Category Archives: Apologetics

Risen Indeed!

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.  (1 Corinthians 15:14)

It has been 1,987 years since Jesus gave His life on the cross and rose again, and many in the world today still deny the fact. This denial began with one of Jesus’ own disciples. “The other disciples therefore said unto him [Thomas], We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25, emphasis mine).

Thomas needed physical evidence in order to believe, and many today still want to see some physical manifestation. They want to see a miracle, experience a “feeling.” or suddenly speak in an unknown language in order to believe. Eight days later, Jesus granted Thomas’ request, but also lovingly reprimanded him for his lack of faith. “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29, emphasis mine).

For those that demand evidence, God provides abundant evidence, however, “they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:13). Let us briefly examine just some of the evidence.

First, there is the evidence of an empty tomb.  No court in the world will try someone for murder without a dead body. Where is Jesus’ body? Where are His bones? Not long ago, an ossuary was found in Jerusalem supposedly having the inscription “Jesus son of Joseph,” but that was soon proven a hoax.[1] Besides that, many fail to understand that “James, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary” were very common names in those days, so the inscriptions prove nothing. However, an inscription found on another ossuary said “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” This may indeed contain the remains of James the brother of Jesus.[2] However, the fact remains that the tomb (and there are several suspected) which temporarily held Jesus’ body remains empty.

No body means no victim, and for this reason many suggest that the crucifixion never really took place. One rumor suggests that the betrayer, Judas, was crucified in Jesus’ place and that Jesus walked away free. Those same people are the ones looking for His bones in ossuaries. Muhammad is buried in the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Confucius’ body rests in his home town of Qufu, Shandong Province, China. Buddha’s cremated remains (the “relics”) are distributed among several stupas. Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í faith, is buried in Bahji near Acre, Israel.[3] Two main tombs in Jerusalem compete as the burial place of Christ, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden Tomb, but both remain empty.

Second, many eyewitnesses saw Jesus alive the third day after His crucifixion and other times thereafter. The four Gospels report that the women (disciples also) that followed Jesus discovered the empty tomb first (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:1-2, 11-18).  Luke records that Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32). Those two return to report to the eleven (Judas had taken his own life because of the guilt he felt for betraying Jesus), and while they gave their report, Jesus appeared to all of them (Luke 24:33-43). John’s account notes that Thomas missed that first appearance (John 20:19-25). All of this happened on Resurrection Day. The next Sunday, Jesus appeared to them again, but this time Thomas, the doubter, was in the group of disciples (John 20:26-29). Thomas’ doubt transformed into belief, “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” (John 20:28, emphasis mine).

Jesus had many “disciples” (both men and women) besides the twelve “apostles” composing His core group; so when the Gospel writers talk about disciples, they likely include the many that followed Jesus during His ministry on earth. The word “disciple” literally means “student,” so the number of eyewitnesses went beyond the core group. Following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, there were many that could testify to His resurrection. The Apostle Paul asserts “After that, he [the risen Christ] was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6, emphasis mine). At the time of Paul’s writing the letter to the Corinthians, there remained many eyewitness that could attest to the resurrected Lord. The Law says that “at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15), and Jesus had more than 250 times the number of witnesses required by the Law. Paul himself, never having known Jesus during His earthly ministry, met the risen Christ as he traveled toward Damascus to persecute the followers of The Way. Of all the witnesses, he says of himself, “And last of all he [the risen Christ] was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not [worthy] to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:8-9, emphasis mine). Despite the abundance of eyewitness, some hold to the silly notion that all these witnesses experienced mass hallucinations. Seriously? I will not dignify that with a response!

Third is the matter of the radical change in the lives of all of the disciples. Immediately after Jesus’ arrest, they all went into hiding. Mark, probably writing for Peter, remembers Jesus’ arrest: “And they all forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50, emphasis mine). Mark probably witnessed this firsthand. Speaking of himself in third person (out of embarrassment I am sure), he says, “And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked” (Mark 14:51-52, emphasis mine). Peter, who boasted, “… If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all” (Mark 14:31, emphasis mine) was the first disassociate himself from Jesus with a verbal denial despite Jesus’ warning. “Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Matthew 26:34).  Faced with the challenge of making a public declaration of his association with Jesus, Peter succumbed to fear. “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:74-75, emphasis mine).

Shortly after Jesus appeared to them, the disciples maintained a low profile. They met secretly in the Upper Room and evangelism never entered their minds. At first, they must have wondered if they had all experienced a mass hallucination. The Gospels give no indication that Jesus met with them regularly following His resurrection. Indeed, some could not believe their own eyes with those brief encounters. “And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17, emphasis mine). Jesus was alive, but so what! The Jews would kill anyone proclaiming Jesus’ name. Not surprisingly, the disciples wanted to get things back to “normal.” “Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing” (John 21:3, emphasis mine).

