ENCOURAGEMENT TODAY, CONQUERING DOUBT PART 37


ENCOURAGEMENT TODAY, CONQUERING DOUBT PART 




ESPAÑOL HAGA ENLACE AQUÍ. 


Link to sound Bible doctrines 


I’ve searched for sound doctrines teachings, I wanted desperately to have a close relationship with God.  I’ve found it, in Calvary Bible Church link below. 


The goal of reading and teaching Scripture is to love God, and the way to love God is to know God.


Sound doctrine is God’s roadmap for the Christian life and the life of the church.


According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. This definition provides a helpful anatomy of sound doctrine. R. C Sproul 


Sound doctrine delivers us from the snare of false teaching (2 Tim. 2:24–26; Titus 1:9-11), which otherwise threatens to arrest spiritual development (Eph. 4:14) and to foster ecclesiastical discord (Rom. 16:17). Doctrine serves God’s saving work both inside (1 Tim. 4:16) and outside the church (Matt. 5:13-16; Titus 2:9–10; 1 Peter 3:1–6). Above all, doctrine promotes God’s glory. Doctrine shines forth as one of the glorious rays of the gospel of God (1 Tim. 1:10–11) and, by directing our faith and love toward God in Christ, it enables us to walk in His presence and give Him the glory He deserves (1 Peter 4:11; 2 Peter 3:18).


CALVARY BIBLE CHURCH BIBLE STUDY 









04/15/21


Question: "Why was Israel called the land of milk and honey?"

Answer: Repeatedly in the Old Testament, God describes the Promised Land as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8; Numbers 14:8; Deuteronomy 31:20; Ezekiel 20:15). This poetic description of Israel’s land emphasizes the fertility of the soil and bounty that awaited God’s chosen people. The reference to “milk” suggests that many livestock could find pasture there; the mention of “honey” suggests the vast farmland available—the bees had plenty of plants to draw nectar from.

In Exodus 3:8, God says to Moses, “I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.” A couple things to note about this verse:

First, before the plagues, the land of Egypt supported Israel and the Egyptians quite well, yet God called the new land “good and spacious.” The Hebrew word translated “good” means “pleasant, beautiful, and fruitful, with economic benefits.”

Second, simultaneously with promoting the goodness of the land, God mentions the enemies in the land that must be overcome. The nations displaced by Israel from the land “flowing with milk and honey” were significant in number, and they valued that land enough to fight and die for it.

Later, we have the record of the ten faithless spies who were sent into the Promised Land by Moses. The ten spies disagreed that Israel was able to conquer the inhabitants of the land, but they did agree on this: it was a land of flowing with milk and honey. “They gave Moses this account: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit’” (Numbers 13:27). The “fruit” the spies showed Moses was a single cluster of grapes that had to be carried on a pole between two men (verse 23). They also brought some pomegranates and the figs from Canaan.

It is true that there are areas of very arid land in Israel, but this does not negate the fact that, overall, it is a land flowing with milk and honey. There are many areas of Israel that are extremely fertile and produce many types of fruits and vegetables. The area north of present-day Israel is biblical Mesopotamia, also known as the “Fertile Crescent,” which is just that—fertile (and crescent-shaped). It is also true that the Bible records severe drought and famine in the land of Israel, but those times were connected to God’s judgment on the sinful people (Deuteronomy 11:16–17; 1 Kings 18:1–2, 18).

God’s description of the Promised Land as “a land flowing with milk and honey” is a beautifully graphic way of highlighting the agricultural richness of the land. God brought His people out of slavery in Egypt to a prosperous land of freedom and blessing and the knowledge of the Lord.



04/14/21


Question: "What is the land that God promised to Israel?"

Answer: In regards to the land that God has promised Israel, Genesis 15:18 declares to Abraham, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” God later confirms this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob (whose name was later changed to Israel). When the Israelites were about to invade the Promised Land, God reiterated the land promise, as recorded in Joshua 1:4, “Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west.”

According to Genesis 15:18 and Joshua 1:4, the land God gave to Israel included everything from the Nile River in Egypt to Lebanon (south to north) and everything from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River (west to east). So, what land has God stated belongs to Israel? All of the land modern Israel currently possesses, plus all of the land of the Palestinians (the West Bank and Gaza), plus some of Egypt and Syria, plus all of Jordan, plus some of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Israel currently possesses only a fraction of the land God has promised.




04/13/21


Question: "What does Israel mean in the Bible?"


Answer: The man Israel was initially named Jacob. He was a twin, one of two sons of Isaac and Rebecca, and a grandson of Abraham. When he was born second, he was clutching the heel of his older brother, Esau. He was named Jacob because Jacob sounds similar to aqeb, the Hebrew word for “heel.” The root of the word is also the same root as the word for “follow,” which makes sense as Jacob followed Esau in birth. The root is also the same root for “to supplant” and carries the idea of deceiving or usurping.

Jacob lived up to his name, as he did attempt to supplant his older brother who had significant rights and blessings as the firstborn. He purchased Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29–34). Jacob also impersonated Esau so that his blind father, Isaac, would give the blessing intended for Esau to him (Genesis 27). Esau swore to kill Jacob (Genesis 27:41). Jacob also seemed to deal deceptively with his father-in-law, who had also dealt deceptively with him on several occasions (see Genesis 29–30).

Jacob finally left his father-in-law, taking with him all of his flocks, herds, wives, and children, and he headed back toward the land of Abraham and Isaac, but he feared Esau’s reaction. Indeed, he heard that Esau was headed toward him with 400 armed men. The night before he anticipated meeting Esau, Jacob put his entourage across a stream for safety while he spent the night by himself, presumably so that, if Esau came upon him at night, only he would be killed but the rest of his family would be spared.

In the middle of the night, a mysterious person came into Jacob’s camp, and they wrestled. The mysterious person is first called a man (Genesis 32:5–6). Another mention this incident says that Jacob wrestled with “an angel” (Hosea 12:14). After the incident, Jacob says, “I saw God face to face” (Genesis 32:30). In Hebrew, the word translated “God” can refer to Yahweh but can also refer to an angel as a “divine being.” The exact identification of this person is not as important as the interaction between him and Jacob.

Jacob and this person wrestled all night long. What initiated the fight and a dozen other questions are simply not addressed. As they wrestled, the mysterious individual could not overcome Jacob, so he touched Jacob on the hip, which seems to have injured his joint. Then the mysterious person asked Jacob to let him go, but Jacob said he would not unless he blessed him:

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28–29).

The Hebrew word for “struggle” has the root consonants SYR, and Israel has the root consonants YSR with the suffix -el, which means “God”. The words’ similarity creates a play on words. Jacob “the deceiver” had been named “one who struggles with God.”

The incident between Jacob and the angel is a demonstration of grace. Jacob certainly did not deserve the blessing that he received. God had simply chosen to bless him, even in the womb, before he had done anything (Genesis 25:23, cf. Romans 9:11–13). Likewise, it was only by grace that Jacob could wrestle with the “man” and prevail, as the mysterious individual certainly had power to overcome and to harm Jacob. He let Jacob “win.” On Jacob’s part, perhaps this was the first time he had ever come to realize he was in over his head. Esau was closing in, and he felt helpless. Jacob asked for a blessing from this person, which put him in a place of humility so that he might receive grace and blessing.

The nation of Israel is named after Israel the patriarch. Unfortunately, the people of Israel seemed to also be in a constant struggle with God. Although He graciously took them unto Himself as His chosen people, they repeatedly turned their backs on Him. As a result, in Jeremiah 31:33–34, God promised a new covenant with Israel that would guarantee their obedience:

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

Israelites who come to God through faith in Christ enter the New Covenant and no longer have to struggle with God. By the grace of God, Gentiles who receive the Messiah of Israel are also included in the New Covenant. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles no longer have to struggle with God or with each other.

In Christ, the struggle is solved, and we have peace, as explained in Ephesians 2:11–22:

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”


04/12/21


What are the twelve tribes of Israel? - Printer Friendly

Question: "What are the twelve tribes of Israel?"

Answer: The twelve tribes of Israel came from the twelve sons of Israel. “Israel” is the name that God gave Jacob (Genesis 32:28). His twelve sons are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin (Genesis 35:23-26; Exodus 1:1–4; 1 Chronicles 2:1–2). When the tribes inherited the Promised Land, Levi’s descendants did not receive a territory for themselves (Joshua 13:14). Instead, they became priests and had several cities scattered throughout all of Israel. Joseph’s tribe was divided in two—Jacob had adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, essentially giving Joseph a double portion for his faithfulness in saving the family from famine (Genesis 47:11–12). This means the tribes who received territory in the Promised Land were Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. In some places in Scripture, the tribe of Ephraim is referred to as the tribe of Joseph (Numbers 1:32–33).

After King Solomon died, Israel split into two kingdoms. Judah, to the south, included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The other tribes combined to make the kingdom of Israel in the north. In the ensuing years, many Israelites in the north emigrated to Judah in the south to flee the apostasy in their homeland (see 2 Chronicles 11:16; 15:9). Eventually, Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians, and most of the Israelites were either killed or deported; the Israelites who remained most likely integrated with Judah as many of the faithful before them had.

Jesus was from Judah, Paul was from Benjamin, and John the Baptist was a Levite, but, since the diaspora in A.D. 70, identifying the tribe of a modern Jew is a little more difficult. That doesn't mean that the tribal divisions are irrelevant. During the tribulation, when most of the world has abandoned God and is following the Antichrist, 144,000 Jews will be sealed by God. This number comprises 12,000 from each tribe. So, even if we don’t know who is in what tribe, God has kept track. The tribes are listed again in Revelation 7:5-8, but they are not the same tribes that were given land in Joshua. Manasseh is there, and Ephraim (under Joseph’s name). But instead of Dan, Levi is included. No explanation is given as to why.



04/11/22


Question: "What does Israel mean in the Bible?"


Answer: The man Israel was initially named Jacob. He was a twin, one of two sons of Isaac and Rebecca, and a grandson of Abraham. When he was born second, he was clutching the heel of his older brother, Esau. He was named Jacob because Jacob sounds similar to aqeb, the Hebrew word for “heel.” The root of the word is also the same root as the word for “follow,” which makes sense as Jacob followed Esau in birth. The root is also the same root for “to supplant” and carries the idea of deceiving or usurping.

Jacob lived up to his name, as he did attempt to supplant his older brother who had significant rights and blessings as the firstborn. He purchased Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29–34). Jacob also impersonated Esau so that his blind father, Isaac, would give the blessing intended for Esau to him (Genesis 27). Esau swore to kill Jacob (Genesis 27:41). Jacob also seemed to deal deceptively with his father-in-law, who had also dealt deceptively with him on several occasions (see Genesis 29–30).

Jacob finally left his father-in-law, taking with him all of his flocks, herds, wives, and children, and he headed back toward the land of Abraham and Isaac, but he feared Esau’s reaction. Indeed, he heard that Esau was headed toward him with 400 armed men. The night before he anticipated meeting Esau, Jacob put his entourage across a stream for safety while he spent the night by himself, presumably so that, if Esau came upon him at night, only he would be killed but the rest of his family would be spared.

In the middle of the night, a mysterious person came into Jacob’s camp, and they wrestled. The mysterious person is first called a man (Genesis 32:5–6). Another mention this incident says that Jacob wrestled with “an angel” (Hosea 12:14). After the incident, Jacob says, “I saw God face to face” (Genesis 32:30). In Hebrew, the word translated “God” can refer to Yahweh but can also refer to an angel as a “divine being.” The exact identification of this person is not as important as the interaction between him and Jacob.

Jacob and this person wrestled all night long. What initiated the fight and a dozen other questions are simply not addressed. As they wrestled, the mysterious individual could not overcome Jacob, so he touched Jacob on the hip, which seems to have injured his joint. Then the mysterious person asked Jacob to let him go, but Jacob said he would not unless he blessed him:

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28–29).

The Hebrew word for “struggle” has the root consonants SYR, and Israel has the root consonants YSR with the suffix -el, which means “God”. The words’ similarity creates a play on words. Jacob “the deceiver” had been named “one who struggles with God.”

The incident between Jacob and the angel is a demonstration of grace. Jacob certainly did not deserve the blessing that he received. God had simply chosen to bless him, even in the womb, before he had done anything (Genesis 25:23, cf. Romans 9:11–13). Likewise, it was only by grace that Jacob could wrestle with the “man” and prevail, as the mysterious individual certainly had power to overcome and to harm Jacob. He let Jacob “win.” On Jacob’s part, perhaps this was the first time he had ever come to realize he was in over his head. Esau was closing in, and he felt helpless. Jacob asked for a blessing from this person, which put him in a place of humility so that he might receive grace and blessing.

The nation of Israel is named after Israel the patriarch. Unfortunately, the people of Israel seemed to also be in a constant struggle with God. Although He graciously took them unto Himself as His chosen people, they repeatedly turned their backs on Him. As a result, in Jeremiah 31:33–34, God promised a new covenant with Israel that would guarantee their obedience:

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

Israelites who come to God through faith in Christ enter the New Covenant and no longer have to struggle with God. By the grace of God, Gentiles who receive the Messiah of Israel are also included in the New Covenant. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles no longer have to struggle with God or with each other.

In Christ, the struggle is solved, and we have peace, as explained in Ephesians 2:11–22:

“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”



04/10/21


Question: "What is the consolation of Israel?"


Answer: When Mary and Joseph went to the temple in Jerusalem to follow the requirements of the law after the birth of Jesus, they met Simeon, a man who “was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him” (Luke 2:25).

The consolation of Israel refers to the promised Messiah. To console is to alleviate grief or to take away a sense of loss or trouble. The Messiah, the consolation of Israel, was to remove sorrow and comfort the nation. Simeon and generations before him waited for the coming of the One who would console God’s people. Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would take on the ministry of consolation: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for” (Isaiah 40:1–2).

God revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he beheld the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26), the comforter of Israel who would fulfill all the promises of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, the One who would bring both personal and national salvation. After all those years of waiting and praying for the consolation of Israel, God allowed Simeon to hold the Messiah in his arms. In this child, Simeon saw the fulfillment of all the hopes and dreams of the Jewish people down through the centuries, and he was overjoyed.

Throughout their history, the people of Israel had suffered greatly. They lived under slavery in Egypt and endured decades of exile. They were currently laboring under the rule of Rome and were a people in desperate need of consolation and comfort.

Many in Israel thought that the Messiah, the consolation of Israel, would bring them political and national freedom (John 6:15; Luke 19:11). But the consolation Jesus brought was better than any political freedom He could have provided: He gave them spiritual freedom and forgiveness of sin. David described the guilt of his own sin this way: “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. . . . I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart” (Psalm 38:4–8). The Son of David came to bear the burden away, to lift up those who were bowed down, to replace the anguish with joy. All who trust in Him know that He is truly the consolation of Israel—and the consolation of all who believe.



04/09/21


Question: "What does it mean that Israel is supposed to be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6)?"


Answer: In Exodus 19 God announces for Israel a conditional covenant. If they would keep His covenant, Israel would be a people for His own possession and a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5–6). The people of Israel responded that they would fulfill what God would command them, and thus they sealed the covenant with a commitment (Exodus 19:8). What follows in Exodus includes six hundred and thirteen commandments, including the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20.

Earlier, God had made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15—17), and He committed to keeping that covenant through the line of Isaac and Jacob (see Genesis 50:24 and Exodus 2:24). God had committed to making the nation of Israel a mighty nation with a land (Genesis 15:18–21), a king (2 Samuel 7:10–16), and an eternally blessed people (Jeremiah 31:31–37). Those covenants were all unconditional—God had obligated Himself without any requirement on the part of the recipients of His covenant promises.

The covenant God made with Israel through Moses was different, in that it was conditional. It came with an if. It required Israel’s obedience in order to receive the conditions of blessing, and that first condition of blessing God revealed was that Israel would belong uniquely to Him and would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This covenant (often called the Mosaic Covenant because it was made through Moses) was also unique in that it was a teaching tool to lead people to Christ (Galatians 3:24). It was never a means of salvation, because salvation is never by works of law (Romans 3:20) but rather by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Israel broke the covenant (Jeremiah 31:32) and forfeited the blessings offered therein. However, Paul explains that Abraham was the father of three different kinds of descendants in Romans 4. He is the father of many according to the flesh (Israel in general, Romans 4:1), he is the father of those who believe who are not of Israel (Gentile believers, Romans 4:11), and he is the father of all who believe and are of the nation of Israel (Jewish believers, Romans 4:12). While the nation of Israel broke the conditional “old” covenant in unbelief, those of Israel who would believe in Jesus (the third group of Abraham’s descendants) are called out using similar terminology. Peter, writing to Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman world, calls those Jewish believers “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, NASB).

In Revelation 1:6 John asserts that the church is a kingdom and priests to God the Father. This would include both believing Jews and believing Gentiles—the second and third kinds of descendants of Abraham described in Romans 4:11–12. Thus, the only ones of Abraham’s descendants who were not a kingdom and priests were those who broke the (Mosaic) covenant and were not believing.

These who believe are referred to as a kingdom, as those who believe in Jesus are transferred to His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Believers are also considered priests in that we are interceding on behalf of people that they might believe in the Lord. Those who are called a kingdom and priests have an obligation to walk in a manner worthy of His calling (Ephesians 4:1) and ought to be actively proclaiming His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9) so that others may come to know Him.



04/08/21


Question: "Who were the seventy elders of Israel?"


Answer: Elders in the Old Testament were men chosen to lead because of their wisdom, leadership abilities, and proven integrity. Israel had elders even before God delivered the nation from Egyptian slavery, but we don’t know how many there were. God sent Moses to appeal to those elders for support before he went to Pharaoh (Exodus 3:16). Each of the twelve tribes had its own elders who represented the interests of that tribe (Numbers 1:16; 13:2–3).

In Exodus 24:1, we read of Israel’s seventy elders: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.’” The seventy elders are mentioned as a unit and were most likely a distinct group selected from among the many other elders in Israel. Although we don’t know for certain, these seventy were probably some of the men Moses chose after taking the advice from his father-in-law, Jethro (Exodus 18:13–26). In that case, they were “capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain” (Exodus 18:25), and they “served as judges for the people at all times” (verse 26).

The seventy elders who climbed part of the way up Sinai with Moses were privileged to experience God more intimately than the rest of Israel did: “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:9–11).

God later instructed Moses to choose seventy elders and stand at the doorway of the tabernacle where the Lord Himself would come down (Numbers 11:16–17). It could be that these seventy elders were the same individuals whom Moses chose to ascend Sinai, although Scripture does not say definitively. God told Moses that He would place some of His Spirit’s power on each of these men so that they could help Moses carry the load of an entire nation. When the Spirit of God rested upon the elders, each one prophesied for the first and only time, an indication that he had been anointed by God for this noble position.

The practice of maintaining seventy elders in Israel continued for a while. There is no mention of the seventy elders in the years of the judges or the kings. Later in Jewish history, a tribunal of seventy elders formed the Sanhedrin, rulers of Israel who acted as a supreme court. Their seventy-member size was modeled after God’s ancient instructions to Moses. It was this body who unfortunately pursued the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 26:59).

The number 70 seems to be significant in Scripture. The Lord Jesus appointed seventy (some manuscripts say seventy-two) disciples to carry His message into nearby towns (Luke 10:1). Israel spent seventy years in captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10), Daniel’s prophetic vision included seventy “weeks” (Daniel 9:24), and of course God designated seventy elders to help lead the Israelites.

Spiritual leadership is a grave responsibility, and God holds leaders to a higher standard (James 3:1). The seventy elders of Israel were granted wonderful privileges, but they also carried weighty responsibilities. When God entrusts us with spiritual leadership, we must remain humble, faithful, and obedient so that we will one day hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master!” (Matthew 25:23).



04/07/21

Why is Jacob called Jacob and Israel alternately in the book of Genesis?


Answer: Among those individuals renamed in the Old Testament under various circumstances, God Himself renamed only a few. These are Abram (Genesis 17:5), Sarai (Genesis 17:15), and Jacob (Genesis 32:28; 35:9–10), who became known as Abraham, Sarah, and Israel, respectively. The names Jacob and Israel are used alternately throughout Scripture in reference to the second son of Isaac.

Jacob’s birth name, Jacob, means “supplanter, deceiver”; it was given to him because, when Jacob was born as the second of a set of twins, “his hand [was] grasping [his twin’s] heel” (Genesis 25:26). True to his name, Jacob grew up as a conniver, deceiver, and cheat, and he eventually supplanted his brother’s position as heir to the birthright.

After Jacob’s struggle with the Lord at Peniel, the Lord gave Jacob a new name: Israel. And God gave the reason: “Because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28). Later, God appears to Jacob/Israel again in Bethel, reaffirms the name change, and gives him the same covenant that Abraham had received (Genesis 35:9–12). Thus the “heel-catcher” became “one who struggles with God.” It was before he met with God in Bethel that Jacob purposefully put away his idols and purified himself (verse 2).

After the name change, some passages in Genesis refer to Jacob as “Jacob” (Genesis 33:1; 34:7; 35:15; 37:1) and others as “Israel” (Genesis 35:21; 37:3; 43:6; 46:1). Some have suggested that the name Jacob represents his old nature and Israel his new. That is, he is called “Jacob” when functioning in his carnal old nature, but he is called “Israel” when he is acting out of his new nature. There could be limited merit in this suggestion in some passages, and it would parallel the Christian’s experience as presented in Ephesians 4:22–24.

In the end, however, it is best not to make too much of the Jacob/Israel distinction, since some passages include both Jacob and Israel within the same immediate context (e.g., Genesis 37:1–3). Also, there are several psalms that use both names side by side: “Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” (Psalm 53:6) and “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel” (Psalm 78:5). The parallelism of the poetry identifies the names Jacoband Israel as synonymous, and both names can represent the nation as well as the individual.



04/04/21


Question: "Who are the children of Israel in the Bible?"

Answer: The children of Israel in the Bible are simply the descendants of Jacob. The term children of Israel emphasizes the lineage of the Hebrew people as being through the patriarch Jacob. The children of Israel are also called Israelites.

It all started with God’s promise of a family—a big family—to a childless couple, Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 11:30; 12:1–3). God miraculously provided a son, Isaac, to fulfill the promise (Genesis 21:3), and He repeated the father’s promise to the son (Genesis 21:12; 26:3–4). Isaac married Rebekah, and they were childless, too, until God intervened and provided a son, Jacob, to continue the promise (Genesis 25:26). God then reaffirmed the Abrahamic Covenant with Jacob (Genesis 28:14–15). Later, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 35:10). Jacob/Israel had twelve sons who carried on the family line; each son’s descendants formed a particular tribe of Israel, and all the descendants of Jacob were collectively called the children of Israel.

Children of Israel became the most common term for the Israelites in the Bible. Its use is a constant reminder of the faithfulness and power of God. The Lord who formed the nation of Israel has been faithful to keep His promises to the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and His great power has been on display throughout their history.


Question: "Why is Jacob called Jacob and Israel alternately in the book of Genesis?"

Answer: Among those individuals renamed in the Old Testament under various circumstances, God Himself renamed only a few. These are Abram (Genesis 17:5), Sarai (Genesis 17:15), and Jacob (Genesis 32:28; 35:9–10), who became known as Abraham, Sarah, and Israel, respectively. The names Jacob and Israel are used alternately throughout Scripture in reference to the second son of Isaac.

Jacob’s birth name, Jacob, means “supplanter, deceiver”; it was given to him because, when Jacob was born as the second of a set of twins, “his hand [was] grasping [his twin’s] heel” (Genesis 25:26). True to his name, Jacob grew up as a conniver, deceiver, and cheat, and he eventually supplanted his brother’s position as heir to the birthright.

After Jacob’s struggle with the Lord at Peniel, the Lord gave Jacob a new name: Israel. And God gave the reason: “Because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome” (Genesis 32:28). Later, God appears to Jacob/Israel again in Bethel, reaffirms the name change, and gives him the same covenant that Abraham had received (Genesis 35:9–12). Thus the “heel-catcher” became “one who struggles with God.” It was before he met with God in Bethel that Jacob purposefully put away his idols and purified himself (verse 2).

After the name change, some passages in Genesis refer to Jacob as “Jacob” (Genesis 33:1; 34:7; 35:15; 37:1) and others as “Israel” (Genesis 35:21; 37:3; 43:6; 46:1). Some have suggested that the name Jacob represents his old nature and Israel his new. That is, he is called “Jacob” when functioning in his carnal old nature, but he is called “Israel” when he is acting out of his new nature. There could be limited merit in this suggestion in some passages, and it would parallel the Christian’s experience as presented in Ephesians 4:22–24.

In the end, however, it is best not to make too much of the Jacob/Israel distinction, since some passages include both Jacob and Israel within the same immediate context (e.g., Genesis 37:1–3). Also, there are several psalms that use both names side by side: “Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” (Psalm 53:6) and “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel” (Psalm 78:5). The parallelism of the poetry identifies the names Jacob and Israel as synonymous, and both names can represent the nation as well as the individual.



04/04/21


Question: "Who were the kings of Israel and Judah?"

Answer: In the period that preceded the monarchy, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit (Judges 21:25). God raised up Samuel to lead the people (1 Samuel 3:4). All of Israel knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord (1 Samuel 3:20). Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life, and when he was old he made his sons judges over Israel (1 Samuel 8:1). Israel rejected the sons, refused to obey Samuel, and demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:19–20). When Samuel reported their request to God, the Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king” (1 Samuel 8:22).

Saul was the first king. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, which, in the days of the judges, had almost been annihilated. Tall, handsome, and humble, Saul began his reign with a brilliant victory over the Ammonites. Any misgivings about the new monarchy disappeared. But success rapidly went to Saul’s head, and humility gave place to pride. He offered a sacrifice, which was the exclusive function of priests, showing his presumed self-importance. He deliberately disobeyed God, causing God to tell Samuel, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions” (1 Samuel 15:10). Saul reigned unsuccessfully from 1049 BC to 1009 BC, then, wounded in battle, he “took his own sword and fell on it” (1 Samuel 31:4).

David, although anointed as king when just a boy, did not ascend to the throne until after Saul’s death (2 Samuel 2:4). David was short of stature, ruddy, of beautiful countenance, handsome, and of immense physical strength and great personal attractiveness. He was a man of war, prudent in speech, brave, musical, and religious. God promised that David’s family should reign forever. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse [David’s father] and from his roots a Branch [Jesus] will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). After Saul’s death, David was made king over Judah, and seven years later he was made king over all Israel. He was 30 years old when he became king and reigned from 1009 BC to 969 BC.

Solomon became king in 971 BC, possibly two years before his father David died, and reigned until 931 BC. Solomon was born of Bathsheba, and, though not directly in line for the succession, he was chosen by David and approved by God to be David’s successor (1 Chronicles 23:1). Solomon inherited the throne of the most powerful kingdom then existing. It was an era of peace and prosperity with vast business enterprises and literary attainments. God told Solomon to ask what he would, and it would be given to him. Solomon asked for wisdom to govern his people. That pleased God, who richly rewarded him with wealth, wisdom, power, and the important task of building the temple (1 Chronicles 28:2–6).

After the death of Solomon, the kingdom was divided. Ten tribes formed the Northern Kingdom, called Israel; Judah and Benjamin formed the Southern Kingdom, called Judah. The date of the division of the kingdom is approximately 931 BC. The following is a list of the kings of Israel and Judah. The dates of their reigns are approximate, due to overlapping reigns, associated sovereignty, intervals of anarchy, and the Jewish practice of counting parts of years as full years. Portions of some reigns were concurrent. All the kings of Israel practiced idolatry; the worst served Baal. Many of the kings of Judah served idols; few served the Lord faithfully. Some bad kings were partly good; some good kings partly bad. The kings, the approximate dates of their reigns, and descriptions of their overall obedience to God are listed below:

KINGS OF ISRAEL:
Jeroboam I, rebellious, 931–910 BC
Nadab, bad, 910–909 BC
Baasha, wicked, 909–886 BC
Elah, evil, 886–885 BC
Zimri, sinful, 885 BC
Tibni, iniquitous, 885–880 BC
Omri (overlap), extra bad, 885–874 BC
Ahab, the worst to that point, 874–853 BC
Ahaziah, disobedient, 853–852 BC
Joram/Jehoram, mostly rotten, 852–841 BC
Jehu, not good but better than the rest, 841–814 BC
Jehoahaz, noncompliant, 814–798 BC
Joash, wayward, 798–782 BC
Jeroboam II (overlap), badly behaved, 793–753 BC
Zechariah, abysmal, 753 BC
Shallum, full of vice, 752 BC
Menahem, horrible, 752–742 BC
Pekahiah, idolatrous, 742–740 BC
Pekah (overlap), awful, 752–732 BC
Hoshea, appalling, 732–722 BC

KINGS OF JUDAH:
Rehoboam, mostly bad, 931–913 BC
Abijah, mostly perverted, 913–911 BC
Asa, GOOD, 911–870 BC
Jehoshaphat (overlap), RIGHTEOUS, 873–848 BC
Jehoram/Joram (overlap), terrible, 853–841 BC
Ahaziah, atrocious, 841 BC
Athaliah (queen), devilish, 841–835 BC
Joash/Jehoash, mostly VIRTUOUS, 835–796 BC
Amaziah, mostly WHOLESOME, 796–767 BC
Uzziah/Azariah (overlap), mostly RESPECTABLE, 790–739 BC
Jotham (overlap), WORTHY, 750–731 BC
Ahaz, heinous, 735–715 BC
Hezekiah, the BEST, 715–686 BC
Manasseh, depraved until he repented at the end, 695–642 BC
Amon, treacherous, 642–640 BC
Josiah, GREAT, 640–609 BC
Jehoahaz, dreadful, 609 BC
Jehoiakim, degenerate, 609–597 BC
Jehoiachin, frightful, 597 BC
Zedekiah, foolish, 597–586 BC




04/03/21


Question: "Why did God choose Israel to be His chosen people?"

Answer: Speaking of the nation of Israel, Deuteronomy 7:7-9 tells us, "The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands."

God chose the nation of Israel to be the people through whom Jesus Christ would be born'the Savior from sin and death (John 3:16). God first promised the Messiah after Adam and Eve's fall into sin (Genesis chapter 3). God later confirmed that the Messiah would come from the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3). Jesus Christ is the ultimate reason why God chose Israel to be His special people. God did not need to have a chosen people, but He decided to do it that way. Jesus had to come from some nation of people, and God chose Israel.

However, God's reason for choosing the nation of Israel was not solely for the purpose of producing the Messiah. God's desire for Israel was that they would go and teach others about Him. Israel was to be a nation of priests, prophets, and missionaries to the world. God's intent was for Israel to be a distinct people, a nation who pointed others towards God and His promised provision of a Redeemer, Messiah, and Savior. For the most part, Israel failed in this task. However, God's ultimate purpose for Israel"that of bringing the Messiah into the world"was fulfilled perfectly in the Person of Jesus Christ.





04/02/21


Spiritual warfare - What does the Bible say?

There are two primary issues to address regarding spiritual warfare and the Bible. First, does spiritual warfare exist? Second, what does the Bible say about engaging in spiritual warfare?

The Bible is very clear on the existence of spiritual warfare. Peter warns "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Our adversary or enemy, the devil, refers to Satan, who is a real entity, not a mythical creature or invention. Other titles of Satan include the tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5), the wicked one (Matthew 13:19, 38), and the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10).

Three of Satan's titles indicate his authority in this world: the ruler of this world (John 12:31), the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Satan also transforms himself into "an angel of light," a description that highlights his capacity and inclination to deceive (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Spiritual warfare, the idea that humans battle in some way with supernatural powers, is also the testimony of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18. Here, Paul notes that believers battle against the devil's schemes and that this is a spiritual battle, not a physical one. We are to be fully aware of Satan's evil plans (2 Corinthians 2:11). Paul further describes the warfare in which we are engaged as we battle throughout our lives "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Clearly, such powers exist.

The second question—what does the Bible say about engaging in spiritual warfare?— is somewhat more controversial. The problem typically arises when we either over emphasize spiritual warfare by seeing every occurrence in life as part of it or under emphasize it by ignoring the spiritual realm altogether.

Several biblical texts inform our understanding of this issue. First, Christians must remember we are already conquerors (Romans 8:37) and that Satan has already been defeated (Colossians 2:15; 2 Peter 3:22). Second, the power of Christ within the believer is greater than the power of Satan (1 John 4:4). We have no reason to live in fear of Satan or evil spirits as believers. Satan can harm, but he cannot defeat the believer in Christ.

Third, we must not forget that Satan can be allowed to attack believers (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; James 1:2-4) in order to fulfill God's perfect plan for His people. This was the case of Paul's thorn in the flesh and was also seen in the example of Job's life (Job 1–3). Satan's power over us is limited, however, to only that which God ordains for His purposes—to bring His children to maturity and bring glory to Himself.

Fourth, Satan's primary strategy is to blind us to God's plan for our lives (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Rather than a supernatural battle between angels and demons that is often portrayed in modern culture, the general tactic used by Satan is to turn our eyes away from God's truth and toward self. However, we cannot blame every temptation on Satan, since the Bible also teaches that we are tempted and enticed by our own evil desires (James 1:13-15).

Fifth, the method to defeat Satan is to resist him and stay near to God. James 4:7-8 instructs, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." A close walk with God is the best protection against Satan's activities.

Sixth, Paul exhorts us to arm ourselves for the spiritual battle which is part of the Christian life by putting on the "whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). This armor includes truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. These weapons will enable us to "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Ultimately, spiritual warfare is not about a technique to defeat Satan or demons, but a heart that walks closely with God. When God is first and foremost in our lives, Satan lacks power over us, despite his attempts to weaken our efforts to pursue Christ.

As a final warning, it is important that we do not take our God-given power over Satan as an opportunity to display arrogance. In Acts 19:13-16, we find the account of Jewish leaders who attempted to use God's power to overcome evil for their own benefit and received a harsh punishment for doing so. This stern warning should reveal our need to depend on a humble and personal walk with Christ to overcome evil rather than an external display to feed human pride.

In summary, spiritual warfare is a very real part of the Christian life, but should not be an opportunity for either fear or pride. Instead, the reality of Satan and his evil forces should cause us to draw near to God all the more, realizing His power can conquer any foe we may encounter.




04/01/22


Question: "What is expiation?"

Answer: The word “expiation” does not appear in the New Testament, but it does accurately describe an aspect of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Expiation means “to cover sin” and/or “to cleanse sin.” Expiation reflects the idea that the negative and degrading effects of our sin are removed through the grace of God. Another word for expiation is atonement, and truly this is one of the results of Jesus’ atoning death for us.

Through expiation—the work of Christ on the cross for us—the sin of all those who would ever believe in Christ was cancelled. That cancellation is eternal in its consequence, even though sin is still present in the temporal sense. In other words, believers are delivered from the penalty and power of sin, but not the presence of it. Justification is the term for being delivered from the penalty of sin. This is a one-time act wherein the sinner is justified and made holy and righteous in the eyes of God who exchanged our sinful natures for the righteousness of Christ at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Sanctification is the ongoing process whereby believers are delivered from the power of sin in their lives and are enabled by the new nature to resist and turn away from it. Glorification is when we are removed from the very presence of sin, which will only occur once we leave this world and are in heaven. All these processes—justification, sanctification and glorification—are made possible through the expiation or cancellation of sin. 

It is good to know also that there are other benefits of Jesus’ death for us. One of them, not included in the concept of expiation, but just as true and biblical, is propitiation, which is “to appease wrath.” Truly the atoning death of God the Son satisfies the wrath of God the Father against rebellious, sinful humanity (John 3:36; Romans 5:9). Expiation, justification, sanctification, glorification, propitiation, and many more - we have countless reasons to praise God and to run to Him in faith and trust.




03/31/21


Question: "What is sanctification? What is the definition of Christian sanctification?"

Answer: Sanctification is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness. To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy.

Jesus had a lot to say about sanctification in John 17. In verse 16 the Lord says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it,” and this is before His request: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (verse 17). In Christian theology, sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God: “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV). The sanctification mentioned in this verse is a once-for-ever separation of believers unto God. It is a work God performs, an intricate part of our salvation and our connection with Christ (Hebrews 10:10). Theologians sometimes refer to this state of holiness before God as “positional” sanctification; it is the same as justification.

While we are positionally holy (“set free from every sin” by the blood of Christ, Acts 13:39), we know that we still sin (1 John 1:10). That’s why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a practical experience of our separation unto God. “Progressive” or “experiential” sanctification, as it is sometimes called, is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life. It is the same as growing in the Lord (2 Peter 3:18) or spiritual maturity. God started the work of making us like Christ, and He is continuing it (Philippians 1:6). This type of sanctification is to be pursued by the believer earnestly (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14) and is effected by the application of the Word (John 17:17). Progressive sanctification has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:18–19). That Jesus set Himself apart for God’s purpose is both the basis and the condition of our being set apart (see John 10:36). We are sanctified and sent because Jesus was. Our Lord’s sanctification is the pattern of and power for our own. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. On this account we are called “saints” (hagioi in the Greek), or “sanctified ones.” Prior to salvation, our behavior bore witness to our standing in the world in separation from God, but now our behavior should bear witness to our standing before God in separation from the world. Little by little, every day, “those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, ESV) are becoming more like Christ.

There is a third sense in which the word sanctification is used in Scripture—a “complete” or “ultimate” sanctification. This is the same as glorification. Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV). Paul speaks of Christ as “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and links the glorious appearing of Christ to our personal glorification: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). This glorified state will be our ultimate separation from sin, a total sanctification in every regard. “We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

To summarize, “sanctification” is a translation of the Greek word hagiasmos, meaning “holiness” or “a separation.” In the past, God granted us justification, a once-for-all, positional holiness in Christ. Now, God guides us to maturity, a practical, progressive holiness. In the future, God will give us glorification, a permanent, ultimate holiness. These three phases of sanctification separate the believer from the penalty of sin (justification), the power of sin (maturity), and the presence of sin (glorification).



03/30/21


Question: "What is progressive sanctification?"

Answer: The word translated “sanctification” in most Bibles means “separation.” It is used in the New Testament, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, of the separation of the believer from evil, and it is the result of obedience to the Word of God. Progressive sanctification is what gradually separates the people of God from the world and makes them more and more like Jesus Christ.

Sanctification differs from justification in several ways. Justification is a one-time work of God, resulting in a declaration of “not guilty” before Him because of the work of Christ on the cross. Sanctification is a process, beginning with justification and continuing throughout life. Justification is the starting point of the line that represents one’s Christian life; sanctification is the line itself.

Sanctification is a three-stage process – past, present, and future. The first stage occurs at the beginning of our Christian lives. It is an initial moral change, a break from the power and love of sin. It is the point at which believers can count themselves “dead to sin but alive to God” (Romans 6:11). Once sanctification has begun, we are no longer under sin’s dominion (Romans 6:14). There is a reorientation of desires, and we develop a love of righteousness. Paul calls it “slavery to righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).

The second stage of sanctification requires a lifetime to complete. As we grow in grace, we are gradually – but steadily – changing to be more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). This occurs in a process of daily spiritual renewal (Colossians 3:10). The apostle Paul himself was being sanctified even as he ministered to others. Paul claimed that he had not reached perfection, but that he “pressed on” to attain everything Christ desired for him (Philippians 3:12).

The third and final stage of sanctification occurs in the future. When believers die, their spirits go to be with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). Since nothing unclean can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27), we must be made perfect at that point. The sanctification of the whole person—body, soul, and spirit—will finally be complete when the Lord Jesus returns and we receive glorified bodies (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:35-49).

God’s work in sanctification involves all three members of the Trinity. God the Father is constantly at work in His children “to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). He changes our desires, making us want to please Him, and He empowers us to do so. Jesus earned our sanctification on the cross and, in essence, has become our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30) and the “perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The Holy Spirit is the primary agent of our sanctification (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2), and He is the one who produces in us the fruit of sanctification (Galatians 5:22-23).

Our role in sanctification is both passive and active. Passively, we are to trust God to sanctify us, presenting our bodies to God (Romans 6:13; 12:1) and yielding to the Holy Spirit. “It is God's will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and God will have His way. 

Actively, we are responsible to choose to do what is right. “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable” (1 Thessalonians 4:4). This involves putting to death the “misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:13), striving for holiness (Hebrews 12:14), fleeing immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), cleansing ourselves from every defilement (2 Corinthians 7:1), and making every effort to supplement our faith (2 Peter 1:5-11). 

Both the passive role and the active role are necessary for a healthy Christian life. To emphasize the passive role tends to lead to spiritual laziness and a neglect of spiritual discipline. The end result of this course of action is a lack of maturity. To emphasize the active role can lead to legalism, pride, and self-righteousness. The end result of this is a joyless Christian life. We must remember that we pursue holiness, but only as God empowers us to do so. The end result is a consistent, mature Christian life that faithfully reflects the nature of our holy God.

John makes it clear that we will never be totally free from sin in this life (1 John 1:8-10). Thankfully, the work God has begun in us He will finish (Philippians 1:6).




03/29/21


Question: "What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants?"

Answer: There are several important differences between Catholics and Protestants. While there have been many attempts in recent years to find common ground between the two groups, the fact is that the differences remain, and they are just as important today as they were at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The following is brief summary of some of the more important differences:

One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s special revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as “sola scriptura” and is one of the “five solas” (sola is Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

While there are many verses in the Bible that establish its authority and its sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, one of the clearest is 2 Timothy 3:16, where we see that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Catholics reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc., have little or no basis in Scripture but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially, the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of sola scriptura and its insistence that both the Bible and tradition are equal in authority undermine the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many, if not all, of the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Another disagreement between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute) and represents Jesus as the head of the Church. As such, the Pope has the ability to speak ex cathedra (with authority on matters of faith and practice), making his teachings infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible and that Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establish the Pope’s authority. Protestants believe that the church’s authority comes not from apostolic succession but from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority do not rest in the hands of a mere man but in the very Word of God. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born-again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.

Protestants point to passages such as John 14:16–17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (See also John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27).

A third major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how one is saved. Another of the five solas of the Reformation is sola fide (“faith alone”), which affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–10). However, Catholics teach that the Christian must rely on faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Essential to the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation are the Seven Sacraments, which are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. Protestants believe that, on the basis of faith in Christ alone, believers are justified by God, as all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by “grace through faith,” but in itself is not sufficient to justify the believer. The believer must supplement the righteousness of Christ imparted to him with meritorious works.

Catholics and Protestants also disagree on what it means to be justified before God. To the Catholic, justification involves being made righteous and holy. He believes that faith in Christ is only the beginning of salvation and that the individual must build upon that with good works because God’s grace of eternal salvation must be merited. This view of justification contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in passages such as Romans 4:1–12, Titus 3:3–7, and many others. Protestants distinguish between the one-time act of justification (when we are declared righteous by God based on our faith in Christ’s atonement on the cross) and the process of sanctification (the development of righteousness that continues throughout our lives on earth). While Protestants recognize that works are important, they believe they are the result or fruit of salvation but never the means to it. Catholics blend justification and sanctification together into one ongoing process, which leads to confusion about how one is saved.

A fourth major difference between Catholics and Protestants has to do with what happens after death. Both believe that unbelievers will spend eternity in hell, but there are significant differences about what happens to believers. From their church traditions and their reliance on non-canonical books, the Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” On the other hand, Protestants believe that because we are justified by faith in Christ alone and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us—when we die, we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6–10 and Philippians 1:23).

One disturbing aspect about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is the belief that man can and must pay for his own sins. This results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Simply put, the Roman Catholic view of salvation implies that Christ’s atonement on the cross was insufficient payment for the sins of those who believe in Him and that even a believer must pay for his own sins, either through acts of penance or time in purgatory. Yet the Bible teaches that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy or propitiate God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Our works of righteousness cannot add to what Christ has already accomplished.

The differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestants are important and significant. Paul wrote Galatians to combat the Judaizers (Jews who said that Gentile Christians had to obey the Old Testament Law to be saved). Like the Judaizers, Catholics make human works necessary for one to be justified by God, and they end up with a completely different gospel.

It is our prayer that God will open the eyes of those who are putting their faith in the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is our hope that everyone will understand that his “works of righteousness” cannot justify him or sanctify him (Isaiah 64:6). We pray that all will instead put their faith solely in the fact that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24–25). God saves us, “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).



03/27/21


Question: "What is Calvinism and is it biblical? What are the five points of Calvinism?"

Answer: 
The five points of Calvinism can be summarized by the acronym TULIP. T stands for total depravity, U for unconditional election, L for limited atonement, I for irresistible grace, and P for perseverance of the saints. Here are the definitions and Scripture references Calvinists use to defend their beliefs:


Total Depravity - As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all humanity is dead in trespasses and sins. Man is unable to save himself (Genesis 6:5Jeremiah 17:9Romans 3:10-18).

Unconditional Election - Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate a response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s response (Romans 8:29-30;9:11Ephesians 1:4-611-12) because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.

Limited Atonement - Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and for whom Christ died will be saved (Matthew 1:21John 10:1117:9Acts 20:28Romans 8:32Ephesians 5:25).

Irresistible Grace - Those whom God elected He draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds (John 6:374410:16).

Perseverance of the Saints - The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure (John 10:27-29Romans 8:29-30Ephesians 1:3-14).

While all these doctrines have a biblical basis, many people reject all or some of them. So-called “four-point Calvinists” accept Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints as biblical doctrines. Man is definitely sinful and incapable of believing in God on his own. God elects people based on His will alone – election is not based on any merit in the person chosen. All those whom God has chosen will come to faith. All those who are truly born-again will persevere in their faith. As for Limited Atonement, however, four-point Calvinists believe that atonement is unlimited, arguing that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, not just for the sins of the elect. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Other verses in opposition to limited atonement are John 1:293:161 Timothy 2:6; and 2 Peter 2:1.

The five-point Calvinists, however, see problems with four-point Calvinism. First, they argue, if Total Depravity is true, then Unlimited Atonement cannot possibly be true because, if Jesus died for the sins of every person, then whether or not His death is applicable to an individual depends on whether or not that person “accepts” Christ. But as we have seen from the above description of Total Depravity, man in his natural state has no capacity whatsoever to choose God, nor does he want to. In addition, if Unlimited Atonement is true, then hell is full of people for whom Christ died. He shed His blood in vain for them. To the five-point Calvinist, this is unthinkable. Please note: this article is only a brief summary of the five points of Calvinism. 


03/24/21


The God Who Understands

by John MacArthur

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Most people think of God as being far removed from human life and concerns. Jesus is the very Son of God, yet His divinity did not prevent Him from experiencing our feelings, our emotions, our temptations, and our pain. God became man to share in the testing and suffering of humanity, in order that He might be a sympathetic and understanding High Priest. It is for that reason the author of Hebrews writes, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 

When we are troubled, hurt, despondent, or strongly tempted, we need a Savior who understands our plight as fallen people. Jesus can “sympathize with our weaknesses.” The phrase “No one understands like Jesus” in the well-known hymn is not only beautiful and encouraging but absolutely true. Our great High Priest not only is perfectly merciful and faithful but also perfectly understanding. He has an unequaled capacity for sympathizing with us in every danger, in every trial, in every situation that comes our way, because He has been through it all Himself. At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus’ body shook in grief. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, He sweat drops of blood. He experienced every kind of temptation and testing, every kind of vicissitude, every kind of circumstance that any person will ever face. And He is at the right hand of the Father right now interceding for us.

Jesus not only had all the feelings of love, concern, disappointment, grief, and frustration that we have, but He had much greater love, infinitely more sensitive concerns, infinitely higher standards of righteousness, and perfect awareness of the evil and dangers of sin. Contrary, therefore, to what we are inclined to think, His divinity made His temptations and trials immeasurably harder for Him to endure than ours are for us.

Let me give an illustration to help explain how this can be true. We experience pain when we are injured, sometimes extreme pain. But if it becomes too severe, we will develop a temporary numbness, or we may even faint or go into shock. I remember that when I was thrown out of the car and skidded on my back on the highway, I felt pain for a while and then felt nothing. Our bodies have ways of turning off pain when it becomes too much to endure. People vary a great deal in their pain thresholds, but we all have a breaking point. In other words, the amount of pain we can endure is not limitless. We can conclude, therefore, that there is a degree of pain we will never experience, because our bodies will turn off our sensitivity in one way or another—perhaps even by death—before we reach that point.

A similar principle operates in temptation. There is a degree of temptation that we may never experience simply because, no matter what our spirituality, we will succumb before we reach it. But Jesus Christ had no such limitation. Since He was sinless, He took the full extent of all that Satan could throw at Him. He had no shock system, no weakness limit, to turn off temptation at a certain point. Since He never succumbed, He experienced every temptation to the maximum. And He experienced it as a man, as a human being. In every way He was tempted as we are, and more. The only difference was that He never sinned. Therefore, when we come to Jesus Christ we can remember that He knows everything we know, and a great deal that we do not know, about temptation, and testing, and pain. That’s why the author of Hebrews writes, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).

This truth was especially amazing and unbelievable to Jews. They knew that God was holy, righteous, sinless, perfect, omnipotent. They knew His divine attributes and nature and could not comprehend His experiencing pain, much less temptation. Not only this, but under the Old Covenant, God’s dealings with His people were more indirect, more distant. Except for special and rare instances, even faithful believers did not experience His closeness and intimacy in the way that all believers now can. Jews believed that God was incapable of sharing the feelings of men. He was too distant, too far removed in nature from man, to be able to identify with our feelings and temptations and problems.

If comprehending God’s sympathy was hard for Jews, it was even harder for most Gentiles of that day. The Stoics, whose philosophy dominated much Greek and Roman culture in New Testament times, believed that God’s primary attribute was apathy. Some believed that He was without feeling or emotions of any sort. The Epicureans claimed that the gods live intermundium, between the physical and spiritual worlds. They did not participate in either world, and so could hardly be expected to understand the feelings, problems, and needs of mortals. They were completely detached from mankind.

The idea that God could and would identify with men in their trials and temptations was revolutionary to Jew and Gentile alike. But the writer of Hebrews is saying that we have a God not only who is there, but one who has been here.

Sympathetic, Not Sinful

When the author of Hebrews says that Christ can “sympathize with our weaknesses” he does not refer directly to sin, but to feebleness or infirmity—it refers to all the natural limitations of humanity, including our sinful proclivities. Jesus knew firsthand the drive of human nature toward sin. His humanity was His battleground. It is here that Jesus faced and fought sin. He was victorious, but not without the most intense temptation, grief, and anguish.

That’s why Hebrews 4:15 goes on to say that Christ was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” In all of this struggle, Jesus remained without sin. He was completely apart from, separated from, sin. These two Greek words (chōris hamartia) express the absolute absence of sin. Though He was mercilessly tempted to sin, not the slightest taint of it ever entered His mind or was expressed in His words or actions.

Some may wonder how Jesus can completely identify with us if He did not actually sin as we do. It was precisely Jesus’ facing sin with His perfect righteousness and truth, however, that qualifies Him. Merely experiencing something does not give us understanding of it. A person can have many successful operations without understanding the least bit about surgery. On the other hand, a doctor may perform thousands of complicated and successful operations without ever having had the surgery himself. It is his knowledge of the disease or disorder and his surgical skill in treating it that qualifies him, not his having had the disease. He has great experience with the disease—much greater experience with it than any of his patients—having confronted it in all of its manifestations. Jesus never sinned, but He understands sin better than any man. He has seen it more clearly and fought it more diligently than any of us could ever begin to do.

Sinlessness alone can properly estimate sin. Jesus Christ did not sin, could not sin, and had no capacity to sin. Yet His temptations were all the more terrible because He never sought relief from sin’s duress by giving in. His sinlessness itself increased His sensitivity to sin. “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:3–4). If you want to talk to someone who knows what sin is about, talk to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ knows sin, and He knows and understands our weakness. Whatever Satan brings our way, there is victory in Jesus Christ. He understands; He has been here.

03/23/21


Question: "How can I know if I am one of the elect?"

Answer: While there are numerous ideas of precisely what election means in regards to salvation, the fact that believers are elect is indisputable (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:4). Simply put, the doctrine of election is that God chooses/determines/elects/predestines who will be saved. It is not within the scope of this article to determine how election works. Rather, the question is “How can I know if I am one of the elect?” The answer is exceedingly simple: believe!

The Bible nowhere instructs us to be concerned regarding our status of elect vs. non-elect. Rather, God calls us to believe, to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). If a person truly trusts in Jesus alone for salvation, that person is one of the elect. Whether belief secures election, or election causes belief – that is another debate. But what is sure is that belief is evidence of election. No one can receive Jesus as Savior unless God draws him or her (John 6:44). God calls/draws those whom He has predestined/elected (Romans 8:29-30). Saving faith is not possible without divine election. Therefore, saving faith is evidence of election.

The idea of a person wanting to be saved but being unable to, due to not being one of the elect, is absolutely foreign to the Bible. No one seeks after God’s plan of salvation on his own accord (Romans 3:10-18). Those without Christ are blind to their need for salvation (2 Corinthians 4:4). This only changes when God begins drawing a person to Himself. It is God who opens eyes and enlightens minds to the need for Jesus Christ as Savior. A person cannot repent (change the mind about sin and the need for salvation) unless God grants repentance (Acts 11:18). Therefore, if you understand God’s plan of salvation, recognize your need for it, and feel compelled to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, then believe, and you are saved.

If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, trusting Him alone for salvation, believing that His sacrifice is the full payment for your sins – congratulations, you are one of the elect.



03/22/21


Question: "Who are the elect of God?"

Answer: Simply put, the “elect of God” are those whom God has predestined to salvation. They are called the “elect” because that word denotes the concept of choosing. Every four years in the U.S., we "elect" a President—i.e., we choose who will serve in that office. The same goes for God and those who will be saved; God chooses those who will be saved. These are the elect of God.

As it stands, the concept of God electing those who will be saved isn’t controversial. What is controversial is how and in what manner God chooses those who will be saved. Throughout church history, there have been two main views on the doctrine of election (or predestination). One view, which we will call the prescient or foreknowledge view, teaches that God, through His omniscience, knows those who will in the course of time choose of their own free will to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. On the basis of this divine foreknowledge, God elects these individuals “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). This view is held by the majority of American evangelicals.

The second main view is the Augustinian view, which essentially teaches that God not only divinely elects those who will have faith in Jesus Christ, but also divinely elects to grant to these individuals the faith to believe in Christ. In other words, God’s election unto salvation is not based on a foreknowledge of an individual’s faith, but is based on the free, sovereign grace of Almighty God. God elects people to salvation, and in time these people will come to faith in Christ because God has elected them.

The difference boils down to this: who has the ultimate choice in salvation—God or man? In the first view (the prescient view), man has control; his free will is sovereign and becomes the determining factor in God’s election. God can provide the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, but man must choose Christ for himself in order to make salvation real. Ultimately, this view diminishes the biblical understanding of God's sovereignty. This view puts the Creator's provision of salvation at the mercy of the creature; if God wants people in heaven, He has to hope that man will freely choose His way of salvation. In reality, the prescient view of election is no view of election at all, because God is not really choosing—He is only confirming. It is man who is the ultimate chooser.

In the Augustinian view, God has control; He is the one who, of His own sovereign will, freely chooses those whom He will save. He not only elects those whom He will save, but He actually accomplishes their salvation. Rather than simply make salvation possible, God chooses those whom He will save and then saves them. This view puts God in His proper place as Creator and Sovereign.

The Augustinian view is not without problems of its own. Critics have claimed that this view robs man of his free will. If God chooses those who will be saved, then what difference does it make for man to believe? Why preach the gospel? Furthermore, if God elects according to His sovereign will, then how can we be responsible for our actions? These are all good and fair questions that need to be answered. A good passage to answer these questions is Romans 9, the most in-depth passage dealing with God’s sovereignty in election.

