Category Archives: Jesus

The Secret to Child-Training: Love!

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It’s true, almost everyone loves their own children. After all, the Lord made them so precious, so sweet and beautiful! Even the hardest of hearts are touched by a child’s loving little hugs, kisses and warm smiles, which certainly brighten our lives and cause us to respond to them with love and affection also. But besides this natural affection that parents feel for their children, there is an even GREATER and more precious and lasting Love that we as Christians can give our children. A SUPERNATURAL Love that will help them to be truly happy, fulfilled and well-behaved: GOD’S LOVE in JESUS!

To explain more about how we give God’s Love to our children, we’d like to now share some practical, tried-and-proven ways of “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), that have been a great help to us in raising our little ones. We hope that you will find these tips a help and blessing to you and YOUR children also!

 
FIRST AND FOREMOST: EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO RECEIVE JESUS, and the sooner the better! Receiving Jesus is so simple that even a TWO-YEAR-OLD can do it! It’s our RESPONSIBILITY as Christian parents to see to it that our children, WHATEVER age they are, come to know and receive the Lord and His wonderful Gift of Eternal Salvation!

You can constantly point a child towards the Lord, even from the time he’s born, just by your example and your love, even before he learns to talk, by talking to him about Jesus. As any parent will attest, you can hardly find anybody more sincere than a small child. We have found that two years old is an ideal age to actually lead your child to receive Christ, because that’s usually when he’s learned to talk and he understands the words you’re saying and he will be happy to follow you in a simple prayer.

If you have faithfully shown and taught your child WHO Jesus is (Children’s Picture Bibles are a great help for this), when you simply explain to your two-year old, “If you pray this little prayer now with Mommy (or Daddy), Jesus will come into your heart and save you,” your child will believe YOU, and he’ll believe in JESUS. If he’ll simply pray after you: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me for being bad. I believe You died for me to take my spanking for me. Please come into my heart and help me to be good and to love You!”, and Jesus WILL come in!

“VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT RECEIVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS A LITTLE CHILD, HE SHALL NOT ENTER THEREIN.” (MARK 10:15)

As long as any child or person, no matter WHAT age they are, simply believes and prays for Jesus to forgive him and come into his heart, Jesus surely WILL come in, just as surely as He has promised, “Ask and ye shall receive!” (Matthew 7:7). So lead your child to Jesus so he can be eternally saved, simply for the asking! There’s no greater gift of Love you could ever give your child than Eternal Life and Love in Jesus!

 
NEXT MOST IMPORTANT: FEED YOUR CHILD THE WORD OF GOD. What could be more valuable and vital and faith-building than feeding your children GOD’S OWN WORDS, giving them God’s answers to all of their questions and problems? “FAITH comes by hearing the Word of God!” (Romans 10:17). You can pass a knowledge of the Bible on to them by daily using Bible story books, Bible pictures and flannelgraphs, posters, readers, Bible-based songs and Scripture etc., and your children will soon be “ROOTED and BUILT UP in the Lord, ESTABLISHED in the FAITH!” (Colossians 2:6-8).

If you are faithful to give them the TRUTH, they won’t be fooled or deceived by this World’s false teachings or poisoned by the lies, violence and spiritual garbage found in so many books and on most TV programs! There will be no need for your child to wander around aimlessly searching for answers, Truth and satisfaction in life if you’ve directed him to GOD’S ANSWERS through His Own Word, the Bible!

We have found that just as we ADULTS need to read and feed on GOD’S WORD in order to GROW spiritually, so our children also must be fed the wonderful Word of God if they are to make spiritual progress. The WORD OF GOD is the MOST POWERFUL TRUTH on Earth and in God’s Word they can find the answer to EVERY question, EVERY problem that they will EVER have in life! If they know the Scriptures, they will have the answers for EVERYTHING!

“FROM A CHILD THOU HAST KNOWN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, WHICH ARE ABLE TO MAKE THEE WISE UNTO SALVATION THROUGH FAITH WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS.” (2TIMOTHY 3:15)

The BIBLE gives us God’s principles and standard to live by, and having learned the Scriptures while very young, your children will grow up with solid Christian convictions, knowing what GOD has said and promised in HIS WORD! This is the key to true happiness for everyone, children and adults alike: To know JESUS, and to know what GOD says right there in HIS WORD! Be faithful to give these to your child, and you’re BOUND to get good results!

 
INSPIRE YOUR CHILD TO DO GOOD BY GIVING HIM A PURPOSE IN LIFE! If you’ve led your child to JESUS and you make it a point to faithfully teach him GOD’S WORD, he will learn and understand that Jesus is his very BEST and closest Friend Who is with him ALL the time. As he learns how much JESUS loves HIM, and how much Jesus has DONE for him by dying for him, so he can have a wonderful life in HEAVEN, your child will soon learn to want to please the Lord and do what HE can for JESUS.

This is one of the greatest rewards Christian parents can receive: To see their child begin to do things for JESUS, to actually SERVE the LORD! If your child is taught that this is what he is here FOR, to love and please the Lord, then from a very early age he can start living a genuine Christian life by learning to be loving, kind and considerate to OTHERS, praying for his family, friends and playmates etc., as well as coming to the Lord in PRAYER when he personally needs help.

“I HAVE NO GREATER JOY THAN TO HEAR THAT MY CHILDREN WALK IN TRUTH.” (3JOHN 4)

If your child learns to really LOVE THE LORD, knows the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD and has a genuine desire to please and serve Him, he will have the personal CONVICTION to withstand the many temptations he will encounter in school and from Worldly children who don’t know the Lord. So it certainly PAYS to do your best to teach your child to “LOVE THE LORD with all thy heart, and to LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

 
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, STRIVE TO PROMOTE AN ATMOSPHERE OF HONEST, OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR CHILDREN. Encourage each child to feel free to honestly share what is on his heart with you. Of course, it’s very important to avoid reacting in a critical, condemning or condescending way to a child who is pouring out his heart, confessing a mistake or sharing a fear etc. If your child meets such a negative reaction from you, he will probably have second thoughts before sharing his heart with you next time.

We have found that “SPECIAL TIMES” of open-hearted discussions, combined with lots of loving embraces, greatly assures young children of our love and genuine concern, as we strive to intently listen to and understand them! Your child will never forget such special times spent with you. In most cases, these are the moments that WE treasured most when we were children: When our parents invested their love in the form of PERSONAL TIME and attention with us, just TALKING about things together.

“TO DO GOOD AND TO COMMUNICATE, FORGET NOT: FOR WITH SUCH SACRIFICES GOD IS WELL PLEASED.” (HEBREWS 13:16)

Of course, before we can expect our children to be honest with us, WE must be HONEST with THEM. It greatly encourages children to know that their parents are not exactly perfect. (Besides, you can be sure they’ve noticed!) By your own honest admission of YOUR mistakes and weaknesses, you are setting a good example for them of what HONESTY and HUMILITY are all about, and your children will love you the more for it!

As in any kind of honest communication, it can’t be emphasised enough how important it is to be a GOOD LISTENER to the one who is talking. A good, listening parent is not busy reading the newspaper or making a cup of tea while his or her child is pouring out his heart about the loss of a best friend, or communicating his innermost worries and fears. As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is our sincere INTEREST in them and their problems, as manifested by our UNDIVIDED ATTENTION and uninterrupted LISTENING whenever possible.

By the act of simply LISTENING, you are telling your child: “I want to understand and help you. I think you are WORTH listening to, and I want you to know that I have FAITH in you. You can always TALK to me because I LOVE you.”

ASK QUESTIONS. (Kids shouldn’t be the only inquisitive party!) When genuinely communicating with children–or with anyone for that matter–asking questions helps to draw them out and shows your concern and interest in them. Get THEM to talk.

And when they are asking YOU the questions, be careful not to philosophise or pretend to be something you’re not. Just stay SIMPLE! And don’t offer any advice that you wouldn’t want to practically apply yourself.