These cowering, fearful men were not likely candidates to “have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) with the message of a risen Christ. Even with their firsthand encounters with the risen Lord, they dared not speak out. These (“To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3, emphasis mine)) would not put their lives on the line for the risen Christ whom they, as John put it, “… have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1, emphasis mine). Why would they put their lives on the line for what they knew to be a lie? Yet only fifty days after the Crucifixion, at Pentecost, these same men boldly stood in Jerusalem and proclaimed the risen Savior to every tongue and nation (Acts 2:1-5). The fear of death no longer silenced them. When commanded to stop teaching in the name of Jesus, “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, emphasis mine). What made the difference? They saw and handled the risen Christ, and they experienced His power, the Holy Spirit, indwelling their lives. Christ is risen indeed!

Reader, we cannot see or handle the risen Christ, but we have the empty tomb. We have the written testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses. Men and women who would rather die than deny what they had witnessed firsthand. We have the continuing witness of the living body of Christ, the Church. “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29, emphasis mine). You and I are they “that have not seen.” To us Jesus says, “… be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27). Christ is risen indeed. One day, very soon, He will return to reclaim His creation as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Be sure you are ready to meet Him.

Notes:


[1]  “Jesus’ tomb story: Does the evidence add up?” (http://www.icr.org/article/1063/386), accessed 04/14/2017.

[2]  Jackson, Wayne. “The Jesus Ossuary Inscription.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: April 14, 2017. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/578-jesus-ossuary-inscription-the, accessed 04/14/2017.

[3]  “Burial places of founders of world religions,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burial_places_of_founders_of_world_religions, accessed 04/14/2017.

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The King Is Coming!

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9)

Around 1,987 years ago on a Sunday afternoon (Mark 11:11), Jesus rode into Jerusalem as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah. The Gospel writer, Matthew, quotes Zachariah in part, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5, emphasis mine). Matthew conspicuously omits Zachariah’s description of the coming King as “just, and having salvation.” Why the omission? Matthew Henry comments on Zachariah 9:9:

“He is a righteous ruler; all his acts of government will be exactly according to the rules of equity, for he is just. 2. He is a powerful protector to all those that bear faith and true allegiance to him, for he has salvation; he has it in his power; he has it to bestow upon all his subjects. He is the God of salvation; treasures of salvation are in him. He is servatussaving himself (so some read it), rising out of the grave by his own power and so qualifying himself to be our Saviour.”[1] (Emphasis mine)

Perhaps Matthew’s omission (as directed by the Holy Spirit) was purposeful. Granted, Matthew wrote after the fact from a vantage point of hindsight, yet the omission retained the prophetic formula of immediate and future fulfillment. Jesus did something similar when He applied Isaiah’s prophecy to Himself. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). He deliberately omitted the remainder of Isaiah’s prophecy: “and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2).  Jesus fulfilled the first part of Isaiah’s prophecy at His first coming; “the day of vengeance of our God” will be fulfilled at His second coming when He will set up His millennial kingdom and “comfort all that mourn.”

In the same way, Jesus entered into Jerusalem as the coming King, “lowly [meek], and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). In a matter of days, the adoring crowd crying, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13) would turn into a raging mob shouting, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him … We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). They took the King and nailed Him to a cross.

Three days later, He conquered death and once again walked on earth. After forty days (Acts 1:3), He ascended to His throne having “purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). However, He is not done. There remains prophecy yet unfulfilled. Many still mourn. Injustice still reigns. The Lord has not executed His vengeance and His creation still needs salvation. There is yet more to come.

The prophets spoke of God reigning on the earth. His Messiah will rule the world from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Jesus promised to return. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3, emphasis mine). This same Gospel writer was granted the great privilege of seeing things to come. “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God … And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God … And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:1, 11-13, 15-16, emphasis mine).

He will once again enter the gates of Jerusalem, this time on a white horse as a conquering king. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4, emphasis mine). What an awesome sight to behold!

Lately, I have been hearing many modern prophets suggesting that this year, 2017, will be the year that Christ will return to rescue His people from “the wrath of God” that is to come upon the earth. Their reasoning, from a biblical standpoint, is sound. All the ones I listen to are quick to issue the disclaimer that they are not setting dates. Jesus clearly stated, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36); so I respect that note of caution by these prognosticators. However, I sense, because of what I observe happening all around the world, that what they are predicting may be true. For the Church, the return of Christ has always been imminent, but it is truer today than ever before in the history of the Church. The King is coming! Jesus is coming very soon. Personally, I am looking for and anxiously awaiting His return.

