Category: (01) Who is Jesus?


a-whole-world-of-temporary-thingsIt goes without saying that the only things of eternal value in this world are those that are eternal. Life in this world is temporal, not eternal, and therefore, the only part of life that has eternal value is that which lasts through eternity. Clearly, the most important thing in this world that has true eternal value is having a relationship with Jesus Christ, as the free gift of eternal life comes only through Him to all those who believe (John 3:16). As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Everyone is going to live somewhere for all of eternity, Christians and non-Christians alike. And the only eternal destiny other than the one in heaven with Christ is Hell – that provides everlasting punishment for those who reject Him (Matthew 25:46).

Regarding the abundant material things this world offers, which many tenaciously seek after, Jesus taught us not to store up for ourselves earthly treasures that can be destroyed or stolen (Matthew 6:19–20). After all, we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. Yet our core Christian values often get overlooked in our diligent quest for success and material comfort, and in the midst of these earthly pursuits we often forget about God. Moses addressed this issue 3,500 years ago as his people were about to enter the Promised Land. He warned them not to forget about God, for he knew once they “built fine houses and settled down” their hearts would become proud and they would forget about Him (Deuteronomy 8:12–14). There is certainly no eternal value in living our lives for ourselves, looking to get out of life all that we can, as the world system would have us believe.

Yet there can be significant eternal value in what we do with our lives during the exceedingly short time we are here on earth. Although Scripture makes it clear that our earthly good works will not save us or keep us saved (Ephesians 2:8–9), it is equally clear that we will be eternally rewarded according to what we have done while here on earth. As Christ Himself said, “For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). Indeed, Christians are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10, emphasis added). These “good works” pertain to serving the Lord the best we can with what He has given us and with full dependence on Him.

The apostle Paul discusses the quality of the works that can bring eternal rewards. Equating Christians to “builders” and the quality of our works with the building materials, Paul informs us that the good materials that survive God’s testing fire and have eternal value are “gold, silver, and costly stones,” whereas using the inferior materials of “wood, hay and straw” to build upon the foundation that is Christ have no eternal value and will not be rewarded (1 Corinthians 3:11–13). Essentially, Paul is telling us that not all of our conduct and works will merit rewards.

There are many ways our service to the Lord will bring us rewards. First, we need to recognize that every true believer has been set apart by God and for God. When we received God’s gift of salvation, we were given certain spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11). And if we think our gifts are insignificant, we need to remember that, as Paul told the church in Corinth, the body of Christ is made up of many parts. And “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be . . . and those parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable” (1 Corinthians 12:14, 18, 22 emphasis added). If you are exercising your spiritual gifts, you are playing a significant role in the body of Christ and doing that which has eternal value.

Every member of Christ’s body can make meaningful contributions when we humbly seek to edify the body and to glorify God. Indeed, every little thing can add to the beautiful mosaic of what God can do when we each do our part. Remember, on earth Christ has no body but ours, no hands but ours, and no feet but ours. Spiritual gifts are God’s way of administering His grace to others. When we show our love for God by obeying His commandments, when we persevere in the faith despite all opposition and persecution, when in His name we show mercy to the poor and sick and less fortunate, and when we help alleviate the pain and suffering that is all around us, then we are indeed building with the “gold, silver, and costly stones” that have true eternal value.

  “Rededicating your life to Christ” is a popular concept in modern Christian culture. It’s a decision made by a Christian who has fallen away from the practices of Christianity to turn back to Christ and strive to follow Him more completely. The act of suddenly returning to Christ is spoken of indirectly in Galatians 6:1, where the church is exhorted to restore sinful believers by gently confronting them. Rededication is popular among older children and young adults who grew up in the church. Christians who were saved at a young age may come to realize that their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus was incomplete. In a desire to consciously choose to adhere to a newfound, deeper understanding of the gospel, believers may “rededicate” themselves to Christ.

