Joy of the Gospel

The Good News of Jesus Christ

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Author: Joy of the Gospel (page 1 of 2)

Crime Pays

We should show others mercy because God shows us mercy. I think of how merciful God is to me when I consider my sin. In my lifetime, I sinned many times. Therefore, I consider this question: “What if God punished me every time I sinned?” What would my punishment be? Well, Scripture explicitly says that the punishment of my sin is death. As the apostle Paul writes, “the wages of sin is death” (1). Death is the reward for sin; death is sin’s compensation. Therefore, since I sinned many times and the wages of sin is death, I should die many times or die horrifically. Sometimes, I hear people say, “Crime doesn’t pay.” However, Scripture states the opposite. Scripture says crime pays and pays by killing us. Sinning, therefore, is a lousy job with lousy pay. But thanks be to Jesus Christ who saved us from our sins and former lifestyles. Because of Jesus, we don’t receive what we deserve. When we accept Jesus Christ, God forgives our crime and pardons our deserved punishment.

(1) Romans 6:23.

Warm Embrace

Make me a place where I can stand
I watch you close while you watch me.
Beneath your face and in your hand.
Your holy ghost as close can be

I meet your hug, your warm embrace.
You pull. You know what I need best.
Your love and tug against my waist;
Your river flow refresh and zest.

The night is near but morning comes.
I catch a sound against my ear.
The light appears. Your whisper hums.
Was lost. Now found. Was deaf. Now hear!

His and Ours

In the beginning, God promised us He would be our God as long as our hearts were toward Him (1). Our changed hearts are signs that we repented from evil deeds. Changing our hearts shows that we want to be God’s. This desire for a relationship, between God and humans, goes two ways: 1) The promise is that we can be God’s and 2) That we should show that we want to be God’s by a changed heart.

A Caring God

When people are God’s people, God takes care of them. Being God’s means that God takes possession of us. He, like a mother, nurtures, protects, and encourages us. He is like the mother watching her daughter play a basketball game; the mother cares for her daughter’s safety, helped the daughter get ready for the game by washing her daughter’s jersey, and shouts during the game to encourage her daughter. The daughter takes comfort in her knowing that she has a mother like this. We can take similar comfort in God because God tells us “Fear not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my right hand of righteousness” (2).

No Other God

When we have God and God has us, we don’t need another God because God is enough “God” for us. If we look at the example of the caring mother and the nurtured daughter, we should see that the nurtured daughter has no reason to want another mother. Her mother is enough because the mother gives the daughter what the daughter needs. If I have a God who cares, protects, and strengthens me, why do I need another god? I don’t. When I have a God who loves me so much to “be merciful to my unrighteousness and forget my iniquities,” what other god do I need? If I have a God who gives me eternal life, what other god should I seek? None.

When we belong to God, we show that we are His from our behavior. He takes care of us, and we have no desire for another god. When God is ours, “we have everything” (3).


(1) Genesis 17:10-14, In Romans 2:25-29, Paul explains that a heart towards God is the circumcision that God talks about in Genesis.
(2) Isaiah 41:10.
(3) 1 Corinthians 3:21.

Another Prosperity Gospel

Many people, including Christians, discount the prosperity gospel. They believe that we should not think after people become Christians they will only experience earthly blessings, favor, and peace. This prosperity gospel, they say, contradicts what the apostle Peter tells us. Peter says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1). The apostle Peter warns Christians of difficult times. He says that these difficult times are opportunities to rejoice because Jesus went through similar suffering. Peter’s message suggests that every Christian will go through a trial, but a Christian should not despair.

Another Prosperity Gospel

Peter’s message, however, does not negate the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel in Scripture, though, differs from the prosperity gospel we hear today. Today we hear that Christians will be leaders, owners, entrepreneurs, authors, presidents, and CEOs. We hear that Christians should become rich, favored among people, and influential. Christians, to this view, should never get sick and believe that they must recover from all diseases and not die before their time. Such prosperity is conditional and earthly. It is earthly and conditional because it depends on earthly events instead of God. God, however, tells us about another and better prosperity gospel.

