The Longing for our Eternal Righteous King

In Israel, kings dictate and determine the destiny of the nation, either blessings and prosperous by obeying God and serving Him, or cursing’s and exile by turning away from the Lord to serve idols. In Chronicles we read the detestable practices of some of the kings of Israel like Ahab with his witch wife Jezebel, and many others.

If I were Israel and Judah, I would have been disillusioned by their kings for their continual downfall, and exiles. They were exiled three times in the Babylonian times, and conquered by Assyria before that all due to turning away from the Lord.

However, Ezra and Nehemiah began the restoration and rebuilding of the Temple. Temple is the most sacred object in the times of Israel, where the presence of God dwells. Though they had temples rebuilt, however, they were still far off from the real King who will truly defend them, protect them, and lead them to true blessings and honor and peace and prosperity. That King is finally Jesus Christ, Son of David in the flesh, but Son of the Living God through the Spirit of Holiness (Romans 1).

The true King came into the world when Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of God, and He continued the Kingdom and finally He will return to bring about the Consummation of the Kingdom when God and men and women will dwell together, the temple of God is the heavenly Jerusalem which will come down on earth.

Revelation 21:1–2 A New Heaven and a New Earth

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”  for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

That will happen in the Consummation, and God fully established His Kingdom on earth, and we will be blessed forever and ever, to the glory of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you long for your Eternal Righteous all Powerful King?

If you are disillusioned with life in this world, fear not, the renewal of all things has begun, and Jesus is in the business of cleaning up this world, and eventually completely renewed this world when He comes again the second time. For now the process has begun, and we will meet our King for eternal security, safety, protection, and joy for ever and ever. Amen.

Matt 19 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Everything Jesus exhorts us in this world is for the blessings of Eternity, not Earthly

Do not store up treasures on earth, but store up in heaven

Matthew 6: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

You can see here that the focus of Jesus is not on our external material blessings, but rather it’s the heart, as from v21, “…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Christ is after our hearts, for that will determine the real blessings, temporal, and eternal. Lange/Schaff writes, “In general, it exhibits the vanity of all earthly possessions, and the unsatisfactory character of the enjoyments which they yield. Irrespective of their use, these possessions are dead, exposed to the moth, to consumption, and to thieves, —to the organs of physical and moral annihilation.[1] The key words that are captured well” … the vanity of all earthly possessions.”

Lange puts it “…if our treasure is on earth, our heart will also be there, our inclinations and desires will be earthly; and, since this is contrary to our heavenly destiny, the consequence must be eternal sorrow and shame.[2] This is why it’s so important to know why Christ shifted the entire narrative of blessings from the OT to the NT. It has to do with our hearts. It is really very gospel centered, and for our eternity’s sake, Jesus has wisely remolded us, redirected us to what really matters. The point is he doesn’t want us to set our hearts on material worldly possessions, blessings, because they are temporal. He redirected us to the eschatological eternity blessings. Our affection is controlled by where the treasures are. And as Lange said, if our affections are earthly, the consequences will be eternal sorrow and shame.

Col 3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Paul writes it here very powerfully why we should set our minds on things above, because we died, sand our life is hidden with Christ in God.

We have Left Everything to Follow Christ”

Mark 10: 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”  29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

Becoming a Christian may mean sacrificing ties that are very dear, but anyone who does so becomes a member of a family as wide as earth and heaven.[3]

This probably sums up the blessings of God for those who obey God in the NT. Jesus promised those how has left home or brothers or sisters or mother …. for Him and the gospel, will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age. Like what? Homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields. Essentially you would get back everything you have left because of Jesus and the gospel, and one hundred times more! That’s a lot more. Brothers and sisters, we can easily see that in a community of church folks, they become your brothers and sisters in Christ, Mothers, children, you can even stretch that in the church family, like Jesus said in Matt 12:46-50.

But there is another thing that comes with it, “Persecutions” in this present age. This contrasts the idea of material reward for material sacrifice, and Jesus made it clear to be a Christian is a costly thing. [4] Everything Jesus aims for in earth is for the blessings for eternity, and that’s the thesis of this paper. Jesus set his face in earning the eternity for men and women who put their faith in him, and not for them to be materially prosperous in this present age per se. However He continues to be the one who leads us, protects us, like a shepherd over his sheep, and watches our coming in and going out, for sure.