However, falling away and returning to God is not how the Christian walk is supposed to look. Romans 12:1–2 explains that spiritual maturity is a gradual, ongoing process Jesus said that to follow Him we should take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). And 1 Corinthians 9:24 and Hebrews 12:1 speak of the Christian life as a race, meant to be run every day. Many people rededicate after every sin. It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of rededicating, striving to follow Jesus closely, failing, and rededicating again. But habitual sin is not a problem solved by rededicating [SEE ALSO: Self discipline]. . It’s a deeper issue that can only be solved with a greater understanding of the grace and love of God.

Still, rededication is a useful tool. It’s a way to deliberately reject sin and renew a love for Christ. The disciples went through a rededication of sorts when they saw the risen Jesus. Their half-hearted devotion turned into a desire to pour out their lives for His service. In the same way, whether because of a conviction about a sinful lifestyle or a greater understanding of the gift of Christ, we can choose to abandon our shallow devotion to Christ and devote ourselves to Him more fully.

Will God forgive a murderer?

  Many people make the mistake of believing that God forgives “little” sins such as lying, anger, and impure thoughts, but does not forgive “big” sins such as murder and adultery. This is not true. There is no sin too big that God cannot forgive it. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to pay the penalty for all of the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). When a person places his faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of his sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and once they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).

We are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and deserve eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). Jesus died for us, to pay our penalty (Romans 5:8). Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation is forgiven, no matter what sins he has committed (Romans 6:23; John 3:16). Now, a murderer or adulterer will likely still face serious consequences (legal, relational, etc.) for his evil actions – more so than someone who was “just” a liar. But a murderer’s or adulterer’s sins are completely and permanently forgiven the moment he believes and places his faith in Christ.

It is not the size of the sin that is the determining factor here; it is the size of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. If the shed blood of the sinless Lamb of God is sufficient to cover all the sins of all the millions of people who would ever believe in Him, then there can be no limit to the size or types of sins covered. When He said, “It is finished,” sin was made an end of, full atonement and satisfaction for it were given, complete pardon was obtained, peace was made, and redemption from all sin was achieved. It was sure and certain and complete; nothing needs to be, or could be, added to it. Further, it was done entirely without the help of man, and cannot be undone.

The question “Can God save me?” has been asked by millions of people over the years. Not only can God save you, but only God can save you. To understand why the answer to “Can God save me?” is “yes!”, we have to understand why we need saving in the first place. When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, his sin poisoned the rest of creation (Romans 5:12), and the sinful nature we inherited from Adam has separated us from God. Because of God’s great love for us, however, He had a plan (Genesis 3:15). He would come to earth as a human being in the person of Jesus Christ and willingly lay down His life for us, taking the punishment we deserved. When our Savior cried out from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), our sin debt was forever paid in full. Jesus Christ saved us from certain death and a horrible, godless eternity.

In order for us to benefit from Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we must trust in Him and His sacrifice alone as the payment for sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). And God will cover us with the righteousness of Christ the moment we do this (Romans 3:22). But for this imputed righteousness, we would not never be able to enter the presence of our holy God (Hebrews 10:19–25).

Our salvation affects more than our eternal destiny, however; “being saved” also has an immediate impact. The good news is that Christ’s finished work on the cross saved us from eternal separation from God, and it also saved us from the power that sin currently has over us in this life. Once we accept Christ, His Spirit indwells us and we are no longer controlled by the sinful nature. This freedom makes it possible for us to say “no” to sin and overcome our enslavement to the sinful desires of the flesh. “You . . . are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you” (Romans 8:9).

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). Not one of us is beyond the reach of God’s saving grace (Isaiah 59:1). The apostle Paul is a great example of God’s far-reaching grace. Paul spent the first part of his life hating, imprisoning, persecuting, and even killing Christians. Then, one encounter with Jesus Christ turned Paul into one of the greatest Christian missionaries who ever lived. If God can save Paul, the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), He can save anyone.