God’s Promise

God promises that Christians will prosper. But this prosperity differs from how the world defines it. Jesus’ prosperity gospel said, “the kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and cast into his garden, and it grew and grew into a great tree” (2). Jesus also said, “It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it leavened the whole” (3). Jesus talks about increase and abundance, but we should remember that Jesus says His illustration is a metaphor, not a reality. We should not believe that His illustration is literal. We should, however, think of what the metaphor points to. It points to the invisible kingdom of God.

Prosperity

The prosperity gospel is this: When we become Christians and follow God’s commandments, we will prosper spiritually. God tells us that “the righteous” will get “stronger and stronger” (4). He says that the “righteous shall flourish and grow” (5). God says that our way of life “shines more and more unto the perfect day” (6). This prosperity, however, happens within. Prosperity, for Christians, is the state of being spiritually successful, being rich in good deeds, and being leaders of our spiritual lives. Such prosperity is inward—like the mustard seed planted in the ground and like the leaven hid in the measure of meal. Such inwardness shows that prosperity is an “in thing” instead of an outward, material, or temporal thing. 

The next time we hear a prosperity gospel that focuses on temporal blessings, richness, leadership, healing, or favor, we should replace the temporal with the spiritual. God promises all who believe in him spiritual blessings, wealth, leadership in our spiritual lives, healing, and favor (7).


(1) 1 Peter 4:12-13.
(2) Luke 13:19.
(3) Luke 13:21.
(4) Job 17:9.
(5) Psalm 92:12-14.
(6) Proverbs 4:18.
(7) Luke 6:38; Philippians 4:19; Deuteronomy 28:13; Isaiah 53:5; Proverbs 3:4.

Unlimited and Infinite

Knowing Our Limitations

Part of understanding who God is comes from understanding who we are. As humans, we are limited and finite. By limited, I mean that we cannot do anything, be everywhere, or know everything. By finite, I refer to how we live in such limitations. When we understand ourselves as finite and limited beings and God as an unlimited and infinite being, we see the human-God relationship more clearly. We can summarize such a relationship like this: God can and we cannot. Accepting this relationship and that God can do things we cannot is vital to have a proper conception of our existence before God.

Once we come to this knowledge, of knowing that God is infinitely more than us, we can see how God could help us in our lives. If a person could complete a task I couldn’t but I needed that task completed, wouldn’t it be natural for me to ask this person for help? Say, for instance, I am sick to the point I cannot move; I need my kitchen sink and pipes replaced, and I am not a plumber. Wouldn’t it be natural for me to contact a plumber? I could look on YouTube and figure out how to do the job. But remember. I am sick and cannot move. Such a scenario describes how humans’ relationship to God.

Help With Our Finitude and Limitations

God helps us with our finitude and limitations because He overcomes our finitude and limitations. He well knows that we are “sick” and limited and need His help. However, it is our job to realize this. A story from the Gospel of Mark makes this point clearer. One day, a father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples so they could heal him. However, the disciples couldn’t heal him. Later, Jesus’ disciples wanted to know why they couldn’t heal the boy. Jesus answered, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (1) 

Not a Formula

Jesus appears to give His disciples a formula for difficult cases of sicknesses and mental illnesses. However, when Jesus tells His disciples that some cases require prayer and fasting, He expresses that His disciples must rely not on their power but God’s power. Prayer and fasting is a formula that asks God to intervene. Such prayer and fasting, which seeks God, shows that a person understands that he or she is limited and finite and needs God’s help. God gives us much power. Yet sometimes we need to rely on a being who is unlimited and infinitely more powerful than us: God Almighty, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1) Mark 9:14-29.

