Due to unbelief…

What defines our faith in God?

Is it just the matter of professing our belief for God and Jesus? Could one might be considered more faithful by the fact that he/she attends more church services (or related activities) than the other church-goer? Can faith be measured by what we do or how we act towards our friends/families or even our enemies?

My answer to these questions or any that may be related to this topic is…

I don’t know…but we will sure find out in the end who truly had faith or not…that was the result of the physical Israelites…

When the physical Israelites were held captive in Egypt, the chosen people cried out to God to save them from slavery and oppression.

[23] During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. [24] And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. [25] God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
(Exodus 2:23-25 ESV)

Hearing their plea (and to fulfill the promise God made with Abraham), God chooses and sends Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt to save them from their misery.

[30] Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. [31] Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.
(Exodus 14:30-31 ESV)

After receiving salvation, the people profess their faith in God and make an oath to keep God’s commands (Ex 19~) to enter the promised land (the land of Canaan).

However, even though God’s people professed their faith in God and promised that they would keep all of God’s commands, their true faith was revealed in the end.

[16] For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? [17] And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? [18] And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? [19] So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
(Hebrews 3:16-19 ESV)

These people who “believed” were not able to enter the land of Canaan and because they failed to do so their true faith in God was revealed as those with unbelief. If they’d truly believed in God, they would’ve kept God’s commands and entered the promise land (rest).

[10:1] For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, [2] and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, [3] and all ate the same spiritual food, [4] and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. [5] Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
[6] Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. [7] Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” [8] We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. [9] We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, [10] nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. [11] Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. [12] Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
(1 Corinthians 10:1-12 ESV)

Paul writes how the things that happened to the Israelites (1 Cor 10:1-10) were written down for us as an example and warning. And he warns those who think are standing firm to be careful not to fall. Because our true faith is revealed when we do or do not keep God’s commands and promise.

So, going back to the initial question…

What defines our faith? Can we just confidently say that we believe in Jesus therefore we are set for salvation? Where is our faith coming from? Is it wholly grounded in the Word?

Though these passages may not be the most encouraging or heart warming, I hope that they will be a motivation and challenge for all of us – to honestly step back and to take look at our faith walk to check whether we are in the faith or not (2 Cor 13). Like Ephesians 4 says, I pray that we may unite our knowledge of God’s word with faith so that we may attain the whole measure of Christ and have our faith truly be acknowledge by God!

Following the Way

[4] though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: [5] circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; [6] as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. [7] But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ [9] and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

(Philippians 3:4-9 ESV)

Apostle Paul recounts his past faith walk under the law as rubbish and boasts his new path of righteousness through Christ. Paul who was a Pharisee who lived a faith walk against the Word persecuted the followers of the Way (truth – John 14:6, John 1:17) and believed those actions were righteous to God (John 16:2, Acts 7:54-60, 8:1, Romans 10:1-3).

Graciously, Paul received the truth that was testified through Jesus (John 1:17). Throughout the book of Acts, Apostle Paul, no matter what others might say or do, does not follow man, other believer’s interpretation or man’s teachings but only follows the Way of truth.

[14] But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,
(Acts 24:14 ESV)

It didn’t matter if the Jews persecuted Paul for following the Way and called it a sect, Paul followed and believed in the Word and to him that was all that mattered.

Once again, the only thing that we could rely on is the Word, the only Way.

Photo Credit: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/2012/entries/wallpaper/nature-winners/#/1

No peace but division!?

I remember way back in Sunday school learning about our loving, caring, and gracious Savior, Jesus. We would sing songs (complemented with a little dance), listen to stories (especially about the one of how Jesus fed thousands through a prayer, amazing!) and conduct exciting plays about Jesus.

Those good times in Sunday school soon passed away…and as I attempted to live my faith walk more sincerely and to dig more into the Word…I ran into a passage that was quite different to the image of Jesus I’ve encountered during Sunday school…he didn’t sound so loving, caring, or gracious (not saying that he isn’t :))…

[49] “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! [50] I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! [51] Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. [52] For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. [53] They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
(Luke 12:49-53 ESV)

A lot of strong words are in this passage as Jesus proclaims how he had come to cast fire on this earth wishing it was already kindled and to bring division rather peace on earth.

