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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Glimpses into the Future -Visions from Malachi

Glimpses into the Future

Visions from Malachi

Malachi was the last of the twelve Minor Prophets. And the book of Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament. -the last recorded prophetic message to the nation of Israel before their promised Messiah, Jesus would come. Malachi wrote his prophecies in about 450 B.C.- long after the people of Israel had returned to their homeland from captivity in Babylon.

The Jewish people had been thrilled to finally be free and back home again. And they were anxious to rebuild the temple and worship God. But then, all too soon, their enthusiasm for the Lord had cooled, and worshipping God had become a chore – a boring formality. They had become careless and disrespectful when they came before God. They didn’t bring the offering that God had asked for. Malachi tells them how God feels about their sloppy worship.

Here are just a few things that displeased God when the Jewish people came to worship. “Where is My honor,” “Your priests despise My Name,” “You offer defiled food on My altar.” “You offer the blind as a sacrifice” “and you offer the lame and the sick,” “I have no pleasure in you.” “You are robbing Me, bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,…” “nor will I accept an offering from your hands.”(Malachi 1:6b,c,7a,8a,10b,c, 3:10)

God had given Israel rules about how to come before Him and how to bring their sacrifices for sin. They had been instructed to offer a lamb for their sin offering that was perfect, (healthy), because when Jesus would come, He would be the Lamb for their sin offering and He would be perfect (without sin). Malachi speaks out with Gods’ message and accuses the people of bringing sick and lame animals. They were not offering their best to God or bringing what He had required. They had ignored Gods’ instructions as to how to come into His presence. Instead of worshiping God the way He required, the Jewish people were doing their own thing. And God told them that He would not accept their offerings.

God doesn’t want our careless and disrespectful worship either. I have been to Sunday morning worship services where instead of worshipping God, we have been entertained by elegant symphony performances. And other times where Holy Communion was not served reverently but in a casual playful manner. It’s times like these that we looked for another church.

We come to a worship service, not to be entertained, but to worship God. And Holy Communion or the Eucharist, -the body and blood of Christ –is to be taken reverently, and only after we have confessed any known sins. God wants us to take pleasure in Him and He will take pleasure in us. He wants us to give our best to Him, and He does not want our gifts to be given grudgingly - “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor.9:7) He isn’t pleased with our lukewarm love or our bored attendance.

God has given us instructions as to how to come to Him. There is just one way – not any old way that may seem right. Scripture says: “There is a way that seems right to people, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Psalms 16:25) Jesus is the only Way and no one comes to God except through Him. (John 14:6) One of the first lessons we learn in Malachi is that God desires our worship of Him to be wholehearted. He wants our best. And we are to come to Him the way He told us, through the Door (Jesus) and not try to climb over the wall like a thief. (John 10:1) God didn’t accept the second hand offerings brought to Him in Malachi’s time, and I don’t think He will accept our anything goes offerings today either!

Our worship can either be “high church” or casual: but worshipping God with a humble open spirit is what counts. Sometimes we may be bored or feel lukewarm in church, like they did in Malachi’s time. But God wants us to be willing to be willing to change. We can ask Him to mold us into what He wants, and He will.

The Israelites in Malachi’s’ day did not believe that God was a God of justice. “You have wearied the Lord with your words. …By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and He is pleased with them,’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?’” (Malachi 2:17) Are we ever like the people in Malachi’s day? Do we forget that God does see the unjust, the unfaithful, and the really bad things that are being done in our world today? Or do we forget that God is a God of justice - that He really does care and He really will judge?

Malachi continues to encourage Israel not to lose faith. They are reminded that God is just and He does care about them. Even though they may not have seen evil people punished yet or good people rewarded during their lifetime, the Day of Judgment is coming and the records will be set straight. God will keep His promises and His judgments, even if His timing is not our timing.

Malachi reminds the Jewish nation that their promised Messiah is coming. “Behold I send My messenger, and He will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come into His temple, for the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1) “But who can stand the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like a launderers’ soap.” (Malachi 3:2)

Malachi was prophesying the coming of Jesus and giving the nation a glimpse into the future. Jesus would be born about 450 years after this prophesy was given. The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come into His temple. And it is believed that the “messenger” referred to in Malachi 3:1 is John the Baptist since he preached repentance and helped prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry.