The Turnaround

One day, Hezekiah wanted God to show a sign to prove that God would heal him from a “sickness unto death.” After this request, the prophet Isaiah asked Hezekiah which sign he wanted to see. Should God 1) make the shadow on the sundial go forward 10 degrees or 2) go backward 10 degrees? Hezekiah responded by saying that making the shadow go forward 10 degrees was an easy thing to do but making the shadow go backward 10 degrees was difficult. Thus, Hezekiah asked for the shadow to go backward 10 degrees. The prophet Isaiah cried unto God for Hezekiah and God made the shadow go backward 10 degrees. (1)

It’s Easy with God

Hezekiah’s request suggests that he thought the more difficult sign was for the shadow to go backward 10 degrees. However, this sign was easy for God. Nothing is difficult or impossible with God. The difficulty to do anything comes not from God who is all-powerful but humans who are finite beings with limited power. We are limited beings, so changing our conditions, hearts, habits, minds, and circumstances can be a daunting task and appear impossible. Sometimes, we cannot change our lives’ circumstances. However, “with God all things are possible” (2).

The Turn

We might think we cannot turn our lives around from a life of sin to one of righteousness. We may feel that we cannot become good after doing so much bad. We may feel that bad habits have such a grip on us that we cannot stop them. These are all correct ways to think and feel because only God can redeem, transform, and cleanse us. We need God to do the humanly impossible for us. We need God to save us from our sins. As in the story about Hezekiah shows, making time go backward is humanly impossible. But if God can make time go backward, He can definitely turn our lives around as a sign of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Our salvation is possible only with Him.

(1) 2 Kings 20:1-12.
(2) Matthew 19:26.

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time is a procedure to advance or reverse clocks to gain more sunlight after the workday. In theory, it gives people an extra hour of sunlight to enjoy after work. Here, people manipulate time to control how long the light is with them. If we think about it, though, who controls time? Can people stop, advance, or reverse time? No. Time is one thing we cannot control. However, daylight savings time controls how long people experience sunlight. 

Yet, the only thing that actually changes is how people live. People who use daylight savings time do not change time but change their lives by waking up earlier or later. Therefore, daylight savings time is a life-change instead of a time change. This life-change affects how we interact with the light. This practice is interesting because Scripture also expresses that, though we cannot change time, we can make a life-change that affects how we interact with the Light.

The End of Time: As We Know It

How should we live? We must do God’s will while we live. We can procrastinate about many things, but we cannot procrastinate in living. Living is not only fragile but is valuable because we do not know when we will die. We, however, know our death. We may not know how, when, or where, but we all know that we will die (1).

When we die, our earthly life ends. Such a departure entails that we can no longer do earthly deeds. Therefore, any good that we wanted to do we cannot do. If we, for example, wanted to give money to charity, tell someone we loved him or her, or tell others about Jesus Christ, we cannot do any of this when we die. Jesus reminds us we “must work the works of God who sent Him, while it is day because the night comes when no man can work” (2). We can only live for God while we live. When night [death] comes, we cannot.

Living in the Day

Doing good deeds while we are alive is not enough. We must have light while we live. We get light by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. If we do not accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior, we live in darkness. Our life, thus, can be full of light or darkness. This life, however, does not last long. “We do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is our life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (3). If tomorrow is not a guarantee and we have a choice to live in darkness or light, “a little while is the light with us” (4). Therefore, we should “walk while we have the light in us” before we die (5).

Now’s the Time

We can thus live two ways. We can live in the light: Living with Jesus in our hearts and doing His works. Or, we can live in darkness: living without Jesus and working in vain (6). One might say that “as long as people do the works of God, they live in the light.” However, the works of God are not gratuitous acts but our belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. As Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (7). We should, thus, believe in Jesus Christ and that He is our Lord and Savior while we are alive, while we have time.


(1) Hebrews 9:27.
(2) John 9:4.
(3) James 4:14.
(4) John 12:35.
(5) John 12:35-36.
(6) John 11:9-10.
(7) John 6:29.

Vast

Upon the mount, you bled for me.
That cross that held you up so high;
Exact amount of love to be
My sin that nailed you up to die.

Your love looks past my slips and falls.
You pick me up like I’m your own.
Your love is vast; it lasts and calls.
Can none stack up without a loan?

Your thoughts exceed our wants and cares
And give us all a destined end
To be your seed and deemed as heirs,
To take your call, and stripes that mend.

