Humility

‘(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth [Numbers 12:3]).’

Humility is a characteristic that God loves to see in His people. He has pleasure in those who are humble: ‘For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation (Psalm 149:4).’

God is not pleased with those who are haughty, arrogant, disdainful and proud (Ezekiel 25:6, 7). He loves the meek (Matthew 5:5), the humble (Psalm 37:11; Isaiah 11:4; Matthew 5:5), and those who are submissive (Hebrews 13:17) and loving (Luke 6:35).

The Humility of Jesus

Moses was indeed, ‘very humble’ (Numbers 12:3), but his humility was nothing by comparison to that of Jesus. To put things into perspective, Jesus created the world (John 1:3) and the people in it, and yet He humbled Himself by becoming a servant (Matthew 20:28) to those whom He created.

Paul the Apostle wrote of Him and His followers:

‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself to be of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).’

At His birth Jesus was laid in an animal’s feeding trough (Luke 2:7), the lowest of all places. His whole life was a testimony to His humility. He never once considered Himself before others, and He was totally obedient to His Father (John 5:30). He voluntarily submitted Himself in obedience to Him – even to death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)! His mission was to save sinners (John 12:47; 1 Timothy 1:15), serve the undeserving (Mark 10:45), and ultimately to exalt the humble (1 Peter 5:5, 6). He, Himself, after his resurrection was exalted (Acts 5:31; Philippians 2:9) above the whole earth (Psalm 97:9; Isaiah 52:13) and He sits at the right hand of His Father (Acts 2:33).

The suffering Servant (Isaiah 42:1; 53:1-12) set an example of humility to all mankind, and with all authority He said, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:4), and, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:12).”’ Justifiably, His Father exalted Him (Philippians 2:9).

Exhortations for God’s People to be Humble

His Word, the Bible, particularly the New Testament, exhorts God’s people to put on humility. Here are some relevant texts:

Romans 12:16 ‘……….. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in you own opinion.’

Colossians 3:12 ‘Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.’

2 Timothy 2:24, 25 ‘And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.’

Titus 3:1, 2 ‘Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, but to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.’

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.’

1 Peter 5:5 ‘Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”’

‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5:6).’

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Demons

‘Then His fame went throughout all Syria, and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them (Matthew 4:24).’

Jesus demonstrated His deity by healing people of ‘various diseases and torments’. Apart from paralytics and those with epilepsy He also healed those who were ‘demon-possessed’. What this clearly shows is that demon-possession is a condition separate and different from the others listed in Matthew 4:24. Many times Jesus cured people who were tormented and controlled by demons. [*See the Scriptures set out below.]

Matthew 8:16 states that He healed ‘many’ who were demon-possessed by speaking to their demons with such power that He ‘cast’ ‘them ‘out’. Although the demons had power over those whom they had entered, their power was no match for Jesus.

In the case of the demon-possessed men who lived in the tombs in the country of the Gergesenes (Matthew 8:28-32), they made the men ‘exceedingly fierce’, and because of this no one was able to go near them. This didn’t prevent Jesus from going to them. In fact, it seems he went out of his way to meet them (v 28). He encountered the men, and the demons spoke to Him [presumably through the mouths of the men (cf Mark 1:24)], saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come to torment us before the time (v 29)?”

They recognised the sovereignty and authority of Jesus, and that He was the One who would ultimately destroy them (v 29). They guessed their time had come, because they no longer had power over their victims. They were defenceless, and Jesus no longer permitted them to reside in the souls of the men they were tormenting.

Under the circumstances they begged Jesus for Him to cast them into the herd of ‘swine’ that were feeding nearby. Now we know that swine do not have souls, but nevertheless, like all animals, they each have a spirit (Ecclesiastes 3:21). Animals are not judged for trespassing against God, and they are not accountable to Him for the way in which they live. They do not go to heaven, and they have no future after death. They simply ‘perish’ (Matthew 8:32), or they are destroyed (Mark 1:24).

