Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Significance Of The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The concluding remarks of the Lord Jesus in his conversation with Nicodemus, a magistrate and ruler of the Jews, was as follows:

“12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven (the Lord Jesus Christ);
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up (referring to, and symbolism of, the crucifixion of Jesus);
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:12-15 KJV)

Obviously, the Lord Jesus in verse 14 was referring to his crucifixion in symbolism. He emphasized in verse 15 that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life”. He was referring to the resurrection of the dead who believed in Christ. This kind of belief should be accompanied by action, not merely intellectual belief or just in the mind, but in the heart. Intellectual belief is exemplified by the devils believing but not evidenced by action (James 2:19). This kind of belief does not result in the salvation of the soul. The action should be evidenced by the believer’s acceptance of, and obedience to, the teachings of Jesus. It must be evidenced by the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the character of the believer such as - - love, joy, peace, longsuffering (or patience), gentleness, goodness, faith as described in Hebrews 11:1 [NOW faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen; which faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17 KJV)], meekness and temperance [self-control] (Galatians 5:22-23).

What is meant by “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life”? He is referring to the resurrection unto life by those “dead in Christ”, or who died in their heart believing in Christ. For every human being shall die once physically. Thus, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. He spoke of the temple referring to his own human body. He was then 100% human but at the same time 100% divine. When therefore he was risen from the dead on the third day, his disciples remembered that he had said unto them previously. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (spiritually) and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (spiritually). (John 2:19-22). Note the repeated use of the word believeth for emphasis.

The Lord Jesus demonstrated the truth of his gospel by his own resurrection and by resurrecting Lazarus, his friend who obviously believed on Him as the only begotten Son of God. The story goes that Lazarus died and was already buried four days so “by this time he stinketh” said his sister Martha (vs. 30). The Lord Jesus answered:

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid, And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them. Loose him, and let him go.
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.” (John 11:40-45 KJV)

Again, note the repetition of the word “believe”. This is a demonstration of what Jesus said on vs. 23-25 of John 11.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day (referring to the resurrection of all believers, except Jesus Christ who resurrected on the third day [in every rule there is an exception is a maximum]).
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

After this episode, Jesus told his disciples speaking about his second coming at the last day for all believers (in Christ) in this manner:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

What is the significance of all these events and personal assurances of Jesus Christ? They prove that the canonized Bible is true; that there is a resurrection of the dead into resurrection of life for all those who BELIEVE in the DEITY of Jesus Christ (John 5:29). Just as the Lord Jesus when he resurrected, he had a glorified body (could pass and penetrate through closed doors; could travel in the air without airplane or jet), and possessed with eternal life - - never to die again. Where Jesus Christ lives, the BELIEVERS who are resurrected into the resurrection of life will also live - - the place is called HEAVEN. And it shall be forever and ever, without end.

Blessed are those who BELIEVE in their heart on the Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, repent of their sins and accept Him as their only LORD and SAVIOR, for they will be resurrected into life everlasting and be with Him forevermore.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Faith Resulting In Salvation

The New Living Translation Bible (NLT) defines faith in this manner: “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (Heb. 11:1). The King James version (KJV) defines faith this way: “NOW faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). This is what theologians call “saving faith.” In the law of evidence (in our Philippine legal system), evidence is something we can see with our naked eye, touch or read or hear. If not, it is no evidence at all.

In the spiritual realm, the Bible tells us “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Faith is the blind obedience to the Word of God. Thus, faith is the exact opposite of evidence in the legal sense or parlance as defined above, for faith believes as true and will certainly happen something not yet seen by the naked eye. For example, we have not yet seen by our naked eye heaven or hell, but by faith we believe that there are such places that exist as described in the Bible.

Faith as defined above is that something has not actually happened yet, we are still hoping that it will happen, but we are confident that it shall certainly come to pass. In the KJV, though the things we are hoping to happen has not yet come to pass, yet NOW (present tense) we act as if the thing we are expecting to happen have happened already or will surely happen.

