Archive for February, 2011

The Resurrection of Jesus

Hello people, how are you? I write today after quite a short break as I have been asked to write something on The Resurrection of Jesus, so here comes this article.

Well now resurrection (rising from the dead) can only after death just eternal life only came after Jesus came. Let us read some interesting scripture from the book of Amos in the Old Testament.

Amos 8:7-10
7 The Lord, the God of Israel, has sworn, “I will never forget their evil deeds. 8 And so the earth will quake, and everyone in the land will be in distress. The whole country will be shaken; it will rise and fall like the River Nile. 9 The time is coming when I will make the sun go down at noon and the earth grow dark in daytime. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken. 10 I will turn your festivals into funerals and change your glad songs into cries of grief. I will make you shave your heads and wear sackcloth, and you will be like parents mourning for their only child. That day will be bitter to the end.

When I read the above scripture what the Spirit revealed to me was that this was about the death of Jesus, let us read the New Testament record of a few moments before Jesus died.

Matthew 27:45-46,50-54
45 At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. 46 At about three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?”
50 Jesus again gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
51 Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split apart,
52 the graves broke open, and many of God’s people who had died were raised to life. 53 They left the graves, and after Jesus rose from death, they went into the Holy City, where many people saw them.
54 When the army officer and the soldiers with him who were watching Jesus saw the earthquake and everything else that happened, they were terrified and said, “He really was the Son of God!”

Jesus was cut off from His Father and the Spirit during His time of death, as He went to the cross taking on Him the penalty all the sin (1Peter 2:24) of the world (John 1:29), Biblically sin cuts people from God (Isaiah 59:2) as God said he would never forget the evil of His people (Amos 8:7) and so He forgot His Son dying on the cross, thus Jesus cried “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (Mat 27:46) on the cross.

1Peter 2:24
Christ himself carried our sins in his body to the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. It is by his wounds that you have been healed.

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Isaiah 59:2
It is because of your sins that he doesn’t hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him.

Let us do a comparative study of Amos 8:7-10 materializing in the New Testament as the death of Jesus.

• “Earth will quake, the whole country will be shaken”: Amos 8:7 fulfilled Mat 27:51,54.
• “Everyone in the land in distress”: Amos 8:7 fulfilled Mat 27:24 (Roman governor Pilate refuses to pass sentence over Jesus but the idea of the Roman governor Pilate giving in to the crowd due to the reason of being unable to contain the riot shows the distress in the land)

Matthew 27:24
24 When Pilate saw that it was no use to go on, but that a riot might break out, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am not responsible for the death of this man! This is your doing!”

• “sun go down at noon and the earth grow dark in daytime”: Amos 8:9 fulfilled Mat 27:45
• “turn your festivals into funerals and change your glad songs into cries of grief”: Amos 8:10 fulfilled Mat 15:6-11,15 & Luke 23:27

Matthew 15:6-11,15
6 At every Passover Festival Pilate was in the habit of setting free any one prisoner the people asked for. 7 At that time a man named Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the riot. 8 When the crowd gathered and began to ask Pilate for the usual favour, 9 he asked them, “Do you want me to set free for you the king of the Jews?” 10 He knew very well that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous.
11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask, instead, for Pilate to set Barabbas free for them.

15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Luke 23:27 (People following Jesus on His way to the cross)
27 A large crowd of people followed him; among them were some women who were weeping and wailing for him.

• About shaving heads and wear sackcloth (Amos 8:10), that is what people in the time of Amos (middle of 8 century BC) used to do during mourning but the tradition of mourning changed as time passed & just ask we grind our masala (spices) now-a-days in a electric mixer rather that on a grinding stone in the same way the people of Jesus time mourned very differently from the time of Amos. The New Testament however keeps no record of people mourning for Jesus after His death for what He did on the cross was Good, being the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Thus we observe Good Friday. The disciples did mourn & this was said by Omniscient Jesus before His death.

Matthew 9:14-15
14 Then the followers of John the Baptist came to Jesus, asking, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast at all?”
15 Jesus answered, “Do you expect the guests at a wedding party to be sad as long as the bridegroom is with them? Of course not! But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Note:-
1. Omniscient means having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.
2. The Church’s (believers in Jesus) union with God is Biblically compared to a marriage.

