Based on one of the most powerful statements ever uttered by Jesus. And it is a statement that many in today’s Christian world are ignoring so they may continue in their old lives.
Matthew 10:37-39, ‘He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.’
These verses and statements are very powerful. It proves that there is something greater to be won. But to win it, we must forsake all (Luke 15:33). We cannot remain still in the things we used to love and the things we used to do for our nature is fallen. If you are confused on what to throw away and what to keep, look to the law and the precepts of God. Proverbs 3:1-7‘My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.’
The following passages are some of the most confusing in the bible. You almost want to shout out, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!” and you wait silently for the bible to shout back the answer. But it is shouting back! And we just have to search, study and call for understanding and, most important, Let the bible explain itself!
MATTHEW 16:15-20 Jesus the Rock of Salvation
15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
20Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
Meaning of names
Jesus (Jehoshua): Jehovah the salvation
Christ: The anointed
Peter : Rock
Barjona: Son of a dove (The Holy Spirit is presented as a dove)
Is Simon Peter the Rock?
There are many false teachings about the above passages, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church. It is important to note that their main topic of discussion was on the identity of Jesus Christ. This is further emphasised in verse 20 when Jesus instructs them not to reveal His true identity to other people. So these passages cannot refer to Simon Peter but only to Jesus. Simon, in this instance, only acts like John the Baptist by pointing the way to Christ. Jesus even calls him Barjona to mean that he has been ‘Spirit led’. And Simon Peter, together, strangely means ‘Hearkening Rock’. To hearken meaning to listen and therefore meaning ‘To listen to the Rock’. So Simon points us to Christ by being the one who, by heaven’s guidance, knew that Jesus was the Christ and the salvation of mankind.
Is Jesus the Rock?
Yes! Christ is this ROCK. He has built His church upon Himself as the rock of salvation. If the church of God was built on a human being and not the ‘Son of the Living God,’ it would have had human weaknesses and therefore could not withstand the gates of hell. But on Jesus, the anointed or chosen one, the church can stand and therefore must have within itself His faith, light, blessings, life, systems, worship and nature or character. We should thank God greatly that it is so.
So, what are the keys to the kingdom?
The KEYS of the KINGDOM come into play after this and by now it is clear that these keys are given to the church of Christ or rather, anyone united with Christ. Remember that Jesus likens the Kingdom to something within us and not an event or a place. The kingdom is like salvation which when someone finds, he gives up all that He has for it (Matthew 13:44-48). The Kingdom of heaven is further likened to a precious pearl of greater value than the rest. It is also likened to a great catch of fish where the fishermen separate the best fish out of the lot. So the Kingdom is salvation and godly character and not a place or an event about to occur. Therefore all people, irregardless of nation, language and name, who believe in Jesus Christ, have the keys to the kingdom because Jesus is their Rock. If you found yourself in Christ or centre yourself in Him and submit to Him, then you have the keys of the kingdom and with it the boldness to bind and loose. Binding and loosing are powers of Jesus Himself (consider Revelation 3:8). It is a power against sin, the devil and all corrupt practices. So, all such people, saved by Jesus, have power over sin itself, and the devil, and against all evil practices. They can therefore live a truly Holy life on this earth as we are called to do by God. For God calls us to be the children of Abraham, whom, like Abraham, must walk before God and ‘be thou perfect’ (Genesis 17:1).
Once again I will finish by saying that these truths are open to discussion. Remember that this is a bible study and so if you have anything to add, any dispute or any other view, please share in the comments and let us open our bibles in study.
Have you ever wondered what can last forever. Can the sky, the wind, the sea or men? I have constantly wondered what is truly capable of an eternal existence but there was no easy answer. I looked at nature and had hope that through the process of birth, many species can last forever. But this is untrue because a simple change can result in the death of an entire species. I looked at man and felt even less hopeful because man is very capable of destroying himself entirely. Then I looked at the things that man has created. Can those last forever? Well, truthfully, they can only last for as long as they are valued by the living men. If we, for some unknown reason, no longer valued the work of past artist and sculptors then we would undoubtedly destroy them.
So what can last forever.
I was drawn to one answer while reading the book of Isaiah and it is there that I met with the true eternal.
BUT MY SALVATION… Isaiah 51:6-8
6Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
7Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings.