For example, in the middle 60’s, I told my father who resided at Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Philippines, some 70 kilometers away from Davao City where I have my law office, to roast (lechon) a pig because I will be attending the special occasion our family was going to celebrate. In those days, there were no telephone lines yet in our farm (in fact, even to this day), and cellphones were yet an unknown gadget, so there was no means for me to communicate to my father that I would be delayed because of an unavoidable urgent emergency appointment on that appointed day. Usually on all our previous family occasions that I tell my father I would visit him in our farm, I would arrive not later than 8:00 A.M. However, on that particular day, I arrived at past 12:00 noon, but my father roasted the pig. Upon my arrival, the lechon was already done and everybody was just waiting for my arrival. I remarked to my father, “it was good Papa that you cooked the lechon even without my presence or advise that I will be late in arriving”. His answer was: “There was never a time you told me you will come home and you failed to arrive.” He expressed his full faith in my commitment to him. How much more when God makes a promise or commitment?

It is important that we understand clearly the nature of faith. There are many who believe that Christ is the Savior of the world, that the gospel is true and reveals the plan of salvation, yet they do not possess saving faith. They are intellectually convinced of the truth, but this is not enough; in order to be justified, sinners must have that full trust and confidence or faith that Jesus Christ is the only savior of their own soul. The Bible tells us, “thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19 KJV); but their belief does not bring them justification, neither will the belief of those who give a merely intellectual assent to the truths of the Bible bring them the benefits of salvation.

In genuine, saving faith, there is FULL trust in God’s promise in the atoning (or substitutionary) sacrifice made by His only begotten Son Jesus Christ on Calvary. In Christ, the justified believers behold their only hope and deliverer. Belief may exist without trust, but confidence born of trust cannot exist without faith. These two always go together in the spiritual realm.

The words of the great Apostle Paul shed light upon what constitutes genuine saving faith. He said, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10 KJV). To believe with the heart is more than conviction, more than assent to the truth. This faith is sincere, earnest, and engages the affections of the soul; it is the faith that works by love and purifies the heart, and that saves the soul of man. It is a saving faith.

The Bible says: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). The reward is the salvation of the believing soul.

When through repentance and faith as defined above, we accept Christ as our only Savior, the Lord pardons our sins and remits the penalty prescribed for the transgression of the law of God. The sinner then stands before God as a just or justified person, and is thus qualified to enter heaven. Then there is yet another work to be accomplished, and this is of a progressive nature. The soul is to be sanctified or purified daily through the truth - - the Word of God. And this also is accomplished through faith. For it is only by the grace of Christ, which we receive through faith, that the character of man can be transformed. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9 KJV).

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Why Jesus Was Crucified

God the Father who is a Spirit (was never seen by any human being) gave the command, “The soul that sins shall die”. The Bible tells us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It also says, “For the wages (or penalty) of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

This is the greatest problem of the human race, the very special creation of God through His only begotten Son (John 1:3) - the SIN problem. How did God solve this problem? At a great sacrifice, God “sent His only begotten Son that whosoever BELIEVES in Him should not perish but have everlasting (or eternal) life.” (John 3:16).

Notice that only those who “believes” in Jesus Christ as their only Savior and Lord will be saved from eternal death. No one else. Notice further that the Word of God does not say that only the “good” people shall be saved. Instead, what the Bible says is that “For by grace (unmerited favor, or we do not merit the grace of God) are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves (no one can save himself by his own efforts); it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Of course, a true disciple and believer of God/Jesus in the flesh, will always do good works.

The Bible tells us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 KJV). Normally, a human being created by God is willing to sacrifice for a good man, but not with our God, “even while we were yet sinners, He gave His only begotten Son to perform the supreme sacrifice of dying in the cross of Calvary as the substitute or in place of the sinner-believer, so the latter shall have eternal life.

Christ came to the world to reveal the character of the Father and to redeem the fallen race. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The glory of the Father was revealed in the Son; that is Christ (God in the flesh) made manifest the character of the Father. That is why, “He who has seen the Son had seen the Father” (John 14:9-11).