Reader, you will meet Jesus very soon. The best way to meet Him is to be one of His own. Very soon, Jesus will return for His Bride, the Church, the collective body of all who have placed their trust in Him. When that day comes, all the powers of hell will be unleashed upon the world. No place will escape or be immune. You will still have the opportunity to repent when that time comes, but you will suffer tremendously for it. Why not give your life to Jesus now and avoid the horrors that are to come. All you need to do is confess your sin and recognize your need for Him. Ask Him to save you. Invite Him into your heart. Give Him first place in your life; make Him the Lord (the “Boss”) of your life, and trust that He will keep His promise. The King is coming, but this time He will not be meek and lowly. Are you ready to meet Him?

Notes:


[1] Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, note on Zechariah 9:9.

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The Trinity

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is a hard concept to grasp, much less explain cogently. Explaining the Trinity becomes even more challenging when the inquisitor is ignorant of Christian tenets. I experienced such a challenge this week when I received an email from a Jew who was curious about the topic. His email follows:

I just visited in your site. I’m a 40yo Jew from Israel. I understand that you guys [ICR] are Christians. When I ran into this:

“The Creator of the universe is a triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is only one eternal and transcendent God, the source of all being and meaning, and He exists in three Persons, each of whom participated in the work of creation.”

I wanted to ask you a religious question. What is the meaning of triune God? Since for me there is only “one eternal God”

What follows is my response to him. It makes sense to me, but more importantly, I hope it made sense to him. Here goes …

Wow! That is a tough one! “Triune” is really a compound word: “Tri” meaning “three” and “une” meaning “union” or “one.” It refers to the Christian doctrine of the “Trinity.” As a Christian, I understand the doctrine, and I believe that it is taught in the Bible – both Old and New Testaments. It is a difficult concept to explain even for a Christian, and it is one that must be accepted by “faith” just as our belief in an Almighty, invisible God must be accepted by faith.

For me to continue, you may need to lay your kippah aside and let go of any presuppositions you may have. Try to listen to what I have to say objectively.

First of all, the word “Trinity” is found nowhere in the Bible; however, the concept is clearly taught in both Old and New Testaments. It is most clearly taught in the New Testament from which Christians developed the doctrine. You might want to keep in mind that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew and He was faithful to all of the Mosaic Law (Torah). All the writers of the New Testament, except for perhaps Luke, were also Jews. The Gospel writer, Luke, author of the “Gospel of Luke” and the “Acts of the Apostles,” was a Greek, but because of his familiarity with the Jewish religion, he may have been a Jewish proselyte; however, we have no solid evidence for that one way or another. All of these, including Jesus, put forth the doctrine of the Trinity.

So just what is the Trinity? It is the concept of a triune God. We believe in One God, not three, as we have wrongly been accused by Jews, Muslims, and several neo-Christian cults (Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons). There is only One God revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To help you better understand this idea, think of yourself as a “triune” being. You have a mind, body and soul/spirit. All three are required for you to live. If your mind dies, your body will eventually cease to function, your spirit will depart, and your body will die. If your body dies, your spirit departs and your mind ceases to function, and if your spirit departs, your body and mind will cease to function. You are “three persons,” yet, you are one. People see your body and recognize who you are, but they cannot discern what goes on in your mind. People know you, but they do not really “know” who you are entirely because the “real” you is that invisible mind and spirit. The mind plans, the spirit motivates and the body carries out the directions of the mind. Your mind is you, your physical body is you, and your spirit is you, yet you are one, indivisible person.

The Bible teaches us that God created man in His own image. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27), There are many aspects of God’s nature inherent in man (i.e. human beings), but the triune nature of man demonstrates the triune nature of God. As acknowledged before, God is One revealed in three persons. In trying to relate the triune nature of God with that of man, the Father could be compared to the “mind” that plans and controls all activity of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is the energizing, motivating element that puts the Father’s plans in action, and Jesus is the body that does the physical work to carry out the Father’s plans. Of course, God is infinitely greater than His creation, but in this, at least in part, we can see a “family resemblance.”

