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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Basis of the Covenant

The purpose of this article is to take an in-depth look at the covenant from four aspects in relationship to the believer and the church. Those aspects are (a) salvation and baptism, (b) members duties to the church, (c) members duties in personal Christian living and (d) duties to other members.

Allow the writer to begin this discussion with salvation and baptism (John 1:11-12; Matthew 28:19-20) by saying, once a person believe on the name Jesus and accept Him in faith we then become adopted sons of God. True faith, belief and trust in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on Calvary’s cross leads to salvation. However, salvation is initiated by God and given as a free gift out of His love for mankind. Upon receiving our free gift of salvation, we then are baptized with the Holy Spirit; our water baptism is symbolic of what has taken place between the believer and God. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit brings the believer into a right relationship with God. This means believers died to sin through Jesus’ death and was raised with Him to a new life. Salvation is our freedom from the bondage of sin. What’s next for new converts? Christian training occurs on how to live godly as believers are new creatures in Christ. After Christian training as new converts in our local church we are to obey the great commission as issued by Christ recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, believers are to bring others to Christ through our “teaching and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” Believers must remember as a witness for Christ, we are not alone according to His promise; He is with us through the Holy Spirit; all fears, doubts and apprehensions are removed.

We will continue our covenant next week. Read comment and be blessed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jesus Christ our High Priest

Jesus Christ our High Priest
Hebrews 4:14-16; 8:1
March 30, 2008

In the Old Testament days believers would go to the priests in the holy of holiness and confess their sins who would in turn carry then to God; this all changed at Calvary during Jesus’ dying hours when the veil in the holy of holiness was torn from top to bottom. The meaning of this was Jesus Christ became our High Priest and believers could go direct to God through Jesus Christ in prayer with their problems. What led to Jesus becoming our high priest was believers required constant atoning for their sins by the priest offering animal sacrifices that covered sin, whereas with Jesus and Him being the perfect sacrifice, He blotted out believers sins. What a difference?

The attributes that qualifies Jesus to become our permanent high priest are (a) He is God’s Son (b) Jesus was without sin and He died the substitutionary death for our sins which required the shedding of His blood (c) Jesus returned to heaven where He is in the presence of His Father on the behalf of all believers who accept Him as their Saviour and mediator.

Jesus as our high priest has following ministries:
(a) He became all believers’ perfect sacrifice through His atoning blood at Calvary (see Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15). Allow me for a moment to briefly discuss atonement; the Day of Atonement was a replicated symbolism pointing to the mediatorial ministry that Jesus would usher in with His death on Calvary’s cross. His atoning death removed the animal sacrifices that required unblemished animals. This practice was carried out by the Levi Priests once a year during the Old Testament era. The Day of Atonement proved to be insufficient in taking away sin because it only “cover over” sin whereas Jesus Christ atoning death permanently removes sin because He was without sin Himself. Jesus Christ being the perfect sacrifice turned away God’s wrath from humanity because “For all had sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Through Christ’s death humanity was reconciled back to God and our fellowship can be renewed with Him. We have looked at Jesus’ work as the perfect sacrifice and what is the meaning of atonement and His atoning work, we will segway to His ministry as mediator.
(b) Jesus as the mediator who initiated the new covenant one that gives believers continual access to God. If we define the word mediator, Merriam-Webster defines it, “that act as a go between” (p.550). Jesus’ role to act as a go between for man and God because humanity’s sins had caused a separation and broken fellowship between the two. The new covenant was internalized meaning it placed God’s moral laws in man’s hearts, with the aid of the Holy Spirit man will be able to keep God’s law. We see Jesus is the initiator and establisher of the new covenant which deals thoroughly with sin through His death at Calvary. Jesus’ main purpose was to reconcile man back to God and provide salvation to all who accept Him as their saviour. Finally, the meaning of covenant is “an agreement or a promise, last will and testament and a statement of intention to bestow divine grace and blessing on those who respond to God in sincere repentance an faith” (LSPBKJV). We will segway to Jesus’ ministry of bestowing grace.
(c) Jesus bestows God’s grace to all believers from heaven (Hebrews 4:14-16), thus regenerating us by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon all believers. Let’s look at two words grace and regeneration. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, which is giving us what we do not deserve. Regeneration is the believer’s “rebirth” or “to be born again.” Regeneration is an act initiated by God through the Holy Spirit operating in believers.
(d) Jesus as our mediator between God and man for all who have broken God’s law and seek forgiveness from sin.
(e) Unlike the Levi priests, Jesus priesthood is permanent; He sympathizes with believers’ temptations and aids them their needs (partial paraphrased KJV).
(f) Jesus lives forever. He is continually making intercession for believers who come to Him in sincere prayer.

In closing this dialogue, Jesus as our High Priest who understands all our pain has made it possible to boldly petition God’s throne of grace and make our requests known. Simply dial 1 for the Father, 1 for the Son and 1 for the Holy Spirit; an answer is guaranteed. What a High Priest


Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 3:18; Matthew 27:50-53

What does Easter mean you? Does it mean pretty clothes, plenty of good food with friends and neighbors, attending Easter parades, or attending early morning worship services? Does it mean taking a reflective look at what the Lord Jesus done for humanity?

Well, let’s look at what Jesus done for humanity out of love for us in complete obedience to His father. Just last (Psalm) Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an untamed donkey and the crowd cried Hosanna and spreaded their garment in His path, but on that Friday that same crowd cried crucify Him. This meant they took our Saviour to an unjust court and found Him guilty of unjust sins; however, the crowd wanted Jesus crucified instead of Barabbas, the guilty one. This was in God’s plan to bring salvation to His people.

According to Colossians 2:13,14 God have forgiven us for all our sins and blotted out the hand writing of the ordinances(Law of Moses) for everything that was against us (paraphrased) This was done through Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross. 1 Peter 3:18 reminds us how Christ suffered for humanity’s sins reconciling us back to God. The reconciliation process was performed at Calvary and the many hours our Saviour suffered atrocious pain in our place is enough to make us eternally grateful. Through it all, our Saviour hung there; “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried in a loud voice, My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me (Matthew 27:46). It was about this time that Jesus experience separation from God, the Father, as the sinners’ substitute. Jesus was the perfect sacrificial lamb required by God. God had to turn His back on His Son because He could not look on sin and the Son had taken on the sins of the world and this was the first time the Son had been forsaken by His father. Another school of thought is that Jesus became the forsaken so that humanity would never be forsaken. What love? This means we are redeemed by the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Allow the author to move to the tenth and final suffering of Jesus Christ, which is where He says, “It is finish,” (John 19:30) signifies that Jesus’ redemptive works was complete. Humanity’s debt was marked paid in full and the plan of salvation established. Scripture tell us that at this time Jesus prayed His final prayer, which was, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Matthew 27:51 tell us that the veils were torn from top to bottom, meaning that we can go to God in prayer for ourselves for all who believe in Jesus Christ. Another mighty event occurred that day was an earthquake and even the rocks did rent. O! What an event?

I have often heard ministers refer to this event as the earth “reeling and rocking as a drunken man,” or “the earth getting drunk that Friday.” However it is referred it was a spectular event, all under God, the Father’s control. Also, history bares record that the sun refused to shine during Christ’s dying hours and it became dark as midnight at high noon.

One may think the above event was enough to say glory, wait; verses 52 and 53 speak of the graves opening and the saints rose and went into the holy city of Jerusalem after His resurrection. What does this tell us about our resurrection? Just as those saints rose after Jesus’ resurrection, we will rise when He returns for all those who believe in Him. We died with Him on Friday and rose with Him on Sunday morning. Therefore, Easter/Resurrection Sunday underscores two important meanings in the believer’s life, (1) Resurrection Sunday is the culmination of God’s plan on the earth to free the world of sin, (2) it underscores the fact that Christ’s resurrection assures us of eternal life (Townsend Press Sunday School Publishing Board). Has He risen in your life?

Praises! Christ is alive. He rose with all power in His hand.

Jesus, The King’s Triumphal entry into Jerusalem

Zechariah 9:9; Mark 11:1-11
Psalm Sunday, March 16, 2008

As we approach one of the most celebrated holy days in our culture; there were two events leading up to that day, one is called Psalm Sunday where believers/Christians worldwide pay respects to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on an untamed donkey and the crowd shouting “Hosanna in the highest.” The crowd was spreading psalm branches and clothing making way for the King riding on His lowly colt displaying humility and true servant ship. The other major event that occurred the same week was this same crowd that praised Jesus cried crucify him.

The crowd misunderstood Jesus’ coming even though He had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets many centuries earlier. The crowd wanted and believed Jesus; the Messiah would restore Israel to its promances thus establishing His earthly kingdom. This prophecy will be fulfilled upon Jesus’ second coming. Upon realizing that Jesus was not the Messiah they expected became an angry mob cried “Crucify Him.” They played a part in prophecy being fulfilled. Why, because all of the events which occurred that week was prophesied by the Old Testaments prophets.

Let’s examine Zechariah 9:9 while remembering what happened in our New Testament scripture text (Mark 11:1-11). First, the prophet Zechariah tells the nation to rejoice and then he tells them how to rejoice, “Greatly.” Second, the prophet tells the people to “shout” with a loud voice (paraphrased), “O daughter of Jerusalem: behold.” The world “behold” means wait, something of significance is about to happen. Third, Zechariah leaves no doubt as to what happens next, “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.” There was reason to shout for joy because the long awaited Messiah was riding into to town on an ass as predicted one who had never been ridden before. Jesus, the Messiah was bringing salvation to the world. Furthermore, He is just in all His dealings with humanity.

Let’s look at our scripture text from a humility point of view; Jesus is the King, and He could have arrived in Jerusalem in royal splendor, instead He chose humility by riding on an untamed colt. Jesus entered the city in this fashion telling the world He was (a) the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world, (b) and ready to die on the cross for humanity’s sins. He emptied Himself of His deity to suffer human limitations, misunderstandings, ill-treatments, and yes the cruel death on the cross. Throughout Christ’s earthly ministry, He maintained His divine nature because He was and is still God.

Christ is the only person to have two natures human and divine. It was easy for the people of His day to fail in grasping the full magnitude of just who Christ really was because from all appearance He looked like just another man. He was a masterful teacher and healer. People quickly forget the many miracles Jesus performed authenticating His divine identity. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day held their mock trial only to find Him guilty of no sin; still the people chose Jesus instead of Barabbas, the guilty one. Throughout this ordeal Jesus displayed humility, fulfilling prophecy. Reflect with me if you will on the humiliating our Saviour suffered at the hands of His mockers, even while He hanged on the cross. Yes, Jesus was triumphal in His entry into Jerusalem, in His victory over death, and sin providing salvation to mankind. When Jesus’ first entered Jerusalem, He was riding a colt, the second time He will be coming in His glory and everyone will know He is the King. In retrospect, each of Jesus’ entries into Jerusalem was and will be triumphal because He is the King whether it is in humility riding a donkey or in a blaze of glory riding a white horse.

Finally, the week preceding resurrection Sunday is considered Passion Week, take a reflective moment and consider the pain our Lord suffered for man’s sins, and then ask isn’t Jesus worthy to be the King? Let’s retrace Jesus’ passageway, He stopped in Jerusalem on His way to Calvary, died on the cross; and then rose Sunday morning. Have you made Him Lord of your life? Has Jesus entered “the Jerusalem” of your heart? Have you accepted Jesus as your Saviour? We have victory in Jesus. All hail the King Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rejoice in God’s Salvation

Isaiah 25:9, Titus 2:13-14

As we approach this Easter/Resurrection season, let’s take a reflective look at our Old Testament verse Isaiah 25:9 which tell us the believers of Isaiah’s day had waited faithful for the Lord and when His kingdom came they were going to rejoice in the salvation of the Lord. This brings to mind several points, which are:
(a) The believers of Isaiah’s day had enough faith in God for His deliverance/salvation. Old Testament believers had a right relationship with God and a reverence of Him to wait on His deliverance. This is why the Old Testament believers could boldly state, “this is our God: we have waited for him, and he will save us.” They knew God had the power to save them and they were willing to wait patiently for His deliverance. Old Testament believers knew that if they did not experience physical deliverance during their life time, they would have spiritual deliverance in eternity, and then they could rejoice because salvation was their. What a victory!
(b) God had promised a saviour; it was forty-two generations before this promise was fulfilled. God kept His word and gave His best to atone the sins of the world. Jesus entered this world through the gateway of humanity by a virgin birth. His sole purpose was to provide salvation to mankind.
(c) Old Testament believers were not perfect; when they sinned or sin entered their lives they presented animal sacrifices to God in faith and sincere repentance designed for forgiveness. They were looking forward to the cross where as believers after Christ’s death are looking back on the cross and don’t have to offer animal sacrifices, simply go to God in sincere prayer.
(d) The final reflective point is Old Testament believers had enough faith to believe salvation was at hand and His grace was sufficient.

We have taken a reflective look at Old Testament believers and witness their faith in God through scripture, we can relate to their rejoicing. If we pose the question, what is joy? According to Webster joy can be defined as a feeling of great pleasure of well-being: gladness. The next series of questions are what is the reason for the people’s gladness? What initiated the reason for rejoicing? In an attempt to answer the first question of what was the reason for the people’s gladness or rejoicing was they had been promised a saviour. Old Testament prophets’ messages had taught believers about God and His salvation; they had come to know that salvation meant deliverance from sin. Believers of the Old Testament era completely trusted God for their salvation. Therefore, believing God as they did gave believers reasons to rejoice. The answer to the second question is what initiated the rejoicing; the belief of knowing the blessings of salvation was reasons to rejoice.
We know there are blessing in salvation raises a question, what are some of the blessings in salvation and how do one receive these blessings? First, salvation is provided to us by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, which God freely give. God extends salvation to us, but we must respond to His gift in faith. Then what are the blessings of salvation?
(a) Believers receive forgiveness of their sins. Believers have the assurance of knowing that we passes from a spiritual death to a spiritual life and sin had no power over us any longer and that power has been transferred to God’s power. Salvation brings the believer into a new personal relationship with God. Sin will result in humanity being eternally separated from God.
(b) Believers will have a one-to-one relationship with God as our Father and Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Salvation will cause believers to count ourselves dead to sin and submit ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. A daily anointing of the Holy Spirit will aid believers to live holy lives for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
(c) Finally, salvation assures believers of God’s deliverance from His coming wrath and believers will share in Christ’s glory some day to receive our resurrected bodies. Additionally, believers will receive our just reward as faithful preservers to the end. Salvation assures believers of spending eternity with Jesus Christ. What a blessing!
Believers of the past, present and future can rejoice in knowing we have salvation in God through Jesus Christ. It was God’s love and Christ’s shed blood at Calvary made it all possible. REJOICE!

God’s Promise

Isaiah 40:31

Reading the entire chapter of Isaiah 40, we see the prophet speaking comfort to God’s people. The prophet Isaiah was making prophetic promises of restoration for the nation of Israel, God’s people. The prophet was prophesying to a future generation by telling them that their chastisement by God was almost over and there were blessings and salvation awaits them. From this perspective, Isaiah was encouraging his people to remain hopeful, steadfast and trust in God. This principal applies today when difficulties arise in one’s life, we are to trust God and cast all our cares on Him.

This reminds me of a poem I read, which reads as follows:
If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God.
Author Unknown

The principal message here is a person’s relationship with God, Why because He wants a close fellowship with humanity. This relationship can be establish through constant prayer, praise and worshiping God, then when difficulties arise one can take comfort knowing they can rest under His wings of love.

There are several guarantees in our scripture verse; however they are predicated on our trust in God and turning everything over to Him, because He is the source of our help and grace in the time of need. The question becomes, what are those guarantees in God’s promise? They are (a) God will revive anyone who trust Him in their trials and suffering, (b) He will be their strength in their weakness and exhaustion, (c) God will give them the ability to soar like eagles, and (d) humanity will have the spiritual ability to run without becoming weary and walk without fainting.

Developing this thought further, we turn to Psalm 27:13-14 where we find the Palmist expressing his trust in the Lord and being confident of God’s love for him. Well, God has that same love for all humanity and it was expressed through His Son Jesus Christ. Meanwhile as we are being tested, we are encouraged never to take our eyes off the Lord or remove our trust in Him because there is strength and deliverance in God. In the midst of our trials; we are not alone because God is in and with us as we are being kept by the power of the Holy Spirit who is God.

Reflect with me on the Job experience and his suffering. What was Job’s attitude? Did Job turn his back on God? Did God forsake Job? Did God allow Satan to touch Job’s soul? Who was in control of the situation? How did God manifest His goodness toward Job in the end? Job trusted God during his entire dilemma, however, Job wanted an audience with God and received one but he failed the test when God ask Job rapid fire questions and he had no answers. God was in control of the situation and at His appointed time He would manifest His goodness toward Job. Therefore, leaving no doubt as to who is in control of our lives and we should take God at His word and wait on Him to see the goodness of the Lord manifested.

Nevertheless, there is no time limit on our waiting on the Lord because our time is different from God’s time. Furthermore, some of us may require longer training (trials) sessions than others to prepare us to do God’s will and carry out His purpose for our lives. Have you found your purpose in life? Is it doing the will of God?

Another school of thought, waiting upon the Lord requires patience because the Lord is longsuffering. It is His desire that no soul be lost. God’s delay is it that He tolerates sin; no He is giving humanity an opportunity to repent. Have you repentanted? God’s waiting!