• “and you will be like parents mourning for their only child” from Amos 8:10 refers to the only Son of God that The Father s gave unto His people (Mat 21:37) hoping they would accept Him as their own (John 1:11), which many did not and this Son they put to death and made that day bitter to the end (Amos 8:10).

Matthew 21:37
Last of all he sent his son to them. ‘Surely they will respect my son,’ he said.

John 1:11,14
11 He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him.

14 The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son.

For the above the same Christian view of the true death of Jesus, many would have quoted Isaiah 52:13 & Isaiah 53 but being an ex-math student I love to come to the same conclusion trying a different approach & this is what seals the Bible uniquely as complete, genuine & truly from God because no matter what solution you are looking for in the Bible, as long you are receiving from the Bible what is been given rather than just picking what you are comfortable with, then you will always wind up finding your way; believing in Jesus. You know when people asked Jesus what God want them to do, he did not say the primary thing was fasting or praying or charity or visiting holy places. Let us see what he said.

John 6:28-29
28 So they asked him, “What can we do in order to do what God wants us to do?”
29 Jesus answered, “What God wants you to do is to believe in the one he sent.”

Now talking of Resurrection and eternal life, the Old Testament men of God rose from their death after the time Jesus was resurrected (Mat 27:52-53), these people were then seen the city & they then went into God’s presence (heaven).

Hosea 6:2
In two or three days he will revive us, and we will live in his presence.

The only thing we need to grasp about eternal life & about rising from death; is Jesus, He is Biblically God’s only Son (John 3:16) and is God’s firstborn (Colossians 1:15) because He existed before all things (Colossians 1:17) & was the first to be as man, raised from the dead (Revelation 1:5).

John 3:16
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

Colossians 1:15
Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the firstborn Son, superior to all created things.

Christ existed before all things, and in union with him all things have their proper place.

Revelation 1:5
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first to be raised from death and who is also the ruler of the kings of the world. He loves us, and by his sacrificial death he has freed us from our sins

Resurrection (rising from the dead) my friends, is only worth while if death cannot touch you again. According to the Daniel 12:2 in the Old Testament, not all who die will rise & from those who rise some will enjoy eternal life while the others suffer eternal disgrace. The Bible also speaks of 2 deaths first being the crumbling of our bodies physically and second death being been thrown into hell fire (Mat 25:41; Rev 21:8). When Jesus went back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to us (John 15:26) that we may to listen to Him (Spirit) & so remain in Jesus thus being saved from the second death (Rev 2:11).

Daniel 12:2
Many of those who have already died will live again: some will enjoy eternal life, and some will suffer eternal disgrace.

Matthew 25:41
…Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels!

Revelation 21:8
… lake burning with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

John 15:26 (Jesus’ word)
“The Helper will come — the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God and who comes from the Father. I will send him to you from the Father, and he will speak about me.

Revelation 2:11 (Jesus word)
11 “If you have ears, then, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!
“Those who win the victory will not be hurt by the second death.

So you see the Spirit keep speaking to us about Jesus and in remaining in Jesus till the end we have victory over the second death or shall I more optimistically say eternal life in union with Christ (Romans 6:23).

Romans 6:23
For sin pays its wage — death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Check this scripture too; Amos 8:11-14
11 “The time is coming when I will send famine on the land. People will be hungry, but not for bread; they will be thirsty, but not for water. They will hunger and thirst for a message from the Lord. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken. 12 People will wander from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean and then on from the north to the east. They will look everywhere for a message from the Lord, but they will not find it. 13 On that day even healthy young men and women will collapse from thirst. 14 Those who swear by the idols of Samaria, who say, ‘By the god of Dan,’ or, ‘By the god of Beersheba’ — those people will fall and not rise again.”

You can see in verse 11, the spiritual depravity/famine God said he would bring on the world, may be these are the days we live in today. People wander distant places considering them as holy, these venture far out seeking God (verse 12) and in all this even the healthiest (soundest) of people fall prey to Satan (collapse) (verse 13) for they would have found and clung to god/gods (one or many) (verse 14)other than Yahweh (Father Jesus Spirit).