[1] Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew (p. 132). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Ibid

[3] Barclay, W. (2001). The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Mark (p. 290). Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press.

[4] Ibid p 290

Why is Prosperity Doctrine so wrong & how?

Christians can be misled into a form of it.

Prayers for personal blessing aren’t inherently wrong, of course, but the prosperity gospel’s overemphasis on man turning prayer into a tool for blessings, desiring God to grant their desires, can easily turn into idolatry because one’s desire is no more pleasing and loving God, but rather obeying for the sake of getting blessings. Worse still, if some pastors actually teach that to the congregation, as we do see them around, especially in the pentecostal circles. This is what Augustine calls as “disordered love”. Within prosperity theology, man—not God—becomes the focal point of prayer.

Curiously, prosperity preachers often ignore the second half of James’s teaching on prayer: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James. 4:3). God does not answer selfish requests that do not honor his name.

Certainly all our requests should be made known to God (e.g., Phil. 4:6), but the prosperity gospel focuses so much on man’s desires that it may lead people to pray selfish, shallow, superficial prayers that don’t bring God glory. Further, when coupled with the prosperity doctrine of faith, this teaching may lead people to attempt to manipulate God to get what they want—a futile task. This is far removed from praying “Your will be done.”

False Gospel 

Joe Carter writes, “In light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed. At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man. Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is true, grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things. Whether they’re talking about the Abrahamic covenant, the atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, prosperity teachers turn the relationship between God and man into a quid pro quo transaction. As James Goff noted in a 1990 Christianity Today article, God is “reduced to a kind of ‘cosmic bellhop’ attending to the needs and desires of his creation.” “ [1]

This is a wholly inadequate and unbiblical view of the relationship between God and man.

How can we identify a prosperity gospel preacher? [2]

In a 2014 sermon, John Piper outlined six keys to detecting the prosperity gospel:

  1. The absence of a serious doctrine of the biblical necessity and normalcy of suffering, the absence of a doctrine of suffering.
  2. The absence of a clear and prominent doctrine of self-denial is a tip off that something is amiss.
  3. The absence of serious exposition of Scripture.
  4. The absence of dealing with tensions in Scripture.
  5. Church leaders who have exorbitant lifestyles.
  6. A prominence of self and a marginalization of the greatness of God.

Real Connection between the Charismatics & Pentecostal Churches with Prosperity Doctrines

This problem is aggravated in the poorer third world countries, as you can see why they can be appealing. Because of the economic hardship, many in the 3rd world, flock to church pulpits, where there is a strong sense of preaching on how God can bless your business, your jobs, your careers, if you come to worship him and follow him. There is a grain of truth in it because they quote Abraham was wealthy because God blessed him. David was wealthy because God was with him. Job, though tested severely by God, eventually became the wealthiest guy in town. I studied and the OT and the NT on the blessings of being prosperous in the OT, which is obviously there, like:

Jeremiah 29″1 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB95)
11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
The word “prosper” is better translated as “welfare “ or “peace”.

3 John 2 (NASB95)
2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
εὐοδώθην—Prosper
–have things turn out well, prosper, succeed
So the original Greek word is “Enodothen”—which means turns out well, prosper, succeed.
I would lean on more succeed, and turn out well, prosper in the sense of being successful, there might be some monetary sense, but the main gist is success.

Conclusion: Jesus focuses on the Kingdom and the eschatological blessings instead of the earthly material possessions

Jesus focuses on the Kingdom of God and the new creation. The prosperity is never mentioned or taught by him at all! He in fact extolled the value of fixing our eyes on the eternal values and not the temporal worldly success. For him, the eventual consummation of his Kingdom will usher in the absolute new creation that will enjoy God’s presence for all eternity. There will be a big feast of the wedding of the Lamb which is he himself. He said blessed are the poor, he means those who recognize they are poor spiritually and they can’t make it to heaven and will therefore humble themselves to come to Christ. Blessed are those who mourn, those who weep, etc all those counter cultural values. Don’t even begin with Jesus. He being the richest man in the entire cosmos, universes, had no where to lay his head. He was born in a manger. He borrowed everything including the last supper space. He sacrificed all his riches and glory to come humbled into this world for the sake of saving the world. Enough said a d don’t even look for prosperity doctrine in the gospels. Jesus looks to the eternal eschatological blessings. Look at below:

John 6 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Jesus told us not to labor for the things of the world, they don’t last! But labor for the food that will last!

