2013/09/11: Questions and Answers

2013/09/11:  What's the Point of the Incarnation?

...What is the connection between Jesus's birth and our new birth? What is the relationship Jesus's incarnation and our regeneration? Could not God have simply caused sinners to be born again and then finally conformed them to his own character in heaven, without sending his Son into the world? Did there need to be an incarnation of the Son of God and a perfect life of obedience and a death on the cross? The answer is: The new birth and all of its effects, including faith and justification and purification and final conformity to Christ in heaven, would be impossible without the incarnation and life and death of Jesus—without Christmas. Let's get a glimpse of this from 1 John 1. And may your love for Christ and his coming increase because of this glimpse.

First, consider that the aim of the new birth is to enable us to believe in the incarnate Jesus Christ. If there were no Jesus Christ to believe in, then the new birth would not happen. Look at 1 John 5:1: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ [that is everyone who believes that this incarnate Jewish man from Nazareth is the promised divine Messiah] has been born of God." That means that the Holy Spirit causes people to be born again with a view to creating faith in the incarnate God-man, Jesus Christ (see 1 John 4:2-3). That's the aim of the new birth. And so faith in Jesus Christ is the first evidence that it has happened. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." Faith is the sign that the new birth has happened.

But that's not the only reason the incarnation is necessary for the new birth—not just because the aim of the new birth is faith in Jesus Christ. The incarnation of the Son of God is necessary because the life we have through the new birth is life in union with the incarnate Christ. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). That life that we have in union with Christ is the life that Jesus obtained for us by the life he lived and the death he died in the flesh.

2013/09/10: Are You Sharing the True Gospel?

What is the gospel? I don't think most people know. Some people may think most Americans have heard the gospel, but I beg to differ. I don’t think they have. I have heard a lot of preachers talk about the gospel and not give the gospel. We have to be very careful that we give an accurate presentation. Otherwise, it could have a disastrous effect. We don’t want to edit God’s Word. We don’t need to try to make it more appealing by taking things out of it. Nor do we need to make it more complex by adding things to it. We just need to declare it for what it is and let God do His work.

As much as possible, we should seek to build a bridge and be tactful. Then, having established that, we need to share the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. The Bible warns of a different gospel that people can believe. The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). Let’s make sure we give out the true gospel.

Here is the problem: People are not going to fully appreciate the good news until they first know the bad news. The bad news is that we have all have sinned against God and have fallen short of His standards. And if we don't turn from that sin, the Bible says that we will spend eternity separated from God in hell.

Someone once asked C. H. Spurgeon to sum up the Christian faith in a few words. C. H. Spurgeon did it in four: "Jesus died for me." If you know that much, then you are ready to share the gospel.

2013/09/10: Should we ask for a sign to prove God’s will?

Verse:  Genesis 24:14

Abraham’s servant did not ask for some extraordinary sign, like fire to fall from heaven. What he asked for was to see some indication of one who would make a valuable wife in that culture—one who was friendly, hospitable and hardworking. The unusual circumstances, however, ultimately proved Rebekah was chosen by God to be Isaac’s wife.

Does this Biblical example teach a fail-proof method of knowing God’s will? No. God promises us his guidance and his presence, not necessarily external signs. He may choose to grant us events that, upon looking back, we can trace to his leading. But that should not be expected. Much of God’s will is learned in the struggle of doubt and faith.

He wants us to live by the principles he’s laid down in the Bible. He is concerned about how we live as much as what we do. That doesn’t mean that what we do isn’t important, for our actions reflect our allegiance to God. But doing God’s will means living one’s life in obedience to all that he has revealed to us. God also gives us his Word and the godly advice of others to discern his will.

 2013/09/10: Keep Praying

These were the Lord's instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields." (Luke 10:2).

Sometimes, it seems there is too much to pray for, and not enough people praying. As of this writing, tremendous upheaval and civil war are occurring in everywhere in the world: many countries in Africa, Asia and at least three countries the Middle East. Governments in the West are spying on each other and bullying their own people. Other people around the world are disagreeing over their differences, while those in power persecute those with minority views or looks.

The United Nations organization tries to solve different conflicts in the world but it seems that each attempt to end upheaval and civil war creates more complicated life taking violence. Have a closer look in the Great lakes region, in the Middle East, in the Arab world, in South Sudan, in Somalia, in West Africa…Nations rise against nations. How can God work with all this? Does He care about you and the people you are praying for amidst all this turmoil? Scripture tells us that God does care. "This is real love — not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:10). His love extends not just to His people, but to all people; "God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish" (John 3:16).

Scripture makes it clear that God despises when we humans hurt one another. "The Lord hates ... haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family" (Proverbs 6:16-19). Instead, He says, "I the Lord love justice" (Isaiah 61:8).

Although it might feel like we're praying against an unending tide of evil, Jesus told His followers "that they should always pray and never give up" (Luke 18:1). The Apostle Paul reminded us to "pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere" (Ephesians 6:18)! We can trust that God will rule over everything -- from great events around the world, to the hearts of the people you love: "we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Here are some suggestions of ways you can expand on the prayer for the people you minister to:
Luke 10:2, Jesus asks us to pray for workers in the harvest because the harvest is so large. Today, with over 5 billion of the 7 billion people on earth not knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior, we need many workers in the harvest, so please pray for workers in the harvest in all communities on earth. This can even include prayer for people who minister on the ground and on the internet.
1 Timothy 2:1-2, the Lord commands us to pray for all people including those in authority. You can pray for those in authority in your country, community, government, business, church, in media, education, law enforcement, justice and so on. 
•A third suggestion may be to pray for the peace in other countries, in families and people’s heart.

Let us have a prayer network.

2013/09/10: The scripture is clear.

Scripture makes it clear that our heavenly Father hears and answers prayer. Yet we all experience times when, though we pray for God to act right away, He does not. What are some reasons for the delay?

At times the Lord sees that our attention is misdirected. Our relationship with Him should have priority over any earthly matter (Mark 12:30). Yet minds and prayers can become so fixed upon a need that our gaze shifts away from Him. The Father may delay His answer until we refocus on Him. In other situations, God waits because the timing is not right for granting our request. Perhaps certain events must happen first, or people’s thinking needs to be changed.

There are also seasons when the Lord wants to stretch and grow our faith. One of the ways He accomplishes that is by having us watch for His response. The Holy Spirit will work in these times of waiting to mature us and bring forth righteous fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Other reasons are a wrong motive for our request (James 4:3) and the practice of habitual sin. We all fall short when it comes to God’s standard of holiness, but some of us persist in a lifestyle of disobedience. The Lord may delay His answer so He can prompt us to confess our sin and turn back to Him.

Waiting on the Lord isn’t easy—faith and trust are needed (Hebrews 11:1). If His answer is delayed, check that 1) your focus is on Him, 2) your motive for asking is God-honoring, and 3) you aren’t practicing habitual sin. Then believe that His response will be for your good and His glory.