The kind of Christians God approves

We will learn from the deep study of the New Testament that not all Christians are approved of God.  It is revealed in Second Timothy 2:15 saying, “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

The original Greek word of “study” is “spoudason.”  Analytically, it is in the second person, singular number, and in the imperative mood.  The second person is “you.” Since it is in the singular number, it is addressed to just one person.  And because it is in the imperative mood, it is a command for the person involved.  In other words, the study of the Word of Truth should be on a personal basis or on one’ own initiative.

While it is also good to listen to teachings on others, to completely rely on them is not advisable.  The teaching should be checked it out from the written Word of God for its divine truth.  If the teaching contradicts what is written in the Word of God, it has to be rejected to receive God’s approval.  This is only possible if the study is conducted on a personal basis.

The passage will show that every true Christian will face the Lord Jesus in His Judgment Seat.  So if the command “study” is not obeyed, he/she will naturally feel ashamed before the Lord Jesus for his disobedience.  He/she will be mixed up in his/her understanding of passages that the Old Testament principles are not separated from the New, resulting in wrong belief. So Second Timothy 2:15 is the key.

Hence, mere salvation is not enough because it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not of his own work.  The believer has to produce fruit of his faith in Christ to be approved.  Those approved of God will produce fruit equivalent to either gold, silver, or precious stone.  But the rest are just satisfied with their salvation to describe their deeds as equivalent to wood, or hay, or stubble {1 Corinthians 3:11-15} devoid of rewards.

We must be reminded that there are also false teachers even among Christians (2 Peter 2:1).  To be not deceived by them, Second Timothy 2:15 is the checkpoint!  God’s  approval are only for those aiming for the heavenly reward.  So why not always think of this!

The Chosen

The book of Ephesians 1:4  as addressed to Christians by Apostle Paul says, “according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world for us to be holy and without blemish before Him in love . . . “  The “He” is God Himself.

The word “chose” is from the original Greek “exelexato,” which is in the 3rd person, singular number and in the aorist (past) tense.  Hence, the action of choosing is already past.  In fact, it was before the foundation of the world.  The passage has to be accurately explained.  It is here where many people stumble.  They would say, “God is biased then,” or “God has favoritism.”

To understand fully, we have to know the steps before a person is given eternal life.  It is found in the book of Romans the first of which is foreknowledge, then predestination, then calling, then justification, and finally glorification which is eternal life given to a believer on Resurrection Day for dead Christians and Rapture for living Christians when the Lord Jesus comes in midair (Romans 8:29-30).

Foreknowledge (omniscience or all-knowing) means that God has known in advance all those who will be born and those who will accept Him as the true God  through Christ.  So He chose them (predestination).  The calling is through the gospel but at different periods of time.  Some will immediately believe that Christ is Lord and Savior.  Others do so when they are about to die.  Justification is equivalent to salvation.  Those who believe in Jesus Christ are already saved from the Lake of Fire.  And, finally, glorification when eternal life is given on Resurrection Day or the Rapture.

Therefore, God is not biased, neither does He play favoritism.  By giving people freewill, God will wait for the action or decision of everyone.  He does not force anyone to accept Him (John 17:3).  But because of His omniscience (foreknowledge), He knew in advance who will accept or reject Him.  So He already made His final decision.

We know we were chosen by God if we have already accepted the gospel of our salvation which is faith and acceptance of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9; John 3:16).  Such faith is our guarantee for eternal life to live with God forever.

Christ Fulfills All Old Testament Laws

What does the above passage mean? What is that law being referred to?  Many Christians do not know.  That is the reason confusion ensues as to what to believe.  They mix up the Old Testament principles with the New.  What is that law for which the Lord Jesus came to fulfill? (Matthew 5:17)

The law referred to is the Mosaic Law given by God to Moses in the Old Testament era.  It is clear that such is only applicable to the nation Israel that time before the New Testament period ushered in (Malachi 4:4).  But now that we are already under the New Testament, specifically in the Age of the Church, a new law is to be followed which, as the Lord Jesus summarizes, is only two, namely “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40).