Mark 8 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 

References:

Prosperity Gospel Born in the USA

What You Should Know About the Prosperity Gospel


[1] Joe Carter, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-you-should-know-about-the-prosperity-gospel/

[2] John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/six-keys-to-detecting-the-prosperity-gospel

[3] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 410). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Is God Silent in the book of Esther?And what about us today?

Some theologians argued whether the book of Esther should be included in the Canon because of three things:

  • No mention of God
  • No mention of Temple
  • No mention of Prophet

And some points against Esther & the hero of the entire book, and together with her cousin, the Master mind for all these, who together became the joint heroes who saved the whole nation of Israel.

The idea that Esther and Mordecai may be questionable characters in the book of Esther, is picking the minor and neglecting the major, which is the narrative that they together saved the entire nation of Israel. They may not be Moses, but definitely in a smaller way, like Moses, because Esther called for a fast, and risked her life to approach the most powerful King on earth at that time, King Xerxes of Persia, to press case and plead with the King about the plight of her people the Jews who were about to be annihilated by an evil high power official in the kingdom of Persia, Haman. This may not be exodus, but a smaller scale, it is!

Esther hid her identity as Jewish as instructed by her mentor, uncle, Mordecai. She rose up to the occasion when Haman was breathing down the throats of the Jews. Haman by the way is an Agagite, a descendent of the Amalekite, who was forever the enemy of Israel. God instructed Saul to kill all the Amalekites, but Saul disobeyed and left a remnant behind, and Haman is a product of that, much to the snare of Israel.

There was not much mention about Mordecai’s life at all, all we hear is that he loved the nation of Israel. I would definitely agree that even God was not explicitly mentioned in the book of Esther, implicitly God’s hands were all over the incidents and the plot of the whole book. I mean the whole starting point of this turnaround from the pit of eminent destruction of the nation of Israel under the Persian King, was incidentally Mordecai overheard some plots of some guards who plotted to assassinate the King. And Mordecai reported that to Esther, who was a concubine/wife to King Xerxes. And because of that the plotters were arrested and killed; the king’s life was saved by Mordecai. And in the years later, the King couldn’t sleep one night and asked the officials to open up the record book and read to him this history, and he found out about this man Mordechai who saved his life but forgotten. With that, he went ahead to honor Mordecai publicly and essentially made him the second man, overtaking Haman.

Now my question is how on earth did that plot happen, and how did Mordecai get to know that? If you don’t think there is a hidden hand of God working silently, you are wrong! That can’t be a coincidence. The supernatural transcendent hand of God is working powerfully to save his people. God is faithful to his covenant with Israel, and he won’t let the enemies wipe them out.

Then Esther approached King Xerxes uninvited, and by Persian palace rules, anyone who does that without heads-up or being invited, he or she can be killed by the Kings command, but as it turns out, of course, King Xerxes reached out his hands and was pleased with Esther and offered her even half of the kingdom . That reaching out of hands by King Xerxes is a miracle of God in itself. Things began to turn. And eventually, the King hung Haman, the evil man, and exalted Mordecai to the highest official in the nation.

And Mordecai and Esther together reversed all the evil plots to kill the people of Jews in Persia at that time, an in fact, Jews were strengthened by the new decree from the King for self-defense and even killing their enemies etc. Do you think thats all human work & luck??? If you do, think again! And the occasion that turned the tide is called Purim, which is still celebrated to these days. In the same way, do you think God is silent in your life now? If so, think again!

The Providence of God is obvious in the book of Esther, and His faithfulness is amazing. To God be the glory.

Finally today that we live in an age also like Esther because God seems to be silent but working powerfully behind the scenes. I would agree but also disagree. The bible says “In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit, and all men shall see visions and dream dreams:

Acts 2 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams….