My last piece of Scripture that closes this article is the answer to the question posed in the above Amos 8:11-14 regarding the spiritual depravity/famine/vacuum being set in this world for God. As I said earlier the only thing we need to grasp about eternal life & about rising from death; is Jesus.

John 6:35-40 (Jesus’ word)
35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty. 36 Now, I told you that you have seen me but will not believe. 37 Everyone whom my Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me, 38 because I have come down from heaven to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And it is the will of him who sent me that I should not lose any of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them all to life on the last day. 40 For what my Father wants is that all who see the Son and believe in him should have eternal life. And I will raise them to life on the last day.”

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Grace Encounters – 1

Hello people, I have now got all four parts of Grace Encounters for you, here is part 1, all these 4 parts are by a brilliantly anointed Biblical lecturer Arthur Meintjes. As I would like to make this more engaging and so I will be speaking directly without quoting the speaker.

Let us read Romans 5:15-19
15 But the two are not the same, because God’s free gift is not like Adam’s sin. It is true that many people died because of the sin of that one man. But God’s grace is much greater, and so is his free gift to so many people through the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. 16 And there is a difference between God’s gift and the sin of one man. After the one sin, came the judgment of “Guilty”; but after so many sins, comes the undeserved gift of “Not guilty!” 17 It is true that through the sin of one man death began to rule because of that one man. But how much greater is the result of what was done by the one man, Jesus Christ! All who receive God’s abundant grace and are freely put right with him will rule in life through Christ.
18 So then, as the one sin condemned all people, in the same way the one righteous act sets all people free and gives them life. 19 And just as the mass of people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way the mass of people will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man.

The spotlight is on verse 17, with this we begin this four part series of Grace Encounters for a New Beginning – turning dead ends into New Beginning, am sure that the Jesus believers out there have experienced this and know what am talking about, looking back at your life seeking God, you would surely have seen good growth in God. I am talking of situation that bring change and rapid growth in people where God is concerned, yeah ‘God moments’ is what you would call them ‘Grace Encounters’ is what Arthur calls them.

Encounter by definition means to ‘run into / collide with’ unexpectedly; the idea of the Grace Encounters series is to make known God’s ‘goodness / grace / unmerited favour /mercy / forgiveness’ that we collide with in seasons of life especially when we feel farthest from God.

Let read the story of Saul from the New Testament.

Acts 9:1-7
1 In the meantime Saul kept up his violent threats of murder against the followers of the Lord. He went to the High Priest 2 and asked for letters of introduction to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he should find there any followers of the Way of the Lord, he would be able to arrest them, both men and women, and bring them back to Jerusalem.
3 As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed round him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” he asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said. 6 “But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men who were travelling with Saul had stopped, not saying a word; they heard the voice but could not see anyone.

This Saul, who later came to be known as Paul, was a man zealous about God, he was a man who held on the Law dearly and saw himself to be perfect in the eyes of the Law of Moses. Being somewhat of a religious fanatic he felt as though he needed to do something for God, which God was not doing for Himself!! but was counting on Saul to do. This is a characteristic feature of religiosity, people feel that if God’s doing nothing about something, whatever it may be then God is expecting help for it to be done, as though God need’s help to function.

To share a few juicy tit bits about the early Church, I would like to tell to tell you that they were known by outsiders as the “followers of the Way”, you can see this in verse 2 of Acts 9. The Bible says that the Church is an institution of God & it is God’s desire for the Church to remain in existence. The identity of the Church is not in a particular construction but a body of people who believe in Jesus, the Son of God, as the only salvation that is from God & upon this belief the Church is built, which breaks through even the house of Satan to save souls.

Matthew 16:16-18
16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

So you see anyone who comes against the Church is actually whether he knows it or not, coming against God. Religious Saul had such views of God, that Saul though God paid death as fitting price to all His enemies. So he blindly did the same to the Church because he thought they were against God. As you may have heard people turn out to be just like the god they serve. You see Saul asked for letter of approval from his religious houses to persecute the Church because according to His religious view that is what God would do to those who were against Him & that is why during the stoning of Stephen, Saul stood in approval, watching over the clothes of those who murdered whom he knew not was a man of God. In all his life as unbelieving Saul, he thought himself to be mercenary for God; doing what he thought was God’s dirty work, thus helping his god stay clean.

