We should be confident that we can access God because of Jesus’ sacrifice (Hebrews 6:19-20). Through Jesus, the Veil, we approach God (John 14:6). He is the only way. He is like a lawyer who makes it possible to speak with the Judge (1 John 2:1). We need Jesus because we cannot represent ourselves in court. Why? Because we are guilty and have discredited testimonies (Romans 3:23). But Jesus’ testimony about us is true because he is perfect and cannot lie.
Author: Joy of the Gospel (page 1 of 2)
Seventy disciples returned happy because they cast out devils from demon-possessed people. They were happy because the devils subjected to them through Jesus’ name. But Jesus Christ told them they should rather be happy because of their salvation (Luke 10:17-22). Jesus said that those who cast out devils and perform miracles in His name can still go to Hell (Matthew 7:22-23).
Lay hold on eternal life because this is a good profession.1 Timothy 6:12.
Godliness pays the best. Yet some tell us that God’s people should be financially rich. But these people, Scripture says, believe a lie and think godliness will help them get a lot of money (1 Tim. 6:5). Financial richness, though, doesn’t last. We get the most when we enjoy our godliness for itself. Why? Because “we brought nothing into this world, and can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:7). Material wealth has a limit, but spiritual wealth gives us eternal joy. Thus, having what we need is enough. We should, for example, be happy when we have food and clothes and not covet material things (1 Tim. 6:8). We shouldn’t seek God for a check but seek Him to stay in check.
The Name a Parent Gives a Child
In Scripture, parents sometimes named their children according to an experience during or before childbirth. One example of this pre-naming is Jesus Christ. Mary had the experience of meeting an angel of God who told her “you will conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name Jesus.” (1) Did this experience influence her? Obviously. Christmas, Easter, and Christianity attest to the effect of Mary’s experience. She named her son Jesus because of her heavenly experience before childbirth, and now all Christians call God’s son Jesus.
We see a tragic example of naming a child before childbirth in Rachel. Rachel “travailed, and she had hard labor.” (2) As she gave birth to her son, she was dying. As she was dying, she named her son Ben-oni which means the son of my sorrow or distress. (3) Rachel named her son Ben-oni because this name reflected her experience during childbirth. We can imagine the sorrow and distress that Rachel felt, knowing that she was dying and would not enjoy, nurture, or experience her newborn growing up as a boy into a man.
But Jacob named his and his wife’s son Benjamin, which means son of my right hand, son of hope, and son of honor. Like Rachel, Jacob named Benjamin from an experience before or during childbirth, but “Benjamin” referred the name to the eternal. By the eternal, I mean the eternal experience instead of the physical. At the tragic moment of Rachel’s soul leaving her body, one cannot say that Jacob was not distressed, saddened, or even hopeful to see his wife live, expecting God to turn things around. Yet if Jacob only looked at these physical circumstances, the name Benjamin wouldn’t have come to his mind. However, Jacob, looking at the eternal—the eternal God—named his son after the eternal blessings. For Jacob, there was more to life than Rachel’s dying body or Benjamin’s birth. There was, for Jacob, an eternal hope, joy, and honor coming into the world.
God’s expectation and hope are like Jacob’s and God is your heavenly father. Therefore, what has God your father named you? What is your name? The answer Scripture gives is “In-Righteousness.” Isaiah says that “the Lord has called you In-Righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will protect you.” (4) Your name is “In-Righteousness.” “In-Righteousness” is a rich name comprising two meanings: relationship and justice.
righteousness: relational and legal
On the one hand, righteousness is a relational term that refers to your relationship with God. A person is righteous when his or her life and actions align with God’s character. In Psalms, David asks God to bless his son Solomon to rule “In-Righteousness.” David says, “Give the king your judgments, O God, and your righteousness unto the king’s son [King Solomon]. King Solomon shall judge your people with righteousness and your poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.” (5) David wanted everything, in Solomon’s rule, to relate to God. This relationship included his son Solomon’s right relationship with God. In other words, David wanted Solomon to rule righteously which was to rule Godly.
On the other hand, righteousness is a legal term. You can think of In-Righteousness as another way of saying in-law. When you’re In-Righteousness, you are in legal conformity with God’s law. As Scripture shows, “That which is altogether In-Righteousness you shall follow, that you may live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God gives you.” (6) Here, righteousness functions as a law that you should follow to receive God’s blessings. Therefore, since God names you In-Righteousness (in-law), He expects you to reflect your legal name, not your nickname.
Thus, God expects you to do right and be right. Before you’re born, He calls you in-relationship to Him and in a legal bond to Him. Your legal name is God’s claim over your life. Scripture says that God names and claims us as His. He gives us a spiritual reputation and expectation to maintain. As Scripture states, “According as He has chosen us in Him [In-Righteousness or In-Law] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” (7) God, as a parent to a child, as Jacob to Benjamin, as Mary to Jesus, gave you a special name: In-Righteousness. Holiness, blamelessness, and love are a few attributes that you (In-Righteousness) are to exhibit.
(1) Luke 1:31.
(2) Genesis 36:16.
(3) Genesis 36:18.
(4) Isaiah 42:6.
(5) Psalm 72:1-3.
(6) Deuteronomy 16:20.
(7) Ephesians 1:4-5.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.