The context of the passage flows from Romans 8, which ends with a great climax of praise: “For I am convinced that... [nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This leads Paul to consider how a Jew might respond to that statement. While Jesus came to the lost children of Israel and while the early church was largely Jewish in makeup, the gospel was spreading among the Gentiles much faster than among the Jews. In fact, most Jews saw the gospel as a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:23) and rejected Jesus. This would lead the average Jew to wonder if God’s plan of election has failed, since most Jews reject the message of the gospel.

Throughout Romans 9, Paul systematically shows that God’s sovereign election has been in force from the very beginning. He begins with a crucial statement: “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9:6). This means that not all people of ethnic Israel (that is, those descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) belong to true Israel (the elect of God). Reviewing the history of Israel, Paul shows that God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau. Just in case anyone thinks that God was choosing these individuals based on the faith or good works they would do in the future, he adds, “Though they [Jacob and Esau] were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls” (Romans 9:11).

At this point, one might be tempted to accuse God of acting unjustly. Paul anticipates this accusation in v. 14, stating plainly that God is not unjust in any way. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). God is sovereign over His creation. He is free to choose those whom He will choose, and He is free to pass by those whom He will pass by. The creature has no right to accuse the Creator of being unjust. The very thought that the creature can stand in judgment of the Creator is absurd to Paul, and it should be so to every Christian, as well. The balance of Romans 9 substantiates this point.

As already mentioned, there are other passages that talk to a lesser extent on the topic of God’s elect (John 6:37-45 and Ephesians 1:3-14, to name a couple). The point is that God has ordained to redeem a remnant of humanity to salvation. These elect individuals were chosen before the creation of the world, and their salvation is complete in Christ. As Paul says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).


03/21/20


Question: "What is conditional election?"

Answer: While the Bible clearly teaches that God elects people to salvation, there are disagreements as to the basis of that election. Conditional election is the belief that God elects people for salvation based on His foreknowledge of who will put their faith in Christ. Conditional election says that an all-knowing God looks to the future and decides to elect people based on a future decision they will make to come to faith in Christ. It is considered “conditional” election because it is based on the condition of man doing something of his own free will. According to conditional election, those who God knows will come to faith in Christ are elected by God, and those who God knows will not accept Christ are not elected.

Conditional election is one of the Articles of Remonstrance that define Arminian theology, and it is a core part of that worldview and theological system. As such, it stands in direct contrast to the belief held by those who hold to Reformed theology, which believes that the Bible teaches unconditional election, the view that God elects people based on His sovereign will and not on any future action of the person being elected.

Those who believe in conditional election will often cite verses like 1 Peter 1:1–2, where Peter is writing “to those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” The key phrase here is elect . . . according to the foreknowledge of God. Or another verse with similar implications is Romans 8:29–30: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Yet there really is no debate or disagreement in the fact that God, because He is all-knowing, knows beforehand who will be saved and who will not. The debate between conditional and unconditional election is about whether these verses teach that man’s “free will choice” is the cause of God’s election or an acknowledgement that God has the foreknowledge of who will be saved and who will not. If these were the only verses in Scripture that dealt with election, the issue as to whether the Bible teaches conditional election would be up for debate, but they are not. There are other very clear passages that tell us on what basis God elects people for salvation.

The first verse that helps us understand whether conditional election is what the Bible really teaches is Ephesians 1:4–5: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” Clearly, we see that God predestines or elects individuals “according to the purpose of His will.” When we consider the idea of adoption and the fact that it is God who chooses us for adoption and that it is done before the foundation of the world, it seems to be clear that the basis of God’s election and predestination is not a choice we would make in the future but solely His sovereign will, which He exercises “in love.”

Another verse that strongly supports unconditional election is Romans 9:11, where God describes “the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls.” While some want to dismiss Romans 9:11 as applying to corporate election and not individual election, we simply cannot dismiss this section of Scripture that clearly teaches that election is NOT conditioned on anything man has done or will do but is solely based on the divine will of a sovereign God.

Another verse that teaches unconditional election is John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” Further, in John 10:26–27 Jesus says, “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow me.” Conditional election says that people who believe are chosen as His sheep because they believe, but the Bible actually says just the opposite. The reason they believe is that they are His sheep. Election is not conditional upon man’s acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior but is instead the cause of his acceptance.

Conditional election is the view that man’s “free will” decision to accept Christ as Savior is the basis for his/her election. Therefore, in a very real sense, man’s decision is the cause of salvation. This view of election is in large part necessary because of the Arminian worldview where man chooses God, instead of God choosing man. Boiled down to its simplest form, Arminian theology is that, ultimately, man’s salvation depends on his “free will decision” alone and not God’s will. Conditional election leads to the conclusion that God’s actions in election are dependent upon man’s free will choices. This view of election and salvation makes God subject to the whims of men and their decisions, and man’s will becomes essentially the cause and effect of salvation.

On the other hand, in unconditional election it is God’s sovereign will that determines who is elected and who is not. Therefore, it is God’s will and God’s grace that are completely responsible for man’s salvation. All those whom God elects to salvation will come to saving faith in Christ, and those whom He does not elect will not (John 6:37). In this scenario, it is God who gets the glory for His grace and mercy in offering salvation to those who do not love Him and who can’t come to Him on their own (Ephesians 2:1–5).

These two views on election are not compatible at all. One is true, and the other is false. One makes God’s election and ultimately man’s salvation dependent upon man, ultimately giving man the credit and glory, while the other recognizes that election and salvation depend on God’s sovereign will. One worldview has man being the master of his destiny and, in essence, in control of his salvation, while the other has God rescuing lost, hopeless sinners not because they deserve it but because He wills it. One view exalts man, and the other exalts God. One is a testimony to man’s goodness and ability, and the other is a testimony to God’s amazing grace.



03/20/21


Question: "Unconditional election - is it biblical?"

Answer: Unconditional election is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the predestination—or the election—of people for salvation. It represents the second letter of the acronym TULIP, which is commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism, also known as the Doctrines of Grace. Other terms for the same doctrine include “unmerited favor,” “sovereign election” or “adopted by God.” All these terms are good names for this doctrine because each reveals some aspect of the doctrine of election. However, more important than the term we use to describe the doctrine is how accurately the doctrine summarizes what the Bible teaches about election and predestination. 

The debate over unconditional election is not whether or not God elects or predestines people to salvation but upon what basis He elects them. Is that election based upon foreknowledge that those individuals will have faith in Christ, or is it based upon God’s sovereign choice to save them? As the word “unconditional” implies, this view believes that God’s election of people to salvation is done “with no conditions attached, either foreseen or otherwise.” God elects people to salvation by His own sovereign choice and not because of some future action they will perform or condition they will meet. Those who come to Christ become His children by His will, not by theirs. “They were not God's children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children” (John 1:13 CEV).

God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have chosen to save all men (He certainly has the power and authority to do so), and He could have chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10-24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8). 

There are many verses in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of election, and, when one looks at all the Bible teaches about election and predestination, it becomes obvious that God’s choice was not based on any foreseen act or response, but was based solely on God’s own good pleasure and sovereign will. Properly understood, God’s unconditional election is one link in the unbreakable chain of salvation seen in Romans 8:28-29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” All those who are predestined will be saved (John 6:39; Romans 8:30) because they are the ones that God the Father gives to Jesus Christ (John 6:37) who will raise them up on the last day (John 6:39; John 17:2). They are Christ’s sheep (John 10:1-30) who hear His voice and for whom He died (John 10:15) in order to give them eternal life and make them secure forever in the hand of God (John 10:26-30).

There are several common misconceptions about unconditional election. First, it is important to understand that the doctrine does not teach that God’s choice is capricious or arbitrary. It is not random or made without reason. What it does teach is that God elects someone to salvation not because of something worthy God finds in that individual but because of His inscrutable, mysterious will. He makes the choice as to who will be saved for His own reasons, according to His own perfect will and for His own good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5). And while some object to the doctrine of election as being unfair, it is nevertheless based upon God’s will and it pleases God; therefore, it must be good and perfectly just.

Another misconception is that unconditional election precludes and stifles evangelism, but the reality is just the opposite—it empowers and confirms it. When one correctly understands that God has not only elected certain individuals to salvation but also has ordained the means of salvation—the preaching of the gospel (Romans 1:16; Romans 10:14-17)—it empowers the spreading of the gospel message and the call to evangelism. We see this very thing in Paul’s writing to Timothy in the midst of deep persecution. “I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ…” (2 Timothy 2:10). A proper understanding of the doctrine of election encourages evangelism and guarantees its success. It overcomes the fear of failure when sharing the gospel and empowers people to remain faithful to the message in times of great persecution. They know that the power lies in the gospel message and in God’s sovereign election and not in their own feeble presentation. A biblical understanding of election helps one share the gospel freely with all people, knowing that any one of them could be Christ’s sheep whom He is calling into His fold (John 10:16). It is not up to us to determine if someone is elect or non-elect, and there is always the promise of salvation for anyone who will repent and believe in Christ. The gospel message should be preached to all people in the knowledge that God will use it to draw His sheep to Himself. 

Unconditional election also does not mean that there will be people in heaven who do not want to be there, nor will there be people in hell who wanted to be saved but could not be because they were not elect. Unconditional election properly recognizes that, apart from God’s supernatural work in the life of a sinner, men will always choose to reject God and rebel against Him (see the article on Total Depravity for more information on this subject). What unconditional election does correctly recognize is that God intervenes in the lives of the elect and works in their lives through the Holy Spirit so that they willingly respond in faith to Him. Because they are “his sheep…they hear his voice and follow him” (John 10:1-30). As for the non-elect, God is still gracious to them, but because of their sin they are not thankful for that grace, nor do they acknowledge Him as God (Romans 1:18-20). Consequently, they receive the just punishment due them. Those whom God elects are beneficiaries of His sovereign grace and mercy, and those whom He does not elect receive the justice they have earned. While the elect receive God’s perfect grace, the non-elect receive God’s perfect justice. 

Those who argue against unconditional election often use verses like 1 Timothy 2:4 and John 3:16. How can we reconcile election with a verse like I Timothy 2:4, that says that God “desires all men to be saved,” or John 3:16, that says God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”? The answer lies in correctly understanding the will of God and the love of God. God’s passive will needs to be understood in contrast to His decreed will (those things He foreordains to happen). The passive will of God includes the things He might desire in a sense but does not foreordain or bring to pass. Certainly, if God is sovereign and all-powerful, as the Bible declares Him to be, then He could bring about the salvation of all men, if that was His decreed or pre-determined will. Reconciling this verse and others with the many that teach election is an unconditional choice of God is no more difficult than recognizing that there are things God might desire but does not decree to happen. It could be said that God does not desire men to sin but as part of his predetermined plan He allows them to sin. So while there is a real sense in which God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked and desires that all be saved, His pre-determined plan allows for the fact that some will go to hell.

In a similar way, concerning John 3:16 and God’s love, the difference lies in God’s general love for all creation and all humanity versus His specific love for His children, the elect. The difference is that God’s love for His elect is an intensive love that has Him actually doing something about their lost condition instead of simply sitting by wishing that they would in turn love Him, a picture so often conjured up by those who believe themselves to be in control of their own eternal destiny. In a generic sense, God desires all to be saved and He loves all of humanity, but that is completely different from the specific love He has for His elect and His desire and provision for their salvation. 

When one examines what the Bible teaches about election and predestination, it becomes clear that the doctrine of unconditional election does accurately represent what the Bible teaches on this important subject. While this—or any of the other Doctrines of Grace—can stand on their own merit, their importance becomes even clearer when they are considered together systematically with all the Bible teaches about salvation. They essentially serve as building blocks, with each one furnishing a necessary part of a biblical understanding of salvation. Total depravity defines man’s need for salvation and reveals his hopelessness when left to his own resources. It leaves man with the question “Who can be saved?” The answer lies in an understanding of unconditional election—God’s sovereign choice to save people despite their depravity and based solely on His redeeming for Himself people from every tribe, tongue and nation. This He accomplishes by predestinating them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:5). A proper understanding of this doctrine should not result in questioning the justice of God, but instead in marveling at His great mercy. The question we really should ask is not why God chooses only some to salvation, but why He would choose any at all.




03/19/21


Question: "What is the doctrine of election?"


Answer: An election is a time when people choose who they want to fill certain positions from President on down. An election is a choice. The biblical doctrine of election teaches that God chooses to save some, and, by necessity, if He does not choose everyone, then there are some who are passed over. Those whom He has chosen to save are referred to as “the elect” (see, e.g., Mark 13:20).

The Bible teaches that God chooses people based on His own purposes and His desire to show grace to underserving sinners. Ephesians 1:4–6 says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” He chose in love, in accordance with His pleasure and will, so that He would be glorified. God’s election has nothing to do with what the elect would or would not do.

God did not choose everyone. If He had, then everyone would come to faith in Christ. He chose some, and He left others to their own desires. Left to ourselves, all of us would continue in our rebellion and reject Christ. God chose to pursue some, convict them of their need, and lead them to faith. It is because of God’s choice that anyone comes to faith in Christ. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:44).

This is a tough truth to get our minds around. We are tempted to think that we are more just and gracious than God and that He should have chosen everyone. We need to reject that temptation. We are in no place to judge God! It is not as though some are desperately crying out to Him for salvation and He rejects them because He has not chosen them. Those whom God does not choose continue doing exactly what they want—they rebel against God and try to stay as far away from Him as possible. He simply allows them to continue on the path they have freely and willfully chosen. He has, however, chosen to intervene in the lives of some and win them over. He does this so that He might show His love and kindness to people who are undeserving.

Some people think that God “chooses” based on the choices that He knows that the elect will make: He knows who will and who will not receive Christ, and He makes His choice based on that. But that would make people the ultimate choosers, with God simply following our choice. Biblically, it is the other way around. God chooses some based on His own purposes, and then, in response to His work in their lives, they choose Him. His choice is first and foundational. Without God’s election, no one would ever turn to Him.

Many Christians recoil at the doctrine of election the first time they hear it. But, upon further reflection, most believers will admit that God was at work in their lives, drawing them to Himself long before they were even aware of it. They will recognize that, if He had not intervened, they would have continued in unbelief. The hand of God, working in big ways and little ways, becomes more evident in hindsight.

Some object to the doctrine of election on the grounds that it stifles missionary and evangelistic activity. After all, if God has chosen to save some, then they will be saved whether or not anyone takes them the gospel—so why bother? This objection overlooks the truth that hearing and believing the gospel is the means that God uses to save those He has chosen to save. Paul believed and taught election (it is a New Testament doctrine), yet he was zealous like no other in his missionary endeavors. Because he knew that God had chosen to save people through the gospel, Paul proclaimed it boldly and was persecuted for it. He explains, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:10). Paul endured persecution so that the elect will be saved, because the elect cannot be saved without hearing and believing the gospel. Through evangelism, God allows people to participate in His great plan of drawing a people unto Himself from every nation and language on earth. The doctrine of election frees us to share the gospel without pressure or fear of failure. When we share the gospel clearly, we have been obedient, and that is a success. The results are left to God.



03/18/21


Question: "Who are the elect of God?"

Answer: Simply put, the “elect of God” are those whom God has predestined to salvation. They are called the “elect” because that word denotes the concept of choosing. Every four years in the U.S., we "elect" a President—i.e., we choose who will serve in that office. The same goes for God and those who will be saved; God chooses those who will be saved. These are the elect of God.

As it stands, the concept of God electing those who will be saved isn’t controversial. What is controversial is how and in what manner God chooses those who will be saved. Throughout church history, there have been two main views on the doctrine of election (or predestination). One view, which we will call the prescient or foreknowledge view, teaches that God, through His omniscience, knows those who will in the course of time choose of their own free will to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. On the basis of this divine foreknowledge, God elects these individuals “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). This view is held by the majority of American evangelicals.

The second main view is the Augustinian view, which essentially teaches that God not only divinely elects those who will have faith in Jesus Christ, but also divinely elects to grant to these individuals the faith to believe in Christ. In other words, God’s election unto salvation is not based on a foreknowledge of an individual’s faith, but is based on the free, sovereign grace of Almighty God. God elects people to salvation, and in time these people will come to faith in Christ because God has elected them.

The difference boils down to this: who has the ultimate choice in salvation—God or man? In the first view (the prescient view), man has control; his free will is sovereign and becomes the determining factor in God’s election. God can provide the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, but man must choose Christ for himself in order to make salvation real. Ultimately, this view diminishes the biblical understanding of God's sovereignty. This view puts the Creator's provision of salvation at the mercy of the creature; if God wants people in heaven, He has to hope that man will freely choose His way of salvation. In reality, the prescient view of election is no view of election at all, because God is not really choosing—He is only confirming. It is man who is the ultimate chooser.

In the Augustinian view, God has control; He is the one who, of His own sovereign will, freely chooses those whom He will save. He not only elects those whom He will save, but He actually accomplishes their salvation. Rather than simply make salvation possible, God chooses those whom He will save and then saves them. This view puts God in His proper place as Creator and Sovereign.

The Augustinian view is not without problems of its own. Critics have claimed that this view robs man of his free will. If God chooses those who will be saved, then what difference does it make for man to believe? Why preach the gospel? Furthermore, if God elects according to His sovereign will, then how can we be responsible for our actions? These are all good and fair questions that need to be answered. A good passage to answer these questions is Romans 9, the most in-depth passage dealing with God’s sovereignty in election.

The context of the passage flows from Romans 8, which ends with a great climax of praise: “For I am convinced that... [nothing] in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). This leads Paul to consider how a Jew might respond to that statement. While Jesus came to the lost children of Israel and while the early church was largely Jewish in makeup, the gospel was spreading among the Gentiles much faster than among the Jews. In fact, most Jews saw the gospel as a stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:23) and rejected Jesus. This would lead the average Jew to wonder if God’s plan of election has failed, since most Jews reject the message of the gospel.

Throughout Romans 9, Paul systematically shows that God’s sovereign election has been in force from the very beginning. He begins with a crucial statement: “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9:6). This means that not all people of ethnic Israel (that is, those descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) belong to true Israel (the elect of God). Reviewing the history of Israel, Paul shows that God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau. Just in case anyone thinks that God was choosing these individuals based on the faith or good works they would do in the future, he adds, “Though they [Jacob and Esau] were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls” (Romans 9:11).

At this point, one might be tempted to accuse God of acting unjustly. Paul anticipates this accusation in v. 14, stating plainly that God is not unjust in any way. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). God is sovereign over His creation. He is free to choose those whom He will choose, and He is free to pass by those whom He will pass by. The creature has no right to accuse the Creator of being unjust. The very thought that the creature can stand in judgment of the Creator is absurd to Paul, and it should be so to every Christian, as well. The balance of Romans 9 substantiates this point.

As already mentioned, there are other passages that talk to a lesser extent on the topic of God’s elect (John 6:37-45 and Ephesians 1:3-14, to name a couple). The point is that God has ordained to redeem a remnant of humanity to salvation. These elect individuals were chosen before the creation of the world, and their salvation is complete in Christ. As Paul says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).



03/17/21


Question: "What does it mean that God is not willing for any to perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)?"


Answer: It is always important to study Bible verses in context, and it is especially true with 2 Peter 3:9, which reads, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (KJV). The second half of the verse, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” is frequently used to argue against the doctrine of election.


The context of 2 Peter 3:9 is a description of scoffers who doubt that Jesus is going to return to judge the world with fire (2 Peter 3:3–7). The scoffers mock, “Where is this coming?” (verse 4). In verses 5–6, Peter reminds his readers that God previously destroyed the world with the flood in Noah’s time. In verse 7, Peter informs his readers that the present heavens and earth will be destroyed with fire. Peter then responds to a question he knew was on his readers’ minds, namely, “what is taking God so long?” In verse 8, Peter tells his readers that God is above and beyond the concept of time. It may seem like we have been waiting a long time, but, to God, it has been a blink of an eye. Then, in verse 9, Peter explains why God has waited so long (in our view of time). It is God’s mercy that delays His judgment. God is waiting to give more people the opportunity to repent. Then, in the verses following verse 9, Peter encourages his readers to live holy lives in anticipation of the fact that Jesus will one day return.


In context, 2 Peter 3:9 says that God is delaying His coming in judgment in order to give people further opportunities to repent. Some of the confusion regarding the meaning of 2 Peter 3:9 is the wording of the KJV translation: “not willing that any should perish.” Not willing makes it sound as if God does not allow any to perish. However, in 17th-century English, willing carried more of an idea of desire than of volition. The modern English translations of 2 Peter 3:9 render the same phrase “not wanting” (NIV and CSB), “not wishing” (ESV and NASB), and “does not want” (NLT).


In no sense does 2 Peter 3:9 contradict the idea that God elects certain people to salvation. First, in context, election is not at all what the verse is talking about. Second, to interpret “not willing that any should perish” as “does not allow any to perish” results in the false doctrine of universalism. But God can “not desire” anyone to perish and still only elect some to salvation. There is nothing incongruous about that. God did not desire for sin to enter the world through the fall of Adam and Eve, yet He allowed it. In fact, it was part of His sovereign plan. God did not desire His only begotten Son to be betrayed, brutally tortured, and murdered, yet He allowed it. This, too, was part of God’s sovereign plan.


In the same way, God does not desire anyone to perish. He desires all to come to repentance. At the same time, God recognizes that not everyone will come to repentance. It is undeniable that many will perish (Matthew 7:13–14). Rather than being a contradiction to 2 Peter 3:9, God’s electing and drawing of some to salvation is evidence that He truly does not desire people to perish. Were it not for election and the effectual calling of God, everyone would perish (John 6:44; Romans 8:29–30).




03/16/21


Question: "How to repent—what does the Bible say?"


Answer: Repentance is an important topic in the New Testament.

John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2, see also Mark 1:15 and Luke 3:3, 8).

When Jesus started His public ministry, He also called for repentance. Matthew 4:17 records, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Jesus says of repentance, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7).

In Mark 6:12, the disciples also “went out and preached that people should repent.” This preaching continued in Acts. Peter preached to Jews, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Paul preached to Gentiles, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). And later he testified, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). And, similarly, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).

As demonstrated in the passages above, repentance is an important part of an initial response to the gospel, but it is also an important part of the life of the Christian. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul says, “Now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended” (2 Corinthians 7:9). To the church at Ephesus, Jesus says, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).

Even though repentance is extremely important, there is no Scripture passage that explains what repentance means or how to do it. This is probably because repentance is not an inherently theological word. When people heard the command to repent, they knew what it meant because it was a normal word with a normal meaning. Essentially, repent means “to change one’s mind” about something (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, metanoeo). Of course, when a person has a change of mind about something, the result is a change of behavior as well. If a driver is headed south on a highway and suddenly realizes that he is going the wrong direction, he will then get off at the next exit and head in the opposite direction. He has repented—he has changed his mind about the direction he should be driving. If he realizes he is going the wrong direction but decides to continue on without making any changes, he has not really repented. He has, by his actions, shown that he is just fine with the current direction of travel. In the New Testament, repentance is associated with a change of mind about sin.

Saying, “Sorry,” being sorry, or even feeling sorry are not the same as repenting. A person can feel emotionally sorry for something without addressing the underlying issue. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Judas felt great remorse over what he had done to Jesus, but he did not repent. Instead, he committed suicide (Matthew 27:3–5). Peter also felt great remorse over his denial of Christ (Matthew 26:75), but in his case it did result in genuine repentance and a change of direction, as later he boldly proclaimed Christ in the face of persecution (see Acts 4).

When a person is doing something that he has chosen to do and may even enjoy a great deal, but then, based on his exposure to the Word of God, he repents, it means he has changed his mind about it. The repentant person comes to believe what she once loved is wrong and that she should stop doing it. In accepting the gospel, repentance is the flip side of faith. It is possible that someone can become convinced that what he has been doing is wrong and then attempt to “mend his ways”—and he may even succeed. But if such a person does not place his faith in Christ and the righteousness He provides, then he is simply trusting his own moral reformation. Biblical repentance is the recognition that we are helpless to save ourselves—it is turning from sin and to the One who paid for it and can forgive it.

So how does a person repent? Like faith, repentance is a response to the work of God, who convicts and convinces a person that he is in error. In Acts 11:18, the Jewish believers “praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” Second Timothy 2:25 highlights the same thing: “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” These verses indicate a tension between God’s work and human responsibility. We gently instruct sinners in the hope that this intervention will be the means that God uses to bring them to repentance. It is the truth of God’s Word lovingly and accurately presented that God uses to bring about repentance.

If a person is having an extramarital affair, he or she may “know” or “believe” that it is morally wrong. However, repentance that results in a genuine change of mind would cause the adulterer to cut off the relationship. If a person really wants to repent, he needs to not only mentally agree that a thing is wrong, but ask himself, “If I really believe this is wrong, what will I do differently?” And the answer will be to do that different thing. As John the Baptist said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). He followed the command with some specific examples in Luke 3:10–14:

“‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’

“Even tax collectors came to be baptized. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’ ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them.

“Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.’”

An unbeliever’s desire to know how to repent and trust in Christ is evidence that God is working. If a believer wants to repent of sin that has crept into her life, it is because the Holy Spirit is working in the life of that believer. However, it is possible for a person to come to the point of admitting that a particular attitude or behavior is wrong but then refuse to submit to God’s truth regarding a change. That’s not repentance. Repentance is agreeing with God’s evaluation of the sin and then being willing to follow God’s leading in a new direction.

A person will be in a better position to repent if he is continually feeding on God’s truth through reading and studying the Bible, listening to biblical preaching and teaching, filling the mind with truth so that the mind begins to think the thoughts of God, and associating with like-minded Christians who will foster accountability. In some cases, a Christian may know that something is wrong and that she should change, but she doesn’t really want to. In that case, there is nothing wrong with praying, “Father, I know that I should change, but I am unwilling—please make me willing.”




03/15/21


Question: "Is repentance a change of mind or a turning from sin?"

Answer: Technically, repentance is a change of mind, not a turning from sin. The Greek word translated “repentance” is metanoia, and the meaning is simply “a change of mind.” In common usage, however, we often speak of repentance as “a turning from sin.” There is a good reason for this.

Repentance is often associated with salvation in Scripture. What happens when the Holy Spirit begins His work to bring a person to salvation? The Spirit gives the sinner a personal understanding and infallible conviction that the facts concerning his spiritual state are true. Those facts are his personal sin, the eternal punishment due him for his sin, the substitutionary nature of Jesus’ suffering for his sin, and the need for faith in Jesus to save him from his sin. From that convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), the sinner repents—he changes his mind—about sin, the Savior, and salvation.

When a repentant person changes his mind about sin, that change of mind naturally leads to a turning from sin. Sin is no longer desirable or fun, because sin brings condemnation. The repentant sinner begins to abhor his past misdeeds. And he begins to seek ways to amend his behavior (see Luke 19:8). So, ultimately, the result of the change of mind about sin is good deeds. The sinner turns away from sin toward faith in the Savior, and that faith is shown in action (see James 2:17).

The change of mind (repentance) is not precisely the same as the active turning from sin and visible performance of good deeds, but one leads to the other. In this way, repentance is related to turning from sin. When people speak of repentance as a turning from sin (rather than a change of mind), they are using a figure of speech called metonymy. In metonymy, the name of a concept is replaced with a word suggested by the original.

Metonymy is quite common in everyday language. For example, news reports that begin, “The White House issued a statement today,” are using metonymy, as the name for the building where the President lives is substituted for the name of the President himself.

In the Bible we can see other examples of metonymy. In Mark 9:17 the father states that his son has “a mute spirit” (NKJV). The evil spirit itself is not mute. The evil spirit causes the boy to be mute. The spirit is named after the effect it produces: a mute child. The metonymy here replaces the cause with the effect. Similarly, using the word repentance to mean “a turning from sin” replaces the cause with the effect. The cause is repentance, a change of mind; the effect is a turning away from sin. A word is replaced by a related concept. That’s metonymy.

In summary, repentance is a change of mind. But the full biblical understanding of repentance goes beyond that. In relationship to salvation, repentance is a change of mind from an embrace of sin to rejection of sin and from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ. Such repentance is something only God can enable (John 6:44; Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25). Therefore, true biblical repentance will always result in a change of behavior. Maybe not instantly, but inevitably and progressively.



03/14/21


Question: "What does the Bible say about repentance? What does it mean to repent?"

Answer: The word repentance in the Bible literally means “the act of changing one’s mind.” True biblical repentance goes beyond remorse, regret, or feeling bad about one’s sin. It involves more than merely turning away from sin. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary includes this definition of repentance: “In its fullest sense it is a term for a complete change of orientation involving a judgment upon the past and a deliberate redirection for the future.”

In the Old Testament, repentance, or wholehearted turning to God, is a recurring theme in the message of the prophets. Repentance was demonstrated through rituals such as fasting, wearing sackcloth, sitting in ashes, wailing, and liturgical laments that expressed strong sorrow for sin. These rituals were supposed to be accompanied by authentic repentance, which involved a commitment to a renewed relationship with God, a walk of obedience to His Word, and right living. Often, however, these rituals merely represented remorse and a desire to escape the consequences of sin.

When the ancient prophets beckoned the people to repent and return, they were calling for a complete turnaround inspired from within the heart and will of the individual. The prophets called both the nation of Israel and individual people to surrender their lives, to turn away from a life ruled by sin to a relationship with God, the sovereign ruler over all: “Even now—this is the LORD’s declaration—turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the LORD your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster” (Joel 2:12–13, CSB).

The theme of repentance continues in the New Testament, beginning with John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2) and then Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:17); both urgently called people to repent because the arrival of the Kingdom of God was at hand. Many chose this radical reorientation of their lives and demonstrated repentance through baptism (Mark 1:4) and profound changes in lifestyle and relationships (Luke 3:8–14).

Three Greek words used in the New Testament help us understand the full meaning of repentance in the Bible. The first is the verb metamelomai, which denotes a change of mind that produces regret or even remorse for wrongs done, but not necessarily a change of heart and action. This word is used in Matthew 27:3 to describe the guilt Judas felt over betraying Jesus.

The second verb, metanoeo, means “to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge.” This verb and its related noun, metanoia, denote true biblical repentance, which is characterized by four elements:

1) True repentance involves a sense of awareness of one’s own guilt, sinfulness, and helplessness (Psalm 51:4–10; 109:21–22).

2) True repentance apprehends or takes hold of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ (Psalm 51:1; 130:4).

3) True repentance means a change of attitude and action regarding sin. Hatred of sin turns the repentant person away from his or her sin to God (Psalm 119:128; Job 42:5–6; 2 Corinthians 7:10).

4) True repentance results in a radical and persistent pursuit of holy living, walking with God in obedience to His commands (2 Timothy 2:19–22; 1 Peter 1:16).

The focus of Jesus Christ’s mission was to call sinners to repentance: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). His call of absolute surrender goes out to all people: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:5). In His farewell to the disciples, Jesus commanded that they take His message of repentance and faith to all the nations (Luke 24:47).

Repentance in the Bible involves a complete and irreversible change of mind, heart, and actions. Repentance recognizes that our sin is offensive to God. To repent means to make an about-face, heart-directed turn away from self to God, from the past to a future ruled by God’s commands, acknowledging that the Lord reigns supreme over one’s existence.




03/11/21

Question: "Medical marijuana - what does the Bible say?"

Answer: There is no definitive biblical answer to the question of whether Christians should use medical marijuana, because marijuana for medicinal use is not addressed in the Bible. While there may indeed be some medical benefit in the use of non-smoked marijuana products such as cannabis oil, edibles, and tinctures, this article deals with smoking the drug.

First, although many states have legalized medical marijuana, its use is still illegal according to federal law. Paul exhorts us to obey the law of the land under our government in this way: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2).

In addition to the fact that it is illegal, smoking marijuana can be extremely harmful to one’s health. The most potent argument against the use of marijuana to treat medical disorders is that marijuana may cause the acceleration or aggravation of the very disorders it is being used to treat. Smoking marijuana regularly (a joint a day) can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells. For patients with already weakened immune systems, this means an increase in the possibility of dangerous pulmonary infections, including pneumonia, which often proves fatal in AIDS patients. The use of marijuana as a medical therapy can and does have a very serious negative effect on patients with pre-existing immune deficits from AIDS, organ transplantation, or cancer chemotherapy, the very conditions for which marijuana has most often been suggested as a treatment

A study indicates that a marijuana user's risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana. The researchers suggest that such an effect might occur from marijuana's effects on blood pressure and heart rate and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. Additionally, the smoke from cannabis—the plant from which marijuana is derived—contains compounds that can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer just like tobacco smoke according to a recent study from the United Kingdom. In laboratory tests, Rajinder Singh from the University of Leicester and colleagues found certain carcinogens in cannabis smoke in amounts 50 percent greater than those found in tobacco smoke. They noted that light cannabis use could possibly prove to be even more damaging because cannabis smokers usually inhale more deeply than cigarette smokers. Researchers found that the smoking of three to four cannabis cigarettes a day is associated with the same degree of damage to bronchial mucus membranes as twenty or more tobacco cigarettes a day. In truth, marijuana causes short-term memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor skills, decrease in muscle strength, increased heart rate and anxiety—and that’s just for starters. According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and has the potential to cause cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract. Clearly, this is contradictory to the biblical mandate to keep our bodies pure. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

In short, although there remains much research to be done in this area, there are plenty of studies that indicate seriously deleterious effects of marijuana on the body. The pain-controlling or analgesic effect of marijuana is roughly comparable to that of codeine, according to the DEA. However, the effect is potentiated due to the neuropsychiatric "high" feeling or euphoria that occurs when marijuana enters the bloodstream. But marijuana is no panacea. A recent study shows that high doses can actually increase pain. There is a therapeutic window for analgesia, with low doses being ineffective, medium doses resulting in pain relief, and high doses increasing pain. It is important to note that researchers also found a significant correlation between increasing marijuana use and drowsiness, loss of control over thought and action, and transient depression and paranoia. 

The Bible teaches Christians to be sound of mind. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). The Greek word translated as "sober" is nepho, which literally means "drink no wine." From this it derived a broader meaning of being self-controlled, free of confusion, clear headed, sound of mind, or keeping your head. From this verse, we can see that Christians are to avoid intoxicants that impair clear thinking. Marijuana certainly seems to cloud thinking and reaction time. According to the Kaiser study, daily marijuana users have a 30 percent higher risk of injuries, presumably from accidents. A survey of 1,023 emergency room trauma patients in Baltimore found that more than 34 percent were under the influence of marijuana. And a 2005 study showed people who drive after using marijuana are almost twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.

Additionally, clouded thinking can lead to questionable moral choices. Habakkuk warns, "Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!" (Habakkuk 2:15). The reference to "mix in your venom" is the ancient practice of adding herbs (or drugs) to wine to make its intoxicating effects more potent. Christians have a hard enough time battling temptations without making Satan's job easier by taking drugs that alter one's judgment and self-control. Use of intoxicants has also been closely associated with witchcraft and sorcery in the Bible. The Greek word pharmakeia, translated “sorcery,” literally means "to administer drugs." As with our English word "drugs," the context must be considered to determine the meaning. In biblical times, pagans incorporated the use of drugs to induce altered states of consciousness, during which they supposedly communed with their gods. This would be similar to the modern-day practice of voodoo. The apostles strongly condemned the use of such drugs to produce altered mind states because the drugs lowered inhibitions and self-control. (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 9:20-21; 21:8; 22:15). The Christian disciplines his body and keeps it under control (1 Corinthians 9:27), so that he is able to set his mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). 

We must also consider the impact that the use of marijuana could have on others. A person smoking marijuana may be encouraging someone else, who may not have a medical justification, to use marijuana as well. Anyone who truly wants to know the effects of legalizing medicinal marijuana need look no further than California, where Proposition 215 passed in 1996. The law was written to target "seriously ill" Californians, but the state’s Police Chiefs Association reports that marijuana use by healthy youth and adults is "at epidemic levels." Police officers regularly find parolees, probationers and gang members in possession of both marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia. Even more disturbing are reports of children possessing physician recommendations and routinely using marijuana. One unintended consequence of medical marijuana is the promotion of its use by those who are not "seriously ill." As Christians, we are called to avoid not only sin, but also any activity that may cause our brothers and sisters in Christ to sin (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).

Finally, Satan is the great justifier. He always wants to help us rationalize and justify sinning against God, almost making it seem like the right thing to do. The same games people play in using the Bible to try to justify many other sinful activities can used to justify smoking pot. Taking verses out of context, stating a verse means one thing when it clearly means another, and making assumptions the Word does not support are all tricks the enemy will use to try to justify smoking marijuana. We must never forget that Satan is a liar. We must guard against these tactics in our own lives. Over 90 percent of the marijuana used currently in this country is for recreational use. Although many of those users have medical marijuana cards, in many cases their marijuana has been prescribed by practitioners who are employed by the dispensaries, have never examined the patient, are not qualified to treat the conditions for which the marijuana is being prescribed, and have done nothing to validate the medical necessity of the prescription. Although many people may be deceived by such practices, God is not deceived. He will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7).



03/10/21


Question: "What was the Protestant Reformation?"

Answer: The Protestant Reformation was a widespread theological revolt in Europe against the abuses and totalitarian control of the Roman Catholic Church. Reformers such as Martin Luther in Germany, Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland, and John Calvin in France protested various unbiblical practices of the Catholic Church and promoted a return to sound biblical doctrine. The precipitating event of the Protestant Reformation is generally considered to be Luther’s posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church on October 31, 1517.

As a background to the history of Protestantism and the Reformation, it is important to understand the Catholic claim of apostolic succession. This doctrine says that the line of Roman Catholic popes extends through the centuries all the way from the apostle Peter to the current pope. This unbroken chain of authority makes the Roman Catholic Church the only true church and gives the pope preeminence over all churches everywhere.

Because of their belief in apostolic succession and the infallibility of the pope (when speaking ex cathedra), Catholics place church teaching and tradition on a level equal to Scripture itself. This is one of the major differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants and was one of the foundational issues leading to the Protestant Reformation.

Even prior to the Protestant Reformation, there were pockets of resistance to some of the unbiblical practices of the Roman Catholic Church, yet they were relatively small and isolated. The Lollards, the Waldensians, and the Petrobrusians all took a stand against certain Catholic doctrines. Before Luther ever picked up a hammer and headed to Chapel Church, there were men who had stood up for reform and the true gospel. Among them were John Wycliffe, an English theologian and Oxford professor who was condemned as a heretic in 1415; Jan Hus, a priest from Bohemia who was burned at the stake in 1415 for his opposition to the Church of Rome; and Girolamo Savonarola, an Italian friar who was hanged and burned in 1498.

The opposition to the false teaching of the Roman Catholic Church came to a head in the sixteenth century when Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, challenged the authority of the pope and, in particular, the selling of indulgences. Rather than heed the call to reform, the Roman Catholic Church dug in its heels and sought to silence the Reformers. Eventually, new churches emerged from the Reformation, forming four major divisions of Protestantism: Luther’s followers started the Lutheran Church, Calvin’s followers started the Reformed Church, John Knox’s followers started the Presbyterian Church in Scotland (using Calvinistic doctrine), and, later, Reformers in England started the Anglican Church.

At the heart of the Protestant Reformation lay four basic questions: How is a person saved? Where does religious authority lie? What is the church? What is the essence of Christian living? In answering these questions, Protestant Reformers developed what would be known as the “Five Solas” (sola being the Latin word for “alone”). These five essential points of biblical doctrine clearly separate Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. The Reformers resisted the demands placed on them to recant these doctrines, even to the point of death. The five essential doctrines of the Protestant Reformation are as follows:

1 - Sola Scriptura, “Scripture Alone.” The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice. Scripture and Scripture alone is the standard by which all teachings and traditions of the church must be measured. As Martin Luther so eloquently stated when told to recant his teachings, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

2 - Sola Gratia, “Salvation by Grace Alone.” Salvation is proof of God’s undeserved favor; we are rescued from God’s wrath by His grace alone, not by any work we do. God’s blessing in Christ is the sole efficient cause of salvation. This grace is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

3 - Sola Fide, “Salvation by Faith Alone.” We are justified by faith in Christ alone, not by the works of the Law. It is by faith in Christ that His righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect standard.

4 - Solus Christus, “In Christ Alone.” Salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone; no one and nothing else can save. Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross is sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to God the Father. The gospel has not been preached if Christ’s redemption is not declared and if faith in His resurrection is not solicited.

5 - Soli Deo Gloria, “For the Glory of God Alone.” Salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God for His glory alone. As Christians we must magnify Him always and live our lives in His presence, under His authority, and for His glory.

These five important doctrines are the reason for the Protestant Reformation. They are at the heart of the Reformers’ call for the church to return to biblical teaching. The Five Solas are just as important today in evaluating a church and its teachings as they were in the sixteenth century.





03/09/21


Question: "Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?"

Answer: This is perhaps the most important question in all of Christian theology. This question is the cause of the Reformation, the split between the Protestant churches and Catholic Church. This question is a key difference between biblical Christianity and most of the "Christian" cults. Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works? Am I saved just by believing in Jesus, or do I have to believe in Jesus and do certain things?

The question of faith alone or faith plus works is made difficult by some hard-to-reconcile Bible passages. Compare Romans 3:28, 5:1 and Galatians 3:24 with James 2:24. Some see a difference between Paul (salvation is by faith alone) and James (salvation is by faith plus works). Paul dogmatically says that justification is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), while James appears to be saying that justification is by faith plus works. This apparent problem is answered by examining what exactly James is talking about. James is refuting the belief that a person can have faith without producing any good works (James 2:17-18). James is emphasizing the point that genuine faith in Christ will produce a changed life and good works (James 2:20-26). James is not saying that justification is by faith plus works, but rather that a person who is truly justified by faith will have good works in his/her life. If a person claims to be a believer, but has no good works in his/her life, then he/she likely does not have genuine faith in Christ (James 2:14, 17, 20, 26).

Paul says the same thing in his writings. The good fruit believers should have in their lives is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Immediately after telling us that we are saved by faith, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), Paul informs us that we were created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Paul expects just as much of a changed life as James does: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). James and Paul do not disagree in their teaching regarding salvation. They approach the same subject from different perspectives. Paul simply emphasized that justification is by faith alone while James put emphasis on the fact that genuine faith in Christ produces good works.





03/08/21


Question: "Justification vs sanctification—what are the differences?"


Answer: Justification, a term used in the Bible forensically/legally, is defined as “an act of God by which those who are unrighteous in themselves are nevertheless declared righteous before God while still in the sinning state.” Justification is a deliverance from the penalty of sin and is a past action for all believers, accomplished by Christ at the cross.

Paul summarizes the concept of justification: “So then as through one transgression [Adam’s sin] there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness [Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross] there resulted justification of life to all men” (Romans 5:18, NASB).

By contrast, sanctification is not the act of God declaring a person righteous; rather, it is the continual process by which God is actually making a person righteous. Sanctification is the deliverance from the power of sin and is a present and continuous process of believers becoming Christlike, accomplished by the Holy Spirit’s power and presence. Sanctification represents a believer’s victory over the flesh (Romans 7:24–25), the world (1 John 5:4), and the devil (James 4:7).

The ultimate end result of our sanctification is that we will be found in Christ’s image, as Paul describes in Romans 8:29–30: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (NASB).

In summary, justification happens when God declares a guilty sinner to be righteous; sanctification happens when God makes the believing sinner righteous. Justification is a one-time act; sanctification is a continual process. Justification releases us from the penalty of sin; sanctification releases us from the power of sin. Both justification and sanctification are aspects of our “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9).




03/07/21


Question: "What is justification? What does it mean to be justified?"

Answer: Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God's declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ's righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though justification as a principle is found throughout Scripture, the main passage describing justification in relation to believers is Romans 3:21-26: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ's own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God's demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us.

Romans 5:18-19 sums it up well: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." It is because of justification that the peace of God can rule in our lives. It is because of justification that believers can have assurance of salvation. It is the fact of justification that enables God to begin the process of sanctification—the process by which God makes us in reality what we already are positionally. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).




03/06/21


Question: "What is the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2)?"

Answer: The phrase “the sun of righteousness” appears in Malachi 4:2: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” This blessing is promised to those who fear the Lord and are ready for His return.

“Sun of righteousness” can also be translated “son of vindication.” The context concerns the Day of the Lord, the time when God vindicates His people and judges sin. This vindication will be clear to all, like the bright light of the sunrise. 

The One described as the “sun of righteousness” can be no other than Jesus Christ Himself. The Lord is called “the LORD your righteousness” in Jeremiah 23:6. And the coming of the Messiah is pictured as a sunrise in several passages. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). See also 2 Samuel 23:4; Habakkuk 3:4; and Luke 1:78-79.

The fact that the sun of righteousness rises with “healing in its wings” invokes the picture of the wings of a bird stretched across the sky, offering healing to those below. A healing effect will infuse the earth during this time, removing the negative impact of past sins (Isaiah 30:26; 53:5). When Christ returns, God’s righteousness and peace will flood the earth (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).

God’s desire has always been to provide righteousness to those who trust Him (e.g., Genesis 15:6). On some occasions, God’s people were said to be “clothed in righteousness” (Job 29:14; Psalm 132:9; Isaiah 61:10), and here in Malachi 4:2 God’s people will see the Sun of Righteousness Himself rising over the world. It’s a picture of the future millennial reign of Jesus Christ. The darkness of the Antichrist’s reign will vanish, and the light of God will take its place. It’s a new day dawning; God’s people will revel in their freedom like gamboling calves leaping from their stalls (Isaiah 65:17-25; Hosea 14:4-7; Amos 9:13-15; Zephaniah 3:19-20).




03/05/21


Question: "What is the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14)?"

Answer: Ephesians 6:11 exhorts believers to “put on the whole armor of God” in order to stand firm against the attacks of our enemy, Satan (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12). Verses 14 through 17 say, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The imagery is of an armed Roman or Israelite soldier, prepared for battle. A typical armed soldier wore a breastplate made of bronze or chain mail. It covered the vital organs, namely, the heart, and was fitted with loops or buckles that attached it to a thick belt. If the belt was loosened, the breastplate slipped right off.

When Paul compares the armor of God with military gear, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). At salvation, a “breastplate” is issued to each repentant sinner. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks (Isaiah 64:6). The breastplate of righteousness has Christ’s name stamped on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient to protect you. Wear mine.”

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation (Romans 8:1). We choose instead to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account.

We “put it on” by seeking God and His righteousness above everything else (Matthew 6:33). We make Him and His ways our dwelling place (Psalm 91:1). We delight in His commands and desire for His ways to become our ways (Psalm 37:4; 119:24, 111; Isaiah 61:10). When God reveals an area of change to us, we obey and allow Him to work in us. At the point where we say “no” to God, we open a little crack in the armor where Satan’s arrows can get through (Ephesians 6:16).

As we wear Christ’s breastplate of righteousness, we begin to develop a purity of heart that translates into actions. Wearing this breastplate creates a lifestyle of putting into practice what we believe in our hearts. As our lives become conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), our choices become more righteous, and these godly choices also protect us from further temptation and deception (Proverbs 8:20; Psalm 23:3).

When armor is abused or worn incorrectly, it can malfunction. Likewise, there are several factors that can interfere with the effectiveness of our spiritual breastplate. Carelessness (1 Peter 5:8), unbelief (Hebrews 3:12), abusing grace (Romans 6:1–2), or disobedience (1 John 3:4; Hebrews 4:6) can hinder our ability to stand firm and defeat the enemy in our lives. When we tolerate sin, refuse to forgive (2 Corinthians 2:10–11), rely on personal righteousness (Titus 3:5), or allow earthly concerns to crowd out time for an intimate relationship with God, we, in effect, take off the breastplate of righteousness, minimizing its power to protect us.

We need our breastplate of righteousness in place in order to gain the victory specified in 2 Corinthians 10:15: “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” When we quickly reject heretical ideas, idolatry, and the “counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1) and instead “keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), we keep our breastplate securely fastened.



03/04/21


Question: "What is righteousness?"

Answer: Dictionaries define righteousness as “behavior that is morally justifiable or right.” Such behavior is characterized by accepted standards of morality, justice, virtue, or uprightness. The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word. Thus, God’s laws, as given in the Bible, both describe His own character and constitute the plumb line by which He measures human righteousness.

The Greek New Testament word for “righteousness” primarily describes conduct in relation to others, especially with regards to the rights of others in business, in legal matters, and beginning with relationship to God. It is contrasted with wickedness, the conduct of the one who, out of gross self-centeredness, neither reveres God nor respects man. The Bible describes the righteous person as just or right, holding to God and trusting in Him (Psalm 33:18–22).

The bad news is that true and perfect righteousness is not possible for man to attain on his own; the standard is simply too high. The good news is that true righteousness is possible for mankind, but only through the cleansing of sin by Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have no ability to achieve righteousness in and of ourselves. But Christians possess the righteousness of Christ, because “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is an amazing truth. On the cross, Jesus exchanged our sin for His perfect righteousness so that we can one day stand before God and He will see not our sin, but the holy righteousness of the Lord Jesus.

This means that we are made righteous in the sight of God; that is, that we are accepted as righteous and treated as righteous by God on account of what the Lord Jesus has done. He was made sin; we are made righteousness. On the cross, Jesus was treated as if He were a sinner, though He was perfectly holy and pure, and we are treated as if we were righteous, though we are defiled and depraved. On account of what the Lord Jesus has endured on our behalf, we are treated as if we had entirely fulfilled the Law of God and had never become exposed to its penalty. We have received this precious gift of righteousness from the God of all mercy and grace. To Him be the glory!




03/03/21


Question: "What does it mean that "righteousness and peace kiss each other" in Psalm 85:10?"


Answer: When Psalm 85:10 states that “righteousness and peace kiss each other,” the psalmist is personifying two of God’s attributes and how they work together.

Psalm 85 was written by the sons of Korah and recalls God’s restoration of Israel. Verses 1–3 demonstrate how God had restored Israel in the past and turned away His wrath. Remembering God’s mercy in restoring Israel, the psalmist petitions the Lord to restore them yet again (Psalm 85:4). Knowing of God’s mercy and unfailing love, the psalmist rhetorically asks if the Lord will remain angry forever (Psalm 85:5–7). Based on God’s faithful salvation, the psalmist is confident that He will not continue in His wrath.

God promises “peace to his people, his faithful servants,” but urges them to stay away from folly, for the Lord will save those who fear Him (Psalm 85:8–9). At this point, the psalmist turns to personification:
“Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10).

Love and faithfulness “meet” with each other, and righteousness and peace “kiss” each other. Other translations say that righteousness and peace “will embrace” (CSB) or “will unite” (CEV). The idea is that the Lord’s attributes of righteousness and peace would harmonize to provide comfort to Israel.

The attributes of righteousness and peace are linked in Isaiah 32:17 as well: “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”

A kiss was a common form of greeting in ancient times, and still is in some cultures. The word picture painted in Psalm 85:10 is one of two friends greeting each other as if they had been separated a long time. Righteousness and peace have been estranged, but now they are friends again. The righteousness of God was opposed to peace on earth, as long as Israel remained in a sinful, unrepentant state. But now they are united, and the result is joy, a friendly embrace, and delightful harmony.

The personification in Psalm 85 is continued in verse 11:
“Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.”
Here we see that faithfulness is described as springing up “from the earth,” and righteousness as looking down “from heaven.” The mention of heaven and earth suggests that more is being unified than just the attributes of God. Heaven and earth are uniting, resulting in peace and blessing for God’s people. The description foreshadows the angels’ song in Luke 2:14:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Using the imagery of a harvest, the psalmist is assured that God will answer Israel’s prayer for restoration:
“The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps” (Psalm 85:12–13).

Despite the wrongdoing done by the nation, God would extend grace to the Israelites. Psalm 85 teaches that God's grace is greater than our sin. God would bring peace to Israel once again, through His righteousness, peace, faithfulness, and love coming together.

The ultimate fulfillment of love and faithfulness “meeting together” and of righteousness and peace “kissing” is found in Jesus Christ’s work to reconcile the world to God. It is through Jesus that we experience peace with God and forgiveness of sins (Romans 5:1). Because of His love and mercy, we can have eternal life through His death and resurrection (Romans 10:9–11). Just as God didn’t deal with Israel as they deserved in the Old Testament, so He has offered us His unmerited grace in spite of what we’ve done. In Jesus, we are declared righteous, not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of who He is (Ephesians 2:8–9). The “kiss” of righteousness and peace brings us peace with God.



03/02/21


Question: "What does the Bible say about self-righteousness?"

Answer: The dictionary definition of self-righteousness is “confidence in one’s own righteousness, especially when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.” Biblically speaking, self-righteousness, which is related to legalism, is the idea that we can somehow generate within ourselves a righteousness that will be acceptable to God (Romans 3:10). Although any serious Christian would recognize the error of this thought, because of our sin nature, it is a constant temptation to all of us to believe we are, or can be, righteous in and of ourselves. In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostle Paul came down particularly hard on those who attempted to live in self-righteousness.

Jesus’ condemnation of self-righteousness was especially harsh in His treatment of the Jewish leadership of the time. Six times in Matthew 23, Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for rigidly adhering to their legalistic traditions in order to make themselves look better to others. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector was specifically told by Jesus to “some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9–14). The Pharisee assumed his acceptance with God based on his own actions, whereas the tax collector recognized that there was nothing in himself that would cause God to approve of him. Over and over again in the Gospels, Jesus clashes with the Pharisees and scribes about true righteousness. At the same time, He spends a great deal of time and energy warning His disciples about the dangers of self-righteousness, making it clear that, without Him, they could do nothing (John 15:5).

Paul’s treatment of self-righteousness is no less scathing than Jesus’ was. He began his great argument in Romans for the grace of God by condemning the Jews’ self-righteous trust in circumcision (Romans 2:17–24). He follows that up in chapter 10, saying that the Jews tried to gain acceptance with God based on their own righteousness, demonstrating ignorance of the true righteousness of God (Romans 10:3). His conclusion is that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, not man (verse 4).

Paul’s letter to the Galatian church also addressed this issue. These believers were being told that they had to do certain things to be acceptable to God, specifically, to be circumcised. Paul goes so far as to say that this is another gospel and calls those who advocate it “accursed” (Galatians 1:8–9). More tellingly, he tells his readers that, if righteousness could come from their own actions, then Jesus died “for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21), and that righteousness could come “by the law” (Galatians 3:21). Paul’s conclusion about the Galatian believers was that they had been foolish in their attempt to be perfected by the flesh (Galatians 3:1–3).

It would be an understatement to say that every believer is plagued by this attitude. It is in our sin nature to try to do something to merit our salvation. The costly freedom of grace, bought for us by the blood of Jesus with no contribution from us, is difficult for our prideful hearts to understand or appreciate. It is far easier to compare ourselves with one another than it is to recognize that we cannot measure up to the standards of a holy God. However, in Christ we can know true righteousness. In Christ, we can know the forgiveness of sin that comes to us through grace. Because He stood in our place, we benefit from both His sinless life and His sin-bearing death (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of His sacrifice, we can face our sin and bring it to the cross, rather than try somehow to be good enough for God. Only in the cross can we see the grace that covers all our sin and defeat the constant tendency toward self-righteousness in our hearts.



03/01/21


Question: "Why will not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord," be saved (Matthew 7:21)?"