Looking at this passage again and this side of Jesus that not many believers openly discuss about made me reconsider what Jesus might have meant when he stated this…

What did he mean by bringing fire on this earth? What does fire mean in the Bible? No peace? Why division?

Which soil are you?

In regards to the kingdom of heaven parable that Jesus spoke of in Matt 13:3-9, Jesus later explains the meaning of the parable from verses 18-23.

[18] “Hear then the parable of the sower: [19] When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. [20] As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, [21] yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. [22] As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. [23] As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

(Matthew 13:18-23 ESV)

Since this is a parable, we can understand that Jesus is not speaking of the physical but of the spiritual. Through Luke 8:15, it is known that the meaning of soil represents a persons’ heart, which means through this parable, Jesus is speaking of people with four different types of heart: path, rocky, thorns, and good. And these four types of soils/hearts appear when the word of the kingdom is sown. In other words, there will be those who hear about God’s word related to heaven but will either not understand it (path), fall way due to persecution regarding the Word (rock) or follow the worldly pleasures (thorn). Only the ones without the path-like, rocky, or thorn-like heart, the one with a good heart will receive, understand, and yield fruit.

So, which type of soil are you? Or perhaps a better question to ask oneself before this is “have I received the God’s word regarding the kingdom of heaven?”

Image Source: http://projectfitamerica.org/blog/2011/12/fertile-fitness-soil/

Adam the first physical man on Earth? (Part 2)

To those who comment on the previous post, interesting thoughts!

Since the discussion on Adam is such a hot topic, I thought I’d extend the post for this week as well.

Continuing from the question whether Adam was the first physical man ever on this earth…This time, let’s reconsider this question by looking along with the Scripture.

As we know, Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel – meaning if Adam was the first person ever on this earth, with this family, it would now make it four people on this earth. Also, we are fully aware of the story of Cain and Abel. God accepts the offering from Abel and rejects Cain’s. Due to this, Cain, in the end, kills Abel and is cursed as a fugitive and wanderer on the earth. And the story continues…

[13] Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. [14] Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

[17] Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. [18] To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech.

(Genesis 4:13-14, 17-18 ESV)

Now back to the question, if Adam was the first physical man ever on this earth (meaning the only people on this earth should be Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel), then who are the ones that Cain is afraid of that might kill him and who is the wife that Cain meets?

Once again, with these verses in mind, could it be that Adam was the first physical man ever on this earth? What does it mean for God to consider Adam a man? What does it mean to be a man in the eyes of God?

Adam the first physical man on Earth?

The topic of whether Adam was the first physical man on this earth or not is a controversial and popular debate among both believers and non-believers. Many (believers and non-believers alike) say through scientific and historical evidence that the world was not 6000 years old and Adam was not the first physical man on this earth. Rather, they claim there were people living far beyond 6000 years dating back to 10,000 years worth of history. And there are others that believe that Adam was the first ever man on this planet and that was so, sparking ever more controversies in all matters.

*Take a look at these articles to see the two thoughts:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/creationist-congress-early-earth_n_2234540.html#slide=1420455 

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v1/n1/world-born-4004-bc

Obviously, there are two major opposing sides to this issue – so which one is right and true? More importantly, what does Scripture say about this? Was Adam the first ever physical man on this earth?

What do I still lack?

[16] And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” [17] And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” [18] He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, [19] Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [20] The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” [21] Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [22] When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
[23] And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. [24] Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
(Matthew 19:16-24 ESV)

We’ve heard this story before – the story of the rich young man who asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. Even though the man kept all the commandments, Jesus reveals he still lacks. Therefore in order for him to be perfect and to enter heaven, Jesus proclaims to the man to sell his possessions, give to the poor and then to follow Jesus. The man who had great wealth and possessions goes away sad.

After all this, Jesus  testifies that “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Because these verses are critical to our faith walk since it regards to entering heaven. I leave with you these questions: Is Jesus really talking about a person who literally has a large amounts of money and possessions or is he talking about something else? What does it mean to be rich in the eyes of God that keeps a believer from heaven?