The Apple Of God's Eye

January 16, 2010

Why The Resurrection Instead Of Going To Heaven?

Most people believe that Christ completed God’s plan of redemption by dying on the cross. But if salvation was made full and complete by Jesus’ death, then why does the Bible still speak of a resurrection from the dead?

We often hear the saying, “Christ died to save sinners,” but this is not even a Biblical quotation. If you believe that Christ’s death imparts to us eternal life — that the blood of Christ — His death, actually saves or imparts everlasting life, then you are wrong in your assumption. Nowhere in the Bible does it say this is so!

So why did Christ Die for us ? First, realize that all have sinned and the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 3:23, 6:23)! The Bible definition of sin is the transgression of God’s law — summed up by the Ten Commandments (I John 3:4). It was established by God for the happiness of man, something that has eluded him in a world of strife and war, fear and worry, poverty and want, discontent and suffering.

This world believes God’s salvation merely imparts eternal life! Jesus said He came that we might have eternal life, yes. But He also said something more: “I am come,” He said, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Not merely continuous existence — but a life full of happiness for all eternity! (more…)

April 29, 2009

Does Luke 14:26 Say We Are To Hate Our Family?

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Luke 14:26 reads: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Revised Authorized Version). 

At another time, Jesus charged His disciples: “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27). He also said: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:31-32, RAV). In other words, Jesus clearly commands us not only to love those who love us — which should include our relatives — but also to love our enemies who hate us. 

Since the Bible does not contradict itself (John 10:35), what did Jesus mean when He said “hate” in Luke 14:26? The Greek word for “hate” in this verse is “misei.” Its Greek root can mean “to love less, to postpone in love or esteem, to slight” (“Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament”). 

What Jesus is saying, then, is that anyone who follows Him must love Him MORE than family or relatives or even his own life. In comparison to the greater love we ought to have for Jesus Christ — the One who died for us, our Saviour and Redeemer — the love we have for human relatives must be less. Jesus said that the second great commandment is: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). But what is the first great commandment? It is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37-38). 

One who has such love for God and His way of life will not compromise principle. He will not put any human relationship before God.

March 27, 2009

Does God Hear The Prayer Of Sinners?

All people have sinned and cut themselves off from God (Rom 3:23; 5:12). The prophet Isaiah wrote, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:2, RAV). So to answer the question, no, God does not hear sinners (John 9:31, first part), and will have no fellowship with them (II Cor. 6:14; I John 1:6). He hears only those who are righteous (John 9:31, last part).

But there must be a way for sinners to come to God — or else we could never become righteous. How can sinners seek God? Isaiah answers:

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” But how do we call upon God? Well, we ourselves cannot do it. there is no such thing as a feeling to go the right way, or an altar call. It is God Himself who has to call us (John 6:44). This last scripture has to be one of the most ignored in the Bible, yet that makes it no less plain. Only God can call us into His work. If he has not done so, then all those who profess to be with God are deceived.

Barnes’ Commentary On The Bible says “the word ‘draw’  is used to denote such an influence from God as to secure the result, or as to incline the mind to believe.” That’s right, it is not the person who makes up their mind, but God who reaches out and “draws” that individual in.

Strong’s says the word “draw” means to literally or figuratively drag someone. But even so, there must be evidence (fruits – Matt. 7:20) such a person has indeed been called by God and is walking with God. The answer is:

“Let the wicked forsake his [own] way, and the unrighteous man his [own] thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7, RAV).

But what is true repentance? It is more than saying ” I’m Sorry.” The person must forsake the way he has been living and begin to obey God. He must desire a life long commitment of obedience to God while at the same time having a Godly sorrow for past sins. Once he has repented of going the wrong way then God begins to work with that person, giving him His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32), without which the deep things of God cannot even be understood (I Cor. 2:10).

After repenting and being baptized (by God’s ministry), a person is no longer a sinner in God’s sight because he has been forgiven. His prayers are now fully answered by God.

March 23, 2009

Did The Father Forsake Jesus On The Cross?

Did the Father forsake Jesus on the cross? The answer is yes, God really DID forsake His Son while He hung on the cross and it is important to understand why.

Except for Jesus Christ, all humans have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Sin, the breaking of God’s law, requires the penalty of death: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Sin also cuts one off from God: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does is will, He hears him” (John 9:31, RAV). Isaiah wrote: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2, RAV).

Nevertheless, when one does repent — change, turn around, go the right way, and overcome — God will hear and answer that person’s request.