Mankind is the crown jewel of God’s creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:26). God wishes all of us to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and none of us to perish (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:32). To those who believe in Jesus’ name, God gives the right to become children of God (John 1:12). What the Lord will do for His children is described in Psalm 91: “‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him’” (Psalm 91:14–16).

Who is the Good Shepard and what did they mean by it?

“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11) is the fourth of seven “I am” declarations of Jesus recorded only in John’s Gospel. These “I am” proclamations point to His unique, divine identity and purpose. Immediately after declaring that He is “the door” in John 10:7, Jesus declares “I am the good shepherd.” He describes Himself as not only “the shepherd” but the “good shepherd.” What does this mean?

It should be understood that Jesus is “the” good shepherd, not simply “a” good shepherd, as others may be, but He is unique in character (Psalm 23; Zechariah 13:7; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4). The Greek word kalos, translated “good,” describes that which is noble, wholesome, good, and beautiful, in contrast to that which is wicked, mean, foul, and unlovely. It signifies not only that which is good inwardly—character—but also that which is attractive outwardly. It is an innate goodness. Therefore, in using the phrase “the good shepherd,” Jesus is referencing His inherent goodness, His righteousness, and His beauty. As shepherd of the sheep, He is the one who protects, guides, and nurtures His flock.

As He did in declaring that He is “the door of the sheep” in John 10:7, Jesus is making a contrast between Himself and the religious leaders, the Pharisees (John 10:12–13). He compares them to a “hireling” or “hired hand” who doesn’t really care about the sheep. In John 10:9, Jesus speaks of thieves and robbers who sought to enter the sheepfold stealthily. In that passage the Jewish leaders (Pharisees) are contrasted with Christ, who is the Door. Here, in John 10:12, the hireling is contrasted with the true or faithful shepherd who willingly gives up his life for the sheep. He who is a “hireling” works for wages, which are his main consideration. His concern is not for the sheep but for himself. Interestingly enough, the shepherds of ancient times were not usually the owners of the flock. Nevertheless, they were expected to exercise the same care and concern the owners would. This was characteristic of a true shepherd. However, some of the hirelings thought only of themselves. As a result, when a wolf appeared—the most common threat to sheep in that day—the hireling abandoned the flock and fled, leaving the sheep to be scattered or killed (John 10:12–13).

First, to better understand the purpose of a shepherd during the times of Jesus, it is helpful to realize that sheep are utterly defenseless and totally dependent upon the shepherd. Sheep are always subject to danger and must always be under the watchful eye of the shepherd as they graze. Rushing walls of water down the valleys from sudden, heavy rainfalls may sweep them away, robbers may steal them, and wolves may attack the flock. David tells how he killed a lion and a bear while defending his father’s flock as a shepherd boy (1 Samuel 17:36). Driving snow in winter, blinding dust and burning sands in summer, long, lonely hours each day—all these the shepherd patiently endures for the welfare of the flock. In fact, shepherds were frequently subjected to grave danger, sometimes even giving their lives to protect their sheep.

Likewise, Jesus gave His life on the cross as “the Good Shepherd” for his own. He who would save others, though He had the power, did not choose to save Himself. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Through His willing sacrifice, the Lord made salvation possible for all who come to Him in faith. In proclaiming that He is the Good Shepherd, Jesus speaks of “laying down” His life for His sheep (John 10:15, 17–18).

Jesus’ death was divinely appointed. It is only through Him that we receive salvation. “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14). Furthermore, Jesus makes it clear that it wasn’t just for the Jews that he laid down His life, but also for the “other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). The “other sheep” clearly refers to the Gentiles. As a result, Jesus is the Good Shepherd over all, both Jew and Gentile, who come to believe upon Him (John 3:16).