Having been cast into the swine, the demons were consigned to the sea where they ‘perished in the water (Matthew 8:32)’, along with the swine. Unlike animals, however, this does not mean they will not be punished for their evil doings (Matthew 8:29).

What are Demons?

The question arises, “What exactly are demons?”

They have power over people (Matthew 9:32, 33; 12:22) and not for good. No demon is good. In fact they are evil. We describe them as ‘demonic’; they are agents who carry out the evil works of the devil, i.e., satan. They are satanical. They are devilish. God’s Word describes them as ‘unclean spirits’ (Matthew 10:1). Jesus gave power to His twelve disciples to cast them out (v 1; Luke 9:1), just as He cast them out (Mark 9:25; 16:9; Luke 4:35).

The Scriptures nowhere show that it is possible for a demon to enter a person who is saved, i.e., one in whom the Holy Spirit dwells (2 Timothy 1:14), and whose body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). In fact, it is impossible for the servants of Beelzebub (Luke 11:18) to be partners with believers in Christ. They cannot coexist (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Demons are spirits (Luke 4:33). They have no spiritual bodily form, unlike the holy angels who carry out the bidding of God (Matthew 28:2, 3; Acts 1:10, 11). Not surprisingly, demons have an acute awareness of ‘Christ, the Son of God’ (Luke 4:41). They recognise their vulnerability before Him, and they tremble (James 2:19) because they know that He is the Son of God!

Paul when he wrote to the Ephesian Christians, said they were to ‘stand against the wiles of the devil’ and against ‘spiritual hosts of wickedness (Ephesians 6:11, 12).

Demons are the agents of satan (Luke 11:18). They do his bidding and collude with him. They are very real, just as God’s holy angels are real (Psalm 91:11, 12; Acts 19:13-17). We don’t see them, because they have no physical form, but they are at work night and day in the employ of the devil (1 Peter 5:8). Their aim is to destroy (v 8) those whom they inhabit. They cooperate with one another and make things worse for their host (Matthew 12:43-45).

Demons are no match for Jesus who has compassion on the demon-possessed (Matthew 15:22-28). This is a great comfort to all who hope in Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 4; 2:19).

Note

Demon-possession is distinctly different from schizophrenia with which sufferers may ‘hear’ voices and experience hallucinations, and with which they may be tormented. Matthew 4:24 shows there is a difference between the two.

I have only once come into contact with a person I thought may have been demon-possessed. What I perceived was far more than madness, far more than a psychological condition. I can only describe her as one who was suffering severely from an inward controlling force that overwhelmed her, causing her great distress and suffering. She was not herself. Her words and actions were foul.

She was sectioned and taken to a secure unit for her own protection and for the safety of the general public.

*Scriptures that mention Demons

Leviticus 17:7 ‘They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generation.’

Deuteronomy 32:17 ‘They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear.’

2 Chronicles 11:15 ‘Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made.”

Psalm 106:35-38 ‘But they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them, they even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood’.

Matthew 4:24 ‘Then His fame went throughout all Syria, and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.’

Matthew 8:16, 17 ‘When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.

Matthew 8:28, 29 ‘When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no-one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come to torment us before the time?”

Matthew 9:33 ‘And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marvelled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!”’

Matthew 10:1 ‘And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of disease.’

Matthew 12:22 ‘Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed Him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.’

Matthew 12:2 ‘“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”’

Matthew 12:43-45 ‘“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds is empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it be with this wicked generation.”’

Matthew 15:22, 28 ‘And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” ….Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O women, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from the very hour.’

Mark 1:34 ‘Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.’

Mark 3:14, 15 ‘Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons.’

Mark 5:12, 13 ‘So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.’

Mark 6:12, 13 ‘So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.’

Mark 9:17, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27 ‘Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who has a mute spirit. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. …… Then they brought him to Him. And when He saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell to the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. ……. “And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” ……..  He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.’