LEARN TO PRESENT YOUR ADVICE OR ANSWERS IN WAYS THAT ARE EASY FOR THEM TO ACCEPT. MAKE IT “EASY FOR THEM TO BE GOOD” by allowing them to think that it’s at least partly THEIR idea too. For example, “I liked your comment on needing to change things a bit. Let’s try your idea!”, or “What do you think about trying this idea?”, or, “Haven’t you found that this works better?”

WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG, IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO BE TOO QUICK TO JUDGE A MATTER. There are always at least TWO SIDES to every story, and it helps greatly to hear ALL SIDES from all those who are involved. Most of us have made the grave mistake of making a snap judgement or acting impulsively, resulting in a child being unjustly accused and deeply hurt. A mother could hear a crash in the room, and run in to find her young daughter in tears beside a shattered vase on the floor. To immediately whack the child with no explanation adds insult to injury, when by merely asking what happened first, the child could explain that she was attempting to stop the cat from climbing on the table, trying to shoo it away, when the CAT knocked the vase over, not she!

Remember, as Christian parents, we are trying to establish our child’s CONFIDENCE in both the Lord and ourselves. Jesus forgives US in love, and, thank God, does not spank us for every mistake or sin we commit. Likewise, we should forgive our children and be as fair and merciful with them as possible. But by continually passing quick harsh judgement on them, our children could easily lose such trust and confidence in us. And could wind up being AFRAID to confide in you and confess things that they really ARE guilty of or need help with!

And that’s another point: NEVER LOSE FAITH IN YOUR CHILDREN! If you can’t determine what’s right or wrong when a child claims innocence in some situation, and there’s no way to prove otherwise, it is almost always the wisest thing to let it pass, rather than risk punishing or judging unjustly for something. Try taking your child’s word for it! Such love will prove your faith in them and will inspire them not to disappoint your trust. Showing a child that you TRUST and BELIEVE in him shows him that you LOVE him.

 
TRY PUTTING YOURSELF IN YOUR CHILD’S PLACE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This will give you a much better understanding of him. Make it a habit to try to see things through THEIR eyes and understanding. Ask yourself, “What if this were I? How would I want to be treated in this situation if I were in his shoes? If I were only 5 years old and were the one being laughed at by the adults, how would I feel?”

What may seem cute or funny to US, may be very embarrassing and humiliating to a CHILD. Most of us know what it’s like to be embarrassed, hurt or slighted by others. Realising that such unpleasant experiences can be much more traumatic and painful to a small inexperienced child should cause us to do our best to spare them from such incidents.

“THEREFORE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER YE WOULD THAT MEN SHOULD DO TO YOU, DO YE EVEN SO TO THEM!” (MATTHEW 7:12)

By putting yourself in as close a situation as you can think of to your CHILD’S situation, imagining how YOU would feel, you will gain a much better understanding of him and his feelings.

 
TRY TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. Not of some kind of a perfect, sinless saint which your child may feel he could never measure up to, but of an honest, happy, humble example of a friend and loving parent, someone whom kids can look up to and trust. YOU have to try to be what you want your CHILDREN to be.

“THOSE THINGS WHICH YE HAVE BOTH LEARNED, AND RECEIVED, AND HEARD, AND SEEN IN ME, DO: AND THE GOD OF PEACE SHALL BE WITH YOU.” (PHILIPPIANS 4:9)

Children are great mimics, and this is largely how they learn, by imitation. Children seldom forget what they SEE. They go more by what they SEE than by what they HEAR, more by your ACTIONS than just your WORDS. Children will learn more from your ACTIONS and even your ATTITUDES than they will from what you SAY! THINK of what you would like to be in the eyes of your child and BE that parent!

Likewise, if you need to leave your child in the care of SOMEONE ELSE, you should do your best to find someone who will be the kind of GODLY EXAMPLE that you would want your CHILD to follow. As a parent, YOU are responsible to make SURE that your child is left in good TRUSTWORTHY HANDS when you are not with him. So it’s important that you have good honest communication with those who help care for your little ones, and that they understand and agree to uphold the CHRISTIAN principles and guidelines which you follow.

It’s also very important to try to reach and relate to children on THEIR OWN level, and not expect TOO MUCH of them. After all, a child is a child. But if you make an effort to make your lessons easily understood, so they can easily be learned by your child–you’ll be surprised at how quickly your child will learn and grow!

 
LOVE IS ALSO DISCIPLINE. Children are happiest when they know the boundaries and limitations that adults have set for them, not when they are totally free to go wild, and thus end up in big trouble! A spoiled and demanding child becomes a spoiled and demanding adult, so the importance of teaching a young child obedience, submission, yieldedness and unselfishness is evident. Failure to instill these virtues in a child will result in his failure in these same areas later on in school, business and the social world.

It’s best to start when your children are quite young, and practice consistent, loving discipline by setting limits and boundaries for them to follow for their own good. There’s never been a child yet who didn’t need it, because, as the Bible says, “We are ALL sinners”. (Romans 3:23). Parents need to make it very clear exactly what the rules are, and one of the best methods of establishing the rules is to get the children to help make them, or at least to agree to them with you.

The best kind of so-called punishment should be what the Bible calls “chastening”, which literally means “CHILD-TRAINING”, something that will TEACH them something, train them and help them to learn the lesson so they’ll not want to make the same mistake again. Of course, to win and lovingly PERSUADE children to obey out of LOVE may seem to take a lot of time and patience, but they’ll turn out to be far better children and much more obedient in the long run if they are persuaded to OBEY through LOVE, rather than by trying to break their will and FORCE them to obey merely for FEAR of punishment.

This is another reason why it’s so important to first of all lead your children to JESUS and fill them with HIS WORD, because a child who loves the Lord will WANT to obey his parents out of LOVE for you and JESUS.

Discipline is a form of Love that is very, very Scriptural. Even God Himself disciplines His children when they need it! He says, “Whom the Lord LOVES He CHASTENS, and disciplines every son whom He receives!” (Hebrews 12:6). In learning obedience and submission to their ELDERS, our children receive and see a visible example of their own relationship with the LORD. Children who benefit from such Scriptural training grow to be happier and better behaved individuals.

“FOOLISHNESS IS BOUND IN THE HEART OF A CHILD; BUT THE ROD OF CORRECTION SHALL DRIVE IT FAR FROM HIM. THE ROD AND REPROOF BRING WISDOM: BUT A CHILD LEFT TO HIMSELF BRINGETH HIS MOTHER TO SHAME.” (PROVERBS 22:15; 29:15)

Earthly parents are an EXAMPLE, a picture, to a child of how GOD, our HEAVENLY FATHER, is with US, HIS children. If a child learns good Godly disciplinary standards of behaviour when YOUNG, he’ll find it much easier to submit to the LORD as he grows up and eventually is on his own.

Even if it hurts you, the parent, to have to sometimes spank or punish your child, you’ll benefit from obeying this Scriptural commandment, and be rewarded by seeing your child’s improved behaviour.

 
PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT ARE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF CHILD TRAINING. Be generous with praise and APPRECIATE your child’s good intentions and strong points. For example, if your son makes a failing grade on his school work, you can still find something to commend him for, his neat handwriting, perhaps. There’s always SOME good to be praised and appreciated.

“FINALLY, BRETHREN, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE TRUE, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE HONEST, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE JUST, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE PURE, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE LOVELY, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE OF GOOD REPORT; IF THERE BE ANY VIRTUE, AND IF THERE BE ANY PRAISE, THINK ON THESE THINGS.” (PHILIPPIANS 4:8)

All children thrive on praise. It’s more important to PRAISE a child for his GOOD deeds and his good behaviour than it is to SCOLD him for his BAD behaviour. Try to always accentuate the POSITIVE!