The Apostle Paul tells us in his first letter to the church in Corinth, “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

Paul is here pointing out the difference between two kinds of bodies, i.e., the natural and the spiritual. Genesis 2:7 speaks of the first man, Adam, becoming a living person. Adam was made from the dust of the ground and given the breath of life from God. Every human being since that time shares the same characteristics. However, the last Adam or the “second Adam”—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. Just as Adam was the first of the human race, so Christ is the first of those who will be raised from the dead to eternal life. Because Christ rose from the dead, He is “a life-giving spirit” who entered into a new form of existence. He is the source of the spiritual life that will result in believers’ resurrection. Christ’s new glorified human body now suits His new, glorified, spiritual life—just as Adam’s human body was suitable to his natural life. When believers are resurrected, God will give them transformed, eternal bodies suited to eternal life.

Paul tells us in verse 46 that the natural came first and after that the spiritual. People have natural life first; that is, they are born into this earth and live here. Only from there do they then obtain spiritual life. Paul is telling us that the natural man, Adam, came first on this earth and was made from the dust of the earth. While it is true that Christ has existed from eternity past, He is here called the second man or second Adam because He came from heaven to earth many years after Adam. Christ came as a human baby with a body like all other humans, but He did not originate from the dust of the earth as had Adam. He “came from heaven.”

Then Paul goes on: “As was the earthly man [Adam], so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven [Christ], so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:48-49). Because all humanity is bound up with Adam, so every human being has an earthly body just like Adam’s. Earthly bodies are fitted for life on this earth, yet they are limited by death, disease, and weakness because of sin which we’ve seen was first brought into the world by Adam.

However, the good news is that believers can know with certainty that their heavenly bodies will be just like Christ’s—imperishable, eternal, glorious, and filled with power. At this time, all are like Adam; one day, all believers will be like Christ (Philippians 3:21). The Apostle John wrote to the believers, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Most of you have never heard of Israeli native Amir Tsarfati.  He is a teacher of Christian biblical principles from the Jewish perspective [of] Messianic Judaism; the purest form of Judeo-Christian teaching.  He served as Deputy Governor of Jericho and was part of the negotiating team which was tasked to turn over the area to the Palestinians. Amir is a Major in the Israeli Army and an international speaker on terrorism. Please enjoy Amir’s  message on “Jesus of the Old Testament.” I believe his message will bring a blessing and greater understanding of the Bible. Thank you.

Many people speak about “having faith in Jesus,” but what exactly does this mean?

The Bible uses the phrase “faith in Jesus” synonymously with belief in Jesus as Savior. Romans 3:22–23 says that “righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When we place our faith in Jesus, we believe in Him, and God grants His righteousness to us.

To have faith in Jesus means to trust Him. Simply. Fully. Without reservation. On one occasion, before Jesus healed two blind men, He asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They answered, “Yes, Lord,” and He healed them “according to [their] faith” (Matthew 9:28–29). The men simply trusted the power and goodness of the Lord, and they received their sight.

When a person has faith in Jesus, it means that he or she believes who Jesus is (God in human form) and trusts what Jesus has done (died and resurrected). This faith in the person and work of Christ is what saves (see Romans 10:9–10; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4). “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1).

John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The key is belief, in response to God’s love. Anyone who places his or her faith in Jesus has the promise of eternal life.

Without faith in Jesus, we remain in sin and cannot be accepted into God’s presence in His perfect heaven. With faith in Jesus, we are given access to the Father as God’s own children (John 1:12).

To have faith in Jesus is to reject all other ways of salvation. We cannot trust in Jesus and anything else. We trust in Jesus alone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Salvation is exclusive. Jesus is the only way (John 14:6).

Are you ready to place your faith in Jesus? Do you trust Him to save you? There is no special prayer you must pray. However, you can respond right now with a prayer similar to this:

“Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. Right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son who died and rose again to give me eternal life. I trust in Jesus alone. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life.”

“Do you believe in Jesus?” seems like a strange question. It sounds like the same question as “Do you believe in Santa Claus?” or “Do you believe in aliens?” But the question “Do you believe in Jesus?” is asking far more than “Do you believe that Jesus Christ existed/exists?” The true meaning of the question is “Do you believe Jesus Christ is who the Bible says He is, and are you trusting Him as your Savior?”