Mark 16:9 ‘Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He has cast seven demons.’

Luke 4:33-35 ‘Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.’

Luke 4:41 ‘And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.’’

Luke 8: 26, 32, 33 ‘ ….., there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. . And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. …… Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place, into the lake and drowned.’

Luke 9:1 ‘Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.’

Luke 9:39, 42 “And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.” ……. And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.

Luke 10:17 ‘Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”’

Luke 11:14, 15 ‘And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and multitudes marvelled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”’

Luke 13:32 ‘And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’”

John 8:48, 49 ‘Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honour My Father, and you dishonour Me.”’

John 10:19, 20 ‘And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” Others said, “These are not the words  of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

1 Corinthians 10:20 ‘Rather, that things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.’

Ephesians 6:12 ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’

1 Timothy 4:1 ‘Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.’

James 2:19 ‘You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!’

Revelation 9:20 ‘But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see no hear nor walk.’

Revelation 12:7-9 ‘And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Revelation 16:14 ‘For they were spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and the whole of the world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty.’

Revelation 18:2 ‘And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird.’

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Mystery of God’s Progressive Revelation

‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12).’

I have spoken *before on this subject of the revelation of Jesus Christ, i.e., how God has revealed Him to His people. God’s Word the Bible, makes it clear that Jesus came to live a life of perfection on behalf of His elect; to die for them, to be raised to life and to ascend into heaven. From there He will come to gather them to Himself (Matthew 24:31) and to His Father to live with them forever (Revelation 21:1).

In the Beginning

In the beginning God created ‘all things’ (Genesis 1-2:1; John 1:3), and most importantly He made the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:22, 23). He placed them in the Garden of Eden which was a paradise of perfection. There they had everything they needed (2:16). They were given dominion over the whole of the earth (1:26-28), and they were to have offspring who would share together in their work (2:15) and walk with God (3:8) in harmony with Him.

Revelation

At least, that is what one would have expected; but God had a plan of which Adam and Eve had not the least inkling (3:17-19). No one could have guessed why God would allow the serpent, an evil creature (3:1-7) into the Garden. It was a complete mystery (Mark 4:11; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-7) that would not be fully revealed until New Testament times. With the hindsight of the New Testament we can begin to understand ‘the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God’ (Romans 11:33-36) in this matter.

Without sin, which brings death (1 Corinthians 15:56), there could be no resurrection of the dead to eternal life. Without sin Jesus could not have demonstrated His passionate love for His people by dying on the cross. He took upon Himself the punishment due to them for their sin, and afterwards rose for them from the dead to be the ‘firstfruits’  (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23) of those who die in Him.

Because of this, the wonder of God’s mercy and love can be better appreciated by those for whom He died (Romans 5:8). Without pain and suffering, there is no real understanding of the blessedness of God’s healing, or of experiential wholeness and wellbeing in Him.

Growing in Christ as He Reveals Himself to His Children

Individually these things are ‘progressively’ revealed to those who grow in Christ. At first we are like babies with little understanding. Things don’t make a lot of sense, but gradually, bits of the puzzle come together. We taste, we touch, we hear, we see and we smell through our nostrils. Incidentally, with sin in us, since it is not completely eradicated in this life, we might also be a bit smelly!

As we grow and mature in Christ we no longer think as children (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12). We hear and understand what God is saying to us by His Spirit through the study of His Word. We hear His word though those who preach in His name. We pray and we worship together with other believers, as members of Christ’s body. Our love of God grows day by day. Our love of neighbour likewise grows (Mark 12:30, 31). None of this is by our own enabling. It is all by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit who is our Enabler, the Paraclete (John 14:26). He is the One who gives us spiritual life (John 3:3-8). He transforms us to become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

No longer children, but adults, we begin to appreciate God’s revelation of His plan; the mystery (Romans 16:25; 1Corinthians 2:6, 7) that was not fully comprehended by God’s people of old. God unfolded through history what was to come, i.e., He would bring into being a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9) who would be an inheritance for Him (Deuteronomy 32:9; Jeremiah 10:16), and a people who would love and adore Him forevermore, because of their salvation through His Son.