8For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
God here presents us with three things that will not be eternal. The first is the heavens which include the sun, moon and other large bodies. Second is this created earth where man dwells with the animals of the wild. And third is man Himself and all living creatures that dwell on earth which must here include the fallen angels. But why? Why are these things going to vanish or be destroyed?
Verse seven gives us an answer. God speaks to those who know His righteousness, whose heart is in His law, that they should not fear this destruction. And this points out the only things that will be eternal. This is the righteousness of God.
To fully understand it, I went back to the things that had to be destroyed to look at why they did not have the righteousness of God. I also wanted to know what this righteousness is. So I started at the beginning. What is heaven? What is earth? And what are the living creatures presented here?
There are two Heavens in the bible and we have to be very careful not to confuse them. The first heaven is that of Genesis when it is said that ‘God created the heavens and the earth.’ This simply means the sun, moon and other bodies of space and not the dwelling place of God. So, when you look up at the sky, anything that you see comprises of the heavens. Therefore it is these heavens or sky that will be destroyed. The second heavens will not be destroyed and for this reason we will focus on it more. This heavens is the dwelling place of God and could be beyond the very end of our visible universe.
The first taste we get of heaven and understanding it is when Jacob has a dream and sees angels ascending and descending on a ladder to the earth. Genesis 28:12, ‘And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And Jacob was so frightened with the sight that in verse 17 of the same chapter he says, ‘...How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.‘ A very important point brought out with this encounter is the ‘ladder’ and the ‘gate’, but we know of a certainty that angels live in heaven. Without the ‘ladder’ and the ‘gate’, these angels would not be able to come to the earth at all.
The second taste we get of heaven is in the law of God given to man. In Exodus 20:4, it says, ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:’ A graven image is simply any man made structure, sculpt or object that represents something else and especially if the intention is for worship. Therefore we are not to make any sculptors of heavenly things to worship them. This includes angels, the sun, moon, planets and anything else we see in the sky. And if you read through Mosses’ encounter with God, God was careful not to give Himself a form or appearance because He knew that man would very likely make that appearance and worship it. We read this in Deuteronomy 4:12,15-19
12And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
15Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire;
16lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
If you read it carefully it means we shouldn’t even make images or worship the sun, moon, stars and any heavenly bodies. But still this does not represent heaven completely.
The most important thing that is in heaven, with the angels, is God Himself and nothing brings this out better than Solomon’s prayer after completion of the earthly temple. Just as soon as the ark was brought into the temple, a cloud filled the place so that none of the priests could enter. We read this in 1 Kings 8:10-11, 10And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. Here Solomon, very wisely, makes an important point when He says, 27But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? He points out that God cannot truly live in an earthly place. The heavens themselves cannot contain God for He is truly God, how much less a small vessel. What Solomon calls for then is that God may look always on the earth because of the temple built there. That God will always take care of them because of it. It is a powerful prayer that explains everything when He says, ‘38What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: 39Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knows; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)‘ This shows clearly that the purpose of the temple was for men to bring their burdens and God to hear them because of it, but it was not a place where God actually lived. Because God’s ‘dwelling place’ is heaven.
Heaven is the place where peaceful angels dwell with God and something must be there or have happened to protect it from destruction. This is unlike the sky, the sun, moon and other heavenly bodies that are not the dwelling place of God. Well, the reason why God’s dwelling place is safe is because someone was cast out of there that did not and does not have the righteousness of God. We read in Revelation 12:7-9 ‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was there place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’
Earth, this is where the devil and his angels ended up and they brought with them the thing that would lead to destruction. So what is the earth? This is probably the easiest answer there is because the earth is our world. This physical round globe that we live and move on.
Actually, I honestly believe that all other heavenly bodies like planets and suns were created specifically for this earth. This would mean that the whole visible universe which we can see is created solely for the life of our earth or us. We are supposed to look at it and see the glory of God and His power but we don’t. In Genesis, it is very clear that the earth was touched with a curse that heaven rid itself of. Genesis 3:17-18, ‘And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.’ Here we see that the earth was cursed. Getting food became harder and life was to be lived in a sorrow contrary to the joy of Eden. And this is all because Adam listened to the devil and ate the fruit which God asked Him not to. Some wonder what this fruit is. Truthfully, it is actual fruit. You see, it was a test that God gave them and therefore the Devil could only trick them in the one area where they were tested. The devil could not make them do any other evil thing except on the point that God had tested them. The wording of the ten commandments is somewhat similar. Do not kill relates to killing alone and not some other act. Therefore, like some believe, the fruit was not a sexual act, or a profane word, or abortion or any other thing. It was simply plucking a fruit, like the ones in our gardens, and eating it. When Adam did this, he lost something that would protect him from destruction.