We find the first “hint” of the triune nature of God in the very first verse of the Bible. בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ׃ (Genesis 1:1) God, Elohim, is a plural, masculine noun; however, bara is a singular, masculine verb. On face value, this would be incorrect grammar, however, it shows the plurality of the One God. Some would argue that God was using the royal “We.” Others say that this is just a way of expressing the limitless nature of God. Both of those are reasonable and plausible arguments, however the verse that follows introduces a second element. והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשׁך על־פני תהום ורוח אלהים מרחפת על־פני המים׃  (Genesis 1:2) In this verse, the Spirit (rûach) is presented as separate from God (Elohim). Why the distinction? The writer (Who I believe is God) could have simply said, “and God moved upon the face of the waters” and left off the “Spirit.” Why confuse the issue? God is not a God of confusion, so the distinction is intentional. Add to that the “self-talk” in vv. 26-27 – “Let us make … in our image, after our likeness” – speaking in the plural, and then in the next verse we read, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” – speaking in the singular.

That is just for starters. You find many places (which I cannot cover here) in the Old Testament (Torah) where the LORD (HaShem) puts His Spirit in men to accomplish some special task. You also find many instances of God appearing to men in physical form as “the Angel of the LORD.” The way you can see that this is God and no ordinary angel, is because “the Angel of the LORD” takes personal responsibility for His actions, or for what He promises to do, and He accepts the worship of humans. We know that seeing God in His full glory would bring death to a man, yet Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson’s parents, and others saw God in physical form and did not die. These were all examples of Jesus in His pre-incarnate form. So we see that in the Old Testament, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all represented, but all are One God working together in unison. The prophet Isaiah reveals the Trinity this way: “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me” (Isaiah 48:16). In this verse, the Son is speaking, and He claims that He has spoken from the beginning, i.e., Creation (Genesis 1:1). The Son asserts that He is being sent by the Lord God (Father) and His Spirit (Holy Spirit). Here we see the Trinity represented in one Old Testament verse.

The writers of the New Testament constantly referred to the Old Testament in their teachings. This is why Christians should not discard the study of the Old Testament. Without the Old Testament, the New Testament makes no sense. Anyway, John the Apostle was Jesus’ cousin and also related to Caiaphas, the high priest at the crucifixion of Jesus. John begins his Gospel this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3), “Word” in the Greek is logos, which is a very complex word that includes reason, wisdom, logic. All the wisdom of God is contained in that one word. John affirms that the Word existed in the “beginning” and he identifies the Word as God. In fact, “the Word was God” literally appears in the Greek as “God was the Word.” And even though the Word was God, the Word was “with God.” Isn’t that strange? However, it is the Word that created “all things,” and from Genesis 1:1 we know that God (Elohim) created all things. A few verses later, John clearly identifies “the Word:” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In Genesis 1, we learn that God (the Word) made man in His image. In John 1, we learn that the Word (God) made himself in the image of man – God in human form. Jesus Himself said, “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (John 10:30-31). Their reaction was understandable given their perspective.

This is your Messiah (and mine), who came to live as a man without sin, so that He could offer Himself up on the cross to make atonement for the sins of all men. You may well ask, if Jesus is God, then how could He die? Remember earlier when I described the triune nature of man? Do you recall that I never referred to the spirit as dying? Rather, I referred to the spirit as “departing.” The flesh dies, but the spirit lives on. When Jesus died, His body was offered as the perfect sinless sacrifice that only could atone for all the sins of man, but the Father and the Holy Spirit (Elohim) did not die. However, three days later, the Spirit returned to Jesus’ lifeless body, He rose again, ascended back to His throne on high, and one day, very soon, your Messiah (and mine) will return again to establish His royal throne – the throne of David – in His Holy Temple in Jerusalem. I can hardly wait!

I know this was a lot of information. If nothing else, I hope I helped you to understand the Christian concept of the Trinity. It is all through the Torah, but as I said to start, you may need to set aside your kippah (i.e. traditions) to see it. If you would like to read more on this, here are a couple of articles that may be helpful to you:

http://www.icr.org/article/wonderful-truth-trinity

http://www.icr.org/article/20941

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Life on Other Planets

NOTE: NASA has no idea what these planets look like. This is the rendition of an artist’s imagination.

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. (Psalm 148:5)

Recently the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) created quite a stir concerning the discovery of seven earth-sized planets around the TRAPPIST-1 System.[1] Several of the scientists are absolutely gobsmacked and giddy over the prospect of the possibility of life on these planets.

“For thousands of years, people have wondered, are there other planets like Earth out there? Do any support life?” said Sara Seager, astrophysicst [sic] and planetary scientist at MIT. “Now we have a bunch of planets that are accessible for further study to try to start to answer these ancient questions.”[2]

Given the propensity of these scientists to reject the supernatural creative acts of God, they understandably seek proof of spontaneous generation on other worlds where they are free to speculate to their heart’s content. Failing to prove evolution here on earth, they hope to prove it elsewhere where their speculations escape scrutiny.