‘However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom of God ordained before the ages for our glory (1 Corinthians 2:6, 7).’

*My Understanding of New Covenant Theology (NCT)

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/06/my-understanding-of-new-covenant-theology-nct/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Persecution of Christians

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).’

Suffering for Christ

I am in the middle of reading ‘Battle for the Church 1517-1644’ by H. J. Gay, which is available at Amazon UK. I must say it makes for a fascinating and sobering study. Sobering because of the level of detail regarding the horrendous and barbaric persecution that was endured by many Christians in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, because of testifying of their unwavering faith in Christ.

It’s the same today. Millions of Christians are being persecuted, just as in *New Testament times. God’s people are enduring unimaginable sufferings, deprivations, tortures, **imprisonments, hunger, loss of possessions and in some cases expulsions from their homes – all because of living as Christ would have them live, as members of local churches. In the main, they are Christians who meet for worship and fellowship in their own homes (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). Larger churches, especially in China are undergoing great **hardships.

In his book David Gay describes some of the atrocities inflicted upon Christians who for the first time in over a thousand years, had been given access to the Word of God in their own language. This was made possible because of the advent of the printing press. William Tyndale translated most of the Bible into English, and despite fierce opposition from the Catholic church, he had it printed and distributed to those who were hungry to read it. Sadly, many were illiterate; so they got together to hear the precious words spoken to them by voluntary readers. It was a risky business, because had they been caught they would have been severely punished; perhaps even to the extent of losing their life.

The Reformation

Two God-chosen characters, Martin Luther and John Calvin unwittingly sparked into motion the Protestant Reformation. At that time there were many clashes in Europe between the civil authorities, the Catholic church, and those who wanted to worship as they saw fit. There were also marked doctrinal differences between Christians; for example, those who practised infant baptism and the Anabaptists who would only baptise confessing Christians and by full immersion in water. Thereafter they could be accepted into their churches as members of the body (Colossians 1:18, 24).

Thousands suffered for their Christian faith; many enduring pain until death, while looking forward to the joy (Matthew 25:21; Luke 6:23) of the resurrection and the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Here’s what David Gay has to say about their sufferings:

‘But they had powerful enemies – enemies who exacted a price in blood by means of branding iron, stake and hangman’s noose. Even so, those believers who ‘did not love their lives to the death’ took up spiritual arms in the battle for the church. Trusting in God, by his grace they triumphed. This book traces the course of their life-and-death struggle.

But, to put it mildly, the persecution was dreadful in the extreme. Men, women and children suffered agonies and torments beyond the power of words to describe. It is a wonder that flesh and blood could bear it. The Anabaptists were exiled, clapped in irons, kept barely alive on bread and water; they were tied together in chains, the first pushed into the river to drown, each pulling the next in to drown as he died. Many were burned at the stake; some were beheaded; others were branded; others had fingers torn off; some had their tongue pierced through with a stick, or cut out altogether; others had pieces of flesh ripped off with red hot pincers. Some were locked in their meeting houses and burned alive. And all because they would obey Christ as he has revealed his mind in Scripture. They would not baptise their infants, and they would form churches only out of regenerate men and women. Reader, what do you say to this? What do you say of yourself in the light of such things? Are you obedient to Christ? Do you try to do all that he teaches you in his word? Or are you making excuses for disobedience? These Anabaptists put Christ before everything and everyone.’

And:

‘Statistical estimates vary, but it has been said ‘that in Geneva, a town of 16,000 inhabitants, 58 persons were executed and 76 banished in the years 1542-6’.

‘It is true to say that in Calvin’s day thousands of men and women were put to the stake, or otherwise executed in the name of Christ. Life was cheap. Nearly every other section of the professing church had far more blood upon its hands – ‘torturing and burning’ in the name of Christ was virtually universal – the only exception being the Anabaptists and their like.’