Truth Sounds Like Jesus

What does truth sound like? If Jesus told the truth, does it matter if we believe Him? Every person should ask this question. Another question we should ask ourselves is this: “Does Jesus ask me to do anything wrong?” This question can make choosing Christianity easier. This question isolates us and gets rid of the distractions of tradition, conventional opinion, and skepticism. When we approach Christianity like this, we see its bare bones. We see its truth.

Jesus said, “I came into the world for this reason: that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice” (1). This statement prompted Pilate to ask, “What is truth” (2)? Pilate, however, did not wait on Jesus’ answer. We, however, have the answer to Pilate’s question. Jesus says He is “the truth and the life” (3). This claim appears to be enormous, but what should we expect from God’s son? Should He not speak with “authority” (4)? Should we expect Him to say that He is not the only thing that matters?

Believing a Lie

Jesus’ claim (to be the Truth) causes some to question and reject what appears to be an outrageous claim. Some argue that such a claim is unbelievable. Some ask, for instance, why should we believe Him or what about others who claim to be the Truth? Such skepticism is unbelief in disguise. This unbelief, though, gives us no excuse to not believe that Jesus is telling the Truth. For example, if it is raining, and someone tells us it is raining, but we do not believe that person, our unbelief does not make that person’s claim untrue. We would “believe a lie” (5). Believing a lie is nothing more than not believing the truth (6). Such unbelief is because of something worse.

Loving the Darkness

People who disbelieve that Jesus is the Truth do so because they love evil. Evil is not what Jesus calls us to do. He calls us to do good deeds. Thus, anyone who rejects Jesus rejects not some crazy man who tells people to do horrendous acts but a man who calls people to be righteous. One must ask this serious question: “What does Jesus say I should do that is not right?” Such a question should reveal that Jesus wants us to be righteous people who live in His light (7). However, if people disbelieve Jesus Christ, the consequence and reason for such disbelief are these people “love darkness rather than light, and their deeds are evil” (8).

The Sound of Truth

Jesus’ voice is the sound of truth. He is what truth sounds like because He is the Truth. Therefore, Jesus’ statement to Pilate—“Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice”—bears witness unto himself and the Truth. If we are unwilling to believe this Truth, we reject it because we do not want to hear it. But the word “hear” means to take heed of Jesus’ message and meaning. For instance, someone might say, “You are hearing me, but are you listening?” This question shows that “hearing” relates to our senses and soul. Our senses hear with the ears, and our soul hears with the heart. If people reject Jesus, they reject Him from their hearts and because they do not want to do what Jesus says.


(1) John 18:37.
(2) John 18:38.
(3) John 14:6.
(4) Matthew 7:29.
(5) 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
(6) 2 Thessalonians 2:12.
(7) 1 Peter 2:9.
(8) John 3:19-20.

The Apocalypse of Jesus

When the apocalypse comes, will you be ready? What if the apocalypse is already here? This question might sound strange if we judge an apocalypse by catastrophic events. An apocalypse, however, could be the revelation of something unknown. An apocalypse, therefore, could be trivial or life-changing. 

When we talk about the word apocalypse or the Apocalypse, people usually think of the final destruction of the planet Earth. Such a view comes from interpreting the book of Revelation as a document that outlines God’s wrath against sinful humanity. This view of the Apocalypse has led to the thought of the word apocalypse as the destruction of the world. A movie called The Apocalypse, for example, was about an enormous asteroid headed for Earth. This asteroid could kill all humanity. 

The Mystery of the Apocalypse

However, the word apocalypse has another meaning. Apocalypse means the revealing of something unknown. Scripture defines apocalypse as a “mystery which was kept secret since the world began” (1). Scripture also describes apocalypse as the good news of Jesus Christ (2). Therefore, Scripture describes apocalypse as the revealed mystery of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, unlike the threatening asteroid, is the savior of the Earth. Jesus—as the apocalypse— differs from the common perception of apocalypse as destruction. Apocalypse has a less catastrophic and older meaning that points to Jesus Christ.