It is bad enough that they suck the mindless masses into the void of fantasy, but sadly, many “Bible-believing” Christians get sucked into the same vortex. I received an email from such a one just recently that read as follows:

While I am in agreement with the thought that the universe is God’s creation I’m not sure I understand comments that suggest life is impossible anywhere else.  While we know the Bible is truth, there is truth outside of the Bible.  God may have created life elsewhere for His purposes, what am I missing?

The writer referred to an article recently published on the Institute for Creation Research website[3] about the seven newly discovered exoplanets.

While many cautiously practice speculating about non-disclosures in the Bible, danger lurks when personal opinions become truths that can lead the believer astray. So for this one, and others that may be going off on a tangent, I offer the following.

The best resource to address the question of life on other worlds is the Bible.

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29, emphasis mine)

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:18, emphasis mine)

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21, emphasis mine)

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:25, emphasis mine)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine) Question: How many “images,” according to this verse, does God have?

And the Word [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, emphasis mine)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, emphasis mine)

For our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20-21, emphasis mine)

The Bible defines “life” more narrowly than how secular scientists define life.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11, emphasis mine)

For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. (Leviticus 17:14, emphasis mine)

Basically, no blood, no life. So, if the question has to do with “life forms” such as bacteria, plants, or things like that, it is possible that such things could exist on other planets. However, one must ask, what would be the purpose? God does not create anything without purpose. What was God’s purpose for creating here on earth? (By the way, bear in mind that God created earth before any of the other heavenly bodies.)

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. (Isaiah 43:7, emphasis mine)

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. (Psalm 104:31, emphasis mine)

I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. (Isaiah 45:12, emphasis mine)

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:5,11, emphasis mine)

And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory. (Psalm 64:9-10, emphasis mine)

The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. (Psalm 97:6, emphasis mine)

Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. (Psalm 148:11-13, emphasis mine)

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. (Isaiah 41:20, emphasis mine)

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (Isaiah 40:25-26, emphasis mine)

From the verses above, we see that at least part of God’s purpose in creation is twofold: for His glory and personal satisfaction, and so that man, whom He created in His image, can glorify God. Therefore, we must ask, how can we glorify God in that which we cannot observe? We continue to find more and more in the submicroscopic and subatomic levels right here on earth, so that we can marvel at God’s creation right here on earth. So, how would His purpose be accomplished by creating life on other planets beyond our observation? How can we glorify God about “life” of which we know nothing? (By the way, those NASA scientists are evolutionists. They do not believe in the Creator God of the Bible. They believe in evolution by “natural causes,” therefore, they “assume” that life “could” evolve on other planets. This is why they get so excited about the possibility. However, they have no rational basis to substantiate that belief. They cannot even prove life evolved here on earth.)

If we speculate that the “life” on other planets might be human-like, we need only to remember that humans were made in God’s image. That raises the question, in whose image were those creatures created? The question presents serious theological problems. Man’s sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) brought the curse upon all of God’s creation (Romans 8:22); therefore, those creatures would be under the curse of death too. However, Jesus died to redeem mankind, not Klingons or Vulcans. To redeem them, Jesus would have to die for each of those “races”, but the Bible says, “[We] are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, emphasis mine). Jesus’ death on the cross was a one-time deal; therefore, Jesus’ sacrifice excludes Klingons and Vulcans. God is just and righteous in His judgment; therefore, I conclude that all life is here on earth alone.

Reader, if you reject the Creator God, you are just as alien to God as Klingons and Vulcans, and in grave danger of spending eternity in hell. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20, emphasis mine). “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15, emphasis mine). There is a way of escape for you; however, you must decide. The Bible says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21, emphasis mine). Do that now.

Notes:


[1] Probing the Seven Worlds with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/probing-seven-worlds-with-nasas-james-webb-space-telescope

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  Seven Earth-size Planets Discovered: http://www.icr.org/article/9867

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Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (6)

light-of-the-world

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

This dialog recorded in Chapter 8 of John seems to be an extension of the conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees in Chapter 7. It was now the day after the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37; 8:2). At the end of Chapter 7, the Jews would have taken Jesus into custody, “but no man laid hands on him” (John 7:44), and the religious leaders were at odds as to what to do with Him (John 7:45-53).