Today and Into the Future

It is unbelievable that in recent times people who call themselves Christians could act similarly to those in Calvin’s day, but what occurred during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants was not far short of it – bombings, murders, tortures, kneecappings and intimidation. However, the atrocities were in the main carried out by paramilitaries allied to the Loyalists or Unionists. Had they been genuine born-again Christians (John 3:3-8) they would not have committed their abominable crimes.

Christ’s Call

The call is for all Christians to ‘hold fast the word of life’ (Philippians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Titus 1:9) i.e., the Bible. And in this respect there will be no shortage of volunteers (Psalm 110:3) willing to lay down their lives (John 15:13) for this cause.

Are we willing to lay down our lives to uphold God’s Word?

The day may not be long in coming when we may be faced with the reality of this choice – even here in the UK! The freedoms and the belief of Christians throughout the world are under unprecedented attack. We must not think it strange, therefore, if we find ourselves being persecuted (Acts 8:1) for Jesus’ sake.

But He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5) or forsake us, and He comforts us with these words:

‘“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets (Luke 6:22, 23).”’

And:

‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience (James 1:2, 3).’

Note

Paul the Apostle wrote of his sufferings:

’Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:22-28).’

Links

*New Testament Martyrs

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/06/21/new-testament-martyrs/

**Christian Prisoners of Conscience: Pastor Wang Yi

https://barnabasfund.org/en/Christian-Prisoners-of-Conscience/Wang-Yi

**Mass arrests of Chinese megachurch members continue; some ‘violently beaten’

https://www.christianpost.com/news/mass-arrests-of-chinese-megachurch-members-continue-some-violently-beaten.html

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sin and its Consequences

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines sin as, ‘an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law,’ or ‘an act regarded as a serious offence.’

In English ‘sin’ is a three letter word. Although a small word, it has enormous significance for the lives of all people (Romans 3:23), and the consequences of inheriting sin through our parents from Adam are far reaching (Romans 5:14).

Moral Conscience

The atheist declares there is no sin because there is no god, but at the same time he may accept he could be wrong, and if there is a god it would be sinful to offend Him. The atheist may think he does not sin, and yet he has a problem, because he knows that when he hurts another person he is guilty of committing an act he would not want done to himself. He disobeys a moral or natural law written on his heart (Romans 2:15; James 2:8). When he breaks this moral law, if he has any conscience at all, he knows he is doing wrong. Having done wrong he may own up and apologise to the person he has wronged. He may even endeavour to put right the wrong he has done. If he stole, he might return what he stole, and he might take further steps to recompense the victim (Luke 19:8). This may alleviate some of the guilt he felt. On refection he might come to the conclusion that he wasn’t the good person he thought he was, and he should do something about it (2 Corinthians 7:10)!

It is said that psychopaths do not have a conscience. Hence they are capable of committing horrendous crimes without feeling the slightest guilt. They feel no empathy for those they have wronged or hurt. The Bible describes such people as those whose consciences has been seared (1 Timothy 4:2).

Apart from those few people who lack a conscience, the majority of us know the difference between right and wrong. We have some understanding as to what is good and what is evil. This is made possible because we are descendants of Adam who ate of ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9, 3:6).’ By eating of the fruit of the tree, the eyes of his understanding were opened to not only know what was good, but also to know what was evil (Genesis 3).

The Consequences of Sin

This is the crux of the matter – If Adam had not sinned there would have been no need of a Saviour to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and to save the elect (Mark 13:27) from hell (2 Peter 2:9).

Adam as the federal head of mankind, i.e., the representative of every single one of his offspring and their offspring, was fully responsible for his transgression against God. He knew full-well that what he did was wrong (Genesis 3:3-11). God had entrusted him to do the right thing which was to obey His single command, but he failed miserably.