Of course, it’s important when giving praise and appreciation to remain HONEST and SINCERE, and it must relate to him or her. For example, YOU may consider your pre-teen daughter to be beautiful, but if she perhaps doesn’t compare favourably to many others her age, in spite of YOUR opinion and feeling on the matter, she could think that you are being insincere or falsely flattering if you are constantly telling her how beautiful she is. So why not commend her in some OTHER positive area in which she excels and shines: Her eloquence of speech or her good grades or her loving, sweet character and spirit–which the Bible says is one of the most beautiful virtues a woman can have. “The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price.” (1Peter 3:4).

Be outspoken with praise for your children. Just about everyone loves kids, but it’s extremely important that the children know this by hearing you SAY it and seeing you SHOW it.

 
CONCLUSION: All these suggestions and pointers are ways to put LOVE into ACTION! Love is not “real” or practically applied without a living EXAMPLE by you and me, today’s parents who are molding the future! The World of tomorrow is what the mothers and fathers of today make it, according to the way we raise our children!

So try LOVE, it NEVER fails! Do you show YOUR children the genuine Love of JESUS? Will they grow up learning to love the Lord and share His Love with others? God BLESS and help you to be a loving parent and example to your little ones! We LOVE you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Salvation for a Swindler!

Luke 19:1-10

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Contrary to what many people think, Jesus was not against riches, especially not when they were put to good use. Now, whenever the subject of wealth and affluence is mentioned in the Bible, many people almost automatically remember the sad story of the rich young ruler who went away sorrowfully after having rejected Jesus’ admonition that he share his riches with the poor. (Luke 18:18-25) But have you ever heard about Jesus’ encounter with a certain wealthy business man of Jericho?

Zacchaeus, the man in our story, was quite an infamous character, especially when contrasted with the many devoutly religious figures who walked the streets of Jericho, “the city of priests.”

He was the wealthy head of a large office of government tax collectors, and to the Jews, tax collectors or publicans, as they were called, were the absolute lowest of the low, only to be compared with common prostitutes. Well known for being cheaters, extortionists, and robbers of the poor, these men were also considered as traitors to their brethren, since, though they themselves were Jews, they worked for the much-hated government of Rome.

Here was a man with governmental authority to bleed from the people as much tribute as possible, and anything he could gouge from them above that went straight into his own pocket.

But one day something happened that completely changed all this for Zacchaeus. He had already heard all about Jesus and the many miracles which He’d performed, yet even more fascinating was the fact that, like himself, Jesus also had a bad reputation, and was known to be a friend of publicans and sinners. In fact, one of Jesus’ Own disciples, Matthew, had one time been a tax collector in Nazareth!

For some time Zacchaeus had wanted to meet the “Carpenter-turned-Prophet.” Often he wondered, “How can a man supposedly so religious be a friend of people like myself, when the priests and even many people of my city practically spit at the mention of my name? Would Jesus be my friend too?” he wondered. He had no real friends outside of his immediate family, and more recently he’d begun to feel quite dissatisfied. He’d begun to realise that it took much more than wealth to bring true warmth and satisfaction. After all, he had practically everything money could buy, a fine home and a stable position, but something was missing.–Exactly what, he wasn’t sure.

Then one day Jesus passed through Jericho. When Zacchaeus heard that He was in town, he dropped everything, closed up his office, and hurried off to see for himself. A large crowd with Jesus in their midst, was already moving slowly down the road, but poor Zacchaeus was so short he couldn’t see a thing. Quickly he spotted a large sycamore tree up ahead of the crowd. As Jesus passed by, maybe he could see him from that tree. Completely forgetting about what people would think of him, Zacchaeus ran past the crowd and scurried up into the tree.

When Jesus finally reached the tree where Zacchaeus was, all of a sudden He turned & looked up searchingly. Drawing near and looking straight up at Zacchaeus, Jesus called, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down. I must stay at your house today!”

“Wha … what did He say?” Zacchaeus was shocked! “He called me by my name! He wants to stay at my house?” As Zacchaeus slid down from the tree, it was hard to believe that there hadn’t been some sort of mistake. How could Jesus have known his name? But as soon as he realised that Jesus was serious, he answered, “Why, this is an honor! Please do come to my house! You’re so very welcome!” And Zacchaeus joyfully escorted Jesus to his home.

By the time they arrived, the crowd that followed stood outside murmuring indignantly, saying, “How can this be! Jesus has gone to stay with a man who is a sinner and a publican!” They were ashamed to the point of disgust, thinking, “How could He, Jesus, come to our fair city, a center for religious training, and yet choose to lodge with such a scoundrel as that?” But Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He had looked beyond Zacchaeus’ outward appearance to see the desperate hunger and emptiness for love and fulfilment within his heart.

In that one moving meeting with Jesus, Zacchaeus had found the answer! now wealth and possessions were not important except to give them to others. Excitedly, Zacchaeus declared, “Jesus, right here and now I want You to know that I’ve made up my mind! I am going to give to the poor one half of all that I own! And to make amends for those whom I have cheated or taken advantage of, I promise to restore unto them four times more than I took from them!” What an amazing commitment, considering that that sum must have been very large!

Here was a man who’d lived luxuriously and selfishly all of his life, but who, after meeting Jesus and hearing the Words He shared, had experienced a dramatic change! Suddenly, for the first time in his entire life, he felt that he understood the true meaning of love and giving.

Then Jesus exclaimed, within earshot of the grumbling crowd outside, “Today salvation has come to this house! For truly the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost!” It didn’t matter how bad Zacchaeus had been before, the Lord’s Love was more than enough to forgive. In fact, there was no mention recorded of Jesus’ having to bring up all of Zacchaeus’ sins, because Zacchaeus had already shown the tangible fruit of repentance by putting his love into action. He had accepted Jesus into his heart and life and home and had become a follower of Jesus’ example and teaching. He had become a new-born child of the Kingdom of God!

This was the beginning of an entirely new life for Zacchaeus! No longer would he be indifferent to the people and the World around him. Now, instead of treating others as mere opportunities for gain, he was going to take a personal interest in using his wealth as a means of helping the needy. And because he “received the Lord joyfully”, his good testimony has echoed down through the ages as an example of what God can do with a man who surrenders his will to Him! He had found that giving, instead of being painful, brought happiness and satisfaction! He was learning the truth of Jesus’ Words: “Give and it shall be given you, heaped up, shaken together and running over!” (Luke 6:38)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT!

  1. You can never be too bad for Jesus, only too good! Jesus got along much better with people who knew they were sinners than He did with the self-righteous and ultra high-minded, religious folks who thought they were so good! “And Jesus said to the priests in the Temple, ‘I tell you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will go into the Kingdom of God before you! For John (the Baptist) showed you the true way of righteousness, and you did not repent and believe, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did!'” (Matthew 21:31,32)
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  3. Jesus had quite a few rich friends who were supporters & members of the Kingdom of God. Take, for example, Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus, both well-to-do members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jewish church; The Centurion of Capernaum, a top officer in the Roman government, whose servant Jesus healed. Then there was Joanna, who went about with Jesus & who was the wife of King Herod’s steward & lived in the royal palace. And what about Martha, Mary & Lazarus who were among the wealthy families around Jerusalem! (See John 12:1-8.)
     
    Although some of Jesus’ disciples were from humbler classes, Peter, James, John, Andrew, & Matthew had been established businessmen. But one thing is for sure, they placed not only their money, but their very lives in service to the Lord & His urgent cause of winning the World for Love!
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  5. If you can’t be a disciple, then you can support the ones who are! “And you shall have treasure in Heaven!” (Luke 18:22 and Matthew 10:40-42) Although Jesus didn’t tell Zacchaeus to abandon his home & money, it is obvious that through his conversion to Love, instead of “laying up treasures on Earth,” he began to put his resources to good use by helping the poor.

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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What Easter Represents

By Maria Fontaine

free-bible-studies-online-anchorAnything so unspeakably priceless as Jesus offering His life in payment for our sins required immense strength of spirit and depth of character and closeness to His Father in order to accomplish such a colossal mission—His ultimate goal.