Answer: In Matthew 5—7 Matthew records Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In that historic message, Jesus challenges His listeners to change their minds about how they can be part of His kingdom, saying at one point that not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will be saved (Matthew 7:21). To that point many believed that just by being related to Abraham and Moses and by obeying the Law of Moses they were assured of their place in God’s kingdom. Jesus counters that notion directly.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Leading up to this statement, He had explained that His hearers’ righteousness must exceed even the righteousness of those who were most faithfully obeying the outward expressions of the Law of Moses (Matthew 5:20). He added that righteousness does not come from external obedience to laws and that, by their internal thought violations of those laws, they all were guilty (Matthew 5:21–47). In short, Jesus presented them with a standard they hadn’t considered before: they must be perfect like their heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Of course, living up to that standard is impossible. That is why Jesus proclaimed that people need to repent—to change their minds—about how they could be part of God’s kingdom. They thought they simply needed to be of a certain bloodline and obey a set of laws. Jesus smashed those ideas, pointing them to the actual standard: perfection.

Jesus further explains that the only way to achieve this perfection (since no one can do it on his own) is to have it provided. Ultimately, Jesus would go to the cross to pay for the imperfection of all of us (1 Corinthians 15:1–3) so that by believing in Him we can have life in His name (John 20:31). Jesus was clear—and the apostles after Him—that to be declared righteous by God is to receive grace through faith; righteousness does not come by works or human effort (John 3:16; 6:47; Ephesians 2:8–9).

The recipe is so simple, but we still want to do things our own way. People still want to justify themselves by their own efforts. If we could do that, we would have reason to boast, and we all, it seems, want to have reason to boast in ourselves. In Matthew 7:15–20 Jesus warns His audience about false prophets who will teach deceitfully about righteousness and bear the fruits of that falsehood. Jesus explains that these false prophets can be recognized by their fruits, even if their words are deceptive. Their words may come across as words of righteousness, but they aren’t faithful to the recipe that God provided. In fact, Jesus says, many of them will even call Him “Lord,” but their teachings and their deeds do not align with the will of God. Not everyone who says to Him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter His kingdom (Matthew 7:21). That honor is reserved for those who actually do His will. What is the will of God? That people change their minds (i.e., repent) about how they become righteous before God and come to Him with faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Simply saying the right things doesn’t grant us God’s righteousness. Not everyone who says to Him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter His kingdom (Matthew 7:21). In Genesis 15:6 we discover that belief in the Lord is credited as righteousness. This is a magnificent and liberating truth. We can’t be perfect on our own, but He is perfect and has sacrificed and paid the penalty so that we can have forgiveness of sin and His righteousness. When we receive these by faith in Him, we are at that moment transferred to His kingdom (Colossians 1:13), and we look forward to the arrival of that kingdom on earth (Colossians 3:1–4).


02/28/21


Question: "What does it mean to pursue righteousness?"

Answer: Proverbs 15:9 says, “The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.” If God wants us to pursue righteousness, then what about verses such as Romans 3:10 that say, “There is none righteous, no not one”? If no one is righteous, then who can really pursue it? Are those verses contradictory?

Before we can pursue righteousness, we need to define it. The word most often translated “righteousness” can also mean “justice, justness, or divine holiness.” In the broadest sense, righteousness can be defined as “the condition of being acceptable to God as made possible by God.” God’s standard is what defines true righteousness; His power is what enables it. Unless God is its author, we will never possess righteousness. No amount of man-made effort will result in righteousness. To be righteous is to be right with God. A heart that is right with God results in a life that bears “fruit” (John 15:1–2; Mark 4:20). Galatians 5:22-23 lists some of that fruit.

A common substitute for true righteousness is self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the opposite of what God desires. Self-righteousness makes a list of rules and checks them off, congratulating itself on how well it is doing compared to others. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were masters of self-righteousness, but Jesus had harsh words for them: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27–28).

To pursue righteousness means we must recognize that we cannot please God in our sinful state (Romans 8:8). We turn from trying to justify ourselves by our good deeds and instead seek the mercy of God. We desire that He transform our minds (Romans 12:2) and conform us “to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). In the Old Testament, men were declared righteous when they believed God and acted on it (Genesis 15:6; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). Before Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4), people pursued righteousness by keeping God’s Law, seeking holiness, and “walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). No one was justified by rule-keeping but by the faith that enabled them to obey God (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16).

Likewise, today we are justified by the faith that leads us to Jesus (Romans 3:28; 5:1; 10:10). Those who are in Christ continue seeking God in order to please Him (Colossians 3:1). When we come to faith in Christ, He gives us the Holy Spirit who empowers us to pursue righteousness for its own sake (Acts 2:38). He commands us to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25). Walking in the Spirit means we live a lifestyle of total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We cultivate the ability to hear God and the habit of obeying His voice in everything.

We pursue righteousness when we pursue the character of Christ and desire holiness more than fleshly indulgence. We avoid the temptation to become self-righteous when we understand that true righteousness begins with godly humility (Psalm 25:90). We remember that Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When we spend time in the presence of God, we become more aware of our own sin and shortcomings. A dingy shirt looks white beside a dark wall. But, when compared with snow, the same shirt looks dirty. Pride and self-righteousness cannot remain in the presence of a holy God. Pursuing righteousness begins when a humble heart seeks the continual presence of God (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). The humble, believing heart leads to a lifestyle of righteous action acceptable to God (Psalm 51:10).





02/24/21


Question: "Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ important?"

Answer: The resurrection of Jesus is important for several reasons. First, the resurrection witnesses to the immense power of God Himself. To believe in the resurrection is to believe in God. If God exists, and if He created the universe and has power over it, then He has power to raise the dead. If He does not have such power, He is not worthy of our faith and worship. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death, only He can reverse the hideousness that is death itself, and only He can remove the sting and gain the victory over the grave (1 Corinthians 15:54–55). In resurrecting Jesus from the grave, God reminds us of His absolute sovereignty over life and death.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is also important because it validates who Jesus claimed to be, namely, the Son of God and Messiah. According to Jesus, His resurrection was the “sign from heaven” that authenticated His ministry (Matthew 16:1–4). The resurrection of Jesus Christ, attested to by hundreds of eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3–8), provides irrefutable proof that He is the Savior of the world.

Another reason the resurrection of Jesus Christ is important is that it proves His sinless character and divine nature. The Scriptures said God’s “Holy One” would never see corruption (Psalm 16:10), and Jesus never saw corruption, even after He died (see Acts 13:32–37). It was on the basis of the resurrection of Christ that Paul preached, “Through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin” (Acts 13:38–39).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not only the supreme validation of His deity; it also validates the Old Testament prophecies that foretold of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection (see Acts 17:2–3). Christ’s resurrection also authenticated His own claims that He would be raised on the third day (Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34). If Jesus Christ is not resurrected, then we have no hope that we will be, either. In fact, apart from Christ’s resurrection, we have no Savior, no salvation, and no hope of eternal life. As Paul said, our faith would be “useless,” the gospel would be altogether powerless, and our sins would remain unforgiven (1 Corinthians 15:14–19).

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and in that statement claimed to be the source of both. There is no resurrection apart from Christ, no eternal life. Jesus does more than give life; He is life, and that’s why death has no power over Him. Jesus confers His life on those who trust in Him, so that we can share His triumph over death (1 John 5:11–12). We who believe in Jesus Christ will personally experience resurrection because, having the life Jesus gives, we have overcome death. It is impossible for death to win (1 Corinthians 15:53–57).

Jesus is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). In other words, Jesus led the way in life after death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is important as a testimony to the resurrection of human beings, which is a basic tenet of the Christian faith. Unlike other religions, Christianity possesses a Founder who transcends death and promises that His followers will do the same. Every other religion was founded by men or prophets whose end was the grave. As Christians, we know that God became man, died for our sins, and was resurrected the third day. The grave could not hold Him. He lives, and He sits today at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Hebrews 10:12).




02/23/21


Question: "Does God forgive big sins? Will God forgive a murderer?"

Answer: Many people make the mistake of believing that God forgives "little" sins such as lying, anger, and impure thoughts, but does not forgive "big" sins such as murder and adultery. This is not true. There is no sin too big that God cannot forgive it. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to pay the penalty for all of the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). When a person places his faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of his sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and once they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).

We are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and deserve eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). Jesus died for us, to pay our penalty (Romans 5:8). Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation is forgiven, no matter what sins he has committed (Romans 6:23; John 3:16). Now, a murderer or adulterer will likely still face serious consequences (legal, relational, etc.) for his evil actions " more so than someone who was "just" a liar. But a murderer's or adulterer's sins are completely and permanently forgiven the moment he believes and places his faith in Christ.

It is not the size of the sin that is the determining factor here; it is the size of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. If the shed blood of the sinless Lamb of God is sufficient to cover all the sins of all the millions of people who would ever believe in Him, then there can be no limit to the size or types of sins covered. When He said, "It is finished," sin was made an end of, full atonement and satisfaction for it were given, complete pardon was obtained, peace was made, and redemption from all sin was achieved. It was sure and certain and complete; nothing needs to be, or could be, added to it. Further, it was done entirely without the help of man, and cannot be undone.



02/22/21


Question: "Do Christians have to keep asking for forgiveness for their sins?"

Answer: A frequent question is "what happens if I sin, and then I die before I have an opportunity to confess that sin to God?" Another common question is "what happens if I commit a sin, but then forget about it and never remember to confess it to God?" Both of these questions rest on a faulty assumption. Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).

What we are to do is confess our sins: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). What this verse tells us to do is "confess" our sins to God. The word "confess" means "to agree with." When we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with God that we were wrong, that we have sinned. God forgives us, through confession, on an ongoing basis because of the fact that He is "faithful and just." How is God "faithful and just"? He is faithful by forgiving sins, which He has promised to do for all those who receive Christ as Savior. He is just by applying Christ's payment for our sins, recognizing that the sins have indeed been atoned for.

At the same time, 1 John 1:9 does indicate that somehow forgiveness is dependent on our confessing our sins to God. How does this work if all of our sins are forgiven the moment we receive Christ as Savior? It seems that what the apostle John is describing here is "relational" forgiveness. All of our sins are forgiven "positionally" the moment we receive Christ as Savior. This positional forgiveness guarantees our salvation and promise of an eternal home in heaven. When we stand before God after death, God will not deny us entrance into heaven because of our sins. That is positional forgiveness. The concept of relational forgiveness is based on the fact that when we sin, we offend God and grieve His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, they still result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God. A young boy who sins against his father is not cast out of the family. A godly father will forgive his children unconditionally. At the same time, a good relationship between father and son cannot be achieved until the relationship is restored. This can only occur when a child confesses his mistakes to his father and apologizes. That is why we confess our sins to God"not to maintain our salvation, but to bring ourselves back into close fellowship with the God who loves us and has already forgiven us.




02/21/21


Question: "If you doubt your salvation, does that mean you are not truly saved?"

Answer: Most believers, at one time or another, have doubted their salvation. There can be several causes of doubt, some valid and some not. If you doubt your salvation, there are some steps you can take to find reassurance, dispel the doubts, and rest in the promises of God.

First, it is good to know that whether or not you have doubts is not what determines your salvation. Some genuine believers struggle with doubt, while some unbelievers who presume to be saved never have a doubting moment (and they will have a rude awakening someday—see Matthew 7:21–23). So it is not automatic that the presence of doubt indicates a lack of salvation, or that the absence of doubt attests to salvation.

One reason people doubt their salvation is the presence of sin in their lives. Hebrews 12:1 speaks of “sin that so easily entangles.” Many true Christians struggle against “besetting,” that is, habitual sins, and this may cause them to doubt their salvation. It is important here to recognize that, despite the Christian’s being a new creation in Christ, everyone still sins. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). No one reaches a state of sinless perfection in this world. The difference for the believer is the attitude toward sin and the response to it. As Adrian Rogers said, “Before I got saved I was running to sin; now I am running from it. And if I fail, I turn right around and start running away again” (“Assurance of Salvation” on lwf.org, accessed 4/7/20).

It is also important to know that the presence of sin in one’s life can be a sign that you are not saved. The Bible is clear that willful, unrepentant sin is an indicator of an untransformed heart (see 1 John 3:6, 9; Romans 6:1–2). If you are living a lifestyle that the Bible condemns as sinful, then there is a spiritual problem. Do Christians sin? Yes. Do they willfully continue in sin? No.

If you doubt your salvation because of sin in your life, then confess the sin to God and ask for His forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Then take steps to not repeat the sin: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8, NLT). The very fact that you recognize sin and struggle against it in your own life is proof that the Holy Spirit is at work. Cooperate with what He is doing.

Another reason people doubt their salvation is the absence of godly works in their lives. The Christian life involves more than turning from sin; it includes doing good. Jesus said that “every good tree bears good fruit” (Matthew 7:17), and Paul wrote, “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). There are some who inspect the “fruit” of their own lives, find it lacking, and wonder if they are truly saved. Their mistrust that they are a “good tree” could be because 1) they have set a higher standard for themselves than God has, minimizing what God is doing through them; 2) they are foolishly measuring themselves against others and their fruit (see 2 Corinthians 10:12); 3) they are being lax in their pursuit of good works; or 4) they are not saved and therefore do not have the motivating love of Christ.

If you doubt your salvation because of a lack of good works, then confess the sin of omission to God and ask for His forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Then it is time to “stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Timothy 1:6, NKJV). There’s plenty of work to do for the kingdom (Luke 10:2), and the Bible gives plenty of direction about the will of God, generally, for Christians. Be careful not to set up false performance standards or compare your good deeds with others’. Ask God what He would have you do, and do that.

Some people, especially those who were saved at a very young age, doubt their salvation because they don’t remember their conversion very well, and they wonder if the decision they made as a child was genuine. Such feelings are common in adults who were saved as children. In such cases, it is good to review the promises of God and remember that Jesus invites children to come to Him (Mark 10:14). Salvation is based on the grace of God and faith in Christ, not our knowledge, wisdom, or sophistication (Ephesians 2:8–9). Jesus promised that those who are His will “never perish” (John 10:28). If doubts persist about the genuineness of your childhood conversion, make sure of your faith. Regardless of what you did as a child, do you believe now that Jesus died for your sins and rose again? Are you placing your faith in Him alone?

Another reason for the presence of doubt concerning salvation is persistent guilt over past sins. We all have regrets about past misdeeds, and we all have a spiritual enemy that the Bible calls “the accuser” (Revelation 12:10). The combination of regrets and accusations can spur much doubt. Fortunately, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). If you doubt your salvation because of guilty feelings, then ask yourself, “Were those sins over which I feel guilty confessed to God?” If so, then know this: God has removed that sin from you “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). This promise stands forever: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Sometimes, doubting is a good thing. Doubt can, like pain, alert us to a problem that needs addressed. We are to test ourselves to be sure that we are “in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Be sure that you are born again. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, then you have eternal life, and God wants you to be confident of your salvation (Romans 8:38–39; 1 John 5:13).



02/20/21


Question: "What does it mean to be a born again Christian?"

Answer: What does it mean to be a born-again Christian? The classic passage from the Bible that answers this question is John 3:1-21. The Lord Jesus Christ is talking to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling body of the Jews). Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night with some questions.

As Jesus talked with Nicodemus, He said, “‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again”’” (John 3:3-7).

The phrase "born again" literally means "born from above." Nicodemus had a real need. He needed a change of his heart—a spiritual transformation. New birth, being born again, is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the person who believes (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-4, 18). John 1:12, 13 indicates that being "born again" also carries the idea of "becoming children of God" through trust in the name of Jesus Christ.

The question logically comes, "Why does a person need to be born again?" The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (NKJV). To the Romans he wrote, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Sinners are spiritually “dead”; when they receive spiritual life through faith in Christ, the Bible likens it to a rebirth. Only those who are born again have their sins forgiven and have a relationship with God.

How does that come to be? Ephesians 2:8-9 states, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." When one is saved, he/she has been born again, spiritually renewed, and is now a child of God by right of new birth. Trusting in Jesus Christ, the One who paid the penalty of sin when He died on the cross, is the means to be "born again." "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If you have never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, will you consider the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to your heart? You need to be born again. Will you pray the prayer of repentance and become a new creation in Christ today? "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13).

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and be born again, here is a sample prayer. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life! Amen!"




02/19/21


Question: "What is the Romans Road to salvation?"

Answer: The Romans Road to salvation is a way of explaining the good news of salvation using verses from the Book of Romans. It is a simple yet powerful method of explaining why we need salvation, how God provided salvation, how we can receive salvation, and what are the results of salvation.

The first verse on the Romans Road to salvation is Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." We have all sinned. We have all done things that are displeasing to God. There is no one who is innocent. Romans 3:10-18 gives a detailed picture of what sin looks like in our lives. The second Scripture on the Romans Road to salvation, Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin - "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death!

The third verse on the Romans Road to salvation picks up where Romans 6:23 left off, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:8 declares, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus Christ died for us! Jesus' death paid for the price of our sins. Jesus' resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus' death as the payment for our sins.

The fourth stop on the Romans Road to salvation is Romans 10:9, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Because of Jesus' death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins - and we will be saved! Romans 10:13 says it again, "for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rescue us from eternal death. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The final aspect of the Romans Road to salvation is the results of salvation. Romans 5:1 has this wonderful message, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God. Romans 8:1 teaches us, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Because of Jesus' death on our behalf, we will never be condemned for our sins. Finally, we have this precious promise of God from Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Would you like to follow the Romans Road to salvation? If so, here is a simple prayer you can pray to God. Saying this prayer is a way to declare to God that you are relying on Jesus Christ for your salvation. The words themselves will not save you. Only faith in Jesus Christ can provide salvation! "God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. With your help, I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"




02/18/21


What is positional sanctification? - Printer Friendly

Question: "What is positional sanctification?"

Answer: To sanctify means to set apart as holy, which is what happens to sinners who are saved from sin by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). The three “phases” of salvation are positional sanctification, progressive sanctification, and final sanctification. At the moment of salvation, we are sanctified or set apart positionally; that is, we are saved from the ultimate penalty of sin. Then begins progressivesanctification, the process whereby we are saved from the practice and power of sin. And after this physical life is over, we will be sanctified finally; that is, we will be saved from the presence of sin.

Positional sanctification is a one-time act of the Holy Spirit on the hearts of unbelievers whom He has chosen for salvation from sin. At the moment of salvation, believers understand and acknowledge their sinful state, their inability to save themselves through any works of their own, their need of a savior, their acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as sin’s payment, and their faith in Jesus’ resurrection. At that moment, believers are brought out of darkness into the light. Our position before God has been changed forever. No longer dead in trespasses, we are made alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). Our position changes in that we are made citizens of a whole new kingdom: “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13).

Positional sanctification also changes our position as sinners deserving of God’s wrath to the position of beloved children of the Father and perfect in His eyes. Our new position means we are part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27); God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9); new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17); dead to sin (Romans 6:2); and possessors of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Because salvation is an act of the Spirit, the believer’s new position cannot change, be lost, or be given back. We cannot “un-save” ourselves, nor can we alter our position before God through any of our works or the lack thereof. We are kept in the position of beloved for the rest of our lives and throughout eternity. Positional sanctification is the work of God whereby He sets us apart and considers us holy in His eyes: “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Positional sanctification is not dependent on our feelings or whims; it is a fact of salvation, even though our actions on earth do not always align with our position in heaven.

Positional sanctification inevitably leads to progressive sanctification, with good works as the inevitable result. Those who are born again will naturally begin to act according to their new nature in Christ, and the result will be increasing holiness in personal living (1 Peter 1:15–16). The positionally sanctified will be progressively sanctified by the same Holy Spirit who regenerated us in the first place. The works that God has foreordained for us will be accomplished through His power (Ephesians 2:10).

Once we have been positionally sanctified, the process of progressive sanctification begins. Progressive sanctification is the lifelong process of becoming more Christlike as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and yield to His control (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Once we are positionally sanctified, the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to progressively sanctify us (John 17:17) so that in the end our practical holiness aligns with our positional holiness when we see Christ face to face in glory (1 John 3:2).




02/17/21


Question: "What is justification? What does it mean to be justified?"

Answer: Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God's declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ's righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though justification as a principle is found throughout Scripture, the main passage describing justification in relation to believers is Romans 3:21-26: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ's own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God's demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us.

Romans 5:18-19 sums it up well: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." It is because of justification that the peace of God can rule in our lives. It is because of justification that believers can have assurance of salvation. It is the fact of justification that enables God to begin the process of sanctification—the process by which God makes us in reality what we already are positionally. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).




02/16/21


Question: "Why is justification by faith such an important doctrine?"

Answer: The teaching of justification by faith is what separates biblical Christianity from all other belief systems. In every religion, and in some branches of what is called “Christianity,” man is working his way to God. Only in true, biblical Christianity is man saved as a result of grace through faith. Only when we get back to the Bible do we see that justification is by faith, apart from works.

The word justified means “pronounced or treated as righteous.” For a Christian, justification is the act of God not only forgiving the believer’s sins but imputing to him the righteousness of Christ. The Bible states in several places that justification only comes through faith (e.g., Romans 5:1; Galatians 3:24). Justification is not earned through our own works; rather, we are covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5). The Christian, being declared righteous, is thus freed from the guilt of sin.

Justification is a completed work of God, and it is instantaneous, as opposed to sanctification, which is an ongoing process of growth by which we become more Christlike (the act of “being saved,” cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Sanctification occurs after justification.

Understanding the doctrine of justification is important for a Christian. First, it is the very knowledge of justification and of grace that motivates good works and spiritual growth; thus, justification leads to sanctification. Also, the fact that justification is a finished work of God means that Christians have assurance of their salvation. In God’s eyes, believers have the righteousness necessary to gain eternal life.

Once a person is justified, there is nothing else he needs in order to gain entrance into heaven. Since justification comes by faith in Christ, based on His work on our behalf, our own works are disqualified as a means of salvation (Romans 3:28). There exist vast religious systems with complex theologies that teach the false doctrine of justification by works. But they are teaching “a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6–7).

Without an understanding of justification by faith alone, we cannot truly perceive the glorious gift of grace—God’s “unmerited favor” becomes “merited” in our minds, and we begin to think we deserve salvation. The doctrine of justification by faith helps us maintain “pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Holding to justification by faith keeps us from falling for the lie that we can earn heaven. There is no ritual, no sacrament, no deed that can make us worthy of the righteousness of Christ. It is only by His grace, in response to our faith, that God has credited to us the holiness of His Son. Both Old and New Testaments say, “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).



02/15/21


Question: "Justification vs sanctification—what are the differences?"


Answer: Justification, a term used in the Bible forensically/legally, is defined as “an act of God by which those who are unrighteous in themselves are nevertheless declared righteous before God while still in the sinning state.” Justification is a deliverance from the penalty of sin and is a past action for all believers, accomplished by Christ at the cross.

Paul summarizes the concept of justification: “So then as through one transgression [Adam’s sin] there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness [Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross] there resulted justification of life to all men” (Romans 5:18, NASB).

By contrast, sanctification is not the act of God declaring a person righteous; rather, it is the continual process by which God is actually making a person righteous. Sanctification is the deliverance from the power of sin and is a present and continuous process of believers becoming Christlike, accomplished by the Holy Spirit’s power and presence. Sanctification represents a believer’s victory over the flesh (Romans 7:24–25), the world (1 John 5:4), and the devil (James 4:7).

The ultimate end result of our sanctification is that we will be found in Christ’s image, as Paul describes in Romans 8:29–30: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (NASB).

In summary, justification happens when God declares a guilty sinner to be righteous; sanctification happens when God makes the believing sinner righteous. Justification is a one-time act; sanctification is a continual process. Justification releases us from the penalty of sin; sanctification releases us from the power of sin. Both justification and sanctification are aspects of our “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9).




02/09/21


Question: "Got Forgiveness? How do I receive forgiveness from God?"


Answer: 

Acts 13:38 declares, "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you."

What is forgiveness and why do I need it?

The word "forgive" means to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. When we wrong someone, we seek their forgiveness in order for the relationship to be restored. Forgiveness is not granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. No one deserves to be forgiven. Forgiveness is an act of love, mercy, and grace. Forgiveness is a decision to not hold something against another person, despite what they have done to you.

The Bible tells us that we are all in need of forgiveness from God. We have all committed sin. Ecclesiastes 7:20 proclaims, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." 1 John 1:8 says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." All sin is ultimately an act of rebellion against God (Psalm 51:4). As a result, we desperately need God's forgiveness. If our sins are not forgiven, we will spend eternity suffering the consequences of our sins (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36).

Forgiveness - How do I get it?

Thankfully, God is loving and merciful " eager to forgive us of our sins! 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, ""He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God desires to forgive us, so He provided for our forgiveness.

The only just penalty for our sins is death. The first half of Romans 6:23 declares, "For the wages of sin is death"" Eternal death is what we have earned for our sins. God, in His perfect plan, became a human being " Jesus Christ (John 1:1,14). Jesus died on the cross, taking the penalty that we deserve " death. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches us, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus died on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserve! As God, Jesus' death provided forgiveness for the sins of the entire world. 1 John 2:2 proclaims, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." Jesus rose from the dead, proclaiming His victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:1-28). Praise God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the second half of Romans 6:23 is true, ""but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Do you want to have your sins forgiven? Do you have a nagging feeling of guilt that you can't seem to get to go away? Forgiveness of your sins is available if you will place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Ephesians 1:7 says, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." Jesus paid our debt for us, so we could be forgiven. All you have to do is ask God to forgive you through Jesus, believing that Jesus died to pay for your forgiveness " and He will forgive you! John 3:16-17 contains this wonderful message, "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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."

Forgiveness - is it really that easy?

Yes it is that easy! You can’t earn forgiveness from God. You can’t pay for your forgiveness from God. You can only receive it, by faith, through the grace and mercy of God. If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive forgiveness from God, here is a prayer you can pray. Saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Jesus Christ that can provide forgiveness of sins. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and to thank Him for providing for your forgiveness. "God, I know that I have sinned against You and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness! Amen!"


02/08/21


Question: "How were people saved before Jesus died for our sins?"

Answer: Since the fall of man, the basis of salvation has always been the death of Christ. No one, either prior to the cross or since the cross, would ever be saved without that one pivotal event in the history of the world. Christ's death paid the penalty for past sins of Old Testament saints and future sins of New Testament saints.

The requirement for salvation has always been faith. The object of one's faith for salvation has always been God. The psalmist wrote, "Blessed are all who take refuge in him" (Psalm 2:12). Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed God and that was enough for God to credit it to him for righteousness (see also Romans 4:3-8). The Old Testament sacrificial system did not take away sin, as Hebrews 10:1-10 clearly teaches. It did, however, point to the day when the Son of God would shed His blood for the sinful human race.

What has changed through the ages is the content of a believer's faith. God's requirement of what must be believed is based on the amount of revelation He has given mankind up to that time. This is called progressive revelation. Adam believed the promise God gave in Genesis 3:15 that the Seed of the woman would conquer Satan. Adam believed Him, demonstrated by the name he gave Eve (v. 20) and the Lord indicated His acceptance immediately by covering them with coats of skin (v. 21). At that point that is all Adam knew, but he believed it.

Abraham believed God according to the promises and new revelation God gave him in Genesis 12 and 15. Prior to Moses, no Scripture was written, but mankind was responsible for what God had revealed. Throughout the Old Testament, believers came to salvation because they believed that God would someday take care of their sin problem. Today, we look back, believing that He has already taken care of our sins on the cross (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:28).

What about believers in Christ's day, prior to the cross and resurrection? What did they believe? Did they understand the full picture of Christ dying on a cross for their sins? Late in His ministry, "Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life" (Matthew 16:21-22). What was the reaction of His disciples to this message? "Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"" Peter and the other disciples did not know the full truth, yet they were saved because they believed that God would take care of their sin problem. They didn't exactly know how He would accomplish that, any more than Adam, Abraham, Moses, or David knew how, but they believed God.

Today, we have more revelation than the people living before the resurrection of Christ; we know the full picture. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2). Our salvation is still based on the death of Christ, our faith is still the requirement for salvation, and the object of our faith is still God. Today, for us, the content of our faith is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).



02/06/21


"Is eternal security a "license" to sin?"

Answer: The most frequent objection to the doctrine of eternal security is that it supposedly allows people to live any way that they want and still be saved. While this may be "technically" true, it is not true in reality. A person who has truly been redeemed by Jesus Christ will not live a life characterized by continuous, willful sin. We must draw a distinction between how a Christian should live and what a person must do in order to receive salvation.

The Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6). The moment a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, he or she is saved and secure in that salvation. It is unbiblical to say that salvation is received by faith, but then has to be maintained by works. The apostle Paul addresses this issue in Galatians 3:3 when he asks, "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" If we are saved by faith, our salvation is also maintained and secured by faith. We cannot earn our own salvation. Therefore, neither can we earn the maintenance of our salvation. It is God who maintains our salvation (Jude 24). It is God's hand that holds us firmly in His grasp (John 10:28-29). It is God's love that nothing can separate us from (Romans 8:38-39).

Any denial of eternal security is, in its essence, a belief that we must maintain our own salvation by our own good works and efforts. This is completely antithetical to salvation by grace. We are saved because of Christ's merits, not our own (Romans 4:3-8). To claim that we must obey God's Word or live a godly life to maintain our salvation is saying that Jesus' death was not sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus' death was absolutely sufficient to pay for all of our sins—past, present, and future, pre-salvation and post-salvation (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Does this mean that a Christian can live any way he wants to and still be saved? This is essentially a hypothetical question, because the Bible makes it clear that a true Christian will not live "any way he wants to." Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). First John 3:6-9 clearly states that a true Christian will not live in continual sin. In response to the accusation that grace promotes sin, the apostle Paul declared, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

Eternal security is not a license to sin. Rather, it is the security of knowing that God's love is guaranteed for those who trust in Christ. Knowing and understanding God's tremendous gift of salvation accomplishes the opposite of giving a license to sin. How could anyone, knowing the price Jesus Christ paid for us, go on to live a life of sin (Romans 6:15-23)? How could anyone who understands God's unconditional and guaranteed love for those who believe, take that love and throw it back in God's face? Such a person is demonstrating not that eternal security has given him a license to sin, but rather that he or she has not truly experienced salvation through Jesus Christ. "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him" (1 John 3:6).



02/05/21


Question: "Is once saved, always saved biblical?"

Answer: Once a person is saved are they always saved? Yes, when people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure. To be clear, salvation is more than saying a prayer or “making a decision” for Christ; salvation is a sovereign act of God whereby an unregenerate sinner is washed, renewed, and born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3; Titus 3:5). When salvation occurs, God gives the forgiven sinner a new heart and puts a new spirit within him (Ezekiel 36:26). The Spirit will cause the saved person to walk in obedience to God’s Word (Ezekiel 36:26–27; James 2:26). Numerous passages of Scripture declare the fact that, as an act of God, salvation is secure:

(a) Romans 8:30 declares, "And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified." This verse tells us that from the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in heaven. There is nothing that can prevent a believer from one day being glorified because God has already purposed it in heaven. Once a person is justified, his salvation is guaranteed—he is as secure as if he is already glorified in heaven.

(b) Paul asks two crucial questions in Romans 8:33-34 "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Who will bring a charge against God's elect? No one will, because Christ is our advocate. Who will condemn us? No one will, because Christ, the One who died for us, is the one who condemns. We have both the advocate and judge as our Savior.

(c) Believers are born again (regenerated) when they believe (John 3:3; Titus 3:5). For a Christian to lose his salvation, he would have to be un-regenerated. The Bible gives no evidence that the new birth can be taken away.

(d) The Holy Spirit indwells all believers (John 14:17; Romans 8:9) and baptizes all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). For a believer to become unsaved, he would have to be "un-indwelt" and detached from the Body of Christ.

(e) John 3:15 states that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will "have eternal life." If you believe in Christ today and have eternal life, but lose it tomorrow, then it was never "eternal" at all. Hence, if you lose your salvation, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

(f) In a conclusive argument, Scripture says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38–39). Remember the same God who saved you is the same God who will keep you. Once we are saved, we are always saved. Our salvation is most definitely eternally secure!


02/04/21


Question: "Is eternal security biblical?"

Answer: When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their eternal security. Jude 24 declares, "To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy." God's power is able to keep the believer from falling. It is up to Him, not us, to present us before His glorious presence. Our eternal security is a result of God keeping us, not us maintaining our own salvation.

The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:28-29b). Both Jesus and the Father have us firmly grasped in their hand. Who could possibly separate us from the grip of both the Father and the Son?

Ephesians 4:30 tells us that believers are "sealed for the day of redemption." If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will "have eternal life." If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never "eternal" to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Our eternal security is based on God's love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.




02/03/21


Question: "What is the true gospel?"

Answer: 
The true gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. Man is by nature sinful and separated from God with no hope of remedying that situation. But God, by His power, provided the means of man’s redemption in the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ. 

The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” But to truly comprehend how good this news is, we must first understand the bad news. As a result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6), every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. Because of man’s sinful nature, he does not and cannot seek God. He has no desire to come to God and, in fact, his mind is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7). God has declared that man’s sin dooms him to an eternity in hell, separated from God. It is in hell that man pays the penalty of sin against a holy and righteous God. This would be bad news indeed if there were no remedy. 

But in the gospel, God, in His mercy, has provided that remedy, a substitute for us—Jesus Christ—who came to pay the penalty for our sin by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the essence of the gospel which Paul preached to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 15:2-4, he explains the three elements of the gospel—the death, burial and resurrection of Christ on our behalf. Our old nature died with Christ on the cross and was buried with Him. Then we were resurrected with Him to a new life (Romans 6:4-8). Paul tells us to “hold firmly” to this true gospel, the only one which saves. Believing in any other gospel is to believe in vain. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul also declares that the true gospel is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” by which he means that salvation is not achieved by man’s efforts, but by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Because of the gospel, through the power of God, those who believe in Christ (Romans 10:9) are not just saved from hell. We are, in fact, given a completely new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a changed heart and a new desire, will, and attitude that are manifested in good works. This is the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us by His power. Works are never the means of salvation, but they are the proof of it (Ephesians 2:10). Those who are saved by the power of God will always show the evidence of salvation by a changed life.




02/02/21


Question: "What is the plan of salvation?"

Answer: Salvation is deliverance. All the world religions teach that we need to be delivered, but each has a different understanding of what we need to be delivered from, why we need to be delivered, and how that deliverance can be received or achieved. The Bible makes it abundantly clear, however, that there is only one plan of salvation.

The most important thing to understand about the plan of salvation is that it is God’s plan, not humanity’s plan. Humanity’s plan of salvation would be observing religious rituals or obeying certain commands or achieving certain levels of spiritual enlightenment. But none of these things are part of God’s plan of salvation.

God’s plan of salvation – The Why
In God’s plan of salvation, first we must understand why we need to be saved. Simply put, we need to be saved because we have sinned. The Bible declares that everyone has sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). Sin is rebellion against God. We all choose to actively do things that are wrong. Sin harms others, damages us, and, most importantly, dishonors God. The Bible also teaches that, because God is holy and just, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and eternal separation from God (Revelation 20:11–15). Without God’s plan of salvation, eternal death is the destiny of every human being.

God’s plan of salvation – The What
In God’s plan of salvation, God Himself is the only one who can provide for our salvation. We are utterly unable to save ourselves because of our sin and its consequences. God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14). Jesus lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5) and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice on our behalf (1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:10). Since Jesus is God, His death was of infinite and eternal value. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross fully paid for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). His resurrection from the dead demonstrated that His sacrifice was indeed sufficient and that salvation is now available.

God’s plan of salvation – The How
In Acts 16:31, a man asked the apostle Paul how to be saved. Paul’s response was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The way to follow God’s plan of salvation is to believe. That is the only requirement (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9). God has provided for our salvation through Jesus Christ. All we must do is receive it, by faith, fully trusting in Jesus alone as Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). That is God’s plan of salvation.

God’s plan of salvation – Will you receive it?
If you are ready to follow God’s plan of salvation, place your faith in Jesus as your Savior. Change your mind from embracing sin and rejecting God to rejecting sin and embracing God through Jesus Christ. Fully trust in the sacrifice of Jesus as the perfect and complete payment for your sins. If you do this, God’s Word promises that you will be saved, your sins will be forgiven, and you will spend eternity in heaven. There is no more important decision. Place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior today!



02/01/21


 "What are the steps to salvation?"

Answer: Many people are looking for "steps to salvation." People like the idea of an instruction manual with five steps that, if followed, will result in salvation. An example of this is Islam with its Five Pillars. According to Islam, if the Five Pillars are obeyed, salvation will be granted. Because the idea of a step-by-step process to salvation is appealing, many in the Christian community make the mistake of presenting salvation as a result of a step-by-step process. Roman Catholicism has seven sacraments. Various Christian denominations add baptism, public confession, turning from sin, speaking in tongues, etc., as steps to salvation. But the Bible only presents one step to salvation. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, "What must I do to be saved?" Paul responded, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:30-31).

Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only "step" to salvation. The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).

Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation. Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God. However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation. Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation. We could follow 1000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of paying our sin debt to God or cleansing ourselves from sin. Only God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did. God Himself completed the "steps" and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.

Salvation and forgiveness of sins is not about following steps. It is about receiving Christ as Savior and recognizing that He has done all of the work for us. God requires one step of us—receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin and fully trusting in Him alone as the way of salvation. That is what distinguishes the Christian faith from all other world religions, each of which has a list of steps that must be followed in order for salvation to be received. The Christian faith recognizes that God has already completed the steps and simply calls on the repentant to receive Him in faith.



01/31/21


Question: "What does it mean that today is the day of salvation?"

Answer: God has told the sinful world, in no uncertain terms, to repent (Mark 6:12; Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19; 17:30). To repent means to change your mind from embrace of sin and rejection of Christ to rejection of sin and embrace of Christ. Those who refuse to repent and turn to Christ in faith will suffer eternal consequences. Given the fact of hell, mankind in his sin is in a dire situation. Why would anyone delay repentance? Yet many do, even while admitting their sin and claiming to see their need for salvation.

There are several reasons not to delay repentance. First, the Bible’s command to repent is accompanied by an urgent appeal to do it now: Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8, which speaks of “the day of salvation.” Then he says not to delay: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Repentance should take place as soon as God the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins (see John 16:8). In other words, today is the day of repentance. “Today, if only you would hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7–8).

Another problem with delaying repentance is that no one knows the day he will die. And after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). The rich fool in Jesus’ parable (Luke 12:16–20) thought he had plenty of time to enjoy life, but God had news for him: “This very night your life will be demanded from you” (verse 20). We have today—we have the present moment—and we should use it wisely.

Another reason to not delay repentance is that, every time we refuse to repent, we continue to sin and our hearts get harder (see Hebrews 3:7–8). Every time a person says “no” to what’s right, it becomes a little easier to say “no” the next time, too. There’s a gradual hardening of the heart, a searing of the conscience (1 Timothy 4:2), that can numb an unsaved person to the point of being past feeling. This is a dangerous spiritual condition to be in.

Also, the harder a person’s heart becomes, the more “force” God will have to apply to bring him to repentance. This is illustrated in the increasingly severe plagues in Egypt. As Pharaoh continued to harden his heart, the plagues continued and worsened until culminating in a loss of life in every Egyptian household (Exodus 7–11). “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14).

Tragically, there is a point of no return. God may eventually stop trying to bring the chronically rebellious to repentance and give them over to their own ways (Romans 1:28). We never know when this point of no return is, so the better part of wisdom is timely repentance.

By delaying repentance, we are delaying certain blessings from God. At least three verses bring this to light: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). “Your wrongdoings have kept these [showers of blessing] away; your sins have deprived you of good” (Jeremiah 5:25). So, in delaying repentance, we miss out on God’s refreshment, we may not prosper (in God’s eyes), and we may be deprived of God’s goodness.

It is true that God is gracious to us and that a person may be able to repent up until the day he dies. But we should not live presumptuously. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Commentator Charles John Ellicott put it rightly: “For each church and nation, for each individual soul, there is a golden present which may never again recur” (Commentary for English Readers, entry for 2 Corinthians 6:2).

James 4:17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Once we know what is right, we are responsible to do it. And once we know something is sin, we are responsible to repent of it and forsake it. We dare not delay repentance. There was a time when the Lord shut the door of the ark, and the flood swept everyone outside the ark away (Genesis 7:16). There came a time when the wedding party began, and those who were not ready for the coming of the bridegroom were locked out (Matthew 25:1–13).




01/30/21


Question: "What is the way of salvation?"

Answer: Are you hungry? Not physically hungry, but do you have a hunger for something more in life? Is there something deep inside of you that never seems to be satisfied? If so, Jesus is the way! Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Are you confused? Can you never seem to find a path or purpose in life? Does it seem like someone has turned out the lights and you cannot find the switch? If so, Jesus is the way of salvation! Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Do you ever feel like you are locked out of life? Have you tried so many doors, only to find that what is behind them is empty and meaningless? Are you looking for an entrance into a fulfilling life? If so, Jesus is the way of salvation! Jesus declared, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

Do other people always let you down? Have your relationships been shallow and empty? Does it seem like everyone is trying to take advantage of you? If so, Jesus is the way! Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:11, 14).

Do you wonder what happens after this life? Are you tired of living your life for things that only rot or rust? Do you sometimes doubt whether life has any meaning? Do you want to live after you die? If so, Jesus is the way of salvation! Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

What is the way? What is the truth? What is the life? Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The hunger that you feel is a spiritual hunger, and can only be filled by Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can lift the darkness. Jesus is the door to a satisfying life. Jesus is the friend and shepherd that you have been looking for. Jesus is the life—in this world and the next. Jesus is the way of salvation!

The reason you feel hungry, the reason you seem to be lost in darkness, the reason you cannot find meaning in life, is that you are separated from God. The Bible tells us that we have all sinned, and are therefore separated from God (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). The void you feel in your heart is God missing from your life. We were created to have a relationship with God. Because of our sin, we are separated from that relationship. Even worse, our sin will cause us to be separated from God for all of eternity, in this life and the next (Romans 6:23; John 3:36).

How can this problem be solved? Jesus is the way of salvation! Jesus took our sin upon Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus died in our place (Romans 5:8), taking the punishment that we deserve. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, proving His victory over sin and death (Romans 6:4-5). Why did He do it? Jesus answered that question Himself: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus died so that we could live. If we place our faith in Jesus, trusting His death as the payment for our sins, all of our sins are forgiven and washed away. We will then have our spiritual hunger satisfied. The lights will be turned on. We will have access to a fulfilling life. We will know our true best friend and good shepherd. We will know that we will have life after we die—a resurrected life in heaven for eternity with Jesus!

“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).




01/29/21


Question: "What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?"

Answer: Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul's deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19). 

More often, the word "salvation" concerns an eternal, spiritual deliverance. When Paul told the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, he was referring to the jailer's eternal destiny (Acts 16:30-31). Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-25).

What are we saved from? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, we are saved from "wrath," that is, from God's judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.

Who does the saving? Only God can remove sin and deliver us from sin's penalty (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).

How does God save? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued us through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus' death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). Scripture is clear that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). 

How do we receive salvation? We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospelthe good news of Jesus' death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believefully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

A definition of the Christian doctrine of salvation would be "The deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God's conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus." Salvation is available in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and is dependent on God alone for provision, assurance, and security.




01/28/21


Question: "What is the gospel?"

Answer: The word gospel literally means “good news” and occurs 93 times in the Bible, exclusively in the New Testament. In Greek, it is the word euaggelion, from which we get our English words evangelistevangel, and evangelical. The gospel is, broadly speaking, the whole of Scripture; more narrowly, the gospel is the good news concerning Christ and the way of salvation.

The key to understanding the gospel is to know why it’s good news. To do that, we must start with the bad news. The Old Testament Law was given to Israel during the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 5:1). The Law can be thought of as a measuring stick, and sin is anything that falls short of “perfect” according to that standard. The righteous requirement of the Law is so stringent that no human being could possibly follow it perfectly, in letter or in spirit. Despite our “goodness” or “badness” relative to each other, we are all in the same spiritual boat—we have sinned, and the punishment for sin is death, i.e. separation from God, the source of life (Romans 3:23). In order for us to go to heaven, God’s dwelling place and the realm of life and light, sin must be somehow removed or paid for. The Law established the fact that cleansing from sin can only happen through the bloody sacrifice of an innocent life (Hebrews 9:22).

The gospel involves Jesus’ death on the cross as the sin offering to fulfill the Law’s righteous requirement (Romans 8:3–4; Hebrews 10:5–10). Under the Law, animal sacrifices were offered year after year as a reminder of sin and a symbol of the coming sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:3–4). When Christ offered Himself at Calvary, that symbol became a reality for all who would believe (Hebrews 10:11–18). The work of atonement is finished now, and that’s good news.

The gospel also involves Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The fact that Jesus conquered sin and death (sin’s penalty) is good news, indeed. The fact that He offers to share that victory with us is the greatest news of all (John 14:19).

The elements of the gospel are clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3–6, a key passage concerning the good news of God: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living.” Notice, first, that Paul “received” the gospel and then “passed it on”; this is a divine message, not a man-made invention. Second, the gospel is “of first importance.” Everywhere the apostles went, they preached the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Third, the message of the gospel is accompanied by proofs: Christ died for our sins (proved by His burial), and He rose again the third day (proved by the eyewitnesses). Fourth, all this was done “according to the Scriptures”; the theme of the whole Bible is the salvation of mankind through Christ. The Bible is the gospel.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). The gospel is a bold message, and we are not ashamed of proclaiming it. It is a powerful message, because it is God’s good news. It is a saving message, the only thing that can truly reform the human heart. It is a universal message, for Jews and Gentiles both. And the gospel is received by faith; salvation is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8–9).

The gospel is the good news that God loves the world enough to give His only Son to die for our sin (John 3:16). The gospel is good news because our salvation and eternal life and home in heaven are guaranteed through Christ (John 14:1–4). “He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4).

The gospel is good news when we understand that we do not (and cannot) earn our salvation; the work of redemption and justification is complete, having been finished on the cross (John 19:30). Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). The gospel is the good news that we, who were once enemies of God, have been reconciled by the blood of Christ and adopted into the family of God (Romans 5:10; John 1:12). “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). The gospel is the good news that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

To reject the gospel is to embrace the bad news. Condemnation before God is the result of a lack of faith in the Son of God, God’s only provision for salvation. “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” (John 3:17–18). God has given a doomed world good news: the Gospel of Jesus Christ!




01/27/21


Question: "How can I be saved?"

Answer: This simple, yet profound, question is the most important question that can be asked. "How can I be saved?" deals with where we will spend eternity after our lives in this world are over. There is no more important issue than our eternal destiny. Thankfully, the Bible is abundantly clear on how a person can be saved. The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Paul and Silas responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

How can I be saved? Why do I need to be saved?
We are all infected with sin (Romans 3:23). We are born with sin (Psalm 51:5), and we all personally choose to sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8). Sin is what makes us unsaved. Sin is what separates us from God. Sin is what has us on the path to eternal destruction.

How can I be saved? Saved from what?
Because of our sin, we all deserve death (Romans 6:23). While the physical consequence of sin is physical death, that is not the only kind of death that results from sin. All sin is ultimately committed against an eternal and infinite God (Psalm 51:4). Because of that, the just penalty for our sin is also eternal and infinite. What we need to be saved from is eternal destruction (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15).

How can I be saved? How did God provide salvation?
Because the just penalty for sin is infinite and eternal, only God could pay the penalty, because only He is infinite and eternal. But God, in His divine nature, could not die. So God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. God took on human flesh, lived among us, and taught us. When the people rejected Him and His message, and sought to kill Him, He willingly sacrificed Himself for us, allowing Himself to be crucified (John 10:15). Because Jesus Christ was human, He could die; and because Jesus Christ was God, His death had an eternal and infinite value. Jesus’ death on the cross was the perfect and complete payment for our sin (1 John 2:2). He took the consequences we deserved. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrated that His death was indeed the perfectly sufficient sacrifice for sin.

How can I be saved? What do I need to do?
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). God has already done all of the work. All you must do is receive, in faith, the salvation God offers (Ephesians 2:8-9). Fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sins. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). God is offering you salvation as a gift. All you have to do is accept it. Jesus is the way of salvation (John 14:6).



01/24/21


Question: "How can I stop questioning my salvation?"

Answer: Doubts about our relationship with God plague most of us at some point. The reasons for questioning our salvation are many. Some reasons are valid; some are not. This article will explore some common reasons people question their salvation and offer biblical solutions for ending those tormenting thoughts.

We must first define what salvation means as it pertains to eternity. Before we can know whether we have reason to question our salvation, we need to be certain we understand from the Bible what it means to be a Christian. A good definition of salvation is “the deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.”

1. The first and most obvious reason some people question their salvation is that they are not truly saved. False assurance of salvation is one of Satan’s best tricks to keep us from a true relationship with God. But even false assurance can desert us in crisis, in the middle of the night, or when we encounter a Spirit-filled Christian and are suddenly faced with the shallowness of our own assumptions. Second Corinthians 13:5 commands us to “examine yourselves. See if you are in the faith . . . unless, of course, you fail the test.” So self-examination is a good thing as long as we are honest with ourselves and use God’s Word as our standard.

2. Another reason some people question their salvation is that it is an incredibly extravagant gift. We cannot earn it, and we know we don’t deserve it. Just as loving parents give Christmas presents to children before those children are able to do anything worthy of such gifts, so our heavenly Father gives salvation to us when we are at our worst (Romans 5:8). We have difficulty understanding the concept of grace, and we often have a hard time accepting gifts we know we don’t deserve. A full pardon from a holy God seems wrong to us. We want to clean up our act first. A person committed to “earning one’s own way” may question his or her salvation; the gift of grace is too humbling to accept. With salvation, there are no markers to tell us when we have arrived. No price tags. No ledgers that tell us when we have achieved a goal. Those who struggle with the grace aspect of salvation must identify what they are basing their salvation on and whether, according to Scripture, they have accepted that gift. The book of Galatians was written to a church struggling with grace and can be an encouragement to those also caught in the grace vs. works debate.

3. Another reason some question their salvation is due to the inner voices they choose to listen to. People with introspective temperaments may be more prone to doubting their salvation because of their rich inner lives. God’s voice, Satan’s fiery missiles (Ephesians 6:16), and their own thoughts can get caught in a tangle, and they don’t know how to sort them out.

We must learn the art of thought-stopping (2 Corinthians 10:5). If a voice in our head does not line up with the truth in God’s Word, it did not come from God. We are to be the policemen of our minds, on the alert for trespassing thoughts or ideas (Proverbs 4:23). We see an intruder, and we take it captive, march it to Jesus the judge and ask, “Is this one of yours?” If we’ve placed our faith in the finished work of Christ and are following Him to the best of our understanding, then doubts of salvation are intruders and do not belong in a transformed mind (Romans 12:1–2). By developing a habit of thought-stopping when we recognize an enemy’s lie, we can overcome the habit of questioning our salvation.

4. Misreading Scripture is another reason some people develop doubts about their salvation. Even those who have walked with God for long seasons can become disillusioned when they run across a verse that seems to contradict their understanding. Misinterpreting certain passages has allowed Satan to place a foot in the doorway of some believers’ souls. Hebrews 6:4–6, Matthew 7:21–23, and other jarring passages, misunderstood, can cause weak believers to fear that what they thought was a secure salvation was actually at risk.

We stay balanced and assured of our relationship with God when we consider carefully “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Interpret unclear verses in light of clear, easily understandable verses. If one verse causes undue fear, keep studying and see what God’s Word as a whole says. Consult godly teachers. Research sites like this one. But keep it always about Jesus: who He is, what He did on our behalf, and what our response to Him has been. Paul wrote, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). We must bring all our questions back to Jesus and remember that He wants to save us more than we want to be saved. Salvation was God’s idea, and He will never withhold it from someone who diligently seeks Him (Jeremiah 29:13; Luke 19:10; John 6:37).

5. Besetting sins can cause us to question our salvation. When particular sin habits reassert themselves or refuse to leave, we may doubt we were ever saved at all. Romans 7 can be a comfort to those battling fleshly temptations. It helps to know that even the apostle Paul wrestled with his flesh. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” We do this by considering ourselves “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Our flesh no longer gets a vote on our decisions. It is to be treated like a toddler who wants to play in the street. A wise and loving parent will look out for the child’s best interest and do whatever is necessary to redirect the child to safety. Doubts recede as we gain the victory over sins that once enslaved us. The God who lives in us is greater than the sin that tempts us, and His power makes us “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37; cf. 1 John 4:4).

6. Dry seasons of the spirit may also cause us to question our salvation. Seasons of dryness are part of any believer’s journey. There are times when our ability to perceive the presence of God is far greater than at other times. We talk about feeling “close to God,” but feelings are not trustworthy barometers. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” God draws near to us whether or not we feel Him.

The Holy Spirit does not leave us (Hebrews 13:5). We walk by faith, not by sight or feeling or mood (2 Corinthians 5:7). We tend to question our relationship with God when we are experiencing a spiritual dry season, but those seasons can actually help us dig deeper, obey anyway, and learn to endure (Revelation 14:12; 1 John 2:3).

We stop questioning our salvation when we choose to take God at His Word (John 3:16–18). We are saved by faith, nothing else. If we have faith that Jesus is who He claimed to be (Matthew 16:16), and if our lives are an ongoing demonstration that He is our Lord, then we should have the assurance that we belong to Him and that nothing can pluck us out of His hands (John 10:29; 1 John 3:1–9). A. W. Tozer wrote, “Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. . . . The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him.”






01/21/2021


Question: "Is Christianity a religion or a relationship?"

Answer: Religion is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” In that respect, Christianity can be classified as a religion. However, practically speaking, Christianity has a key difference that separates it from other belief systems that are considered religions. That difference is relationship.

Most religion, theistic or otherwise, is man-centered. Any relationship with God is based on man’s works. A theistic religion, such as Judaism or Islam, holds to the belief in a supreme God or gods; while non-theistic religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, focus on metaphysical thought patterns and spiritual “energies.” But most religions are similar in that they are built upon the concept that man can reach a higher power or state of being through his own efforts. In most religions, man is the aggressor and the deity is the beneficiary of man’s efforts, sacrifices, or good deeds. Paradise, nirvana, or some higher state of being is man’s reward for his strict adherence to whatever tenets that religion prescribes.

In that regard, Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship that God has established with His children. In Christianity, God is the aggressor and man is the beneficiary (Romans 8:3). The Bible states clearly that there is nothing man can do to make himself right with God (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; Romans 3:23; 6:23). According to Christianity, God did for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Our sin separates us from His presence, and sin must be punished (Romans 6:23; Matthew 10:28; 23:33). But, because God loves us, He took our punishment upon Himself. All we must do is accept God’s gift of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Grace is God’s blessing on the undeserving.

The grace-based relationship between God and man is the foundation of Christianity and the antithesis of religion. Established religion was one of the staunchest opponents of Jesus during His earthly ministry. When God gave His Law to the Israelites, His desire was that they “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37). “Love” speaks of relationship. Obedience to all the other commands had to stem from a love for God. We are able to love Him “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). However, by Jesus’ time, the Jewish leaders had made a religion out of God’s desire to live in a love relationship with them (1 Timothy 1:8; Romans 7:12). Over the years, they had perverted God’s Law into a works-based religion that alienated people from Him (Matthew 23:13–15; Luke 11:42). Then they added many of their own rules to make it even more cumbersome (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9). They prided themselves on their ability to keep the Law—at least outwardly—and lorded their authority over the common people who could never keep such strenuous rules. The Pharisees, as adept as they were at rule-keeping, failed to recognize God Himself when He was standing right in front of them (John 8:19). They had chosen religion over relationship.

Just as the Jewish leaders made a religion out of a relationship with God, many people do the same with Christianity. Entire denominations have followed the way of the Pharisees in creating rules not found in Scripture. Some who profess to follow Christ are actually following man-made religion in the name of Jesus. While claiming to believe Scripture, they are often plagued with fear and doubt that they may not be good enough to earn salvation or that God will not accept them if they don’t perform to a certain standard. This is religion masquerading as Christianity, and it is one of Satan’s favorite tricks. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 23:1–7 when He rebuked the Pharisees. Instead of pointing people to heaven, these religious leaders were keeping people out of the kingdom of God.