Consequentially, all of his offspring would be formed in his image (Genesis 5), both male and female, as sinners (Romans 3:23). They would be like him in mind, body and soul. As Adam, they would be responsible for their own actions (1 Corinthians 15:22). The die was cast for mankind, and there would be no remedy for the removal of Adam’s sin from his offspring until the arrival of the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21; 1 Timothy 1:15).

Jesus the Remedy

Jesus came to be a propitiation (Romans 3:25), i.e., a once-for-all sin offering (Hebrews 10:10) by the shedding of His blood at Calvary to demonstrate God’s righteousness, and to be ‘the justifier of the one who has faith in’’ Him (Romans 3:25, 26).

‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).’

‘But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:17, 18).’

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Unchanging Word of God

‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).’

All around us there is constant *change. The whole world is in a flux. Matter continuously changes. The Bible tells us ‘moth and rust doth corrupt (Matthew 6:19, 20).’ Even the most stupendous structures, such as the Himalayan mountains, change their form. Under the seas and on land there are fissures that are forever on the move, and there are earthquakes that shake the earth. Eruptions spill larva and send sulphureous clouds into the sky. New volcanos are formed (Psalm 122:26).

God created the world (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10), and He sustains it today (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). He created all manner of living creatures (Genesis 1:20-31). They die, but their offspring produce more offspring, and life continues. We humans are no exception. We procreate and have offspring.

Unchanging God

In stark contrast to all the flux and vicissitudes of God’s creation, He never changes ( Malachi 3:6). He is the same today as He was yesterday (Hebrews 1:12; 13:8). He is eternal (Psalm 90:2). He has always existed and always will exist. He is the God who exists outside of time and in time (Ephesians 1:4, 5); the God who is **everywhere, all powerful and all knowing. He is the Sovereign King who rules the universe and His heavens (Psalm 22:28; 66:7; 103:19).

God’s Revelation of Himself

So that there would be no excuse (Romans 1:20) for us not knowing Him and worshipping Him, He chose a nation for Himself (Ezekiel 20:5) from whom would come the very Person who created the world, Jesus Christ His Son (Matthew 3:17; 16:15-17). Jesus, very God Himself, being the second Person of the Trinity, would reveal Himself to His people. And who are His people? Those who see Him by faith (Hebrews 12:2), believe in Him and trust Him with their life. He died to give them eternal life (John 3:16) and for them to dwell with Him forever in a new earth that He will create (Revelation 21:1).

God’s Written Word

How do we know this? Well, God gave us His written word, the Bible, which has been translated into at least 670 different languages. God Himself did not pen the words, but those who wrote the 66 books of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what they wrote (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21). Not all versions of the Bible truthfully represent what was written in the original autographs; for example, the New World Translation used by the Jehovah Witnesses differs in places from the King James Bible, especially where the deity of Christ is concerned.

The Jehovah Witnesses deliberately changed their version of the Bible to fit their theology, but nothing changes God’s actual rendering of His original words as written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Some people will only use the King James Version, as they believe it to be the most accurate rendering of the Scriptures.

One thing I wish to point out is that people are not drawn to Christ (John 6:44;  12:32) because they use a particular version of the Bible. They are drawn to Him because He draws them to Himself. I myself was convicted of my sin and the righteousness of Jesus (John 16:8) through reading a paraphrased John’s Gospel. The Holy Spirit brought me to repent of my sins and He transformed me into a ***new creation. I became a new person in my spirit. He gave life to my soul (John 3:3-8), not because of any merit of my part – in fact the very opposite; for I was lost and would have been destined for hell, had it not been for God’s mercy and loving kindness (Exodus 34:7; Joel 2:13).

God’s Word does not change (Matthew 5:18). What He has decreed (Psalm 148:6; Jeremiah 5:22), what He has ordained (Jeremiah 1:5) and what He has said about the future, will take place (Job 23:13).