The Bible tells us that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3). This was prophesied by the prince of all prophets, Isaiah of the Old Testament, seven hundred years before it actually happened, as follows: “All we like sheep have gone astray (we are all sinners); we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord had laid on him the iniquity (or sin) of us all,” (Isa. 53:6). Isaiah continuing, prophesied:

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb (as sacrifice) to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 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 (or put to death).
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death (buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea); 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 (crucified between two criminals); and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (vss. 7 to 12)

SIN is the very and only reason why Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross of Calvary. Why did God allow this to be done to His only begotten Son? Only one reason: Because of God’s LOVE for His special creation. “For God so LOVED the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but shall have everlasting (eternal) life” (John 3:16 KJV). The only requirement is we must BELIEVE by faith and accept by faith the free gift of salvation of our soul through the redemptive supreme sacrifice of our Lord and only Savior Jesus Christ. Why free? So that everybody has an equal chance: the poor and rich; the high, mighty and influential and those without rank and influence; the young and old; in short, “whosoever will.”

Jesus was and is the light of the world. He came forth from God with a message of hope and salvation to His fallen creation. If men would but receive Him by faith (without seeing Him personally) as their personal Savior, through hearing and believing the Word of God [the Bible] (Rom. 10:17), He promised to restore to them the image of God and to REDEEM (or get back) all that had been lost through sin. Thus, the Bible says, Jesus Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 5:3).

Jesus demonstrated that upon his resurrection, He had a glorified body, able to go through the sealed tomb and penetrate closed doors, go to places without jet or airplane, and He lives eternally - - never to die again. As believers/disciples/followers of Christ, when resurrected into life, we will also have the same glorified body and will never die again like our Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus gave us this assurance.

“14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. x x x
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:1-3; vs. 19 KJV)

Jesus died once but resurrected on the third day so the true believers will also die once but resurrect not on the third day but on an appointed resurrection day for all believers, and they will have eternal (everlasting) life like the Lord Jesus, to live with Him in heaven forever and ever. How do we like that?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What We Can Learn From The Lord's Prayer

The Lord Jesus Christ always prays before doing anything from the less significant to the most important or more serious business, or before performing a miraculous event.

For example, before feeding the crowd of 5,000 beside the women and children, with only five loaves of bread and 2 fish, he prayed (Matt. 14:15-21); and when the sick daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue of the Jews, died, the Lord Jesus prayed and the dead child resurrected (Matt. 5:22 and 35-42 KJV). There are numerous other examples yet, but these two spectacular ones are enough for the purpose and for the moment. Having observed the Lord Jesus’ manner, and seeing the power exhibited and enjoyed by Him, his disciples asked him. “Lord, teach us how to pray”.

Obliging at the request, Jesus gave a sample prayer, but with some preparatory or introductory statements just like a lawyer when filing a memorandum or brief in court, as follows:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen (or unbelievers) do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matt. 6:5-8 KJV).

Then, he specifically gave the sample prayer, the so-called LORDS prayer, by saying:

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts (or sin), as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (vs. 9-13 KJV).

Analyzing the above sample prayer, it starts with worship of God’s name, power and His deity “Our Father…hallowed be thy name”… (vs. 9); it seeks the will of God not the believer’s will (vs. 10); we should ask only a daily supply of our bread (vs. 11). Why? If God gives us enough bread for many days, we will forget him. We will no longer need him until we run out of bread again. That is why, the wisest man that ever lived on earth, which the Bible says:

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.

For he was wiser than all men … and his fame was in all nations round about” (1 Kings 4:29-31 KJV).

This is very true up to this day - - our generation and will be so forever and ever.

Then, always bearing in mind that “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and that the wages of sin is immediate spiritual death (meaning, when we sin by our willful disobedience like Adam and Eve, we do not instantly physically die, but only spiritually, waiting to be forgiven, by the grace and mercy of God, if we confess our sins and unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 [If we confess our sins, He will be just and faithful to forgive us all of our sins].

Temptation comes to us every moment of the day for our “adversary the devil” is “as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8), pursuing every one every step of the way, to lie, to steal, to be mad and angry, to be impatient or even commit “sexual sins.” etc.

