Propitiation, is a word that many liberal Christians do not like at all. What is propitiation? The Greek word is “hilasterion” which means appeasing or expiating. Another meaning for the word propitiation can also be mercy-seat. Paul when writing to the Romans expounded on why the wrath of God would fall on all of mankind who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.He also makes the point that no one can be saved by the works of the law. The law could make no one righteous before God. The rabbinical teachers of Paul’s days taught that by keeping the law i. e. the Torah with its 613 commandments would save a person.Paul makes it very clear that no one can keep the law perfectly and that righteousness before God cannot be attained by the works of the law. “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom 3:20. Righteousness can only come by faith i.e. believing in God and His promises. There is not one righteous, no not one”.Paul writes: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…” Romans 3:9. Since there is none righteous before God and the works of the law cannot save a person, how than is someone saved? This is where the word propitiation comes in, God in His mercy and grace provided the atonement necessary to appease Him and justify the believer.“ But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Rom 3:21-26“whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood.” The phrase “by His blood” is to be taken in immediate connection with “propitiation.” Christ, through His expiatory death, is the personal means by whom God shows the mercy of His justifying grace to the sinner who believes. His “blood” stands for the voluntary giving up of His life, by the shedding of His blood in expiatory sacrifice, under Divine judgment righteously due to us as sinners, faith being the sole condition on man’s part.Liberal Christians are very uneasy about this wrath of God and that God needed to be appeased. Some of them even go so far to say that the God of the OT is an angry and blood thirsty God and so different from the God of the NT. Nothing could be further from the truth.The God of the OT is the same God of the NT. “For I am the LORD, I do not change…Mal 3:6. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Heb 13:8. God who is a just and righteous God has to punish sin, He cannot compromise or overlook sin. Otherwise He would not be a just Judge. In the OT before Christ, God judged people, nations and sin either directly or indirectly. In some cases God used Israel as His instrument through which the judgment came to the pagan nations that surrounded Israel.In other instances He brought the wrath directly i.e. the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the rebellion of Korah and others recorded for us in the OT. In the OT times God gave the nations many warnings through His prophets about His judgment if they would not turn from their sins. God was and is long-suffering, take for instance the Amorites, God waited 400 years before He judged them for their iniquities.“Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. “And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. “Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. “But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Gen 15:13-16.God gave this prophesy to Abram before his son Isaac was even born. We need to keep one thing in mind when unbelievers make the argument that God is a blood thirsty cruel god, who loves to punish people and wipe them out. The nations that God punished in the OT, were the most vile and brutal people. They sacrificed their children on altars to their many gods or burned them. These pagan nations did many ungodly practices that offended the true and living God. Throughout the OT we can read about the judgments of God against these nations and their vile and evil practices, which are also recorded in secular historical writings.When we come to the NT, God through His Son Jesus the Messiah judged sin once and for all. The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross paid for the sin of the world. There were no more blood sacrifices needed to atone for the sins of the people of Israel as instructed in the law given to Moses. God provided the sacrifice needed to appease Him and justice was served by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.God did what Abraham told Isaac on mount Moriah, when God tested him and ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son. “But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” Gen 22:7, 8.This is a beautiful picture of what God did 2000 years later on the very same spot. God provided the sacrifice, His son as a propitiation for the sins of the people. The blood of Jesus was sufficient to pay the penalty of sin. The instituted blood sacrifices of animals were done away with, they could only cover sins, the blood of Jesus took away the sins once and for all. The price was paid in full. Believers in Jesus Christ are justified before God by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. God looks at the believers through the blood of Christ and the believer is declared righteous before God because of what Jesus did for them. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.It is the imputed righteousness of Christ that is imputed onto the believer. There is nothing that anyone can do to appease God, not by works or any other means. People must come through Jesus Christ, the propitiator, the appeaser that justifies the believer. For those who do not believe in the wrath of God and object the propitiation of Jesus, they will have no excuse at the time of the divine judgment. God has paid a very high price to redeem mankind, the precious blood of Christ.Those who reject will be judged accordingly and the wrath of God abides on them. These are not my words, but the words of Jesus: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36
Christmas is right around the corner and every year we hear the same rhetoric. There is much opposition to this particular religious holiday from many people, secularist, atheist and others. Mainly from liberals that call for tolerance as long as it has nothing to do with Christianity, Jesus or the Bible.