On the following day, John records that the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in the act of adultery asking Jesus to pass judgment on her. Some “scholars” suggest that John 8:1-11, which relates this account, either is not original to John, or if it is original to John, it was not included in the original writing. They come to this conclusion based on variant manuscripts of the Gospel, some of which do not contain the narrative at all, and some that do contain the narrative find it in other locations of the same Gospel. Personally, I will go with the Textus Receptus that places it right where it is in all of our Bibles.

I believe the narrative falls logically into this place. Consider that Jesus debated the Jews on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37). The conversation ended with their failed attempt to arrest Him (John 7:44). The Jews were then in a dilemma as to what to do with Him (John 7:45-53), and Jesus retreats to His base camp at the Mount of Olives (John 8:1). Then, “early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them” (John 8:2). At this time, the Jews brought the woman to Jesus, and Jesus turned the tables on them suggesting that “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). “Being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last” (John 8:9). It is worthy to note that, even though Jesus did not condemn the woman, neither did He accommodate her sin. “Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11, emphasis mine).

Apparently, a crowd, including some Pharisees that were not involved in the “sting operation,” observed what took place and saw how the accusers tucked tail and left. Jesus then addresses the audience that remained. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine).[1] In spite of what the “scholars” say, the narrative of the woman caught in adultery fits perfectly in this place. The light Jesus brought to bear exposed the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders and sent them into hiding (temporarily). John’s prolog alerts us to the light Jesus brought into the world. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it notThat was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:4-5, 9, emphasis mine). Light dispels darkness and exposes evil. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21, emphasis mine). The Pharisees were in the dark, and the light of Jesus exposed them for what they were.

The dialog between Jesus and the Pharisees continued even though they understood very little of what Jesus had to say. In the conversation, Jesus makes several important points. First, believing in Him is essential to salvation. “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24); “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Second, if you believe in Him and claim to be His disciple, i.e., follower/student, you must be faithful to His teaching. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32, emphasis mine). His Word is the Bible, and the truth contained in His Word liberates the soul. Jesus is the Living Word (John 1:1), and He gives us His written Word. Therefore, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Third, only those who belong to God can hear and understand God’s Word. “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47). The Pharisees did not understand Jesus’ message because, even though they were “religious,” they were not “of God.” Fourth, they who are of God understand His Word and keep it; therefore, they will enjoy eternal life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death” (John 8:51, emphasis mine).

The fifth point Jesus made revealed His eternal nature and His equality with God the Father. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). Some scholars believe Jesus was referring to Abraham’s hope in the promise of Messiah, however, that does not seem the fit the Pharisees’ reaction. “Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (John 8:57, emphasis mine).

If this mean no more than that he had a prophetic foresight of the gospel-day – the second clause just repeating the first – how could the Jews understand our Lord to mean that He “had seen Abraham?” And if it mean that Abraham was then beholding, in his disembodied spirit, the incarnate Messiah [Stier, Alford, etc.], the words seem very unsuitable to express it. It expresses something past – “he saw My day, and was glad,” that is, surely while he lived. He seems to refer to the familiar intercourse which Abraham had with God, who is once and again in the history called “the Angel of the Lord,” and whom Christ here identifies with Himself. On those occasions, Abraham “saw ME” (Olshausen, though he thinks the reference is to some unrecorded scene). If this be the meaning, all that follows is quite natural. (Emphasis mine)[2]

That is my take on just the normal reading of the text. Jesus referred to His encounters with Abraham recorded in the Book of Beginnings, as the LORD (Genesis 12:7; 15:1-18; 17:1; 18:1), as the Angel of the Lord who stopped him from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22:11-18), as Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20), and as one of the three “men” that visited with him in the plains of Mamre (Genesis 18). The Pharisees rightly understood that Jesus referred to personal encounters with Abraham; therefore, they questioned, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (John 8:57, emphasis mine). Abraham lived 2000 years prior to this time, so how could a mere man, not yet even in his fifties, have a personal encounter with him? Jesus cleared up their confusion. “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58, emphasis mine). With His authority as God, Jesus identified Himself as the Great I AM. His message was clear and the Pharisees understood precisely what he was saying. “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59, emphasis mine). For a mere man to make such a claim was blasphemous, and it demanded immediate execution.  However, Jesus was no mere man, and His claim was “Verily, verily” (Truly, truly).

As I AM,[3] Jesus is also the Light of the World. Jesus “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen [i.e., “the light], nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:16, emphasis mine). “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all … But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:5, 7, emphasis mine). “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6, emphasis mine). “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5, emphasis mine). “And the city [the New Jerusalem] had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it” (Revelation 21:23-24, emphasis mine).

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). Reader, have you seen the light, or are you still hiding from the light?