The Mosaic Law contains 613 commandments, divided into Mandatory and Prohibition Laws. The Mandatory has 248 laws (equivalent to the number of the parts of the human body), while the Prohibition has 365 (equivalent to the number of days in a year).  All these ancient laws were fulfilled by the Lord Jesus through His death at the cross, being described as “the end of the law” above.

Tithing is one of the 613 commandments in the Mosaic Law.  Therefore, its practice today is a violation of what the Lord Jesus has done!  Sadly, many local churches are still practicing it.  The new practice is to give to the church voluntarily, or cheerful giving (2 Corinthians 9:7).  Anything in the Mosaic Law can no longer be  applied today.  Actually, the new law (or Law of Christ) is further condensed in just one word: LOVE.

As Christians, we are the Body of Christ and Christ is our Head.  Being the Head, Christ is then our Master and we are His servants, hence we should follow or obey our Master. But why are so many Christians not toeing the line?  The main reason is lack of study and research on the written Word of God.  So the command is “study” to be not trapped by false teaching (2 Tim. 2:15).  Only through obedience to the Word of God can we glorify God.

The Christian Walk

Since we are now the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians  3:26), we have established the Father-Son relationship in which God is our Father and we are His sons.  But God has a Mediator between Him and mankind, the Lord Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).  No one can come to God directly without passing through the Lord Jesus.  As the Lord Jesus has said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).”  So the Lord Jesus in our only hope of eternal life.  Obedience to Him is also our obedience to God the Father because of the union (John 10:38).

Even in the Old Testament era, the same principle had been observed as expressed by King Solomon, saying “Trust in God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

So, as Christians, God through Christ expects us to obey His commands as summarized by the Lord Jesus in only two (2), namely “Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”  and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40).  So if we love God above anything else,  the true  and only one as confessed by the Lord Jesus in His prayer (John 17:1-3), and we love our neighbor  who, according to the Lord Jesus is not necessarily near, then we have obeyed His commands.

God’s perspective for your life is then following or obeying His commands.  So putting them aside and following our own way will only invite divine discipline.  But if we remain obedient to the end, then we are a candidate for the heavenly reward awaiting the winner (1 Corinthians 9:24).  May God in Christ bless us all His children!

Religion or Relationship?

We commonly hear the question, “What’s your religion?”

      There is a difference between religion and relationship.  The former is man-made while the latter is God’s design.  In the Bible, the followers of Jesus Christ are called “Christians” (Acts 11:26).  So called because they follow Christ.  Hence, Christ is related to Christians.  And God made them so.  In fact, this relationship is unique!

      In Christianity, the Head is Christ and His followers are called His Body.  This Body is popularly known as the “Church” (Ephesians 5:23).  And the Church is composed of the followers of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).  The church is a translation of the original Greek word “ekklesia.”  It is a combination of two Greek words “ek” (out of) and the verb form “kaleo” (to call).  Combined, it means “to call out of.”  Since everyone, except Jesus Christ, was born in darkness because of the inherited sin nature from Adam, God is calling His chosen children out of darkness into light.  And this Light is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ (John 8:12).

      In Christianity, therefore, you cannot separate the Head from the Body as the two are one.  This is how unique the relationship is!  This is a guarantee that true Christians will be resurrected and will have eternal life, just like Jesus Christ has resurrected from the dead to be the Lord of all Christians to the end as set by God.

      The question is, how do we know that one is chosen or elected by God?  We know through one’s confession.  Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in you heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  So belief is not just in thought but in expressed words.  If one has done this, then he forms part of the Body.  And the assurance of eternal life is sealed!

      Because of lack of personal study of the written Word of God, many people are deceived.  With earnest study, however, the truth of God will come into view.  Hence, religion has to be rejected while relationship with God through Christ is to be fully accepted.  What is needed though is a harmonious relationship through obedience of the Body to the Head.  This is the only way to please God.

The Destruction of the Temple of Solomon

As Christians, we should know why the Temple of Solomon, so-called because it was King Solomon who rebuilt the original temple during his reign as King of Israel from 1015-975 B.C. in Jerusalem, was totally destroyed in 70 A.D. by the invading Roman army.  This Temple was a huge one, being the center of worship by the 12 tribes of Israel.  Israelites who resided in far countries had to make a long trip just to be in the Temple, especially during the celebration of their seven (7) festivals yearly.  So the Temple had to be large enough to accommodate them.

      Then came the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ around 4 B.C.  In His humanity, Christ descended from the tribe of Judah.  As He was becoming older, He even taught in the Temple, although rejected by many, especially the Pharisees.  When He had finally selected His 12 disciples, He taught them about the true God outside the Temple.

      On one occasion, the Lord Jesus was asked by His disciples what would happen to the Temple.  Then He prophesied in the whole chapter of Matthew 24. He said that in the latter times the Temple would be completely destroyed that not even one stone would be left standing.  About 40 years after His prophecy, said Temple was truly levelled off to the ground by the Roman army around 70 A.D.  Everything in it was destroyed and burned, including the original manuscripts of the Old Testament in Hebrew-Aramaic.  But by the grace of God, the Hebrew scriptures were already translated into Greek in Alexandria,  Egypt many, many years before the disaster happened.  But many of the home-based Jews rejected the Greek translation, hence looking for ways to restore the original  Hebrew.  They made use of the Hebrew scriptures believed to be unearthed under the sea, popularly referred to as the Dead Sea Scrolls  But the fact that the Old Testament Bible of the Lord Jesus was the translation into Greek, known as the Septuagint Greek, is proof of its God’s inspiration that even the apostles and the early Christians  used it as their Old Testament Bible.  It can be discovered that many other translations of the Hebrew scriptures are not in agreement with the Greek translation.  But to know and understand God’s truth in the Old Testament, one has to use the Septuagint Greek because it was the Bible of the Lord Jesus who knew of all God’s truth.

      After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus continued to teach His disciples for forty days and finally ascended to heaven.  On the tenth day after His ascension, on that Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, around 30 A.D.,  His church was born.  This is the formal beginning of Christianity when His disciples and followers of 120 left in Jerusalem were first baptized by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)

      In His teaching ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus taught His followers the right way to pray.  He said, “When you pray, enter your room then shut the door, and pray to the Father . . . “  (Matthew 6:6).  He also taught, “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  Since God is omnipresent (or everywhere), prayer can then be said anywhere and everywhere.  This is the message of the destruction of the Temple of Solomon that worshippers do not need to go to the Temple or a big building  to pray  because God is everywhere and could not be represented by a picture or image because He is invisible.

      In the light of the message of the Temple destruction,  God does not want anymore an imposing structure or big church buildings as place of prayer or worship.  In fact, the apostles met in houses as their church.  And yet they had the capacity to build big church buildings because of liberal donations from early Christians.  Instead, they used the donation to help the poor.  They have just set a good example for us to follow today.  But many so-called Christians have their own ways contrary to the teaching of the Bible.  When Judgment Day comes though, they will receive what they deserve.  So the right decision to make is NOW!

The Message of Current Events

As we view the television, read the newspaper, or listen to radio broadcast, news of violence and all forms of wickedness the world over is often seen or heard.  But as we study the Bible, however, we find that these evil things are prophesied to happen before the coming of the Lord Jesus to take His followers to heaven (Matthew 24).  Added to this prophecy of violence and wickedness is the appearance of false Christ and false prophets and teachers which are now realities.  Also, earthquakes in various places and famines are taking place.  According to the prophecy, these are signs that the coming of the Lord  Jesus is near.  The exact time,however, is not known to man nor the angels but to God alone.

Also in the prophecy, wickedness will  increase.  This is something to ponder upon as election draws near when politicians will promise everything just to get the vote.  They will say they can improve peace and order and even improve life itself if elected.  But do not believe, the Bible is supreme.

To true Christians though, there is nothing to fear.  Is not the coming of the Lord Jesus for eternal life for those who have accepted and believed in Him?  Is not heaven the residence of believers?  So what a joyous occasion to be home in heaven!  The dead in Christ will be resurrected, while those still living will be transformed at the twinkling of an eye.

Finally, for those who have not yet expressed their faith in Christ, there is still time for them to make the right decision.  And that time is NOW!