Christianity is under attack in this country and this year the same people come forward to speak out against the name of Christmas, the Christmas tree and other Christian symbols. To be honest, personally I do not believe that Christmas as we know it was celebrated by the early church or that the early church used a Christmas tree to commemorate the birth of Christ.
I can’t find anything in the Bible that teaches the believers to celebrate Christmas i.e. the birth of Christ as we traditionally do in many places around the world. I do believe that it is a man-made holiday and that some aspects of it are rooted in ancient paganism, adopted by Constantine, who compromised with the world, mixing Christianity with Paganism.
Many books have been written about this subject and people have discussed this issue for many years. I don’t really care to go into too many details about this. Christmas has been a longstanding tradition and I’m not opposed to it.
Jesus wasn’t born on Dec 25th but since no one knows the exact date, the world settled on that date. The world celebrates Christmas and it has become nothing more than a commercial holiday, especially over the last few decades.
I participate in the celebration of Christmas with the family and the exchange of gifts etc. and I do enjoy a decorated tree in my living room, but I firmly believe that the only Holidays the Lord cares about are His seven divine appointed Feast which are: Passover, Unleavened bread, First fruits, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles. Three of the Feast are in the Spring and four in the fall. Some could argue that Jesus may have been born during the feast of Tabernacles.
Those are the Holidays that we should learn and care about. Whenever God has done great things, He has many times done them on His divine appointed times. Jesus was crucified on Passover, He was in the tomb for Unleavened bread and rose on First fruits. The Holy Spirit inaugurated the church age on Pentecost. I believe that the rapture will happen on the feast of trumpets, the world will be judged on Yom Kippur and God will dwell with us on the Feast of Tabernacles.
Once again we will celebrate Christmas this year almost like the world celebrates it, with the one difference that we think of Jesus Who became flesh, dwelled among us and took our sins and nailed them to the cross. We believe in Him by faith. Many Christians have Christmas trees in their homes and many churches display them these days. I used to have a problem with seeing a Christmas tree in the church, but I’m over it now.
Then there are those who believe that the tree is a pagan symbol and that the Bible speaks about it in the book of Jeremiah chapter 10. Louis Farrakhan, who I would not consider to be a biblical Christian in light of various statements he has made over the years and his antisemitic views. Farrakhan has come out again addressing the Christmas tree and points to a passage in Jeremiah. Many people have used these passages over the years to supposedly prove that God is against a decorated Christmas tree.
That of course is absolute nonsense and those passages have nothing to do with a Christmas tree or any other Christmas decorations. Here is another classic example showing how people use certain passages or verse to twist it in order to fit their agenda and ideology.
“For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.” Jeremiah 10:3-5
Those verses clearly talk about people cutting a piece of wood, to make idols that they bowed down to and worshiped. The Israelites turned their backs many times on the Lord and worshiped pagan idols, decorating them with gold and silver. Many idols had a human likeness. Instead of worshiping and praising the true and living God, they bowed down to a dead piece of wood.
That is one thing God does not like, man making idols and bow down to them. Israel was punished many times because the turned to idols and today we as the church i.e the bride of Christ, need to be careful not to make idols or worship something that is not real. Some people worship wealth, material things and themselves. There are three things that we need to guard against, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.
There is nothing wrong with having some nice things, as long as they do not come before God. The Christmas tree is not an idol and I have not seen anyone bowing down to the tree or worship the tree.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a time to reflect and realize that God send His Son, Who humbled Himself and left Heaven to become one of us, God in the flesh.
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.
We are inching closer to a two state solution which would be disastrous for Israel. The day will come and looking at the Middle East especially the massacre by the Syrian regime on it’s own people without the UN really helping the people of Syria.
The world just looks on while according to the rebel forces over 40.000 people have been slaughtered.
I believe that we are coming very close to Joel chapter 3 being fulfilled:
“For behold, in those days and at that time, When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem.” Joel 3:1.
God did that in 1948, when Israel was back in the land. Prophecy fulfilled.
“I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.” Joel 3:2.
The first part will come after the division of the land, which will happen. Note, it says “they have also divided up my land.”
Israel will be divided, whether Israel likes it or not.
This will happen in the very near future. Something will happen with Syria. There is one prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled. It is a prophecy in Isaiah 17.