Notes:


[1]  Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (2): https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/09/04/jesus-seven-i-am-statements-in-john-2/

[2]  Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Commentary on John 8:56.

[3]  Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (1): https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/08/28/jesus-seven-i-am-statements-in-john-1/

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Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (5)

47642620 - cascade on small mountain stream. cold crystal water is falling over mossy boulders into small pool.

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)

Jesus was in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2) and taught in the temple throughout the weeklong festivities (John 7:14, 37). Knowing His devotion to observing the Mosaic Law, the “Jews” looked for Him (John 7:11) hoping to find some excuse to kill Him (John 7:1). Regardless of the threat, Jesus went up to the feast anyway, albeit incognito (John 7:10).

Jesus must not have posed a particularly striking appearance. He probably looked like a common, uneducated Galilean, but His speech bewildered the Jews. “And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15). To be sure, Jesus, the Word, knew the Scriptures better than they did. “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16-17, emphasis mine). The Greek noun translated “doctrine” is didachē and it means “instruction” or “teaching.” This teaching comes from God, therefore, because they were not doing God’s will, they did not understand the instruction, nor recognize the One delivering the message. The same problem exists today. One can understand the “unchurched” not doing God’s will, but sadly, many so-called “churches” preach a “gospel” contrary to the will of God, and are as fundamentally ignorant of the “doctrine of God” as are the unchurched.

Jesus demonstrated kindness and compassion, but when it came to the false teaching of the Jews of that time, He pulled no punches. “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” (John 7:19, emphasis mine.). Jesus revealed Himself here, but the Jews failed to recognize Him. They searched for Jesus to have Him killed, but standing before them, they did not recognize Him. “Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel” (John 7:21, emphasis mine).  Some commentators believe Jesus referred to the healing of the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda,[1] but that was six months before during Purim. That healing took place on a Sabbath, and for that, the Jews sought to kill Him! Jesus exposed their hypocrisy. “If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man [completely] whole on the sabbath day?” (John 7:23). It seems reasonable that if a circumcision can be performed on a Sabbath, a healing should be just as valid, if not more so. Therefore Jesus admonished them, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

At this point the Jews started to realize that this was Jesus, whom they sought, and Jesus no longer hid the fact. “Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me” (John 7:28-29,emphasis mine). More than Jesus healing on the Sabbath, they hated His claim of being from Him more than anything. Jesus claimed equality with God, and it irked the Jews. “Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30, emphasis mine).

Jesus caused quite a stir. Many of His hearers believed in Him, but the Pharisees and other religious rulers sought the more to take Him into custody. Jesus then alluded to His crucifixion and resurrection. “Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come” (John 7:33-34, emphasis mine). Jesus previously pointed out that these religious leaders were estranged to God; therefore, like anyone estranged from God, they cannot be with Him in the presence of God. Of course, they did not understand what He was saying as anyone in this same condition remains blind to the things of God.

Finally, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus offered the invitation to soften that hardened condition. “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38, emphasis mine). The “belly” is a metaphor for ones innermost being. John further explains Jesus’ meaning. “But this spake he of the [Holy]Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:39, emphasis). When one places his trust in Jesus for salvation, Jesus’ promises to come and reside within him.“…if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Of course, Jesus cannot do this physically (after all, He does have a physical body), so He accomplishes this through the Holy Spirit Who inhabits every believer.

The remedy for ignorance of God and His will, is the Living Water that Jesus freely offers. Jesus promises, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26, emphasis mine). “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26, emphasis mine). “And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8, emphasis mine). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13, emphasis mine). Ignorance of God and of the things of God dissipates by drinking in the Living Water that Jesus so freely offers.

Reader, are you thirsty to know God? If so, why not take Jesus up on His invitation. Come and drink of the Living Water He offers. It is free for the asking.

Notes:


[1]Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (3), https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/11/06/jesus-seven-signs-in-john-3/.

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Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (4)

Bread

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27)

The Apostle John penned his Gospel with the purpose of demonstrating the deity of Jesus Christ through the “signs” He performed and His teachings. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31, emphasis mine). In the section I am covering today, John presents two “signs”: Jesus feeding the 5000,[1] Jesus walking on the water;[2] and Jesus’ first “I AM” statement, “I Am the bread of life” (John 6:35, emphasis mine).[3]

On the previous day, Jesus demonstrated His deity by feeding over 5000 people with only five loaves and two fish, and now those who were fed came looking for more. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26, emphasis mine). This launched Jesus’ fourth discourse as recorded by John to explain how Jesus is “the Bread of Life.”