Malachi announces the Lord’s coming. But then he asks the question: “But who can stand the day of His coming?” (Malachi 3:2a) What does that mean? Those who desire the Lord’s coming must know that clean hands and a pure heart are required. (Ps. 24:3-4, Isa. 33:14-15) Uh oh! Are we in trouble? Who among us has clean hands and a pure heart? Who can stand the day of His appearing?

But then as we read on we see that Christ comes as the Purifier and a Refiner of His people. Malachi says that Jesus is like a launderers’ soap! Jesus is like a bar of soap! That’s such good news! We so need to be washed and cleaned up! Other Scriptures say we are washed in His blood. But we must let Him wash us. We must allow Jesus to be our Refiner and our Purifier.

Malachi closes with more prophesies about Jesus. He has foreseen Jesus’ first coming and the salvation He brings with Him. But this time he prophesies about Jesus’ second coming, - the Great Day of the Lord. “Surely the Day is coming. It will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the Day that is coming will set them on fire, says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere My Name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall….” (Malachi 4:1-2)

The people in Malachi’s day were caught up in their sorrows and discouragements, and they didn’t think anything would ever change. God didn’t seem to be judging the evil in their midst and even though they were Gods’ people, their troubles still weren’t going away. Maybe God didn’t care.

But then Malachi comes in with visions from God that allowed the people to see way into the future- to a time when God would judge and heal and make things right. He allows the people to see things far beyond their little discouraging world. His prophesies are like a telescope that the people can peek through and see Christ’s coming. And they can also see the salvation that He will bring with Him.

And then God speaks through Malachi again and gives the people (and us) a second vision through this prophesy telescope. Malachi gives the backslidden people of his day – and us too - a glimpse of Christ’s Second Coming. And the final judgment. We get glimpses of that final Day when justice will prevail and evil will be put down. And we can even see God’s people leaping around like calves released from the stall!

These visions gave hope to the folks in Malachi’s day. And they are there to give us hope too. When we get discouraged and begin to feel that all is lost, let’s remember that a future day is coming when we will leap around like calves released from the stall! Prophesies in Scripture are given to remind us that God isn’t finished with us yet. When we get mired in the troubles we have today, and start to lose faith, we may need to stop and re-read the prophetic words. And we may need to take another glimpse into the future!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Ten Commandments (the last six commandments)

The Ten Commandments

(Exodus 20)

Part 2 – The Last Six Commandments

The Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai while the whole Jewish nation waited at the foot of the mountain. Shortly before this, God had miraculously freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt and now they were all traveling through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. God wrote these ten laws Himself on two tablets of stone and gave the tablets to Moses to take back to the people. These ten laws which are recorded in Exodus 20 were eventually called the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish nation four thousand years ago- and also to all of Gods’ people down through the ages. The Ten Commandments help us to know how God wants us to conduct our lives. We can know the difference between right and wrong. So here they are - the Ten Commandments (not the ten suggestions!) as they are given to us in the Bible (Exodus 20). We covered the first four commandments last week so today we will go over the last six commandments.

The first four commandments cover our relationship with God. And the last six commandments are laws concerning our relationships with one another. So today we will be looking at some of the rules God has for us when we relate to one another.

(5) The Fifth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20: 12)

Family is all important to God. I have a friend who was a loving and dedicated mother, but now, one of her daughters refuses to speak to her. The mother has been cut off for years from her angry daughter and surrounded by a wall of hate. The family is Christian but the daughter believes she has reasons to hate her mother. But God has not called us to hate. God calls us to love and forgive and to honor our mothers and fathers.

Of course other Scriptures state that parents are to provide for their children and take care of them. (1 Timothy 5:8) Too many deadbeat dads are in church pretending to be the good Christian, while their children are left behind growing up without a father.

(6) The Sixth Commandment: “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)

Human life is sacred. Scripture says that we humans are created in Gods’ image. He lights each life coming into the world. So it is a sin to destroy (kill) a human life- a life that God has made. I believe that when we take the life of an unborn baby we are also breaking this sixth commandment since an unborn baby is a person.

