Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Integrity of the Canonized Bible

A friend asked me, what do you mean by “Canonized Bible? For the benefit of those who are like my friend, “canonized” refers to the 66 books of the Holy Bible (39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament). Why are these books called canonized? Because these books passed certain standards prescribed by a committee of Canonizing Fathers on what books are to be included in the Bible. Those that passed have been referred to by the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) or are written by a man of God like Moses (the so-called Pentateuch or the Law of Moses), or written by the Apostles or close to the Apostles like Mark and Dr. Luke.

The Lord Jesus Christ speaking to the eleven disciples (minus Judas Iscariot who committed suicide by hanging himself) after he resurrected on the third day said, “These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses [Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy] and in the Prophets [Isaiah up to Malachi] and in the Psalms [Psalm 1 to 150] concerning me (Luke 24:44 KJV).

Thus, the Bible tells us, “… No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God (Like Moses, all the Prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, David in the Psalms, Solomon in Song of Solomon, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, the Apostles, all Gospel writers and those very close to Jesus like his half-brother James, and those very close to the Apostles like Mark and Dr. Luke), spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21 KJV).

Some people believe that the Bible is merely a collection of ancient writings. But blessed are those who believe that it is God’s inspired Word, which means everything is true and shall be fulfilled or shall come to pass.

For example, the Bible contains prophecies that have already been fulfilled. Several centuries before specific events took place, the writers of Scripture predicted their occurrence, and in the course of time those events came to pass. And those not yet fulfilled, like those in the book of Revelation are still to be fulfilled and will really be fulfilled or shall soon come to pass.

No matter how farsighted we may be, we cannot foretell the future with any precision, like what the holy men of God predicted or prophesied.
Thus, the Bible is filled with dramatic examples of fulfilled prophecy.

For example, the prince of all prophets, Isaiah, about 700 years before Jesus Christ was born, prophesied:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6 KJV).

And again, Isaiah wrote:

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isa. 53:2-12 KJV).

These prophecies are a fulfillment of what the Prince of all Psalmist, King David, earlier prophesied in Psalm 22:1-18 which record details about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ several hundred of years before this cruel form of death by execution took place.

Indeed the Bible, is one and only authoritative divine revelation of truth - a claim verified by fulfilled prophecy.

When we know by experience that someone who makes a commitment or promise will really comply 100%, we trust that someone’s promise shall be done, unless prevented by death or other fortuitous (unavoidable) events.

For example, when my father was still alive, I promised or committed to attend a gathering in our farm at Kapalong, Davao del Norte, 80 kilometers away from Davao City where I had my own residence and law office. In those days, there were no telephone lines in our municipality, and there were no cellphones yet. At any rate, the gathering started though I arrived late past 12:00 noon already due to an emergency engagement that intervened. Everything was prepared including a “lechon” (roasted piglet). When I told my father, it was nice of him preparing everything when I did not arrive on time at 9:00 A.M. as scheduled, he replied with a smile, ‘because I know whenever you make a promise, you will fulfill it’”. This must be how, and even more, we should trust the promises of God now written in the canonized Bible. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

Knowing the Bible is of absolute importance and necessity to all men. Obeying what it says will result to unspeakable joy of blessings: the foremost and best of all is eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, know the Bible, believe and do what it says, and be BLESSED beyond description in words.

We can trust the canonized Bible, for 100% God (in person Jesus Christ) always keeps his Word.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

True And Perfect Love

Love is the greatest of all human virtues and qualities. It is an emotion endowed by God in the heart of all human beings, and it is something that causes us to move into action to do something good.

In Matthew 22:36-40, the Scriptures relate of a Pharisee–lawyer who asked the Lord Jesus:

36 "Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?" 37 Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." (NLT)

In 1 John 4:7-17, the Bible tells us:

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God -- for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. 13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world.” (NLT)

Give love … receive love…but don’t keep it, rather give it away. In giving it away, the true lover or “giver” is not expecting anything in return. This is true love…the love of God, a Christlike love – “not expecting anything in return”.

What are the characteristics of true love, the Love of God?

First, it is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3), not just for a moment or a few days, months or years, but EVERLASTING.

Second, it is giving and tremendously sacrificial which defies description in words (John 3:16). The sacrifice is not solicited but voluntary. More so, it is given not by force, or because there is no choice. Supreme Love - - the LOVE of God - - is willing to die for a cause or for someone or some people. Only God has this kind of love.

Third, love is merciful or compassionate

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:4-7 KJV)

Fourth, it is regardless of whether a person is a sinner or saint (Rom. 5:8). Thus, the Bible says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Normally, people will love only those who are good, generous, beautiful, or lovable. This is not true love.

1 Cor. 13 is oftentimes referred to as the LOVE Chapter of the Bible. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:1, “Let love be your highest goal” (NLT).