And with the fall of Adam, came the fall of Man. At this point it has became very clear to me that the things being destroyed are being so destroyed because of sin. The heavens, which are the sun, moon and other large bodies in our universe. The earth which was cursed because of Adam’s sin. And man whom, because of Adam, gained a sinful nature that was different from the one given to Adam in the beginning such that they did not ‘notice that they were naked,’ (Genesis 2:25 ‘And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.’) Which means that all the things that would be destroyed are those that were created with us during our creation as found in Genesis.
When I think further about the word naked here used, it helps us further understand the test that God gave them. In Genesis 2:16-17, we read it ‘And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’ In this test we see that disobedience would give them knowledge of both good and evil. Therefore Adam and Eve only ‘knew’ good up to this point. Or rather, they could only do good and had no idea how to do bad. Its like if a lion is born with the complete inability of killing. Even if someone tries to teach it how to kill, the lion would be incapable of it. No wonder therefore that they didn’t even know that they were naked. Because they weren’t actually naked but clothed with God’s goodness so that there was no bad thought in them and no bad actions that they did. Breaking God’s law was the first bad thing that they ever did. And with it they now had the ability to do evil. In fact, what is worse is that they not only had the ability to do evil but they had more desire to do evil than they had to do good. Paul puts it best this way, Romans 6:16, ‘Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?’ The moment Adam and Eve obeyed the voice of the Devil, they become the servants of the devil. Before, when they obeyed the voice of God and did not eat of the tree, they were the servants of God. Therefore, through Adam, the influence of the devil that caused him to be cast out of heaven had touched our world and all things created for us.
The only thing therefore that is truly eternal, is as God says, His righteousness and His salvation. But what does this ‘righteousness’ mean?
Jesus says that ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.’ in Mathew 24:35, Mark 13:33 and Luke 21:33. His words are exactly as the prophecy of Isaiah. So what are His words? We are returned back to verse seven of Isaiah 51 where we meet the only people who will not be destroyed. Those who have the ‘law in their heart’. You have no idea how many times Isaiah points us to the law and God likewise points us to the law and keeping of the law. Even Jesus says something very important in Matthew 5:18, ‘For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ So the law of God is protected and is what is truly eternal. But is the law really that important and does it mean the actual pages of the bible and the actual words? As far as most people see, the law is just something that harasses us and makes us uncomfortable. Some don’t even think that it matters because, truly, God has forgiven us and put us under ‘grace’. But this is not so. The law represents something that is very important.
John says, in his beautiful gospel, 1:1-4, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.’ Simply put therefore, this law represents Jesus for Jesus is this ‘Word’. And don’t think now that Jesus is the bible. Jesus was a living person and, more accurately, Jesus is God and the creator of our world because He is ‘life’. So how can Jesus be the law? Well, what did Jesus say He came to do on this earth. In verse 18, John 1, it says, ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ So Jesus came to tell us about God. Actually, He came to show us God. In John 14, Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples asks Jesus to show them the Father God. They were desperate to go with Jesus where Jesus said only He could go and they would come to Him later. So, when Philip heard that Jesus leads the way to the Father and that Jesus is going to the Father he naturally asked to see the Father. Then Jesus says something that many do not fully understand. John 14:9, ‘Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?’ This words, along with many other verses in the bible (John 12:3) prove that Jesus is God and God is Jesus in the form of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Therefore Jesus is a deity and not merely man as some assume. Jesus, as God, chose to be born in our humble body so that He may face the struggles we face but it never removed His power as God.
That said, it means that God is also the law. I know at this point you are thinking that it cannot be but, look at it this way, if Jesus is the law and Jesus is God, isn’t God also the law? But don’t think therefore that God is the bible or some words. We should ask ourselves what the law means. God helps us understand when He says in Deuteronomy 11:18 that, ‘Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.’ The words here is the law which has been the topic of discussion for most of the chapter and the book and the whole bible. We should put the law in our heart and soul. And for a sign, we should tie them to the hand and put them as frontlets between our eyes. Now, just as Jesus is a real living God and not mere words, binding the law to our hands and on our foreheads is not actually writing them on a paper and sticking them on our hands and foreheads. When Jesus said that ‘If you have seen the father, you have seen me’, he was also referring to character. Putting the law on your hand means doing what is good. And on your forehead means thinking or dwelling on what is good.
Anyone who takes serious time to look at the law and the precepts of God will notice that they are only good. For instance, not killing is a wonderful thing (Exodus 20:13). As for a precept, taking care of those who work for you is also very good (Exodus 21:1-2). It all represents the character of someone who is truly good and incapable of anything bad which leads us back to the state of Adam and Eve before their fall. The Psalmist says of God in Psalms 92:15 ‘To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.’ This is to say that there is literally no bad, no sin and no evil thing in God. And when Jesus was called ‘Good Master’ by a man asking about eternal life (what coincidence). Jesus is very careful to point us back to God as the only source of good. He says in Mark 10:18, ‘And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.’ God is good and there is no unrighteousness in Him, no evil. God has the very thing that is eternal. To prove that this is His character, who He is, He presented Himself before Mosses. And Mosses is one person in the bible who is said to have looked at God and lived. Mosses spoke to God face to face. So when God passed before Mosses, God explained His character in the most beautiful and truthful way.
Exodus 34:5-7 THE CHARACTER OF GOD
5And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
6And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the forth generation.
So God’s character is represented by the law. He is merciful and gracious and so righteous that it is impossible for His forgiveness of sin to clear the guilty because transgression is death. That is why the bible is filled with the accounts of those who say that to see God is to die because no sinful man can look on God and live. God is a consuming fire of truth and good, any evil burns in the flames of His righteousness. I think about it this way. God, clearly, is the King of all the universe because He created the universe. No one else helped Him create it or even knows the original purpose of the universe as He does. God created the angels, and the worlds and man and everything else living. He created every creature to have the character of the law. He created the angels to be capable of keeping the law. He created Adam and Eve capable of keeping the law because they were incapable of doing bad. And this is only possible because of Him, as the creator, because He makes it possible. But, He also, because He is loving, made His creatures capable of having free will. This is the ability to do what pleases them. God, if He wanted only worship and praise would have made beings that can only worship and praise and cannot even close their eyes to rest from this worship and praise. But that is not the reason for creating His creatures. He creates them for love and companionship. So, if a creature, like the devil, goes bad, then this creature is going bad against the very design of all that exists. Its like fire deciding that it wants to live in water and dwell there. It can’t. It will be extinguished because the whole universe moves according to God’s perfect design which is according to the law, the character of the law. Therefore all things that have been tainted with sin which is contrary to God’s law cannot live.
This brings us to the salvation of God which is presented by Isaiah as being truly eternal along with the righteousness of God. Ask yourself this. If God is righteous and nothing can exist contrary to His perfect will, how can we as human beings achieve perfection? This is where Jesus comes in. Revelation 5:9 presents us, prophetically, with a group of people who were capable of being perfect and who tell us how they achieved it. It says, ‘And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;’ They are talking to Jesus who has saved them. Revelation 13:8 says ‘And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ This tells us of those who ‘dwell therein’ who are not written in Jesus’ book of life. Jesus is this lamb that had to die for our sake.
Some people ask why we need someone to die for our sake. I believe that only one chapter in Isaiah can answer this and yet we have been given the entire bible. Chapter 42 of Isaiah starts with Jesus being presented as God’s elect. God says in verse 1, ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.’ Jesus says of Himself the same thing, Luke 4:18, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.’ In Lamentations 2:13 we see that sin is this wound that Jesus has come to heal, ‘What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?’ Of course, only God can heal us because only He gave Jesus to do this healing. But what does He mean when it is said that ‘he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles’?
We must go back to the very beginning and the existence of the truly eternal in a perfect universe without sin. It was said to Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed, then they will surely die. Sin, in its true form, is really a wound and a grievous wound at that (Jeremiah 30:12). If you look at how much suffering has come from sin, your eyes will be opened. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and trust the devil, they accepted sin and therefore they had to die. This is because sin cannot exist in God’s perfect universe. If holy angels were allowed to live with us as we are now, it won’t be long before many are taught to lie and cheat and kill as we do today. It won’t be long before the happy beings will be brought to despair and depression at the actions of those around them. But what would be worse is that they are immortal. Can you imagine living forever in depression, in poverty, in addiction, in anger, in pride, in selfishness and even in the sinful pleasures that men defend. No. God can not allow sin to be immortal. So man had to die and Abel was the first to show us death when he was killed by Cain his brother. And yet this is but the first death that many men face. It is the earthly death and another death is coming because God’s hand is still stretched out to destroy sin. We read this is Isaiah 5:25, ‘Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.’ God will completely and utterly destroy sin. Some think that earthly death is final and after that there is eternity. How wrong. The only reason there are two deaths is because the verdict was changed.
When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they did not immediately die. God gave them a hope, He gave them Jesus. Because of sin, man had to die once and for all. But God gave Jesus to take the place of man so that Jesus would die that once and final death for all mankind. This is why mankind was not destroyed instantly at the sin of Adam but were given a second chance. The death of this world is small therefore compared to the death that Jesus saved us from. In fact, the death of this world is simply a passing phase compared to the real death. When Jesus died for us, God could then accept us in His perfect world as sinless by putting us in Christ’s place and giving Christ our place. Basically, we became loved in heaven as Christ was loved and Christ became hated as we were. Therefore Christ forms the ladder and once again the holy angels that could have nothing to do with a sinful world, can come now and help us.
And how did He do this, you may ask? Well, when Jesus took our nature which is this human flesh He did it to save us. Because He is also God, He could not sin because He had no desire to sin as we have. But He had our flesh that had the desires we face. Desires for food, water, sex, wisdom, pride, recognition and all these things. Our body comes with the natural desires to sin. But He overcame these desires and lived a perfect life without a single sin. So, the perfect life that He lived would be presented on the judgement day as our own life. It would be like we had lived as Jesus lived, without any sin; without lies, without evil thoughts and without evil deeds. When we go before God to be judged, we won’t bring our lives but Christ’s and this is what it is to believe in Him. And what proves to us that Christ truly lived a perfect life that we can safely claim as our own? Well, He rose again.
The death He died on the cross was the payment for our sin because the penalty of sin is death. So He died the death we were meant to die. But the only reason He couldn’t die completely, as Adam and Eve would have died, is because He had not sinned. If He, like Adam and Eve, had sinned and God cast on Him the judgement owed to sin then Christ would not have risen from the dead. But He rose! How wonderful. Therefore, ‘It was finished’ as he said, John 19:30 ‘When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.’ When Jesus died on the cross, He finished completely the work that God had sent Him to do. He lived a perfect life that we can claim as our own and He died the death that we were meant to die. A perfect salvation. Therefore, no one can claim to kill Jesus again because if it has to be done again and again then there is no perfection in it and God is a liar. When a lamb was killed during the time of Mosses, it died once and no one went to revive the lamb and kill it again. And Jesus is not goats and bulls like the sacrifices of those days. He is God. Therefore His sacrifice was not meant for only one period in time but all ages of this world. It was not meant for only one person but anyone who ever drew breath and even those who died in the womb. Every child of Adam can be saved by that one death of Christ seeing that if Adam had died the death owed him, he also would have only died once.
But the story isn’t finished here. Beautiful as it may be, it will be of no use if we do not understand its significance. Ask yourself this. If God is a righteous judge and everyone who lived will have to go before Him to plead their case, does it make sense for God to forgive those who sin? NO. You will tell me then that those who sin will claim Christ’s sacrifice as their own and this is very true. The only way our race will see heaven and God is through the sacrifice of Christ. But what if I continue to sin. What If I say I believe in Jesus but then tomorrow I go out and kill someone. Does it make sense? Of course not. If someone continues to sin it means that they do not understand the horror of sin or the great sacrifice that the creator of the world was willing to suffer. Because of this sacrifice, we should strive, not that it will save us, to keep the law in its entirety so that we may reflect the character of Christ.
Is this easy? No. But Jesus faced this life so that He may know how to help us and what power to give us. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control which is the character of the law. Then consider this, Isaiah 27:6 ‘He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.’ God will make all who claim the new covenant of Israel (which is of Jesus with Israel being all believers from all nations, tribes and languages and not the country or the specific people) to be capable of bearing good fruit. God is the creator and He can create us anew so that we can have no more the desires of sin but be captive to doing good. Psalms 51:10 therefore should be our constant prayer, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.’ And if we fail and fall, then we have a sure promise from the creator of the world Himself when He says in Isaiah 41:10, ‘Fear thou not: for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of righteousness.’
We have a wonderful God and we must respect his Holiness. We should take the free gift of salvation and ask Him daily to help us therefore to live the life that He has created us for.
Be blessed and I apologise for the length. I couldn’t help but leave it long as it is.
2When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3Give us day by day our daily bread.
4And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indepted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
Pray at all times
5And he said unto them, which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7And he from within shall answer and say, trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he neededth.
God’s promise for prayer
9For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seekth findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
10For everyone that asketh receiveth and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
The Character of God
11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father; will he give him a stone? 12Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
13Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If he then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
What to pray for
13If he then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
These are very powerful teachings on prayer from Jesus who prayed constantly and even withdrew into the wilderness to pray. He gives us, first, a simple yet powerful prayer which is a helpful and memorable guideline. He reminds us secondly that we must pray at all times and this in itself is a very important thing to do as God reminds us in the bible many times to be prayerful. Third Jesus gives us a heavenly promise that if we ask, we will be answered. If we seek, we will find and if we knock, the door will be opened. And, fourth, the Character of God is such that he will only give you good gifts that will help you in all ways. But last and most important of all is ‘what to pray for’.
Sadly our attention is so world-based that people pray for cars, for money and to be of more importance. Some, in moments of depression, and I have fallen in to this category myself, pray for death or the death of others. We as human beings are not perfect in our prayers and this is why Jesus gives us this text. Pray for the Spirit. With the Spirit came the fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. With the Spirit comes the understanding of all scripture. The Spirit puts us in remembrance of others and reminds them to pray for us. The Spirit prays on our behalf and with Jesus Christ is always pleading before God for our sake. The Spirit prepares us for future struggles and in the point of those struggles gives us the strength to overcome. The Spirit brings the bible to our remembrance, and testimonies and lessons from others to help improve our character. The Spirit also helps us know when we have done something wrong or when there are still parts of our character we need to change. The Spirit warns us of traps set by the devil or other people. And best of all the Spirit reminds us to pray.
So, don’t focus on the things of earth in your prayer, instead pray for the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit. Strength. Understanding of the bible, Christ and Salvation. And pray that God helps you conquer this world. When you do this, as Jesus says, all else will be given to you.
Nothing in this age will make us sad,
If Christ makes us happy in the character of His glory.
The importance of these angels’ messages is in the gravity of the warning. One by one the angels followed each other to deliver messages in quick succession so that we wouldn’t miss it. They act as the final warning upon the earth for all people to prepare themselves for the coming of their Lord. They shout, in loud voices, receive God’s word and his bible, do away with your earthly love and your self love, turn away from the world and the systems of the world, or you will surely perish.
Revelation 14:6-7 The First Angel
6And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
There will be, and already is, a final message upon the earth that will be spread to every nation, tongue and people. The truth of God is revealed, that he will judge wisely because he will cause all to hear his word before the end. And another truth revealed is of the Gospel and the need to share it. We should not say that we would keep from spreading this precious word so that we don’t offend. No. Jesus calls us to be the light of the world so that all may know that he is the way, the truth and the life. How would the world know of him if we don’t spread this word with humility and prayer? Jesus tells us to show our brothers great love by taking this message out to them without violence, without seeking wealth and only with the servitude that he showed here on earth. And what is our message? To Fear God! Proverbs, the book of great wisdom, considers this as most important. In Proverbs 9:10 it says, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.’ In the very beginning it also says, Proverbs 1:7, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ The wisdom gained through the fear of God can only be gained through his word. And that is what we must spread, the fear of God through his great word. Second is the worship of God, and why? Well, because he is our creator and our sustainer. He is the creator of heaven, earth, sea and all that ever existed. God reminds us of this so we can know that he truly is worth fear. The same wording is used in only one of his commandments. In Exodus 20:8-9,11, it says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.’ The use of this same wording must mean that God also wants us to return to the blessed day of his commandment. Saturday.
Revelation 14:8 The Second Angel
8And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
Babylon is very famous in the bible and can be summarized in two ways. It is the institution of our world that turns us away from the true worship of God and forcefully commands us to go against his law. Second, it also represents the practices that many people incorporate that are contrary to the way of God. So what are these? Obviously the institutions are real and present upon the earth even now although they do not posses the literal name of ‘Babylon’. Also these practices are being carried out now already even though they are not considered Babylonian. To know exactly, one must read the bible constantly, daily, so that the truth may be revealed to them. What is most important now is that the angel declares the great city fallen. Why? Because she made all nations share with her in the wrath of her fornication. Fornication in the bible always refers to the turning away from God who is supposed to be the most important to us. Instead of ‘marrying God’ and accepting him as our LORD, we turn to other gods and other things that will never fulfill us. This great Babylon has caused many to follow in this path and they will all suffer their just reward. The wrath is the wrath of God who has judged rightly and seen the evil of their ways and of their self-love. God will not let a single part of that city remain. It will be broken down, and all the nations that celebrated her will be destroyed.
Revelation 14:9-11 The Third Angel
9And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, if any manworship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
This angel’s message tells us exactly what will be used to judge the people who will surely fall with Babylon. Make sure you are not deceived; the bible is full of these words of warning. Jesus says in Matthew 24:4, ‘And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.’ He says the same thing in Mark 13:5, ‘And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:’ Likewise in Luke 21:8, ‘And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.’ The bible is still further filled with this warning. Human kind will be deceived at large in these last days and the things that they will believe to be truth may be the worst lies of the devil. So we must be careful that we are not deceived and that way we do not share in the wrath of God. We do this by searching vehemently for the truth through the revision of scripture. Those who partner with the beast will be tormented before the angels and before Jesus who is the Lamb. How horrible will that day be for them? And for the turn of eternity their souls will be forever lost, never to find peace. Make sure you are not part of this sorrow. And the angel forewarns us of how one may end up in this lot. In verse 9 and 11, it is pointed out clearly for us to see. They will be judged based on those who worship the beast and its image and those who receive the mark on their forehead or on their hands. First of all, it has to be the mark of a name as pointed out in verse 11. This name is the name of the devil as he gave power to the beast. Now this beast is Babylon, that great city, and it represents a kingdom or a throne upon the earth that will lead many into the worship of the devil. Prophecy has so delicately and accurately pointed out what is the beast on earth today. And the image of the best is the false worship that he will set up under the deceit of the devil. If you open your eyes, distance yourself from all things, and clear your mind, the beast will become obvious upon the face of the earth. The image worship is most visible in the turning away from God’s Sabbath and the declaration of Sunday as the rest day, which is contrary to God. All those, however good, kind or pious, who are part of the beast, will be destroyed. Secondly there has to be a mark on the hand or the forehead. This is not a literal mark, as many believe. It is a spiritual mark that distinguishes one from another. Jesus says clearly in Luke 12:51-52, ‘Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three.’ And why is this? It is because the world cannot embrace the teachings of Jesus. The devil hates the word of God and works only to turn us away from Jesus. The world is full of hate against Jesus and likewise they will hate those who separate themselves and truly follow Jesus. And the mark and the seal of God will be this separation. The mark on the forehead means the thinking of man. Are your thoughts pure and wholly centered on God? The mark on the hand means actions. Are your actions according to the commandments and the guidance of God?
But Thank God, he provides an answer to help us because no amount of human effort can achieve it. Even if we were to feed all the hungry in the world and do all good, we cannot achieve it without Jesus. And Jesus, in his love, says, Luke 14:1, ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.’ Jesus is the great salvation that will turn us away from sin, from Babylon and from the love of self. He will create us anew, making us new creatures with new loves and thoughts. His sacrifice on the cross gave us the best plea for our case. Before the judgment seat of God we will and are, right now, presenting Jesus and his perfect life as an exchange for our wicked and sinful one. God looks at it and cannot in any way punish us for our sins. All will be forgiven through Jesus. And we must be followers of Jesus by turning away from the world, separate ourselves through perfect worship, live in the study of his word and follow his commandments. And the strength for these actions, Jesus also gives.