Apocalypse Now

Technology today helps us calculate many things like the weather, movements of planets, and the condition of our heart, brain, and lungs. Such knowledge results from advances in science and state-of-the-art instruments. This technology can predict what we are thinking about. The Akinator app, for instance, guesses a real or fictional character that a person has in mind. Using this artificial intelligence, the app asks “smart” questions to discover who a person is thinking of. This new knowledge, according to Scripture, is apocalyptic. Apocalyptic knowledge comes through apps like these, artificial intelligence, scientific instruments, and search engines, but they cannot compare to the apocalypse of Jesus Christ.

Apocalypse of Jesus

The secret mystery in Scripture was Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was unknown to the prophets who wanted to know the identity of the savior they prophesied about (3). This savior did not become apocalyptic until Jesus’ resurrection after being dead for three days. Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is the apocalyptic sign for us to repent and turn to God. As Luke records, “As Jonah was a sign unto the Ninevites so shall also the Son of man (Jesus) be to this generation” (4). As Jonah told Nineveh that destruction would come because of their wickedness, Jesus warns us today. Nineveh listened to the apocalypse of Jonah. It is up to us to take heed to the apocalypse of Jesus and turn toward God. Jesus says “whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (5). The Apocalypse of Jesus is not about destruction but redemption.


(1) Romans 16:25.
(2) Galatians 1:12.
(3) Luke 10:24, John 8:56, Hebrews 11:13, 39, 1 Peter 1:10, 11.
(4) Luke 11:30.
(5) John 3:16.

Hope to Live Today

I shall not fear the men who pride
Themselves in sin and laugh all day.
Their talk is near. Their lips are wide.
They smile within. With fire, they play.

But God, my force, whose arms I trust
To lift me up far from the claws,
To change my course and rise from dust,
To drink the cup despite my flaws.

He saved me yet, from death’s despair
And gave me hope to live today.
His grace I met, though it’s not fair,
I live. I cope. In Him, I stay.

What’s the Purpose of Life

As humans, we have a natural inclination to think about our purpose. This inclination is synonymous with every “why” question. Some believe we can live without answering “why” questions. This unintentional life appears possible, but is this how any person should want to live? The short answer is that we cannot live this way. Basic activities such as eating, working, and relationships (either for pleasure or necessity) prove that people cannot entirely break with purposeful activities.

More than a Gacha Life

The deeper question we could ask ourselves is “What is our purpose?” This question invokes us to understand our ideal selves. However, if we answer this question with only ourselves in mind, the answer is unsatisfying. If people do not want to live for a larger meaning, life becomes selfish, random, and meaningless. Life has to be more than a Gacha Life where getting objects and achievements are the primary goals. This virtual manner of life is no way to live in reality.

Calling You

We, however, have a purpose, and this purpose is to know and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. As “fairy-tale” as it might sound, a happy-ending always awaits those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. We can find comfort in our knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God and to those who are called according to His purpose” (1). This passage tells us if we are called, we have nothing to worry about. But what does “called” or His purpose mean? 

Purpose Driven

God has called all people to believe in His son Jesus Christ. This calling, the apostle Paul explains, is God’s purpose. “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He has purposed in Himself, and according to the purpose of God who works all things after the counsel of His will: That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ” (2). We are, therefore, called to believe in Jesus (3). Such a calling comes not from ourselves but God through grace and mercy (4).

Happy Ending

But why is this answer to the “why” question satisfying? It is satisfying because it can give our life meaning. A successful career, fame, worldly knowledge, or other earthly achievements do not give our whole life meaning. They do not come near explaining unfortunate events in life. However, Jesus Christ explains everything and is the explanation (the purpose) of life: Those who are called according to God’s purpose—our faith in Jesus Christ—receive eternal life (5). Isn’t this the most satisfying answer to why we live? Isn’t this more satisfying than the explanation of randomness or meaninglessness? What is more satisfying than our knowing that the purpose of living is to live eternally?


(1) Romans 8:28.
(2) Ephesians 1:9, 11, 12.
(3) Romans 1:6.
(4) Romans 9:23, Galatians 1:15.
(5) Acts 13:48, Romans 10:9.

What Can Harm Us?