It is ironic that according to tradition, Paul who is the author of this Love chapter of the Bible, remained single all his life, like the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we can be sure that he was not talking or teaching out of his experience. Rather, he is teaching by revelation of the Holy Spirit. And this is more authoritative and genuine because the Scripture says, “For the prophecy (Word of God) came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1:21 KJV). This is an exception to the rule that “Experience is the best teacher”. Rather, the best teacher is the Holy Spirit. God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, God the Son, are one (the doctrine of Trinity). Hence, what the Holy Spirit teaches is taught in person by Jesus Christ. This makes the Lord Jesus Christ equally the best teacher.

Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:8).

First Corinthians 13 is often read at weddings. However, the newlyweds who are madly and sweetly in love just before and immediately after the marriage ceremony will somehow eventually fail to love each other. The extreme result is divorce. The one and only individual who perfectly fulfills this “love chapter” is Jesus Christ.

Let us try substituting the word Love (or Charity in the KJV) to that of Jesus: Thus, “[Jesus] suffers long (patient) and is kind; [Jesus] does not envy (not jealous or boastful or proud); [Jesus] . . . does not behave rudely (is gentle); does not seek its own (does not demand its own way); not irritable (in Tagalog hindi mainit ang ulo); it keeps no record of when it has been wronged; . . . does not rejoice in iniquity (injustice), but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [Jesus] never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4-8). Whatever Jesus had promised - - and these are written in the canonized Bible - - He is able to, and will, fulfill 100% to the last dot, because “he never fails”.

Indeed, only Jesus is the perfect example of one who loves that never fails. Yet Paul wrote to describe how God wants us to love others, especially our spouse, as whether we like it or not, somehow, sometime, our spouse will fail us. He knew, though, that we need more than to read about Christ’s example of love; we need to experience His love by receiving Him into our HEART as our Lord and only Savior and perfect lover even while we were yet sinners. If we have done that, Paul declared, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Only then will we be able to love others (including our spouse) as Jesus does. It is only when Jesus Christ abides in our inner heart that we can love like him, being Christlike, expecting nothing in return for the act of love we have done or shown - - a love that never fails.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Formula For Success

Moses was commissioned by God to liberate the Hebrew people from their bondage in Egypt, then the world power. The journey to the promised land of Canaan took many years - - 40 years - - such that Moses was already 120 years old. However, he never stepped into, but he was only shown by God, the promised land. The Bible says, “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pesgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord showed him, all the land… and Moses died there in the land of Moab… and he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day (Deut. 34:1, 5-6 KJV).

After the death of Moses, the LORD God spoke to Joshua, his Deputy or Assistant, saying, “… go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” [Jacob] (Josh. 1:1-2 KJV). God gave to Joshua this encouraging words of assurance:

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (vs. 5, NIV)

and gave the following instructions:
Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (vs. 6–9 NIV).

Analyzing the instructions of God to Joshua, the formula for the success of his mission are the following:

1. Fidelity and faithfulness to the word of God (vs. 8);

2. Determination to succeed in his mission (vss. 6, 7 & 9);

3. He must be very courageous (vs. 7);

The LORD God additionally made the encouraging assurance that “I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (vs. 5).
Fidelity and faithfulness to the Word of God: “This book of the law (the Bible) shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein”.

To truly succeed in any human endeavor, one must know by heart the canonized Word of God and “observe to do according to all that is written therein”… “turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (vs. 7). This will require hard work, diligence and much patience (in Tagalog, magsipag ka) and partnership with God. The all wise King Solomon said, “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule; but the slothful (lazy) shall be under tribute” (Prov. 12:24). He further said, “He becometh poor that dealeth with slack (lazy) hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich” (Prov. 10:4 KJV).

Determination and courage: The LORD God emphasized by repeating the words “Be strong and of a good courage (vss. 6 & 9) and He further underscored it by saying “only be thou strong and VERY courageous” (vs. 7). Speaking through the prince of all prophets, God had promised his abiding presence in the believer as follows:

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isa. 41:10 & 13 NIV)

The LORD Jesus Christ confirmed the truth of this promise to the believer by saying, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7 KJV).

Whatever be our mission or ambition in life, the foregoing instructions are a good, workable and sure fire formula. Let us remember that good things and the very best in this life are achieved through hard work and diligence, with blessing from God.

Salvation is free so that it is available to all regardless of social status, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, man or woman, young or old, Jew or Gentile (including all races of mankind). Thus, the Bible tells us, “For by grace (undeserved favor) are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 KJV). Only be a faithful believer of God. A believer is known by the fruit of the Holy Spirit in him, namely: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness (not rude), goodness, faith (always believing in his heart), meekness (not boastful) and temperance (self-control). (Galatians 5:22).

Do we want to succeed in any endeavor in this world, and to succeed in entering heaven, the promised paradise to all believers? Let us remember the encouragement and do with diligence the instructions of God to Joshua.