Even then, in the midst of facing what He had to do for the salvation of humankind, Jesus requested that if it were possible that the Father would let the cup pass from Him. (Matthew 26:39) What was the cup? It was His great agony and the suffering that He would have to endure. We might picture His cup filled with the consequences of the sins of the world!—All that God’s justice had decreed was due for all the sins that had ever been committed—past, present, and future. As a paraphrasing of 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him the cost of our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured the pure gift of God’s goodness into us.” He who was without sin bore the weight of punishment for the transgressions of the entire world, in order to free us from them.

Out of love for us, He who knew no sin suffered the price of sin for us and was made a curse for us, so that through His death He could destroy sin’s power over those who would come to Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:14; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24)

Our human intellects, no matter how brilliant, can never fully understand these deep spiritual truths. However, physical illustrations of these concepts, even though insufficient at their best and “seen through a glass darkly,” can at least help us to a partial, very limited understanding. Jesus taking our sins and evil into Himself could be symbolically likened to a terminal disease permeating the body and infiltrating the cells. His becoming sin for us was like His taking into Himself the resulting consequence of death.

The Bible says that Jesus poured out His soul unto death, and set us free through His blood. (Isaiah 53:12) The cup now symbolizes new life through His blood shed for us. (1 Corinthians 11:25) Sin, death, ungodliness, and all that is evil is swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:54) All of the evil of mankind, and the full settlement for all sin for all time was made. And what does Jesus ask of us? The Scripture says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20; Romans 5:8–11, 6:6–11)

He who was life and truth and the Word made flesh was destroyed in the flesh, but His spirit could not be destroyed. (Luke 23:46; 1 Peter 3:18) What was destroyed for all who turn to Jesus was the power of sin and death, the spirit of the world, and those spiritual forces bound to them. Their power was broken and conquered by Christ for any who would receive His sacrifice and gift of love. These forces of Satan no longer have any power or authority over His children beyond what Jesus allows for a purpose—to teach us and strengthen us, to cause our witness to shine even brighter, and to draw us closer to Him.

What Jesus did through His death and resurrection to bring us salvation is something so very mysterious and beyond our human comprehension that we won’t be able to fully understand it until we’re liberated from the realm of the flesh into the spirit—and maybe not even then. However, every time we reflect on what Jesus did for each one of us—and for all of us—it renews our sense of reverence and awe.

What, in practical terms, does such limitless love mean to us as Christians? What does it say to us? What is its significance? What does it mean to us personally?

Christian writers throughout the years have tried to explain the essence of Easter in various ways:

  • A demonstration that life is essentially spiritual and timeless.
  • The rare beauty of new life.
  • News of a great victory, the assurance of a great triumph.
  • A declaration that we are immortal children of God.
  • The “out of the grave and into my heart” miracle.
  • A fact of history, without which history does not make sense.
  • The door of the holy sepulcher—the portal through which we enter the kingdom of God.
  • The descent of God to the human level and the ascent of man to the divine level, becoming the sons of God.
  • The thing that turns the church from a museum into a ministry.
  • A second chance.
  • The assurance that the truth does not perish; it cannot be destroyed.
  • The crowning proof of Christianity.
  • The right to live nobly now because we are to live forever.
  • The knowledge that we are living in a world in which God has the last word.

Easter represents all that our salvation is. (John 11:25–26)—And that’s worth celebrating! Easter stands for everything that has been and forever will be possible in our resurrection-empowered lives. It represents:

  • Freedom from condemnation of past mistakes and failures. (Romans 8:1)
  • Liberation from fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14–15)
  • The guarantee of hope for an eternal future in a home that Jesus has gone to prepare for us. (John 14:2–3)
  • An alternative to the temporal, sin-laden, suffering-plagued existence of this world. (John 16:33)
  • The opening of the door of heaven to us.
  • The blind given sight. (1 Peter 2:9; John 9:25)
  • Common men and women becoming kings and queens. (Revelation 5:9–10)
  • The drowning man rescued.
  • The brand snatched from the burning. (Zechariah 3:2)
  • The power to preach good tidings, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Isaiah 61:1,3)
  • The paralyzed becoming mobile. (Matthew 11:5)
  • The earth coming to life in the spring.
  • The knowledge that man can live forever. (1 John 2:17)
  • A demonstration that anything wonderful can happen when all hope seems gone.
  • Complete forgiveness. (Isaiah 1:18)
  • Freedom from the law of death. (Romans 8:2)
  • The truth let loose in the world. (John 1:17)
  • The sting taken out of death (1 Corinthians 15:55)
  • The guarantee that there are no illnesses nor pain in heaven. (Revelation 21:4)
  • The promise of eternal life with our loved ones. (Acts 16:31)
  • The assurance of a glorious future, no matter how bad the world gets.
  • The power to conquer all impossibilities. (Luke 1:37)
  • Divine healing power. (Mark 16:17–18)
  • A way of life, not just a religion or a ritual. (John 10:10)

All of the above impossibilities became possible—all the potential of the universe was released—when Christ’s victory over death was won.

The resurrection and its results are worth repeatedly examining, since in this—one of the greatest moments of history—we continue to find Easter wonders.

Like the little girl said when her daddy asked her, “Do you know what Easter means, honey?” The three-year-old, throwing up her arms, shouted at the top of her voice, “Surprise!” Yes, indeed! Death was surprised! Sin was surprised! The grieving disciples were surprised! Modern man is surprised! Jesus is alive—and the whole world is filled with His resurrection miracles!

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

The Message of the Cross

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorWhen you go throughout the world, you see many churches with steeples. When the Communists tried to outlaw religion in Russia and in Eastern Europe, they forgot that the cross was on many of their churches and cathedrals. The cross is worn on the necks of so many people, but they don’t know what it means. What does it mean to you tonight?

First, the cross shows us the depths of our sins. We don’t realize what sin is in the sight of God—how deeply it offends Him and how it separates us from Him. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed in Gethsemane. He was agonizing, sorrowful. He prayed to God, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV) He looked into the cup, and what did He see in that cup? He saw the sins of the whole world! He saw murder, war, racial prejudice, adultery, lying, and fraud.

People ask the question, “What is sin?” Sin is coming short of God’s righteousness. God is righteous and holy. He cannot look upon sin. A diamond may be perfect to the natural eye. But if you take it to a specialist and he looks at it through a glass, he sees a defect in it. And God looks at us that way… The Scripture says all have sinned. We have all come short of God’s requirement…

The Bible says that we are sinners by nature and by choice. James 4:1–3 says: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” We are all that way. Sin has affected our minds. The Scripture says, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)

Sin also affects your will. Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34 NKJV) There’s something of which you are guilty. You can’t break this habit. You would like to, but you have no power to do it. You are a slave. You cry for freedom, but there is no escape. But Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJV) Then He said that He was the truth. (John 14:6)

Sin also affects your conscience. Every one of us has a conscience. Sometimes it’s a little red light that comes on every time we sin against God. But you can have a conscience that doesn’t work any longer. You have gone against your conscience for so long that it’s dead. You are no longer shocked or offended by sin around you or sin in your own life.

There’s a penalty to sin. The wages of sin is death. The Cross says to the world tonight, “You are a sinner. You are under the sentence of death.” That means spiritual death, eternal death. But not only does the Cross show us our sins, it also shows us the love of God. God is saying tonight, “I love you. No matter what you have done—how bad you have been—I love you.” And the death of Christ is what makes the good news. God is saying to you, “I love you. I forgive you because of what Jesus did on the cross.”