In an earlier post (Message Out of Fear), we discussed how we should fear God instead of people. We also discussed how we should not fear losing our earthly ambitions. This post explains more about why we should not have fear.

Christians do not fear earthly harm because such “harm” cannot hurt them. But someone might say that many things harm Christians. Such things like diseases, violence, accidents, and death affect Christians like non-Christians. These events occur for many people, but just because they are undesirable events does not mean they harm Christians. Christians’ safety depends not on what happens to them but who happened to them. This person is Jesus, and he gives Christians sight into a reality that unbelievers are blind to. This insight gives Christians peace.

Today, we have insurance. In theory, insurance plans assure people that regardless of unfortunate events to something or someone, they will not suffer too much. Insurance compensates people to pay for damages, allows people to replace lost or stolen possessions, or gives people money to help pay and cope with losing loved ones. Insurance plans help with earthly events but not with spiritual events. Insurance plans, for instance, cannot keep these events from harming me. Insurance primarily deals with the aftermath of undesirable events.

Christians, however, have different “insurance.” Jesus Christ keeps everything and everyone from harming Christians. When undesirable events happen, Christians can think, “Who is he that will harm us if we are followers of that which is good? If we suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are we: We are not afraid of their terror, neither are we troubled” (1). This statement tells us that harm depends on what and who we follow. It also tells us we will suffer, but such suffering is not the worst harm.

The worst harm is hell, but Christians overcome hell (2). Hell is the reward of wicked people (3). Therefore, Christians should not fear earthly harm but God because they know that greater harm exists (4). When people have a correct view of harm, they do not fret over the same undesirable events that non-Christians fear.


(1) 1 Peter 3:13-14.
(2) Matthew 16:18.
(3) Psalm 91.
(4) Isaiah 8:12-13.

His Grace

Jesus (the Light) who shines so bright,
He came to be so all could see
His humble flight down from that height.
One day said He would pay my fee.

The Cornerstone I did reject.
He still gave me a chance to know
I’m not alone, to not forget,
His gift is free; to be as snow.

The Lord, so nice that I can’t think
How He could love me like His own—
A child with price. At lack, He winked.
Up from above His blood atones.

No Ignorant Plants

In The Compass from God, I talked about how God gives us a new compass. This act is an act of grace similar to how God showed grace to the apostle Paul (1). When God is gracious to us, we have the most important decision: Do I accept Jesus Christ or not?

The decision to accept Jesus Christ has a gigantic presupposition; that I now have knowledge of God’s love and revelation shown through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. When we have the option to accept Jesus Christ, we know that Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God who died for the forgiveness of our sins and now lives. This truth or the Gospel is the knowledge we apply to have faith in Jesus. This decision is not in ignorance (2). Ignorance and unbelief, as in the example of Paul, are excuses because “the times of this ignorance God winked at. But now God commands all men to repent” (3). Paul decided to have faith in Jesus when Jesus revealed Himself. This revelation was an act of grace and is more available now than in the apostle Paul’s time.

Today, the knowledge of Jesus Christ is more available than before because technology spreads the gospel worldwide. Christian television networks, movies, music, radio shows, and websites can advance the good news of Jesus Christ. This dissemination of the gospel makes our world less ignorant but less tolerable. Jesus reminds us that “it will be more tolerable” in the last judgment for those who are ignorant of Jesus than for us today (4). We cannot excuse ourselves from knowing about Jesus, especially after reading this post.

God’s mercy shines “on the evil and the good,” and his grace rains “on the just and the unjust” (5). Because of this equal nutriment, we have the choice to either produce “herbs” or “thorns and briers” (6). Those who produce herbs receive eternal life from God. In contrast, those who produce thorns receive eternal damnation. We are all like plants in the same field: We receive the same amount of water, sun, and oxygen. The time is gone when “plants” could say, “I did not receive any light” because now “the Light shines in the darkness” (7). Jesus is “the true Light, which lights every human that comes into the world” (8). Now, only our will can stop our growth.