“The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.” Isaiah 17:1.
Damascus is one of the oldest inhabited city in the world. Listening to the news and the advancement of the rebels towards Damascus could bring this prophecy into reality sooner as we may think. All it takes is one nuke.
The stage is set for a two state resolution, Syria is in a civil war and Iran is going rogue, sympathizing with the Syrian regime, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.
In Egypt, the Muslim brotherhood has taken over and President Mursi is trying to set himself up as a dictator. The US is almost powerless in the Middle East and has lost the confidence of some Muslim that want freedom and a democracy in the region. Maybe one of the reasons that we can’t find America mentioned in the Bible?
The Middle East is a powder keg that can go off big time at any time. Iran is getting closer to a nuclear weapon threatening to wipe Israel of the map. Ahmadinejad is reigning in chaos and is eagerly awaiting the 12th Imam.
We are truly living in biblical times and we see things that no other generation has seen. We see the globalization of the world, the US moving toward socialism and President Obama as a promoter of a global economy i.e a one world order with a worldwide currency.
Now is the time to watch. Everyday something is changing and I do believe that God is shaking up the world. The world is struck with perplexity and we hear of wars and rumors of war.
Jesus told us about all these things that will come to pass and there will be a person that will emerge to bring a peace plan to the Middle East. A 7 year peace plan that will according to the Bible fall apart in the middle after 3 1/2 years which will usher in the Great Tribulation.
I’m not making any prediction when this will happen, but looking at the way things are developing, it’s time to wake up and look up.
I think that we will see some things in the very near future that will drive the world into a tailspin. Are you ready?
The study of Eschatology is important, especially now that we are getting closer to many prophecies come to pass.
Ezekiel 38, 39. Daniel, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Matthew 25, some of Paul’s writing, the book of Joel, Zechariah and of course the book of Revelation. There are other that I didn’t mentioned, but God has given us His word. We should not be surprised or shocked as the world will be, because the Lord has given us all knowledge.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray for the Muslim world and pray that many people will come to the knowledge of the truth. God is working all things for good. He is on the throne and He is in control over all things.
Turning on the TV today, can make one down right upset. There is the unrest in the Middle East and other places. People protesting, hating and killing one another. The economy is in shambles, many are without a job and can’t find one. The government is making promises it can’t keep and wants the people to rely and depend on the government to fix everything in due time. Many people have lost their hope.
The world seems to have become a dark place and is getting darker every day, as many are suffering in this time of uncertainty from a variety of circumstances. Is there a way out? Will this world ever get better? How much longer can it go on like this?
The world is struck with perplexity, just as the Bible tells us. Everyday, there is something reported in the news media that confirms that. The world has changed and is changing by the minute. The world as we know it is dissipating right before our own eyes.
Many people around the world are suffering and the joy that once existed or what is left of it seem to go down in flames. We are finding ourselves in a downward spiral. There seem to be more questions than answers. There are more and more politicians with their rhetoric proclaiming that they have the answers. Not!
Many Christian’s today find themselves in the same dilemma as those who are of this world. They have lost their joy in life. They seem to be hopeless and are suffering because of it. Of course I realize that Christians face many of the same problems as others do. Unemployment, financial problems, health issues and many other things that come with living in the 21st Century.
Here is my question in all of this, are we as believer in Jesus Christ exempt from all the problems that are in the world? Are we somehow shielded from all things? I think not, but are we to lose our joy in the midst of all the suffering?
First of all, let me say this, believers in Christ and His word should not be surprised at all when looking at this world. Jesus was very clear about how things will be in the last days. We as believers should be very aware, seeing the signs of the time, that the end is near.
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28.
We do see many of these things starting to happen, the birth pangs are more frequent every day. The world is struck with perplexity. We are getting closer. Look up!
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21:25, 26.
In the meantime, we as believers should not lose our joy. This world and it’s pleasures and problems will fade. We as believers have already eternal life, because we believe in Him Who laid down His life for us. That is something we should and need to rejoice in. This world is passing away, so why worry about these temporal things, we need to see the eternal picture. We need to see the world from God’s perspective.
Of course we will have trials and tribulations, our Lord told us so. But in the midst of all this suffering, we should not lose our joy. Paul suffered a lot as did many of the others that went before us, but they never lost their joy or purpose. They had eternity in view.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18, 19.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8.