The Cross is a pardon; it’s a reprieve from death for people who don’t deserve it. None of us deserves to be saved. None of us deserves to go to heaven. But God is love, (1 John 4:8) and God is grace and mercy. “Grace” means something that you don’t deserve, something that God just gives you. God offers you a pardon tonight. He offers you forgiveness; He offers you assurance of heaven if you die. And that can happen right here tonight. “God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 KJV) …

Jesus died on the cross for you, and the Scripture says that you can never be the same once you have been to the Cross: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

Do you feel that your life has been a failure? Is your life turned upside down? Do you wonder which way to turn? The choice you make tonight will affect your whole life. It will also affect where you spend eternity. Where will you be a hundred years from now? You won’t be here, but the Cross guarantees a future life. The Cross is followed by the Resurrection. The death of Christ was not the end. There’s a Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Scripture teaches that Christ is reconciling the world unto Himself. He’ll reconcile you. You are separated from God by sin. But when you come to the Cross, you are united with God, and you become a partaker of His own nature.

—Billy Graham

 
Symbol of our faith

Why is the cross the symbol of our faith? To find the answer, look no further than the cross itself. Its design couldn’t be simpler. One beam horizontal, the other vertical. One reaches out like God’s love. The other reaches up as does God’s holiness. One represents the width of his love, the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection of both. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standard.

How could he do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on his Son and punished it there. “God put on him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 MSG) Or as another version reads, “Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 CEV)

Envision the moment. God on his throne. You on the earth. And between you and God, suspended between you and heaven, is Christ on his cross. Your sins have been placed on Jesus. God, who punishes sin, releases his rightful wrath on your mistakes. Jesus receives the blow. Since Christ is between you and God, you don’t. The sin is punished, but you are safe, safe in the shadow of the cross. This is what God did, but why, why would he do it? Moral duty? Heavenly obligation? Paternal requirement? No. God is required to do nothing. Besides, consider what he did. He gave his Son. His only Son. Would you do that? Would you offer the life of your child for someone else? I wouldn’t. There are those for whom I would give my life. But ask me to make a list of those for whom I would kill my daughter. The sheet will be blank. I don’t need a pencil. The list has no names.

But God’s list contains the name of every person who ever lived. For this is the scope of his love. And this is the reason for the cross. He loves the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16) As boldly as the center beam proclaims God’s holiness, the crossbeam declares his love. And, oh, how wide his love reaches. … It’s nice to be included. You aren’t always. Universities exclude you if you aren’t smart enough. Businesses exclude you if you aren’t qualified enough, and sadly, some churches exclude you if you aren’t good enough. But though they may exclude you, Christ includes you.

When asked to describe the width of his love, he stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know, he died loving you.

—Max Lucado

 
God’s altar

Moses said that without the shedding of blood, there’s no remission of sins. (Leviticus 17:11) That was the Law, but Jesus said, “This is the new testament in My blood.” (1 Corinthians 11:25)

Jesus died on God’s altar, the cross, believed upon by every Christian, trusted by every son and daughter of God who believes Jesus Christ for their salvation and His blood shed for their sins. He was the final ultimate sacrifice for sin. He was the final ultimate Lamb of God slain for the remission of your sins. He took the punishment of your sins in His own body on that tree, the cross, and that was the last sacrifice of blood for sin as far as God was concerned.

It cost a priceless gift for you to get saved, and that was Jesus and His blood. That’s the highest-priced gift anybody could ever receive, the highest cost anybody could pay for your salvation, and only Jesus could do it. No matter how much you sacrifice and try to pay for it by your own works, the price is too high for you. Only Jesus could pay it! God Himself spared not His own Son, Jesus Christ, but let Him die on the cross in order that He could freely give us all things. Such love!

—David Brandt Berg

 
Revelation of God

The cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in time or eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made redemption the basis of human life; that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” … The cross is not the cross of a man but the cross of God, and the cross of God can never be realized in the human experience. The cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the cross is the gateway.

The center of salvation is the cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened—but the crash is on the heart of God.

—Oswald Chambers

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Questions From You!

HOW CAN I KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS?

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Every one of us has countless decisions which we must face every day of our lives. Every time of conflict, of testing and trial is a time of DECISION. But the point is, HOW do you make your decisions? How can you KNOW you are making the right ones, those which will bring the best results and help you achieve your goals?

Putting it simply, for true Christians, MAKING A DECISION IS ACTUALLY FINDING OUT WHAT GOD’S WILL IS; what God knows will be best according to how HE sees the situation. After all, only GOD is way out there in FRONT, and only He knows what is going to happen, and only He is able to lead us.

But the worst thing in the World to do is to keep going ahead when you don’t know what to do. That was the tragic mistake of so many of history’s failures who thought they didn’t need the Lord’s direction. Sooner or later it always proves true that those who SUCCEED in God’s Kingdom are those who look to God’s WORD to lead them, and the ones who fail are those who go without it.

Unfortunately, there are many Christians who haven’t yet discovered that Jesus was serious when He said, “Ask and it SHALL be given you, seek and you SHALL find, knock and the door SHALL be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7). God means just what He says! It’s a PROMISE!

The following 7 points will help you to more clearly and easily discover the Will of God for your life. As you read them, think about them and APPLY these basic guidelines to ANY DECISION you are faced with. The Lord will NOT fail to show you the ANSWER you need! It is so comforting to know that whatever GOD shows you ALWAYS works out!

 
THE SEVEN WAYS TO KNOW GOD’S WILL!

NO.1 THE WORD is the FIRST place we look to find the Will of God! And when God speaks to you right through HIS Word, then you KNOW it’s right! The Bible is the SURE Word of God and it NEVER fails! In God’s Word you can find the answer to every question and the solution to every problem. When you ask God for answers, let Him speak to you through His Word!

NO.2 THE VOICE OF GOD’S WORD is when the Lord brings to mind a certain verse or passage from the Scriptures, or as you are reading, all of a sudden a verse seems to jump at you as if it were written just for YOU! It’s as if the Lord had whispered it in your ear. It begins to apply to you personally, and suddenly it becomes REAL! It’s no longer just mere words, but you finally get the point of what God is trying to show you!

NO.3 DIRECT REVELATION! Sometimes God uses a dream or vision, a voice or prophetic message to show you what to do. You KNOW it is from God if it AGREES with and DOESN’T CONTRADICT His WORD. It’s so wonderful to get the answers straight from the Lord! When you’ve got the concrete evidence from Him, His WORD on the subject, then you know you’re on the right track & you can go ahead & ACT with CONVICTION–& WITHOUT HESITATION! That settles it! You’ve heard from Heaven!

NO.4 GODLY COUNSELLORS! When finding God’s Will in a decision, it is often wise to ask others for their opinion. However, it is important to WEIGH the counsel you receive, and to prayerfully consider the SOURCE that it comes from! How RELIABLE are their leadings from the Lord? Do they bear GOOD FRUIT themselves and produce good results from their own actions and decisions? “By their fruits,” Jesus says, “you will know them!” (Matthew 7:20).

NO.5 OPEN AND CLOSED DOORS! If something is God’s Will, He’ll usually open the door and make it possible! Which direction is God providing or opening the way and the means to do it? That is one way to find out the direction God is leading. Of course circumstances and conditions are not always the final criteria for finding the Will of God, but they can sometimes be an indication.

Often by closing one door and opening another, the Lord leads and directs us. God has certain set-ups and situations which suddenly become golden opportunities. At times like these we should take decisive ACTION and not miss the Lord’s timing, otherwise what was a golden opportunity could become a LOST opportunity! So after you’ve prayed about any door that opens and perhaps have discussed it with others, and checked it with His Word, then GO ahead.

NO.6 BURDENS, strong impressions or feelings can sometimes be an indication of God’s leading. It isn’t always wise to go by feelings, but if something is really of God you’ll have an inner CONVICTION, what many Christians call the “Witness of the Holy Spirit”! It can be a still small Voice in your heart! In your heart you feel you just have the FAITH. You just KNOW that’s the Will of God and that’s what you’re supposed to do, or not do. His Word says, “You will hear a voice beside you saying, this is the way; walk ye in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).