(7) The Seventh Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)

God meant for marriage to be really good. He meant for wives and husbands to have great marriages, great romances and great friendships. But to have all of these things the couple need to be faithful to one another sexually and otherwise. The Bible teaches that it is wrong to have sex outside of marriage. And if a married person has sex outside of his/her marriage he/she is breaking the seventh commandment. This command is given for our own good and the good of our children and our community.

(8) The Eighth Commandment: “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)

It’s pretty straight forward, isn’t it? We are not to take something for ourselves that belongs to another person. So much pain and trouble occur when these laws are broken. It isn’t always the poor that steal. Sometimes the rich or powerful steal from the weak or poor by setting up laws that keep the poor mired in their poverty. God is a God of justice and He will judge. If you remember the Bible tells us that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were judged and destroyed by God because the rich Sodomites were proud and stole from the poor. (Ezekiel 16:49)

(9) The Ninth Commandment: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20: 16)

How many prisoners have had their lives taken from them? How many have been exiled long years behind prison bars because someone told lies about them in court? How many people have had their reputations, jobs or friendships ruined by lies or gossip that was spread about them behind their backs? Even when we stretch the truth to harm another persons’ reputation, we are breaking this command. I am shocked by how many political rumors and exaggerations have been spread in the name of Christ! We are not to win the Christian battle by spreading hate and false stories. God commands us to be kind and truthful in our dealings with each other and to never betray another person or group with dishonest statements and rumors.

The Tenth Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house or your neighbor’s wife, or his servants or his animals or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20: 17)

This last commandment relates to our thought life. We are not to lust sexually after someone else’s’ husband or wife. Perhaps watching pornography causes a person to lust (covet). I don’t believe that God’s children should watch porn. Porn doesn’t show sexual acts between two people who have a commitment to one another. So porn is fake and doesn’t represent the real thing. And God wants us to have the real thing! I believe that watching porn can help undermine a good sexual relationship. Porn is fake, sexist and turns women into sexual objects.- men too. Real sex only builds up love, commitment and respect. How many marriages have been compromised by porn?

Also when we are commanded not to covet I believe that that means we are not to want (lust after) the nice car or home that belongs to our neighbor. If we have lustful thoughts we can ask God for help and He will help us transform our thought life. His Word promises us that! (1 Corinthians 10:13) Coveting or lusting (wanting something that belongs to another person) often leads us to the next step – stealing, committing adultery or even murder. And it all started there in our minds. Scripture tells us to “take

captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Let’s give our thought life back to God.

Let’s face it, we have all fallen short and broken some –or many-of these commandments! But when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and we repent (are sorry), Scripture says we are forgiven for breaking Gods’ laws. And the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and gives us new desires and helps us want to obey these commands. So obeying is not a burden! We will never keep the Ten Commandments perfectly on our own, but Scripture tells us that Jesus is our righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:6) He will forgive us when we mess up and be our covering. We won’t ever pass the “test” by living up to Gods’ commands, but Jesus will pass it for us! But we need to try to do our best to obey anyway.

Jesus once said that all of the Ten Commandments are summed up in just two commands. (Matthew 22:36-40) And those two commands are to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Loving God and loving our neighbor then is the key to obeying the Ten Commandments. But since our supply of love is limited, God promises to give us supernatural love if we ask. It’s not easy to break the commands –to steal, kill or harm another person you love. So obeying the commandments becomes much easier when we love our neighbor. So it’s all very simple. All we really need is love!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Ten Commandments (the first four)

The Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:3

(Part 1 – the first 4 commandments)

God had recently freed the Jewish people from their oppressors, the Egyptians. The Egyptians had been mistreating the Jews with hard labor and keeping them in cruel bondage as slaves. But now the whole nation of Israel was finally free, free at last from the heavy bondage of slavery! And the two to three million Jews- the whole nation- was on the move! It must have been quite a sight back then to see millions of people fleeing Egypt and traveling in mass across the endless desert to the Promised Land.