And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

God is anything but quiet in our end time. God is actively speaking through our dreams, visions, and mostly importantly is the Bible, the word of God being preached, the word of God in our time of meditation.

Luke 4 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus has come into this world to proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners (emotional, spiritual, physical), recovery sight for the blind (physical, spiritual), to set the oppressed free, who said God is quiet in our days?

Our God is zealous, and He will be glorified in our lives.

Amen.

Prayer through creeds and contemporary worship prayers

Prayer through the creedal prayers is much more enriching theologically, historically , and also spiritually too. Spontaneous prayers from our hearts are awesome directly from our hearts.  Charismatic prayers  have been usually spontaneous from the hearts type. The problem of that is it runs dry and out of words after a while. The best solution is to pray the book of psalms, which Tim Keller has written a good book on Prayer.

Anglican church has produced some good prayer books: Compline—a night prayer based on Psalms. They have of course produced the famous comprehensive Book of Common Prayer.

My point is many Christians have lacked the resources to pray deeply, and with charismatics, this is especially lacking. Spontaneous heart prayer is great, but there must be also times of book prayer from our hearts. The thing about it is that, when we read those rich words, essentially mostly from Psalms, we begin to realign our minds to the wonderful, blessed words from Psalms. In fact, I would suggest we pray through the book of psalms daily.

Tim Keller writes: “I believe daily prayer should be more biblical, that is, more grounded in systematic Bible reading and study and in disciplined meditation on passages.”[1] This is combining prayer & daily reading of the Bible together with meditation. Too often we put prayers into the category of “requesting for things from God”, but that will become a shallow way of communicating to God over the long haul. We must pray the word of God on top of our request’s prayers.

Cranmer’s Bible reading plan for the year is no longer in most current Common Prayer books used around the world, but it can be found in reprints of the 1549 and 1552 books. M’Cheyne’s Bible reading calendar, is an example:  In any case, systematic, consecutive reading of the Bible should precede or accompany prayer.[2] We need a systematic reading of the Bible and prayers that go with it. Prayers will come alive with prayers through the book of Psalms and also some of these prayer books.

It is right and necessary that we learn to pray not merely from reading the Psalms and the rest of the Bible but by hearing and reading the prayers of the church. [3] Now this is an important point. Prayers of the church historically which have been laid down by thoughtful theologians and church pastors of the past, are very useful, and many Christians have not even heard of them. It’s time to pick them up. Example: Common book of Prayers.

Keller writers, “Many churches today, especially those with what is called contemporary worship, give congregants almost no help with prayer at all in this way. The only prayers congregants hear are “spontaneous” expressions of worship leaders, or the final prayer of the preacher at the end of the sermon. Time-tested and carefully considered prayers are not provided as they were in times past.” This is definitely very true, coming from a charismatic background myself, I used to find those prayers rigid, mechanical, but now I realize that they are rich spiritually, and theologically, and far more on the line with the Bible, it is definitely something we charismatics have missed out. Only spontaneous prayers worship leaders or final prayer after preaching will not be enough.

Having said that, we must also give room for spontaneous expressions of prayers, and I say, combine the prayers of the books and heart prayers. In fact our heart prayers will be richer spiritually after using more of those common books of prayers.

A Time of Prayer Going through Hard Times

This is a good article Spiritual Formation for Faltering Faith by Wendy Alsup on the power of praying through creeds that help a person going through hard times. The reality is riding on the wisdom and richness of theology written and laid down by the early fathers can really help us especially going through a time of lament and struggle. Christianity is a walk with God of rejoicing and lament. We need to learn to connect with the Lord of Hosts on both!

She writes, “During that same year, Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren suffered the deaths of two babies in pregnancy, along with her beloved father. She lost her ability to see her way through to God as well, overwhelmed by questions of theodicy, God’s providence in it all. As she lost her second baby late in pregnancy, her spiritual formation as an Anglican priest led her to cry out a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer’s service of compline.[4]  

This prayer forms the structure of her second book, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep:

How beautiful: Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. (ACNA BCP 2019)



[1] Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe & Intimacy, p 247

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Wendy Alsup, Spiritual Formation for Faltering Faith,  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/prayer-in-night-tish-harrison-warren/

Is asking God for Favor for what we have done for His Name & People counter Gospel Centered?