Today, like then, we tend to focus on the material things of life. The poor worry about where the next meal will come from. The rich worry about accumulating more wealth and keeping the wealth they already possess. Solomon said, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Proverbs 30:8-9). The trouble with Solomon’s Goldilocks system – not too hot, not too cold, but just right – is that the concept of rich or poor is subjective as defined by fallen individuals. Jesus was more succinct. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? … But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:25, 33-34, emphasis mine). This is true regardless of one’s perceived financial status.

“Meat” refers to food, and combined with clothing (“raiment”) implies the material necessities of life. Jesus said that life is more than the material stuff required to sustain it. Without food, our physical body will die of starvation. Without raiment, i.e. covering/shelter, we die of exposure. However, Jesus contends that life is more than our temporary physical existence. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27).

“Meat” costs. One must work to earn the means to obtain it, so their question was understandable. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (John 6:28, emphasis mine).  The Bible teaches that eternal life cannot be bought. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, emphasis mine). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, emphasis mine). However, Jesus concurs with them that work is required for eternal life. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29, emphasis mine). “Belief” is the work! It is probably the fundamental element for salvation. The Greek word translated “believe” is pisteuō meaning to “have faith in” or “to trust in.” Without it, it is impossible to obtain eternal life. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis mine). Jesus makes no pretense that believing comes easily. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, emphasis mine). It takes a certain amount of effort to place your trust in “things not seen.” It is work; Jesus said so. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29, emphasis mine).

However, the work is not entirely that of the believer. Look again at what Jesus said. “This is the work of God.” “God” is in the genitive case, meaning that the “work” belongs to Him. Looking again at Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (emphasis mine). “Grace” is God’s unmerited favor obtained through the channel of “faith,” which “is the gift of God.” In other words, God gives the “faith” to believe. That is His work through the Holy Spirit working in the heart of the believer. Of the Holy Spirit Jesus said, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment … Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:8, 13, emphasis mine).

Having been fed and seen the miracles performed by Jesus, His hearers remained incredulous. “They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat” (John 6:30-31, emphasis mine). It is sadly comical that they believed their history having only heard or read of it, and here they witnessed Jesus’ miracles, and still wanted more proof. Their minds remained bound to their bellies with thoughts of endless manna. “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:32-33, emphasis mine).

Obvious to us, but not to His listeners, Jesus spoke of Himself. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35, emphasis mine).[4] Just as physical bread contains properties to sustain physical life, the “spiritual” bread that is Jesus sustains life through eternity. Unlike the physical bread that is consumed continually through the mouth, the spirit through faith consumes the spiritual bread once. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, emphasis mine). The method of consumption is through belief. “But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not” (John 6:36, emphasis mine).

As stated earlier, “belief” is work. It is the required work for obtaining eternal life. Jesus’ hearers had witnessed miracles of healing. They ate from the five loaves and two fish He multiplied by His creative power. They saw and yet did not believe. No work took place in their lives. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37, emphasis mine). We saw that salvation is the work of God. Obviously, God did not work in the lives of these people, or, according to Jesus, they would have come to Him. This raises the question of God’s election, something Jesus clearly teaches. “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16, emphasis mine). Superficially, this teaching conflicts with concept of free will. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17, emphasis mine). A tense paradox exists between God’s sovereign will and man’s responsibility. Theologians have debated the question throughout church history without clear resolution to the puzzle. I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle,[5] and cannot be answered here in the short course of this writing. The point is that those who do come to Jesus are eternally secure. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37, emphasis mine).

John informs us at the beginning of his Gospel that Jesus, the Word, is the eternal Creator God (John 1:1-3), and that He came and put on human flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus affirms John’s claim. “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38, emphasis mine). Jesus’ expression seems to indicate that He and the Father are two separate entities, as my father and I are two completely different people. That is not the case in the relationship within the Godhead. (See last week’s article for a little better explanation.)[6] In perhaps overly simplified terms, the Body does what the Head directs.

Here is the bottom line: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39-40, emphasis mine). Consuming, i.e. taking in or accepting, the Bread of Life assures the believer of eternal life that is sure and secure for eternity.

Reader, have you partaken of the Bread of Life?

Notes:


[1]  “Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (4),” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/11/13/jesus-seven-signs-in-john-4/

[2]  “Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (5),” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/11/20/jesus-seven-signs-in-john-5/

[3]  “Jesus’ Seven ‘I AM’ Statements in John (1),” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/08/28/jesus-seven-i-am-statements-in-john-1/

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  “Somewhere in the Middle,” https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/10/20/somewhere-in-the-middle/

[6]  “Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (3),” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/02/05/jesus-seven-discourses-in-john-3/

 

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