God was leading the Jewish nation across the desert. They knew that God had performed mighty acts in order to miraculously free them from slavery in Egypt and now they were trying to follow God wherever He would lead them. God would speak to Moses, their leader, and then Moses would speak back to the people for God. And the people would listen. Along the way God told Moses to stop and wait for more instructions. So the traveling Jewish nation all stopped and pitched their tents and waited while Moses climbed up Mt. Sinai (a mountain in the desert) to wait and listen for God. Moses stayed on the mountain top with God for forty days while the whole Jewish nation waited in the desert below.

And there up on Mt. Sinai, God gave Moses a Covenant or promise to the Jewish people. Along with Gods’ promises to be with His people and give them salvation and blessings, God also gave His people ten laws on how to live their lives before Him. God wrote these ten laws Himself on two tablets of stone and gave the two tablets of stone to Moses to take back to the people. These ten laws which are recorded in Exodus 20 were eventually called the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments were given to Gods’ people – to the Jews four thousand years ago- and they are also given to all of the people who belong to God down through the ages: so that includes us. Since we have been given the Ten Commandments we can always know how He wants us to conduct our lives. We never have to wonder what is right or wrong. So here they are - the Ten Commandments (not the ten suggestions!) as they are given to us in the Bible (Exodus 20). Today we will just cover the first four.

We will look at the first four commandments in this blog and the last six commandments in next weeks’ blog. The first four commandments cover our relationship with God. And the last six commandments are laws concerning our relationships with our neighbors. So today we will be looking at how God wants us to relate to Him.

(1) The First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)

The very first command that God gives His people is to put Him first – to love Him most, and to put Him ahead of all of our other interests and affections. He doesn’t want to be second place in our lives.

Before God even gave this first commandment, He reminded His people: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2) He had to remind His people that He was the One who was taking care of them and leading them out of bondage. So He had the right to command their worship, to ask to be first place in their lives. And God may have to remind us too that He is the One who created us and leads us out of our own modern day bondages. We forget that God is taking care of us. It’s so easy for us to think that we are in control of our own lives!

(2) The Second Commandment: “You shall not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them: for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:4-5)

All of the peoples of the ancient world- all of Israel’s neighbors- worshipped idols. God was commanding Israel not to do that, not to follow the crowd. God was jealous for their worship and He did not want to share that worship with useless idols. He didn’t want them to bow and sacrifice to idols that they made with their own hands. Most of the other nations at that time were polytheistic – they worshipped many gods. God was teaching His people to worship only One God – Himself.

Because in this second commandment God commanded His people not to create and worship anything in the form or likeness of anything on the earth or in the heavens or under the sea, the Moslem religion does not permit drawings or statues or artwork depicting nature or statues or pictures of humans. The Moslem religious leaders long ago commanded that all artwork be Mosaic art so that there will never be a drawing or statue or copy of anything resembling nature. Of course we Christians believe that in this second commandment God was commanding us not to create these objects resembling nature and then worship them.

(3) The Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Gods’ name is holy and we are always to use it with respect. I believe that we are breaking the third commandment when we swear or use bad language and include Gods’ name. If we do evil in the name of God would He consider that as breaking this third commandment?

(4) The Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your servants, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

God made us for Himself. And we need to learn to rest in Him. We can let the Holy Spirit lead us, listen for His voice and let go and let God. When Jesus was on earth the legalistic religious leaders criticized Jesus because He picked grain and healed people on the Sabbath. Jesus replied that people were not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for people. God made this spiritual rest day as a gift for us. It should not become a burden.

Let’s face it, we have all fallen short and broken some of these commandments! But when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior we are forgiven. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives and gives us new desires and helps us want to obey. So the burden of obeying is light. We will never keep the Ten Commandments perfectly on our own, but Scripture tells us that Jesus is our righteousness. He will forgive us when we mess up and be our covering. We won’t ever pass the “test” by living up to Gods’ commands, but Jesus will pass it for us! Aren’t you glad we don’t have to do it on our own?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Blasphemy was the reason the religious leaders used to have Jesus put to death. They accused Jesus of blasphemy because He did things that only God could do, (He raised the dead and healed the sick) and He said that He and God were one. That drove the religious community crazy! If Jesus had just been a great prophet or a teacher He would not have been crucified for the sin of blasphemy. But Jesus ultimately was crucified because He claimed that He was the Son of God.