(1) Paul persecuted the Christians but converted to Christianity after Jesus revealed himself, Acts 9.
(2) By ignorance, I mean the lack of knowledge of Jesus Christ’s existence.
(3) Acts 17:30.
(4) Luke 10:12.
(5) Matthew 5:45.
(6) Hebrews 6:7, 8.
(7) John 1:5.
(8) John 1:9.

The Compass From God

We must have a heart from God if we want to be God’s children because the center of our being must point to Him. We can think of our center as compasses. Compass directions (North, South, East, and West) relate to the directions of the Earth. The direction the compass points to relates to the position of a magnetic needle. The center of this needle aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field. The Earth’s magnetic field pulls the needle, which compass manufacturers design to always point to the North. When the center of the compass aligns with the Earth’s magnetic center, the needle will point in the right direction.

Likewise, God said he will put a “magnetic needle” in us that aligns with Him. Like the center of a compass aligns to the Earth’s magnetic field, the center of our being can align with God. Scripture calls this magnetic needle or center of our being a heart. This heart can contain God’s law but also “encompasses” our whole being (1). Our whole being is our emotions, desires, will, conscience, and moral values. No wonder how we came up with the term “moral compass.” 

Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, our compasses (hearts) needed repair because they no longer pointed in the right direction (2). The center of our hearts aligned with the devil and pointed to the directions of lust, lying, stealing, cheating, hate, jealousy, and many other evil directions (3). God, however, promised that he would give us new compasses that align to Him. He says he will give us “a new heart,” so we can “walk in His statutes, keep His judgments, and do them” (4). When we have a compass—or heart—like the one that God gives, we “inherit all things” and become his children (5). God’s children have a center that aligns with God; they have the center of Jesus (6).

(1) Jeremiah 31:33; Psalm 103:1.
(2) Genesis 3.
(3) Ezekiel 36:26, 27.
(4) A compass that has an evil center spins around chaotically. It makes us wander back and forth needlessly and confusedly, Psalm 107:4-5, Joshua 5:6, Numbers 32:13; Ephesians 4:14, Job 2:2.
(5) Revelation 21:8.
(6) Colossians 1:15-22.

Subtlety as Evil Wisdom

Subtle can mean quiet, not obvious, skillful, or crafty. It can also mean a small difference between comparable things. One definition that we do not always think of when we hear the word subtle is wise to do evil. Yet, this is the first description used when Scripture mentions the devil (1). Scripture describes the devil and humans as subtle before they interact with humans (2). When we think of subtlety this way, it should encourage us to think of it as a human quality.

The evil of subtlety is harder to detect when we do not understand it as an inward quality. It is easier to see evil when it involves others. The evil of subtlety is easier to see when we think of it as wisdom to do anything that God does not want us to do. For instance, if I read the Bible to find loopholes so I can do the things I want to do, I am displaying a subtle attitude. A person, for example, can use such subtlety to justify stealing, killing, cheating, and other sins. This person might negotiate with Scripture, attempt to outwit God’s word, or altogether defy it. A subtle person, therefore, believes he or she possesses special wisdom to get by without using Christian values.

This wisdom, to do what God does not want us to do, is “foolishness to God” (3). Why is it foolishness? It is foolishness not only because such wisdom is stupid but it fools the person who thinks he or she has a special wisdom. Subtlety, like this, is inward foolishness that reflects a double deception—the deception of a person to believe that he or she is wise instead of deceived. No rewards, however, exist for such evil wisdom, and God destroys it (4). This wisdom is super-dangerous when Christians use it. When this combination happens, Christendom becomes twisted, distorted, and devilish. Even Christians cannot fool God.

(1) Genesis 1:1.
(2) 2 Samuel 13:3.
(3) 1 Corinthians 3:19.
(4) 1 Corinthians 3:19-21.

Ungodly Counsel

Ungodly counsel is our will to do evil. By will, I mean our determination to act according to our desires. Our desire is a primary part of the choices we make. After we desire, though, we should judge what is the right thing to do. However, such judgment is absent in the counsel of the ungodly. Ungodly counsel does not think about what’s right and follows an evil desire. 

