? Yes. Do these 3 “Yes” mean there’re 3 Gods? No. But yet there’s still only One God, right? Yes.

Is not it confusing ? No. Why? In the book Genesis, God said “Let us make man in our own image“. Why this “us” then? Are we really created in God’s image? Yes. Why?

My soul is who am I i.e. “Cedric”. My body is who am I i.e. “Cedric”. My spirit is who am I i.e. “Cedric”. How many Cedrics are there? One, not three. I’m myself a proof that I’m a kind of trinity so how I can disagree with the concept of the tri-unity? My mind cannot understand why it’s like that but I can’t deny it’s reality. It’s not 1+1+1 but 1*1*1.

Explaining what is the Trinity is simple if we use the bible, it’s the many why’s behind it that are hard to explain. I appreciate much the way Nicky Cruz explained it in His book “The Magnificient 3”. It was original and I recommend it for new believers. There’re many things written on the subject of the Trinity, it’s not my aim to add to them.

In the coming posts, I will share my findings on this amazing topic that Jesus is God using the Epistle of Hebrews. Several theologians try to glue a verse here and there to try to explain problematic questions regarding the Trinity. By doing so, they are not giving justice to the verses they are using. They are misusing the Word of God to give an approximate answer to problematic questions. The bible clearly demonstrates that Jesus is God even if many people challenge it. If someone can prove that Jesus is not God then Christianity is a big lie.

Several years ago, I read the book “The Holiest of All” by Dr Andrew Murray. It is a really good book on this topic – The best I found. It was in fact through this book that I came to understand that Jesus was God.  I’ve been to church since 1995 and for more than 10 years I never heard sermons/bible studies based on this book.

When someone has this deep conviction that Jesus is God, His way of living can no longer be the same. This book has all the ingredients to make Christians realize that Jesus is not just a “son of God” as many think. He is not just a sacrifice for sins. This Jesus is God, He sits on God’s throne, all created beings in heaven adore Him since eternity past, He is God’s chosen High Priest for eternity, He is the Supreme Judge, He reigns in heaven and simply ignoring Him is hell. My perspective changed abruptly after studying this book. I bowed to my knees and asked Jesus to forgive me for refusing to adore Him and arguing with Him for so long. I was like doubting Thomas and refused to believe if I got no proofs. But God in His patience saved me from my incredulity. It took me months to study this book and restudy it again.

Murray in his book mentioned that Jesus took Peter and John with Him, brought them onto a high mountain and was transfigured before them. This is what happened to me when I studied the epistle to the Hebrews. I wish that Jesus also reveals Himself to you in a powerful way through this study. Murray was right to say that we Christians need to know Jesus more. This lack of knowledge is what keep Christians carnal and immature. Many pastors and teachers pour their heart before God asking for a cure to the mediocre life of faith of their fellow brothers and sisters. Why is there indifference, lack of love, quarrels, lack of holiness and lack zeal amidst the church? Instead of hastily concluding that the church goers are not Christians, I guess the sad truth is that these Christians do not really know Jesus or have in mind a fictitious Jesus. That was my case and this is why my heart burns to exalt the Son of God through the coming posts.

This epistle requires that each single verse is examined in the light of the Old testament and the new. Throughout this epistle, the author has compacted deep theological teachings in single verses. I invite you to unpack a verse at a time for your meditation.

And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He[Jesus] is the only true God, and he is eternal life. ” 1 John 5:20