Saul had such a strict view on the Law of Moses that he felt it applied to everyone even those who knew nothing of it. According to the Law certain sin was punishable by death and to Saul people could never have an excuse such as they dint know. Death was what he thought was how God answered rebellion. From verses 3 & 4 of Acts 9, you can clearly see that Saul in a matter of seconds realized his blunder that his persecution of the Church was actually going against God, he instantly falls to the ground expecting death right there because to Saul the biggest thing about God was not love but wrath. This encounter of Saul with Jesus was that of grace and this changed his entire life.

My hope for you is that in the next 2 days that you too have such an encounter with the grace that comes from Jesus, which you will never recover from & which you will never get over. May you come to enlightenment knowing that everything in the kingdom of God focuses on the cross and the finished work of Jesus Christ. Having an encounter with grace is not about some shallow encounter with some doctrine or law but a destiny changing encounter with Jesus Christ.

Let’s read John 3:16-17
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its saviour.

The word “world” in the above scripture indicates people, meaning that God sent His Son that people may know that they are safe when it comes to God. Even sinners whether Christian or non-Christian; are safe with God. Jesus came so that the world might know that they are safe with God. People, any people are in no way inferior or damaged in the eyes of God.

Take the example of Saul’s experience in His encounter with Jesus. God was in full right to annihilate Him right then & there but instead God asks Paul to rise & Paul instead of being condemned is given such a privilege, that it turns out that he winds up writing 2/3 of the New Testament, preaching the Good News of eternal salvation from Jesus to different Churches & looses his life holding on to his faith in Jesus.

Looking through history and the world even today; we must come to realize that no human being can live an emotionally stable life while living under the impending judgment of God. We are in need of such encounters with Jesus that make known to us the unmerited love and favour God has shown us in Jesus. If you find this concept of a gracious God very alien as it may not match certain religious views then my advice to you is repent – change the way you think because God is no stick holding policeman. The world is so full of emotional disasters, these are on a high one moment and down in the dumps the next moment. Their living environment is to them a bed of nails, they are not at peace with it & to say the least they are not at peace with God, though they may not admit it.

There is a story told of very successful lawyer, who looses everything, his wife leaves him and loots him in divorce. He is advised to live in obedience to the will of God. This advice he takes with a pinch of fanatical religiosity. Sometime he’d be on his way to a restaurant & he would turn back thinking that that was probably not God’s will for him and so he would then turn heading in the opposite direction to another restaurant. Needless to say, in a matter of a few months he lands up in an asylum.

There are also certain stories told of religious prohibition of going to the movies (theater). The Bible teaches that we have a God to leads His people to green pastures; our provision comes from Him & so there is little sense in depravity due to religious belief, when it is God Himself providing for you. Religious bondage was never a solution for sinful desire.

From John 3:16, we can see that God so greatly prized the world that he gave up His only begotten Son. This is the love the Bible speaks of that God has for man. God did not decide to redeem man, thinking of cost effectiveness or limiting the damages. He did not send some angel serving in some corner of the universe that no one would miss; no the kingdom of God is very differently from this world’s so called corporate religious beliefs. When it came to saving people, God said that he would send One through whom all things exist, God was going to bankrupt heaven, this is the value God has for people. Christianity is not about people working to be put right with God but about God working on the cross to save people, indicating Him to be a God of action rather than just sitting back in approval. If you are feeling let down today or feeling farthest away from God then let me tell you that God gave up on His Son Jesus just for you & that is how much he loves you. God did not limit the damages when it came to saving you. What He paid for you cost Him everything, He put His identity in the line of fire just for you. When Jesus came He was tempted & thank God He did not fail for if He did then everything God has & is would have ceased. God valued you and me so much that he paid the ultimate price that you may have the same life that sustains God eternally (John 3:16).

This is your Encounter of Grace with this great God (Father Son Spirit). So no matter who you are whether rich / poor / sick / healthy / addicted / abused / mental / handicapped, you may not be cared for by the world but you are precious in the eyes of God & He will let you know how precious you are when you encounter Him.

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