There are so many passages in the Bible, that speak of the joy within the believer. We need to rejoice, even in these dark days with all its suffering, both personal and in general. The joy of the Lord needs to be in us on our journey to the promised land, the path that leads to eternal life.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.
The book of Philippians is also called the book of joy. Read it and see how Paul rejoiced in the midst of suffering.
Many of us I’m sure, are familiar with the story of Ruth in the Bible. This story I believe as many others do, is a message to the Church today. There is an application in the story that God wants us to hear and understand. Before I come to the application, I will summarize the story.
There was a man named Elimelech who had a wife named Naomi and two sons. They left the promised land because a famine had come upon it. They did not seek the Lord, as many did in the times of the Judges, but they went out of the land and settled in Moab. As time passed by, Elimilech died and Naomi was left with her two sons Mahlon and Chilion.
These two sons married Moabite women, named Orpah and Ruth. After some time both of their husbands died. Naomi was heartbroken about the loss of her sons. She lost her faith and joy and decided to return to the promised land.
So the three went out towards Israel, the promised land. But when they came to a bend in the road, Naomi told her two daughters in law to stay in the land of Moab and their gods. She said, I have no more sons to give you, return to your homes. Orpah turned around and went back to her land and her gods, but Ruth clung to Naomi.
She was not going home and she was determined to go with her Mother in law into the land of Israel, to the hometown of Naomi which was Bethlehem, Ephrathah in Judea. So she petitioned Naomi and said some of the most beautiful words written in the Bible.
“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.” Ruth 1:16-18.
Ruth had fallen in love with Naomi and the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Both of them set their eyes towards the promised land and went on their way to Bethlehem.
One day Ruth was gleaning the fields and she met Boaz who was very kind to her because he had already learned about her and how she was a good daughter in law to Naomi who was a relative of Boaz. As Ruth was coming home, Naomi was amazed at how much Ruth had gleaned. She asked her which field she was gleaning in and she told her that it was the field of Boaz.Naomi was beside herself and thanked the God of Israel who had shown favor on her.
Long story, short, Naomi became the match maker and Boaz married Ruth. They had a child together who’s name was Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of the future King of Israel, David.
What can we as the church learn from this story? How is it relevant for us as believers who believe in the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob? What is the application for us today?
In the ancient Jewish culture the names of people had meanings. The name Elimilech means “God is King” and Naomi means “pleasant.” Ruth means “friend or friendly” in the Hebrew and Orpah means “to turn the back of the neck.”
That is what Orpah did, she turned her back of the neck towards Naomi and went back to Moab and her gods. Not so with Ruth, she embraced the Jewish people and the true and living God of Israel and God blessed her beyond her wildest imagination. She became the great-grandmother of King David. From the line of King David came Jesus the promised Messiah i.e Yashuah which means “salvation.”
Just as Orpah turned her back on Israel, so today many of the churches have turned their backs on Israel. They teach a replacement theology and that all the blessings and promises that God gave to Israel are now belonging to the church. At a time that Israel needs us most, many have turned their backs.
But there are some within the body of Christ that want to bless and support Israel. The Land of Israel is God’s land. It belongs to Him and no one else. It is the Land where He gave His only begotten Son and it is the Land where Jesus will return to rule as King from Jerusalem. It is the Land where God will reveal His Son to the Jewish people.
Just as Ruth loved the Jewish people, so we as the church need to love and support them. We need to pray for them and help them to return to the land given to them so long ago by God through a promise to Abraham.
God is fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant today and all the unconditional blessings that come with this covenant. He wants to bring back His people to the covenant of faith, not of the law. The law was given to Israel 430 years after Abraham because they had left the faith and went after other gods and everybody did what was right in their own eyes.
The law was a Tudor, showing people that they can never live up to the righteousness and Holiness of God. Now that God has brought them back into the land, in unbelief as prophesied in Ezekiel 36 and 37, He will one day open their eyes and they will see Yashua. The will believe, just as Abraham believed and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
We as true biblical believers are not sons of Moses and the law, we are the sons and daughters of Abraham by the grace of God through faith.
We need to bless Israel and the people of Israel and worship the LORD in spirit and truth. Israel is not out of the picture and God has not cast them aside. Israel is the apple of His eye. We as the church have a role to play in these last days. If we want to be blessed by God, we need to stand with His chosen people.
