Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Why Did Christ Ascend Into Heaven?

Many Christians mark Christ's ascension each year but why did he leave our world in the way he did? Luke recorded in Acts 1:9 (KJV) how the Lord left his disciples. "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."

But why did Jesus ascend? He could have just vanished  or, like in a western movie, walked into the sunset. Here's what the Bible says about this.

David foretold Christ's ascension in Psalms 68:18 (KJV). "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them."

Jesus himself knew this and proclaimed it to Nicodemus in John 3:13 (KJV). "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."

Our Lord also told this to Mary Magdalene. John 20:17 (KJV) reads, "Jesus saith unto her, 'Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.'"

We who believe in Christ have an added assurance that he will return. An angel explained to the disciples in Acts 1:11 (KJV), "Which also said, 'Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.'"

This is one of many wondrous truths which we who trust in Christ retain and defend. Our Lord's return makes all that we suffer bearable. I'll be writing in depth about this in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? At this point, I'm saving up to have it published.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Why is it More Blessed to Believe Without Seeing?

I mentioned Thomas in a previous post and how Jesus didn't chastise him for his doubts. Our Lord knows our hearts and how we have gaps in our understanding of his providential care of us.

One gap certain believers have is the meaning of faith. They believe it's some sort of spiritual power and we can generate enough of it to trip the solenoid of God's blessing. What errant nonsense!

Faith has two meanings in Scripture. One definition is the truth given to us by God. Jude 1:3 (KJV) explains, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

The other meaning of faith is our trust in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. 1 Peter 1:21 (KJV) teaches us, "Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."

Furthermore, John 20:29 (KJV) contains the answer to this question of being more blessed though we haven't seen our Lord face to face. "Jesus saith unto him, 'Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.'"

Our trust in the invisible Trinity is what sets us apart from adherents to other belief systems. And those who doubt God's existence do so because they don't want to acknowledge his claim on their lives. As Jesus explained in John 3:19 (KJV), "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

Implicit trust is what our Lord requires of all who follow him. I'll be writing in detail about it in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Unbelief is what will send many millions to hell, even if those folks call it doubt or rationalism.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Why Don't We Have More Genuine Accounts of Christ?

Since Christ had twelve apostles, plus other followers, why aren't there more gospel accounts? It seems logical to us that all twelve should have written their own eyewitness accounts of our Lord's ministry. Many theologians have their theories but here's what the Bible says.

John summed up his account with the reason why he hadn't included more reports of Jesus and his doings. John 20:31 (KJV) states, "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."

Certainly there were many other stories of Jesus which could have been included. John 21:25 (KJV) explains, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

Some folks might point to books such as the gospels of Thomas, Judas, and Barnabas as additional examples of accounts of our Lord. These have been proven by professional scholars to be false gospels. People who used textual criticism found that these Gnostic gospels were penned a few hundred years after the ascension of Christ. On the other hand, the genuine accounts were written as early as thirty years after our Lord arose from the tomb.

These pseudo-gospels also record words which contradict what the accepted gospels state. One of those phony gospels claims that Jesus turned Mary into a man since Peter said it wasn't fit that a woman should be a follower. I forget the exact wording but I'm sure Google could find the quote.

We also know that many verses in the New Testament mention the soon return of Christ. Believers back then assumed that he would return during their lifetime. This caused a crisis of faith for some of the church members whose loved ones had perished. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 (KJV)  "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep." "Prevent" in this verse means precede.

I'll be writing more regarding the veracity of the Bible in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? If Holy Scripture contains only fables and moral lessons, we lose all hope of being in paradise for the rest of eternity. But since it's the Word of God Almighty, we can trust it in every point.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Why Had There to be Twelve Apostles?

In the period between Christ's resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter gathered the believers together to choose a new twelvth apostle. Because Judas Iscariot betrayed  Jesus and hung himself, there were only eleven left. But why did that matter?

Acts 1:25 (KJV) explains part of the reason for choosing a twelvth apostle. "That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place."

The reason for needing twelve apostles is spelled out by Christ in Matthew 19:28 (KJV)  "And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Therefore, there had to be twelve apostles.

In picturesque language, Saint John wrote in Revelation 21:14 (KJV),  "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." Since Judas Iscariat was chosen from before time began to betray Christ, he had no part in the kingdom of heaven.

Neither were these apostles wrong in choosing a replacement, as I was taught in an errant house church. In Acts 1:21-22 (KJV), we see the criteria for choosing the twelvth apostle. "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

All this proves the consistancy of Holy Scripture. I'll be writing more about why we can trust the Bible in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven. Trust is the key to understanding all that the Lord has done and will do in the future for those who love him.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Why Was Power Given to the Disciples?

Now that I've established that it's belief which separates disciple from willful doubter, I must explain why signs and wonders were done by Christ's disciples. It wasn't for show but to bring God glory and validate his message.

The job given to the apostles was to go into all the world and preach the gospel as well as baptizing and teaching disciples. John 15:26 (KJV) records Christ's explanation of the Spirit's work. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:"

Furthermore, the Spirit gave the apostles prophecies, both foretelling events and forth-telling the Word of God. Look at what Christ told them in John 16:13 (KJV), "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come."

Additionally, God sent the Holy Spirit to confront error and those who preached it. 1 John 4:6 (KJV) explains, "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."