Reading through the book of Nehemiah, I noticed a trend of prayers that Nehemiah prayed to God asking God to remember what he has done for His Name and also for Israel. Listed four occasions when he prayed that. I have listened to much gospel centered sermons by some big names too, they have always told me that we can never remind what we have done for God and hence to remember to bless us, because that’s moralistic. That’s against the spirit of the gospel of grace when everything we have achieved is really by the grace of God. My thesis is that we can never brag about what we have done to justify God saving us, I call it the pre justification phase. Redemption can never be earned by our efforts of morality, except by faith and faith alone in Christ. That’s a given. However, we can remind God what we have done for His Name after the justification phase, or salvation phase, going into the sanctification phase, we can certainly tell God what we have sacrificed and stayed committed to serve Him, and ask him to bless us. Well, take a look at Nehemiah:

Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people

Nehemiah 5: 18 Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.19 Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.

Nehemiah asked God to remember him with favor, for all that he has done for the people of Israel. He was kind to Israel; he didn’t demand good supply of food and wine from them on a daily basis because they are heavy on them. He never demanded the governor’s portion from his people even though he was entitled.

So he did this out of love for the people of Israel, and he therefore asked God to remember him with favor, for what he has sacrificed and done for Israel. That’s totally biblical because God accepted that. Is that counter gospel centeredness? No. Why? Because that’s after he became a Christian in the OT sense. He didn’t use this to demand or negotiate God’s salvation. He’s already saved. He’s in sanctification mode.

Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.

Nehemiah 13: 12 All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine, and olive oil into the storerooms. 13 I put Shemaiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the storerooms and made Hanan son of Zakkur, the son of Mattaniah, their assistant, because they were considered trustworthy. They were made responsible for distributing the supplies to their fellow Levites. 14 Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.

He asked God to remember him for his setting up manpower for the house of God, and asked that God will not blot out what he has faithfully done for the house of God and its services. This can be interpreted as not blotting what he has done, to bless his labor of love for the house of God. Like us today, that we ask God to remember our labor of love for his house, the church, in our service unto the Lord. That God may bless us with in our labor.

Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.

Nehemiah 13: 22 Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.  Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.

This is probably so easily understood to glow in the gospel centeredness, because is according to God’s great love.

Remember me with favor, my God.

Nehemiah 13: 30 So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task. 31 I also made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the first fruits. Remember me with favor, my God.

He asked God to remember him with favor. All good, and we should not be shy to ask God to remember us with favor. All biblical.

Why does God have to become a Man & Die to save Mankind?


This is more than a philosophical question, this is a spiritual and physical question that goes back to the entire Adamic race’s fall from grace. You see when the archangel Lucifer and his cohort of 1/3 of total angels in heaven rebelled against God and fell, there was no rescue plan or redemption for him. But for human race when Adam fell, God immediately put into place a redemptive plan starting with an animal slain and its skin used to cloth Adam and Eve.

Genesis 3: 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

And that redemptive plan ran through the entire Old Testament through the covenant with Abraham to bless him and multiply his descendants and to take the nations, to Moses’ covenant with the chosen nation Israel, to David of Israel, and finally all the promises of God for global salvation and his global eternal dominance was finally established when Jesus died on the cross and resurrected three days later.

Jesus’ resurrection defeated the power and curse of death. He saved the entire Adamic race or mankind for those who put their faith in Christ. That is major breakthrough for redemptive act of God for mankind. The first Adam fell, then the second Adam came and succeeded to save the entire race.

Why did the bible calls Jesus as the second Adam?

Romans 5: 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Through one man, Adam, death reigned thru that man to the entire human race, and similarly through one man, Jesus Christ, we all received God’s grace and the gift of righteousness.

But why does the Savior have to be a Man?

Hebrews 2: 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.”  And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”  14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Jesus calls us, those who followed him as his children

Jesus called us as the children God has given him. He must be an earthly flesh person to become our Father. He can’t be Spirt, and we be the flesh. Then, since we have flesh and blood, he must share in our flesh and blood, so that by his death (remember God can’t die), he might break the power of Satan who holds the power of death. You see the rationale here? Because we are flesh and blood, in order to break the power of death over flesh and blood, he needs to become flesh and blood to break the power of Satan who holds the power of death. But why? Can’t God break the power of Satan who holds the power of death directly from his heavenly throne?