Ruth chose to go with Naomi to the land and she loved the God of Israel and He blessed her there. This is what God wanted all along, the Jew and the Gentiles coming together as one, which was and is part of the unconditional covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15.
“I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”Genesis 12:3.
“…just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” Galatians 3:6-9.
There is a beautiful story in the Bible, that many of us are very familiar with. It is the story about Jesus meeting the woman at the well. This woman was a Samaritan. Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, in fact, they were hated by the Jews, probably even more than the Gentiles.
The rabbi’s would travel around Samaria to go north, although the distance would have been much shorter by traveling through Samaria. They went out of their way not to go through Samaria, because of their extreme dislike of the Samaritans.
Not so with Jesus, He came up from Judea, traveling towards Galilee which is north of Jerusalem. Jesus did not choose the longer route in order to avoid contact with the Samaritans. In fact, He had a divine appointment with that woman at the well. “But He needed to go through Samaria.” John 4:4.
Jesus knew exactly what He was doing, this divine appointment was foreordained and was God’s plan. Jesus arrived at the well around noon time i.e the sixth hour shortly before the woman would come to the well to draw water. It is interesting that the woman was all by herself, normally the women would come early in the morning to draw the water. Some believe that the woman came in the later part of the day because she was somewhat of an outcast in her village. As we learn later on in the story, she had several husbands and she was living with a man that she was not married to.
Why did Jesus go out of His way to meet this particular woman? Even she was baffled that a Jew would talk to her.
“Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:9-14.
At first the woman did not understand that Jesus was talking about spiritual things to her. At this point she had no idea that she was talking to the Messiah, the true and living God in the flesh. This woman had no idea that this encounter with Jesus would change her whole life and the life of many more Samaritans that came to faith because Jesus went out of His way to meet the women at the well.
What can we as believers learn from this story today? The religious leaders of Jesus’ days would go out of their way no to come in contact with the sinners and avoid them at all cost. What about us? Are we willing to go out of our way to meet sinners, those who do not yet know Jesus? Or are we more comfortable living in a Christian bubble, no contact with those outside the church? I wonder how many divine appointments we may have missed. Jesus went out of His way many times, in fact He sought out the sinners and even dinned with them. He cared about those who were lost.
Should we not have the same heart as Jesus did, telling people about Jesus and the promises of God that can change many peoples lives? Our testimony as believers and the love of God can change the heart of many, if we are willing to go out of our ways and to meet people like the woman at the well. Because of Jesus’ testimony about Himself to the woman at the well, many people of that city believed in Him and were saved. Salvation had come to them because Jesus was willing to go out of His way.
I pray that we have the same urgency and compassion that Jesus had. What the world needs is Jesus. The world needs to know about Jesus, not religion but the forgiveness, salvation and eternal life that God promised to all those that believe by faith. A loving relationship with the living God. Let us be the messengers of light to a lost people and a hopeless world.
“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” that is, the word of faith which we preach: that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:8, 9, 13-15, 17.
“For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1Cr 1:11-13.
Paul wrote this to the church in Corinth almost 2000 years ago. Even in the early days of the church, divisions and conflicts plagued the church in Corinth. Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus to correct and rebuke them. People had formed cliques and had their own leaders. There was the “Paul Party,” who declared “We are following in the footsteps of the founder of the church, the apostle Paul. We’re the ones that are right with God!” There was the “Apollos Party,” who declared “We are following a man who is great in power and spiritual gifts, and impressive. We’re the ones really right with God!” There was the “Peter Party,” who declared “We are following in the footsteps of the man who is first among all the apostles. Jesus gave him the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and he’s our man. We’re the ones really right with God!” There was the “Jesus Party,” who declared “You all are so carnal, following after mere men. We are following in the footsteps of no one less than Jesus Himself. We’re the ones really right with God!”
Really not all that much different from today’s church. There are many denominations that claim that they are right with God and others are not because of what they believe or teach. They believe that the have the truth. There are so many denominations that it can get outright confusing for believers, let alone unbelievers.
Many unbelievers that watch the church are asking the question: “Which of all the different churches is the right one? Shouldn’t you Christians all be the same? How come there are so many contentions and divisions amongst you?” I can see their point. There are the Roman Catholics, the Protestants, the Baptist, the Methodist, the Presbyterians and the list goes on. Which one holds the the truth? They all claim to be the right church, yet there are vast differences between them.