NO.7 A FLEECE is the term given to a system of CHECK AND DOUBLECHECK with God. It’s like an agreement with God to show you if you are on the right track or not. And if you ask Him whole-heartedly, you won’t be disappointed! Sometimes you can actually specify the kind of revelation you’d like God to give you like the Prophet Gideon did in the Bible. (See Judges 6:36-40.) Gideon laid a fleece (sheepskin) on the ground and said, “Now Lord, if the fleece is wet with dew in the morning, but the ground is dry, then I’ll KNOW it is You talking to me!” But then he wanted to be doubly sure, so the next day he said, “If the fleece is dry and the ground is wet, I’ll believe it!”, and that is just what the Lord did each time! Then Gideon knew that God was with him. If the Lord hadn’t done the miracle, Gideon might have quit entirely and lost heart!

Regarding fleeces: Although they seem like an easy and supernatural way, they are the LEAST RELIABLE of the 7 ways to discover God’s Will, only to be used in conjunction with the other more dependable points shared above. In fact, the more ways you employ in making decisions, the greater the assurance will be that your decision is right.

* * *

What a comfort it is when you know that you’re in God’s Will! It’s the SAFEST PLACE to be in the whole World! No matter if war is breaking out all about you and there is darkness and storm, you’ll be safe in the hands of God as you follow Him to victory.

Just be sure it’s RIGHT, then GO ahead. To the right place, at the right time, with the right people and God will bless it! He will lead you if you’ll follow. But don’t run off on your own just because something LOOKS good to you; be sure to keep in line with His WORD and with His blessings. Any combination of two or three or more of these little guidelines can help to CONFIRM God’s Will for YOUR life.

And that is why we wanted to share with you these guidelines to help you to keep in touch with your Heavenly Commander-in-Chief at all times. That’s one line of communication that can NEVER be broken. You’ll always have a hotline to Heaven and you can get your orders straight from the Lord Himself as He guides you through the many difficult situations you will face. Even when you seem to be all alone, God will always be there by your side to direct your every move. All you have to do is ASK Him, and the answer will come! Whether it be in public, at home or in any situation, God is EVERYWHERE! “He knows, He loves, He cares, nothing His truth can dim! He gives His very best to those who leave the choices up to Him!”

This is actually the FIRST requirement in finding GOD’S Will: Having no will of your OWN! His Word says, “Offer your bodies as LIVING SACRIFICES, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be NOT conformed to THIS World, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may KNOW what is the good and acceptable and perfect Will of God!” (Romans 12:1,2). SURRENDER your will, your body, your mind to the Lord and let HIM make the decisions, and you will never be disappointed!

Our prayers are with you as you follow God to GREATER VICTORIES, both in your personal life, and as you stand up for His Truth and witness His Love to others! God bless you! And He will as you DO His Will and follow Him!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

Anchor

Sharing Absolute Truths in a Changing World

A compilation

free-bible-studies-online-anchorThe popular world view today is that there is no absolute truth; there are only opinions. If there are only opinions, then one person’s opinion is no more valid than another person’s. Most discussions about Christ will simply be an exchange of opinions. The idea that there is truth has become alien to much of our thinking, with the criteria being if it seems to be good for me, then it must be true. And whether it is true or not, we then measure the benefit of a religion by the good it does its followers.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Peter said, “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) Jesus Christ is superior to all that preceded Him, not because what He said was better or more complete, though it was, but because He is Himself the message and has absolute unmatched supremacy in God’s revelation.

… That is why the writer of Hebrews says, “Fix your thoughts on Jesus,” (Hebrews 3:1) and “fix our eyes on Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2) Truth is decapitated when we sever it from Christ, which is what the Pharisees did, and consequently, knew nothing of spiritual life.

We can know the Scriptures inside out, but detached from Christ, it becomes a dead book. It would be like having a manual on a new car we have bought. We do not read the manual for the sake of reading. Rather, we want to get to know the car and be able to use it to its full potential. We are given the Bible so that we can know Christ and all that is made available to us in Him. There is an old hymn, “Break Thou the Bread of Life,” which has the great line, “Beyond the sacred page, I seek thee, Lord.” From Genesis to Revelation, every verse ultimately leads to Christ, and it is knowing Him that matters.

—Charles Price

*

There are absolute truths that you can know, contrary to modern teachings that there are no absolutes. The modern teachers of that kind of non-absolutism philosophy would say, “You think that’s a hand, but you don’t really know it’s a hand; you’ve just always been taught it’s a hand!” They’d try to prove to you that it’s not possible to know anything with certainty, trying to tear down accepted truths of human existence and learning and religion. But we know and we believe that’s a hand, and almost anybody with common sense, even a little child, knows that’s his or her hand. So why try to tell them differently? You could say, “It’s actually an accumulation of 75% water and a lot of calcium and bone, and various kinds of minerals and substances, etc.” But it’s still a hand!

There are some things which you must accept as absolutely accepted truth, proven facts! Don’t let the theorists of non-absolutism try to tell you differently. The greatest absolute of all is God, which is why this doctrine against absolutism is a philosophy of Satan. By teaching that there are no absolutes, then they can say, “There’s also no God, no Bible, no morality. You don’t have to obey anything or anybody or keep laws. You don’t have to let anybody tell you what’s right or wrong; you can just do as you please!” And you wind up with chaos, anarchy, and confusion.

We as Christians and children of the Lord have to accept that there are certain things which we can know with certainty, which are proven from the Bible and from human experience for thousands of years, both spiritual truths and the ordinary everyday things of normal human life and existence.

—David Brandt Berg

*

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
—C. S. Lewis

*

Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
—Sir Winston Churchill

*

It is a central heresy of our culture to say that all truth is relative; that one thing may be true for me and quite another may be true for you. This absurdity destroys the very notion of truth … and is the result of muddled thinking. No one can seriously believe that a belief which contradicts his or her own is just as true. The expression “It is true for me” is self-confuting. Either a thing is true or it is not. … Can we imagine saying, “Well, the earth is round to me; but it may be flat to you”? The earth is either round or flat; it cannot be both; and what you or I think about it is irrelevant. You may claim that religion and ethics is not a matter of truth at all. Very well, do not use the word “true”; but if you use it, do not render it unintelligible by adding that empty phrase, “for me.”
—Keith Ward

*

Relativism is a revolt against the objective reality of God. The sheer existence of God creates the possibility of truth. God is the ultimate and final standard for all claims to truth—who he is, what he wills, what he says is the external, objective standard for measuring all things. When relativism says that there is no standard of truth and falsehood that is valid for everyone, it speaks like an atheist. It commits treason against God.
—John Piper

*

Moral practice has always been difficult for fallen humanity, but at least there was always the lighthouse of moral principles, no matter how stormy the sea of moral practice got. But today, with the majority of our mind-molders, in formal education, or informal education—that is, media—the light is gone. Morality is a fog of feelings. That is why to them, as Chesterton said, “Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles.” Principles mean moral absolutes. Unchanging rocks beneath the changing waves of feelings and practices. … How important is this issue? After all, it’s just philosophy, and philosophy is just ideas. But ideas have consequences. Sometimes these consequences are as momentous as a holocaust, or a Hiroshima. Sometimes even more momentous. Philosophy is just thought, but sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny. This is just as true for societies as it is for individuals.
—Peter Kreeft

*

It has been said that truth, by definition, will always be exclusive. Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Historically we know that Jesus claimed such exclusivity. Had He not made that statement, Jesus would have been unreasonably implying that truth is all-inclusive, which is an impossibility.
—Kim Triller

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Proof That Jesus Is the Messiah!

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Hundreds and even thousands of years BEFORE Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Old Testament Prophets predicted His coming. Their predictions were not just general ones that “a Messiah, a Saviour, will come” etc., but SPECIFIC prophecies about places, times and events that have been fulfilled in only ONE person who has ever lived–JESUS of Nazareth! In this brief lesson we have chronologically arranged several of the most outstanding Old Testament Messianic prophecies in the actual verbatim text of the Scriptures and followed them with their New Testament fulfilments.