As we read in Matthew 9:8 (KJV), after Christ healed a paralyzed man, the miracle was done for God's glory. "But when the multitude saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men."

I was once a member of a church that was obsessed with signs and wonders. We all wanted my eyes to be healed but they weren't. I left after fifteen and a half years because congregants blamed me for not being healed. My How I Was Razed book chronicles those years and how the heavenly Father led me out of that cruelty and into his glorious truth.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Why Didn't Christ Appear Publicly?

Having written about Christ's post-resurrection appearances, I suspect that some folks are wondering why Christ didn't show himself publicly to prove that he was alive. I've given this much thought and here's what I've found.

In my previous post, I wrote about Christ and his forty days of instruction to his disciples. I believe that he didn't want to waste time with willfully-blind individuals like the Pharisees.

We can see just how determined those religious leaders were to disprove the resurrection in Matthew 28:11-15  (KJV). "Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, 'Say ye, "His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept." And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.' So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."

I've also written previously about how people wouldn't believe even when God did great miracles. The deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage is a case in point. God sent ten plagues on the land and spared his people. When Moses raised his staff, God parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry land. Then he made the waters to come together to drown the Egyptian army.

God led the Israelites through the desert with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He gave them manna and when they craved meat, he sent them quail. He even made water come out of a rock. After all those miracles, people still grumbled and wanted to return to Egyptian bondage.

I'm in the process of writing my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? I once thought that if God healed me of my poor vision, people would be convinced and believe in Christ. Now I know that it's the work of the Holy Spirit which brings people to salvation.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

What Do We Learn From the Emmaus Discourse?

Continuing on with the theme of discipleship, we often miss key points of Christ's teaching because we're too familiar with the gospel. It's like when a person hears a piece of familiar music and suddenly a lyric or instrument surprises the listener.

I've had that experience with songs like "Are You Experienced" by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. On it, Jimi pressed the A key on a piano repeatedly. Until recently, I hadn't noticed that a few of his notes weren't on time.

In the same way, we all hear seemingly-new things when we study Scripture. One point I missed for years is what Christ did on the Emmaus road.

In Luke 24:25-27 (KJV), we read how Christ chastised two disciples for not understanding that the scriptures, what we call the Old Testament,  spoke of him. "Then he said unto them, 'O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

But this isn't a fault peculiar to those men. It's too easy for us to miss key points in the midst of the gospel story. John 5:39 (KJV) clearly states, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." We become so engrossed in the squabble Christ had with the Pharisees that we miss the truth that the Old Testament foretold what would happen to him.

Another point which is lost to the minds of most people is that God commands us all to be under the rule of his Son. That's partly why I'm writing my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven. Being a Christian isn't just keeping rules or not committing serious crimes, as some folks think. We must all have a relationship with Jesus who died in our place and rose to give us new life. If only people could grasp the ramifications of that.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Why Wasn't "Doubting Thomas" Chastised?

One story which Christians are all too familiar with is the account of "doubting Thomas." He became labeled a doubter because of what happened when Christ appeared to the disciples eight days after the first appearance. Thomas wasn't there at that time, therefore the reports of Christ's resurrection seemed too good to be true to him.

John 20:26-27  (KJV) describes what happened. "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace be unto you.' Then saith he to Thomas, 'Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.'"

Jesus knew Thomas well, as he knows us all. This much-maligned disciple loved the Lord so much that he felt willing to lay his life on the line for him. Look at what John 11:16 (KJV) records him as saying. "Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'"

When Jesus spoke of going away, meaning his ascension into heaven, Thomas longed to follow him but he didn't know how. John 14:5 (KJV) shows the extent of his devotion. "Thomas saith unto him, 'Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?'"

Jesus often said, "O ye of little faith," to his disciples when they didn't comprehend his trustworthiness. But Thomas adored the Lord. When he realized that he had indeed risen, John 20:28 (KJV)quotes him as exclaiming, "And Thomas answered and said unto him, 'My Lord and my God.'"

The whole point of discipleship is to trust the Master implicitly. Yet Christ's disciples had a hard time doing it. Even so, we can learn from their mistakes and strive to accept whatever he leads us into.

I'll be dealing with this crucial subject extensively in my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven. Our access to paradise depends on us fully trusting in Christ and relying on his righteousness. Anything else falls far short of salvation and dooms us to eternity in hell.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

What Did Christ Do After He Rose?

Easter is over and it's on to the next event, or so it is with many people. In North America, it's Mother's Day. And as important as it is to recognize the hard work these women do in raising children, so should those folks who make disciples of all nations be recognized.

Christians are familiar with The Great Commission. Mark 16:15 (KJV) says, "And he (Christ) said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." We understand the "go" part but many missionaries in the past have forgotten about discipleship.

Luke recorded what Christ was busy doing before his ascension. Acts 1:3 (KJV) states, "To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:"

And it wasn't just a handful of disciples who our Lord met after his resurrection. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:6 (KJV)  "After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep." The word "sleep" in this case means death.

Jesus had many things to teach his disciples before he ascended. They couldn't understand at first that his kingdom was spiritual in nature and that he came to save all who would repent and follow him throughout space and time. John 12:16 (KJV) explains, "These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him."

I also had many misunderstandings of what Christianity entailed. For this reason, I plan on writing my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? My hope is that I may save my readers from missing the mark and ending up in hell because of false teachers.