The first answer is that he is saving flesh and blood, and he must become like flesh and blood. V17 says for this reason, he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order to become a merciful and faithful high priest to God on our behalf, and that make atonements for the sins of us.

Jesus gained empathy for humans through his experience of temptations and suffering in faithfulness to God.

This is important to understand. Before Jesus incarnated into the world and became a human, He would not be able to have the complete empathy as he did in his earthly life after being tempted and all that. Because God cannot be tempted. Jesus could not be tempted before his incarnation to the world. Therefore for him to fully empathize with humans’ sufferings and temptations, he must become a man to experience temptations (40 days in the wilderness, and also the struggle in Garden Gethsemane when sweated blood). That’s crucial to understand.

God is omnipotent so why can’t he just save mankind?

People usually think God can do anything if he wants to right? Theologically its right but its also within constraint. Example, God cannot sin. God cannot be unjust. He cannot be deceitful. He cannot bypass his attribute of holiness, and because of that even though He is a God of love and faithfulness, He still needs to send men and women who reject Christ to hell. Modern world cannot understand that, and ask why would a loving God do that? But they forgot to insert the words, a holy God! He is both holy and loving. These two can’t meet on our daily logic until they meet on the cross of Jesus. It’s there on the cross, love and holiness meets. Holiness means wrath against those who break his laws. It’s like a judge who loves his son, but his son committed murder and was to be sentenced to death, he even though loves his son much, he is supposed also to uphold the law. The law of God comes from his attributes, and one of them is holiness, and hence wrath against all ungodliness. His wrath is poured out towards all those who walked away from Him, rebelled against Him, and hence sentenced to eternal condemnation. But Jesus came into this world, and he drank all the wrath of God His father in order that He may break the power of Satan who holds the power of death.

He cannot override one attribute of him to fulfill the other attribute. They must all be true simultaneously, or else He ceases to be God.

Will we hang out with our loved Ones in Heaven?

I was in a zoom session with Dr Ben Gladd & Dr Ligon Duncan this afternoon over an exegesis talks from scripture. Of the many awesome things that I got like the best commentary for NT related to OT is by Beale, which I promptly bought one, though expensive! Among other good stuff on reading and interpreting Greek, and the bible, the thing that hit me most came from an unlikely totally unrelated theme, albeit a really if not the most important theological and philosophical and existential hope theme, is about Gladd’s sharing about his dad who just passed away not too long ago. He told his dad, “I will hang out with you in heaven in future”. He said as a matter-of-fact way, and for some reason, this is not a new theology, but rathe rudimentary if anything, but it struck me. Must be the Holy Spirit moved in my heart. I immediately thought of my own dad, who passed decades ago, that I will see him and hang out with him in heaven! Whoa! Never really think of it that much, may be its too long ago when that happened. But then I turned to think about my 82 years old mum, and in future after she’s passed away, and in eternity, I will also hang out with her in heaven! Whoa! Then it dawned on me for my own kids, will I hang out with them all in heaven in eternity?

That’s when the rubber hits the road, and there is just a sense of uneasiness that came upon me. We all love to hang out with our loved ones in eternity, so we now must make sure they have put their faith in Christ Jesus, and totally be born again and follow Christ, and worship him. That’s the main drive for me, for I know I have a lot of prayers need to be done. I have to humble myself before God and pour out my heart to God for His divine work in all my children’s’ lives, and many parents I know must be praying for their kids for years, some have seen a turnaround, some have not, regardless, this is truly the remarkable love of parents, and the calling of parents for their kids that God has put in our hearts. I am thankful for my mum who had prayed for me a lot for years, and now continue to pray for me and my siblings and her grandchildren as well.