Holiness and obedience to Scripture are important, but they are evidences of a transformed heart, not a means to attain it. God desires that we be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He wants us to grow in grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18). But we do these things because we are His children and want to be like Him, not in order to earn His love.

Christianity is not about signing up for a religion. Christianity is about being born into the family of God (John 3:3). It is a relationship. Just as an adopted child has no power to create an adoption, we have no power to join the family of God by our own efforts. We can only accept His invitation to know Him as Father through adoption (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15). When we join His family through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside our hearts (1 Corinthians 6:19; Luke 11:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21–22). He then empowers us to live like children of the King. He does not ask us to try to attain holiness by our own strength, as religion does. He asks that our old self be crucified with Him so that His power can live through us (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:6). God wants us to know Him, to draw near to Him, to pray to Him, and love Him above everything. That is not religion; that is a relationship.




01/20/21


Question: "How has Greek philosophy influenced Christianity?"

Answer: Philosophy literally means “a love of wisdom.” In modern use, the term refers to any process of organizing thoughts and ideas within some established framework. “Greek philosophy” is actually a subset of the world’s varied systems of discourse. Still, it would be fair to say that, when Western culture thinks of “philosophy,” what’s in mind is really “Greek philosophy.” Terminology, techniques, and categories developed in ancient Greece became the standards by which later philosophical discourse was conducted. As a result, virtually all questions of truth, ethics, worldview, and morality are still discussed using the basic principles of Greek philosophy.

It’s important, however, to distinguish between terminology and techniques, in contrast to tenets. In other words, Greek philosophy has provided the modern world with a vast array of methods and words useful in comparing different claims and effective in framing certain ideas. That does not imply that thoughts discussed using the mechanics of Greek philosophy are themselves drawn from the worldview of ancient Greece. On the contrary—what has made Greek philosophy so enduring is its application to a wide range of divergent views.

This distinction is especially crucial when discussing the impact of Greek philosophy on Christianity. On one hand, the worldview, morals, and central claims of Judeo-Christianity far predate Greek philosophers. Many central beliefs of Christianity are in direct opposition to those of men like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Paul, who often debated Greek philosophers (Acts 17:18), indicated that the gospel of Christ was “foolishness” to the Hellenistic (Greek) worldview (1 Corinthians 1:23). In that sense, it would be fair to say that Greek philosophy has not influenced Christianity.

On the other hand, it is also true that Christianity was born into a world steeped in Greek thinking. Greek philosophy provided the early Christian church with a set of discussion tools, as well as an opposing worldview with which to contrast the gospel. This makes Greek philosophy a profound influence on the words, systems, and discussions by which Christians throughout history have sought to explain their faith.

In short, Greek philosophy is not literally a source of Christian belief or a meaningful influence in the spiritual beliefs of Christians. At the same time, the systems with which Christians teach, discuss, and understand biblical truth have been deeply affected by Greek philosophy.

The apostle Paul was well-acquainted with Greek philosophy and often quoted Greek writers as he spread the gospel (Acts 17:23–28). New Testament writers also reference Greek philosophical concepts in order to better explain their ideas. John’s use of the word Logos, for instance, plays off of a pre-existing Greek term while connecting it to a personal, unique divine being (John 1:1–4). This shows how the prevalence of certain philosophical methods greatly influenced how early Christians presented their faith but not what they preached.

Early church fathers understood the relationship between message and method well. Augustine, for example, compared a Christian’s use of Greek philosophy to Israel’s use of gold taken from Egypt during the Exodus (Exodus 12:25–36). Like any physical tool, he argued, philosophy was capable of being used either rightly or wrongly. Philosophy might have been developed by an ungodly culture, Augustine contended, but it was ultimately just a set of techniques and terms, entirely useful in defending the truth.

As time went on, Christianity spread to a larger audience and involved more sophisticated discussion. The trend of relying on philosophical discussion continued. Greek philosophy remained a dominant force in Western thought, and so Christian theology continued to develop its structure and terminology by using this framework. This relationship is best exemplified in men like Thomas Aquinas, who sought to systematically describe the Christian worldview through the system of Greek philosophy. This approach, known as Scholasticism, revolutionized how Christians defended, discussed, and dispersed biblical ideas.

Of course, it would be naïve to think that Greek religious or spiritual ideas never, in any way, made inroads into the Judeo-Christian community. A major component of Greek thinking, in the era just prior to Jesus’ birth, was the concept of allegorical interpretation. In essence, this was the technique of interpreting mythical stories as analogies, not literal events, in order to avoid unpleasant implications about the morality of Greek gods such as Zeus or Ares. While this has value, in some instances, allegorical interpreters often applied the technique to stories meant to be taken literally. This allegorical approach was taken up by some Jewish writers, most famously the scholar Philo, who lived around the same time as Jesus Christ. Not all theologians accepted his approach, however.

Likewise, after the earthly ministry of Jesus, certain Greek religious ideas had to be confronted as they seeped into the church. Easily the most influential of these was Gnosticism, which played off the Greek penchant for mystery religions and intellectualism. The Bible itself shows that these overtly spiritual influences were strongly rejected by leaders of the church (1 John 4:2–3; 1 Timothy 4:1–5, Colossians 2:6–9). Even in the earliest days of Christianity, there was little confusion about the difference between adopting Greek philosophy and accepting Greek religion.

The New Testament era was one dominated by Greek culture and language. Even though Rome ruled the physical world, Greek intellectual traditions remained supreme. The New Testament was originally written in Greek and was targeted to an audience immersed in a Hellenized worldview. Greek philosophy continued through the millennia to be the primary system by which the Western world debated and defined concepts. At the same time, Christianity stands in clear contrast to the spiritual and religious beliefs of ancient Greek culture.

Greek philosophy has deeply, profoundly influenced the way Christianity discusses theology. It has not, however, been the origin of Christian belief nor a source of Christian religious ideas.



01/19/21


Question: "What is a non-denominational church? What do non-denominational churches believe?"

Answer: This question really has several answers, and they can be either simple or complex. The simplest answer is that a non-denominational church is any church which is not part of a larger denomination. A denomination is a church organization that exercises some sort of authority over the local churches that comprise it. Examples of denominations are Southern Baptist, Episcopal, Wesleyan, Methodist, etc. Non-denominational churches go by many different names and hold to a wide variety of beliefs. 

Why do some churches choose to be non-denominational? Though the answers will vary somewhat, a major consideration is the freedom to direct the ministry and teaching of the local church without interference or control from without. When we look to the Bible, the evidence points to each church as self-governing and answerable directly to God Himself. In the book of Acts, where we read of the first missionary journeys and the establishment of many churches, there is no indication of a hierarchy of authority beyond the local elders of the church. Some people point to the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 as a pattern for denominational structure, but it is nothing of the sort. The Gentiles had been given the gospel under the ministry of Paul and Barnabas, by the direct authority of the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2; 15:7). The churches established in that first journey were left under the care of elders (Acts 14:23) from their own ranks, after having been taught by Paul and Barnabas. When the council was called at Jerusalem, it was not because of any question of organizational structure or control, but to discuss doctrinal matters about what constitutes salvation (Acts 15:5-6). The apostles who had been directly commissioned by Jesus were the only people who could properly address the question authoritatively.

When a church is non-denominational, does that mean it has no need of other churches? That may be the belief of some, but it is certainly not the example we find in Scripture. The book of Acts and the New Testament Epistles make it clear that the churches communicated with one another regularly. As Paul and his companions made their missionary journeys, it was not uncommon for the believers to send letters to the other churches (Acts 18:27), or to greet one another through his letters (Romans 16:16). Likewise, when there was a great need, the churches worked interdependently to meet that need—for example, the collection for the famine in Jerusalem (Acts 11:29; 2 Corinthians 8:4). The various churches of the New Testament, though independent, self-governing bodies, were definitely connected in fellowship and cooperative ministry, giving us an example to follow today.

The measure of any church, whether inside or out of a denomination, is not how it is organized nor what name it is called, but rather how faithfully it adheres to the teachings of the Word of God. No church is inerrant, because churches are made of people who are capable of error. Even the apostles, with all the gifts God gave them, were not without error. Paul records in Galatians 2:11 that “when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” Peter, the first to give the gospel to a Gentile, gave in to pressure by the Judaizers to separate himself from Gentile believers. Paul's ability to confront Peter was not based on his position as an apostle, but on the revealed truth of God's Word. Paul complimented the believers in Berea (Acts 17:11) for checking his own teaching against the Bible to find out if he was telling them straight doctrine.

All believers need to be like the Bereans, checking what we are taught against the Word of God to find out if those things are so. If our church is out of line with God's Word, we must lovingly, patiently give instruction or correction. If it will not be corrected, then we should seek out a church that is faithfully obeying God's Word.



01/18/20


Question: "What makes Christianity unique?"

Answer: Is Christianity really unique, or is it just one of many roads on the path to Truth? Is Christianity truly unique among the many religions around the world? If it is, what makes it so? Unique among all religions, Christianity makes several claims that others do not. First, all other religions exhort man to reach up to God and grasp hold of Him through their own efforts. Christianity is the only religion where God reaches down to man. Second, other religions are systems of do’s and don’ts to appease God; whereas Christianity is a relationship with God. Third, Christianity looks to the Bible as the singular source of Truth. Finally, Christianity is based upon truly the most amazing event in all of human history—the resurrection.

As to the first issue, other forms of religion subscribe to a system of works—those we should do and those we should avoid—which will make us “good enough” to please God and merit His favor. Christianity, on the other hand, is based on the biblical principle that we can never be good enough to be in the presence of a perfect, holy God. The Mosaic Law was given to mankind to prove to us that we can’t keep it. Galatians 3 describes the purpose of the Law. It is a “tutor” or “schoolmaster” to lead us to Christ because “…by observing the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). The impossibility of keeping the Law is revealed in what Jesus called the “first and greatest commandment” in Matthew 22:37: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This would mean loving God with every fiber of our being 24/7, with never a thought for ourselves, an impossible task for anyone. But rather than condemning us as law-breakers and leaving it at that, God provided a substitute—Jesus Christ—who obeyed the Law perfectly for us. By faith in Him and accepting His work on our behalf, we are justified and made righteous. Here is the crucial difference between Christianity and all other religions. 

As to the second point, Christianity is not a religious system, but a relationship with God, one that He initiated and maintains. Christians believe that mankind was created specifically to have a relationship with God, but sin separates all men from Him (Romans 3:23, 5:12). Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man (Philippians 2:6-11), and died on the cross to restore the relationship that was broken by sin. After His death on the cross, Christ was buried, He rose again, and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for believers forever (Hebrews 7:25). The intimacy of this relationship is revealed in two poignant pictures. Now no longer seen as law-breakers, we have been adopted into God’s own family as His children (Ephesians 1:5). Even more intimately, believers are the very “body of Christ” of which He is the head (Ephesians 1:22-23), having been purchased by His blood (Hebrews 9:12). No other religion makes assertions that even begin to approximate this incredible truth. 

Another thing that makes Christianity unique is its source of information. All religions have some sort of basis of information that outlines its beliefs and practices, but none have one source of information that makes the claims Christianity does about the Bible—it is the written Word of God, and it is infallible and inerrant and all that is necessary for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16). Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired—literally “God-breathed”—Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Though there are other religions that use prophecy, none are 100% accurate, as are those in the Bible, and none of them point to someone like Jesus who made incredible claims and performed incredible deeds. 

Perhaps the most defining principle of Christianity that makes it truly unique in every way and provides its fundamental basis is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Within Christianity, the resurrection is vitally important, for without it, Christianity does not exist, and our faith is useless (1 Corinthians 15:14). It was Jesus' resurrection that changed the lives of the disciples. After Jesus was crucified, the disciples ran and hid. But when they saw the risen Lord, they knew that all Jesus had said and done proved that He was indeed God in flesh. No other religious leader has died in full view of trained executioners, had a guarded tomb, and then rose three days later to appear to many people. The resurrection is proof of who Jesus is and that He did accomplish what He set out to do: provide the only means of redemption for mankind. Buddha did not rise from the dead. Muhammad did not rise from the dead. Confucius did not rise from the dead. Krishna did not rise from the dead. Only Jesus has physically risen from the dead, walked on water, claimed to be God, and raised others from the dead. He has conquered death. Only in Christianity do we have the person of Christ who claimed to be God, performed many miracles to prove His claim of divinity, died and rose from the dead, and claimed that He alone is “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.



01/17/2021


Question: "Do Christians have to obey the Old Testament law?"

Answer: The key to understanding the relationship between the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23–25; Ephesians 2:15).

In place of the Old Testament law, Christians are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10). Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. If Christ fulfilled some of it, such as the sacrificial system, He fulfilled all of it.

“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The Ten Commandments were essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). Obviously, if we are loving God, we will not be worshiping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us.



01/15/21


Question: "What is Christianity and what do Christians believe?"

Answer: The core beliefs of Christianity are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus died for our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and thereby offers salvation to all who will receive Him in faith. Unique among all other faiths, Christianity is more about a relationship than religious practices. Instead of adhering to a list of "do's and don'ts," the goal of a Christian is to cultivate a close walk with God. That relationship is made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Beyond these core beliefs, there are many other items that are, or at least should be, indicative of what Christianity is and what Christians believe. Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired, "God-breathed" Word of God and that its teaching is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons"the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

Christians believe that mankind was created specifically to have a relationship with God, but sin separates all men from God (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man (Philippians 2:6-11), and died on the cross. Christians believe that after His death, Christ was buried, He rose again, and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever (Hebrews 7:25). Christianity proclaims that Jesus' death on the cross was sufficient to completely pay the sin debt owed by all men and this is what restores the broken relationship between God and man (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:10; Romans 5:8; 6:23).

Christianity teaches that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one's faith entirely in the finished work of Christ on the cross. If we believe that Christ died in our place and paid the price of our own sins, and rose again, then we are saved. There is nothing that anyone can do to earn salvation. We cannot be "good enough" to please God on our own, because we are all sinners (Isaiah 53:6; 64:6-7). There is nothing more to be done, because Christ has done all the work! When He was on the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30), meaning that the work of redemption was completed.

According to Christianity, salvation is freedom from the old sin nature and freedom to pursue a right relationship with God. Where we were once slaves to sin, we are now slaves to Christ (Romans 6:15-22). As long as believers live on this earth in their sinful bodies, they will engage in a constant struggle with sin. However, Christians can have victory in the struggle with sin by studying and applying God's Word in their lives and being controlled by the Holy Spirit"that is, submitting to the Spirit's leading in everyday circumstances.

So, while many religious systems require that a person do or not do certain things, Christianity is about believing that Christ died on the cross as payment for our own sins and rose again. Our sin debt is paid and we can have fellowship with God. We can have victory over our sin nature and walk in fellowship and obedience with God. That is true biblical Christianity.




01/13/21


Question: "Is the Bible truly God's Word?"

Answer: Our answer to this question will not only determine how we view the Bible and its importance to our lives, but also it will ultimately have an eternal impact on us. If the Bible is truly God's Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.

The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The term "revelation" simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a right relationship with Him. These are things that we could not have known had God not divinely revealed them to us in the Bible. Although God's revelation of Himself in the Bible was given progressively over approximately 1500 years, it has always contained everything man needs to know about God in order to have a right relationship with Him. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.

The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God's Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible's claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul's commendation to Timothy: "" from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:15-17). 

There are both internal and external evidences that the Bible is truly God's Word. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin. One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God's Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This unity is unique from all other books and is evidence of the divine origin of the words which God moved men to record.

Another of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God's Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. Other prophecies concern the coming of One who would be the Messiah, the Savior of all who would believe in Him. Unlike the prophecies found in other religious books or those by men such as Nostradamus, biblical prophecies are extremely detailed. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Not only was it foretold where He would be born and His lineage, but also how He would die and that He would rise again. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.

A third internal evidence of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. While this evidence is more subjective than the first two, it is no less a powerful testimony of the divine origin of the Bible. The Bible's authority is unlike any other book ever written. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God's Word. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners rebuked by it, and hate turned to love by it. The Bible does possess a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly God's Word.

There are also external evidences that indicate the Bible is truly the Word of God. One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world. The fact that the Bible accurately and truthfully records historically verifiable events is a great indication of its truthfulness when dealing with religious subjects and doctrines and helps substantiate its claim to be the very Word of God.

Another external evidence that the Bible is truly God's Word is the integrity of its human authors. As mentioned earlier, God used men from many walks of life to record His words. In studying the lives of these men, we find them to be honest and sincere. The fact that they were willing to die often excruciating deaths for what they believed testifies that these ordinary yet honest men truly believed God had spoken to them. The men who wrote the New Testament and many hundreds of other believers (1 Corinthians 15:6) knew the truth of their message because they had seen and spent time with Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead. Seeing the risen Christ had a tremendous impact on them. They went from hiding in fear to being willing to die for the message God had revealed to them. Their lives and deaths testify to the fact that the Bible truly is God's Word.

A final external evidence that the Bible is truly God's Word is the indestructibility of the Bible. Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to modern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archaeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God's Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God's Word.




01/13/21


Question: "What are the attributes of God?"

Answer: The Bible, God's Word, tells us what God is like and what He is not like. Without the authority of the Bible, any attempt to explain God's attributes would be no better than an opinion, which by itself is often incorrect, especially in understanding God (Job 42:7). To say that it is important for us to try to understand what God is like is a huge understatement. Failure to do so can cause us to set up, chase after, and worship false gods contrary to His will (Exodus 20:3-5).

Only what God has chosen to reveal of Himself can be known. One of God's attributes or qualities is "light," meaning that He is self-revealing in information of Himself (Isaiah 60:19; James 1:17). The fact that God has revealed knowledge of Himself should not be neglected (Hebrews 4:1). Creation, the Bible, and the Word made flesh (Jesus Christ) will help us to know what God is like.

Let's start by understanding that God is our Creator and that we are a part of His creation (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1) and are created in His image. Man is above the rest of creation and was given dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Creation is marred by the fall but still offers a glimpse of God's works (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 1:19-20). By considering creation's vastness, complexity, beauty, and order, we can have a sense of the awesomeness of God.

Reading through some of the names of God can be helpful in our search of what God is like. They are as follows:

Elohim - strong One, divine (Genesis 1:1)
Adonai - Lord, indicating a Master-to-servant relationship (Exodus 4:10, 13)
El Elyon - Most High, the strongest One (Genesis 14:20)
El Roi - the strong One who sees (Genesis 16:13)
El Shaddai - Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)
El Olam - Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28)
Yahweh - LORD "I Am," meaning the eternal self-existent God (Exodus 3:13, 14).

God is eternal, meaning He had no beginning and His existence will never end. He is immortal and infinite (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). God is immutable, meaning He is unchanging; this in turn means that God is absolutely reliable and trustworthy (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:26, 27). God is incomparable; there is no one like Him in works or being. He is unequaled and perfect (2 Samuel 7:22; Psalm 86:8; Isaiah 40:25; Matthew 5:48). God is inscrutable, unfathomable, unsearchable, and past finding out as far as understanding Him completely (Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 145:3; Romans 11:33, 34).

God is just; He is no respecter of persons in the sense of showing favoritism (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30). God is omnipotent; He is all-powerful and can do anything that pleases Him, but His actions will always be in accord with the rest of His character (Revelation 19:6; Jeremiah 32:17, 27). God is omnipresent, meaning He is present everywhere, but this does not mean that God is everything (Psalm 139:7-13; Jeremiah 23:23). God is omniscient, meaning He knows the past, present, and future, including what we are thinking at any given moment. Since He knows everything, His justice will always be administered fairly (Psalm 139:1-5; Proverbs 5:21).

God is one; not only is there no other, but He is alone in being able to meet the deepest needs and longings of our hearts. God alone is worthy of our worship and devotion (Deuteronomy 6:4). God is righteous, meaning that God cannot and will not pass over wrongdoing. It is because of God's righteousness and justice that, in order for our sins to be forgiven, Jesus had to experience God's wrath when our sins were placed upon Him (Exodus 9:27; Matthew 27:45-46; Romans 3:21-26).

God is sovereign, meaning He is supreme. All of His creation put together cannot thwart His purposes (Psalm 93:1; 95:3; Jeremiah 23:20). God is spirit, meaning He is invisible (John 1:18; 4:24). God is a Trinity. He is three in one, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. God is truth, He will remain incorruptible and cannot lie (Psalm 117:2; 1 Samuel 15:29).

God is holy, separated from all moral defilement and hostile toward it. God sees all evil and it angers Him. God is referred to as a consuming fire (Isaiah 6:3; Habakkuk 1:13; Exodus 3:2, 4-5; Hebrews 12:29). God is gracious, and His grace includes His goodness, kindness, mercy, and love. If it were not for God's grace, His holiness would exclude us from His presence. Thankfully, this is not the case, for He desires to know each of us personally (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 31:19; 1 Peter 1:3; John 3:16, 17:3).

Since God is an infinite Being, no human can fully answer this God-sized question, but through God's Word, we can understand much about who God is and what He is like. May we all wholeheartedly continue to seek after Him (Jeremiah 29:13).




01/12/21


Question: "What is the difference between Sheol, Hades, Hell, the lake of fire, Paradise, and Abraham"

Answer: The different terms used in the Bible for heaven and hell—sheol, hades, gehenna, the lake of fire, paradise, and Abraham’s bosom—are the subject of much debate and can be confusing. 

The word paradise is used as a synonym for heaven (2 Corinthians 12:3–4; Revelation 2:7). When Jesus was dying on the cross and one of the thieves being crucified with Him asked Him for mercy, Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus knew that His death was imminent and that He would soon be in heaven with His Father. Therefore, Jesus used paradise as a synonym for heaven, and the word has come to be associated with any place of ideal loveliness and delight. 

Abraham’s bosom is referred to only once in the Bible—in the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19–31). Abraham’s bosom was used in the Talmud as a synonym for heaven. The image in the story is of Lazarus reclining at a table leaning on Abraham’s breast—as John leaned on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper—at the heavenly banquet. The point of the story is that wicked men will see the righteous in a happy state, while they themselves are in torment, and that a “great gulf” that can never be spanned exists between them (Luke 16:26). Abraham’s bosom is obviously a place of peace, rest, and joy—in other words, paradise.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word used to describe the realm of the dead is sheol. It simply means “the place of the dead” or “the place of departed souls/spirits.” The New Testament Greek equivalent to sheol is hades, which is also a general reference to “the place of the dead.” The Greek word gehenna is used in the New Testament for “hell” and is derived from the Hebrew word hinnom. Other Scriptures in the New Testament indicated that sheol/hades is a temporary place where souls are kept as they await the final resurrection. The souls of the righteous, at death, go directly into the presence of God—the part of sheol called “heaven,” “paradise,” or “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23).

The lake of fire, mentioned only in Revelation 19:20 and 20:10, 14-15, is the final hell, the place of eternal punishment for all unrepentant rebels, both angelic and human (Matthew 25:41). It is described as a place of burning sulfur, and those in it experience eternal, unspeakable agony of an unrelenting nature (Luke 16:24; Mark 9:45-46). Those who have rejected Christ and are in the temporary abode of the dead in hades/sheol have the lake of fire as their final destination.

But those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life should have no fear of this terrible fate. By faith in Christ and His blood shed on the cross for our sins, we are destined to live eternally in the presence of God.



01/02/21


Question: "What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?"

Answer: Many understand the term repentance to mean “a turning from sin.” Regretting sin and turning from it is related to repentance, but it is not the precise meaning of the word. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8–14; Acts 3:19). In summarizing his ministry, Paul declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20). The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The book of Acts especially focuses on repentance in regard to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to sin and Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about that sin and to change their minds about Christ Himself, recognizing that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds, to abhor their past rejection of Christ, and to embrace faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance involves recognizing that you have thought wrongly in the past and determining to think rightly in the future. The repentant person has “second thoughts” about the mindset he formerly embraced. There is a change of disposition and a new way of thinking about God, about sin, about holiness, and about doing God’s will. True repentance is prompted by “godly sorrow,” and it “leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Repentance and faith can be understood as two sides of the same coin. It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about your sin and about who Jesus is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.

Repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself (John 6:44). Repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace (Acts 5:31; 11:18). No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).

While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented of his sin and exercised faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19–23; James 2:14–26).

To see what repentance looks like in real life, all we need to do is turn to the story of Zacchaeus. Here was a man who cheated and stole and lived lavishly on his ill-gotten gains—until he met Jesus. At that point he had a radical change of mind: “Look, Lord!” said Zacchaeus. “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8). Jesus happily proclaimed that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’s house, and that even the tax collector was now “a son of Abraham” (verse 9)—a reference to Zacchaeus’s faith. The cheat became a philanthropist; the thief made restitution. That’s repentance, coupled with faith in Christ.

Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about your sin—no longer is sin something to toy with; it is something to be forsaken as we “flee from the coming wrath” (Matthew 3:7). It is also changing your mind about Jesus Christ—no longer is He to be mocked, discounted, or ignored; He is the Savior to be clung to; He is the Lord to be worshiped and adored.




¿Qué es el arrepentimiento y es éste necesario para la salvación? - Para imprimir

Pregunta: "¿Qué es el arrepentimiento y es éste necesario para la salvación?"

Respuesta: 
Muchos entienden el término “arrepentimiento” como “volverse del pecado”. Esta no es la definición bíblica del arrepentimiento. En la Biblia, la palabra “arrepentirse” significa “cambiar tu mente”. La Biblia también nos dice que el verdadero arrepentimiento tendrá como resultado un cambio de conducta (Lucas 3:8-14; Hechos 3:19). Hechos 26:20 declara, “sino que anuncié......, que se arrepintiesen y se convirtiesen a Dios, haciendo obras dignas de arrepentimiento”. La completa definición bíblica del arrepentimiento, es cambiar de mentalidad, que resulta en un cambio de acciones y actitudes. 

¿Cuál es entonces la conexión entre el arrepentimiento y la salvación? El Libro de Los Hechos parece enfocarse especialmente en el arrepentimiento con respecto a la salvación. (Hechos 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). El arrepentimiento, relacionado con la salvación, es cambiar tu parecer respecto a Jesucristo. En el sermón de Pedro en el día de Pentecostés (Hechos capítulo 2), él concluye con un llamado a la gente a arrepentirse (Hechos 2:38). ¿Arrepentirse de qué? Pedro está llamando a la gente que rechazaba a Jesús (Hechos 2:36), para que cambiaran su idea acerca de Él, que reconocieran que Él es verdaderamente “Señor y Cristo” (Hechos 2:36). Pedro está exhortando a la gente a cambiar su mentalidad del rechazo a Cristo como el Mesías, a la fe en Él como Mesías y Salvador. 

El arrepentimiento y la fe pueden ser entendidos como “dos lados de la misma moneda”. Es imposible poner tu fe en Jesucristo como el Salvador, sin primeramente cambiar tu mentalidad acerca de quién es Él, y lo que Él ha hecho. Ya sea el arrepentirse de un rechazo obstinado, o arrepentirse de ignorancia y desinterés – es un cambio de mentalidad. El arrepentimiento bíblico, en relación con la salvación, es cambiar tu mentalidad del rechazo a Cristo a la fe en Cristo. 

Es crucialmente importante que entendamos que el arrepentimiento no es una obra que hagamos para ganar la salvación. Nadie puede arrepentirse y venir a Dios, a menos que Dios atraiga a esa persona hacia Él (Juan 6:44). Hechos 5:31 y 11:17 indican que el arrepentimiento es algo que da Dios – sólo es posible por Su gracia. Nadie puede arrepentirse a menos que Dios le conceda el arrepentimiento. Toda la salvación, incluyendo el arrepentimiento y la fe, es el resultado de Dios acercándonos, abriendo nuestros ojos, y cambiando nuestros corazones. La paciencia de Dios nos conduce al arrepentimiento (2 Pedro 3:9), como lo hace Su bondad (Romanos 2:4). 

Mientras que el arrepentimiento no es una obra que gana la salvación, el arrepentimiento para salvación da como resultado las obras. Es imposible verdadera y totalmente cambiar tu mentalidad sin que esto cause un cambio en tus actos. En la Biblia, el arrepentimiento resulta en un cambio de conducta. Esta es la razón por la que Juan el Bautista exhortaba a la gente con estas palabras, “Haced, pues, frutos dignos de arrepentimiento” (Mateo 3:8). Una persona que verdaderamente se ha arrepentido y ha pasado de rechazar a Cristo a la fe en Cristo, lo hará evidente por un cambio en su vida (2 Corintios 5:17; Gálatas 5:19-23; Santiago 2:14-26). El arrepentimiento, propiamente definido, es necesario para la salvación. El arrepentimiento bíblico es cambiar tu parecer acerca de Jesucristo y volverte a Dios en fe para salvación (Hechos 3:19). Volverse del pecado no es la definición del arrepentimiento, pero es uno de los resultados de la fe genuina basada en el arrepentimiento respecto al Señor Jesucristo.



01/01/2021


Question: "How to repent—what does the Bible say?"


Answer: Repentance is an important topic in the New Testament.

John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2, see also Mark 1:15 and Luke 3:3, 8).

When Jesus started His public ministry, He also called for repentance. Matthew 4:17 records, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Jesus says of repentance, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7).

In Mark 6:12, the disciples also “went out and preached that people should repent.” This preaching continued in Acts. Peter preached to Jews, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Paul preached to Gentiles, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). And later he testified, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). And, similarly, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).

As demonstrated in the passages above, repentance is an important part of an initial response to the gospel, but it is also an important part of the life of the Christian. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul says, “Now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended” (2 Corinthians 7:9). To the church at Ephesus, Jesus says, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).

Even though repentance is extremely important, there is no Scripture passage that explains what repentance means or how to do it. This is probably because repentance is not an inherently theological word. When people heard the command to repent, they knew what it meant because it was a normal word with a normal meaning. Essentially, repent means “to change one’s mind” about something (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, metanoeo). Of course, when a person has a change of mind about something, the result is a change of behavior as well. If a driver is headed south on a highway and suddenly realizes that he is going the wrong direction, he will then get off at the next exit and head in the opposite direction. He has repented—he has changed his mind about the direction he should be driving. If he realizes he is going the wrong direction but decides to continue on without making any changes, he has not really repented. He has, by his actions, shown that he is just fine with the current direction of travel. In the New Testament, repentance is associated with a change of mind about sin.

Saying, “Sorry,” being sorry, or even feeling sorry are not the same as repenting. A person can feel emotionally sorry for something without addressing the underlying issue. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Judas felt great remorse over what he had done to Jesus, but he did not repent. Instead, he committed suicide (Matthew 27:3–5). Peter also felt great remorse over his denial of Christ (Matthew 26:75), but in his case it did result in genuine repentance and a change of direction, as later he boldly proclaimed Christ in the face of persecution (see Acts 4).

When a person is doing something that he has chosen to do and may even enjoy a great deal, but then, based on his exposure to the Word of God, he repents, it means he has changed his mind about it. The repentant person comes to believe what she once loved is wrong and that she should stop doing it. In accepting the gospel, repentance is the flip side of faith. It is possible that someone can become convinced that what he has been doing is wrong and then attempt to “mend his ways”—and he may even succeed. But if such a person does not place his faith in Christ and the righteousness He provides, then he is simply trusting his own moral reformation. Biblical repentance is the recognition that we are helpless to save ourselves—it is turning from sin and to the One who paid for it and can forgive it.

So how does a person repent? Like faith, repentance is a response to the work of God, who convicts and convinces a person that he is in error. In Acts 11:18, the Jewish believers “praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” Second Timothy 2:25 highlights the same thing: “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” These verses indicate a tension between God’s work and human responsibility. We gently instruct sinners in the hope that this intervention will be the means that God uses to bring them to repentance. It is the truth of God’s Word lovingly and accurately presented that God uses to bring about repentance.

If a person is having an extramarital affair, he or she may “know” or “believe” that it is morally wrong. However, repentance that results in a genuine change of mind would cause the adulterer to cut off the relationship. If a person really wants to repent, he needs to not only mentally agree that a thing is wrong, but ask himself, “If I really believe this is wrong, what will I do differently?” And the answer will be to do that different thing. As John the Baptist said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). He followed the command with some specific examples in Luke 3:10–14:

“‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’

“Even tax collectors came to be baptized. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’ ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them.

“Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.’”

An unbeliever’s desire to know how to repent and trust in Christ is evidence that God is working. If a believer wants to repent of sin that has crept into her life, it is because the Holy Spirit is working in the life of that believer. However, it is possible for a person to come to the point of admitting that a particular attitude or behavior is wrong but then refuse to submit to God’s truth regarding a change. That’s not repentance. Repentance is agreeing with God’s evaluation of the sin and then being willing to follow God’s leading in a new direction.

A person will be in a better position to repent if he is continually feeding on God’s truth through reading and studying the Bible, listening to biblical preaching and teaching, filling the mind with truth so that the mind begins to think the thoughts of God, and associating with like-minded Christians who will foster accountability. In some cases, a Christian may know that something is wrong and that she should change, but she doesn’t really want to. In that case, there is nothing wrong with praying, “Father, I know that I should change, but I am unwilling—please make me willing.”



12/28/2020


Question: "How to repent—what does the Bible say?"


Answer: Repentance is an important topic in the New Testament.

John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2, see also Mark 1:15 and Luke 3:3, 8).

When Jesus started His public ministry, He also called for repentance. Matthew 4:17 records, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Jesus says of repentance, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7).

In Mark 6:12, the disciples also “went out and preached that people should repent.” This preaching continued in Acts. Peter preached to Jews, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Paul preached to Gentiles, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). And later he testified, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). And, similarly, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).

As demonstrated in the passages above, repentance is an important part of an initial response to the gospel, but it is also an important part of the life of the Christian. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul says, “Now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended” (2 Corinthians 7:9). To the church at Ephesus, Jesus says, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).

Even though repentance is extremely important, there is no Scripture passage that explains what repentance means or how to do it. This is probably because repentance is not an inherently theological word. When people heard the command to repent, they knew what it meant because it was a normal word with a normal meaning. Essentially, repent means “to change one’s mind” about something (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, metanoeo). Of course, when a person has a change of mind about something, the result is a change of behavior as well. If a driver is headed south on a highway and suddenly realizes that he is going the wrong direction, he will then get off at the next exit and head in the opposite direction. He has repented—he has changed his mind about the direction he should be driving. If he realizes he is going the wrong direction but decides to continue on without making any changes, he has not really repented. He has, by his actions, shown that he is just fine with the current direction of travel. In the New Testament, repentance is associated with a change of mind about sin.

Saying, “Sorry,” being sorry, or even feeling sorry are not the same as repenting. A person can feel emotionally sorry for something without addressing the underlying issue. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Judas felt great remorse over what he had done to Jesus, but he did not repent. Instead, he committed suicide (Matthew 27:3–5). Peter also felt great remorse over his denial of Christ (Matthew 26:75), but in his case it did result in genuine repentance and a change of direction, as later he boldly proclaimed Christ in the face of persecution (see Acts 4).

When a person is doing something that he has chosen to do and may even enjoy a great deal, but then, based on his exposure to the Word of God, he repents, it means he has changed his mind about it. The repentant person comes to believe what she once loved is wrong and that she should stop doing it. In accepting the gospel, repentance is the flip side of faith. It is possible that someone can become convinced that what he has been doing is wrong and then attempt to “mend his ways”—and he may even succeed. But if such a person does not place his faith in Christ and the righteousness He provides, then he is simply trusting his own moral reformation. Biblical repentance is the recognition that we are helpless to save ourselves—it is turning from sin and to the One who paid for it and can forgive it.

So how does a person repent? Like faith, repentance is a response to the work of God, who convicts and convinces a person that he is in error. In Acts 11:18, the Jewish believers “praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” Second Timothy 2:25 highlights the same thing: “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” These verses indicate a tension between God’s work and human responsibility. We gently instruct sinners in the hope that this intervention will be the means that God uses to bring them to repentance. It is the truth of God’s Word lovingly and accurately presented that God uses to bring about repentance.

If a person is having an extramarital affair, he or she may “know” or “believe” that it is morally wrong. However, repentance that results in a genuine change of mind would cause the adulterer to cut off the relationship. If a person really wants to repent, he needs to not only mentally agree that a thing is wrong, but ask himself, “If I really believe this is wrong, what will I do differently?” And the answer will be to do that different thing. As John the Baptist said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). He followed the command with some specific examples in Luke 3:10–14:

“‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’

“Even tax collectors came to be baptized. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’ ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them.

“Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.’”

An unbeliever’s desire to know how to repent and trust in Christ is evidence that God is working. If a believer wants to repent of sin that has crept into her life, it is because the Holy Spirit is working in the life of that believer. However, it is possible for a person to come to the point of admitting that a particular attitude or behavior is wrong but then refuse to submit to God’s truth regarding a change. That’s not repentance. Repentance is agreeing with God’s evaluation of the sin and then being willing to follow God’s leading in a new direction.

A person will be in a better position to repent if he is continually feeding on God’s truth through reading and studying the Bible, listening to biblical preaching and teaching, filling the mind with truth so that the mind begins to think the thoughts of God, and associating with like-minded Christians who will foster accountability. In some cases, a Christian may know that something is wrong and that she should change, but she doesn’t really want to. In that case, there is nothing wrong with praying, “Father, I know that I should change, but I am unwilling—please make me willing.”



12/27/20


Question: "How can I find joy in the midst of trials?"

Answer: James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This is the very first thing James writes in his letter after his salutation. Why? Because of its import. Many Christians think once they’ve made that decision for Christ that everything will fall into place and life will be that proverbial bowl of cherries. And when trials and tough times come upon them or continue, they begin to question, “why?” Wondering how they could possibly endure horrible circumstances and consider it joy. 

Peter also tackles this subject of joy through trials. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).

In both of these passages, we see the instruction of what we should do. ‘Consider it pure joy…’ ‘In this you greatly rejoice…’ Why? Because trials make us stronger. The James passage clearly states that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. And the Peter passage states that our faith, which is priceless, will be proved genuine and result in praise to God. But how? How can we find joy in the midst of all the junk, hardships, and painful circumstances?

First, we need to understand that the joy the world gives is not the same as the joy the Spirit gives. Worldly joy or happiness comes and goes as often as waves hitting the shore. It isn’t something you can cling to when you’ve lost a loved one or are facing bankruptcy. The Spirit’s joy or happiness, on the other hand, can stay with you for the long haul. For the believer, the fruit of the Spirit, including joy, is like a bottomless well of water—there’s always an abundant supply. Even in the darkest days, when sadness, grief, and loss may threaten to overwhelm you, God’s joy is there.

Second, we need to understand that God’s joy cannot be taken away. Oh, you might think that it’s gone—that the hands of misfortune have snatched it from you—but it’s not. As believers, we are promised the constant presence of the Holy Spirit. We are promised His joy. Just as our salvation is assured through Jesus’ one-time sacrifice for all. Jesus’ words in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Other examples, Acts 13:52, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 16:34, “The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.”

Third, we need to stop wallowing, whining, and complaining and grab onto God’s joy. Just like salvation, joy is a free and perfect gift from Him, and we must reach out and accept that gift. Grab onto it. Like a lifeline. Choose joy. Over bitterness, anger, and sorrow. Make a decision to choose joy every day. No matter what. Look at these great examples in Scripture: “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3). “You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). “You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” (Hebrews 10:34). And the best illustration of all, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

All through Scripture we see the persecution of the church, the trials and hardships that believers have faced. The challenge then is to truly learn how to consider each trial joy.

This topic is very near and dear to my heart because it is a lesson I’m relearning each and every day. My daughter has a rare nerve disorder, she’s had brain surgery, and we’ve faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, mountains of medical bills, bankruptcy, and foreclosure. But you know what I have discovered? God’s joy really is there. You can consider each trial joy, you can greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory even when you feel like you are face-first in the mud puddle. You can endure whatever circumstances are making you quake in your boots right now. If you have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ—you have all you need.

Grab onto God’s joy.




12/26/20


Question: "What is faith in God?"

Answer: Faith in God is trust in Him, based on a true understanding of who He is, as revealed in the Bible. Faith in God involves an intellectual assent to the facts concerning God and a life-changing reliance on those facts.

Faith in God has several components. The first is believing that He actually exists. However, simply believing that God exists is not enough. As James 2:19 explains, the demons believe in God’s existence as well.

After acknowledging that God exists, the second element of faith in God is commitment. Faith that does not result in action is a dead faith, not true faith (James 2:26).

However, even a faith in God that motivates us to action is not enough. For faith in God to be genuine, we must accept Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. We are not allowed to accept the attributes of God that we prefer and reject the ones we don’t. If we do not accept God as He is, then we are putting our faith in a false god of our own making. Much “religion” does exactly this, but any religion not based on the Bible is a designer religion with a designer god. For faith in God to be genuine, it must be based on the genuine God. For example, the God of the Bible is triune, so true faith in God must accept the deity and personality of the Son and the Holy Spirit as well as the Father.

There is much confusion today over the nature of faith. It is reported that, when asked to define faith, a little boy in Sunday school responded, “Believing what you know isn’t true.” Many of the “new atheists” place faith against science and evidence. They say that Christians have faith that God exists but that atheists have empirical evidence for science. Christians have faith, but scientists have knowledge. This comparison misunderstands the nature of faith in God.

Faith in God is not a blind leap without any evidence or, even worse, contrary to the evidence. Faith is simply trust. The Christian trusts in God. The scientific atheist has faith in science. If an atheist uses the scientific method to discover a medicine and then takes that medicine, he is exercising faith. He trusts his data, and he trusts that the medicine will cure him, not poison him. Some people may take the medicine with no thought whatsoever as to how it was developed or as to who prepared it. Others may only take the medicine after thoroughly investigating every aspect of the research. One person may take it with great confidence while another person takes it tentatively. In the final analysis, anyone who takes the medicine is exercising faith in the medicine. Ultimately, it is not the strength of the faith that determines if the medicine will work, but the efficacy of the medicine. Great faith in bad medicine will not cure a person. It is the object of faith, not the strength of faith that makes the difference. Uncertainty about a good medicine will not hinder its efficacy, as long as it is taken as prescribed. Faith is not the opposite of doubt; in fact, doubt can exist even in the heart of faith (see Mark 9:24). A person can exercise faith (trust and commitment) while at the same time being unsure about the thing or person he has committed himself to. Someone once defined doubt as “faith seeking understanding.”

Some people may simply trust God because it seems intuitive. They may have been raised in a Christian home and taught the Bible from their earliest remembrance. They have seen God work in the lives of other people, and they simply trust Him. Others may only have come to faith after a thorough examination of the evidence for God. Whether the decision to trust the God of the Bible is intuitive or deliberative, it is the mark of genuine faith.

The atheist likewise may come to his atheism by intuition or after careful deliberation. In the end, he has faith that God does not exist because he trusts either his instincts or his investigation and commits himself to live in a way that is consistent with his beliefs. Contrary to the claims of the new atheists, everyone has some kind of faith—everyone trusts something. It is impossible to live without trusting in something, even if it is only in the reliability of our five senses. The object of our faith is what makes all the difference.








12/26/20


Question: "Does God exist?"

Answer: Whether God exists is the most important question any person can consider. Opinions on God are everywhere, but answering the question does God exist? demands more than a few seconds of attention and involves a wide range of ideas and evidence. Ultimately, what we see in human experience, science, logic, and history leads to a confident answer: yes, God exists.

Often, this question is posed as “Can you prove God exists?” The problem is that, while truth itself is absolute, there are virtually zero instances of absolute proofoutside of pure logic and mathematics. Courtrooms don’t require absolute proof, for that reason; rather, they seek to dispel “reasonable doubt” and consider what’s “most probable.”

It’s equally flawed to demand “proof of God” that no person could ever reject. Neither evidence nor people function that way in the real world. “Encountering” facts and “accepting” them are profoundly different. Airtight, sound arguments are still “unconvincing” to those determined to disbelieve. For that person, it’s not “proof,” even if it would convince almost anyone else. A person’s intent is more influential than any evidence encountered.

That means “faith” is necessary—and not just regarding God’s existence. Perfect knowledge is beyond our ability. Bias and prejudice cloud our views. There will always be a gap between what we can “know” and what we “believe.” This applies equally across the spectrum from skeptics to believers. We cannot possibly know every detail involved every time we sit in a chair, eat food, or climb stairs. Such actions all express a measure of faith. We act, despite what we don’t know, because of what we do know. That’s the essence of biblical faith, including faith in the existence of God. We trust in what is known, leading us to action, despite a less-than-absolute understanding (Hebrews 11:6).

Whether or not one acknowledges God, the decision involves faith. Belief in God does not require blind faith (John 20:29), but neither can it overcome malicious resistance (John 5:39–40). What is fair is to point to human experience, logic, and empirical evidence to inform the answer.

Does God exist? – Human Experience

Discussing the existence of God usually starts with logical arguments. That makes sense, but it’s not how human beings normally operate. No one starts devoid of all perspective, waiting to follow a robotically rational path before forming an opinion. People interpret life based on the world around them. So looking at the existence of God ought to start with experiences. Afterwards, we can use logic to assess those views.

Evidence of God exists in daily human experiences (Romans 1:19–20; Psalm 19:1; Ecclesiastes 3:11). This includes our innate sense of morality. It applies to the apparent design of the universe around us. Human life compels belief that truth, deception, love, hate, goodness, evil, etc., are real and meaningful. The overwhelming majority of people throughout history were inclined to believe in a reality greater than the physical.

Those experiences are not conclusive, of course. Instead, God uses general revelation as an invitation (Revelation 3:20). Common experiences are meant to emphasize that we ought to seek further answers (Matthew 7:7–8). Those who ignore or disdain that invitation don’t have the excuse of being ignorant (Romans 1:18; Psalm 14:1).

Does God exist? – Human Logic

Three of the more powerful logical suggestions of God’s existence are the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments.

The cosmological argument considers the principle of cause and effect. Each effect is the result of some cause, and each cause is the effect of a prior cause. However, that chain of causes cannot go on infinitely into the past, or else the chain would never actually start. Logic demands something eternally existent and not itself the effect of anything else. Our universe, clearly, is not eternal or uncaused. Logic points to God: the uncreated, eternal measure of all other things, the First Cause of our reality.

The teleological argument examines the structure of the universe. The largest galactic scales, our solar system, our DNA, subatomic particles—everything gives the appearance of having been purposefully arranged. This trait is so strong that even hardened atheists are constantly fumbling to explain away the appearance of design.

Nothing about subatomic particles or forces indicates they must be arranged the way they are. Yet, if they were not exactly as they are, complex matter—and life—would be impossible. Dozens of universal constants coordinate with mind-boggling precision just to make life possible, let alone actual. Science has never observed or explained life arising from non-life, yet it also shows a sudden onset of complex organisms. Archaeologists who see the words I am here on a cave wall would universally assume intelligent action. Meanwhile, human DNA represents a coding structure beyond the ability of the best human engineers. The weight of this evidence, logically, favors the idea of an Intelligent Designer—God—as an explanation.

The moral argument takes note of concepts like good and evil, ethics, and so forth. It’s notable that these are discussions of “what should be,” not merely “what is.” Moral principles are drastically disconnected from the ruthless, selfish reasoning that one would expect of a creature randomly evolved to survive at any cost. The very idea that human beings think in non-physical, moral terms is striking. Beyond that, the fundamental content of human morals across cultures and history is identical.

Further, discussion of moral ideas leads inevitably to a crossroads. Either moral ideas are completely subjective, and therefore meaningless, or they must be grounded in some unchanging standard. Human experience doesn’t support the conclusion that morals mean nothing. The most reasonable explanation for why people think in moral terms and share moral ideals is a real moral law provided by a Moral Lawgiver, i.e., God.

Does God exist? – Human Science

The logical arguments above are inspired by observations. Concepts such as the Big Bang Theory demonstrate, at the very least, the scientific validity of a created, non-eternal universe. Likewise for the structure of DNA. Empirical data lends credibility to the idea of a biblical Creator and contradicts alternative explanations, such as an eternal universe or abiogenesis.

Archaeology also lends support to the Bible. People, events, and places depicted in Scripture have repeatedly been confirmed by secular discoveries. Many of these came after skeptics implied the Bible’s accounts were fictional.

History and literature, for their part, also support the existence of God. The preservation of the Bible is one example. Tracing the existing text so closely to the original events makes it more reliable. Judeo-Christian influence on culture, morality, human rights, and the birth of modern science also strongly indicates an approach aligned with truth.

Does God exist? – God in Us

Each of the prior categories is an entire field of study and the subject of thousands of books. Yet the existence of God is demonstrated most profoundly, for most people, in personal experience. It may be impossible to “prove” to others that you’re happy, for instance, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are. That’s not to say internal perspective outweighs objective truth, but complex truths are often powerfully supported by individual experiences. Changed lives, reformed attitudes, and answers to prayer are all part of our personal perception that God exists.

A personal sense of truth is the most compelling way we know God exists, and it’s God’s intent for all people to experience that sense. God came to earth personally, as a human being (2 Corinthians 4:6), so we could have a personal relationship with Him (John 14:6). Those who sincerely seek God will find Him (Matthew 7:7–8), resulting in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26–27).

The question does God exist?, therefore, cannot demand an answer using absolute proof, but we can point people to where the weight of evidence leads. Accepting the existence of God is not a blind-faith leap into the dark. It’s a trusting step out of the dark into a well-lit room where many things are made clear.




Pregunta: "¿Existe Dios? ¿Hay evidencia de la existencia de Dios?"

Respuesta: 
La existencia de Dios no puede ser probada o desmentida. La Biblia dice que debemos aceptar por fe el hecho de que Dios existe, "Pero sin fe es imposible agradar a Dios; porque es necesario que el que se acerca a Dios crea que le hay, y que es galardonador de los que le buscan" (Hebreos 11:6). Si Dios así lo deseara, simplemente podría aparecer y demostrarle a todo el mundo que Él existe. Pero si lo hiciera, no habría necesidad de fe. "Jesús le dijo: porque me has visto, creíste; bienaventurados los que no vieron, y creyeron" (Juan 20:29).

Sin embargo, eso no significa que no hay evidencia de la existencia de Dios. La Biblia declara, "Los cielos cuentan la gloria de Dios, y el firmamento anuncia la obra de sus manos. Un día emite palabra a otro día, y una noche a otra noche declara sabiduría. No hay lenguaje, ni palabras, ni es oída su voz. Por toda la tierra salió su voz, y hasta el extremo del mundo sus palabras" (Salmos 19:1-4). Al mirar las estrellas, al entender la inmensidad del universo, al observar las maravillas de la naturaleza, al ver la belleza de la puesta del sol – vemos que todas ellas apuntan hacia un Dios Creador. Si esto no fuera suficiente, también hay evidencia de Dios en nuestros propios corazones. Eclesiastés 3:11 nos dice, "…y ha puesto eternidad en el corazón de los hombres…". Hay algo en lo profundo de nuestro ser, que reconoce que hay algo más allá de esta vida y alguien más allá de este mundo. Intelectualmente podemos negar este conocimiento, pero la presencia de Dios en nosotros y a nuestro alrededor, todavía está ahí. A pesar de esto, la Biblia nos advierte que algunos seguirán negando la existencia de Dios: "Dice el necio en su corazón: No hay Dios" (Salmos 14:1). Puesto que la gran mayoría de las personas a lo largo de la historia, en todas las culturas, en todas las civilizaciones y en todos los continentes, creen en la existencia de algún tipo de Dios, debe haber algo (o alguien) que cause esta creencia.

Además de los argumentos bíblicos para la existencia de Dios, hay argumentos lógicos. Primero, tenemos el argumento ontológico. La forma más popular del argumento ontológico, usa básicamente el concepto de Dios para probar Su existencia. Este comienza con la definición de Dios como "un ser que no puede ser comparado con otro que jamás se haya concebido". Entonces afirma que existir es mayor que no existir, y por tanto el mayor ser concebible debe existir. Si Dios no existió, entonces Dios no sería el mayor ser concebible – pero eso iría a contradecir la definición misma de Dios. El segundo es el argumento teológico. El argumento teológico dice que ya que el universo despliega tan maravilloso diseño, debe haber habido un diseñador Divino. Por ejemplo, aún si la tierra estuviera unos pocos cientos de millas más cerca o más lejos del sol, no sería capaz de mantener mucha de la vida como lo hace en la actualidad. Si los elementos en nuestra atmósfera fueran diferentes aún en un pequeño porcentaje, cada cosa viviente sobre la tierra moriría. Las probabilidades de una simple molécula de proteína formada por casualidad es 1 en 10 elevado a la potencia 243 (es decir, 10 seguido de 243 ceros). Una simple célula consta de millones de moléculas de proteína.

Un tercer argumento lógico para la existencia de Dios es el denominado argumento cosmológico. Cada efecto debe tener una causa. Este universo y todo lo que en él hay, es un efecto. Debe haber algo que causó que todo existiera. A la larga, debe haber algo "que no tuvo causa" a fin de provocar que todo lo demás exista. Ese algo "que no tuvo causa" es Dios.

Un cuarto argumento es conocido como el argumento moral. Cada cultura a través de la historia ha tenido alguna forma de ley. Todos tienen un sentido de lo correcto y lo erróneo. El asesinato, la mentira, el robo, y la inmoralidad son rechazados casi universalmente. ¿De dónde vino ese sentido de lo correcto y lo erróneo, sino de un Dios santo?

A pesar de todo esto, la Biblia nos dice que la gente va a rechazar el conocimiento claro e innegable de Dios, y en lugar de ello, creer una mentira. Romanos 1:25 declara, "Ya que cambiaron la verdad de Dios por la mentira, honrando y dando culto a las criaturas antes que al Creador, el cual es bendito por los siglos. Amén". La Biblia también proclama que la gente no tiene excusa para no creer en Dios, "Porque las cosas invisibles de él, su eterno poder y deidad, se hacen claramente visibles desde la creación del mundo, siendo entendidas por medio de las cosas hechas, de modo que no tienen excusa" (Romanos 1:20).

La gente afirma rechazar la existencia de Dios porque "no es científico" o "porque no hay pruebas". La razón verdadera es que una vez que la gente admite que hay un Dios, también deben darse cuenta de que son responsables ante Dios y que están necesitados de Su perdón (Romanos 3:23; 8:23). Si Dios existe, entonces somos responsables por nuestras acciones delante de Él. Si Dios no existe, entonces podemos hacer lo que queramos sin tener que preocuparnos porque Dios nos juzgue. Creo que esa es la razón por la que muchos que niegan la existencia de Dios, están tan fuertemente aferrados a la teoría de la evolución – para dar a la gente una alternativa de creer en un Dios Creador. Dios existe y a la larga todo el mundo sabe que Él existe. El hecho mismo de que algunos intenten tan agresivamente refutar Su existencia, es de hecho un argumento para Su existencia.

¿Cómo sabemos que existe Dios? Como cristianos, sabemos que Dios existe porque hablamos con Él todos los días. No lo escuchamos hablar con voz audible, pero sentimos Su presencia, sentimos Su guía, conocemos Su amor, anhelamos Su gracia. Han ocurrido cosas en nuestra vida que no tienen otra explicación posible sino Dios. Dios nos ha salvado tan milagrosamente y ha cambiado nuestras vidas, que no podemos sino reconocer y alabar Su existencia. Ninguno de estos argumentos en sí, pueden persuadir a alguien que rehúsa reconocer lo que es tan claro. Al final, la existencia de Dios debe ser aceptada por fe (Hebreos 11:6). La fe en Dios no es un salto ciego a la oscuridad; este es un paso seguro a una habitación bien iluminada en donde ya se encuentra la mayoría de la gente.





12/19/20


James 1:23-24

"23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was."