So, did Jesus sin? Is that the reason the Father cut Himself off from His only begotten Son who poured out His blood and finally died on the cross? No, not at all. Jesus was perfect. He never sinned. Notice: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:21-22).

Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, willingly took on our sins and, by His shed blood and death, suffered the penalty of sin for us. While He was on the cross, Jesus bore the sins of all of humanity, paying the penalty for them. Therefore, Jesus was cut off from God while on the cross because sin separates man from God. If God the Father was going to accept Jesus’ one supreme sacrifice as payment for the sins of all mankind, He had to turn His back on the sinbearer — Jesus. He had to forsake Jesus and let Him pay the full penalty for our sins.

God so loved the world that He was willing to cut Himself off from His perfect, loving, and obedient Son so that the Son could bear the sins of the world. How great and wonderful God’s love is toward us!

But, remember, God forgives and applies Christ’s sacrifice to only those who have truly repented, those who are willing to turn from their evil ways, the very ways which made Christ’s supreme sacrifice necessary. Christ came to save man FROM his sins — not IN his sins.

Why did Jesus ask the question He asked? Didn’t He know that God had to turn His back on Him and forsake Him while He was carrying the sins of the world? Certainly, Jesus fully realized that God had to forsake Him if the world were going to receive an atonement for its sins. This was one of the reasons Jesus came into the world (John 3:16-17). Why, then, did He ask the question? The answer is that by so doing He fulfilled prophecy.

David too, in a time of trouble, cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (Ps. 22:1).

These words, spoken by a man after God’s own heart hundreds of years before the crucifixion, prophetically applied to Christ. They foreshadowed the utter anguish Jesus felt when God the Father forsook Him.

March 19, 2009

Are Confessions A Biblical Practice?

Christians are to confess their sins to God — not men. Notice David’s example in Psalm 51. No man can forgive sins. Neither has any man been given the office of mediator between mankind and God. This office is held by Jesus Christ alone. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Wherefore he [Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). The apostle Paul also wrote in I Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man CHRIST JESUS.” Thus, as stated, confession of one’s sins ought to be made to God — not to a fellow human being — such as a priest.

Where did this practice start? A detailed confession to a bishop or priest appeared early in the history of the Catholic church. In the 5th-century discipline, the practice was to hear confessions at the beginning of [pagan] Lent and to reconcile the penitents on Holy Thursday. Gradually, however, the practice of reconciling, or absolving, sinners immediately after confession and before fulfillment of penance was introduced. By the end of the 11th century, only notorious sinners were reconciled on Holy Thursday. Often, those guilty of serious sins put off penance until death approached. To correct this abuse, the fourth Lateran Council (1215) established the rule that every Christian should confess to a priest at least once a year. In modern times the Roman Catholic Church teaches that penance is a sacrament, instituted by Christ, in which a confession of all serious sins committed after Baptism is necessary. The doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox churches concerning confession agrees with that of the Roman Catholic Church (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Article  “Confessions”).

The message of Sacramental Confession is so important to the Catholic church, that Pope Benedict XVI in a pre-Lenten audience with Confessors, urged them to preach the necessity for all Catholics – and to seek the sacrament themselves. He repeated that admonition urging the faithful to “invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today.”

However, it is NOT the Virgin Mary who is our intercessor! The Bible takes a radically different stance than that of this false pagan church. John wrote that when we sin, we have an advocate with God the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous (I John 2:1-2). He is faithful to forgive our sins when we confess to Him (I John 1:7-10). Therefore, we can come boldly to His throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16).

The Scriptures do tell us that we may confess our FAULTS to one another — so we can pray for each other (Jas. 5:16). But there is a difference between seeking a brother’s help in overcoming a fault — human weakness — and confessing sins of the past. The latter should not be done because only God can forgive sin. And humans do not forget, as God willingly does when our sins are removed (Heb. 8:12).

Some try to use John 20:23 to prove that persons in ecclesiastical offices have the power to forgive sins. This verse reads: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (New King James Version). However, it does not mean that mere men can actually forgive sins in a spiritual sense. God alone can forgive sins (Mark 2:7-10; Luke 5:21-24). Christ spoke these words to His future apostles in the context of the Church authority He was giving them (see John 20:21) — the power to disfellowship those who were dissenters or heretics (see I Corinthians 5:2 and I Timothy 1:20) and bring them back into the congregation upon repentance (II Cor. 2:6-10).

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