I want to bring that reality of seeing and hanging out in heaven for eternity into our feelings, perception, minds, spirits more. Sometime, in fact most times, we take things for granted, and leave them as they are. We either have given up with the status quo of our prayers not seeing results yet, or we have lost sight of the reality of eternity that’s coming. The eschatological age that’s coming. We must see that reality more and more. As Christians that’s the hope that no others have. If we see that we will see and hang out with our grandma, grandpa, fathers, mothers, in laws etc. in heaven for eternity in future, this will just make our hearts well up with so much joy and one can easily burst into tears of joy and gratefulness unspeakable.

Some of our parents, grandparents have passed away for years, and the notion that we will see them and remember us and hang out together in heaven is a bliss! It’s an amazing feat that’s of such epic proportion & unspeakable joy. We have that, and we must treasure it and rejoice. We will see our dear loved ones who are deceased one day. This is the good news that we must share with our friends, speak into their lives, evangelize, make disciples, and plant churches, because that reality should rejuvenate us and spring us into action. Evangelism and planting churches, making disciples are some of the hardest in the world, but that reality is the most powerful antidote for us which is the hardest impossibility for most in the world, and yet the most significant and important tin life, far more than the $$$ in bank account. Only in Christ we can have that, and we do. We give thanks from the bottom of our hearts!

What will deliver us will not be our self-constructed god but the Almighty God from the Bible

This will determine whether we will overcome problems, hardships in life. This is what Ligon Duncan in his preaching called we need theology when we face problems, challenges, hardships in life. What an amazing strong statement indeed that we need to have in life.

When Moses faced problems and pushback from Pharoah in his first attempt to deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt, he was so discouraged and even questioned God. And this is Moses!

Exodus 5:22–6:5 (NIV)

22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

Moses asked Gid “Why have you brought trouble on this people?” That’s a bold question to the Lord! And that’s Moses. God responded to him, and He needed to, as Pharoah just hardened his heart and increased more load for Israelites in picking their own straw to make bricks. So, what Moses did in his attempt to deliver Israel in his debut showing with Pharoah the most powerful person on earth that time, has backfired!

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”

God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty,  but by my name the Lord  I did not make myself fully known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

God revealed to Moses his covenantal Name, ‘the LORD”. Not just God, which is his function. But His name is “the LORD”. Yahweh. His personal Name. Now we come to the juicy part—God reveals to Moses the way out of this mess! The answer is His Name, the Covenantal Name of God with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob , now to Moses, and in fact, eventually, now to us in our 21st century churches!

Why is this important?

This is what theology all about. I have a huge passion to bridge Theology & Church, as opposed to using contemporary culture primarily and using the gospel superimposed, or juxtaposition, to be presented to the secular world. That may be cool for the non-believing world. In this article, I will focus on the believing world. What do we do when we face problems? Like Moses came back to God discouraged, angry an upset with God?

The solution is theology. Do you know God’s personal covenantal name? God told Moses He will deliver Israel out of Egypt because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and hence to Moses. God re-assured Moses. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

You see this is what God answered Moses: I have heard their groaning. The Lord cares. And He remembered his covenant. That’s a big word, that’s the promises of God that’s unbreakable.

The problem we have today as Christians is that many times we somehow, have this tendency to construct our self-image of who God is , due to distractions, in life and being tossed back and forth. The problem with our imagery of God is this: it crumbles in the face of temptations, in the face of darkness, doubts, doubts, negative influence, bad company, hardship, sickness, loneliness, etc. it crumbles because it’s fake. It’s idolatry our self made gods. But only the covenant God who said to Abraham I am the Lord your great reward, will stand tall and deliver you!

Thomas Goodwin of Oxford University says it’s because of our because of our barren knowledge of God. Because of our barren knowledge of God! Our hearts are scarce of Christ. The amount of Christ in our hearts is dependent of our knowledge, personal knowledge of Christ.

Like Moses and Israel, they may know the God of Israel, but not much on the covenantal God, the Lord, Yahweh.

We must have more theology in our minds, so that they may have a chance to even get it to our hearts, so that we can face problems in life in confidence because we know personally the covenant God in Christ. Christ is our prophet, priest, and King now in our lives.

Our mentally constructed god in our minds are not God at all. They are what we want to be our God who provides and helps us as we wanted him to be, but not wanting any God who can confront us, challenge us, and hence transformed to Christ. Our self-constructed god is idolatry, and they will never transform our hearts, our lives.