So, do you believe in Jesus?

Do you believe that Jesus is God in human form (John 1:1, 14)? Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21), for which you deserve eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23)? Do you believe that the sacrifice of Jesus, God incarnate, is the only adequate payment for your sins (1 John 2:2; John 14:6; Acts 4:12)?

Do you believe these things? If so, great, but believing the facts about Jesus is only part of the equation. Biblical faith/belief is far more than believing certain things to be true. Biblical saving faith is also trusting/relying on those facts.

A chair is a good illustration. You can look at a chair and believe it is made of materials strong enough to support your weight, and you can believe that it was assembled correctly. But that is not biblical faith. Biblical faith is sitting in the chair. It is actually relying on the chair to hold your weight off the ground.

Are you trusting that Jesus is your Savior? Are you relying on His death as the full payment for your sin debt? Are you depending on His resurrection as the guarantee that you, too, will be raised to eternal life after death? Not that it could ever happen, but if the “chair” of Jesus Christ were pulled out from beneath you, spiritually speaking, would you hit the ground, or are you also relying on things in addition to the chair?

If you understand and believe what the Bible says about Jesus, and if you are trusting in those truths as the basis for salvation—you are saved! You “believe in Jesus” in the biblical sense.

If you are uncertain if you truly believe in Jesus but you desire to, or if you feel God drawing you to faith in Jesus, the next step is simple. Believe! Trust in Jesus! Rely on Him for your salvation. Allow God to turn you from sin to forgiveness and salvation.

If you would like to verbally express your new faith to God, here is a sample of what you can say: “God, I know that I have sinned. I know that my sin separates me from you. I know that if left unforgiven, my sin will separate me from you for eternity. I believe and trust that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that He died to pay the full penalty for my sins and that He rose from the dead on the third day. I am relying on His sacrifice alone to bring me into a right relationship with you. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for saving me. Help me to grow closer to you each and every day for the rest of my life.”

When Jesus said we are to love our enemies, He was creating a new standard for relationships. He proclaimed to the crowds listening to His Sermon on the Mount that they knew they were to love their neighbor because the command to love our neighbor was a law of God (Leviticus 19:18). That we must therefore hate our enemy was an inference incorrectly drawn from it by the Jews. While no Bible verse explicitly says “hate your enemy,” the Pharisees may have somewhat misapplied some of the Old Testament passages about hatred for God’s enemies (Psalm 139:19-22; 140:9-11). But Jesus replaced this idea with an even higher standard: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). Jesus goes on to explain that loving those who love us is easy and even unbelievers can do that. Then He commands us to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

Jesus explained to His followers that they should adhere to the real meaning of God’s law by loving their enemies as well as their neighbors. A Pharisee once asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus then told the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Here Jesus taught that His followers must demonstrate love to all kinds of people—no matter what faith, nationality, or personality—enemies included. If you love your enemies and “pray for those who persecute you,” you then truly reveal that Jesus is Lord of your life.

By using an illustration of the sun rising and the rain falling on both the good and the evil, Jesus shows God’s undiscriminating love to all people. His disciples then must reflect His character and exhibit this same undiscriminating love for both friends and enemies. Jesus is teaching us that we must live by a higher standard than what the world expects—a standard that is impossible for us to attain by our own efforts. It’s only through the power of God’s Spirit that His people can truly love and pray for those who intend to do them harm (Romans 12:14-21).

Finally, after giving us the admonition to love our enemies, Jesus then gives us this command: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). As sons of our Father (Matthew 5:45), we are to be perfect, even as He is perfect. This is utterly impossible for sinful man to achieve. This unattainable standard is exactly what the Law itself demanded (James 2:10). So how can Jesus demand the impossible? He later tells us, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). That which God demands, only He can accomplish, including the demand to love our enemies. What is impossible for man becomes possible for those who give their lives to Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts.