Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘angels

jesus_second_comingThe apostle, Peter wrote in his second letter, ‘First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: “Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.”

“They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth up from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the world with a mighty flood. And God has also commanded that the heavens and the earth will be consumed by fire on the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will perish.

“But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:3-9)

Make no mistake. Jesus is coming again.  The Lord does not make idle promises.  We do not know the hour but we can be certain that He is coming back.  The world has changed.  We are seeing evidence that it is soon coming to an end.  We serve a merciful God who desires that none should perish.  He is being patient for our sake.  He is giving people time to turn from their sins—to turn from their wicked ways and seek Him.

Don’t be discouraged. Be patient.  The Lord will come soon.  Prepare your hearts and lives for that glorious day when He will appear in the clouds with His angels.

Don’t doubt or despair because He hasn’t come as yet. Instead, remember this promise Jesus made: “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

Acts 11:1-18

It’s interesting the reaction Peter got from his fellow believers when they learned that the Gentiles had received the Word of God. The Jewish believers contended with him, accusing him of associating with the uncircumcised.

I couldn’t help thinking of Jesus who thought nothing of going to the home of a centurion whose beloved servant was gravely ill to heal him. He went with the men the centurion sent to escort Him to his house. Jesus was not far away when the centurion sent other men to deter Him, saying that he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his home (Luke 7:2-10). No doubt the religious leaders would have had a problem with Him entering the home of a Gentile.

Peter had harbored the same prejudices as these believers but the Lord gave him a change of heart. He said to Cornelius, the Gentile whom Jesus had sent him to minister to, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28).

Jesus didn’t discriminate. He ate with Pharisees and He ate with publicans. He didn’t play favorites. He gave all people His time and care and attention. He came to minister to everyone and manifest the love of God who sent Him to save the lost.

Are we guilty of reacting like these brethren? Do we harbor prejudices? Are there certain people we won’t associate with? What if God were to call us to minister to these people as He called Peter to minister to the Gentiles? Let us pray to have the heart and mind of Jesus. That is the only way that we would be able to rejoice with the angels when one lost person is saved.

Starting from the beginning, Peter explained what happened.  He ended his narrative with this rhetorical question:  “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”  The brethren couldn’t object to that.  In fact, they had nothing to say.  They became silent.  Then, they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

We are to glorify God for His marvelous grace and remember that His salvation is for everyone.

man became a living soulAnd the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul – Genesis 2:7.

Many Christians believe that the body and soul are two separate things. What does the Bible say? In chapter two of Genesis we learn how God created the first human being. After God said, “Let Us make man in Our image,” He formed man from the dust. He breathed life into the man’s nostrils and the man came to life. Man became a living soul. The soul has no life apart from the body. The man’s body was lifeless until God breathed life into him.

Does the soul die? According to the Bible it does. ““Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). The word used for soul is nephesh, the same word used in Genesis 2:7. So, the soul is the living being–the person. It is who the person is. He is a living soul.

What happens when a person dies? King Solomon tells us. “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust” (Ecclesiastes 3:20). “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The word used for “spirit” here is “ruwach”, the same word Job uses for “breath” when he said, “Who among all these does not know That the hand of the Lord has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:9, 10). Job also said, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). He uses the word “nĕshamah” which was used in Genesis 2:7 for the “breath” of life. God gives us the breath of life and we become living souls. When we die, our bodies (souls or beings) return to dust. God said so Himself. “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

Psalm 146:4 tells us what happens to a person who dies. “His spirit (ruwach) departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.” The person’s breath leaves his body and he goes to the grave where he has no consciousness.

“For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6).

The Bible does not teach that the body and soul are separate entities. The soul does not depart when a person dies. The breath of life is the only thing that leaves a person at the moment of death. The soul is the person. Without the breath of God it has no life.

But what about the texts which seem to imply that the soul is separate from the body? Genesis 35:18 says: “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.” The word used for soul is nephesh. It means life. So, when you substitute the word soul with life, the verse reads, “And it came to pass, as her life was departing or as she was dying, she called his name…

The other text is Matthew 10:28 where Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The word used for soul is psychē which means breath, life. In the preceding verses Jesus was telling the disciples about the persecutions they would face. Luke mentions this in his gospel. Luke 12:4, 5 state: “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

Jesus was teaching them about the fear of God. He was saying that rather than fear those who kill the body they ought to fear God who has the power to cast the unsaved into hell (“Gehenna” or “Gehenna of fire”). This was the place where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned. While men can kill and take away the physical life God has the power to give eternal life.

Hell is not a place where the wicked will burn for eternity.  This teaching maligns the character of God who cares for everyone, including the wicked.  It is not His will that anyone should perish.  Jesus mentioned that hellfire which is what will come down from Heaven was meant for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).  According to Malachi 4:3, the wicked will become ashes.  This means those whose names are not written in the Book of the Life will not burn forever and ever but will be consumed by the fire of judgment until they are no more.  Revelation 21:8 confirms this: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  This is the second death.  This means that they will die and will not be resurrected ever again.  So, their death is final.  They will not be tormented forever and ever but will perish in this fire.

Jude said that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the vengeance of eternal fire but Peter said that God turned “the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned [them] to destruction, making [them] an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;(Jude 1:7, 2 Peter 2:6).  So, the fire which consumed Sodom and Gomorrah burned the cities to ashes.  It may have burned for a long time but it eventually went out.  It is the same with the fire which will consume the devil, the beast and the false prophet and the unsaved.  It may burn for a long time but it will eventually go out.

We should have reverential fear for God who has the power over eternal life and eternal death.  “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12).  Why should we fear man who will perish like we will?  Why should we fear those who persecute us for our Lord’s sake?  They can’t do more than kill us.  They may snuff out our lives but when Jesus returns with the angels, those of us who died in Him will be raised to everlasting life.  Don’t fear what man can do to you but live your life in obedience and in a way that is pleasing to God so that you may be counted worthy of His kingdom, for which you suffer (2 Thessalonians 1:5).

Let these words of Paul encourage you, “it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,  and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:6:10).

adam-eve_019Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness – Genesis 1:26

There are many people who deny that there are three Persons in the Godhead. They don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What does the Word of God say?

In the first book of the Bible, God is speaking to others when He says, “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness.” Who is He talking to? The angels? Psalm 104:4 says “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.” Angels are created beings. Would God create us in the image of other created beings even though we were made lower than them (Psalm 8:5)? Remember what the angel said when the apostle John fell down at his feet in worship? “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). Twice John fell at the angel’s feet to worship him and twice he told him not to do that. They were both servants. Only God is to be worshipped.

He was talking to the other members of the Godhead who were present at creation. The Son was present. The apostle John confirms this in the first chapter of his Gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-5).

The Holy Spirit was present at creation. Genesis 1:2 states, And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. All were present at Jesus’ baptism. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

When Jesus gave the great commission to His disciples, He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Though commonly known as the “Trinity”, the term “Godhead” is actually in the Bible. It is used by Paul in Romans 1:20 and in Colossians 2:9. He uses the Greek words theiotēs and theotēs. Both of which refer to the state of being God. The Godhead is one God, three persons. Paul refers to these three Persons in his letter to the Christians in Corinth. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). The author of Hebrews writes, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Many use these words of Moses to dispute the teaching of the Godhead. What they need to remember is that the Israelites had come from Egypt which had many gods and the other nations at that time were also polytheistic. The golden calf Aaron made was the Egyptian god, Apis.

The Godhead is comprised of three Persons with different roles but one purpose much like a family with more than one member with different roles. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one” (1 John 5:7, 8). Here the Spirit refers to the Father, the water to the Holy Spirit and the blood to Jesus. They are one. Together they created us and together they devised the plan of salvation when our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned. Together they are working in and through us so that one day we will spend eternity with them on the new earth.

love does not parade itself, is not puffed up – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Jesus washPride is something God hates.  God loves humble people.  Love is humble.  Jesus gave a fine example of this when He left heaven where He was worshipped by angels to come here on earth.  He was humble in appearance.  He stayed in modest lodgings, slept outdoors, ate with sinners, outcasts and tried to keep a low profile.  He got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples.  He was their Leader, their Master, yet He served them.

Jesus was teaching them and us that we should never think we are too good to serve others.  No task is beneath us. We s hould perform every task to the best of our ability and with humble hearts, always thankful that we are making a difference in someone else’s life.  Whenwe see how Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself it encourages us to be humble too.  It shows us that pride has no part in the ministry of Jesus.

Pride is selfishness while humility is selflessness.  While He was washing twelve pairs of feet Jesus commanded the disciples to love one another.

Pride is self love.  Humility is love for others.  Jesus wants us to serve others in love and humility.  Love does not boast.  Love does not made a big show.  It does not make a spectacle of itself.  It does not draw attention to itself or put itself on display for all to admire and praise it.  It is not self-important.  It is the exact opposite.  When you show someone love, do so with a humble heart, not expecting anything in return.  Don’t brag about it.  Follow the same advice Jesus gave when it comes to doing charitable work.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).

Love is not self-serving.  It takes pride in serving others.  Jesus came to serve.   He spent His entire ministry serving others and putting their needs before His own.

EyesonJesus_jpg-10_26_10Too many times we focus more on our differences than on our similarities.  Too many times we focus more on the different denominations and whose doctrine is in keeping with the Bible than on Christ.  One night instead of having a discussion, on who God is, what He is like, what He has done in our lives and on Jesus’ ministry here on earth, I brought up the subject of the idolatry of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Mariology is a phenomenon that really troubles me and I cannot help but address it.

I showed them the book written by a former Catholic entitled, “Is Mary Dead or Alive?”  One person glanced at it and thrust it aside dismissively while another picked it up to browse through it.  I mentioned that people should not be praying to Mary.  After some discussion and disagreements, we established that people were praying to someone who is dead.  I tried to find in the Bible where it is mentioned that we should not be speaking or contacting the dead but, couldn’t find it so I was unable to make the point.  However, I found it the day after and here is what the Bible says, “And when they say unto you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter.’ Should a people not seek their God?  Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?” – Isaiah 8:19.

I spoke of the appearances around the world and made it known that I did not believe in any of them simply because Mary is dead.  I mentioned that when Jesus appeared to His disciples, He was in the flesh.  Here is an excerpt of what was written about the three children in Fatima.  The shepherd children saw the vision of an angel of peace whose mission was to prepare them for the Coming of the Virgin Mary three times. For each Apparition, the angel invited the children to pray and accompanied them in their reverence.  During the summer, the angel appeared a second time to the children who were playing and urged them to pray “Constantly offer prayers and sacrifices to the Most High”. He presented himself as the guardian angel of Portugal.

The Coming of the Virgin Mary?  Mary is no longer among the living.  She like the rest of those who died in Christ will be resurrected at His second Coming and caught up.  In the Bible, the angels’ will appear with Christ at His Second Coming.  “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness and will cast them into the furnace of fire.” – Matthew 13:41, 42.

This angel invited the children to pray for each apparition.  He is praying with them for the appearance of a spirit.  Man, according to the Bible, is lower than the angels, yet here was one encouraging the worship of Mary, a person.  She is the mother of Jesus, not the mother of God, therefore, not to be worshipped but respected as the most blessed of all women.  Reverence should be given to God, “Serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” – Hebrews 12:28.  Reverence should be given to Jesus.  “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11.

What sacrifices is the angel talking about here?  In Daniel 9:27, it says that Jesus brought an end to sacrifice and offering.  The only sacrifices we are exhorted to offer up are spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5).

The following is an account of the last of six appearances of Maria in Fatima.  On 13th October 1917, the day of the last Apparition, it poured with rain on the Cova da Iria. Lucy asked the faithful to close their umbrellas to recite the rosary together and observe the arrival of the Holy Virgin.  The Virgin Mary presented herself to Lucy as Our Lady of the Rosary and asked her to build a chapel in her honour. She announced that the war was going to end and asked Lucy to “heal several of the sick and convert sinners”.

The Virgin Mary then raised her eyes to heaven, the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly, radiating different coloured beams of lights. The crowd cried out in terror but after a few moments, everything returned to normal.  The Virgin Mary then disappeared into the firmament, reappeared a few moments later, under the amazed eyes of 3 shepherd children, accompanied by Saint Joseph, the Infant Jesus and Our Lord blessing the world using the sign of the cross.

What disturbs me about this is that Jesus is seen here as an infant.  When we last read about our Saviour, He had risen from the dead and after spending time with His disciples, He ascended to Heaven.  Yet, in this vision, He is an infant again.  In Italy, the majority of the paintings and sculptures are of Mary and baby Jesus.  It is not the infant whom died on the Cross for us but the Man.  It is not Jesus, the infant that is going to crush Satan’s head but Jesus, the Man.  And why is Joseph in the vision?  Joseph is resting in his grave.  And why did Mary disappear into the ground and then reappear again?

This vision is going back to before Jesus’ ministry, His finished work on the Cross, His death and His resurrection.  The very things Satan tried to hinder when first he tried to have the infant killed, then, the temptation in the wilderness, and the rejection of the people, the crucifixion and finally, the resurrection when the Pharisees had the tomb guarded.  The things said in the vision contradict the Bible.  And we know that the devil likes to contradict God’s Word—twist it to suit his purposes.  That is why in the case of Fatima, caution should be exercised because the devil is good at disguising himself.

Paul warns us, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.  This was met with the objection that God would not allow children to be deceived.  The Bible addresses this, “And he (the beast) was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.  It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.  And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” – Revelation 13:5, 7, 8)

Genesis 3:15, says that Satan will enjoy limited success.  The Bible does not say that only adults will be deceived.  It says that the inhabiters of the earth are subject to the wrath of the devil who knows that he has a short time (Revelation 12:12).  The devil is no respecter of persons when it comes to leading them away from God.  He deceived the angels.  And Jesus predicted that if possible even the elect could be deceived by false Christs and false prophets (Mark 13:22).

We should be focusing on Jesus rather than on the different churches, but when people are being deceived it is hard not to say anything.  This is why the Bible was written.  It warns us of the devil’s schemes and how we can protect ourselves.  Jesus came into the world to wake us from spiritual darkness and His parting words to the disciples were, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:19, 20.

 When these disciples had God’s truth in them they didn’t keep it to themselves, they shared it, knowing that they would encounter resistance, ridicule, and scepticism.  Jesus came to expose the lies of the devil and we should do the same by sharing God’s word, which is truth.  We should focus on the Word of God because the scriptures testify of Jesus.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”  – John 14:6. 

214EmptyTombPaintLuke24_63Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.  For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished – 1 Corinthians 15:12-18

Paul is not saying that the dead are in Heaven with Jesus.  What he is saying is if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead then we are doomed because it would also mean that Jesus Himself was not raised from the dead either.  This means that when we die, that ‘s it.  It’s all over.  We will remain in our graves and those who are alive have no hope because if Jesus was not raised from the dead that means that there will be no second coming.  It is at the second coming that those who fell asleep in Christ will rise and be gathered to Him and then those who are still alive will join them.  Our friends and loved ones who died in Christ will not be with Him before He comes again.  Like King David, they are asleep in their graves.

We can rest assured that Jesus was raised from the dead.  We have the empty tomb to prove this.  He is now in Heaven with the Father fulfilling His role as our High Priest until the day comes when He will descend with the angels to gather His elect.  Until then, let us watch and wait in faith.



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