One time during His ministry Jesus stated: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:33) Of course the Pharisees got upset because they understood exactly what Jesus was claiming – deity. Jesus does not deny His claim to be God. He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence. Another example was when Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58) The name “I am” was an Old Testament name for God and the Jewish leaders knew that. The response of the Pharisees who heard this statement was to take up stones to kill Jesus for blasphemy. The Mosaic Law commanded them to put to death any person who blasphemed by calling themselves God. (Leviticus 24:15).

Once when the disciples were with Jesus, Philip asked Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” (John 14:8) And Jesus answered him: “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you know that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you are not just my own. It is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work.” (John 14: 9-10)

Another time shortly after Jesus had risen from the dead He appeared in His resurrected body to the doubting Thomas. Thomas stood there stunned as Jesus asked him to not be doubting any longer but to believe. Then Jesus asked Thomas to feel the nail holes in His hands and feet. After seeing the resurrected Jesus right in front of him, Thomas dropped to his knees in amazed worship and proclaimed ; “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). And Jesus does not correct him for blaspheming but accepts his worship. Jesus also accepts worship several times in the Gospels. (Matthew 2:11, 28:9,17: Luke 24:52: John 9:38; 20:28) Never did Jesus reject such adoration. And again in Titus 2:13 we are encouraged to “wait for the coming of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1)

When Jesus was standing accused at His trial, the high priest asked Him: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Living God?” (Mark 14) And Jesus answered, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62) Jesus was hearkening back to the Old Testament where the prophet Daniel states: “There came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom shall never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)

When Jesus was saying this, the High Priest immediately recognized Jesus’ claim to divinity, and he tore his robe and declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy. Jesus was identifying Himself as the Son of Man, a person who was given “dominion, glory, and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.” (Daniel 7 and Mark 14)

Elsewhere, Jesus taught that He will ultimately judge humanity (Matthew 25:31-46) and He proclaimed that our eternal destinies depend on our response to Him (Mark 8:34-38). In addition, Jesus believed that He had the authority both to alter and even overrule several parts of the Old Testament (Mark 7:15, Matthew 5:21-22, 19:8-9)

The resurrection of Jesus is an established fact of history and is the strongest evidence for Jesus’ divinity. The evidence for this miraculous event is very powerful. Numerous sources report Jesus’ post-crucifixion appearances. (1 Cor. 15:3-7; Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:36-43: John 20:26-30: 21:1-14: Acts 1:3-6)

Jesus is not God’s Son in the sense of a human father and a son. But Jesus is God’s Son in the sense that He is God made manifest in human form (John 1:1, 14). Jesus did not have an earthly father and yes, Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus. The angel Gabriel told Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born in you will be called the Son of God”. (Luke 1:35) Hebrews 1:3 expresses this clearly, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”

During His trial before the Jewish leaders, the High Priest demanded of Jesus, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:63) “‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven’”. (Matthew 26:64) . And of course the Jewish leaders responded by accusing Jesus of blasphemy. (Matthew 26:65-66)

A created being, an ordinary person, or even a superstar, who Jesus would be if He were not God, could not pay the price required for sin against an infinite God. Only God could pay such an infinite penalty. Only God could take on the sins of the world. (2 Cor. 5:21) and die and be resurrected, proving His victory over sin and death. So if Jesus was not God, then we would not have been able to receive salvation.

Too many times we have all heard people saying that Jesus never claimed to be God! All one needs to do is to start reading the Bible to see that that is false. So many lies have been told about Jesus! Let’s not let those lies influence us and take away our hope. Jesus asked Thomas to stop doubting and believe. And He asks us the same thing. Let’s do it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Bible Declares That Jesus Is God

The Bible Declares That Jesus Is God

We were having dinner with a couple from our church when the conversation turned to Jesus and who He is. “The Bible never says that Jesus is God,” the wife insisted. Upset by this remark, we quickly answered her by quoting a few Bible scriptures that plainly state that Jesus is God. But the husband shook his head and responded that no one really knows if Jesus is God or not and furthermore it doesn’t really matter. I could physically feel a depressing dark cloud coming down on us.