Thats how much we need to depend on The Lord every moment of our lives.   As per Pastor Chris, "meditate on The Lord to the point there's no room

In your minds for nothing else."


Giving ourselves completely in full devotion to The Lord.  Let The Lord be the one to worry for you  Yes we have needs, and vicissitudes, trials and temptations cross our ways, and then there is PRAYER.  Communication with our Father.  


It's not as if, He is not aware. Going  to Him gives Him the Honor and Glory. Shows obedience to His commands.  Tells Him that we are His children and that we indeed love Him. Without Him we fail and failure compounds our lives.   And then there is REJOICING in The Lord.  


And that which is so Awesome, is when He walks through your storms, as small or as big, you will know it. His presence is felt, and awe is an awesome feeling. You see, He is with us at all times, and trials He allows to mold us, and to make us perfect in Him.  And with trials he provides a way out, VICTORY, He promised and assured it, He gave it to us in writing, in His word.  Our enemy is readily available to cast darts of doubts.  Well, we take them and cast all that comes our way to The Lord and He makes us triumphant.  It is said so in His word.  


"Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."


Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.


We are His children.  Our Daddy is powerful and mighty.  



LORD BLESS MY ROYAL FAMILY. 



12/15/20


Romans 15:13 - Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.


John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.


Luke 1:37 - For with God nothing shall be impossible.


GOD is a FAITHFUL GOD.  He gave us a perseverant FAIFTH, that endures.  The God of HOPE wants you to abound in HOPE. That's Awesome hope, it's immeasurable.  This HOPE will fill you with joy and peace in believing.  We are EMPOWERED by GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT.  


"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."


Luke 1:37 - For with God nothing shall be impossible.


APPROPRIATE THE POWER OF GOD THROUGH OBEDIENCE. 


praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Eph. 6:18


in one THOUGHT!!!


REJOICE!!!!


LORD BLESS MY ROYAL FAMILY. 


Maximiliano



GOD LOVES YOU





12/13/20


For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Rom11.29.ESV


Ephesians 2:8

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,


This is an immediate result of our salvation.  We received the gift of FAIFTH.  “McArthur in his bible concordance. explains: . . . Even that faith is part of the gift of God which saves and cannot be exercised by one's own power. Gods grace is preeminent in every aspect of salvation.”


God gave us a persevering faith. We have a command from God to believe in Him.  We should live in perfect obedience, 


The Lord is my portion;

I promise to keep your words. Ps119.57.ESV


Deut. 7:9

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.


"This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he has promised:

Isa38.7.ESV


Jeremiah 17:7 - Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 


Read more in my profile 


Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

Ps119.133.ESV


Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Heb10.23.ESV


Psalms 26:2-3

2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 

3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. 


Philippians 4:19 - But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.


If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John14.14.ESV


praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Eph. 6:18


do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Phil4.6.ESV



Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. 

Ps145.3.ESV


2 Thessalonians 3:16

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.


O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Ps8.9.ESV


Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen. Psalms 89:52 ESV


REJOICE!!!!


LORD BLESS MY ROYAL FAMILY. 



14-14 DÍAS DE RESTAURACIÓN ESPIRITUAL SIN PREOCUPACIONES


Porque los dones y la vocación de Dios son irrevocables. Rom11.29.ESV 


Efesios 2: 8 8 Porque por gracia habéis sido salvados por la fe, y no por vosotros mismos; es el don de Dios, 


Este es un resultado inmediato de nuestra salvación. Recibimos el regalo de FAIFTH. (McArthur en su concordancia bíblica. Explica:... Incluso esa fe es parte del don de Dios que salva y no puede ser ejercida por el propio poder. La gracia de Dios es preeminente en todos los aspectos de la salvación). 


Dios nos dio una fe perseverante. Tenemos un mandato de Dios de creer en él. Debemos vivir en perfecta obediencia, 


El Señor es mi porción; Prometo cumplir tus palabras. Ps119.57.ESV 


Deut. 7: 9 Conoce, pues, que el SEÑOR tu Dios es Dios; Él es el Dios fiel, que guarda su pacto de amor con mil generaciones de aquellos que lo aman y guardan sus mandamientos. 


"Esta será la señal para ustedes de parte del Señor, que el Señor hará lo que ha prometido: Isa38.7.ESV 


Jeremías 17: 7 - Bienaventurado el varón que confía en el SEÑOR, y cuya esperanza es el SEÑOR. 


Lea mas en mi perfil 


Mantén mis pasos firmes según tu promesa, y ninguna iniquidad se enseñoree de mí. Ps119.133.ESV


Mantengamos firme la confesión de nuestra esperanza sin vacilar, porque fiel es el que prometió. Heb10.23.ESV 


Salmos 26: 2-3 2 Pruébame, oh SEÑOR, y pruébame; prueba mi corazón y mi mente. 3 Porque tu misericordia está delante de mis ojos, y camino en tu fidelidad. 


Filipenses 4:19 - Pero mi Dios suplirá todas vuestras necesidades conforme a sus riquezas en gloria en Cristo Jesús. 


Si me preguntas algo en mi nombre, lo haré. Juan 14.14.ESV 


orando en todo momento en el Espíritu, con toda oración y súplica. Para ello, mantente alerta con toda perseverancia, suplicando por todos los santos, Ef. 6:18 


no se aflijan por nada, antes bien, en todo, por medio de la oración y la súplica con acción de gracias, sean conocidas sus peticiones ante Dios. Y la paz de Dios, que sobrepasa todo entendimiento, guardará sus corazones y sus mentes en Cristo Jesús. Phil4.6.ESV 


Grande es el Señor, y digno de suprema alabanza, y su grandeza es inescrutable. Ps145.3.ESV 


2 Tesalonicenses 3:16 Que el mismo Señor de la paz os dé paz en todo momento y en todos los sentidos. El Señor esté con todos ustedes. 


 ¡Oh Señor, Señor nuestro, cuán glorioso es tu nombre en toda la tierra! Ps8.9.ESV 


¡Bendito sea el Señor por siempre! Amén y amén. Salmos 89:52 Español


 ALEGRENSE Y EL SEÑOR BENDIGA A MI FAMILIA REAL.





12/05/20


"What is unrepentance? What does it mean to be unrepentant?"


An unrepentant person knows that he or she has sinned and refuses to ask God for forgiveness or turn away from the sin. The unrepentant show no remorse for their wrongdoing and don’t feel the need to change. Unrepentance is the sin of willfully remaining sinful.


Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. Repentance leads to life (Acts 11:18), and it is a necessary part of salvation. God commands everyone to repent and have faith in Christ (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21). Unrepentance is therefore a serious sin with dire consequences. The unrepentant live in a state of disobedience to God, unheeding of His gracious call. The unrepentant remain unsaved until they turn from their sin and embrace Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.


King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote, “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). To be stiff-necked is to have a stubborn, obstinate spirit that makes one unresponsive to God’s guidance or correction. The stiff-necked are, by definition, unrepentant.


The apostle Paul warned of the consequences of unrepentance: “Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil” (Romans 2:5–9; cf. Psalm 62:12). There is a judgment coming. The results of righteousness will be beautiful, but the consequences of unrepentance will be harsh.


The book of Revelation shows how inured to sin the sinner can be. During the tribulation, after three different judgments of God, the wicked will remain unrepentant, despite their great suffering (Revelation 9:20–21; 16:8–11). The tragedy is that, even as some people are experiencing the horrendous consequences of their sin, they will continue in their state of unrepentance.


Is there such a thing as an unrepentant Christian? Biblically, to become a Christian, one must repent and believe; a believer in Christ is one who has repented of sin. What, then, of professed believers who live in unrepentant sin? Most likely, they are not saved; they are mere professors, with no work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. The apostle John states it bluntly: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6). The other possibility is that people claiming to be saved yet living in unrepentant sin are saved but acting in disobedience—in which case their unrepentance is a temporary hardness of heart, and God’s discipline will eventually restore them to fellowship (see 1 Corinthians 5:1–5).


The unrepentant sinner needs to hear the good news of God’s salvation. God’s goodness leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4), and He is a God of forbearance and longsuffering. Christians should confess their own sins, pray for the unrepentant, and evangelize the unsaved: “Opponents [of the truth] must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25–26).





12/04/20


"How to repent—what does the Bible say?"


Repentance is an important topic in the New Testament.


John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2, see also Mark 1:15 and Luke 3:3, 8).


When Jesus started His public ministry, He also called for repentance. Matthew 4:17 records, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Jesus says of repentance, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7).


In Mark 6:12, the disciples also “went out and preached that people should repent.” This preaching continued in Acts. Peter preached to Jews, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Paul preached to Gentiles, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). And later he testified, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). And, similarly, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).


As demonstrated in the passages above, repentance is an important part of an initial response to the gospel, but it is also an important part of the life of the Christian. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul says, “Now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended” (2 Corinthians 7:9). To the church at Ephesus, Jesus says, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).


Even though repentance is extremely important, there is no Scripture passage that explains what repentance means or how to do it. This is probably because repentance is not an inherently theological word. When people heard the command to repent, they knew what it meant because it was a normal word with a normal meaning. Essentially, repent means “to change one’s mind” about something (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, metanoeo). Of course, when a person has a change of mind about something, the result is a change of behavior as well. If a driver is headed south on a highway and suddenly realizes that he is going the wrong direction, he will then get off at the next exit and head in the opposite direction. He has repented—he has changed his mind about the direction he should be driving. If he realizes he is going the wrong direction but decides to continue on without making any changes, he has not really repented. He has, by his actions, shown that he is just fine with the current direction of travel. In the New Testament, repentance is associated with a change of mind about sin.


Saying, “Sorry,” being sorry, or even feeling sorry are not the same as repenting. A person can feel emotionally sorry for something without addressing the underlying issue. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Judas felt great remorse over what he had done to Jesus, but he did not repent. Instead, he committed suicide (Matthew 27:3–5). Peter also felt great remorse over his denial of Christ (Matthew 26:75), but in his case it did result in genuine repentance and a change of direction, as later he boldly proclaimed Christ in the face of persecution (see Acts 4).


When a person is doing something that he has chosen to do and may even enjoy a great deal, but then, based on his exposure to the Word of God, he repents, it means he has changed his mind about it. The repentant person comes to believe what she once loved is wrong and that she should stop doing it. In accepting the gospel, repentance is the flip side of faith. It is possible that someone can become convinced that what he has been doing is wrong and then attempt to “mend his ways”—and he may even succeed. But if such a person does not place his faith in Christ and the righteousness He provides, then he is simply trusting his own moral reformation. Biblical repentance is the recognition that we are helpless to save ourselves—it is turning from sin and to the One who paid for it and can forgive it.


So how does a person repent? Like faith, repentance is a response to the work of God, who convicts and convinces a person that he is in error. In Acts 11:18, the Jewish believers “praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” Second Timothy 2:25 highlights the same thing: “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” These verses indicate a tension between God’s work and human responsibility. We gently instruct sinners in the hope that this intervention will be the means that God uses to bring them to repentance. It is the truth of God’s Word lovingly and accurately presented that God uses to bring about repentance.


If a person is having an extramarital affair, he or she may “know” or “believe” that it is morally wrong. However, repentance that results in a genuine change of mind would cause the adulterer to cut off the relationship. If a person really wants to repent, he needs to not only mentally agree that a thing is wrong, but ask himself, “If I really believe this is wrong, what will I do differently?” And the answer will be to do that different thing. As John the Baptist said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). He followed the command with some specific examples in Luke 3:10–14:


“‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’


“Even tax collectors came to be baptized. ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘what should we do?’ ‘Don’t collect any more than you are required to,’ he told them.


“Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ He replied, ‘Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.’”


An unbeliever’s desire to know how to repent and trust in Christ is evidence that God is working. If a believer wants to repent of sin that has crept into her life, it is because the Holy Spirit is working in the life of that believer. However, it is possible for a person to come to the point of admitting that a particular attitude or behavior is wrong but then refuse to submit to God’s truth regarding a change. That’s not repentance. Repentance is agreeing with God’s evaluation of the sin and then being willing to follow God’s leading in a new direction.


A person will be in a better position to repent if he is continually feeding on God’s truth through reading and studying the Bible, listening to biblical preaching and teaching, filling the mind with truth so that the mind begins to think the thoughts of God, and associating with like-minded Christians who will foster accountability. In some cases, a Christian may know that something is wrong and that she should change, but she doesn’t really want to. In that case, there is nothing wrong with praying, “Father, I know that I should change, but I am unwilling—please make me willing.”





12/03/20


Is there one true church? Which one is it?

When a person asks, "Which church is the true church?" he or she is often asking which denomination is correct. Is the true church Baptist? Episcopalian? Pentecostal? It's a good question, but it's important to understand that the church is not a visible building or organization. Rather, the true church is the family of all those who have faith in Jesus Christ and are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3).

The New Testament defines the church in two distinct ways. First, the church comprises all believers. This is often called the universal church. Second, the New Testament also uses the word church in the sense of a local group of believers who meet together to worship God. For example, there is the church at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1), and the church which met in Nympha's house (Colossians 4:15). Together, saved members of local churches are part of the universal church.

The wide variety of churches today can make sorting out the truth difficult. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the only true church. So does the Mormon Church. Protestants reject those claims of exclusivity and view the church as all people who have faith in Jesus Christ. Even among Protestant denominations, there is diversity regarding beliefs and practices. 

Does any one church or denomination possess all the truth in every detail? Probably not. But there are churches which have more of the truth than others. The Word of God is the basis for evaluation of any church or church group. Do the church's teachings show fidelity to Scripture? Do the church's leaders meet the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Does the pastor "hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine" (Titus 1:9)? Are the church's members devoted to the Word, to "the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42)? If these questions can be answered "yes," then the church is most likely a "true" one.

Of course, being a member of a Bible-teaching local church is important (Hebrews 10:25). But more important than joining a church is knowing you are born again (2 Corinthians 13:5). No church can save you. Only Jesus saves, by grace through faith in His death and resurrection (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9-10).




¿Hay una iglesia verdadera?

Cuando una persona pregunta: "¿Cuál iglesia es la verdadera iglesia?" él o ella a menudo pregunta qué denominación es la correcta. ¿Es la iglesia Bautista, Episcopal, o Pentecostal verdadera? Es una buena pregunta, pero es importante entender que la iglesia no es un edificio u organización visible. Más bien, la verdadera iglesia es la familia de todos aquellos que tienen fe en Jesucristo y nacen de nuevo por el poder del Espíritu Santo (Juan 3:3). 

El Nuevo Testamento define a la iglesia de dos maneras distintas. Primero, la iglesia comprende a todos los creyentes. Esto a menudo se llama la iglesia universal. Segundo, el Nuevo Testamento también usa la palabra iglesia en el sentido de un grupo local de creyentes que se reúnen para adorar a Dios. Por ejemplo, está la iglesia en Jerusalén (Hechos 8:1), la iglesia en Éfeso (Apocalipsis 2:1) y la iglesia que se reunió en la casa de Ninfas (Colosenses 4:15). Juntos, los miembros salvos de las iglesias locales son parte de la iglesia universal. 

La gran variedad de iglesias de hoy puede dificultar la solución de la verdad. La Iglesia Católica Romana dice ser la única iglesia verdadera. Lo mismo ocurre con la Iglesia Mormona. Los protestantes rechazan esos reclamos de exclusividad y ven a la iglesia como todas las personas que tienen fe en Jesucristo. Incluso entre las denominaciones protestantes, hay diversidad con respecto a las creencias y prácticas. 

¿Alguna iglesia o denominación posee toda la verdad en cada detalle? Probablemente no. Pero hay iglesias que tienen más de la verdad que otras. La Palabra de Dios es la base para la evaluación de cualquier iglesia o grupo de iglesias. ¿Las enseñanzas de la iglesia muestran fidelidad a las Escrituras? ¿Los líderes de la iglesia cumplen con los requisitos de 1 Timoteo 3 y Tito 1? ¿El pastor "se mantiene firme en la palabra fidedigna tal como se enseñó, para que pueda dar instrucción en sana doctrina" (Tito 1:9)? ¿Los miembros de la iglesia están dedicados a la Palabra, a "la comunión, al partimiento del pan y a las oraciones" (Hechos 2:42)? Si estas preguntas se pueden responder "sí", entonces la iglesia probablemente sea "verdadera". 

Por supuesto, ser miembro de una iglesia local que enseña la Biblia es importante (Hebreos 10:25). Pero más importante que unirse a una iglesia es saber que has nacido de nuevo (2 Corintios 13:5). Ninguna iglesia puede salvarte. Solo Jesús salva, por gracia a través de la fe en su muerte y resurrección (Efesios 2:8-9, Romanos 10:9-10). 






12/02/20


Should a Christian be involved in the ecumenical movement?

Ecumenism a religious movement that seeks to unite all Christians and bring the various denominations together in mutual cooperation. The word comes from the Greek oikoumene, which means "the whole inhabited world." Ephesians 4:3 says that Christians should be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." John 17:21 notes Christ's desire "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you." So, biblically, Christians should pursue unity with one another. But how does this apply to the contemporary ecumenical movement?

The modern ecumenical movement often goes beyond uniting Christians and seeks to connect Protestants, Catholics, and non-Christian religions. Modern ecumenical leaders promote "interfaith dialogue" with Mormons, Islamists, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, Universalists, and a variety of New Age belief systems. Such efforts are at odds with the concept of Christian unity as presented in Scripture. While there is room for discussion with those outside of Christianity, to accept all religions as equally valid is to deny the uniqueness of Jesus and the Christian faith.

Some partnerships are not really an issue. Believers from almost any background can cooperate to fight poverty, for example, or to take a pro-life stand. However, in other areas partnerships can send the wrong message or contradict a church's beliefs. For example, recent attempts to bridge differences between Protestant and Catholic theology have included joint statements on salvation and the inspiration of Scripture. To sign a statement that compromises core biblical teaching is dangerous. Doctrines such as salvation by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) and the authority of Scripture (1 Timothy 3:16-17) should not be compromised for the sake of a synthetic unity.

A desire for ecumenicalism cannot ignore the Bible's commands to maintain the purity of the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1:3-4). Christians must "test everything; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It's significant that, immediately following Paul's anathema on apostates, he asks, "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?" (Galatians 1:10). At the heart of modern ecumenicalism is a desire to please men instead of God.

On a positive note, a denomination is itself "ecumenical" in the sense that it consists of many churches working together with common beliefs. This coalition shares resources, serves local churches, and reaches others in world missions. Negatively, denominational ties that are too strong or centralized can lessen the ability of a local church to follow God's will for its members.

Christians are called to unity, but not at all costs. Doctrine is paramount, especially when it concerns the person and work of Christ. Modern ecumenical efforts are often all too ready to part with biblical teachings. Therefore, we must take care when evaluating potential partnerships. If unity can be had without compromising fundamental Christian belief, then unity should be pursued. As 17th-century Lutheran theologian Rupertus Meldenius said, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."




¿Debería un cristiano involucrarse en el movimiento ecuménico?

El ecumenismo es un movimiento religioso que busca unir a todos los cristianos y reunir a las diversas denominaciones en cooperación mutua. La palabra proviene del griego oikoumene, que significa "el mundo completo habitado". Efesios 4:3 dice que los cristianos deben estar "ansiosos de mantener la unidad del Espíritu en el vínculo de la paz". Juan 17:21 toma nota del deseo de Cristo "de que todos sean uno, así como tú, Padre, estás en mí y yo en ti". Entonces, bíblicamente, los cristianos deberían buscar la unidad entre ellos. Pero, ¿cómo se aplica esto al movimiento ecuménico contemporáneo? 

El movimiento ecuménico moderno a menudo va más allá de unir a los cristianos y busca conectar a protestantes, católicos y religiones no cristianas. Los líderes ecuménicos modernos promueven el "diálogo interreligioso" con mormones, islamistas, hindúes, budistas, wiccanos, universalistas y una variedad de sistemas de creencias de la Nueva Era. Tales esfuerzos están en desacuerdo con el concepto de unidad cristiana tal como se presenta en las Escrituras. Si bien hay espacio para el debate con aquellos que están fuera del cristianismo, aceptar todas las religiones como igualmente válidas es negar la singularidad de Jesús y la fe cristiana. 

Algunas asociaciones no son realmente un problema. Los creyentes de casi cualquier fondo pueden cooperar para luchar contra la pobreza, por ejemplo, o tomar una posición pro vida. Sin embargo, en otras áreas, las asociaciones pueden enviar un mensaje equivocado o contradecir las creencias de una iglesia. Por ejemplo, los recientes intentos de salvar las diferencias entre la teología protestante y católica han incluido declaraciones conjuntas sobre la salvación y la inspiración de la Escritura. Firmar una declaración que comprometa la enseñanza bíblica básica es peligroso. Las doctrinas tales como la salvación por gracia solamente (Efesios 2:8-9) y la autoridad de la Escritura (1 Timoteo 3:16-17) no deben verse comprometidas por el bien de una unidad sintética. 

Un deseo de ecumenismo no puede ignorar los mandamientos de la Biblia para mantener la pureza del evangelio (Gálatas 1:6-9, 2 Pedro 2:1, Judas 1:3-4). Los cristianos deben "probar todo, retener lo que es bueno" (1 Tesalonicenses 5:21). Es significativo que, inmediatamente después del anatema de Pablo sobre los apóstatas, él pregunte: ¿busco ahora el favor de los hombres, o el de Dios? ¿O trato de agradar a los hombres?" (Gálatas 1:10). En el corazón del ecumenismo moderno está el deseo de agradar a los hombres en lugar de a Dios. 

En un sentido positivo, una denominación es en sí misma "ecuménica" en el sentido de que consiste en muchas iglesias que trabajan juntas con creencias comunes. Esta coalición comparte recursos, sirve a iglesias locales y llega a otros en misiones mundiales. Negativamente, los lazos denominacionales que son demasiado fuertes o centralizados pueden disminuir la capacidad de una iglesia local para seguir la voluntad de Dios para sus miembros. 

Los cristianos están llamados a la unidad, pero no a toda costa. La doctrina es primordial, especialmente cuando se trata de la persona y el trabajo de Cristo. Los esfuerzos ecuménicos modernos a menudo están demasiado listos para separarse de las enseñanzas bíblicas. Por lo tanto, debemos tener cuidado al evaluar posibles asociaciones. Si se puede lograr la unidad sin comprometer la creencia cristiana fundamental, entonces se debe buscar la unidad. Como dijo el teólogo luterano del siglo XVII, Rupertus Meldenius, "en lo esencial la unidad, en lo no esencial la libertad, en todas las cosas, la caridad".




12/01/20


How can I heal from the pain of betrayal?

There is perhaps no greater insult to relationship than betrayal. Betrayal robs us of a sense of security. Someone close to us has proven untrustworthy. Most of us have felt the sting of betrayal; likely most of us have even inflicted it. So what do we do about it? 

There are obvious dangers in not overcoming the pain betrayal causes—losing the ability to trust, becoming a betrayer in retaliation or self-defense, not acknowledging the betrayal and thereby exposing ourselves to further hurt, emotional numbing to avoid the pain (which will eventually lead to an inability to experience joy as well). We work through the pain so that we might trust again, so that we might find the true foundation of our security. 

Jesus was not immune to betrayal. Judas, one of the twelve disciples, a friend whom Jesus trusted with the group's finances, turned Him in to be crucified. What is perhaps worse is that Judas accepted thirty pieces of silver in exchange for the life of his friend (Matthew 26:14-16). He betrayed Jesus with a kiss of greeting (Matthew 26:49). Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, yet He chose to bring the man into His inner fellowship. Jesus called Judas "friend," even after the kiss that would lead to Jesus' arrest. 

On a smaller scale, Peter betrayed Jesus. The disciple who vowed to follow Jesus to death (Matthew 26:33-35), three times denied even knowing Jesus. After His resurrection, Jesus restored Peter, giving the man three opportunities to affirm his love for Jesus and confirming His trust in the disciple (John 21:15-19). 

David, too, experienced the sting of betrayal. In Psalm 55:12-15 he writes, "For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng. Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart." David was no stranger to the torment of enemies, but even that seemed less painful than betrayal from a friend. Let's look at David's response. 

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah, because they do not change and do not fear God. (Psalm 55:16-19) 

David's first response was to experience the pain of betrayal. He did not minimize his sense of hurt. He poured it out to God. We, too, must acknowledge when we have been hurt. And then we need to share that hurt with someone who understands. God understands. Not only was Jesus betrayed in His time on earth. God has been, in a sense, betrayed by His creation. He created us that we might glorify Him and enjoy Him. Instead of fellowshipping with Him, we sinned against Him, and He had to redeem us. Because God so easily relates with our pain, we can pour out our hurt to Him in prayer. When the betrayal is deep, it can be helpful to talk with a trusted friend or counselor as well. Be wise to refrain from gossip in doing this. 

Next, David realized his behaviors needed to be altered. He recognized that he could not trust his friend in the same way. Psalm 55:20-21 says, "My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords." David understood his friend's true heart. 

It needs to be said that not all betrayers commit their act intentionally. Judas and David's friend certainly did. Peter did not. Sometimes friends betray us simply because they are sinful human beings (just like us). It is still wise to recognize that these people may not be as trustworthy as we once believed. However, it would be unwise to paint them with a broad brush, declaring them evil and unworthy of reconciliation. 

The final step in overcoming the pain of betrayal is that of forgiveness. When we forgive someone, we are really giving ourselves a gift. Especially when people intentionally inflict pain on us, our withholding of forgiveness hurts us more than it does them. To forgive someone is to give up our right to vengeance. We acknowledge that their act was wrong, we might be more careful in trusting them with certain issues, but we do not attempt to get back at them. We don't betray someone who betrayed us. Instead, like David did, we leave it in God's hands. David concludes his Psalm this way: "Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you" (Psalm 55:22-23). God will take care of evildoers. And He will take care of us. 

Betrayal is a robbing of security through a breaking of trust. We overcome the heartache it causes by giving our pain to God. We call the betrayal for what it is, reconsider our personal boundaries, and recognize that only God is truly trustworthy. We tell Him our pain and allow Him to handle those who would hurt us. 





11/30/20


Why should we forgive?

There is something exquisitely sweet about holding a grudge. The ability to withhold forgiveness and indulge in self-righteous feelings is a heady power. God is the God of justice. Wrongs should be righted. And we deserve to feel contempt for those who hurt us. Except that it's all a lie. Refusing to forgive doesn't grant us power, it enslaves us to sin. And feeling contempt for others very rarely makes a significant difference in their lives. Absolutely no good whatsoever comes from refusing to forgive. This is why Jesus said we are to forgive one another seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). We should forgive so much that it becomes second nature—our automatic response to offenses. 

God gives us two very good reasons in Scripture for why we should forgive. First, God commands us to forgive others. God forgave us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10), and we should do likewise with one another. Second, those who do not forgive others indicate that they themselves have not been forgiven because a truly regenerated heart is a forgiving heart (Matthew 6:14-15). If we are filled with resentment and bitterness, we are exhibiting the "works of the flesh," not the fruit of the Spirit which is evidence of true salvation (Galatians 5:19-23).

Most importantly, when we disobey one of God's commands, such as the command to forgive, we sin against Him. In refusing to forgive another person, we sin against that person, but also against God. Considering that God puts our transgressions as far from Him as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), He expects us to extend this same grace to others. Our sin against God is infinitely more egregious than anything another person can do to us. Jesus' parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35) illustrates this truth. The servant had been forgiven a massive debt—symbolic of the debt of sin we owe to God—then refused to forgive a minor debt of a friend. The lesson of the parable is that if God's forgiveness toward us is limitless, so should ours be limitless toward others (Luke 17:3-4).




11/29/20


How can I extend forgiveness to those who sin against me?

The Bible is clear we are to forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:12; 18:21-22). But how are we to forgive others?

The Lord's Prayer offers insight into this area. Matthew 6:12 states, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." First, we pray regarding forgiveness. Forgiving someone who has hurt us is often not easy. We need God's power to release bitterness or any grudge we might hold against them.

Second, remember the forgiveness God has given to you. When we remember the many sins God has forgiven in our own lives, it is easier to give mercy to those who have hurt us.

Third, realize forgiveness is connected with our spiritual maturity. If we want to grow in Christ, we must be willing to forgive others, following His example. He has forgiven us, setting a model for our own lives.

Fourth, from a practical standpoint it is also helpful to realize not forgiving someone else hurts us more than it hurts the other person. Often, the other person will move forward in life without concern while you are the one dwelling on how they have hurt you, allowing it to continue causing you problems in the present. Your best choice is to offer forgiveness, even if only in your own mind, to allow yourself to focus on new and productive areas of life rather than letting past problems consume the life God desires for you to use to have greater impact (Philippians 3:13-14).

Fifth, a wonderful way to forgive someone who has sinned against you is to focus your life on loving and serving others. First Peter 4:8 teaches, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." Proverbs 10:12 says, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." Living a life of love is the best way to move beyond the pain of past hurts.

Sixth, in some cases you may feel the need for some kind of reconciliation with someone who has sinned against you. For conflicts among believers, Matthew 18:15-20 offers a pattern to help. First, go to the person and address the issue. If this does not work or is not possible or safe, take one or two others with you. Third, if this fails, take the problem to your local church congregation. Fourth, if these actions do not work, then no longer associate with the person as a believer. These actions can help reconcile many Christian relationships and help with the forgiveness that may need to take place.

Remember, our goal is to live for God, forgiving others as He has forgiven us. When we do, we rely on His strength to help us forgive, a power much greater than our own ability to let go of past hurts from others.




11/28/20


What is Christian redemption? What does it mean to be redeemed?

Redemption is a biblical word that means "a purchase" or "a ransom." Historically, redemption was used in reference to the purchase of a slave's freedom. A slave was "redeemed" when the price was paid for his freedom. God spoke of Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt in this way: "I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment" (Exodus 6:6). The use of redemption in the New Testament includes this same idea. Every person is a slave to sin; only through the price Jesus paid on the cross is a sinful person redeemed from sin and death.

In Scripture, it is clear every person stands in need of redemption. Why? Because every person has sinned (Romans 3:23). The following verse then reveals we are "justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). Hebrews 9:15 says that Jesus "is the mediator of a new covenant . . . since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant."

Redemption provides several benefits for the believer: eternal life (Revelation 5:9-10), forgiveness of sin (Ephesians 1:7), a right relationship with God (Romans 5:17), peace with God (Colossians 1:18-20), the Holy Spirit to live within (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and adoption into God's family (Galatians 4:5). Titus 2:13-14 says Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession."

When we are redeemed, we become different people. When God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt, He made them a new nation and gave them a new land. Likewise, the Christian has a new identity in Christ. No longer is the Christian a captive to sin and death. Instead, he has become a citizen of God's kingdom. Christians now live in anticipation of our eternal home with our heavenly Father.

God wants us to see Him as the One who redeems (Isaiah 43:14; 44:6, 24; 49:7). Just as Boaz was the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth (Ruth 3:9), Jesus redeems us (Galatians 3:13). Jesus paid a high price for our redemption, the ultimate sacrifice of His own life to free us from sin.





¿Qué es la redención cristiana?

Redención es una palabra bíblica que significa "una compra" o "un rescate". Históricamente, la redención se usó en referencia a la compra de la libertad de un esclavo. Un esclavo era "redimido" cuando se pagaba el precio por su libertad. Dios habló de la liberación de Israel de la esclavitud en Egipto de esta manera: "Yo soy JEHOVÁ; y yo os sacaré de debajo de las tareas pesadas de Egipto, y os libraré de su servidumbre, y os redimiré con brazo extendido, y con juicios grandes" (Éxodo 6: 6-RVR). El uso de la redención en el Nuevo Testamento incluye esta misma idea. Toda persona es esclava del pecado; solo a través del precio que Jesús pagó en la cruz una persona pecadora es redimida del pecado y la muerte. 

En las Escrituras, está claro que cada persona necesita redención. ¿Por qué? Porque toda persona ha pecado (Romanos 3:23). El siguiente versículo revela que "[…] por su gracia son justificados gratuitamente mediante la redención que Cristo Jesús efectuó." (Romanos 3:24). Hebreos 9:15 dice que "Cristo es mediador de un nuevo pacto, [...] él ha muerto para liberarlos de los pecados cometidos bajo el primer pacto." 

La redención proporciona varios beneficios para el creyente: vida eterna (Apocalipsis 5: 9-10), perdón de pecados (Efesios 1: 7), reconciliación con Dios (Romanos 5:17), paz con Dios (Colosenses 1: 18- 20), residencia del Espíritu Santo en nosotros (1 Corintios 6: 19-20), y la adopción en la familia de Dios (Gálatas 4: 5). Tito 2: 13-14 dice que Jesús "se entregó por nosotros para rescatarnos de toda maldad y purificar para sí un pueblo elegido, dedicado a hacer el bien." 

Cuando somos redimidos, nos convertimos en personas diferentes. Cuando Dios redimió a Israel de la esclavitud en Egipto, los convirtió en una nueva nación y les dio una nueva tierra. Del mismo modo, el cristiano tiene una nueva identidad en Cristo. El cristiano ya no es cautivo del pecado y la muerte. En cambio, se ha convertido en ciudadano del reino de Dios. Los cristianos ahora vivimos anticipando nuestro hogar eterno con nuestro Padre celestial. 

Dios quiere que lo veamos como el que redime (Isaías 43:14; 44: 6, 24; 49: 7). Así como Booz fue el pariente redentor de Rut (Rut 3: 9), Jesús nos redime (Gálatas 3:13). Jesús pagó un alto precio por nuestra redención, el sacrificio último de su propia vida para liberarnos del pecado. 




11/27/20


Christian reconciliation - What is it? Why do we need to be reconciled to God? 

To reconcile is to make right or to harmonize. Reconciliation involves different parties coming to the same position, and it always involves change. Obviously, if enemies are to be reconciled, there must be some kind of change, or friendship will be impossible.

Christian reconciliation is the idea of being made right with God. Before we go any further, we should clarify that our relationship with God was broken through no fault of God's. It was we who ran away from God, not vice versa (Genesis 3:8). God is perfect and we are not (Romans 3:23). He does not need to change, make concessions, or find some middle ground of cooperation with us. We are the ones that need changing.

Because of our sin, we were actually the enemies of God (Romans 5:10). Amazingly, Christ took the first step to reconcile us to Himself. "In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19). God wanted us to be reconciled. He knew we could not solve our sin problem ourselves. So He provided a way for us to be made right with Him through Christ.

Believers have their sins forgiven, a necessary step in reconciliation with God. Colossians 1:21-22 says, "You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him." We are no longer "alienated;" we are now forgiven, transformed, and reconciled. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can have fellowship with God.

Now, rather than seeing us as enemies, Christ calls us "friends" (John 15:15). Jesus is our peace; He is our mediator who makes us right with God. "Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

Not only do we enjoy peace with God as a result of Christ's sacrifice, we also have peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Varied backgrounds, natural antagonisms, old grudges—none of it matters to those who have been born again. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Ephesians 2:14-16 emphasizes the reconciliation that God has established between Jews and Gentiles: "For he himself is our peace . . . that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."

"Blessed are the peacemakers," Jesus said, and He should know (Matthew 5:9). Jesus made a way to exchange our sinful, broken lives for forgiven, connected lives. He replaced the enmity with intimacy. Just as Hosea pursued his unfaithful wife and restored her to a proper relationship (Hosea 3), God has pursued us and sought reconciliation. "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love" (Song of Solomon 2:4).




¿Qué es la reconciliación cristiana?

Reconciliar es corregir o armonizar. La reconciliación implica que diferentes partes lleguen a la misma posición, y siempre implica un cambio. Obviamente, si los enemigos deben reconciliarse, debe haber algún tipo de cambio, o la amistad será imposible. 

La reconciliación cristiana es la idea de restaurar la relación con Dios. Antes de continuar, debemos aclarar que nuestra relación con Dios se rompió sin mediar ningún error de parte de Dios. Fuimos nosotros los que huimos de Dios, no al revés (Génesis 3: 8). Dios es perfecto y nosotros no (Romanos 3:23). No necesita cambiar, hacer concesiones o encontrar algún punto intermedio de cooperación con nosotros. Nosotros somos los que necesitamos cambiar. 

Debido a nuestro pecado, en realidad éramos enemigos de Dios (Romanos 5:10). Sorprendentemente, Cristo dio el primer paso para reconciliarnos con él. "En Cristo, Dios estaba reconciliando al mundo consigo mismo, no tomándole en cuenta sus pecados y encargándonos a nosotros el mensaje de la reconciliación." (2 Corintios 5:19). Dios quería que fuéramos reconciliados. Él sabía que no podíamos resolver nuestro problema de pecado nosotros mismos. Así que Él proporcionó una manera para que reconciliarnos con Él a través de Cristo. 

Los creyentes tienen sus pecados perdonados, un paso necesario en la reconciliación con Dios. Colosenses 1: 21-22 dice: "En otro tiempo ustedes, por su actitud y sus malas acciones, estaban alejados de Dios y eran sus enemigos. Pero ahora Dios, a fin de presentarlos santos, intachables e irreprochables delante de él, los ha reconciliado en el cuerpo mortal de Cristo mediante su muerte". Ya no estamos "alejados", más bien ahora estamos perdonados, transformados, y reconciliados. Debido a lo que Jesús hizo por nosotros en la cruz, podemos tener comunión con Dios. 

Ahora, en lugar de vernos como enemigos, Cristo nos llama "amigos" (Juan 15:15). Jesús es nuestra paz; él es nuestro mediador que nos hace justos ante Dios. "En consecuencia, ya que hemos sido justificados mediante la fe, tenemos paz con Dios por medio de nuestro Señor Jesucristo." (Romanos 5: 1). 

No solo disfrutamos de la paz con Dios como resultado del sacrificio de Cristo, también tenemos paz con nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Cristo. Personas de variados trasfondos, antagonismos naturales, viejos rencores, nada de eso es importante para aquellos que han nacido de nuevo. "No hay judío ni griego, no hay esclavo ni libre, no hay hombre ni mujer, porque todos ustedes son uno en Cristo Jesús" (Gálatas 3:28). Efesios 2: 14-16 enfatiza la reconciliación que Dios ha establecido entre judíos y gentiles: "Porque Cristo es nuestra paz [...] para crear en sí mismo de los dos pueblos una nueva humanidad al hacer la paz, para reconciliar con Dios a ambos en un solo cuerpo mediante la cruz, por la que dio muerte a la enemistad." 

"Bienaventurados los pacificadores", dijo Jesús, y ciertamente lo sabe (Mateo 5: 9). Jesús creó un camino de intercambiar nuestras vidas pecaminosas y quebrantadas por vidas perdonadas y conectadas. Reemplazó la enemistad con intimidad. Así como Oseas persiguió a su esposa infiel y la restauró a una relación apropiada (Oseas 3), Dios nos persiguió y buscó la reconciliación. "Me llevó a la sala del banquete, y sobre mí enarboló su bandera de amor." (Cantar de los Cantares 2: 4). 



11/26/30


“What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?"


Believers have the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the Comforter who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit assists believers in prayer (Jude 1:20) and “intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:27). He also leads the believer into righteousness (Galatians 5:16–18) and produces His fruit in those yielded to Him (Galatians 5:22–23). Believers are to submit to the will of God and walk in the Spirit.


A “walk” in the Bible is often a metaphor for practical daily living. The Christian life is a journey, and we are to walk it—we are to make consistent forward progress. The biblical norm for all believers is that they walk in the Spirit: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25, KJV; cf. Romans 8:14). In other words, the Spirit gave us life in the new birth (John 3:6), and we must continue to live, day by day, in the Spirit.


To walk in the Spirit means that we yield to His control, we follow His lead, and we allow Him to exert His influence over us. To walk in the Spirit is the opposite of resisting Him or grieving Him (Ephesians 4:30).


Galatians 5 examines the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. The context is freedom from the Law of Moses (Galatians 5:1). Those who walk in the Spirit “eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope” (verse 5) and are free from the Law (verse 18). Also, those who walk in the Spirit “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (verse 16). The flesh—our fallen nature under the power of sin—is in direct conflict with the Spirit (verse 17). When the flesh is in charge, the results are obvious (verses 19–21). But when the Spirit is in control, He produces godly qualities within us, apart from the strictures of the Law (verses 22–23). Believers “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (verse 24), and now we walk in the Spirit (verse 25).


Those who walk in the Spirit are united with Him and the bearers of the fruit the Spirit produces. Thus, those who walk in the Spirit walk in love—they live in love for God and for their fellow man. Those who walk in the Spirit walk in joy—they exhibit gladness in what God has done, is doing, and will do. Those who walk in the Spirit walk in peace—they live worry-free and refuse anxiety (Philippians 4:6). Those who walk in the Spirit walk in patience—they are known for having a “long fuse” and do not lose their temper. Those who walk in the Spirit walk in kindness—they show tender concern for the needs of others. Those who walk in the Spirit walk in goodness—their actions reflect virtue and holiness. Those who walk in the Spirit walk in faithfulness—they are steadfast in their trust of God and His Word. Those who walk in the Spirit walk in gentleness—their lives are characterized by humility, grace, and thankfulness to God. Those who walk in the Spirit walk in self-control—they display moderation, constraint, and the ability to say “no” to the flesh.


Those who walk in the Spirit rely on the Holy Spirit to guide them in thought, word, and deed (Romans 6:11–14). They show forth daily, moment-by-moment holiness, just as Jesus did when, “full of the Holy Spirit, [He] left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” to be tempted (Luke 4:1).


To walk in the Spirit is to be filled with the Spirit, and some results of the Spirit’s filling are thankfulness, singing, and joy (Ephesians 5:18–20; Colossians 3:16). Those who walk in the Spirit follow the Spirit’s lead. They “let the word of Christ dwell in [them] richly” (Colossians 3:16, ESV), and the Spirit uses the Word of God “for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Their whole way of life is lived according to the rule of the gospel, as the Spirit moves them toward obedience. When we walk in the Spirit, we find that the sinful appetites of the flesh have no more dominion over us.




"¿Qué significa andar en el Espíritu?"

Los creyentes tienen el Espíritu de Cristo, la esperanza de gloria, dentro de ellos (Colosenses 1:27). Aquellos que andan en el Espíritu lo mostrarán cotidianamente, en constante santidad. Esto se deriva del haber elegido conscientemente por la fe, confiar en el Espíritu Santo para ser guiados en pensamiento, palabra, y acciones (Romanos 6:11-14). La negligencia de depender de la guía del Espíritu Santo, resultará en que un creyente que no viva a la altura del llamado y a la posición que provee la salvación (Juan 3:3; Efesios 4:1; Filipenses 1:27). Podemos saber que estamos andando en el Espíritu si nuestras vidas muestran el fruto del Espíritu, el cual es amor, gozo, paz, paciencia, benignidad, bondad, fe, mansedumbre y templanza (Gálatas 5:22-23). Ser lleno (andar) del Espíritu, es lo mismo que permitir que la Palabra de Cristo, (la Biblia), more en abundancia en nosotros (Colosenses 3:16). 


El resultado es agradecimiento, alabanzas y gozo (Efesios 5:18-20; Colosenses 3:16). Los hijos de Dios serán guiados por el Espíritu de Dios (Romanos 8:14). Cuando los cristianos eligen no andar en el Espíritu, y por lo tanto pecan, contristándolo, se ha provisto su restauración a través de la confesión de sus pecados (Efesios 4:30; 1 Juan 1:9). “Andar en el Espíritu” es seguir la guía del Espíritu. Es en esencia “caminar con” el Espíritu, permitiéndole que guíe tus pasos y transforme tu mente. Para resumir, así como hemos recibido a Cristo por fe, Él nos pide que andemos en Él por la fe, hasta que seamos llevados al cielo y escuchemos del Maestro, “¡Bien hecho!” (Colosenses 2:5; Mateo 25:23) 




11/25/20


Spiritual death - what is it?

Death, according to dictionary definitions, is a cessation of vital functions or a lack of life. Spiritual death is our natural state prior to accepting Christ as our savior (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). It is a lack of spiritual life, an absence of proper spiritual functioning. God is the eternally existent One, the great "I AM" (Exodus 3:14); He is life. So, really, spiritual death is separation from God, who is life.  

Humans are raised from spiritual death by Jesus. Our Lord, being God incarnate, is associated with life numerous times throughout the New Testament. He is life and comes to give us life (John 1:4; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6; Acts 3:15). Paul says that, before we are saved, we are "dead" in our sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). When we lack Jesus, we lack life. Therefore we are dead.  

Dead people cannot help themselves. Life does not come from non- life. This is why salvation is all of grace. We are incapable of doing anything to save ourselves; only Jesus, the Author of Life, can save us (Ephesians 2:8-10). Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Man is sinful—spiritually dead—but God gives life.  

"How can an infant be born spiritually dead?" you might ask. Spiritual death became a reality for humanity after the Fall of Adam and Eve. God instructed Adam to refrain from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, warning that eating the fruit would result in death (Genesis 2:16-17). After Eve and Adam ate the fruit, however, they did not immediately experience physical death. Rather, their relationship with God was severed. They became aware of their nakedness, created clothes of leaves, and hid themselves from God in shame (Genesis 3:6-9). They were no longer functioning spiritually, but were spiritually dead. Romans 5:12 explains, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." The sin of Adam and Eve tainted all of humanity. We all have a sinful nature now. We are born separated from God (see Psalm 51:5). 

Even though we are born with a sinful nature and come into this world spiritually dead, we are also born with a longing for life. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, in part, "[God] has put eternity into man's heart." In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis writes,
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

Humans long for life. We have an innate something that knows there is more to this world than meets the eye. It impels our search for meaning in life. 

Those who are spiritually dead are oblivious to their state (2 Corinthians 4:4). They assume they can "eat, drink and be merry" (Luke 12:19 NIV), for physical life is all there is. In so doing, they fail to engage their inmost longings. They fail to recognize their sense of purposelessness, disconnectedness, and the fact that, apart from God, their pursuits do not provide fulfillment. The real danger is that, without the new life that Christ gives, the sinner's physical death will be followed by the second death (Revelation 20:14-15).

Even believers, who have spiritual life, sometimes fail to fully live it by rebelling through sin. The consequence of sin is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). When believers in Christ toy with sin, they experience the death-like symptoms of sin – a sense of distance from God. 

Spiritual death is a state of being alienated from God and therefore lacking His life. Believers have been given eternal life, which includes life "to the full" now (John 10:10 NIV). Jesus brings us from death into life, and believers remain in life. However, "whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:36). 

Spiritual death need not be a permanent state. Life awaits us. God is eager for all come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). To be rescued from spiritual death, we need only recognize our sinful state and call on the One who is capable to save. 





Muerte espiritual, ¿qué es eso?

La muerte, según las definiciones del diccionario, es el cese de las funciones vitales o la falta de vida. La muerte espiritual es nuestro estado natural antes de aceptar a Cristo como nuestro Salvador (Efesios 2:1, Colosenses 2:13). Es una falta de vida espiritual, una ausencia de funcionamiento espiritual apropiado. Dios es el Uno eternamente existente, el gran "YO SOY" (Éxodo 3:14); Él es la vida. Entonces, realmente, la muerte espiritual es la separación de Dios, quien es la vida. 

Los humanos son resucitados de la muerte espiritual por Jesús. Nuestro Señor, siendo Dios encarnado, está asociado con la vida en numerosas ocasiones a lo largo del Nuevo Testamento. Él es vida y viene a darnos vida (Juan 1:4; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6; Hechos 3:15). Pablo dice que, antes de ser salvos, estamos "muertos" en nuestros pecados (Efesios 2:1, Colosenses 2:13). Cuando nos falta Jesús, nos falta vida. Por lo tanto, estamos muertos. 

Los muertos no pueden ayudarse a sí mismos. La vida no proviene de la no vida. Esta es la razón por la cual la salvación es solo por gracia. Somos incapaces de hacer cualquier cosa para salvarnos a nosotros mismos; solo Jesús, el Autor de la Vida, puede salvarnos (Efesios 2:8-10). Romanos 6:23 dice: "Porque la paga del pecado es muerte, más la dádiva de Dios es vida eterna en Cristo Jesús, Señor nuestro". El hombre es pecador, espiritualmente muerto, pero Dios da vida. 

"¿Cómo puede un bebé nacer muerto espiritualmente?" podrías preguntarte. La muerte espiritual se convirtió en realidad para la humanidad después de la caída de Adán y Eva. Dios instruyó a Adán que se abstuviera de comer el fruto del árbol del conocimiento del bien y del mal, advirtiendo que comer la fruta resultaría en la muerte (Génesis 2:16-17). Después de que Eva y Adán comieron la fruta, sin embargo, no experimentaron inmediatamente la muerte física. Más bien, su relación con Dios fue cortada. Se dieron cuenta de su desnudez, crearon ropas de hojas y se escondieron de Dios avergonzados (Génesis 3:6-9). Ya no estaban funcionando espiritualmente, sino que estaban espiritualmente muertos. Romanos 5:12 explica: "Así que, así como el pecado vino al mundo por un hombre, y la muerte por el pecado, y así la muerte se extendió a todos los hombres, porque todos pecaron". El pecado de Adán y Eva corrompió a toda la humanidad. Todos tenemos una naturaleza pecaminosa ahora. Nacemos separados de Dios (ver Salmos 51:5). 

Aunque nacemos con una naturaleza pecaminosa y venimos a este mundo muertos espiritualmente, también nacemos con un anhelo por la vida. Eclesiastés 3:11 dice, en parte, "[Dios] ha puesto la eternidad en el corazón del hombre". En The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis escribe: Los libros o la música en la que pensamos que se encontraba la belleza nos traicionarán si confiamos en ellos; no estaba en ellos, solo venía a través de ellos, y lo que los atravesaba era añoranza. Estas cosas, la belleza, el recuerdo de nuestro propio pasado, son buenas imágenes de lo que realmente deseamos; pero si se los confunde con la cosa misma, se convierten en ídolos mudos, rompiendo los corazones de sus adoradores. Porque ellos no son la cosa en sí misma; son solo el aroma de una flor que no hemos encontrado, el eco de una canción que no hemos escuchado, noticias de un país que nunca hemos visitado. 

Los humanos anhelan la vida. Tenemos algo innato que sabe que hay más en este mundo de lo que parece. Impulsa nuestra búsqueda de significado en la vida. 

Aquellos que están espiritualmente muertos son ajenos a su estado (2 Corintios 4:4). Suponen que pueden "comer, beber y ser felices" (Lucas 12:19 NVI), porque la vida física es todo lo que hay. Al hacerlo, no logran comprometer sus anhelos más íntimos. No reconocen su sentido de la falta de propósito, la desconexión y el hecho de que, aparte de Dios, sus actividades no proporcionan satisfacción. El peligro real es que, sin la nueva vida que Cristo da, la muerte física del pecador será seguida por la segunda muerte (Apocalipsis 20:14-15). 

Incluso los creyentes, que tienen vida espiritual, a veces no la viven completamente al rebelarse a través del pecado. La consecuencia del pecado es la muerte espiritual (Romanos 6:23). Cuando los creyentes en Cristo juegan con el pecado, experimentan los síntomas del pecado parecidos a la muerte, una sensación de distancia de Dios. 

La muerte espiritual es un estado de estar alejado de Dios y, por lo tanto, carecer de Su vida. A los creyentes se les ha dado la vida eterna, que incluye la vida "en plenitud" ahora (Juan 10:10 NVI). Jesús nos trae de la muerte a la vida, y los creyentes permanecen en la vida. Sin embargo, "el que no obedece al Hijo no verá la vida, sino que la ira de Dios permanece sobre él" (Juan 3:36). 

La muerte espiritual no necesita ser un estado permanente. La vida nos espera. Dios está ansioso por que todos vengan a Él (2 Pedro 3:9). Para ser rescatados de la muerte espiritual, solo necesitamos reconocer nuestro estado pecaminoso e invocar a Aquel que es capaz de salvar al Señor Jesucristo. 



11/24/20


What does it mean that God is love?

The Bible teaches that God loves us, yet also teaches that God is love. First John 4:7-9 reveals, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."

In the original Greek used to write the New Testament, there is more than one word for love. The Greek word agapos, often referred to as agape love, is the word used in 1 John 4. It is used when speaking of an unconditional love. This love of God is boundless.

God does not only give love; He is the source of love. As the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1), He is the One who created love. It is because of His love that we are able to love. As 1 John 4:19 notes, "We love because he first loved us."

The fullest expression of God as love was through the Son, Jesus Christ. God created us, sustains us, and has revealed Himself to us through Jesus. John 1:14 declares, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Among the most famous of Bible passages on love is 1 Corinthians 13. In these verses we find a picture of God's love expressed in poetic terms that displays many of the aspects of God's love toward us. We are told, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Further, John 3:16 teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God has made clear that His love through the Son of God, Jesus, provides an opportunity for those who believe to spend eternity with Him. It is God's desire for us to enjoy His love both in this life and for all eternity.

The Bible is also clear we have done nothing to deserve God's perfect love. Romans 5:8 shares, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Even when Jesus knew we would fail and even before we were born, He gave His life as the ultimate expression of His love.

God is love. He created love, created us to love Him, and has extended His love to each of us. Our challenge is to accept His great love (Ephesians 2:8-9) that we may experience His love in our lives today (John 10:10) and for eternity (John 3:16).



¿Qué significa que Dios es amor?

La Biblia enseña que Dios nos ama, pero también enseña que Dios es amor. Primera de Juan 4:7-9 revela: “Queridos hermanos, amémonos los unos a los otros, porque el amor viene de Dios, y todo el que ama ha nacido de él y lo conoce. El que no ama no conoce a Dios, porque Dios es amor. Así manifestó Dios su amor entre nosotros: en que envió a su Hijo unigénito al mundo para que vivamos por medio de él.”

En el griego original utilizado para escribir el Nuevo Testamento, hay más que una palabra para amor. La palabra griega agapos, a menudo referido como el amor ágape, es la palabra usada en 1 Juan 4. Se utiliza cuando se habla de un amor incondicional. Este amor de Dios no tiene límites.

Dios no sólo da amor; Él es la fuente del amor. Como el Creador de todo (Génesis 1:1), Él es el que creó el amor. Es a causa de Su amor que somos capaces de amar. Como señala 1 Juan 4:19, “Nosotros amamos a Dios porque él nos amó primero.”

La máxima expresión de Dios como amor fue a través del Hijo, Jesucristo. Dios nos creó, nos sostiene, y se ha revelado a nosotros a través de Jesús. Juan 1:14 declara: “Y el Verbo se hizo hombre y habitó entre nosotros. Y hemos contemplado su gloria, la gloria que corresponde al Hijo unigénito del Padre, lleno de gracia y de verdad.”

Entre los más famosos pasajes bíblicos sobre el amor es 1 Corintios 13. En estos versículos encontramos un retrato del amor de Dios expresado en términos poéticos que muestra muchos de los aspectos del amor de Dios hacia nosotros. Se nos dice: “El amor es paciente, es bondadoso. El amor no es envidioso ni jactancioso ni orgulloso. No se comporta con rudeza, no es egoísta, no se enoja fácilmente, no guarda rencor. El amor no se deleita en la maldad sino que se regocija con la verdad. Todo lo disculpa, todo lo cree, todo lo espera, todo lo soporta. El amor jamás se extingue.” (1 Corintios 13:4-8)

Además, Juan 3:16 enseña: “Porque tanto amó Dios al mundo, que dio a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo el que cree en él no se pierda, sino que tenga vida eterna.” Dios ha dejado en claro que su amor, por medio del Hijo de Dios, Jesús, proporciona una oportunidad para que los que creen pasen la eternidad con Él. Es el deseo de Dios que podamos disfrutar de su amor en esta vida y, también, por toda la eternidad.