Ungodly counsel is an internal word of evil advice, and Scripture calls it secret advice (1). Ungodly and godly counsel contrast. We sometimes see a cartoon character, for instance, consider advice on its shoulders from a devil and an angel. The angel gives wise and moral judgment, but the devil feeds off the character’s evil desires and passions. This scenario is not that different from reality. Reality presents us with similar choices between godly and ungodly counsel.

What does ungodly counsel look like? Ungodly counsel agrees with our evil passions. This primary evil passion is anger. Anger refers to a quick outburst of raw emotion. Such an outburst (boule) occurs without thinking or judgment (gnome). Outbursts of anger and punishment are definite signs of ungodly counsel. Sometimes, such outbursts lead to murder (2). We must remember that murder occurs physically and spiritually.

God blesses people who follow godly counsel. Godly counsel is the word of advice that gives us a sense of justice, morality, righteousness, long-suffering, and wisdom. The person who follows godly counsel always prospers (3). But such prosperity is not always external. The prosperity of the godly person is internal and eternal. The person who follows ungodly counsel, therefore, suffers an internal and eternal loss.

(1) Psalm 64:2-6.
(2) Genesis 49:5-7.
(3) Psalm 1:1-3.

A Message Out of Fear

We should follow God’s commandments regardless of how others may react. The reaction of others cannot compare to our disobeying God’s commandments. Disobeying His commandments is worse because God has the power to “destroy our soul and body in hell” (1). Disobedience of God’s commandments is a spiritual problem. However, we, as humans, sometimes do not see disobedience this way. 

Today, our obedience to God might not cause physical death but, more subtle and dangerous, spiritual death—a disconnection with God’s will for our lives. We sometimes think we can curb obedience because of our fear of losing earthly aspirations. If God, for example, tells me to preach, but I do not preach because I fear that it will stop me from pursuing my career, I have now disobeyed God for fear of losing not my physical life but my earthly desires. 

We see such earthly aspirations in Scripture, in people like king Zedekiah and the Pharisees. They knew and believed that God commanded true and beneficial actions. However, they feared the ridicule of people instead of God’s judgment (2). Therefore, since they feared people’s judgment instead of God’s, they disobeyed His commands. When we live according to the fear of people or losing our desires, we do not trust that God will take care of us and end up disobeying Him.

God’s judgment should be the only thing we fear because He is God, and we cannot forget that God created us, the universe, and the earth (3). God’s commands are always for our benefit, even if we do not understand what those benefits are (4). Knowing that God loves us and cares for us should encourage us (despite our reasoning the “pros and cons”) to obey Him and not fear the results or people’s reactions. As we live, we want a God-outcome, not an earthly one. When we seek a God-outcome, we know that it is the outcome that God destined us to experience.

(1) Matthew 10:28.
(2) Jeremiah 38:19; John 12:42-43; John 19:12-13.
(3) Isaiah 51:13.
(4) Jeremiah 29:11.

According to Your Faith

If we want God to save us, we must believe in Jesus. Jesus is like a lifeguard, who preserves our life. However, let’s say a man is swimming and begins to drown. Because this man is drowning, he wants a lifeguard to save him. So he yells, “Help!” When the lifeguard comes to his rescue, however, he doesn’t believe the lifeguard can help him, so he kicks and punches the lifeguard away. He sadly drowns from his unbelief in the one who came to save him.

Our eternal life, likewise, is totally dependent on our belief in Jesus. The faith we have in Jesus Christ, therefore, matches our salvation. Such faith is what we hear about when Jesus healed two blind men not according to their requests but faith. One day, “two blind men came to Jesus” and said, “have mercy on us” (1). These blind men expressed that they wanted Jesus to heal them, but Jesus asked them a question that revealed their faith in Him. Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this” (2)? Why would Jesus ask these men—who already asked for Him to heal them—do they believe that He can do it? One explanation is that a request is different than faith. Faith heals us. It “justifies” us (3). Faith is necessary for salvation.

(1) Matthew 9:27, 28.
(2) Matthew 9:28.
(3) Galatians 2:16.

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Dwight A. Lucas II. All rights reserved.