Eph 3 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Paul’s praying that the Lord may strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inner being. Every change must begin with our minds, then our inner being. Minds alone won’t cut it. It must come down to our inner being. Pray!  We want Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith. So that we may have power to grasp how wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ. Did you notice, just to grasp, not just to understand, the love of Christ, we need supernatural power from the Holy Spirit? Because you are not dealing with some human passion love, but this is the divine love of Christ! We need that power. To grasp, not just to understand. It means like a light bulb just gone off! You said “Aha!” We need the covenantal Name of God understanding in our hearts and minds as God revealed to and corrected Moses.

The Genuine Humanity of Jesus

Luke 22: 39-46

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c]

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Did Jesus doubt as some explains his humanity on the way to the cross? This is especially revealing when he was struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane.

This the whole question of Jesus Humanity–does that include doubt? I read an article by a theologian on the question of doubt and genuine humanity of Christ. I was stirred to write this as my perspective. I chose to use Luke 22 to illustrate my point, because I believe this is definitely the most potent point that Jesus was tempted to the closest by the devil. I believe this temptation of Jesus by the devil far exceeded the previous temptation at the launch of Jesus ministry after his water baptism. Its interesting to note that this second big temptation, or bigger, happened at almost the tail end of Jesus ministry or even his life on earth.

I think the whole big issue here as Jesus emphasized twice to his disciples to pray so that they won’t fall into temptations. By him saying that, it means, if they don’t pray, they will fall into temptations. This is definitely a valid point that we have to take note of ourselves, lest we fall. If that were for the closest disciples of Jesus, that will definitely be for us.

In fact Jesus went into a time of deep anguished prayers. He knelt down to pray to the Father, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” –He said Father if you are willing…. What doe that mean? Jesus was asking for permission from the Father for not going to the cross! That’s precisely His mission for coming into this world, to go to the cross and die for humanity, and be resurrected thereafter. That’s how revealing the humanity of Christ.

Some theologians called it doubt in Jesus’ life. But I disagreed. I call it struggles. Jesus struggled immensely between his flesh and his spirit, until the point of sweating blood droplets.

43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

So right after Jesus prayed that prayer for permission to take away the cup of his death, God sent an angel to him to strengthen him. You understand dhow crucial this point of time is? The destiny of billions of mankind lies in the balance depending on the outcome of that decision of Jesus, one way or the other. If Jesus ever doubted, he wouldn’t not have struggled that much. He would have quitted if he doubted. Let me say this, that’s the humanity of Jesus that struggled and that is not his divinity, because God doesn’t struggle.

I would conclude that because he struggled in such intense manner, the like of which is never found in any human history, (have you ever seen anyone in prayer or anguish until he or she sweated droplets of blood?), and yet overcame, I believe he just ministered to millions of us that we can trust him, and he will be with us to the end. He is our prophet, priest, King, and he will deliver us from all temptations, as :

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

 Jesus will deliver us.

Hebrews 4:15 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This is an incredibly important verse explaining what Jesus went through. Notice in v15 b, Hebrews says Jesus has been tempted in every way, just as we—yet he did not sin. That’s incredibly important and significant. First, he has been tempted in every way! Not in some ways, and then his divinity protects him from certain temptations. No! Every day! Secondly, it says “…..tempted in every way, just as we are”—you see those words, “just as we are”? NO exemption. He went through the same temptations just as we are. Not somewhat like us, but just as, or exactly like us! He was tempted in every way!! Everything you have gone through temptation, he has been tempted, in other worse. Lust? Greed, safety? Easy way out? Cop out? Yet he did NOT sin.

Praise be to the Lord who not only gone through everything we could possibly go through, he overcame them all, and he did not doubt! He is completely in sync with the Father. He and the Father are one! He completely trusted in the Father.

We too have to be in sync with Jesus, for He lives in us, as out body ids the temple of the holy Spirit!

If anyone says he doubted just as we did, that’s missing the point. He didn’t doubt, and that’s why he overcame! To try to put Jesus under that category is stretching the proper exegesis and hermeneutics of the context of the scriptures!

Jesus won!

Amen!

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