By reading the Bible we can know without a doubt exactly who Jesus is. And who Jesus is does matters more than anything else in the world. Satan would like to keep us in the dark - confuse and blind us to this wonderful truth! - the basic truth that all of our Christian churches profess: – the doctrine of the Triune God – the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. The Bible does teach that Jesus is God. So we Christians need to be on guard and we need to study the Bible so that our faith in Jesus is always based on the firm foundation of Gods’ Word – a foundation that cannot be shaken.

Jesus’ disciples acknowledged that Jesus was part of the Godhead. They claimed that Jesus had the power to forgive sins – something that only God can do. (Acts 5:31, col.3:13, Psalm 130:4 and Jeremiah 31:34) Scripture also tells us that Jesus is the One who will “judge the living and the dead” (2 Timothy 4:1) Thomas cried out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) And Paul calls Jesus “great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13) and points out that prior to His birth Jesus existed in the “form of God”. (Philippians 2:5-8)

God the Father says regarding Jesus: “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8) Other examples of Scriptures that teach the deity of Jesus are many (Revelations 1:17, 2:8, 22:13: 1 Corinthians 10:4, 1 Peter 2:6-8, Psalm 182, 95:1: 1 Peter 5:4: and Hebrews 13:20)

Jesus is also given titles that are unique to YHWH (the formal name of God) in the Old Testament. One of the Old Testament titles for God was “Redeemer” (Psalm 130:7; Hosea 13:14) and the title “Redeemer” is also used for Jesus in the New Testament. (Titus 2:13, Rev. 5:9) And Jesus is called Immanuel – “God with us,” in Matthew 1. In Zechariah 12:10 it is YHWH (God) who says, “They will look on Me, the one they have pierced.” And the New Testament applies this to Jesus’ crucifixion (John 19:37; Revelation 1:7) If it is YHWH who is pierced and looked upon, and Jesus was the one pierced and looked upon, then Jesus is YHWH. (the Old Testament formal name for God)

Jesus’ name is used alongside God’s name in prayer. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2) This would be blasphemy if Christ were not deity. In Matthew 28:19 and 2 Cor. 13:14 the name of Jesus appears with God’s in Jesus’ command to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Actions that can be accomplished only by God are credited to Jesus. Jesus not only raised the dead (John 5:21, 11:38-44) and Jesus forgave sins (Acts 5:31, 13:38), but He also created and sustains the universe (John 1:2: Col. 1:16-17). Furthermore Christ possesses attributes that only God can have: eternality (John 8:58; omnipresence (Matthew 18:20, 28:20), omniscience (Matthew 16:21), and omnipotence (John 11:38-44). Jesus is the beginning and the end (the Alpha and the Omega. (Rev. 22:13)

Jesus offered many miracles as proof of His claim to deity. He healed the blind (John 9:7), healed the lame man (Mark 2:3), and even raised people from the dead (John 11:43-44: Luke 7:11-15: Mark 5:35). Moreover Christ Himself rose from the dead. Nothing like the resurrection is seriously claimed by any other religions and no other claim has as much extra-scriptural confirmation.

Christianity is completely different from all of the religions of the world. The fact that Jesus is God and that He is the only Way to eternal life (John 14:6) makes up that difference. Christianity makes the unique claim that we can know God because He (God) came to us in human form in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ and …that Jesus rose again. The Bible is radically different from the bibles of other religions. Most other religions expect their followers to work so that they can earn their righteousness. Whereas Scripture tells us that Christ is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30) and we can not earn our way to eternal life. The Christian Bible is the only book that freely offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to us.

Billy Graham said that there is a movement among some Christian groups to recast and change the Christian message in order to make it more acceptable to modern people. The fact that Jesus is the Son of God and only Savior is a stumbling block to people who don’t believe. (1 Corinthians 1:23) But that doesn’t mean that we should give up our faith in Jesus to satisfy non-believers!

The Bible says that Jesus is the Light of the world. (John 18:12) He is our light and our salvation. Knowing who Jesus is (Son of God and Savior) and accepting Him as Savior brings us joy and spiritual Light. Let’s walk in the Light of believing in Jesus as Son of God and Savior and not grope around in a cloud of confusion and darkness any longer.