*God’s Tapestry of Change

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/10/26/gods-tapestry-of-change/

**The Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omni-presence of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/04/14/the-omniscience-omnipotence-and-omnipresence-of-god/

***New Creations in Christ Jesus

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/02/25/new-creations-in-christ-jesus/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Creations in Christ Jesus

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).’

Metamorphosis

The above text is utterly remarkable. Just think about it, and the implications for a person born of the Holy Spirit  (John 3:3-8). It goes way beyond the metamorphosis that takes place when a caterpillar changes into a chrysalis, and after a period of hibernation emerges as a butterfly. Male and female butterflies then flit about for a few days doing what they naturally do. Afterwards the females lay their fertilised eggs which transmogrify into caterpillars – the cycle of reproduction repeats itself over and over again.

Transformation within a Womb

The formation and birth of a butterfly is amazing, but there’s a vast difference between butterflies and human beings!

A human’s life starts when an egg which has found its way from a female’s ovary into a fallopian tube is fertilised by a single sperm from a male – one out of fourteen million from one ejaculation! The egg continues its journey into the uterus and adheres to its inner wall. There it is nourished and grows to become an embryo. After a period of about two months it grows and becomes a foetus with all the potential of viable life for becoming a newly born baby. Even if the child is born two month early, i.e., at the end of a seventh month period, the chances of survival are high, because the necessary formative growth will have taken place.

Soul Life

Unlike a butterfly, a child from the moment of conception, is given a soul (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 42:5; Zechariah 12:1). At that ‘spark’ moment of life the soul can have no awareness of its eternal destiny. Ultimately it is destined for heaven or for hell (Matthew 18:8, 9). God prepared all that went before, and He has planned and predestined all that will take place into the future (Ephesians 1:5). He brought both mum and dad together, and they did what was ‘natural’ (Genesis 2:24). They were united and became ‘one flesh’ – at best as man and wife (v 25), committed to one another and blessed by God.

Ideally, until their child matures and becomes self-sufficient, mum and dad will support and provide for its needs. They will impart to him or her their moral and spiritual values (Deuteronomy 4:8, 9; Ephesians 6:4 ), and if they are Christians they will ensure their youngster understands that its prime purpose in life is to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37) and to give Him the glory forever (Matthew 6:13; Ephesians 1:12). Next to that they are to love others as themselves (Matthew 22:39).

Transformation of the Body and Soul

If the child follows in his Christian parents’ footsteps, he will undergo an incredible transformation; for he will be transported from the realm of spiritual darkness [death] into the kingdom of God’s light [life] (John 12:46; 1 Peter 2:9). The Holy Spirit will enliven his spiritually dead soul (John 3:3-8), and miraculously it will no longer resemble Adam’s soul (Genesis 5:3; Romans 5:14) that was blighted on account of his sin (Genesis 3:6,17-19). Because of this new life, the Christian will be sealed ‘with’ the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), and He will live for ever in God’s kingdom (John 3:16). Furthermore, his body after death, and at the resurrection of the living and the dead, will be made anew as a spiritual body (1 Corinthians15:44) in the likeness of Christ’s body (v 49) .

From the moment of conception, a child is unique (Psalm 33:15), both in body and soul. From the time when a person is able to analyse his motivations he has an inbuilt awareness of what is right and wrong (Romans 2:14, 15). This moral law operates within the mind and conscience of all people, irrespective if they are sons of the living God (Romans 8:19; Ephesians 1:5), or sons of the devil (Acts 13:10). The big difference is for those in Christ, because they are given the gift of eternal life (John 11:25). This is brought about by the transforming Spirit of Christ Jesus who frees them from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

New Creations

They indeed become new creations, i.e., new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who live for Him and who are His inheritance (Deuteronomy 4:20; 7:6; Ephesians 1:18). How remarkable is that! Alleluia. As transformed, new creatures their desire is to be witnesses of Christ (Acts 5:32; 1 Timothy 6:12); although they have not seen Him, they see Him (John 20:29) with the eye of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment