"If You Love Me, You'll Keep My Commandments"Written by Stephen Kingery
How do we know that God and His Son loves us? It is quite simple. Just read Bible and you will see that it is, in many respects, a love letter to His creation - man. We see that Bible is brimming with indications of love from God and Jesus Christ. Have you ever had a prayer answered? I have, and many times in an awesome way. Have you ever been delivered from what seemed like eminent danger. Again, I have on several occasions. These are also indications of God's love.
But how does God and Jesus know that we love Them? Jesus told us how, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) In this article I would like to share with you many of commandments of Jesus, some that I feel, if we keep them, will show our love for Him. Now I don't mean this in legalistic since, that you must do each of these or your soul is forever damned. But in spiritual since, that by keeping these, it is an act of love for God and His Son. Nor do I mean them in since that we must do these things in order to "guarantee" salvation. We are not talking about salvation in this article, we are talking about showing our love for God.
"... Repent, for kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) Being human, it is impossible to live a life free of sin. Even after we give our lives over to Jesus, all too often sin creeps in. Sin wreaks marriages and destroys lives. But Bible tells us that if we will repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins, God is faithful to forgive us. Our daily prayers should include asking God for forgiveness for those areas in our lives where we fall short of glory of kingdom of God. I'm afraid that many Christians have attitude that they have been forgiven for "big sins," and they don't really do anything "all that bad," so they don't really need to ask God for forgiveness. I disagree! It's those "little things" that we do, that we shrug off as nothing, that begin to pile up in our conscience and begin to eat away at our relationship with God. Then, before we realize it, a "big" temptation comes along and devil catches us off guard and unprepared to resist. The Bible also teaches us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. However, to resist or not resist is still up to us. If we allow sin to creep into our lives, and continually fail to ask God's forgiveness, then when that "big" temptation comes along, we haven't prepared ourselves to resist. By repenting each day for our shortcomings, we show God that we want to remain close to Him, and that we love Him.
"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16) As you read above scripture, don't get hung-up on "your good works." The real emphasis here is on "glorify your Father in Heaven." We must realize that without God, most (if not all) of what we are able to accomplish as Christians for kingdom is impossible. But, we should strive to do those "good works" so that we can bring glory to our Heavenly Father. As we go about our lives seeking ways to help others in need, serving Lord through our local congregations, and witnessing to lost, we are bringing glory to God. People come to realize that we are doing these good works because we love God, and this brings Him glory.
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..." (Matthew 5:44) Probably one of most difficult commands for us to follow, is to love our enemies. However, this is so important. The Bible goes on in this passage (see verses 46-48) and explains that if we love those who love us, we have really accomplished nothing. Even non-Christians do this. It is easy to love those who love us, but we really show our Christian fiber when we can suppress natural inclination to hate our enemies and love and pray for them. By doing this, we put God first instead of ourselves and this shows our love for Him.
"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Matthew 6:6) Our prayer life is so important. It is through prayer that we tell our Heavenly Father all those things that we only want Him to hear. Please remember, God already knows everything about us. We can't keep secrets from Him. There are things in our lives that we can't talk about even with our closest friend, but we can talk to God about them. If we share all our troubles, joys, victories, fears, (in short everything) with God, we will begin to experience a wonderful love and closeness to Him. God wants us to be free to carry everything to Him in prayer.
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:20) There are many stories around that talk about what heaven will be like. The Bible even refers to mansions, walls of jasper and streets of gold. But I don't think this is what Jesus is referring to in this passage. I think above descriptions are in Bible to give us understanding that Heaven will be a beautiful place, not that we will own (or even want to) gold, jasper, and like.
Let us consider for a moment what a treasure is and why we want them. Think back for a moment about all stories you've ever heard about treasures. What are some characteristics of treasures? We don't necessarily know what is in treasure. We do know that to be a treasure, it has to be "fantastic." We know that we would like to have, whatever it is, very much. We could go on, but I think you get picture. The main point is that a treasure is something that we "set our heart on." To us, it is something that we really want. It is something that we think about, hope for, dream about, talk about, and plan how we will use it. In other words, it consumes us entirely.
Is Jesus Really the Son of God?Written by Stephen Kingery
Is Jesus really Son of God? All Christian belief is based on fact that He is. But, if a non-believer were to question you on this fact, indeed to challenge you on it, could you respond in an intelligent manner? How do you know that Jesus is Son of God? It is true that we must have faith that Jesus is God's Son. However, in Acts 1:3 we see that Jesus presented Himself to His apostles after He was resurrected and demonstrated that He was alive "by many infallible proofs." The New Testament is full of examples of these proofs. Let's take a look a what Bible has to say in regards to deity of Jesus.
As we look closely at life and ministry of Jesus we can learn much about what attributes He had that demonstrate that He is God's Son. "In beginning was Word, and Word was with God, and Word was God. He was in beginning with God." (John 1:1,2) John clearly states at start of his gospel that Jesus was with God Father in beginning. When God was in process of creating heavens and earth, all plants and animals, and man, Jesus was with Him. One of attributes of God is that He is eternally existent. In other words, having no beginning and no ending. In this passage we see that Jesus also has this attribute of being eternally existent. It is further demonstrated in this passage: "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with glory which I had with You before world was." (John 17:5) Jesus said of Himself that He was with Father before creation.
We also know that God Father is without sin. So in order for Jesus to be truly God's Son, He too must be without sin. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 5:14) Jesus, during His earthly life and ministry, was tempted with same temptations which we are. Yet He did not give in to temptations. He did not allow Himself to sin. I have heard people speak on this subject and marvel that He was able to do this. I personally don't feel that fact that Jesus was able to resist temptations is something to marvel about. After all, He is God. To Him, option to sin was simply not an option at all. There are many things about Jesus in which we should stand in awe. But if we believe that He is Son of God, then we should not be surprised when He acts like Son of God!
For Jesus to be Son of God, we would indeed expect Him to be without sin. We would also expect Him to have authority. Jesus tells us of His authority: "Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" (Matthew 28:18) God has given His Son authority to redeem world for sin which is so prevalent. By His freely giving Himself to die on cross, He exercised that authority. By His resurrection we know that He also has power to enforce that authority over devil.
We see examples of His authority in other ways also. "'But that you may know that Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins' - He said to paralytic, 'I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house.'" (Mark 2:10,11) The NIV renders word "power" as authority. So we see that Jesus demonstrated His authority by forgiving paralytic of his sins. The authority to forgive sin is reserved for God, and He gave His Son this authority as well.
Jesus demonstrated His authority by calming seas, casting out demons, turning water into wine, and raising dead. He is still demonstrating His authority even today. Have you ever seen a person give himself or herself to Christ and truly marvel at change that happened to them? I have. I have seen men, who could not complete a sentence without using Lord's name as a curse or interject other profane words, become a Christian and completely change their vocabulary. I have seen others, who were just right down mean, accept Christ and become a kind and gentle person. And I have seen still others, who appeared as though they thought whole world was against them, become a Christian and turn into a happy vibrant individual. This is just another way that we can know that Jesus is Son of God.
The Bible tells us of some of work that Jesus does, and we see that He is Son of God through this work. "God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to fathers by prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made worlds;" (Hebrews 1:1,2) This passage tells us that it was through Jesus that God "made worlds." Jesus was there when creation was going on and He had an active part in it. He is "heir of all things," or that all things have been given to Him. This is further emphasized in Colossians, "For by Him all things were created that are in Heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." (Colossians 1:16,17)
Another aspect which we shall consider is fact that Jesus will participate in punishing of those who do not follow His teachings. "...and to give you who are troubled rest with us when Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thessalonians 1:7,8) We mentioned earlier that Jesus has authority of all things on earth and in Heaven. Jesus will truly be exercising that authority on day of judgement. See also: (Revelation 3:16, 19:11-21).
In above passages we see that Jesus has been given authority and power by our Heavenly Father, and that He has and will exercise that authority. The Bible also tells us that Jesus has a "position" of authority. In our society, when someone has authority, we expect them to occupy a certain position. For example, a judge sets on judge's bench, a CEO of a corporation has a big elaborate office, President lives in White House, and so forth. So, does Jesus also occupy a place or position of authority? "And Jesus said, 'I am. And you will see Son of Man sitting at right hand of Power, and coming with clouds of heaven.'" (Mark 14:62) "But he, being full of Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw glory of God, and Jesus standing at right hand of God." (Acts 7:55) Jesus is at right hand of Father today, a position of authority from which He makes intercession for you and I. Isn't it great to know that our Savior is there and ready to make intercession for us when we stumble in our daily Christian walk.