La Biblia también es clara en que no hemos hecho nada para merecer el amor perfecto de Dios. Romanos 5:8 dice, “Pero Dios demuestra su amor por nosotros en esto: en que cuando todavía éramos pecadores, Cristo murió por nosotros.” Aún cuando Jesús sabía que íbamos a fallar e incluso antes de que naciéramos, Él dio su vida como la máxima expresión de su amor.

Dios es amor. Él creó el amor, nos creó para amarlo, y ha extendido su amor a cada uno de nosotros. Nuestro reto es aceptar su gran amor (Efesios 2:8-9) para que podamos experimentar Su amor en nuestras vidas hoy en día (Juan 10:10) y por la eternidad (Juan 3:16).




11/23/20


The attributes of God, what are they?

The only way to truly know what God is like and to know His attributes is through His revelation of Himself in the Bible, God's Word to mankind. Without the authority of the Bible, any attempt to explain the attributes of God would be to open ourselves up to opinion, conjecture and supposition, which are often incorrect, especially when it comes to trying to understand God. The attributes of God, as revealed in the Bible, are crucial to understanding the truth about God, who He is, what He does, and what He is like. 

One of God's primary attributes is that of Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1). Nothing that exists came into being on its own, and no process (such as evolution) created anything. As Creator, God made everything according to His perfect plan to reveal and reflect Himself in the creation. Creation was subsequently marred by the fall of mankind into sin, but even the fallen creation still testifies to God's power and genius (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 1:19-20). The creation speaks of God's attributes and there is no language or speech where its voice is not heard (Psalm 19:1-3).

In addition to being the Creator, God is eternal, meaning He had no beginning and He will have no end. His existence of one of immortality and infinity (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). Unlike man who changes from one day to the next, God is immutable and unchanging, which means He is absolutely reliable and trustworthy (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:26-27). God's mind is incomprehensible to mankind. God's thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:9). They are so much higher than ours as to make Him inscrutable, unfathomable, unsearchable, and past finding out as far as understanding Him completely (Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 145:3; Romans 11:33-34).

God is unique; He is one God and there is no other (Isaiah 45:6), and He alone is worthy of our worship and devotion (Deuteronomy 6:4). God is completely sovereign over all of life and all circumstances. His plans and purposes will stand and no one can stop Him or say to Him, "What are you doing?" (Job 9:12; Psalm 93:1; 95:3; Jeremiah 23:20). God is spirit, meaning He is invisible (John 1:18; 4:24). God is a Trinity, being equally present in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is not three Gods, but one God in three Persons, each the same in substance and equal in power and glory. God is truth, He will always be truthful and, unlike man, He cannot lie (Psalm 117:2; 1 Samuel 15:29).

God is just, although it cannot be said that He is fair as we understand fairness. If He were completely fair, all mankind would be lost and have to spend eternity in hell paying for our sins. But God is not fair; instead, He is merciful and good, so as the second Person of the triune Godhead, He went to the cross to die in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (2 Corinthians 5:21). God's justice and His righteousness, the quality or character of being right or just, is another attribute of God. He does not show favortism by respecting some more than others (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30).

God is omnipotent; His power is unlimited and complete, although He always limits His power by acting in accordance with the rest of His character (Revelation 19:6; Jeremiah 32:17, 27). God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-13; Jeremiah 23:23) and omniscient (1 John 3:20), meaning He is everywhere and knows everything, whether past, present, or future.

God's primary attribute, and the one that permeates all His other attributes, is His transcendent holiness. His holiness is what separates Him from all moral defilement. God is as a consuming fire and His holy wrath against sin is to be feared (Hebrews 12:29, 10:27, 31). His holiness is tempered by His grace which offers goodness, kindness, mercy, and love to those who do not deserve it.



¿Cuáles son los atributos de Dios?

La única manera de realmente saber cómo es Dios y conocer sus atributos es a través de la revelación de sí mismo en la Biblia, la Palabra de Dios al hombre. Sin la autoridad de la Biblia, cualquier intento de explicar los atributos de Dios nos expondría a opiniones, conjeturas, y suposiciones, que son muchas veces incorrectas, particularmente cuando se trata de entender a Dios. Los atributos de Dios, según son revelados en la Biblia, son cruciales para entender la verdad acerca de Dios, quién es, qué hace, y cómo es Él.

Uno de los atributos principales es el de Creador de todas las cosas (Génesis 1:1; Salmo 24:1). Nada de lo que existe llegó a existir por sí solo, y ningún proceso (como la evolución) creó nada. Como Creador, Dios hizo todo según su plan perfecto para revelarse y reflejarse a sí mismo en la creación. La creación luego fue empañada por la caída del hombre al pecado, pero aun la creación caída todavía testifica al poder y genio de Dios (Génesis 3:17-18; Romanos 1:19-20). La creación habla de los atributos de Dios aunque “no hay lenguaje ni palabras ni es oída su voz” (Salmo 19:1-3).

Más allá de ser el Creador, Dios es eterno, es decir que no tuvo principio y no tendrá fin. Su existencia es de un ser que es inmortal e infinito (Deuteronomio 33:27; Salmo 90:2; 1 Timoteo 1:17). En diferencia al hombre quien vacila de un día al otro, Dios es inmutable y como no cambia quiere decir que es absolutamente fidedigna y confiable (Malaquías 3:6; Números 23:19; Salmo 102:26-27). La mente de Dios es incomprensible para la humanidad. Los pensamientos de Dios no son nuestros pensamientos, ni sus caminos son nuestros caminos (Isaías 55:8). Son mucho más altos que los nuestros a tal extremo de hacerlo a Él inescrutable, insondable, misterioso, y más allá de nuestra capacidad de comprenderlo por completo (Isaías 40:28; Salmo 145:3; Romanos 11:33-34).

Dios es único; Él es uno solo y no hay otro (Isaías 45:6), y tan solo Dios es digno de nuestra adoración y devoción (Deuteronomio 6:4). Dios es totalmente soberano en toda la vida y en toda circunstancia. Sus planes y propósitos son firmes y nadie puede detenerlo ni decirle, “¿Qué haces?” (Job 9:12; Salmo 93:1; 95:3; Jeremías 23:20). Dios es espíritu, que quiere decir que es invisible (Juan 1:18; 4:24). Dios es trino, siendo igual de presente en el Padre, el Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo. No es tres Dioses, sino un Dios en tres Personas, cada una la misma en sustancia e igual en poder y gloria. Dios es verdad, dirá siempre la verdad y, a diferencia del hombre, Él no puede mentir (Salmo 117:2; 1 Samuel 15:29).

Dios es justo, aunque no se puede decir que es justo según nuestro concepto de justicia. Si fuera solamente justo, toda la humanidad sería perdida y tendría que pasar la eternidad en el infierno pagando sus pecados. Pero Dios no es “justo”; sino que es también misericordioso y bueno. Así que en la segunda Persona de la Trinidad, fue a la cruz para morir en nuestro lugar, recibiendo el castigo que nosotros merecemos (2 Corintios 5:21). La justicia de Dios y su rectitud, la cualidad o característica de ser recto o imparcial, es otro atributo de Dios. No muestra favoritismo respetando a uno sobre otro (Deuteronomio 32:4; Salmo 18:30). Dios es omnipotente; su poder es absoluto y sin límite, aunque siempre limita su propio poder actuando de acuerdo al resto de su carácter (Apocalipsis 19:6; Jeremías 32:17, 27). Dios es omnipresente (Salmo 139:7-13; Jeremías 23:23) y omnisciente (1 Juan 3:20), que significa que está en todas partes y sabe todo, sea pasado, presente, y futuro.

El atributo primordial, y el que impregna todos los demás atributos, es su santidad trascendente. Su santidad es lo que lo separa de toda mancha moral. Dios es como un fuego consumidor y su santa ira contra el pecado es temible (Hebreos 12:29, 10:27, 31). Su santidad tiene como contrapeso su gracia que ofrece bondad, caridad, misericordia, y amor a los que no lo merecen.



11/22/20


In what way is God merciful?

God is merciful in that He possesses the attribute of mercy. Like all God's attributes, His mercy is infinite, unlimited, and eternal. The Hebrew and Greek words translated "mercy" mean compassion, lovingkindness, and pity. God's mercy is shed upon those who need it. Human beings are born with a sin nature and, instead of justly condemning us, God is merciful in that He withholds the punishment we deserve and shows compassion and pity toward us. Mercy is the withholding of a just condemnation. 

Throughout the Bible, God gives many illustrations of His mercy. God showed mercy to Lot and his daughters, allowing them to leave Sodom before it was destroyed (Genesis 19:14–16). God's compassionate mercy was on display in His rescuing the Israelites from the bondage in Egypt and bringing them into the Promised Land (Exodus 15:13). God was merciful to Israel in captivity (Psalm 106:45; Nehemiah 9:31). God's mercy was illustrated every year on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice before the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14). 

Mercy is often coupled with other attributes of God in the Bible: His grace, "You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Psalm 86:15); His forgiveness, "To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him" (Daniel 9:9); and His goodness, "Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!" (Psalm 25:7). 

The steadfast love of God is combined with His mercy in Ephesians 2:4–5: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—". God's mercy toward sinners is rooted in His love for us. As those who are dead in sin, we deserve punishment (Romans 3:23). God's righteousness requires just punishment for sin. If it did not, He wouldn't be holy. Out of His love and mercy, but also to satisfy His justice and display His holiness, He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin (John 3:16). The perfect sinless incarnate Christ died the sinner's death so that sinners could live free from condemnation (Romans 8:1), all as a result of God's merciful love. 

In the New Testament, God's mercy is illustrated in the parable of the rich ruler who was owed a great deal of money (Matthew 18:23–27). The ruler ordered that money be collected, but when the debtor came and begged for mercy, the ruler mercifully forgave the debt. The parable illustrates the debt of sin we owe to God, so great a debt that we could never repay it. But because God is merciful, He freely forgives us that debt in Christ. After having been forgiven the debt, the person who owed the money refuses to forgive someone else. The ruler then judged that ungrateful person for his lack of mercy. God requires us to be merciful and forgiving to others here on earth (Matthew 6:14–15; 18:21–22). We who have been forgiven so much have no right to withhold forgiveness from others. We are to be merciful to others because God has been merciful to us




11/21/20


What is the meaning of God being rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4)?

The phrase "rich in mercy" comes from Ephesians 2:1–7, which says: "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." 

What we first notice is that this passage connects God's mercy with His great love for us. We would be dead in our own trespasses and sins without the mercy that God gives us. Just as God extends His mercy to us, we are to extend mercy to others (2 Samuel 22:26).  

Throughout the Bible, we see God's mercy evident in His love for His people and His kindness and mercy toward them even while they are trapped in their own sins. Daniel cried out to God on behalf of the Israelite people in the midst of their sins, knowing that God would be merciful to them yet again (Daniel 9:18). Even when He was angry with the Israelites, God still promised them His mercy (Jeremiah 3:12). After committing adultery with Bathsheba, David cried out to God seeking His mercy so that His sins may be forgiven (Psalm 51:1–2). God's mercy is perfect and never ending: "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22–23).  

In a grand culmination of God's mercy, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Left in our own sins, we would have been banished to death and eternal punishment (Romans 6:23; John 3:16–18). Titus 3:5 says: "He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." While we were dead in our sins, the merciful sacrifice of Jesus has given us the opportunity to be alive in Christ (Romans 6:11). 

As we continue on in our Christian walk, God is still faithful to cleanse and purify us of all sins (1 John 1:9). He is patient with us (2 Peter 3:9). Only God is able to forgive our sins, and there is good news for us: "O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption" (Psalm 130:7 NKJV). We can put our hope in God with confidence, knowing that even when we make mistakes, He will still be rich in mercy toward us. 



11/20/20


"What is the end times timeline?"


Got Questions Ministries takes a pre-tribulational approach to eschatology. From that perspective, here is the order of end-times events that the Bible reveals:


1. The rapture of the church. Christ comes in the clouds to “snatch away” all those who trust in Him (1 Corinthians 15:52). At this same time, the “dead in Christ” will be resurrected and taken to heaven, too. From our perspective today, this is the next event in the eschatological timeline. The rapture is imminent; no other biblical prophecy needs to be fulfilled before the rapture happens.


2. The rise of the Antichrist. After the church is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8), a satanically empowered man will gain worldwide control with promises of peace (Revelation 13:1; Daniel 9:27). He will be aided by another man, called the false prophet, who heads up a religious system that requires worship of the Antichrist (Revelation 19:20).


3. The tribulation. A period of seven years in which God’s judgment is poured out on sinful humanity (Revelation 6–16). The Antichrist’s rise to power is associated with this time period. During the tribulation on earth, the Church will be in heaven. It is thought that at this time the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will occur in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 19:6–10).


4. The Battle of Gog and Magog. In the first part of the tribulation, a great army from the north, in alliance with several other countries from the Middle East and Africa, attacks Israel and is defeated by God’s supernatural intervention (Ezekiel 38–39). (Some commentators place this battle just before the start of the tribulation.)


5. The abomination of desolation. At the midway point of the seven-year tribulation, the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel and shows his true colors. The Jews are scattered, and many of them turn to the Lord, realizing that Jesus is their Savior. A great persecution breaks out against all those who believe in Christ (Daniel 12:11; Mark 13:14; Revelation 12:17).


6. The Battle of Armageddon. At the end of the tribulation, Jesus returns with the armies of heaven (Mark 14:62). He saves Jerusalem from annihilation and defeats the armies of the nations fighting under the banner of the Antichrist (Revelation 19:11–21). The Antichrist and the false prophet are captured and thrown alive into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).


7. The judgment of the nations. Christ will judge the survivors of the tribulation, separating the righteous from the wicked as “sheep” and “goats” (Matthew 25:31–46). (It is thought that at this time the Old Testament saints will be raised from the dead.) The righteous will enter the Millennial Kingdom; the wicked will be cast into hell.


8. The binding of Satan. Satan will be bound and held in a bottomless pit for the next 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1–3).


9. The Millennial Kingdom. Jesus Himself will rule the world, and Jerusalem will be the capital. This will be a 1,000-year period of peace and prosperity on earth (Revelation 20; Isaiah 60–62). Memorial sacrifices will be offered in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40–48).


10. The last battle. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released from his prison for a short time. He will deceive the nations once again, and there will be a rebellion against the Lord that will be quickly defeated (Revelation 20:7–10). Satan will be cast into the lake of fire, never to reappear.


11. The Great White Throne Judgment. All those in hell will be brought forth, and all the wicked from all eras of history will be resurrected to stand before God in a final judgment (Revelation 20:11–15). The verdicts are read, and all of sinful humanity is cast into the lake of fire.


12. The new creation. God completely remakes the heavens and the earth. It is at this time that God wipes away all tears and there will be no more pain, death, or sorrow. The New Jerusalem descends from heaven, and the children of God will enjoy eternity with Him (Revelation 21–22).


Other views of eschatology, such as midtribulationism, amillennialism, and partial preterism, will have different timelines of the end times, of course.



"¿Cuál es la línea de tiempo de los tiempos finales?"

El Ministerio Got Questions tiene un enfoque pre-tribulacional sobre escatología. Desde esa perspectiva, aquí está el orden de los eventos del fin de los tiempos que la Biblia revela:


1. El rapto de la iglesia. Cristo viene en las nubes para "arrebatar" a todos los que confían en Él (1 Corintios 15:52). Al mismo tiempo, los "muertos en Cristo" resucitarán y también serán llevados al cielo. Desde nuestra perspectiva hoy, este es el próximo evento en la línea escatológica del tiempo. El rapto es inminente; no es necesario que se cumpla otra profecía bíblica antes de que ocurra el rapto.


2. El ascenso del Anticristo. Después de que la iglesia sea quitada del medio (2 Tesalonicenses 2:7-8), un hombre con poder satánico ganará el control mundial con promesas de paz (Apocalipsis 13:1; Daniel 9:27). Recibirá la ayuda de otro hombre, llamado el falso profeta, que encabeza un sistema religioso que exige la adoración al Anticristo (Apocalipsis 19:20).


3. La tribulación. Es un período de siete años en el que el juicio de Dios se derrama sobre la humanidad pecadora (Apocalipsis 6-16). El ascenso al poder del Anticristo está asociado con este período de tiempo. Durante la tribulación en la tierra, la Iglesia estará en el cielo. Se cree que en este momento tendrá lugar en el cielo el Juicio Final de Cristo y la Cena de las Bodas del Cordero (2 Corintios 5:10; Apocalipsis 19:6-10).


4. La batalla de Gog y Magog. En la primera parte de la tribulación, un gran ejército del norte, en alianza con varios otros países de Oriente Medio y África, ataca a Israel y termina siendo derrotado por la intervención sobrenatural de Dios (Ezequiel 38-39). (Algunos comentaristas colocan esta batalla justo antes del comienzo de la tribulación).


5. La abominación desoladora. A mitad de la tribulación de siete años, el Anticristo rompe su pacto con Israel y muestra su verdadera identidad. Los judíos se dispersan, y muchos de ellos se vuelven al Señor, dándose cuenta de que Jesús es su Salvador. Se desata una gran persecución contra todos los que creen en Cristo (Daniel 12:11; Marcos 13:14; Apocalipsis 12:17).


6. La batalla del Armagedón. Al final de la tribulación, Jesús regresa con los ejércitos del cielo (Marcos 14:62). Él salva a Jerusalén de la aniquilación y derrota a los ejércitos de las naciones que luchan bajo las órdenes del Anticristo (Apocalipsis 19:11-21). El Anticristo y el falso profeta son apresados y lanzados vivos al lago de fuego (Apocalipsis 19:20).


7. El juicio de las naciones. Cristo juzgará a los sobrevivientes de la tribulación, separando a los justos de los malvados, así como a las "ovejas" y a las "cabras" (Mateo 25:31-46). (Se cree que en este momento los santos del Antiguo Testamento resucitarán de entre los muertos). Los justos entrarán en el Reino del Milenio; los malvados serán arrojados al infierno.


8. La condena de Satanás. Satanás será atado y encerrado en un abismo durante los siguientes 1.000 años (Apocalipsis 20:1-3).


9. El Reino del Milenio. Jesús mismo gobernará el mundo, y Jerusalén será la capital. Este será un período de 1.000 años de paz y prosperidad en la tierra (Apocalipsis 20; Isaías 60-62). Se ofrecerán sacrificios memoriales en el templo reconstruido en Jerusalén (Ezequiel 40-48).


10. La última batalla. Al final de los 1.000 años, Satanás será liberado de su prisión por un corto tiempo. Engañará a las naciones una vez más, y habrá una rebelión contra el Señor que rápidamente quedará derrotada (Apocalipsis 20:7-10). Satanás será arrojado al lago de fuego para nunca más reaparecer.


11. El Juicio del Gran Trono Blanco. Todos los que están en el infierno serán liberados y todos los malvados de todas las épocas de la historia resucitarán para presentarse ante Dios en un juicio final (Apocalipsis 20:11-15). Se leerán los veredictos, y toda la humanidad pecadora será arrojada al lago de fuego.


12. La nueva creación. Dios rehace completamente los cielos y la tierra. Es en este momento que Dios enjugará todas las lágrimas y no habrá más dolor, muerte o tristeza. La Nueva Jerusalén desciende del cielo y los hijos de Dios disfrutarán de la eternidad con Él (Apocalipsis 21-22).



11/19/20



Question: "What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming?"


Answer: The rapture and the second coming of Christ are often confused. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a scripture verse is referring to the rapture or the second coming. However, in studying end-times Bible prophecy, it is very important to differentiate between the two.


The rapture is when Jesus Christ returns to remove the church (all believers in Christ) from the earth. The rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected and, along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. This will all occur in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The second coming is when Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial kingdom. The second coming is described in Revelation 19:11-16.


The important differences between the rapture and second coming are as follows:


1) At the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth (Revelation 19:14).


2) The second coming occurs after the great and terrible tribulation (Revelation chapters 6"19). The rapture occurs before the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).


3) The rapture is the removal of believers from the earth as an act of deliverance (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 5:9). The second coming includes the removal of unbelievers as an act of judgment (Matthew 24:40-41).


4) The rapture will be secret and instant (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The second coming will be visible to all (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:29-30).


5) The second coming of Christ will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6"18). The rapture is imminent; it could take place at any moment (Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).


Why is it important to keep the rapture and the second coming distinct?


1) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, believers will have to go through the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).


2) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, the return of Christ is not imminent"there are many things which must occur before He can return (Matthew 24:4-30).


3) In describing the tribulation period, Revelation chapters 6"19 nowhere mentions the church. During the tribulation"also called "the time of trouble for Jacob" (Jeremiah 30:7)"God will again turn His primary attention to Israel (Romans 11:17-31).


The rapture and second coming are similar but separate events. Both involve Jesus returning. Both are end-times events. However, it is crucially important to recognize the differences. In summary, the rapture is the return of Christ in the clouds to remove all believers from the earth before the time of God's wrath. The second coming is the return of Christ to the earth to bring the tribulation to an end and to defeat the Antichrist and his evil world empire.



"¿Cuál es la diferencia entre el Arrebatamiento y la Segunda Venida?"

El Arrebatamiento y la Segunda Venida de Cristo con frecuencia son confundidos. A veces es difícil determinar si un versículo de las Escrituras se está refiriendo al Arrebatamiento o a la Segunda Venida de Jesucristo. Sin embargo, al estudiar la profecía bíblica sobre los últimos tiempos, es muy importante diferenciar entre estas dos. 


El Arrebatamiento es cuando Jesucristo regrese para llevarse a Su iglesia (todos los creyentes en Cristo) de la tierra. El Arrebatamiento se describe en 1 Tesalonicenses 4:13-18 y 1 Corintios 15:50-54. Los creyentes que hayan muerto tendrán sus cuerpos resucitados, y junto con los creyentes que aún vivan, se encontrarán con el Señor en el aire. Esto ocurrirá en un momento, en un abrir y cerrar de ojos. La Segunda Venida es cuando Jesucristo regrese para vencer al anticristo, destruir el mal, y establecer Su Reino Milenial. La Segunda Venida se describe en Apocalipsis 19:11-16. 


Las diferencias importantes entre el Arrebatamiento y la Segunda Venida son las siguientes: 


(1) En el Arrebatamiento, los creyentes se encontrarán con el Señor en el aire (1 Tesalonicenses 4:17). En la Segunda Venida, los creyentes regresarán con el Señor a la tierra (Apocalipsis 19:14). 


(2) La Segunda Venida ocurre después de la grande y terrible Tribulación (Apocalipsis capítulos 6-19). El Arrebatamiento ocurre antes de la Tribulación (1 Tesalonicenses 5:9; Apocalipsis 3:10). 


(3) El Arrebatamiento es el traslado de los creyentes de la tierra, como un acto de liberación (1 Tesalonicenses 4:13-17; 5:9). La Segunda Venida incluye el quitar a los incrédulos como un acto de juicio (Mateo 24:40-41). 


(4) El Arrebatamiento será “secreto” e instantáneo (1 Corintios 15:50-54). La Segunda Venida será visible para todos (Apocalipsis 1:7; Mateo 24:29-30). 


(5) La Segunda Venida de Cristo no ocurrirá hasta después de que ciertos otros eventos del fin de los tiempos tengan lugar (2 Tesalonicenses 2:4; Mateo 24:15-30; Apocalipsis capítulos 6-18). El Arrebatamiento es inminente y puede suceder en cualquier momento (Tito 2:13; 1 Tesalonicenses 4:13-18; 1 Corintios 15:50-54). 


¿Por qué es importante observar la diferencia entre el Arrebatamiento y la Segunda Venida de Cristo? 


(1) Si el Arrebatamiento y la Segunda Venida fueran un mismo evento, los creyentes tendrían que pasar por la Tribulación (1 Tesalonicenses 5:9; Apocalipsis 3:10). 


(2) Si el Arrebatamiento y la Segunda Venida fueran un mismo evento, el regreso de Cristo no es inminente…. Hay muchas cosas que deben ocurrir antes que Él pueda regresar a la tierra (Mateo 24:4-30). 


(3) Al describir el período de la Tribulación, los capítulos 6-19 del Apocalipsis en ninguna parte mencionan a la iglesia. Durante la Tribulación – también llamada “el tiempo de angustia para Jacob” (Jeremías 30:7) – Dios dirigirá nuevamente Su principal atención sobre Israel (Romanos 11:17-31). 


El Arrebatamiento y la Segunda Venida de Jesucristo son eventos similares pero separados. Los dos implican el regreso de Jesús. Ambos son eventos del fin de los tiempos. Sin embargo, es de crucial importancia reconocer las diferencias. En resumen, el Arrebatamiento es el regreso de Cristo en las nubes para trasladar a todos los creyentes de la tierra antes del tiempo de la ira de Dios. La Segunda Venida es el regreso de Cristo a la tierra, para poner fin a la Tribulación y para vencer al anticristo y su malvado imperio mundial. 




11/18/20


“What is the futurist interpretation of the book of Revelation?"


The futurist interpretation of the book of Revelation is one of four approaches to understanding the prophecies of Revelation. The other three systems are the historicist, the preterist, and the spiritual (or idealist).


The basic premise of the futurist viewpoint is that the majority of the prophecies in Revelation still await a future, literal fulfillment. This view of interpreting Revelation is very popular today, particularly among dispensationalists. It is the method used by the authors of the bestselling Left Behind series. Those who hold this view generally believe that everything after Revelation 3 will be fulfilled in the future.


The futurist viewpoint often divides Revelation into three sections, which are defined in Revelation 1:19. There, the apostle John is instructed to “write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Following this three-part outline, Revelation 1 contains John’s vision of the risen Christ and represents the past (“what you have seen”). Chapters 2 and 3, which contain the letters to the seven churches, describe the present (“what is now”). Finally, chapters 4–22 describe events in the future (“what will take place later”).


Dispensationalists generally believe that the rapture of the church takes place at the time of Revelation 4:1, after which comes the “what will take place later.” Revelation 4:1 marks the beginning of the tribulation, a seven-year period where God finishes His discipline of Israel and begins His judgment of the unbelieving world as described in Revelation 4–19. Some futurists place the rapture of the church at Revelation 19, at the time of Jesus’ second coming.


The futurist approach basically sees John’s vision as a series of chronological events, although some futurists see parallel or cyclical patterns in the visions of Revelation 4–19. The futurist interpretation lends itself to a more literal view than do the other interpretive systems, which tend to allegorize the events of Revelation. For example, Revelation 19:20 says, “The beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. . . . The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” The futurist interpretation sees this as a prophecy that two evil individuals will face personal judgment from God. The spiritual interpretation, in contrast, simply sees it as a morality tale expressing an aspect of the age-long struggle between good and evil. The preterist view holds that this event has already occurred, sometime in the first century.


Critics of the futurist view sometimes accuse futurists of holding to a too literal interpretation and of not recognizing any symbolic meanings. However, futurists do recognize that some aspects of Revelation are symbolic. The description of Jesus returning with a “sharp sword” coming “out of his mouth” is obviously symbolic, yet it is a symbol with a literal interpretation—Jesus will return, and He will win the battle by the power of His word.


An error to avoid in the futurist interpretation of Revelation is that of becoming “newspaper theologians” who try to superimpose current events on the timeline of Revelation. This approach can lead to date-setting, if one is not careful. Sadly, many people have been influenced by such “prophecy experts” whose predictions fail to come true.


There are differing viewpoints concerning the end times among faithful, Bible-believing Christians. We believe that the futurist viewpoint of Revelation is the one that is most consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible overall and the one that best acknowledges the book’s own claim to be prophecy (Revelation 22:7, 10). Whichever view one takes, all Christians should be preparing themselves to meet Jesus Christ and be waiting for His return (John 14:3).




11/17/20


Why is not reading the Bible dangerous?

The Bible is God's Word to us, and it contains instructions and wisdom for our lives as humans and as believers in Jesus Christ as Lord. If God did not desire for us to read His Word, why would He have written it and preserved it for several thousand years? Not reading the Bible may not inherently be a sin, especially for those who are not Christians; however, in the believer's life, it may indicate a sinful position of the heart such as laziness or apathy in our walk with God. James 4:17 says, "Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." For believers who have ready access to the Bible, not reading it is a sin of omission. Not only that, as is true with any sin, it is harmful to us. We cannot neglect God's Word and expect to know Him well and fully enjoy the fruit of salvation in Jesus Christ. 

The Bible is a book about God. It tells us who He is and who we are. Second Timothy 3:16–17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Spending time in God's Word is vital to our spiritual growth. 

Being God-breathed, the Bible is our standard for truth. Second Timothy 2:15 talks about the importance of rightly understanding and employing the truth of God's Word: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." Ephesians 6:17 describes God's Word as the "sword of the Spirit." We cannot neglect this vital piece of armor as we go about our daily lives.  

Hebrews 4:12 declares, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." God's Word has a way of exposing our hearts. It helps to clear the cloud of sin and misunderstanding so that we can see clearly. Hebrews 4:13 reminds, "And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Not reading the Bible makes us more likely to be deceived by the lies of Satan, the lies of this world, and the deceitfulness of our own hearts (John 8:44; James 1:14–15; 22–25; Jeremiah 17:9–10). 

Reading God's Word increases our hunger for God. Many have referred to the Bible as God's love letter to us. Why would we not want to read that? And when we do read it, we grow in our understanding of Him and His character. We grow in our love for Him and mature in our faith.  

Others have referred to the Bible as God's instruction manual for our lives. It shows us how we are to live. The Bible helps us understand what sin is and what righteousness is. Before sin is acted upon, it begins in the heart, which is the first place God looks (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 8:27). If we desire to live free from sin and instead cling to righteousness, it is essential that we read and study the Bible. Psalm 119:9–11 says: 
"How can a young man keep his way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; 
let me not wander from your commandments! 
I have stored up your word in my heart, 
that I might not sin against you." 

This passage reveals that we can keep our way pure by following the guidelines that are laid out in God's Word. Having God's Word in our heart will help keep us from sinning. It not only helps us see what not to do, but the things that we should be doing instead. God's ways lead to life (John 10:10), while sin leads only to death (Romans 6:23). Not reading the Bible means not availing ourselves of the knowledge of the way of life. The Word of God helps to sanctify us as we walk out our faith (John 17:17). 

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an ode to delighting in God's Word. Verse 105 says: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." The Bible brings wisdom and shows us the way to walk. When we know God's Word, it helps us to recognize God's voice in our own prayer lives. His voice in prayer will never contradict His Word, the Bible.  

The Holy Spirit helps us understand God's Word (John 16:13–14; 1 Corinthians 2:14). The Bible is not something we read and apply on our own. It is not a self-help book or a do-it-yourself guide to salvation and life. Rather, it is the living Word of God. Our righteousness comes only through Christ, not our works or our knowledge (Ephesians 2:1–10). But the Bible is a primary tool that God uses in the life of a believer as He transforms them to be more like Christ (Philippians 1:6; 2:12–13; Romans 8:28ndash;30). 

We should desire to read the Bible. Even in seasons of spiritual dryness when it feels like God is far away, when we have planted His Word in our hearts, He can bring verses of hope and encouragement to mind at the moments we need them the most (Romans 15:4). As believers, we are also instructed to know God's Word, so that we may rightly interpret its meanings (2 Timothy 2:15) and always be prepared to share the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). We should make it a habit to get into God's Word. The more we do that the more we will desire it—for it will incline our hearts to desire Him and delight in His words to us. 



11/15/20


Why is not reading the Bible dangerous?

The Bible is God's Word to us, and it contains instructions and wisdom for our lives as humans and as believers in Jesus Christ as Lord. If God did not desire for us to read His Word, why would He have written it and preserved it for several thousand years? Not reading the Bible may not inherently be a sin, especially for those who are not Christians; however, in the believer's life, it may indicate a sinful position of the heart such as laziness or apathy in our walk with God. James 4:17 says, "Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." For believers who have ready access to the Bible, not reading it is a sin of omission. Not only that, as is true with any sin, it is harmful to us. We cannot neglect God's Word and expect to know Him well and fully enjoy the fruit of salvation in Jesus Christ. 

The Bible is a book about God. It tells us who He is and who we are. Second Timothy 3:16–17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Spending time in God's Word is vital to our spiritual growth. 

Being God-breathed, the Bible is our standard for truth. Second Timothy 2:15 talks about the importance of rightly understanding and employing the truth of God's Word: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." Ephesians 6:17 describes God's Word as the "sword of the Spirit." We cannot neglect this vital piece of armor as we go about our daily lives.  

Hebrews 4:12 declares, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." God's Word has a way of exposing our hearts. It helps to clear the cloud of sin and misunderstanding so that we can see clearly. Hebrews 4:13 reminds, "And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Not reading the Bible makes us more likely to be deceived by the lies of Satan, the lies of this world, and the deceitfulness of our own hearts (John 8:44; James 1:14–15; 22–25; Jeremiah 17:9–10). 

Reading God's Word increases our hunger for God. Many have referred to the Bible as God's love letter to us. Why would we not want to read that? And when we do read it, we grow in our understanding of Him and His character. We grow in our love for Him and mature in our faith.  

Others have referred to the Bible as God's instruction manual for our lives. It shows us how we are to live. The Bible helps us understand what sin is and what righteousness is. Before sin is acted upon, it begins in the heart, which is the first place God looks (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 8:27). If we desire to live free from sin and instead cling to righteousness, it is essential that we read and study the Bible. Psalm 119:9–11 says: 
"How can a young man keep his way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
With my whole heart I seek you; 
let me not wander from your commandments! 
I have stored up your word in my heart, 
that I might not sin against you." 

This passage reveals that we can keep our way pure by following the guidelines that are laid out in God's Word. Having God's Word in our heart will help keep us from sinning. It not only helps us see what not to do, but the things that we should be doing instead. God's ways lead to life (John 10:10), while sin leads only to death (Romans 6:23). Not reading the Bible means not availing ourselves of the knowledge of the way of life. The Word of God helps to sanctify us as we walk out our faith (John 17:17). 

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an ode to delighting in God's Word. Verse 105 says: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." The Bible brings wisdom and shows us the way to walk. When we know God's Word, it helps us to recognize God's voice in our own prayer lives. His voice in prayer will never contradict His Word, the Bible.  

The Holy Spirit helps us understand God's Word (John 16:13–14; 1 Corinthians 2:14). The Bible is not something we read and apply on our own. It is not a self-help book or a do-it-yourself guide to salvation and life. Rather, it is the living Word of God. Our righteousness comes only through Christ, not our works or our knowledge (Ephesians 2:1–10). But the Bible is a primary tool that God uses in the life of a believer as He transforms them to be more like Christ (Philippians 1:6; 2:12–13; Romans 8:28ndash;30). 

We should desire to read the Bible. Even in seasons of spiritual dryness when it feels like God is far away, when we have planted His Word in our hearts, He can bring verses of hope and encouragement to mind at the moments we need them the most (Romans 15:4). As believers, we are also instructed to know God's Word, so that we may rightly interpret its meanings (2 Timothy 2:15) and always be prepared to share the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). We should make it a habit to get into God's Word. The more we do that the more we will desire it—for it will incline our hearts to desire Him and delight in His words to us.  



11/13/20



What does it mean to trust in Jesus?

There are two basic levels to trusting Jesus. The first one is to trust in Jesus as the Son of God and the only way to salvation. Once you have put your faith in Jesus as Lord, the next level of trusting Jesus is to have total confidence in Him—in both His ways and His character. 

Jesus came to bring salvation to the world. We have access to forgiveness and right standing with God though the sacrifice of Jesus. He died and was raised back to life so that we may receive the free git of eternal life (John 3:16–18; 11:25). Once we have trusted in Jesus for salvation, the rest of our lives becomes a practice of trusting Him more and more each day and in every situation. How does this trust grow? Our trust in Jesus grows through our understanding of who He is through reading the Bible and our experiences walking with Him (2 Corinthians 1:10; Romans 8:28–30). 

Trust can grow through answered prayers or seeing God bless us above and beyond what we could have asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20—21). These moments are exciting ways to build trust, and we should celebrate them when they happen. 

Alternatively, and perhaps more commonly, trust in Jesus grows during seasons of trials. Even in the direst of circumstances we learn to trust that God is sovereign and has good in store. When we are tempted to fear or despair, we can say with the psalmist: "[The righteous] is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD" (Psalm 112:7). In difficulties, we learn to trust that He can bear our burdens: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28–30). When we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9–10; see also Psalm 28:7). 

When our trust is in Jesus, our souls find rest in Him: "The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you" (Psalm 9:9–10; see also Philippians 4:6–7). Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus fills us with peace. The same Jesus that calmed the raging storm by saying, "Peace! Be still" (Mark 4:39) is the one who enables us to be at rest and at peace, even in the midst of life's storms: "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you" (Isaiah 26:3; see also Psalm 37:5). 

Tests and trials are also a time when fear tries to creep in, and sometimes making the decision to trust God is a battle in and of itself. In Jesus' own words, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me" (John 14:1). When our faith is tested, it provides an opportunity for us to develop our perseverance and be compelled to faithful obedience and confidence in Jesus (John 14:15). James says: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2–4). The tests and trials that we endure are used by God to refine and purify us and build our faith and trust in Him (1 Peter 1:6–8). 

As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, we will notice our faith and trust in Him growing stronger. In situations where we would have become overwhelmed at one point, we notice that they are not such a hurdle anymore. We build up strength through trusting in Jesus' strength: "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7–8). When we trust in Jesus, He helps us to trade in our anxiety for His peace and to bear godly fruit in all circumstances. 





11/11/20


What people are included in the 144,000?


The 144,000 mentioned in the Bible are found in Revelation 7:2-4, which reads, "Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, 'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.' And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel." Who are these 144,000?


The following verses (Revelation 7:5-8) clearly note that these individuals include 12,000 people from each of the tribes of Israel. They are also mentioned as being servants of God, which indicates their role as believers. They are Jews who have received salvation in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. Further, they are sealed on their foreheads. Some see this as a visible sign, though it could alternatively be a symbolic seal referring to salvation. This would fit the idea of the "helmet of salvation" the apostle Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:17.


The time period during which these Jewish Christians will serve is specified. The angels are told, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until…" The harm of the earth, sea, and trees takes place during the last three and a half years of the seven-year tribulation period. Therefore, the ministry of the 144,000 will begin during the first half of the tribulation period, though it may continue throughout the entire tribulation period. In fact, many interpreters see the 144,000 serving as part of the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."


The prediction of these 144,000 Jews who serve during the tribulation argues strongly for the enduring nature of the Jewish people and of Israel into the future. During the tribulation period, Israel will be under threat, yet many Jews will continue to live during this time, with large numbers turning to Jesus as the Messiah.


A word should be mentioned regarding the use of this passage by Jehovah's Witnesses. This religious movement believes the 144,000 are a select group of believers in Jehovah who will enjoy a special place with Him in the afterlife. In this view, the individuals are composed of devout Jehovah's Witnesses who have served more faithfully than all others. This is inaccurate for a variety of reasons, including that the Bible clearly states the 144,000 are Jewish, will exist in the future, are believers in the resurrected Jesus as Messiah, and serve on earth rather than in the afterlife.


Revelation also makes clear these 144,000 Jewish servants of God are not the only people who will turn to the Lord during the tribulation period. Revelation 7 speaks of a vast number of individuals from every cultural background who worship the Lord in heaven.


The 144,000 Jews will play an important role during the tribulation period. Though often misunderstood by those who read Revelation, their work will serve as a vital part of God's redemptive plan to share the Gospel to the ends of the earth in the last days.



¿Qué personas están incluidas en los 144.000?

Los 144.000 mencionados en la Biblia se encuentran en Apocalipsis 7: 2-4, que dice: "Vi también a otro ángel que venía del oriente con el sello del Dios vivo. Gritó con voz potente a los cuatro ángeles a quienes se les había permitido hacer daño a la tierra y al mar: «¡No hagan daño ni a la tierra, ni al mar ni a los árboles, hasta que hayamos puesto un sello en la frente de los siervos de nuestro Dios!» Y oí el número de los que fueron sellados: ciento cuarenta y cuatro mil de todas las tribus de Israel" ¿Quiénes son estos 144.000? 


Los siguientes versículos (Apocalipsis 7: 5-8) claramente señalan que estas personas incluyen 12.000 de cada una de las tribus de Israel. También se les menciona como servidores de Dios, lo que indica su papel como creyentes. Por tanto son judíos que han recibido la salvación a través del Mesías judío, Jesucristo. Además, están sellados en sus frentes. Algunos ven esto como una señal visible, aunque alternativamente podría ser un sello simbólico que se refiere a la salvación. Esto encajaría con la idea del "casco de la salvación" que el apóstol Pablo menciona en Efesios 6:17. 


El período de tiempo durante el cual estos judíos cristianos servirán se menciona específicamente. A los ángeles se les dice: " ¡No hagan daño ni a la tierra, ni al mar ni a los árboles, hasta..." El daño de la tierra, el mar y los árboles tiene lugar durante los últimos tres años y medio del período de tribulación de siete años. Por lo tanto, el ministerio de los 144.000 comenzará durante la primera mitad del período de la tribulación, aunque podría continuar durante todo el período de la tribulación. De hecho, muchos intérpretes ven que los 144.000 sirven como parte del cumplimiento de Mateo 24:14: " Y este evangelio del reino se predicará en todo el mundo como testimonio a todas las naciones, y entonces vendrá el fin." 


La predicción de estos 144.000 judíos que sirven durante la tribulación argumenta categóricamente la naturaleza perdurable del pueblo judío y de Israel en el futuro. Durante el período de la tribulación, Israel estará bajo amenaza, sin embargo, muchos judíos continuarán viviendo durante este tiempo, con grandes cantidades rindiendo sus vidas a Jesús como el Mesías. 


Nos vemos en la obligación de mencionar unas palabras con respecto al uso de este pasaje por parte de los Testigos de Jehová. Este movimiento religioso cree que los 144.000 son un grupo selecto de creyentes en Jehová que disfrutarán de un lugar especial con Él en la otra vida. Según esta visión, los individuos están compuestos por devotos Testigos de Jehová que han servido más fielmente que todos los demás. Esto es incorrecto por una variedad de razones, incluyendo que la Biblia claramente establece que los 144.000 son judíos, existirán en el futuro, son creyentes en el Jesús resucitado como Mesías, y sirven en la tierra en vez de en la otra vida. 


EL libro de Apocalipsis también deja en claro que estos 144.000 siervos judíos de Dios no son las únicas personas que recurrirán al Señor durante el período de la tribulación. Apocalipsis 7 habla de una gran cantidad de individuos de todo trasfondo cultural que adoran al Señor en el cielo. 


Los 144.000 judíos jugarán un papel importante durante el período de la tribulación. Aunque a menudo son malentendidos por aquellos que leen Apocalipsis, su trabajo servirá como una parte vital del plan redentor de Dios para compartir el Evangelio hasta los confines de la tierra en los últimos días. 





11/09/20



Question: "Is there power in positive confession?"


Answer: Positive confession is the practice of saying aloud what you want to happen with the expectation that God will make it a reality. It's popular among prosperity gospel adherents who claim that words have spiritual power and that, if we speak aloud the right words with the right faith, we can gain riches and health, bind Satan, and accomplish anything we want. To confess positively is to speak words that we believe or want to believe, thus making them reality. This is opposed to negative confession, which is to acknowledge hardships, poverty, and illness and thus (supposedly) accept them and refuse the ease, wealth, and health God has planned for us.


There are several things wrong with this philosophy. The most dangerous is the belief that words have a kind of spiritual, magical power that we can use to get what we want. The practice borrows not from biblical truths, but from a new age concept called the "law of attraction." It teaches that "like attracts like"—a positive statement or thought will draw a positive reaction. Everything is imbued with God's presence and power—not “God” as the omnipresent Creator, but “god” in a Hindu/pantheistic way. The net result is the idea that our words hold the power to force God to give us what we want—a heretical belief. Additionally, the results attributed to positive confession are powered by the faith of the individual. This leads to the old belief that illness and poverty are a type of punishment for sin (in this case, lack of faith). John 9:1-3 and the entire book of Job refute this soundly.


The second problem is that the prosperity gospel misinterprets the promises of God. “Confession” is agreeing with what God has said; "positive confession" is demanding human desires. People who push positive confession say that the practice is merely restating God's promises as given in the Bible. But they don't differentiate between universal promises God made to all His followers (e.g., Philippians 4:19) and personal promises made to individuals at a certain time for a particular purpose (e.g., Jeremiah 29:11). They also misinterpret the promises God does give us, refusing to accept that God's plan for our lives may not match up with our own (Isaiah 55:9). A carefree, perfect life is the antithesis of what Jesus said the Christian life would look like—and the lives that His followers lived. Jesus didn't promise prosperity; He promised hardship (Matthew 8:20). He didn't promise that our every want would be fulfilled; He promised we'd have what we need (Philippians 4:19). He didn't promise peace in a family; He promised that families would have problems as some chose to follow Him and some didn't (Matthew 10:34-36). And He didn't promise health; He promised to fulfill His plan for us and grace in the trials (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).


Another issue with positive confession is that, although the "confessions" are understood to refer to things in the future, many of the statements are simply lies. Certainly, verbally affirming one's faith in God and deliverance by the sacrifice of Jesus is good. But proclaiming, "I always obey God," or, "I am wealthy," is deceptive and possibly against the very will of the God we are to cling to. Especially disturbing are the "confessions" about other people. God has given each of us the freedom to serve Him or rebel against Him in our individual ways; claiming otherwise is foolish.


Finally, the Bible is very clear that "negative confession" does not negate God’s blessings. The Psalms are filled with cries to God for deliverance, and Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7 exhort us follow that example. Even Jesus went before the Heavenly Father with a clear eye on the situation and a request for aid (Matthew 26:39). The God of the Bible is not a cosmic Santa Claus (James 4:1-3). He is a loving Father who wants to be involved in His children's lives—the good and the bad. It is when we humble ourselves and ask for help that He gives us either release from the circumstances or strength to get through them.


Does positive confession have any value? In a way. Those who are confident they can solve a problem are generally more relaxed and creative. An optimistic mood has been shown to improve health. And happy people often have enough emotional distance between themselves and others to pick up on subtle clues which could lead to successful personal and business transactions. In addition, consistently voicing one's goals keeps those goals on the forefront; those who constantly think about getting more money will act accordingly.


The dangers of positive confession far outweigh the benefits. All of the advantages we’ve listed are psychological and somewhat physiological—not spiritual. The only spiritual benefit to be had is the fact that people who expect God to move are more likely to see God's hand in situations. But words are not magic. Our role with our Heavenly Father is not to demand, but to ask for help and to trust. And to realize that our blessings are not dependent on the strength of our faith, but on His plan and His power.




Pregunta: "¿Hay poder en la confesión positiva?"

Respuesta: 
La confesión positiva es la práctica de decir en voz alta lo que desea que pase con la esperanza de que Dios lo haga realidad. Es popular entre los seguidores del evangelio de la prosperidad, quienes afirman que las palabras tienen poder espiritual y que, si decimos en voz alta las palabras correctas con la fe correcta, podemos obtener riquezas y salud, atar a Satanás, y lograr cualquier cosa que queramos. Confesar positivamente es decir palabras que creemos o queremos creer, haciéndolas realidad. Esto se opone a la confesión negativa, que consiste en reconocer dificultades, pobreza y enfermedad y, por lo tanto, (supuestamente) aceptarlas y rechazar la comodidad, riqueza y salud que Dios ha planeado para nosotros.


Hay varias cosas equivocadas con esta filosofía. Lo más peligroso es la creencia de que las palabras tienen una especie de poder mágico espiritual, que podemos utilizar para conseguir lo que queremos. La práctica no se obtiene de verdades bíblicas, sino de un concepto de la nueva era llamado la "ley de la atracción". Enseña que "los polos iguales se atraen", una declaración o pensamiento positivo atraerá una reacción positiva. Todo está impregnado de la presencia y el poder de Dios, no de "Dios" como el creador omnipresente, sino de un "dios" en una forma hinduista/panteísta. El resultado claro es la idea de que nuestras palabras tienen el poder para obligar a Dios que nos dé lo que queremos (una creencia herética). Adicionalmente, los resultados que se atribuyen a la confesión positiva son empoderados por la fe de la persona. Esto conduce a la antigua creencia de que la enfermedad y la pobreza son un tipo de castigo por el pecado (en este caso, la falta de fe). Juan 9:1-3 y todo el libro de Job refutan esto.


El segundo problema es que el evangelio de la prosperidad malinterpreta las promesas de Dios. "Confesión" es estar de acuerdo con lo que Dios ha dicho; "la confesión positiva" está exigiendo deseos humanos. Las personas que impulsan la confesión positiva, dicen que la práctica es simplemente reafirmar las promesas de Dios como fueron dadas en la biblia. Sin embargo, ellos no diferencian entre las promesas universales que Dios hizo a todos Sus seguidores (por ejemplo, Filipenses 4:19) y las promesas personales hechas a los individuos en un momento determinado para un propósito en particular (por ejemplo, Jeremías 29:11). Ellos también tergiversan las promesas que Dios nos da, negándose a aceptar que el plan que Dios tiene para nuestras vidas, no puede coincidir con el nuestro (Isaías 55:9). Una vida libre de preocupaciones y perfecta, es la antítesis de lo que Jesús dijo que la vida cristiana sería y las vidas que Sus seguidores vivieron. Jesús no prometió prosperidad; Él prometió dificultades (Mateo 8:20). Él no prometió que todas nuestros anhelos serían cumplidos; Él prometió que tendríamos lo que necesitáramos (Filipenses 4:19). Él no promete paz en una familia; prometió que las familias tendrían problemas sabiendo que algunos decidirían seguirlo y otros no (Mateo 10:34-36). Y Él no prometió salud; prometió llevar a cabo Su plan para nosotros y la gracia en las dificultades (2 Corintios 12:7-10).


Otro problema con la confesión positiva es que, a pesar de que se entiende que las "confesiones" se refieren a las cosas en el futuro, muchas de las afirmaciones son simplemente mentiras. Sin duda, el afirmar verbalmente la fe en Dios por parte de alguna persona y la liberación por medio del sacrificio de Jesús, es bueno, el proclamar: "Yo siempre obedezco a Dios", o "Yo soy próspero", es algo engañoso y muy posiblemente está en contra de la voluntad de Dios a la cual estamos llamados a aferrarnos. Las "confesiones" acerca de otras personas son particularmente preocupantes. Dios nos ha dado a cada uno de nosotros la libertad para servirle o para rebelarnos contra Él de manera individual; afirmar lo contrario es una necedad.


Finalmente, la biblia es muy clara en que "la confesión negativa" no niega las bendiciones de Dios. Los Salmos están llenos de clamores a Dios para obtener liberación, y en el Salmo 55:22 y 1 Pedro 5:7 se nos exhorta a seguir ese ejemplo. Incluso Jesús fue ante el Padre celestial con claridad sobre la situación y solicitando una ayuda (Mateo 26:39). El Dios de la biblia no es un Santa Claus cósmico (Santiago 4:1-3). Él es un Padre amoroso que quiere estar involucrado en las vidas de Sus hijos, en lo bueno y en lo malo. Solo cuando nos humillamos a nosotros mismos y le pedimos ayuda, es que Él nos liberará de las circunstancias o nos dará la fortaleza para atravesarlas.


¿Tienen algún valor la confesión positiva? En cierto modo, aquellos que confían en que pueden resolver un problema, generalmente están más relajados y son más creativos. Se ha demostrado que un estado de ánimo optimista mejora la salud. Y las personas felices suelen tener suficiente distancia emocional entre ellos mismos y los demás para darse cuenta de pistas sutiles que podrían conducir al éxito de las operaciones comerciales y personales. Además, cuando alguien expresa constantemente los objetivos, estos se mantienen a la vanguardia; aquellos que constantemente piensan en conseguir más dinero, actuarán como corresponde.


Los peligros de la confesión positiva superan ampliamente los beneficios. Todas las ventajas que hemos enumerado son psicológicas y de alguna manera fisiológicas, no espirituales. El único beneficio espiritual que se tiene, es el hecho de que las personas que esperan que Dios se mueva, son más propensas a ver la mano de Dios en las situaciones. Pero las palabras no son magia. Nuestra función con nuestro Padre Celestial no es exigirle, sino pedirle ayuda, confiar y darnos cuenta de que nuestras bendiciones no dependen de la fortaleza de nuestra fe, sino de Su plan y Su poder.



11/08/20


Is it true that Jesus is the only way to heaven?


It is a common cultural belief that there are many ways to get to heaven. Is this true? 


What would make more sense, for God to give many ways to come to Him or to give one clear way for every person to believe? Jesus taught, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). According to Jesus, there is only one way to know God personally—through Him.


The earliest followers of Jesus affirmed the teaching of Jesus on this issue: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). The apostle Paul also noted, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). This gospel was the good news of the risen Jesus. Paul taught that those who believed in Jesus would receive salvation, or be saved from hell and receive eternal life with God in heaven.


As a result, not everyone will automatically go to heaven when they die. Further, there are no works you can do to earn your way to heaven. The only path provided by Jesus is faith in Him. As He taught in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."


Ephesians 2:8-9 explain that our human efforts are not good enough for us to reach heaven on our own: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." If we could earn heaven on our own, we would brag and boast of our accomplishments. Instead, God made salvation a free gift. Those who receive His free gift also will spend eternity with Him.


While some may view this approach as exclusive, Jesus gave Himself as the way of reaching heaven because of His love. Romans 5:8 teaches, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." This great love brought Jesus from heaven to earth to live, die, and return to life to provide the opportunity for us to have eternal life by believing in Him.


To accept Jesus as your Savior and receive eternal life, you can respond with a prayer similar to the below. Remember that salvation is not about words you say or works you do. It's about Jesus' work and believing in Him. 


"Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. Jesus Christ is the only one who can save me. So right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son who died for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life."




¿Es verdad que Jesús es el único camino al paraíso?

Una costumbre cultural muy común es creer que existen varias maneras de llegar al paraíso. ¿Es cierto? 


¿Qué tendría mas sentido, que Dios diera varias maneras de venir a Él o dar una manera clara para que cada uno crea? Jesús enseño, “Yo soy el camino, la verdad y la vida. Nadie llega al Padre sino por mí” (Juan 14:6). Según Jesús, solo hay una manera para conocer a Dios en un modo personal, por medio de Él. 


Los primeros seguidores de Jesús confirmaron esta enseñanza: “En ningún otro hay salvación, porque no hay bajo el cielo otro nombre dado a los hombres mediante el cual podamos ser salvos” (Hechos 4:12). El apóstol Pablo también dijo, “Verdaderamente, no me avergüenzo del evangelio, pues es poder de Dios para la salvación de todos los que creen” (Romanos 1:16). Este evangelio fue la buena noticia de la resucitación de Jesús. Pablo enseñó que aquellos que creyeron en Jesús recibirían salvación, o ser salvados del infierno y recibir la vida eterna con Dios en el paraíso. 


Como resultado, no todos se irán directo al Paraíso cuando se mueran. Y no existe obra que puedas hacer para ganarte el Cielo. El único camino que nos da Jesús es la fe en Él. Como enseñó en Juan 3:16, “Porque tanto amó Dios al mundo, que dio a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo el que cree en él no se pierda, sino que tenga vida eterna.”


Efesios 2:8-9 explica que nuestros esfuerzos humanos no bastan para llegar al Paraíso por nuestra propia cuenta: “Porque por gracia han sido salvados mediante la fe; esto no procede de ustedes, sino que es el regalo de Dios, no por obras, para que nadie se jacte.” Se pudiéramos ganarnos el Cielo, podríamos jactarnos y presumir por nuestro logro. En lugar de esto, Dios hizo que la salvación fuese un regalo gratuito. Todo quien reciba el regalo gratuito también pasará la eternidad con Él. 