The best example here is the story of King David who was tempted by the devil using the beautiful figure of Bathsheba, the mother of the wisest of all men, King Solomon. First, he committed adultery because Bathsheba was already married to a soldier fighting fierce battles in the war zone of Israel. Then, because of the hard-headedness of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, to conceal his sin, King David conceived of a subtle way of committing murder by writing a note sealed by his signet right to General Joab of the Israelite Army to assign Uriah, to the fiercest part of the battle to make sure that the latter will be killed. Thereafter, David married Bathsheba, and Solomon was born out of their marital union. Solomon became the ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notably, David confessed his sin and was forgiven by God. The Bible says,

32 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:1-5 KJV)

This is not to suggest for us men to follow the footsteps of King David, but significantly there is hope for every sinner.

God does not like us to incur a debt (or sin), except a debt of gratitude, (or utang na loob in Tagalog [Filipino language] for it is very difficult to pay an indebtedness of cash which will lead to bankruptcy or other serious economic and social problems to the borrower when these indebtedness pile up, which will result to other more serious personal or family problems. The Bible tells us, owe no man anything except LOVE [utang na loob, which in English means debt of gratitude] (Rom. 13:8 KJV).

Then, finally, words of thanksgiving and closing or sealing of our prayer, invoking the name and intercession of His only begotten Son, who is right now in the righthand of God the Father interceding for the believer. Thus, the Bible tells us, “For there is one God, and one (not two or many) mediator (or intercessor) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom (or payment) for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 KJV). This due time is fulfilled in Hebrews 7:24-25, thus: “But, this man (Jesus Christ), because he continueth ever (after his resurrection he lived up to this day and forever and ever), hath an unchangeable priesthood (mediator or intercessor) like our human priests. Wherefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost (all repentant-believers-sinners) that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:24-25 KJV).

Notice that the sample prayer is short but otherwise comprehensive and complete, covering every aspect of human need on the physical and spiritual realm as well, and it follows an orderly pattern (or logical order) from beginning to the end. This logical order of praying can be learned by us as we keep on praying. “Practice makes it perfect”. Notice, there is no repetition of words! It comes from the heart, not memorized! It is “asking” for things or matters that are absolutely needed for the day only. One day at a time! God wants us to live daily and “die” to self daily.

We have to depend on Him moment by moment on daily basis. Because if we have the things we have need of until we die, then we will have no more need for God. We no longer need to pray to our God.

But what if we are tempted and once again, we commit a sin? Some preacher’s say, Jesus Christ already died in the cross for our sins, past, present and future. So, there is no need to confess and ask for forgiveness once again because our sins have been nailed to the cross! Not being dogmatic, personally I believe, we have to ask for forgiveness again. Precisely, this was the query of the Apostle Peter when he said, “Lord how many times will we ask for forgiveness when we sin, till seven times?” The Lord Jesus replied, “I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven” [literally 490 times] (Matt. 18:21-22 KJV). This means almost without limit, for as long as the sinner asks for forgiveness. Yes, indeed, many times, but we should not abuse. In every rule, there is an exception.

God wants us to have intimate relation with Him day after day, like a husband and wife. This is the closest human relation on earth - - between husband and wife - - they are one flesh. They do things not done by any other human beings, only they and God know it! A husband and wife to be intimately related and joyful, should communicate daily. For the Bible says, “It is not good for man to be alone”, so God gave Adam a helpmate (also helpmeet or appropriate) for him. Remember, wives, your role is to help not to manage or rule over your husbands. Never, never ever make your husband henpecked (under the saya in Filipino). This is not God’s way. It is a SIN as it contradicts the law of God!

A pertinent question is asked: Do we have to pray in that manner prescribed above by the Lord Jesus all the time? Of course, not. It depends on the situation at hand. For example, when Peter tried to walk in water like the Lord Jesus, the Bible vividly relates:

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matt. 14:25-31 KJV)

This is the second shortest prayer recorded in the Bible: “Lord, Save me”, the first being “Jesus wept”. No more introduction, only what was needed for the moment. No more concluding remarks. But I am sure, after he survived the ordeal, he must have thanked the Lord Jesus. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20 KJV).