Than there are these Tel-evangelist who are fleecing the people of their money, selling their anointed holy oil or prayer cloth on TV like a shopping channel. Some teach the prosperity gospel, talking about sowing “your seed” so that God will bless you. Send in a seed of a thousand dollars and God will double it. God is not an ATM machine. Some of them want you to send them a love gift. These people are greedy and exploit people. They prey on the vulnerable and weak. They come in the name of God, but have alternative motives. Mostly to fill their own pockets and boast about their awesome ministry and how God has blessed them. No, you ripped off the people, that’s how you can afford to be on TV selling your anointed prayer cloth.
Jesus never taught a prosperity gospel. He never taught that we should be after riches in this lifetime. Seeing these TV preachers makes me not want be a identified as a Christian sometimes. They turn me off and admittedly they do make me angry.
What about so-called churches like the Westboro Baptist church that demonstrates at military funerals, condemning all homosexuals to hell and preach on the street corners that God caused 9/11. Is that anything like what Christ taught? Did Jesus come to condemn the people? Shame on these so-called Christians. They are not representing Jesus and they are far from Him. Is that how the church should act or look like to the outside world? Is that what a Christian church should look like?
What is the church? I know on thing for sure, it is not a building, a temple or denomination. The true church is the bride or the body of Christ. Every true believer are individual stones that make up the temple of God, with Jesus being the cornerstone.
There are so many today just as in Paul’s days that follow a denomination, a certain preacher or liberal theologians. Many of the churches have compromised with the world, they are lukewarm and some are so far removed from the true faith that I could not even consider them as true followers of Jesus Christ. Many of those are seeker friendly churches, that do not address sin or talk about the blood. They want to be politically correct and don’t want to offend anybody. Was Jesus politically correct during His ministry? Jesus went right to the heart of a person, convicting them of their sins which led many to repentance. He did not hold back or softened the message.
The true Gospel is offensive and many churches are refusing to preach that message today. They care more about how many people attend their church, giving their tithe and offerings or making them feel comfortable. Let’s not talk about sin or hell. Let’s rather focus on prosperity and how God will bless you if you do certain things. God loves you and blesses you and as long as you give us your money and stay at our church, He will continue to bless you.
I don’t even want to go into certain churches that are either sects or cults. They shall remain nameless at this time. So many of them are very legalistic in their teachings and some have total control over their congregation. Some teach that the Sabbath and dietary laws need to be kept or that water baptism is needed to be saved etc. Others teach that Sundays is the wrong day and that those who go to church on Sundays are worshiping Satan. Others deny the Trinity i.e the triune Godhead altogether, they teach that there are 3 gods or more. How much more confusing can it get? No wonder many unbelievers and especially atheist think of Christians as delusional and backwards.
Paul was very clear about being of one mind and one spirit:
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1Cr 1:10.
“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.”Phl 1:28.
“Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Rom 12:16.
This is happening today, people follow a denomination or a leader. They listen and follow the teachings of those denominations and some put their trust in their salvation by being members of a certain church. Many people are very religious, but do not know the first thing about true faith or what the Bible teaches. Membership does not save anyone, a certain denomination does not save, neither does following a cult, sect or religious leader. Jesus Christ is the One that saves and a person that has received Jesus as Lord and Savior belongs to His church, the bride of Christ.
I for one rather follow Jesus rather than man. He is my guiding light, He is the way, the truth and the life. If I would rely on a church, pastor or priest for my salvation, I might be in trouble. Man is finite, corrupted and sometimes deceived. Unfortunately many have been deceived by certain church doctrines.
Jesus is the head of the church, it is He that we need to follow. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He is God in the flesh. He humbled Himself to become one of us. Because of Him we can know the Father. Because of Him we are reconciled and justified before the Father. Because of Him we have eternal life. If we know Jesus, we know God. If we know Jesus, we are One with God.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Col 1:15-18.
Just think about it, the Creator of all things, Who was and Who is and Who is to come, the great “I AM” loves you and me with an unconditional love. He lives in our hearts and we are secure in Him, if we abide in Him. He is our teacher and He is the One that sees us through every obstacle or challenge we might face. Don’t follow finite man with their egos or pride and often times wrong motives. Follow Jesus instead!