 
HIS BIRTH

PROPHECY: Nearly 750 years before Christ’s birth, the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah prophesied: “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a VIRGIN shall CONCEIVE, and bear a SON, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).

FULFILMENT: In exact fulfilment of this prophecy, Mary was a young VIRGIN engaged to be married to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her saying that she would bear a child. “Then Mary said to the Angel, How shall this be, seeing I have not laid with a man?’ And the Angel answered, The HOLY GHOST shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you! Therefore that holy One which shall be born of you shall be called the SON of GOD.” (Luke 1:26-35). (Immanuel means “God with us”, and for those of us who have received Jesus into our hearts, that’s Who He IS: God is WITH us!)

PROPHECY: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: And the government shall be upon His shoulder: And His NAME shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the MIGHTY GOD, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!” (Isaiah 9:6). (Prophecy given 740 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: This shows that the ancient Jews, unlike most modern ones, believed that God had a SON–Who was to be born in the flesh and Whom the prophecy said was to be called “The Mighty GOD”.

PROPHECY: Micah, prophesying in the eighth century B.C., predicted the exact village where the Messiah would be born: “You, BETHLEHEM, though you are small among the clans of Judah, yet out of you shall He come forth unto Me that is to be RULER over ISRAEL; Whose existence has been of old, from EVERLASTING.” (Micah 5:2). (Prophecy given 710 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: The Gospel says “Jesus was born in BETHLEHEM of JUDEA.” (Matthew 2:1). Although the Jews knew that their Messiah was to be born there (Matthew 2:4-6), they didn’t, as a nation, accept Jesus as their ruler. Nonetheless, the prophecy says that He “IS to BE ruler”. This takes place spiritually now for those who voluntarily accept His Messiahship, and will SOON take place LITERALLY by FORCE at His Second Coming!

Jesus’ existence, as the prophecy says, “has been of OLD, from EVERLASTING”. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was (around 2,000 B.C.), I AM.” (John 8:58). He was here referring to Himself as the eternal God Who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush as: “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14), the eternal Son of God! (See also John 1:13,14.)

 
TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM

PROPHECY: The Prophet Zechariah commanded the people by the Spirit of the Lord to: “REJOICE GREATLY, O daughter of Zion! SHOUT, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your KING comes unto you: RIGHTEOUS, and having SALVATION; meek, and riding upon a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9). (Prophecy given 487 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: Five days before His crucifixion, as Jesus neared Jerusalem, He told His disciples, “Go into the village ahead of you, and at once you shall find a donkey tied there, and her colt with her: Untie them, and bring them to Me. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the donkey and the colt…and Jesus sat on them…and the multitudes that went ahead, and those that followed, SHOUTED, saying, `Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!'” (Matthew 21:2-10).

Imagine!–The King of kings, God in the flesh, came riding into Jerusalem, meekly sitting on the lowly colt of a donkey, just as God’s Prophet, Zechariah, had predicted over 500 years earlier! And not only did JESUS fulfil this part of the prophecy, but the MULTITUDES of Jerusalem who “REJOICED GREATLY” and “SHOUTED” praises to Him as He entered the city were further proof that indeed, Jesus of Nazareth was “the KING” of whom Zechariah had prophesied!

 
HIS BETRAYAL

PROPHECY: Again Zechariah predicts: “And I said unto them, If you think good, give me my PRICE; and if not, keep it. So they paid me THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER.” (Zechariah 11:12). (Prophecy given 487 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said to them, ‘What will you give me, if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out for him THIRTY pieces of SILVER.” (Matthew 26:14, 15).

PROPHECY: “And the Lord said unto me, `Cast it unto the POTTER! The handsome price at which they priced Me!’ And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and CAST them to the POTTER in the HOUSE of the LORD.” (Zechariah 11:13). (Prophecy given 487 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: “Then Judas, which had betrayed Him (Jesus), when he saw that He was condemned, repented, and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders…And he CAST DOWN the pieces of silver in the TEMPLE, and went away and hanged himself. And the chief priests picked up the silver pieces, and said, It is against the law to put this into the treasury, because it is the price paid for blood. So they decided to use the money to buy the POTTER’S Field, to bury foreigners in.” (Matthew 27:3-6). The thirty pieces of silver WERE literally “CAST to the POTTER…IN the house of the Lord”!

 
HIS TRIAL

PROPHECY: “By arrest and judgement He was taken away: And who shall speak of His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living: For the transgression of my people was He stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8). (Prophecy given 712 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: Jesus was ARRESTED by the soldiers of the High Priest. (Matthew 26:57). After judging Him in their religious court and condemning Him to death, they bound Him and handed Him over to Pilate, the Roman Governor. (Matthew 27:1-2). “While Pilate was sitting in judgement…the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd…to have Jesus executed.” (Matthew 27:19-20). “Finally Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified.” (John 19:16).

Pilate himself knew that Jesus was INNOCENT and had done nothing worthy of death, and that the Jewish religious leaders only wanted Jesus executed because of their religious jealousy, yet the religious leaders used their political leverage to force Pilate to have Him crucified anyway. (John 18:28-40;19:1-16; Luke 23:13-25; Matthew 27:18).

 
HIS CRUCIFIXION

PROPHECY: Around 1,000 B.C., King David prophesied: “Dogs have surrounded Me: A band of wicked men have encircled Me: They PIERCED My HANDS and My FEET. I can count all My bones. People stare and gloat over Me. They DIVIDE MY GARMENTS among them, and CAST LOTS upon My CLOTHING.” (Psalm 22:16-18). (Prophecy given around 1,000 B.C.) (See also Zechariah 12:10;13:6.)

FULFILMENT: That was written by King David, who died a natural death (recorded in 1Kings Chapter 1), so he wasn’t talking about himself. But being a Prophet, he predicted the type of death that CHRIST would die! As it says in the New Testament, “then the soldiers, when they had CRUCIFIED Jesus (pierced hands AND feet), took His GARMENTS, and divided them into four parts, a part to every soldier; His undergarment remained. Now this garment was without seam, woven in one piece from top to bottom. They said therefore to one another, Let us not tear it, but let us cast LOTS for it, to see whose it shall be.” (John 19:23,24).

Crucifixion, incidentally, was not practiced by the Jews of David’s time. (They killed criminals by STONING!) But David PREDICTED this type of death for the MESSIAH–a method of execution that was to become one of the principal means of execution by the Roman Empire ten centuries later!

PROPHECY: Here is another prophecy by David regarding “The Righteous”, or the Messiah: “Many are the afflictions of The Righteous, but…He (God) keeps ALL His BONES: Not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:19-20). (Prophecy given about 1,000 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: MANY of God’s righteous servants have had their bones broken, especially in their martyrdom. But Jesus was “THE righteous”, “My righteous Servant”, as God called Him, Who through His death would “justify many” or make them righteous. (Isaiah 53:11-12). And to PROVE that He was “THE Righteous” Who would “justify many”, God didn’t let ANY of His bones be broken!

Jesus was crucified on the eve of the feastday of the Passover. To ensure that the bodies of the two thieves and Jesus wouldn’t be hanging there on the cross during the Jews’ holy day (death by crucifixion sometimes took days), they BROKE the LEGS of the thieves, causing their bodies to sag, cutting off their respiration and bringing a quick death. “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they did NOT break His legs.” (John 19:31-33).

Jesus was “the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the World” (John 1:29), and was crucified at the time of the Jewish Passover, a religious festival when all the Jewish households killed a lamb as a sacrificial sin offering. Right at that SAME time, Jesus, “THE Lamb of God”, died for the sins of Mankind. The Lord had commanded that NONE of the Passover lamb’s BONES were to be BROKEN (Exodus 12:46), and Jesus’ death fulfilled this specific point also!

 
HIS BURIAL

PROPHECY: “And He was given a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death.” (Isaiah 53:9).

FULFILMENT: In the eyes of His bitter religious enemies, Jesus was a criminal, a WICKED man, and as He died, there were “two ROBBERS crucified WITH Him”. (Matthew 27:38). After His death, “a RICH man…named Joseph…went to Pilate and pleaded for the body of Jesus. And when Joseph had taken the body, he…laid it in his own new tomb”–A GRAVE with the RICH!!! (Matthew 27:57-60).

 
HIS RESURRECTION

PROPHECY: “For You will not leave My soul in hell (the grave, death); neither will You allow Your Holy One to see CORRUPTION (decay). (Psalm 16:10). (Prophecy given around 1,000 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: King David, who gave the prophecy, died and was buried in a grave and his flesh saw corruption and decay. But Jesus was RAISED from the grave and hell THREE days AFTER His death, and “His soul was not LEFT in hell (or in the grave), neither (did) His flesh see corruption (decay).” (Acts 2:27-31). As the Angel said to the mourners who came to Jesus’ tomb, “He is not here, but is RISEN! Why do you seek the LIVING among the DEAD?” (Luke 24:6,5).

Jesus is ALIVE! The Scriptures show that He walked the Earth for 40 days after His Resurrection and was seen by HUNDREDS of followers! (Acts 1:3; 1Corinthians 15:4-6). He then ascended up to Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the throne of God. (Mark 16:19).

 
EXACT YEAR OF HIS CRUCIFIXION

PROPHECY: “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince shall be seven sevens, and 62 sevens (or a TOTAL of 69): The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after 62 sevens shall the MESSIAH be CUT OFF, but not for Himself.” (Daniel 9:25,26). (Prophecy given 538 B.C.)

The city of Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the armies of Babylon when the Jews went into captivity and exile in 586 B.C. But 133 years later, in 453 B.C., Artaxerxes Longimanus, King of the Persian Empire, gave the Jews the commandment to go forth (from captivity into the land of Israel), “to restore and to build Jerusalem”.

We know his decree was issued in 453 B.C., and that Jesus was “cut off” in 30 A.D. Therefore, if we add the 453 years B.C. to the 30 years A.D., it equals 483 YEARS. Let’s see now if Daniel’s specific time prophecy coincides with this:

The prophecy predicted that from the time of this decree until the death of the Messiah the Prince would be–HOW long?–“7 sevens plus 62 sevens”–or 69 SEVENS. 69 sevens would be 69 x 7, which equals 483. So Daniel predicted that 69 sevens of YEARS, or 483 YEARS, would pass between the issuing of the decree to build Jerusalem and the “cutting off” of the Messiah. And that’s EXACTLY how many years DID pass between 453 B.C. and Jesus’ death in 30 A.D.! What an amazing EXACT FULFILMENT of prophecy! And this astonishing prophecy was given in the year 538 B.C.–almost 600 years BEFORE Jesus the Messiah was crucified! It’s also interesting to note that this 483-year period was divided into two periods: First a period of 7 sevens (49 years), then a period of 62 sevens (434 years). History reveals that it did take the Jews 49 YEARS from the time the decree was issued to “rebuild the walls and streets of Jerusalem”. Once Jerusalem was rebuilt, it was exactly 434 years (62 sevens) later that Jesus the Messiah was crucified!

Daniel’s prophecy continues with undeniable PROOF that this MESSIAH had to be JESUS:

 
DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AFTER HIS COMING

PROPHECY: “At the end of 62 sevens shall the Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: AND the people of the RULER that SHALL COME shall DESTROY the CITY (of Jerusalem) and the SANCTUARY (the Jewish Temple).” (Daniel 9:26). In other words, according to this prophecy, AFTER the Messiah’s death, the city of Jerusalem AND the Jews’ Temple would be DESTROYED! Was it? YES! Only 40 years later!

FULFILMENT: After Jesus was cut off (or crucified in 30 A.D.), “not for Himself”, but for the sins of the WORLD, do you know what happened to Jerusalem and to the Jews’ Temple? In 70 A.D., the Roman legions of the Emperor Vespasian (“the people of the ruler”), under his son, General Titus, marched in and burnt Jerusalem to the ground and so utterly destroyed their Sanctuary that not one stone was left upon another!

Jesus Himself, in a set of amazingly detailed prophecies given 40 years before these catastrophic events, predicted EXACTLY what would happen! (See Matthew 24:1-2; Luke 19:42-44;21:20-24.)

 
SHUTTING OF EAST GATE AFTER HIS COMING

PROPHECY: “Then he brought me back to the outer GATE of the SANCTUARY, the one facing toward the EAST; and it was SHUT. Then the Lord said unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and NO MAN shall enter in by it; because THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, HAS ENTERED IN BY IT, therefore it shall be SHUT.” (Ezekiel 44:1,2). (Prophecy given 572 B.C.)

FULFILMENT: When Jesus (“the Lord, the God of Israel”) made His TRIUMPHAL ENTRY into Jerusalem on the back of the colt of an ass, He came from the Mt. of Olives and entered into Jerusalem’s EAST Gate (Matthew 21:9-12), the gate which led into the TEMPLE COURTS, as it says here, “the OUTER gate of the SANCTUARY which faces toward the EAST.”

In 70 A.D., the city of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed and it remained in ruins for centuries after. But in 542, the Moslem Sultan Sulieman rebuilt the walls of the city. Because the Jews who had rejected Jesus believed their Messiah was STILL to come and was YET to make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Sulieman (who wanted to avoid the Jews rallying around a “Messiah” and rebelling) WALLED the “East Gate” completely SHUT, and thus unwittingly fulfilled the ancient prophecy of Ezekiel, “It shall be shut…because the Lord (Jesus), the God of Israel, HAS ENTERED in by it.” And the East Gate REMAINS sealed shut until this very day!

Most Jews believe that the Messiah has not yet come, but according to these two FULFILLED HISTORICAL FACTS: 1) The destruction of Jerusalem, and 2) The walling up of the East Gate, the Messiah has ALREADY come! And if it wasn’t JESUS of NAZARETH, who WAS it?

WHO ELSE was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, was called God, rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on an ass, was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, was proclaimed innocent yet condemned unjustly to be crucified while soldiers parted His garments, was associated with the wicked in his death, was buried in a rich man’s tomb and rose from the dead–all in FULFILMENT of Messianic PROPHECY! The answer, of course, is NO one else but JESUS CHRIST! And the prophecies that we have quoted here are only a FEW out of nearly 300 specific Old Testament prophecies which Jesus fulfilled!

 
WHY (did Jesus die on the cross)?

WHY did Jesus die on that cross? Because He LOVED you! He loved you enough to take your punishment, to die and be separated from His Father for a while so that He could bring YOU the LOVE of God and ETERNAL LIFE! As another prophecy says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; each of us have turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all. There was no deceit in His mouth, yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer. HIS soul (Jesus’) shall be made an offering for SIN, and by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant JUSTIFY (make righteous) many; and HE shall bear THEIR INIQUITIES!” (Isaiah 53:6,9-11). (Prophecy given 750 B.C.)

Jesus died for YOU! And God gave all these prophecies and had them written down and preserved down through the centuries and millenniums so that your faith might be strengthened by them enough to BELIEVE that “God so LOVED the World, that He gave His only begotten SON, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Do YOU?

God LOVES you and Jesus is just WAITING at your heart’s door for you to open to Him. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If ANY man hear My voice, and OPEN the door, I WILL come in to him and WILL sup with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20). Would YOU like to receive Jesus into your heart? If you would, sincerely pray from your heart this simple prayer:

Dear Jesus, I know that I’ve done wrong things and I’m sorry. I believe that You died for my sins and I ask You to please come into my heart and forgive me. And please help me to live for You and others by reading Your Word and telling others about Your Love! In Jesus’ name, amen.

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International