Mientras algunos podrían verlo como exclusivo, Jesús, por su amor se dio a sí mismo como el camino para alcanzar el Cielo. Romanos 5:8 enseña, “Pero Dios demuestra su amor por nosotros en esto: en que cuando todavía éramos pecadores, Cristo murió por nosotros.” Este gran amor trajo a Jesús desde el Cielo a la tierra para vivir, morir y regresar a la vida para darnos la oportunidad de tener vida eterna al creer en Él. 


Para recibir a Jesús como tu Salvador y recibir la vida eterna, puedes responder con una oración parecida a esta debajo. Recuerda que la salvación no se trata de palabras que dices, ni obras que haces. Sino de lo que Jesus hizo y por creer en él. 


“Querido Dios, se que soy un pecador y jamás podre llegar al cielo por mis propias obras. Ahora mismo pongo mi fe en Jesucristo como Hijo de Dios que vivió una vida sin pecado, murió en mi lugar, y resucitó de la muerte para darme la vida eterna. Por favor perdona mis pecados y ayúdame a vivir para ti. Gracias por aceptarme y darme la vida eterna.”





11/07/20



Who are the tribulation saints?


Tribulation saints are the people who will come to faith in Jesus Christ during the tribulation period. According to the premillennial view of the end times, after the rapture will be a seven-year tribulation during which many judgments will come upon the earth. The tribulation will end with the second coming of Jesus to begin the 1,000-year millennial kingdom.


During this seven-year period of tribulation, 144,000 Jewish evangelists will share the good news of Jesus around the world (Revelation 7:1-7). Revelation 7:9 then says, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb." These verses indicate that many additional people will turn to faith in Christ during this time.


Many of the tribulation saints will be martyred: "Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4). The martyrs of the tribulation will be resurrected at the commencement of the millennium.


Revelation also speaks of two witnesses during the tribulation who preach Christ, work miracles, and reach many with His message. These two witnesses will also be martyred, but their resurrection takes place three and a half days later, and they are taken to heaven (Revelation 11:3-12). It is reasonable to assume that these powerful witnesses will succeed in turning some people to Christ, increasing the number of tribulation saints.


Both Jews and non-Jews will come to faith in Christ during the last days. While many who read the biblical prophecies wonder why God would send such terrible judgments, it is clear that one of His purposes will be to draw more people to Himself during this time.


No one needs to wait until the judgments of the tribulation to turn to Christ. If you are unclear about your eternal future, put your faith in Christ today and make certain you will spend eternity with God (Acts 16:31). The best time to prepare for the future is not in the future; it is now.



¿Quiénes son los santos de la tribulación?

Los santos de la tribulación son las personas que llegarán a la fe en Jesucristo durante el período de la tribulación. De acuerdo con la perspectiva premilenial del tiempo del fin, después del rapto habrá una tribulación de siete años durante la cual muchos juicios vendrán sobre la tierra. La tribulación terminará con la segunda venida de Jesús para comenzar el reino milenial de 1.000 años. 


Durante este período de siete años de tribulación, 144.000 evangelistas judíos compartirán las buenas nuevas de Jesús en todo el mundo (Apocalipsis 7: 1-7). Apocalipsis 7: 9 dice: " Después de esto miré, y apareció una multitud tomada de todas las naciones, tribus, pueblos y lenguas; era tan grande que nadie podía contarla. Estaban de pie delante del trono y del Cordero…". Estos versículos indican que mucha gente adicional recurrirá a la fe en Cristo durante este tiempo. 


Muchos de los santos de la tribulación serán martirizados: " Entonces vi tronos donde se sentaron los que recibieron autoridad para juzgar. Vi también las almas de los que habían sido decapitados por causa del testimonio de Jesús y por la palabra de Dios. No habían adorado a la bestia ni a su imagen, ni se habían dejado poner su marca en la frente ni en la mano. Volvieron a vivir y reinaron con Cristo mil años." (Apocalipsis 20: 4). Los mártires de la tribulación resucitarán al comienzo del milenio. 


Apocalipsis también habla de dos testigos durante la tribulación que predican a Cristo, hacen milagros y llegan a muchos con su mensaje. Estos dos testigos también serán martirizados, pero su resurrección se lleva a cabo tres días y medio después, y son llevados al cielo (Apocalipsis 11: 3-12). Es razonable suponer que estos poderosos testigos lograrán convertir a algunas personas a Cristo, aumentando el número de santos de la tribulación. 


Tanto judíos como no judíos llegarán a la fe en Cristo durante los últimos días. Mientras que muchos que leen las profecías bíblicas se preguntan por qué Dios enviaría juicios tan terribles, es claro que uno de Sus propósitos será atraer a más personas hacia Él durante este tiempo. 


Nadie necesita esperar hasta los juicios de la tribulación para volverse a Cristo. Si no está seguro acerca de su futuro eterno, ponga su fe en Cristo hoy y asegúrese de pasar la eternidad con Dios (Hechos 16:31). El mejor momento para prepararse para el futuro no es en el futuro; es ahora mismo. 




11/05/20


“What is the Tribulation? How do we know the Tribulation will last seven years?”


The tribulation is a future seven-year period of time when God will finish His discipline of Israel and finalize His judgment of the unbelieving world. The church, made up of all who have trusted in the person and work of the Lord Jesus to save them from being punished for sin, will not be present during the tribulation. The church will be removed from the earth in an event known as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53). The church is saved from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Throughout Scripture, the tribulation is referred to by other names such as the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6-9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-31; 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2); trouble or tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30; Zephaniah 1:1); the great tribulation, which refers to the more intense second half of the seven-year period (Matthew 24:21); time or day of trouble (Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 1:15); time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).


An understanding of Daniel 9:24-27 is necessary in order to understand the purpose and time of the tribulation. This passage speaks of 70 weeks that have been declared against "your people." Daniel's people are the Jews, the nation of Israel, and Daniel 9:24 speaks of a period of time that God has given "to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy." God declares that "seventy sevens" will fulfill all these things. This is 70 sevens of years, or 490 years. (Some translations refer to 70 weeks of years.) This is confirmed by another part of this passage in Daniel. In verses 25 and 26, Daniel is told that the Messiah will be cut off after "seven sevens and sixty-two sevens" (69 total), beginning with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. In other words, 69 sevens of years (483 years) after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, the Messiah will be cut off. Biblical historians confirm that 483 years passed from the time of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the time when Jesus was crucified. Most Christian scholars, regardless of their view of eschatology (future things/events), have the above understanding of Daniel's 70 sevens.


With 483 years having passed from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the cutting off of the Messiah, this leaves one seven-year period to be fulfilled in terms of Daniel 9:24: "to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy." This final seven-year period is known as the tribulation period"it is a time when God finishes judging Israel for its sin.


Daniel 9:27 gives a few highlights of the seven-year tribulation period: "He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." The person of whom this verse speaks is the person Jesus calls the "abomination that causes desolation" (Matthew 24:15) and is called "the beast" in Revelation 13. Daniel 9:27 says that the beast will make a covenant for seven years, but in the middle of this week (3 1/2 years into the tribulation), he will break the covenant, putting a stop to sacrifice. Revelation 13 explains that the beast will place an image of himself in the temple and require the world to worship him. Revelation 13:5 says that this will go on for 42 months, which is 3 1/2 years. Since Daniel 9:27 says that this will happen in the middle of the week, and Revelation 13:5 says that the beast will do this for a period of 42 months, it is easy to see that the total length of time is 84 months or seven years. Also see Daniel 7:25, where the "time, times, and half a time" (time=1 year; times=2 years; half a time=1/2 year; total of 3 1/2 years) also refers to "great tribulation," the last half of the seven-year tribulation period when the beast will be in power.


For further references about the tribulation, see Revelation 11:2-3, which speaks of 1260 days and 42 months, and Daniel 12:11-12, which speaks of 1290 days and 1335 days. These days have a reference to the midpoint of the tribulation. The additional days in Daniel 12 may include the time at the end for the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and time for the setting up of Christ's millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

In summary, the Tribulation is the 7-year time period in the end times in which humanity's decadence and depravity will reach its fullness, with God judging accordingly.





"¿Qué es la Tribulación? ¿Cómo sabemos que la Tribulación durará siete años?"

La tribulación es un período de tiempo futuro de 7 años, cuando Dios terminará con Su disciplina a Israel y ejecutará Su juicio sobre el mundo incrédulo. La iglesia, formada por todos los que han confiado en la Persona y la obra del Señor Jesús para salvarse de ser castigados por el pecado, no estarán presentes durante la tribulación. La iglesia será sacada de la tierra en un evento conocido como el arrebatamiento (1 Tesalonicenses 4:13-18; 1 Corintios 15:51-53). La iglesia es salvada de la ira venidera (1 Tesalonicenses 5:9). A través de la Escritura, se utilizan otros nombres con referencia a la tribulación, tales como: 


1) El día de Jehová (Isaías 2:12; 13:6,9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-31; 3:14; 1 Tesalonicenses 5:2) 

2) Angustia o tribulación (Deuteronomio 4:30; Sofonías 1:15) 

3) La gran tribulación, que se refiere a la más intensa segunda mitad del período de los 7 años (Mateo 24:21) 

4) Tiempo o día de angustia (Daniel 12:1; Sofonías 1:15) 

5) Tiempo de angustia para Jacob (Jeremías 30:7) 


Es necesaria la comprensión de Daniel 9:24-27 para entender el propósito y tiempo de la tribulación. Este pasaje en Daniel habla de 70 semanas que están determinadas sobre “tu pueblo”. El “pueblo” en este texto son los judíos, la nación de Israel. Daniel 9:24 habla de un período de tiempo que Dios ha determinado para: “terminar la prevaricación, y poner fin al pecado, y expiar la iniquidad, para traer la justicia perdurable y sellar la visión y la profecía, y ungir al Santo de los santos”. Dios declara que “70 semanas” darán cumplimiento a estos hechos. Es importante entender que cuando se habla de “70 semanas” no se está hablando de una semana como la conocemos (7 días). Este período del cual Dios habla, es realmente 70 septenios de años, o sea 490 años. Esto está confirmado por otra porción de este pasaje de Daniel. En los versos 25 y 26, se le dice a Daniel que “se quitará la vida al Mesías” en “7 semanas y 62 semanas” (69 semanas en total) comenzando con el decreto de la reconstrucción de Jerusalén. En otras palabras, el Mesías será quitado 69 septenios de años (483 años) después del decreto de la reconstrucción de Jerusalén. Los historiadores bíblicos confirman que transcurrieron 483 años desde el tiempo en que fue decretada la reconstrucción de Jerusalén, al tiempo que Jesús fue crucificado. La mayoría de los eruditos cristianos, a pesar de sus puntos de vista escatológicos (eventos / cosas futuras), comparten esta opinión sobre las 70 semanas de Daniel. 


Con los 483 años transcurridos desde el decreto para la reconstrucción de Jerusalén a la muerte del Mesías, esto nos deja 1 septenio (7 años) para el cumplimiento de lo descrito en Daniel 9:24 “... para terminar la prevaricación, y poner fin al pecado, y expiar la iniquidad, para traer la justicia perdurable y sellar la visión y la profecía, y ungir al Santo de los santos”. Este período final de los 7 años es conocido como el período de la tribulación, que es el tiempo cuando Dios terminará de juzgar a Israel por su pecado. 


Daniel 9:27 da un poco de luz sobre el período de los 7 años de tribulación. Daniel 9:27 dice, “Y por otra semana confirmará el pacto con muchos; a la mitad de la semana hará cesar el sacrificio y la ofrenda. Después con la muchedumbre de las abominaciones vendrá el desolador, hasta que venga la consumación, y lo que está determinado se derrame sobre el desolador”. La persona de quien se habla en este versículo, es la misma persona a quien Jesús llama “la abominación desoladora” (Mateo 24:15) y en Apocalipsis 13 es llamada “la bestia”. Daniel 9:27 dice que la bestia hará un pacto por una semana (7 años), pero que a la mitad de la semana (3 ½ años dentro de la tribulación), él romperá el pacto, poniendo fin al sacrificio. Apocalipsis 13 explica que la bestia colocará una imagen de él mismo en el templo y demandará que el mundo la adore. Apocalipsis 13:5 dice que esto sucederá por 42 meses, que son 3 ½ años. Puesto que Daniel 9:27 dice que esto sucederá a la mitad de la semana, y Apocalipsis 13:5 dice que la bestia hará esto por un período de 42 meses, es fácil ver que la duración total es de 84 meses o sea 7 años. Ver también Daniel 7:25 donde el “tiempo, y tiempos, y medio tiempo” (tiempo = 1 año; tiempos = 2 años; medio tiempo = ½ año; hacen un total de 3 años ½) también se refiere a la “gran tribulación”, la última mitad de los 7 años del período de la tribulación cuando la “abominación desoladora” (la bestia) estará en el poder. 


Para futuras referencias acerca de la tribulación, ver Apocalipsis 11:2-3 donde se habla de 1,260 días y 42 meses, y Daniel 12:11-12 donde se habla de 1290 días y 1,335 días, todo lo cual hace referencia al punto intermedio de la tribulación. Los días adicionales en Daniel 12 pueden incluir el lapso final para el juicio de las naciones (Mateo 25:31-46) y el tiempo para que Cristo establezca Su Reino Milenial (Apocalipsis 20:4-6). 



11/04/20


What must I do to become a child of God?

The Bible teaches in John 1:12, "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." To become a child of God, Scripture clearly states you must receive Jesus and believe in His name.

How can we receive Jesus? By faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 teach, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Receiving Jesus is not something we achieve; it is something we accept.

Romans 10:9 also helps provide information to explain how to believe in Jesus and become a child of God: "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Believing in Jesus includes accepting Him as Lord and believing Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

Other passages in Scripture make it clear that all who believe in Jesus by faith are children of God. Philippians 2:15 says we are to live as "children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." First John 3:1 answers why God has called us His children: "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." It is His love that has given us the opportunity to live as His children.

Many people struggle with the idea of God as our loving Father and living as His children because their own childhood experience is not or was not positive. Yet unlike a human parent who is imperfect and can let us down or hurt us, our heavenly Father is perfect, loving, and good. He has provided the opportunity for eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and new life here on earth if we will only believe in Him and become His child.

Have you become a child of God? If you have not or are uncertain, you can decide right now to place your faith in Jesus Christ. There is no special prayer you must pray to do so. Remember, becoming a child of God is about accepting God's gift, not earning salvation through works. However, the following prayer is one you can use to tell God that you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior:

"Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. I want to become part of your family, and you have provided a way for me to become your child. Right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son who died for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life."




11/03/20

Is it true that Jesus is the only way to heaven?

It is a common cultural belief that there are many ways to get to heaven. Is this true? 

What would make more sense, for God to give many ways to come to Him or to give one clear way for every person to believe? Jesus taught, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). According to Jesus, there is only one way to know God personally—through Him.

The earliest followers of Jesus affirmed the teaching of Jesus on this issue: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). The apostle Paul also noted, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). This gospel was the good news of the risen Jesus. Paul taught that those who believed in Jesus would receive salvation, or be saved from hell and receive eternal life with God in heaven.

As a result, not everyone will automatically go to heaven when they die. Further, there are no works you can do to earn your way to heaven. The only path provided by Jesus is faith in Him. As He taught in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

Ephesians 2:8-9 explain that our human efforts are not good enough for us to reach heaven on our own: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." If we could earn heaven on our own, we would brag and boast of our accomplishments. Instead, God made salvation a free gift. Those who receive His free gift also will spend eternity with Him.

While some may view this approach as exclusive, Jesus gave Himself as the way of reaching heaven because of His love. Romans 5:8 teaches, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." This great love brought Jesus from heaven to earth to live, die, and return to life to provide the opportunity for us to have eternal life by believing in Him.

To accept Jesus as your Savior and receive eternal life, you can respond with a prayer similar to the below. Remember that salvation is not about words you say or works you do. It's about Jesus' work and believing in Him. 

"Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. Jesus Christ is the only one who can save me. So right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son who died for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life."



¿Es verdad que Jesús es el único camino al paraíso?

Una costumbre cultural muy común es creer que existen varias maneras de llegar al paraíso. ¿Es cierto? 

¿Qué tendría mas sentido, que Dios diera varias maneras de venir a Él o dar una manera clara para que cada uno crea? Jesús enseño, “Yo soy el camino, la verdad y la vida. Nadie llega al Padre sino por mí” (Juan 14:6). Según Jesús, solo hay una manera para conocer a Dios en un modo personal, por medio de Él. 

Los primeros seguidores de Jesús confirmaron esta enseñanza: “En ningún otro hay salvación, porque no hay bajo el cielo otro nombre dado a los hombres mediante el cual podamos ser salvos” (Hechos 4:12). El apóstol Pablo también dijo, “Verdaderamente, no me avergüenzo del evangelio, pues es poder de Dios para la salvación de todos los que creen” (Romanos 1:16). Este evangelio fue la buena noticia de la resucitación de Jesús. Pablo enseñó que aquellos que creyeron en Jesús recibirían salvación, o ser salvados del infierno y recibir la vida eterna con Dios en el paraíso. 

Como resultado, no todos se irán directo al Paraíso cuando se mueran. Y no existe obra que puedas hacer para ganarte el Cielo. El único camino que nos da Jesús es la fe en Él. Como enseñó en Juan 3:16, “Porque tanto amó Dios al mundo, que dio a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo el que cree en él no se pierda, sino que tenga vida eterna.”

Efesios 2:8-9 explica que nuestros esfuerzos humanos no bastan para llegar al Paraíso por nuestra propia cuenta: “Porque por gracia han sido salvados mediante la fe; esto no procede de ustedes, sino que es el regalo de Dios, no por obras, para que nadie se jacte.” Se pudiéramos ganarnos el Cielo, podríamos jactarnos y presumir por nuestro logro. En lugar de esto, Dios hizo que la salvación fuese un regalo gratuito. Todo quien reciba el regalo gratuito también pasará la eternidad con Él. 

Mientras algunos podrían verlo como exclusivo, Jesús, por su amor se dio a sí mismo como el camino para alcanzar el Cielo. Romanos 5:8 enseña, “Pero Dios demuestra su amor por nosotros en esto: en que cuando todavía éramos pecadores, Cristo murió por nosotros.” Este gran amor trajo a Jesús desde el Cielo a la tierra para vivir, morir y regresar a la vida para darnos la oportunidad de tener vida eterna al creer en Él. 

Para recibir a Jesús como tu Salvador y recibir la vida eterna, puedes responder con una oración parecida a esta debajo. Recuerda que la salvación no se trata de palabras que dices, ni obras que haces. Sino de lo que Jesus hizo y por creer en él. 

“Querido Dios, se que soy un pecador y jamás podre llegar al cielo por mis propias obras. Ahora mismo pongo mi fe en Jesucristo como Hijo de Dios que vivió una vida sin pecado, murió en mi lugar, y resucitó de la muerte para darme la vida eterna. Por favor perdona mis pecados y ayúdame a vivir para ti. Gracias por aceptarme y darme la vida eterna.”




11/02/20


What is the Truth about salvation?


During one of the sham trials Jesus was subjected to before He was crucified, Pontius Pilate asked Him, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). Pilate asked the question mockingly. Pilate did not really care what the truth was and would not have believed it if Jesus had revealed it to him. But Pilate's question is one that we must all wrestle with. What is the Truth about salvation? What is the truth about God? What is the truth about Jesus? What is the truth about salvation? To ignore these questions is foolish. To be misled on these questions is dangerous. To have the true answers to these truth questions is crucial.


Here at CompellingTruth.org, what we most want you to understand is salvation. While there are many other important truths in the Christian faith, knowing and understanding the truth about salvation is the most important, as it determines where we will spend eternity. Listed below are truths from various areas of the Christian faith as they relate to salvation.


The truth about God

God exists (Psalm 14:1). God created the universe and everything in it, including humanity (Genesis 1:1). God is all-powerful (Job 42:2), all-knowing (1 John 3:20), infinite, and eternal (Psalm 90:2). God is absolutely holy and free from sin (Isaiah 6:3). God is absolutely just and will not allow evil to go unpunished. God is merciful, gracious, and loving (1 John 4:8).


The truth about humanity

God created us to have a personal relationship with Him. God created us with the ability to choose good and evil, and we chose evil. We have all sinned and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve death, not just physical death, but eternal death, because our sin is ultimately against an eternal God (Romans 6:23). There is absolutely nothing we can do to rectify our relationship with God on our own (Romans 3:10-18).


The truth about Jesus Christ

Knowing that humanity cannot achieve its own salvation, God took on human form in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1,14). God literally became a human being and walked this planet for approximately 33 years, teaching the truth, performing miracles, and living a sinless life. Just as humanity rejects God, so we also rejected God incarnate. Jesus was mercilessly beaten and then crucified (Matthew 27). Jesus willingly sacrificed His life for ours and died on the cross (John 19). Since He was God, His death carried an infinite and eternal value, paying the infinite and eternal price our sins demand (2 Corinthians 5:21). Three days after He died, Jesus was resurrected, demonstrating that His death had sufficiently paid the price for sin (1 Corinthians 16).


The truth about salvation

Because of the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our sins can be forgiven. God offers us salvation, deliverance, redemption, and forgiveness. The only requirement God demands is that we receive the gift of salvation that He offers us through Jesus Christ (John 3:16). All we have to do is accept it, by faith, trusting in Jesus' sacrifice alone to cover our sins. When we receive salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, our relationship with God is restored and we are promised an eternal home in heaven (Matthew 25:46).


Are you ready and willing to accept these truths? If so, place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Recognize that you have sinned and are worthy of death. Thank God for providing for your salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Trust the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the means of your salvation. Recognize that nothing can now separate you from God's love (Romans 8:38-39) and that He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).


What is the Truth about salvation? There are many truths, and many of them are very important. But, there is only one Truth, and that is Jesus Christ. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).



¿Cuál es la verdad sobre la salvación?

Durante uno de los juicios falsos a los que Jesús fue sometido antes de ser crucificado, Pilato le preguntó, “Qué es la verdad?” (Juan 18:38). Pilato hizo esta pregunta burlándose. En realidad a Pilato no le interesaba lo que era la verdad, y no lo hubiera creído si Jesús se lo hubiese revelado. Pero la pregunta de Pilato es una con la que todos debemos luchar. ¿Cuál es la verdad sobre la salvación? ¿Cuál es la verdad sobre Dios? ¿Cuál es la verdad sobre Jesús? Ignorar estas preguntas sería tonto. Ser engañado sobre esta pregunta es peligroso. Tener las respuestas verdaderas a estas preguntas de la verdad es sumamente importante.


Aquí en “CompellingTruth.org/Espanol”, lo que más queremos que entiendas es la salvación. Aunque hayan muchas otras verdades importantes en la fe Cristiana, saber y entender la verdad sobre la salvación es la más importante, ya que decide donde estarás por toda la eternidad. Debajo hay una lista de verdades de varias áreas de la fe Cristiana con respecto a la salvación.


La verdad sobre Dios

Dios existe (Salmos 14:1). Dios creó el universo y todo en ello, incluso la humanidad (Génesis 1:1). Dios es todo poderoso (Job 42:2), omnisciente (sabe todo) (1 Juan 3:20), infinito, y eterno (Salmos 90:2). Dios es absolutamente santo y sin pecado (Isaías 6:3). Dios es absolutamente justo y no permitirá ningún mal sin ser castigado. Dios es misericordioso, lleno de gracia, y amoroso (1 Juan 4:8).


La verdad sobre la humanidad

Dios nos creó para tener una relación personal con Él. Dios nos creó con la habilidad de decidir el bien o el mal, y escogimos el mal. Todos hemos pecado y estamos destituidos de la gloria de Dios (Romanos 3:23). Por causa de nuestro pecado, merecemos la muerte, no solamente una muerte física, sino eterna, porque nuestro pecado es al final de todo, contra un Dios eterno (Romanos 6:23). No hay absolutamente nada que podemos hacer por nuestra cuenta para remediar nuestra relación con Dios (Romanos 3:10-18).


La verdad sobre Jesucristo

Sabiendo que la humanidad no puede lograr su propia salvación, Dios tomó forma humana en la persona de Jesucristo (Juan 1:1,14). Dios se convirtió literalmente en un ser humano y caminó este planeta por alrededor de 33 años, enseñando la verdad, haciendo milagros, teniendo una vida sin pecado. Así como la humanidad rechaza a Dios, entonces nosotros también, hemos rechazado a Dios encarnado. Jesús fue golpeado sin piedad y luego crucificado (Mateo 27). Jesús voluntariamente sacrificó su vida por la nuestra y murió en la cruz (Juan 19). Como Él era Dios, su muerte llevaba un valor eterno e infinito, pagando el precio eterno e infinito que nuestros pecados exigen (2 Corintios 5:21).


Tres días después de morir, Jesús resucitó , demostrando que su muerte había completamente pagado el precio del pecado (1 Corintios 16).


La verdad sobre la Salvación

Debido al sacrificio perfecto y completo de Jesucristo, nuestros pecados pueden ser perdonados. Dios nos ofrece la salvación, la liberación, y el perdón. La única cosa que Dios requiere de nosotros es recibir este regalo de salvación que nos ofrece por medio de Jesucristo (Juan 3:16). La única cosa que tenemos que hacer es recibirlo, por medio de la fe, fiarnos solamente en el sacrificio de Jesús para cubrir nuestros pecados. Cuando recibimos la salvación por medio de la fe en Jesucristo, nuestra relación con Dios es restaurada y nos promete una hogar eterno en el Paraíso (Mateo 25:46).


¿Estás listo y dispuesto para aceptar estas verdades? Si es así, pon tu fe en Jesucristo como tu salvador. Reconoce que has pecado y que mereces morir. Dale gracias a Dios por proveer por tu salvación por medio de la muerte y resurrección de Jesucristo. Fíate del sacrificio perfecto y completo de Jesucristo como la vía de tu salvación. Reconoce que ya nada puede separarte del amor de Dios (Romanos 8:38-39) y que Él nunca te dejará ni te desamparará (Hebreos 13:5).


¿Cuál es la verdad sobre la salvación? Existen muchas verdades, y muchas de ellas son muy importantes. Pero solo hay una Verdad, y esa es Jesucristo. “Yo soy el camino, y la verdad, y la vida. Nadie viene al Padre, sino por mí“ (Juan 14:6).


¿Has, por medio de la llamada de Dios, aceptado estas verdades que has leído hoy?  “Acepté a Cristo hoy”.






110/01/20


Spiritual death - what is it?


Death, according to dictionary definitions, is a cessation of vital functions or a lack of life. Spiritual death is our natural state prior to accepting Christ as our savior (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). It is a lack of spiritual life, an absence of proper spiritual functioning. God is the eternally existent One, the great "I AM" (Exodus 3:14); He is life. So, really, spiritual death is separation from God, who is life. 


Humans are raised from spiritual death by Jesus. Our Lord, being God incarnate, is associated with life numerous times throughout the New Testament. He is life and comes to give us life (John 1:4; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6; Acts 3:15). Paul says that, before we are saved, we are "dead" in our sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). When we lack Jesus, we lack life. Therefore we are dead. 


Dead people cannot help themselves. Life does not come from non- life. This is why salvation is all of grace. We are incapable of doing anything to save ourselves; only Jesus, the Author of Life, can save us (Ephesians 2:8-10). Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Man is sinful—spiritually dead—but God gives life. 


"How can an infant be born spiritually dead?" you might ask. Spiritual death became a reality for humanity after the Fall of Adam and Eve. God instructed Adam to refrain from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, warning that eating the fruit would result in death (Genesis 2:16-17). After Eve and Adam ate the fruit, however, they did not immediately experience physical death. Rather, their relationship with God was severed. They became aware of their nakedness, created clothes of leaves, and hid themselves from God in shame (Genesis 3:6-9). They were no longer functioning spiritually, but were spiritually dead. Romans 5:12 explains, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." The sin of Adam and Eve tainted all of humanity. We all have a sinful nature now. We are born separated from God (see Psalm 51:5). 


Even though we are born with a sinful nature and come into this world spiritually dead, we are also born with a longing for life. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, in part, "[God] has put eternity into man's heart." In The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis writes,

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.


Humans long for life. We have an innate something that knows there is more to this world than meets the eye. It impels our search for meaning in life. 


Those who are spiritually dead are oblivious to their state (2 Corinthians 4:4). They assume they can "eat, drink and be merry" (Luke 12:19 NIV), for physical life is all there is. In so doing, they fail to engage their inmost longings. They fail to recognize their sense of purposelessness, disconnectedness, and the fact that, apart from God, their pursuits do not provide fulfillment. The real danger is that, without the new life that Christ gives, the sinner's physical death will be followed by the second death (Revelation 20:14-15).


Even believers, who have spiritual life, sometimes fail to fully live it by rebelling through sin. The consequence of sin is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). When believers in Christ toy with sin, they experience the death-like symptoms of sin – a sense of distance from God. 


Spiritual death is a state of being alienated from God and therefore lacking His life. Believers have been given eternal life, which includes life "to the full" now (John 10:10 NIV). Jesus brings us from death into life, and believers remain in life. However, "whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:36). 


Spiritual death need not be a permanent state. Life awaits us. God is eager for all come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). To be rescued from spiritual death, we need only recognize our sinful state and call on the One who is capable to save. 



Muerte espiritual, ¿qué es eso?

La muerte, según las definiciones del diccionario, es el cese de las funciones vitales o la falta de vida. La muerte espiritual es nuestro estado natural antes de aceptar a Cristo como nuestro Salvador (Efesios 2:1, Colosenses 2:13). Es una falta de vida espiritual, una ausencia de funcionamiento espiritual apropiado. Dios es el Uno eternamente existente, el gran "YO SOY" (Éxodo 3:14); Él es la vida. Entonces, realmente, la muerte espiritual es la separación de Dios, quien es la vida. 


Los humanos son resucitados de la muerte espiritual por Jesús. Nuestro Señor, siendo Dios encarnado, está asociado con la vida en numerosas ocasiones a lo largo del Nuevo Testamento. Él es vida y viene a darnos vida (Juan 1:4; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6; Hechos 3:15). Pablo dice que, antes de ser salvos, estamos "muertos" en nuestros pecados (Efesios 2:1, Colosenses 2:13). Cuando nos falta Jesús, nos falta vida. Por lo tanto, estamos muertos. 


Los muertos no pueden ayudarse a sí mismos. La vida no proviene de la no vida. Esta es la razón por la cual la salvación es solo por gracia. Somos incapaces de hacer cualquier cosa para salvarnos a nosotros mismos; solo Jesús, el Autor de la Vida, puede salvarnos (Efesios 2:8-10). Romanos 6:23 dice: "Porque la paga del pecado es muerte, más la dádiva de Dios es vida eterna en Cristo Jesús, Señor nuestro". El hombre es pecador, espiritualmente muerto, pero Dios da vida. 


"¿Cómo puede un bebé nacer muerto espiritualmente?" podrías preguntarte. La muerte espiritual se convirtió en realidad para la humanidad después de la caída de Adán y Eva. Dios instruyó a Adán que se abstuviera de comer el fruto del árbol del conocimiento del bien y del mal, advirtiendo que comer la fruta resultaría en la muerte (Génesis 2:16-17). Después de que Eva y Adán comieron la fruta, sin embargo, no experimentaron inmediatamente la muerte física. Más bien, su relación con Dios fue cortada. Se dieron cuenta de su desnudez, crearon ropas de hojas y se escondieron de Dios avergonzados (Génesis 3:6-9). Ya no estaban funcionando espiritualmente, sino que estaban espiritualmente muertos. Romanos 5:12 explica: "Así que, así como el pecado vino al mundo por un hombre, y la muerte por el pecado, y así la muerte se extendió a todos los hombres, porque todos pecaron". El pecado de Adán y Eva corrompió a toda la humanidad. Todos tenemos una naturaleza pecaminosa ahora. Nacemos separados de Dios (ver Salmos 51:5). 


Aunque nacemos con una naturaleza pecaminosa y venimos a este mundo muertos espiritualmente, también nacemos con un anhelo por la vida. Eclesiastés 3:11 dice, en parte, "[Dios] ha puesto la eternidad en el corazón del hombre". En The Weight of Glory, C. S. Lewis escribe: Los libros o la música en la que pensamos que se encontraba la belleza nos traicionarán si confiamos en ellos; no estaba en ellos, solo venía a través de ellos, y lo que los atravesaba era añoranza. Estas cosas, la belleza, el recuerdo de nuestro propio pasado, son buenas imágenes de lo que realmente deseamos; pero si se los confunde con la cosa misma, se convierten en ídolos mudos, rompiendo los corazones de sus adoradores. Porque ellos no son la cosa en sí misma; son solo el aroma de una flor que no hemos encontrado, el eco de una canción que no hemos escuchado, noticias de un país que nunca hemos visitado. 


Los humanos anhelan la vida. Tenemos algo innato que sabe que hay más en este mundo de lo que parece. Impulsa nuestra búsqueda de significado en la vida. 


Aquellos que están espiritualmente muertos son ajenos a su estado (2 Corintios 4:4). Suponen que pueden "comer, beber y ser felices" (Lucas 12:19 NVI), porque la vida física es todo lo que hay. Al hacerlo, no logran comprometer sus anhelos más íntimos. No reconocen su sentido de la falta de propósito, la desconexión y el hecho de que, aparte de Dios, sus actividades no proporcionan satisfacción. El peligro real es que, sin la nueva vida que Cristo da, la muerte física del pecador será seguida por la segunda muerte (Apocalipsis 20:14-15). 


Incluso los creyentes, que tienen vida espiritual, a veces no la viven completamente al rebelarse a través del pecado. La consecuencia del pecado es la muerte espiritual (Romanos 6:23). Cuando los creyentes en Cristo juegan con el pecado, experimentan los síntomas del pecado parecidos a la muerte, una sensación de distancia de Dios. 


La muerte espiritual es un estado de estar alejado de Dios y, por lo tanto, carecer de Su vida. A los creyentes se les ha dado la vida eterna, que incluye la vida "en plenitud" ahora (Juan 10:10 NVI). Jesús nos trae de la muerte a la vida, y los creyentes permanecen en la vida. Sin embargo, "el que no obedece al Hijo no verá la vida, sino que la ira de Dios permanece sobre él" (Juan 3:36). 


La muerte espiritual no necesita ser un estado permanente. La vida nos espera. Dios está ansioso por que todos vengan a Él (2 Pedro 3:9). Para ser rescatados de la muerte espiritual, solo necesitamos reconocer nuestro estado pecaminoso e invocar a Aquel que es capaz de salvar al Señor Jesucristo. 





10/31/20


Does life have meaning?


What on earth is the meaning of life? Have you ever wondered? Why are we here and what is our purpose? We work and play and strive towards our goals, in the search for fulfillment and satisfaction. But it seems like satisfaction never comes. Why is this? Does anything in life hold real significance? What is it about humanity that we desire significance? What is it, exactly, that we are looking for?


Have you ever stopped to consider these important questions? When relationships are failing, careers start feeling empty, or tragedy strikes, questions like these begin to bubble up in our minds. Sometimes we work towards a goal for years only to find that the end result – the money, power or recognition we've achieved – doesn't give us that sense of purpose and peace we were seeking to begin with. Those who have not yet reached their goals may look up to heroes who have made it to the top. But when asked what he wished he had known starting out, one successful athlete said, "I wish that someone would have told me that when you reach the top, there's nothing there." 


The peoples and cultures of the world pursue many things, trying to discover the meaning of life. Some pursuits are humanistic – people look for meaning by doing good for others or trying to make the world a better place. Some are existential – people look for meaning in pleasure, fun or relaxation. Other people pursue business success, wealth, power or politics. Others search for meaning in family or romantic relationships. But ultimately, a deep emptiness remains.


The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by the great ancient king, Solomon, a man who had literally everything. He chronicles his journey through all the delights and pursuits of life that his money and influence could attain. He amassed wealth, was blessed with wisdom beyond any other mortal man, had hundreds of wives and concubines, his gardens and palaces were the envy of the other kingdoms, and he was able to enjoy the best life had to offer. And at the end of his journey, this is what he said: "Meaningless! Meaningless! ...Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless" (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV). His conclusion was that "life under the sun" i.e., existential life, human life, this world, the senses and the experience—is meaningless. Why? Because God created us for something beyond what we can experience in this life, something that goes beyond the pleasures and frustrations of the flesh. Solomon said of God, "Also, he has put eternity into man's heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Deep down, we know that the "here-and-now" is not all there is. 


Does the Bible shed any light on this? Did God purpose our lives to mean something? If so, what is that purpose, and how do we find it?


The first life that God created for man was a blissfully meaningful life in the Garden of Eden. God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26). Before mankind fell into sin and the curse of sin came upon the earth, man's relationships were perfect and fulfilling (Genesis 2:18-25); man enjoyed his work (Genesis 2:15); fellowship between God and man was unbroken and peaceful (Genesis 3:8); and man basically ruled the planet without resistance from evil or decay or trouble or disaster (Genesis 1:26). God's intention was for each of these things to fulfill and bless us, but as a result of the fall of mankind into sin because of disobedience, all of them (especially man's fellowship with God) were cursed and became futile (Romans 8:20). 


In Revelation, the last book of the Bible which reveals the end of all things, God will destroy this present fallen creation and make a new heaven and a new earth, restoring both man and the rest of creation to perfect, fulfilling life and fellowship with Himself. The unredeemed (those who have not trusted Christ) will be judged and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). For those who belong to Christ, there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4). God will dwell with man and have a close relationship with Him (Revelation 21:7). Here we see the meaning of life in God's plan. God created us to have fellowship with Him, but when man sinned, that fellowship was broken. However, God restores through Christ that fellowship, first in our hearts through faith in Christ, and then finally and fully when He makes all things new. The missionary Jim Elliott said "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." To go through this life focused on achieving everything the world has to offer, only to die separated from God for eternity, is the worst imaginable thing! Thankfully, God has provided a way for us to have eternal security and happiness (Luke 23:43) and also a meaningful life here on earth. 


There is only one way to restore and repair the brokenness and emptiness that man's fall into sin has caused in man's heart and in man's life. That way is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). A restored relationship with God is only possible through His Son (Acts 4:12; John 1:12; 14:6). We can have eternal life when we no longer desire to continue in sin (repentance) and believe in Christ's atoning work on the cross (Hebrews 10:10). 


Jesus never promises that our lives on earth will be easy (John 16:33), but He promises that He will be with us throughout our earthly life, giving us meaning as we begin to understand Him through His Word, as we talk to Him in prayer, and as we walk with Him in obedience to His commands. Many churches and religions promise people meaning, saying "if you just do this and that, or follow this or that set of rules or discipines, you will find meaning." But that is not the message of Christ. Becoming religious or pious can be just another way to find meaning in this life by finding it in ourselves and in what we can do to please God. But this too is futile. God is perfect and infinite, and can only be pleased by the sacrifice of a perfect, infinite Being. That is why Christ came, to save us from our desperate situation.


Are you disillusioned? Weary? Disappointed? This world and its pursuits can never satisfy for they are meaningless, and people were made to live meaningful lives. The knowledge of God provides wonderful respite and relief. And Jesus Christ has opened the door to that relief by His blood. Will you walk through?




¿Tiene sentido la vida?


¿Cuál es el significado de la vida? ¿Alguna vez te has preguntado? ¿Por qué estamos aquí y cuál es nuestro propósito? Trabajamos, jugamos y nos esforzamos por lograr nuestros objetivos, en la búsqueda de satisfacción y realización. Pero parece que la satisfacción nunca llega. ¿Por qué es esto? ¿Hay algo en la vida que tenga un significado real? ¿Qué pasa con la humanidad que desea significado? ¿Qué es exactamente lo que estamos buscando? 


¿Alguna vez te has detenido a considerar estas importantes preguntas? Cuando las relaciones fracasan, las carreras comienzan a sentirse vacías o se produce una tragedia, preguntas como estas comienzan a aparecer en nuestras mentes. A veces trabajamos hacia un objetivo durante años solo para descubrir que el resultado final -el dinero, el poder o el reconocimiento que hemos logrado- no nos da ese sentido de propósito y paz que estábamos buscando. Aquellos que aún no han alcanzado sus metas pueden admirar a los héroes que llegaron a la cima. Pero cuando se le preguntó qué deseaba haber sabido al comenzar, un atleta exitoso dijo: "Ojalá alguien me hubiera dicho que cuando llegas a la cima, no hay nada allí". 


Los pueblos y culturas del mundo persiguen muchas cosas, tratando de descubrir el significado de la vida. Algunas actividades son humanistas: las personas buscan significado haciendo el bien a los demás o tratando de hacer del mundo un lugar mejor. Algunas son existenciales: las personas buscan significado en el placer, la diversión o la relajación. Otras personas persiguen el éxito empresarial, la riqueza, el poder o la política. Otros buscan significado en las relaciones familiares o románticas. Pero en última instancia, queda un profundo vacío. 


El libro de Eclesiastés fue escrito por el milenario y gran rey Salomón, un hombre que tenía literalmente todo. Él narra su viaje a través de todas las delicias y actividades de la vida que su dinero e influencia podrían alcanzar. Amasó riquezas, fue bendecido con sabiduría más allá de cualquier otro mortal, tuvo cientos de esposas y concubinas, sus jardines y palacios fueron la envidia de los otros reinos, y pudo disfrutar de lo mejor que la vida tenía para ofrecer. Y al final de su viaje, esto es lo que dijo: «Nada tiene sentido —dice el Maestro—, ¡ningún sentido en absoluto!»" (Eclesiastés 1: 2 NTV). Su conclusión fue que "la vida bajo el sol", es decir, la vida existencial, la vida humana, este mundo, los sentidos y la experiencia, no tienen sentido. ¿Por qué? Porque Dios nos creó para algo más allá de lo que podemos experimentar en esta vida, algo que va más allá de los placeres y las frustraciones de la carne. Salomón dijo de Dios "…ha puesto eternidad en el corazón de ellos" (Eclesiastés 3:11). En el fondo, sabemos que el "aquí y ahora" no es todo lo que hay. 


¿La Biblia arroja algo de luz sobre esto? ¿Dios pensó que nuestras vidas significaran algo? Si es así, ¿cuál es ese propósito y cómo lo encontramos? 


La primera vida que Dios creó para el hombre fue una vida dichosamente significativa en el Jardín del Edén. Dios creó al hombre a su imagen (Génesis 1:26). Antes de que la humanidad cayera en pecado y la maldición del pecado viniera a la tierra, las relaciones del hombre eran perfectas y satisfactorias (Génesis 2: 18-25); el hombre disfrutaba de su trabajo (Génesis 2:15); la comunión entre Dios y el hombre era ininterrumpida y pacífica (Génesis 3: 8); y el hombre básicamente gobernaba el planeta sin resistencia del mal, decadencia, problemas o desastres (Génesis 1:26). La intención de Dios era que cada una de estas cosas nos bendijera y satisfaciera, pero como resultado de la caída de la humanidad en pecado por desobediencia, todas (especialmente la comunión del hombre con Dios) fueron maldecidas y se volvieron inútiles (Romanos 8:20). 


En Apocalipsis, el último libro de la Biblia que revela el fin de todas las cosas, Dios destruirá esta creación caída presente y hará un nuevo cielo y una nueva tierra, restaurando al hombre y al resto de la creación para una vida perfecta, plena y de compañerismo con Él mismo. Los no redimidos (aquellos que no han confiado en Cristo) serán juzgados y arrojados al lago de fuego (Apocalipsis 20: 11-15). Para aquellos que pertenecen a Cristo, ya no habrá más pecado, aflicción, enfermedad, muerte o dolor (Apocalipsis 21: 4). Dios morará con el hombre y tendrá una relación cercana con Él (Apocalipsis 21: 7). Aquí vemos el significado de la vida en el plan de Dios. Dios nos creó para tener comunión con Él, pero cuando el hombre pecó, esa comunión se rompió. Sin embargo, Dios restaura a través de Cristo ese compañerismo, primero en nuestros corazones a través de la fe en Cristo, y luego, finalmente y plenamente, cuando Él hace que todas las cosas sean nuevas. El misionero Jim Elliott dijo: "No es tonto quien da lo que no puede conservar para obtener lo que no puede perder". ¡Pasar por esta vida enfocado en lograr todo lo que el mundo tiene para ofrecer, solo morir separados de Dios por la eternidad, es lo peor que se puede imaginar! Afortunadamente, Dios nos ha provisto un camino para que tengamos seguridad eterna y felicidad (Lucas 23:43) y también una vida significativa aquí en la tierra. 


Solo hay una manera de restaurar y reparar el quebrantamiento y el vacío que la caída del hombre en el pecado ha causado en el corazón del hombre y en la vida del hombre. Esa manera es Jesucristo (Juan 14: 6). Una relación restaurada con Dios solo es posible a través de su Hijo (Hechos 4:12; Juan 1:12; 14:6). Podemos tener vida eterna cuando ya no deseamos continuar en el pecado (arrepentimiento) y creer en la obra expiatoria de Cristo en la cruz (Hebreos 10:10). 


Jesús nunca prometió que nuestras vidas en la tierra serían fáciles (Juan 16:33), pero sí prometió que estaría con nosotros a lo largo de nuestra vida terrenal, dándonos significado a medida que comenzamos a entenderlo a través de su Palabra, mientras hablamos con él en oración, y mientras caminamos con Él en obediencia a Sus mandamientos. Muchas iglesias y religiones le prometen a la gente significado, diciendo que "si solo haces esto y aquello, o sigues este o aquel conjunto de reglas o disciplinas, encontrarás significado". Pero ese no es el mensaje de Cristo. Convertirse en religioso o piadoso puede ser simplemente otra forma de encontrar sentido en esta vida al encontrarla en nosotros mismos y en lo que podemos hacer para agradar a Dios. Pero esto también es inútil. Dios es perfecto e infinito, y solo puede agradarse con el sacrificio de un Ser perfecto e infinito. Por eso vino Cristo, para salvarnos de nuestra situación desesperada. 


¿Estás desilusionado? ¿Cansado? ¿Decepcionado? Este mundo y sus búsquedas nunca pueden satisfacerte porque no tienen sentido, y las personas fueron creadas para vivir vidas significativas. El conocimiento de Dios proporciona alivio y descanso maravillosos. Y Jesucristo ha abierto la puerta a ese descanso con Su sangre. ¿Entrarás? 





10/30/20


What is the presence of God? What is being in the presence of God?

God is omnipresent, meaning He is present at all times and in all places. What does it mean, then, to be in God's presence?

In the beginning of human history, God enjoyed a close presence with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). After their sin, they became separated from this presence. Throughout the Old Testament period, we find various ways in which God revealed His presence in special ways. These included speaking, as He did with Noah; in physical form, as Genesis 17—18 describe; and in visible form, as He did with the Israelites in the forty years in the wilderness.

Psalm 114:7 looks back at Israel's wilderness journey and describes God's presence as something that could make someone tremble in fear: "Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob." 

Jeremiah 3:17 speaks of a time when God's presence will dwell in a special way in Jerusalem, saying, "At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the LORD, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart." Lamentations 2:19 calls for repentance in the presence of the Lord: "Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord!" 

In Jonah, we see God's presence described as time hearing from the Lord. After Jonah heard God's voice, we read, "So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD" (Jonah 1:3).

In the New Testament, the angel Gabriel said he lived in the presence of God: "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news" (Luke 1:19). In 1 Corinthians 1:28-29, Paul spoke of God's presence as a time which people speak with God: "God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."

Second Thessalonians 1:9 speaks of the presence of the Lord in another way: "They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." This presence of the Lord is similar to that mentioned by Gabriel, speaking of being before the Lord in heaven. This is also similar to what Paul states in 1 Timothy 5:21 to Timothy, saying, "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality."

Though God's presence is everywhere, the Bible also speaks of being before God in heaven as God's presence, His special presence in certain locations (such as in Jerusalem), and other times in which He revealed Himself at a particular time or place uniquely. Today, God's Spirit lives within those who believe in Him (John 14:23). We do not need to go somewhere special to seek His presence, but are called to worship Him and live guided by His Spirit that lives within us. We may sense God's presence in a special way emotionally at times, yet God is present at all times and in all places and in each believer.




10/29/30


God is with us – What does that mean?

Many times, when we say that someone is with us we mean that they are our friends. We benefit from their companionship and comradery. They are there for us in our time of need or distress. They are on our side and will fight to defend us. 

Scripturally speaking, what does it mean that God is with us? First, we must define "us." God is not with everyone in the sense of being friends with everyone. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that subsequent to Adam's fall, all mankind are born enemies of God (Genesis 2:17; Psalm 51:5; Romans 8:7). Having sinned against God both by commission and omission we have incurred a sin debt that merits God's eternal wrath (Romans 6:23). 

But God promised to send a Savior, a Messiah, to save God's people from their sins. He promised to overcome the curse of sin and death, which man brought upon himself when he gave into Satan's temptation (Genesis 3:15). The prophet Isaiah spoke about this Messiah approximately 700 years before His birth (Isaiah 7:14). His name is Jesus Christ and He is the long-awaited Immanuel, which means, God with us (Matthew 1:22–25). Jesus is the Word (Divine Logos) who is both with God and is God (John 1:14). Jesus took on human flesh and dwelt among us; He is both fully God and fully man (John 1:18; Colossians 1:19). Jesus is what it means for God to be with us. He emptied Himself and humbled Himself, taking on the form of a servant, in order to identify and sympathize with us sinners, whom He came to save (Philippians 2:6–11; Hebrews 4:15–16; 1 Timothy 1:15). He broke down the dividing wall of hostility between God and us (Ephesians 2:14). He sacrificed His very life on the cross for our sins thereby erasing our debt (Colossians 2:13–14). 

Through faith in Christ, we can be reconciled to God (Romans 5:10). As both God and man, He is qualified to act as mediator between us (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). He made peace between God and us by His blood shed on the cross (Colossians 1:20). In this way, Jesus demonstrates that God loves us (Romans 5:8). No greater love has anyone than to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). God is with us in that He sent His Son to live and die and rise again for us, so that we may be forgiven, accepted, reconciled, and loved by the Father. Before His ascension, Jesus promised to send His disciples another Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16–17). The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to live within believers. The Holy Spirit guides us into the truth, comforts us, strengthens us, empowers us, prays for us, and produces fruit through us (Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:26; Galatians 5:22–26). In this way, God is with us by living in us. 

God is with us by way of His promises made to us (2 Peter 1:4). God has promised His children that He will work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). God has promised that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38–39). He has promised to resurrect us from the dead and grant us eternal life and joy in His presence (1 Corinthians 15:53; Titus 1:2).  

As we live by faith in the Son of God and in the promises of God we will increasingly experience the truth that the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is with us and for us (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:31). 



¿Qué significa que Dios está con nosotros?

Muchas veces, cuando decimos que alguien está con nosotros, queremos decir que son nuestros amigos. Nos beneficiamos de su compañerismo y camaradería. Ellos están ahí para nosotros en nuestro tiempo de necesidad o angustia. Están de nuestro lado y lucharán para defendernos.  

Hablando bíblicamente, ¿qué significa que Dios está con nosotros? Primero, debemos definir "nosotros". Dios no está con todos en el sentido de ser amigo de todos. De hecho, las Escrituras nos dicen que después de la caída de Adán, todos los seres humanos nacen enemigos de Dios (Génesis 2:17; Salmo 51: 5; Romanos 8: 7). Habiendo pecado contra Dios, tanto por comisión como por omisión, hemos incurrido en una deuda de pecado que merece la ira eterna de Dios (Romanos 6:23).  

Pero Dios prometió enviar un Salvador, un Mesías, para salvar al pueblo de Dios de sus pecados. Él prometió vencer la maldición del pecado y la muerte, que el hombre trajo sobre sí mismo cuando cedió a la tentación de Satanás (Génesis 3:15). El profeta Isaías habló acerca de este Mesías aproximadamente 700 años antes de su nacimiento (Isaías 7:14). Su nombre es Jesucristo y Él es el Emmanuel tan esperado, lo que significa que Dios está con nosotros (Mateo 1: 22–25). Jesús es la Palabra (Logos divinos) que está a la vez con Dios y es Dios (Juan 1:14). Jesús tomó carne humana y habitó entre nosotros; Él es completamente Dios y completamente hombre (Juan 1:18; Colosenses 1:19). Jesús es lo que significa que Dios esté con nosotros. Se vació a sí mismo y se humilló a sí mismo, tomando la forma de un siervo, para identificarnos y empatizar con los pecadores a quienes vino a salvar (Filipenses 2: 6–11; Hebreos 4: 15–16; 1 Timoteo 1:15). Rompió el muro divisorio de hostilidad entre Dios y nosotros (Efesios 2:14). Sacrificó su propia vida en la cruz por nuestros pecados, borrando así nuestra deuda (Colosenses 2: 13–14).  

A través de la fe en Cristo, podemos reconciliarnos con Dios (Romanos 5:10). Como Dios y como hombre, Él está calificado para actuar como mediador entre nosotros (1 Timoteo 2: 5; Hebreos 8: 6; 9:15; 12:24). Él hizo la paz entre Dios y nosotros por Su sangre derramada en la cruz (Colosenses 1:20). De esta manera, Jesús demuestra que Dios nos ama (Romanos 5: 8). Nadie tiene mayor amor que dar su vida por sus amigos (Juan 15:13). Dios está con nosotros en el sentido de que envió a su Hijo a vivir, morir y resucitar por nosotros, para que podamos ser perdonados, aceptados, reconciliados y amados por el Padre. Antes de su ascensión, Jesús prometió enviar a sus discípulos otro Ayudante, el Espíritu Santo (Juan 14: 16–17). El Espíritu Santo es enviado por el Padre y el Hijo para vivir dentro de los creyentes. El Espíritu Santo nos guía hacia la verdad, nos consuela, nos fortalece, nos empodera, ora por nosotros y produce fruto a través de nosotros (Filipenses 2:13; Romanos 8:26; Gálatas 5: 22–26). De esta manera, Dios está con nosotros viviendo en nosotros.  

Dios está con nosotros por medio de las promesas que nos hizo (2 Pedro 1: 4). Dios ha prometido a sus hijos que dispondrá todas las cosas para nuestro bien (Romanos 8:28). Él nos ha prometido que nunca nos dejará ni nos abandonará (Hebreos 13: 5). Dios ha prometido que nada nos separará del amor de Dios en Cristo (Romanos 8: 38–39). Él nos ha prometido resucitarnos de entre los muertos y otorgarnos vida y gozo eternos en Su presencia (1 Corintios 15:53; Tito 1: 2). Al vivir por fe en el Hijo de Dios y en las promesas de Dios, experimentaremos cada vez más la verdad de que el Dios trino (Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo) está con nosotros y por nosotros (Gálatas 2:20; Romanos 8: 31). 



10/28/20


In what way is God our refuge?

A refuge is a place of safety and shelter wherein we are protected from danger and distress. One illustration of a refuge is that of a shelter in which we take cover during a storm. In Old Testament times, a cleft in the rocks or cave was a good refuge. In modern times, we have sophisticated underground bunkers to protect ourselves. A good refuge provides protection for the vulnerable and peace for the distressed. That is exactly the kind of refuge that God is to those who trust in Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.  

God is a refuge to His children in that He protects them. There are approximately 45 references to God as refuge in the book of Psalms alone. Needless to say, the fact that God protects His own is a truth He wants us to know and be comforted by. However, the fact that God is our refuge does not mean that no danger will threaten and no harm will befall a believer. We can appreciate that truth by examining the life of the faithful throughout history (Hebrews 11:36–38), including the apostle Paul himself (2 Corinthians 11:23–27). God tells us through His Word that all who seek to live a godly life in Jesus Christ will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). At the same time, we are comforted by the fact that whatever danger or harm comes upon us is under the sovereign control of God (Job 1:12; Matthew 10:29–31). He will not allow us to be tempted or tested beyond what we can endure through Christ who strengthens us (1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13). In fact, God uses the trials and temptations of this life to build our character and bring us to spiritual maturity (James 1:2–4).  

God works all things together for the ultimate good of the believer. That ultimate good is our conformity to the image of Christ and eternal life with God (Romans 8:28–30; Revelation 21:3). Even death itself is gain for the believer as it ushers him or her directly and immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:21–23; 2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus has removed the sting of death through His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:55–57). God has promised that we who believe in Jesus will be resurrected and receive a body like Jesus' resurrected body (Philippians 3:20–21). It is the promise of God's protection of our souls and resurrection of our bodies that enables us to trust in Him no matter what dangers threaten. Those who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior need not fear anything. Although men may kill the believer's body, God will protect our souls (Matthew 10:28) and give us new imperishable bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53–54). Paul famously declares confidence and security in God's insurmountable love in Romans 8:31–39. 

One way we see God's protection is in the way He protects us from Satan's schemes. Jesus prayed, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15). Certainly God does allow Satan to attack and we are engaged in spiritual warfare during our time on this earth, but God has equipped us with spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10–18). He is victorious and He will never abandon us. We can trust in His promises and seek to "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). We trust that God is in control and, as stated above, will work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). 

God is also a refuge in that He protects us from our own sinful natures. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God sanctifies our hearts and makes us more and more like Christ. Jesus instructed His disciples to ask God to "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). Paul said, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Ephesians 1:13–14 and 2 Corinthians 1:21–22 talk about the Holy Spirit sealing us. We are firmly established in Christ and secure in Him. Our salvation is guaranteed by Him, and He is also faithful to work in our lives to remove the power sin has over us. He sets us free from bondage to sin and binds us to Himself and His righteousness (Romans 6:16–23; Galatians 5:1). 

God is a refuge for His children in that He brings them peace (Luke 2:14). Just as Jesus was so at peace during the frightful storm at sea that He could sleep undisturbed, so too can we be at peace amidst the storms of life (Matthew 8:24–26). How? By trusting in God as our refuge and by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Peter was able to walk on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but the moment he turned to view the wind and waves, Peter began to sink (Matthew 14:29–33). It is by staying our minds on Jesus that God keeps us in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). God promises peace that surpasses understanding and peace that guards hearts and minds to all who present their prayers and petitions to Him through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:7). 

Perhaps the psalmist said it best when he said, "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold" (Psalm 18:2). 



10/27/20


What is the difference between joy and happiness?


Many distinguish between joy and happiness by saying that joy is an inner attitude whereas happiness is a fleeting emotion based on circumstance. It is common to think of happiness as being dependent upon an experience or other external stimulus. When circumstances are positive, happiness results. When circumstances change, happiness disappears. On the other hand, joy is based on internal well-being or the anticipation of well-being. Joy can be sustained in both positive and negative circumstances. The English definition of the word "joy" often includes a reference to the emotion of happiness. So despite the fact that we make distinctions, it seems joy and happiness are intricately related. What does the Bible say? 


There are several different Hebrew and Greek root words translated as "happy," "joy," "rejoice," and "glad." In fact, the Hebrew esher can be translated as "happiness" or "blessedness." This word is used in passages like Deuteronomy 33:29 where Moses tells the Israelites, "Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs." It is also used in Psalm 1:1: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers." 


Similary, the Greek makarios can be translated as "blessed" or "happy." This is the Greek word used in the beatitudes. It is used in Luke 1:45 when Elizabeth tells Mary, "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." Among other places, it is also used in Luke 12 in Jesus' parable about being ready: "And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions'" (Luke 12:42–44). 


The Greek word chara is often translated as "joy" in the New Testament. It is instructive to see the different situations in which it is used. This is the joy that is produced in believers by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Paul uses the word throughout the book of Philippians, a letter he wrote to them while imprisoned. He said he prayed for the Philippians with joy (Philippians 1:4) and he asked them to make his joy complete by exhibiting unity (Philippians 2:2). They were to receive Epaphroditus with joy (Philippians 2:29), and Paul referred to the Philippians as his "joy and crown" (Philippians 4:1). These all seem to be happy expressions. 


In Hebrews 12:11 we read, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." The word translated "pleasant" there is the Greek chara. In this verse we see that even though discipline is not an enjoyable experience, it is actually for our good. The writer of Hebrews encourages the readers that God "disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). Though the situation may not seem happy, it is not one to brood about or be discouraged by. Similarly, James 1:2–4 says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Trials are certainly not a circumstance we would consider to be happy in the common sense of that word, and yet we can have joy in the midst. 


It seems impossible to fully separate happiness from joy. How can one be both joyful and glum? True joy seems to result in a measure of happiness. That being said, the caricature of putting on a "happy face" or the idea that we are to "grin and bear it" is not biblical. Throughout the Bible we see genuine expressions of sadness and honest explanations of deep and painful hardships. Pretending hard things don't exist leads neither to outer happiness nor inner joy. Even though believers have the joy of the Lord, we can still feel and express sadness. The difference is that we do so with hope, knowing that the hard things of this earth are not eternal and that God is with us in the midst. 


To the extent that happiness is associated with a circumstantially driven, fleeting and shallow emotion, it is different from what is meant when people refer to joy. But attempting to make a clear and hard distinction between happiness and joy is a bit pointless. Joyful people express happiness. True and lasting joy, or happiness or blessedness, results from our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Psalm 32 talks about the man whose sin is forgiven as being blessed (or happy). Psalm 84:12 says, "O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!" Psalm 119:1–2 talks of people being blessed (or happy) when walking in God's way and seeking Him with a whole heart. Referring to believers, John wrote, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4). First Peter 1:8 says, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory." Our joy is dependent upon the truth of Jesus Christ and His presence in our lives. And that truth is certainly something to be happy about. 






10/25/20


The consequences of sin - What are they?


"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Sin is that which is opposed to God. It is rebellion against God's rule and results in separation from Him. Because God is life (He is the only eternally existent Being and therefore contains existence within Himself; see John 8:58; 14:16; and Exodus 3:14), the result of sin is lack of life – or death. Without Jesus, sin results in eternal death. However, sin has consequences beyond an eternity in hell. 


Those who have been saved in Christ are given eternal life (1 John 5:11-12), and this life begins now. The Christian is not merely given a ticket to heaven but is ushered into fullness of life (John 10:10). While on earth, we experience the true abundance of our lives in Christ only in part; the Christian life is a foretaste of what is to come (1 Corinthians 13:12). But, it is still a taste. There is still the experience of true life. Sin disrupts this. Even for a believer, sin results in symptoms of spiritual death. 


Though believers in Christ have been forgiven of their sins (2 Corinthians 5:21), they are still undergoing a process of sanctification. This means that we are forgiven and justified before God, yet still in the process of being made completely new in Christ. Though we are declared righteous, we do not always act righteously. Therefore, our sin still has an effect. Much like a parent still loves a disobedient child, God still loves us when we sin. If we have been saved, our sin does not threaten the security of our salvation. In fact, our salvation does not hinge on our righteousness; it is founded on the righteousness of Jesus. We were dead in our sins and totally unable to save ourselves; it was God's love for us that resulted in salvation (Romans 5:8; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1-5). As believers we do not experience separation from God when we sin; however, we do experience a break in our relationship with Him. There is tension in our communion with Him. As a result, we may experience confusion, loneliness, guilt, purposelessness, or the like. This is what spiritual death feels like. For believers, this is not a permanent state. But it is a consequence of unconfessed sin. 


Sin also carries certain natural consequences with it. God's rule is designed to be for our good. He created us and knows us intimately. He knows what is good for us and what is not. He does not create rules or give commands simply so that we will obey Him. God does not need to engage in a power struggle for the sake of His ego. He knows He is in control and His rule is loving. This means that our rebellion against God is really rebellion against what is best for us. A parent knows that too much sugar will result in health problems for his child, and that a lack of sleep will result in crankiness. The parent does not limit candy or impose bed time just to control the child, but for the child's benefit. When the child disobeys, he or she suffers the natural consequences of engaging in destructive behavior. 


Sometimes sin also leads to the consequences imposed on us by society. Certain sins are illegal. When we are caught committing these sins, even if we repent and are restored to the experience of full life in God, we may suffer legal consequences. 


For believers, sin does not result in ultimate death. Our salvation is secure in Christ. We need not be "re-saved" when we sin. However, our sin does have consequences. When we sin we hurt both ourselves and God. We need to confess our sins, repent of our behaviors, and seek restoration with God. He promises to forgive (1 John 1:9; James 5:15-16). 



Las consecuencias del pecado - ¿Qué son?

"Porque la paga del pecado es muerte, pero la dádiva de Dios es vida eterna en Cristo Jesús, Señor nuestro" (Romanos 6:23). El pecado es lo que se opone a Dios. Es una rebelión contra el gobierno de Dios y resulta en separación de él. Como Dios es vida (Él es el único Ser que existe eternamente y, por lo tanto, contiene existencia dentro de Sí mismo, véase Juan 8:58; 14:16; y Éxodo 3:14), el resultado del pecado es la falta de vida, o la muerte. Sin Jesús, el pecado resulta en la muerte eterna. Sin embargo, el pecado tiene consecuencias más allá de una eternidad en el infierno. 


Aquellos que han sido salvos en Cristo reciben vida eterna (1 Juan 5:11-12), y esta vida comienza ahora. Al cristiano no se le da meramente un boleto al cielo, sino que se lo lleva a la plenitud de la vida (Juan 10:10). Mientras estamos en la tierra, experimentamos la verdadera abundancia de nuestras vidas en Cristo solo en parte; la vida cristiana es un anticipo de lo que está por venir (1 Corintios 13:12). Pero, todavía es un gusto. Todavía hay la experiencia de la vida verdadera. El pecado interrumpe esto. Incluso para un creyente, el pecado resulta en síntomas de muerte espiritual. 


Aunque los creyentes en Cristo han sido perdonados de sus pecados (2 Corintios 5:21), todavía están pasando por un proceso de santificación. Esto significa que somos perdonados y justificados ante Dios, y aún estamos en el proceso de ser completamente nuevos en Cristo. Aunque somos declarados justos, no siempre actuamos con rectitud. Por lo tanto, nuestro pecado todavía tiene un efecto. Al igual que un padre todavía ama a un niño desobediente, Dios todavía nos ama cuando pecamos. Si hemos sido salvados, nuestro pecado no amenaza la seguridad de nuestra salvación. De hecho, nuestra salvación no depende de nuestra justicia; está fundada en la justicia de Jesús. Estábamos muertos en nuestros pecados y totalmente incapaces de salvarnos a nosotros mismos; fue el amor de Dios por nosotros lo que resultó en la salvación (Romanos 5:8, Colosenses 2:13, Efesios 2:1-5). Como creyentes, no experimentamos la separación de Dios cuando pecamos; sin embargo, experimentamos un quiebre en nuestra relación con él. Hay tensión en nuestra comunión con Él. Como resultado, podemos experimentar confusión, soledad, culpa, falta de propósito o algo similar. Así es como se siente la muerte espiritual. Para los creyentes, este no es un estado permanente. Pero es una consecuencia del pecado no confesado. 


El pecado también conlleva ciertas consecuencias naturales. La regla de Dios está diseñada para nuestro bien. Él nos creó y nos conoce íntimamente. Él sabe lo que es bueno para nosotros y lo que no. Él no crea reglas ni da órdenes simplemente para que le obedezcamos. Dios no necesita involucrarse en una lucha de poder por el bien de su ego. Él sabe que Él tiene el control y que su gobierno es amoroso. Esto significa que nuestra rebelión contra Dios es realmente una rebelión contra lo que es mejor para nosotros. Un padre sabe que un exceso de azúcar provocará problemas de salud para su hijo, y que la falta de sueño provocará irritabilidad. El padre no limita los dulces o impone la hora de acostarse solo para controlar al niño, sino para el beneficio del niño. Cuando el niño desobedece, él o ella sufre las consecuencias naturales de participar en un comportamiento destructivo. 


A veces, el pecado también conduce a las consecuencias que nos impone la sociedad. Ciertos pecados son ilegales. Cuando somos atrapados cometiendo estos pecados, incluso si nos arrepentimos y somos restaurados a la experiencia de una vida plena en Dios, podemos sufrir consecuencias legales. 


Para los creyentes, el pecado no resulta en muerte definitiva. Nuestra salvación está segura en Cristo. No necesitamos ser "rescatados" cuando pecamos. Sin embargo, nuestro pecado tiene consecuencias. Cuando pecamos nos lastimamos a nosotros mismos y a Dios. Necesitamos confesar nuestros pecados, arrepentirnos de nuestros comportamientos y buscar la restauración con Dios. Él promete perdonar (1 Juan 1:9, Santiago 5:15-16) 





10/24/20


What is truth?


When speaking of truth, readers of the Bible often first think of Pilate's question to Jesus in John 18:38: "What is truth?" Still today, many wrestle with whether there is anything that is absolutely true or false or whether truth even exists.


A simple definition of truth is to define it as something that corresponds to its object. In other words, it is "truth" to say water is a substance that consists of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and is found in oceans, rivers, and other locations. In fact, to deny this is true is to make a competing truth claim. To say, "That is not true," is to claim the one making the statement knows it is not true because of another truth. Therefore, truth does exist.


The next question is, "Can truth be known?" As limited human beings, we cannot claim to know all truth, but we can claim there are true things we can discover. This is true both of the physical world (such as identifying rocks or trees) and of the abstract world (numbers or ideas). Therefore, we can know truth about reality, including evaluations regarding spiritual claims or truth about God.


At this point, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in discovering whether an idea about God is true. The law of non-contradiction states that two opposing ideas cannot both be true at the same time and place under the same conditions. In other words, 2+2 cannot equal 4 and 2+2 equal 5 at the same time and place under the same conditions. It must be one or the other, 4 or 5. 


Applied to spiritual truth, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in evaluating many ideas regarding God. For example, a single God either exists or does not exist. A single God cannot logically exist for one person but not for another. In other words, it is inconsistent to make the postmodern claim, "It's true for you, but it's not true for me" when it comes to God's existence. He either does exist or He does not. He cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and place in the same conditions.


This same view of truth can help regarding many other faith claims as well. For example, Christianity's fundamental belief is the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Did He come alive again or not? There are only two options. The evidence must be evaluated with a conclusion of what is the most likely choice. While acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is an act of faith, the resurrection is a matter of fact. It either took place or it did not.


A similar approach can be made regarding the Bible. Is it the inspired Word of God or not? It must be inspired, inspired in part, or not inspired. The options are limited. It is inconsistent to make the claim "the truth is relative" because truth is not relative. Truth is that which corresponds to its object. Some issues may be a matter of opinion, but others are a matter of fact or of truth.


When we face questions of truth, our wisest response is to evaluate the options and determine the best decision based on the available information. Our understanding of truth may vary from one person to another, but truth is consistent. We need not abandon the concept of truth simply because others view some truths about life differently.


Ultimately, truth is a spiritual issue as well as a philosophical one. Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If He is the truth, then the proper response would be to follow Him and His teachings. Pilate's question, "What is truth?" continues to find far-reaching relevance into each of our lives today as we each must decide what to do when we encounter Jesus Christ.



¿Qué es la verdad?

Al hablar de la verdad, los lectores de la Biblia a menudo primero piensan en la pregunta de Pilato a Jesús en Juan 18:38: "¿Qué es la verdad?" Todavía hoy, muchos luchan con que si existe algo que sea absolutamente verdadero o falso o si la verdad misma siquiera existe. 


Una definición simple de verdad es definirla como algo que corresponde a su objeto. En otras palabras, es "verdad" decir que el agua es una sustancia que consta de dos partes, hidrógeno y una parte de oxígeno, y se encuentra en océanos, ríos y otros lugares. De hecho, negar que esto sea cierto es hacer una afirmación rival sobre la verdad. Decir, "Eso no es verdad", es afirmar que el que hace la declaración sabe que no es verdad debido a otra verdad. Por lo tanto, la verdad existe. 


La siguiente pregunta es: "¿Se puede conocer la verdad?" Como seres humanos limitados, no podemos afirmar que conocemos toda la verdad, pero podemos afirmar que hay cosas verdaderas que podemos descubrir. Esto es cierto tanto en el mundo físico (como identificar rocas o árboles) como en el mundo abstracto (números o ideas). Por lo tanto, podemos conocer la verdad sobre la realidad, incluidas las evaluaciones con respecto a las afirmaciones espirituales o la verdad acerca de Dios. 


En este punto, la ley de la no contradicción puede ser útil para descubrir si una idea acerca de Dios es verdadera. La ley de no contradicción establece que dos ideas opuestas no pueden ser ambas verdaderas al mismo tiempo y lugar bajo las mismas condiciones. En otras palabras, 2 + 2 no puede igualar 4 y 2 + 2 igual a 5 al mismo tiempo y bajo las mismas condiciones. Debe ser uno o el otro, 4 ó 5. 


Aplicada a la verdad espiritual, la ley de la no contradicción puede ser útil para evaluar muchas ideas con respecto a Dios. Por ejemplo, un solo Dios existe o no existe. Un solo Dios no puede existir lógicamente para una persona, pero no para otra. En otras palabras, es inconsistente hacer la afirmación postmoderna, "Es verdad para ti, pero no para mí" cuando se trata de la existencia de Dios. Él existe o no. Él no puede existir o no existir al mismo tiempo y en las mismas condiciones. 


Esta misma visión de la verdad puede ayudar con respecto a muchas otras afirmaciones de fe también. Por ejemplo, la creencia fundamental del cristianismo es la resurrección física de Jesucristo de entre los muertos. ¿Volvió a la vida nuevamente o no? Solo hay dos opciones. La evidencia debe evaluarse con una conclusión de cuál es la opción más probable. Si bien la aceptación de Jesucristo como Salvador es un acto de fe, la resurrección es una cuestión de hechos. O tuvo lugar o no. 


Un enfoque similar se puede hacer con respecto a la Biblia. ¿Es la inspirada Palabra de Dios o no? O es inspirada, inspirada en parte o simplemente no es inspirada. Las opciones son limitadas. Es inconsistente afirmar que "la verdad es relativa" porque la verdad no es relativa. La verdad es eso que corresponde con su objeto. Algunos problemas pueden ser una cuestión de opinión, pero otros son una cuestión de hechos o de verdad. 


Cuando nos enfrentamos a preguntas sobre la verdad, nuestra respuesta más acertada es evaluar las opciones y determinar la mejor decisión en función de la información disponible. Nuestra comprensión de la verdad puede variar de una persona a otra, pero la verdad es consistente. No necesitamos abandonar el concepto de verdad simplemente porque otros ven algunas verdades sobre la vida de manera diferente. 


En definitiva, la verdad es un tema espiritual y también filosófico. Jesús afirmó ser el camino, la verdad y la vida (Juan 14: 6). Si Él es la verdad, entonces la respuesta adecuada sería seguirlo a Él y Sus enseñanzas. La pregunta de Pilato, "¿Qué es la verdad?" continúa encontrando relevancia de gran alcance en cada una de nuestras vidas hoy en día, ya que cada uno debe decidir qué hacer cuando nos encontremos con Jesucristo. 






10/23/20


Is there danger in unconfessed sin?


The Bible tells us that we all sin and deserve death because of it (Romans 3:236:23). Sin is defined biblically as missing the mark that God has set for us. None of us can perfectly meet His intentions and desires because sin gets in the way. When we believe in Jesus, all our sin is atoned for, and God now views us as righteous through Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). Instead of seeing our sin, God sees us by way of Jesus' perfect life and sacrifice (Titus 3:5). Those who refuse to turn to Jesus receive eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:8–9John 3:15–18). 


Even though Jesus has atoned for all of a Christian's sin and set him free from being a slave to sin (Romans 6:5–1117–18Galatians 5:1), we know that Christians do still sin. What are we supposed to do when we sin? If we don't confess, is the sin not forgiven? If all of our sins are already forgiven, what is the point of confession? Is it dangerous to have unconfessed sin? 


John gives some helpful instruction here. In writing to believers, John said, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). It is important to remember that our eternal salvation is intact. John 10:28–29Ephesians 1:144:302 Corinthians 1:22; and Romans 8 are among the passages affirming that when we come to Christ, our salvation is secure. But when we sin and avoid going to God in confession and repentance, we begin to build a barrier to our fellowship with Him. Though sin does not result in eternal death for believers in Jesus, it does result in some sense of separation from God. Much like a human parent and a disobedient child experience strain in their relationship (without loss of the parent-child relationship nor of the love of the parent toward the child), so our sin results in strain in our relationship with God. God wants fellowship with His people to be restored (Isaiah 65:2 and 66:13Matthew 23:37Joel 2:12–13). God convicts us of sin and leads us to confession so that He may cleanse us and restore us to deeper fellowship with Him. 


When Christians refuse to seek God in confession and repentance, they may experience a broken fellowship with God, disrupted fellowship with other Christians, and a lack of spiritual growth. John explains it like this: "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked" (1 John 2:1–6). 


Christians desire holiness and therefore seek to live pleasing to God (Matthew 22:37–38John 14:15). Unconfessed sin is a barrier to pleasing God. 


God desires to delight in us (Psalm 37:23Romans 8:38–39) and to fellowship with us (Psalm 84:11Psalm 115:131 Samuel 2:30). When Christians fail to repent, God will lovingly discipline us (Hebrews 12:7–11). If we find ourselves sinning without conviction or without a desire to repent, we may need to take a closer look at our relationship with God and see if we are really in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). 



¿Hay peligro en el pecado no confesado?


La Biblia nos dice que todos pecamos y merecemos la muerte (Romanos 3:23; 6:23). El pecado se define bíblicamente como errar el blanco que Dios ha establecido para nosotros. Ninguno de nosotros puede cumplir perfectamente las intenciones y deseos de Dios porque el pecado se interpone en el camino. Cuando creemos en Jesús, todos nuestros pecados son expiados, y Dios ahora nos ve como justos a través de Jesús (2 Corintios 5:21). En lugar de ver nuestro pecado, Dios nos ve a través de la vida perfecta y el sacrificio de Jesús (Tito 3: 5). Aquellos que se niegan a volverse a Jesús reciben castigo eterno (2 Tesalonicenses 1: 8–9, Juan 3: 15–18). 


Aunque Jesús expió todos los pecados del cristiano y lo liberó de ser esclavo del pecado (Romanos 6: 5–11, 17–18; Gálatas 5: 1), sabemos que los cristianos todavía pecan. ¿Qué se supone que debemos hacer cuando pecamos? Si no confesamos, ¿no se perdona el pecado? Si todos nuestros pecados ya están perdonados, ¿cuál es el punto de la confesión? ¿Es peligroso tener pecado no confesado? 


Juan da algunas instrucciones útiles aquí. Al escribir a los creyentes, Juan dijo: "Si confesamos nuestros pecados, Dios, que es fiel y justo, nos los perdonará y nos limpiará de toda maldad." (1 Juan 1: 9). Es importante recordar que nuestra salvación eterna está intacta. Juan 10: 28–29; Efesios 1:14, 4:30; 2 Corintios 1:22; y Romanos 8 se encuentran entre los pasajes que afirman que cuando venimos a Cristo, nuestra salvación es segura. Pero cuando pecamos y evitamos ir a Dios en confesión y arrepentimiento, comenzamos a construir una barrera para nuestra comunión con Él. Aunque el pecado no resulta en la muerte eterna para los creyentes en Jesús, sí resulta en un cierto sentido de separación de Dios. Al igual que un padre humano y un niño desobediente experimentan tensión en su relación (sin pérdida de la relación padre-hijo ni del amor del padre hacia el niño), entonces nuestro pecado resulta en tensión en nuestra relación con Dios. Dios quiere que se restablezca la comunión con su pueblo (Isaías 65: 2 y 66:13, Mateo 23:37, Joel 2: 12–13). Dios nos condena por el pecado y nos lleva a la confesión para que nos limpie y nos restaure una comunión más profunda con Él. 


Cuando los cristianos se niegan a buscar a Dios en confesión y arrepentimiento, pueden experimentar una ruptura en la comunión con Dios, una comunión interrumpida con otros cristianos y una falta de crecimiento espiritual. Juan lo explica así: "Mis queridos hijos, les escribo estas cosas para que no pequen. Pero, si alguno peca, tenemos ante el Padre a un intercesor, a Jesucristo, el Justo. Él es el sacrificio por el perdón de nuestros pecados, y no solo por los nuestros, sino por los de todo el mundo. ¿Cómo sabemos si hemos llegado a conocer a Dios? Si obedecemos sus mandamientos. El que afirma: «Lo conozco», pero no obedece sus mandamientos, es un mentiroso y no tiene la verdad. En cambio, el amor de Dios se manifiesta plenamente en la vida del que obedece su palabra. De este modo sabemos que estamos unidos a él: el que afirma que permanece en él debe vivir como él vivió." (1 Juan 2: 1–6). 


Los cristianos desean santidad y, por lo tanto, buscan vivir una vida que agrade a Dios (Mateo 22: 37–38, Juan 14:15). El pecado no confesado es una barrera para agradar a Dios. 


Dios desea deleitarse en nosotros (Salmo 37:23, Romanos 8: 38–39) y tener comunión con nosotros (Salmo 84:11, Salmo 115: 13, 1 Samuel 2:30). Cuando los cristianos no se arrepienten, Dios nos disciplinará con amor (Hebreos 12: 7–11). Si pecamos sin convicción o sin un deseo de arrepentirnos, es posible que necesitemos observar más de cerca nuestra relación con Dios y ver si realmente estamos en la fe (2 Corintios 13: 5). 




10/22/20



How important is spiritual growth in Christian life?


Spiritual growth is the process of becoming more mature in one's relationship with Jesus Christ. Someone who is growing spiritually will become more and more like Christ. The spiritually mature will be able to "distinguish good from evil" (Hebrews 5:14). Spiritual growth begins the moment a person comes to faith in Christ and should continue until a person enters Christ's presence after this life. 


Spiritual growth is expected of the believer. The author of Hebrews reprimands his readers for "no longer try[ing] to understand" (Hebrews 5:11 NIV) and "being still an infant" (verse 13). The criticism leads to exhortation: "Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity" (Hebrews 6:1).The apostle Peter says, "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).


Scripture offers valuable insights into how a Christian can grow spiritually. It is Christ's power in the believer that gives us the ability to grow spiritually (2 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 3:20). As we rely on His power and follow His teachings, we can develop greater maturity.


Peter provides a peek at the process: "make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-8).


Involvement in a local church and the exercise of our spiritual gifts are invaluable to the development of maturity (Ephesians 4:11-16). Rather than be swayed by every errant doctrine that comes along, we can speak "the truth in love," with the result that "we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).


To evaluate spiritual growth, we can measure our improvement in the "fruit of the Spirit." The Spirit desires to produce these qualities in us: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). Are we increasing in love? in joy? in patience? If so, we are growing spiritually.


We should be aware that growth often comes through trials. Just as physical strength is built through exertion and straining against resistance, spiritual strength is developed in the hard times of life. "No pain, no gain," as they say. James gives encouragement: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).


Because growth comes through trials, Scripture also teaches we are not to grow weary in the process. Much spiritual development is the result of persistence. "As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good" (2 Thessalonians 3:13). "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).


It is God's will that we grow to be more like Jesus. We also have the promise that the Lord Himself will oversee our growth and bring us to maturity. "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6 NIV).


"Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).



¿Qué tan importante es el crecimiento espiritual en la vida cristiana?

El crecimiento espiritual es el proceso de llegar a ser más maduro en la relación con Jesucristo. Alguien que está creciendo espiritualmente se volverá más y más como Cristo. Los espiritualmente maduros podrán "distinguir el bien del mal" (Hebreos 5:14). El crecimiento espiritual comienza en el momento en que una persona llega a la fe en Cristo y debe continuar hasta que una persona entre a la presencia de Cristo después de esta vida. 


Se espera crecimiento espiritual del creyente. El autor de Hebreos reprende a sus lectores ya que "les entra por un oído les sale por el otro" (Hebreos 5:11) y son como "un niño de pecho." (Hebreos 5: 13). La crítica lleva a la exhortación: "Por eso, dejando a un lado las enseñanzas elementales acerca de Cristo, avancemos hacia la madurez." (Hebreos 6: 1). El apóstol Pedro dice: "Más bien, crezcan en la gracia y en el conocimiento de nuestro Señor y Salvador Jesucristo. ¡A él sea la gloria ahora y para siempre! Amén" (2 Pedro 3:18). 


Las Escrituras ofrecen información valiosa sobre cómo un cristiano puede crecer espiritualmente. Es el poder de Cristo en el creyente lo que nos da la capacidad de crecer espiritualmente (2 Pedro 1: 3; Efesios 3:20). Al confiar en su poder y seguir sus enseñanzas, podemos desarrollar una mayor madurez. 


Pedro da un vistazo al proceso: "haz todo lo posible para complementar tu fe con la virtud y la virtud con el conocimiento y el conocimiento con autodominio y autocontrol con constancia y firmeza con la piedad y la piedad con afecto fraternal, y afecto fraternal con amor, porque si estas cualidades son tuyas y aumentan, te impiden ser ineficaz o infructuoso en el conocimiento de nuestro Señor Jesucristo "(2 Pedro 1: 5-8). 


La participación en una iglesia local y el ejercicio de nuestros dones espirituales son invaluables para el desarrollo de la madurez (Efesios 4: 11-16). En lugar de dejarse influir por todas las doctrinas erróneas que se presenten, podemos hablar "la verdad en amor", con el resultado de que "creceremos hasta ser en todo como aquel que es la cabeza, es decir, Cristo." (Efesios 4: 15). 


Para evaluar el crecimiento espiritual, podemos medir nuestra mejora en el "fruto del Espíritu". El Espíritu desea producir estas cualidades en nosotros: "En cambio, el fruto del Espíritu es amor, alegría, paz, paciencia, amabilidad, bondad, fidelidad, humildad y dominio propio. No hay ley que condene estas cosas." (Gálatas 5: 22-23). ¿Estamos aumentando en amor? en el gozo? en paciencia? Si es así, estamos creciendo espiritualmente. 


Debemos ser conscientes de que el crecimiento a menudo viene a través de pruebas. Así como la fortaleza física se construye mediante el esfuerzo y el esfuerzo contra la resistencia, la fuerza espiritual se desarrolla en los tiempos difíciles de la vida. "Sin dolor, no hay ganancia", como dicen. Santiago nos da ánimo: "Hermanos míos, considérense muy dichosos cuando tengan que enfrentarse con diversas pruebas, pues ya saben que la prueba de su fe produce constancia. Y la constancia debe llevar a feliz término la obra, para que sean perfectos e íntegros, sin que les falte nada."(Santiago 1: 2-4). 


Debido a que el crecimiento viene a través de pruebas, las Escrituras también enseñan que no debemos cansarnos en el proceso. Mucho desarrollo espiritual es el resultado de la persistencia. "Ustedes, hermanos, no se cansen de hacer el bien." (2 Tesalonicenses 3:13). "No nos cansemos de hacer el bien, porque a su debido tiempo cosecharemos si no nos damos por vencidos." (Gálatas 6: 9). 


Es la voluntad de Dios que crezcamos para ser más como Jesús. También tenemos la promesa de que el Señor mismo supervisará nuestro crecimiento y nos llevará a la madurez. "Estoy convencido de esto: el que comenzó tan buena obra en ustedes la irá perfeccionando hasta el día de Cristo Jesús." (Filipenses 1: 6). 


"En fin, hermanos, alégrense, busquen su restauración, hagan caso de mi exhortación, sean de un mismo sentir, vivan en paz. Y el Dios de amor y de paz estará con ustedes." (2 Corintios 13:11). 




10/21/20


What is sanctification?


Many Christians refer to a progression of justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification refers to the fact that believers have been deemed legally righteous. With Christ's death and resurrection, our sin was forgiven and we are now pure before God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:1; Romans 6). While we know that our salvation is complete, there are still aspects of our salvation that are being worked out. We are righteous, and we are also becoming righteous. This "becoming righteous" is referred to as sanctification. Sanctification is where our present realities fall in line with our eternal status.


In one sense, the Christian life is all about sanctification. Christ is finishing the good work that He began in us (Philippians 1:6). We are continually learning to follow God's ways and discard our sinful natures (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:5-17). Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1). We have been declared holy and now attempt to live holy lives (Matthew 5:48). As Christians, we are to cooperate with God's work in us. He refines and prunes us (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2; Isaiah 48:10; 1 Peter 1:7; John 15:2), and sanctification is one name for that work. 


Glorification is our eternal state. The legal reality of our justification and the physical reality of our sanctification now match up. In glorification we are with Christ and made completely perfect (1 John 3:2; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 3:4).



¿Qué es la sanctificación según la Biblia?

Muchos Cristianos se refieren a una progresión de justificación, santificación y glorificación. La Justificación se refiere al hecho de que creyentes han sido declarados legalmente justos. Con la muerte de Cristo y su resurrección, nuestros pecados fueron perdonados y ahora somos puros ante Dios (2 Corintios 5:21; Romanos 5:1; Romanos 6). Mientras sabemos que nuestra salvación está completa, siguen partes de nuestra salvación que se están ajustando. Somos justos y también nos estamos volviendo justos. Esto de “volviéndonos justos” se refiere a la santificación. La santificación es donde nuestras realidades actuales se ordenan con nuestro estatus eterno. 


De una manera, la vida Cristiana se trata toda de la santificación. Cristo está terminando el trabajo que empezó dentro de nosotros (Filipenses 1:6). Estamos continuamente aprendiendo a seguir los caminos de Dios y deshacernos de nuestra naturaleza pecaminosa (Efesios 4:22-24; Colosenses 3:5-17). Pablo le escribió a la iglesia en Éfeso, “Por eso yo, que estoy preso por la causa del Señor, les ruego que vivan de una manera digna del llamamiento que han recibido” (Efesios 4:1). Hemos sido declarados santos y ahora intentamos vivir vidas santas (Mateo 5:48). Como Cristianos, debemos cooperar con el trabajo de Dios dentro de nosotros. Nos refina y nos poda (Zacarías 13:9; Malaquías 3:2; Isaías 48:10; 1 Pedro 1:7; Juan 15:2), y la santificación es el nombre de ese trabajo. 


La glorificación es nuestro estado eterno. La realidad legal de nuestra justificación y la realidad física de nuestra santificación se están alineando. En la glorificación, estamos con Cristo y estamos hechos completamente perfectos (1 Juan 3:2; Colosenses 1:27; Colosenses 3:4). 




10/20/20


Is salvation by faith or works or both?


This could be the most critical question in Christian theology. It has led to division and disagreements between Christians, Catholics and religions, or cults, who claim to follow Jesus. Are peopled saved by simply believing in Jesus or do they have to earn their salvation by righteous works?


In the Bible there are verses that speak about this matter that seem to contradict one another, such as Romans 3:28, 5:1 and Galatians 3:24 with James 2:24. At first there appears to be a disagreement between Paul, who continually proclaims salvation by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), and James, who claims salvation is by faith with works (James 2:17-18). However, James is not disagreeing with Paul at all. Instead he is saying that true faith in Jesus will result in good works in the life of the believer (James 2:20-26). In other words, good works come from people who have real faith and therefore, good works are proof of genuine faith, so if a person has no good works then there is no proof that they are a real believer in Jesus and must not believe (James 2:14, 17, 20, 26).


Paul makes similar statements in his writings. For example, he explains that good traits or "fruits" that true believers should have (Galatians 5:22-23). As a matter of fact Paul states that we are created for good works (Ephesians 2:10), right after saying we are saved by faith alone. So Paul and James are in total agreement. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). James and Paul actually make the same claim, but use different methods. Paul emphasizes that salvation is only obtained by faith while James emphasizes that good works are the inevitable result of genuine faith.



¿La salvación es por medio de la fe o por obras o ambas?

Esta podría ser la pregunta más crítica en la teología Cristiana. Ha resultado en divisiones y desavenencia entre Cristianos, Católicos y religiones, o cultos, que dicen seguir a Jesús. ¿La gente es salvada por medio de la fe en Jesús o tienen que ganarse la salvación por medio de obras?


En la Biblia existen versículos sobre esto que parecen contradecirse, como Romanos 3:28, 5:1 y Gálatas 3:24 con Santiago 2:24. Al principio parece que hay una disensión entre Pablo, quien siempre proclama la salvación por medio de la fe solamente (Efesios 2:8-9), y Santiago, quien dice que la salvación e por medio de la fe y obras (Santiago 2:17-18). Pero, Santiago no está contradiciendo a Pablo para nada. Sino está diciendo que la fe en Jesús verdadera resultará en buenas obras en la vida del creyente (Santiago 2:20-26). Es decir, obras vienen de gente que tienen fe verdadera y consecutivamente, las obras son las evidencias de una fe verdadera, entonces si una persona no tiene obras, entonces no hay evidencia que de verdad es creyente en Jesús y no cree (Santiago 2:14, 17, 20, 26).


Pablo hace declaraciones parecidas en sus escrituras. Por ejemplo, explica las características buenas o “frutos” que un creyente verdadero debe tener (Gálatas 5:22-23). De hecho, Pablo dice que fuimos creados para buenas obras (Efesios 2:10), justo después de decir que somos salvados por medio de la fe solamente. Entonces Pablo y Santiago están de acuerdo. “Por lo tanto, si alguien está en Cristo, es una nueva creación. ¡Lo viejo ha pasado, ha llegado ya lo nuevo!” (2 Corintios 5:17). Santiago y Pablo afirman lo mismo pero usan diferentes métodos. Pablo enfatiza que la salvación es obtenida por medio de la fe mientras Santiago hace énfasis en que las buenas obras son inevitables como resultados de una fe verdadera. 



10/19/20


Is eternal security a license to sin?


We know that God's grace is abundant and that we are completely forgiven. We trust that our salvation is eternally secure. So what keeps us from sinning? Can we now just do whatever we please and use God's forgiveness as an excuse? 


Paul answers this question in Romans 6:1-2: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" We are no longer bound to sin (Romans 6:6-7). In fact, we are now bound to Christ. Romans 6:16-18 explains, "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness." As believers we have been made new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). While we still struggle with sin and temptation in this life, we also carry a status of righteousness in the eyes of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We do not belong to sin but to righteousness. To use eternal security as a license to sin would be to deny who we are in Christ.


Not only does sin go against the grain of who we are in Christ, sin results in death (Romans 6:16, 23). While sin will not result in the eternal death of believers, it still has negative consequences. For believers, sin leads to distance in our relationship with God. Our eternal security is not threatened when we sin, nor is God's love for us. However, our intimacy with God is threatened. When we sin against Him, we experience the symptoms of spiritual death (such as discouragement, confusion, loneliness, and the like). 


Perhaps the most compelling reason to avoid sin is God's love for us. John tells us that we love God as a result of God's love for us (1 John 4:19). Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him (John 14:15). It is because we trust in God's love for us and trust that He is for our good that we also trust His commands. We know that in obeying Christ we find life. He does not ask us to do things or to refrain from doing things to boost His ego. His commands are for our benefit. Knowing that these come from God's love, and motivated by the love we feel in return, we desire to obey. 



¿Es la seguridad eterna una licencia para pecar?


Sabemos que la gracia de Dios es abundante y que hemos sido completamente perdonados. Confiamos en que nuestra salvación es eternamente segura. Entonces, ¿qué nos impide pecar? ¿Podemos ahora hacer lo que queramos y usar el perdón de Dios como excusa? 


Pablo responde a esta pregunta en Romanos 6: 1-2: "¿Qué concluiremos? ¿Vamos a persistir en el pecado para que la gracia abunde? ¡De ninguna manera! Nosotros, que hemos muerto al pecado, ¿cómo podemos seguir viviendo en él?" Ya no estamos obligados a pecar (Romanos 6: 6-7). De hecho, ahora le pertenecemos a Cristo. Romanos 6: 16-18 explica: “¿Acaso no saben ustedes que, cuando se entregan a alguien para obedecerlo, son esclavos de aquel a quien obedecen? Claro que lo son, ya sea del pecado que lleva a la muerte, o de la obediencia que lleva a la justicia. Pero gracias a Dios que, aunque antes eran esclavos del pecado, ya se han sometido de corazón a la enseñanza que les fue transmitida. En efecto, habiendo sido liberados del pecado, ahora son ustedes esclavos de la justicia." Como creyentes, hemos sido hechos nuevos en Cristo (2 Corintios 5:17). Mientras todavía luchamos con el pecado y la tentación en esta vida, también llevamos una condición de justicia a los ojos de Dios (2 Corintios 5:21). No pertenecemos al pecado sino a la justicia. Usar la seguridad eterna como una licencia para pecar sería negar quienes somos en Cristo. 


El pecado no solo es contrario a lo que somos en Cristo, sino que el pecado resulta en la muerte (Romanos 6:16, 23). Si bien el pecado no resultará en la muerte eterna de los creyentes, aún tiene consecuencias negativas. Para los creyentes, el pecado conduce al distanciamiento en nuestra relación con Dios. Nuestra seguridad eterna no se ve amenazada cuando pecamos, ni el amor de Dios por nosotros. Sin embargo, nuestra intimidad con Dios está amenazada. Cuando pecamos contra Él, experimentamos los síntomas de la muerte espiritual (como desánimo, confusión, soledad y cosas por el estilo). 


Quizás la razón más convincente para evitar el pecado es el amor de Dios por nosotros. Juan nos dice que amamos a Dios como resultado del amor de Dios por nosotros (1 Juan 4:19). Jesús dijo que si lo amamos, lo obedeceremos (Juan 14:15). Debido a que confiamos en el amor de Dios por nosotros y confiamos en que Dios dispone las cosas para nuestro bien, también confiamos en sus mandamientos. Sabemos que al obedecer a Cristo encontramos vida. Él no nos pide que hagamos cosas o que nos abstengamos de hacer cosas para impulsar Su ego. Sus mandamientos son para nuestro beneficio. Sabiendo que estos provienen del amor de Dios, y motivados por el amor que sentimos a cambio, deseamos obedecer. 



10/17/20


How do I get control of sinful impulses?


At times we feel compelled to sin. We have impulses toward sin that are seemingly uncontrollable. We may feel an urge to overspend, to overeat, to indulge in pornography, or to gossip, and feel we have no power but to give in. Even the apostle Paul struggled with impulse control: "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15). So how are we to manage our sinful impulses?


First, we must steep ourselves in the truth. We are no longer bound to the sinful nature (Romans 6:17-18). In Christ we have been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are declared righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we know the truth, we can experience freedom (John 8:32). If we believe that we are who God declares us to be, we can more easily act accordingly. When we recognize a sinful impulse, we can declare it to be from the sinful nature and therefore no longer a part of us.


Not only do we need to know the truth about our identities in Christ, we need to take practical steps to live out that truth. This will largely occur through the process of sanctification. We cooperate with God's perfecting work in us (Philippians 1:6) by obeying His commands. This means that we focus our minds on things that are pleasing to Him (Philippians 4:8). We cast our anxieties on Him (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7). Often, acting on an impulse is an attempt to manage anxiety. When we take our burdens to the Lord, we experience more peace and therefore have less need to manage our anxiety with sinful stopgaps. 


We can also use our minds and ask for God's wisdom in determining what may be the cause of our sinful impulses. Controlling impulses may mean modifying our lifestyles to remove ourselves from tempting situations, discovering an unmet need that an impulse is attempting to fill, or relying on friends to help hold us accountable. In all of this, we should not forget that God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not alone in our battle against our sinful impulses. "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:7). 


Finally, we can remind ourselves of the reason we want to gain control over sinful impulses. Hebrews 12:11 says, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." At first, controlling sinful impulses may not be pleasant. However, we know that our self-discipline will eventually produce good fruit. The end reward is worth the momentary pain of delayed gratification. 




¿Cómo puedo controlar los impulsos pecaminosos? 


A veces nos sentimos obligados a pecar. Tenemos impulsos hacia el pecado que aparentemente son incontrolables. Es posible que sintamos la necesidad de gastar demasiado, de comer en exceso, de dedicarnos a la pornografía o del chisme, y sentir que no tenemos más poder que ceder. Incluso el apóstol Pablo luchó con el control de los impulsos: "Porque no comprendo mis propias acciones. Porque no hago lo que quiero, sino lo que odio "(Romanos 7:15). Entonces, ¿cómo vamos a manejar nuestros impulsos pecaminosos? 


Primero, debemos sumergirnos en la verdad. Ya no estamos atados a la naturaleza pecaminosa (Romanos 6: 17-18). En Cristo hemos sido hechos nuevos (2 Corintios 5:17). Somos declarados justos (2 Corintios 5:21). Cuando conocemos la verdad, podemos experimentar la libertad (Juan 8:32). Si creemos que somos quienes Dios declara que somos, podemos actuar más fácilmente en consecuencia. Cuando reconocemos un impulso pecaminoso, podemos declarar que proviene de la naturaleza pecaminosa y, por lo tanto, ya no forma parte de nosotros.


No solo necesitamos saber la verdad sobre nuestra identidad en Cristo, necesitamos tomar medidas prácticas para vivir esa verdad. Esto ocurrirá en gran parte a través del proceso de santificación. Cooperamos con la obra perfeccionadora de Dios en nosotros (Filipenses 1: 6) al obedecer Sus mandamientos. Esto significa que enfocamos nuestra mente en las cosas que le agradan (Filipenses 4: 8). Echamos nuestras ansiedades sobre Él (Salmo 55:22; 1 Pedro 5: 7). A menudo, actuar por impulso es un intento de controlar la ansiedad. Cuando llevamos nuestras cargas al Señor, experimentamos más paz y, por lo tanto, tenemos menos necesidad de manejar nuestra ansiedad con remedios pecaminosos. 


También podemos usar nuestra mente y pedir la sabiduría de Dios para determinar cuál puede ser la causa de nuestros impulsos pecaminosos. Controlar los impulsos puede significar modificar nuestro estilo de vida para alejarnos de situaciones tentadoras, descubrir una necesidad insatisfecha que un impulso intenta satisfacer o confiar en amigos para que nos ayuden a responsabilizarnos. En todo esto, no debemos olvidar que Dios nos ha dado el poder del Espíritu Santo. No estamos solos en nuestra batalla contra nuestros impulsos pecaminosos. "Porque Dios nos dio un espíritu, no de temor, sino de poder, amor y dominio propio" (2 Timoteo 1: 7). 


Finalmente, podemos recordarnos la razón por la que queremos controlar los impulsos pecaminosos. Hebreos 12:11 dice: "Por el momento, toda disciplina parece más dolorosa que agradable, pero luego da el fruto pacífico de la justicia a los que han sido educados por ella". Al principio, controlar los impulsos pecaminosos puede no ser agradable. Sin embargo, sabemos que nuestra autodisciplina eventualmente producirá buenos frutos. La recompensa final vale el dolor momentáneo de la gratificación retrasada.


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10/16/20


How can I have victory in overcoming sin?


Christians should all have overcoming sin as one of our goals. Although we will never be perfectly victorious over sin in this life (1 John 1:8), we must recognize that overcoming sin is part of the battle which is the Christian life. God has not left us to battle sin on our own, however. He has given us clear instructions and several resources to aid in the struggle.


The first resource, and the most important, is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, without whom victory over sin is impossible. Not only must we have the presence of the Spirit, but we must also be "filled" with the Spirit in order to overcome sin (Ephesians 5:18-21). We should be so completely yielded to the Holy Spirit that He can possess us fully and, in that sense, fill us. Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13-14 state that He dwells within every believer, but He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and His activity within us can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). When we allow this to happen, we do not experience the fullness of the Spirit's working and His power in and through us. Therefore, the presence and the filling of the Holy Spirit are essential to overcoming sin.


Another resource God has given to us to overcome sin and live for Him is the Word of God, which is sufficient to equip us for every good work and to make us "complete" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If it is able to make us complete, that would include the power to have victory over sin. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and powerful, able to penetrate straight to our hearts to root out and overcome the deepest sins of heart and attitude. Psalm 119:9 (NIV) refers to the power of the Word: "How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word." Joshua 1:8 further exhorts "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."


The Bible will help us to overcome sin, but not if it sits on the shelf until Sunday. We are to memorize it, meditate on it, or apply it to our lives. When it comes to the Word of God, we can't simply take in just enough to keep us alive spiritually. We must ingest enough of it to be healthy, thriving Christians, which involves feeding on it and meditating on its truths enough to derive its spiritual nutrition. The Bible is an essential and major part of the armor that God gives us to fight our spiritual battles (Ephesians 6:12-18). Without it, we have no hope of overcoming sin.


Prayer is the third crucial resource in our battle against sin. If Jesus had to pray diligently to prepare for the ordeal He was about to suffer, how much more do we who are weak and sinful have to rely on prayer to overcome temptation? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus exhorted the disciples to "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Matthew 26:41). When they failed to heed His warning, they fell into the sin of fear and unbelief (Mark 14:50). God has given us wonderful promises concerning prayer (Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-8; John 6:23-27; 1 John 5:14-15), and Paul includes prayer in his passage on preparing for spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer acknowledges that we recognize our own limitations and God's inexhaustible power and it allows us to tap into that power as we "approach God's throne of grace with confidence" (Hebrews 4:16 NIV) with our petitions and supplications.


A fourth resource in our war to conquer sin is the fellowship of other believers, particularly in the local church. Overcoming sin with the help and encouragement of others in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24) is much easier than going it alone. James tells us to confess our faults to one another (James 5:16) and pray for one another because just as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). There is strength and comfort to be found among a body of believers whose hearts are inclined toward God and one another (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12).


Accountability partners who can come alongside a struggling brother and render help in overcoming stubborn sins is another resource provided by the local church. Temptation is part of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 10:13), but God has promised not to test us beyond our ability to bear it and having an accountability partner or an accountability group can help us to overcome even the most stubborn of sins.


Sometimes victory over sin comes quickly; other times, victory comes more slowly. God has not left us helpless in our battle against sin. He has promised that as we make use of His resources, He will progressively bring about change in our lives. We can persevere in our efforts to overcome sin because we know that "The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.- Psalm 145:13" 





¿Cómo puedo tener victoria para vencer el pecado?


Los cristianos deberíamos tener la superación del pecado como uno de nuestros objetivos. Aunque nunca seremos victoriosos sobre el pecado en esta vida (1 Juan 1:8), debemos reconocer que vencer el pecado es parte de la batalla que hay la vida cristiana. Sin embargo, Dios no nos ha dejado pelear contra el pecado por nuestra cuenta. Él nos ha dado instrucciones claras y varios recursos para ayudarnos en la lucha. 


El primer recurso, y el más importante, es la presencia del Espíritu Santo en nuestros corazones, sin los cuales la victoria sobre el pecado es imposible. No solo debemos tener la presencia del Espíritu, sino que también debemos estar "llenos" del Espíritu para vencer el pecado (Efesios 5:18-21). Deberíamos estar tan completamente entregados al Espíritu Santo que Él nos puede poseer plenamente y, en ese sentido, llenarnos. Romanos 8:9 y Efesios 1:13-14 declaran que Él habita dentro de cada creyente, pero que Él puede estar afligido (Efesios 4:30), y Su actividad dentro de nosotros puede ser apagada (1 Tesalonicenses 5:19). Cuando permitimos que esto suceda, no experimentamos la plenitud de la obra del Espíritu y su poder en nosotros y a través de nosotros. Por lo tanto, la presencia y la llenura del Espíritu Santo son esenciales para vencer el pecado. 


Otro recurso que Dios nos ha dado para vencer el pecado y vivir para Él es la Palabra de Dios, que es suficiente para equiparnos para cada buena obra y para hacernos "completos" (2 Timoteo 3:16-17). Si es capaz de hacernos completos, eso incluiría el poder de tener victoria sobre el pecado. Hebreos 4:12 nos dice que la Palabra de Dios es viviente y poderosa, capaz de penetrar directamente en nuestros corazones para erradicar y superar los pecados más profundos del corazón y la actitud. El Salmo 119:9 (NVI) se refiere al poder de la Palabra: "¿Cómo puede un joven permanecer en el camino de la pureza? Vivir de acuerdo con tu palabra". Josué 1:8 además exhorta "Nunca se apartará de tu boca este libro de la ley, sino que de día y de noche meditarás en él, para que guardes y hagas conforme a todo lo que en él está escrito; porque entonces harás prosperar tu camino, y todo te saldrá bien.” 


La Biblia nos ayudará a vencer el pecado, pero no si se queda en el estante hasta el domingo. Debemos memorizarla, meditarla y aplicarla a nuestras vidas. Cuando se trata de la Palabra de Dios, no podemos simplemente acoplarnos lo suficiente para mantenernos vivos espiritualmente. Debemos ingerir lo suficiente para ser cristianos sanos y prósperos, lo que implica alimentarse de ella y meditar en sus verdades lo suficiente como para derivar su nutrición espiritual. La Biblia es una parte esencial y mayor de la armadura que Dios nos da para pelear nuestras batallas espirituales (Efesios 6:12-18). Sin ella, no tenemos esperanza de vencer el pecado. 


La oración es el tercer recurso crucial en nuestra batalla contra el pecado. Si Jesús tuvo que orar diligentemente para prepararse para la prueba que estaba a punto de sufrir, ¿cuánto más nosotros, los débiles y pecadores, tenemos que confiar en la oración para vencer la tentación? En el Jardín de Getsemaní, Jesús exhortó a los discípulos a "Velar y orar para que no caigas en tentación" (Mateo 26:41). Cuando dejaron de prestar atención a su advertencia, cayeron en el pecado del temor y la incredulidad (Marcos 14:50). Dios nos ha dado promesas maravillosas con respecto a la oración (Mateo 7:7-11, Lucas 18:1-8, Juan 6:23-27, 1 Juan 5:14-15), y Pablo incluye la oración en su pasaje sobre la preparación para la batalla espiritual en la vida (Efesios 6:18). La oración reconoce que reconocemos nuestras propias limitaciones y el poder inagotable de Dios y nos permite aprovechar ese poder cuando nos "acercamos al trono de gracia de Dios con confianza" (Hebreos 4:16 NVI) con nuestras peticiones y súplicas. 


Un cuarto recurso en nuestra guerra para vencer el pecado es la comunión de otros creyentes, particularmente en la iglesia local. Vencer el pecado con la ayuda y el aliento de otros en el amor y las buenas obras (Hebreos 10:24) es mucho más fácil que hacerlo solo. Santiago nos dice que confesemos nuestros defectos el uno al otro (Santiago 5:16) y oremos unos por los otros porque así como el hierro se afila con hierro, un hombre agudiza a otro (Proverbios 27:17). Hay fuerza y consuelo que se encuentran entre un grupo de creyentes cuyos corazones están inclinados hacia Dios y hacia los demás (Eclesiastés 4:11-12). 


Los socios de rendición de cuentas que pueden acompañar a un hermano que lucha y ayudar a superar los pecados obstinados es otro recurso proporcionado por la iglesia local. La tentación es parte de la vida cristiana (1 Corintios 10:13), pero Dios ha prometido no ponernos a prueba más allá de nuestra capacidad para soportarlo y tener un compañero de responsabilidad o un grupo de responsabilidad puede ayudarnos a vencer incluso los pecados más obstinados. 


A veces la victoria sobre el pecado llega rápidamente; otras veces, la victoria llega más lentamente. Dios no nos ha dejado impotentes en nuestra batalla contra el pecado. Él ha prometido que a medida que hagamos uso de Sus recursos, Él progresivamente traerá el cambio en nuestras vidas. Podemos perseverar en nuestros esfuerzos para vencer el pecado porque sabemos que


“Fiel es el SEÑOR en todas sus palabras y bondadoso en todas sus obras. Salmos 145: 13 "



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