Seeing God

“The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.” (John 12:45, NIV)

I just recently attended a Grand Evangelical Mission (GEM) and an indoctrination session of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church of Christ. The topic discussed by the evangelical worker was about the Bible in accordance with the lesson plan contained in their manual. Nevertheless, after our formal Bible lesson, I proceeded to ask about their insistent use of the Lamsa translation of Acts 20:28 in which it says “church of Christ” instead of “church of God” as in other translations and in the original Greek. He told me that since that verse describes the church as the one which “He bought with His own blood”, then it cannot be God but Christ because God is spirit and does not have blood.

It’s so sad that even though the INC leadership teaches that we should not add nor take away words from Scripture (Rev. 22:18-19), they still insist that the word “God” in Acts 20:28 should be rendered “Christ” as translated by George Lamsa when he translated from the Aramaic (Syriac Peshitta) and not from the Greek, which was the language used in writing the New Testament. Doing so is not only misleading but a violation of a clear truth of God. Clearly, the INC leadership favors this translation as it supports their core doctrine that Jesus is not God but a man—a special man, but still not divine.

The Bible is clear that Jesus is God incarnate. Even though we cannot see God the Father because He is spirit, it is still possible to see and know God through Jesus Christ, who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 1:3). To look upon Jesus is to look upon God Himself. So let us recognize and worship Jesus for who He really is. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the Creator of all things, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Spiritual Blindness

“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind” (John 9:39, NIV)

Man, this story of the Jesus healing the blind man totally blows me away! This unnamed man John tells us about was born that way. However, Jesus healed him by putting soil mixed with spittle on his eyes. After that, the Pharisees did not believe that the man was blind from birth that they even summoned his parents to testify to its veracity!

A few things came into my mind as I read this story in John chapter 9, to wit:

1. A person’s blindness or any form of disability does not necessarily stem from his or his parents’ sin but may be God’s way of displaying His power.

2. It is absolutely alright to perform good deeds and help someone in need during the Sabbath because the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.

3. All of us—yes, even the Pharisees—were steeped in sin at birth, hence, spiritually blind, not only the blind man. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

4. The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers (the Pharisees in this case) so they would not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

5. Only Jesus—the Son of Man and the Son of God—can heal us from our blindness. Being sinless, Christ has the power and authority to do this.

6. Those who claim that they are able to see (the self-righteous Pharisees) shall remain in their blindness and hence, continue to live in a state of sinfulness. A person has to realize and accept his blindness before he can seek Christ’s healing and deliverance.

Just like the blind man, when we recognize Jesus as our Savior, Healer, Deliverer, and Redeemer, then we would have no other choice but to fall on our knees and worship Him as our Lord, for God’s grace is truly effective.

True Freedom!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:32, 36 NIV)

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they and their entire progeny were trapped by the Enemy in sin. The entire human race became slaves to sin. Because of the sinful nature, man became fully incapable of restoring his relationship with the God who created them. By our sheer will power alone, we would not be able to free ourselves from our entanglement with sin and its consequences. So what is the main consequence of sin? Death. The apostle Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).

Good thing that God, due to His great love and mercy, provided a way for us to be freed from the bondage of sin through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23b). Knowing the truth does not simply mean memorizing a set of facts or doctrines, although that is part of it. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). To know Jesus personally as Lord and Savior is to know Truth itself. It is when we know Jesus that we experience true freedom from sin and its consequences.

Jesus is able to set us free because of who He is. As the only begotten Son of God the Father, Jesus had the right to petition our release from the prison of unrighteousness. Therefore, let us live our lives in accordance with the freedom earned for us by Christ, not freedom to sin but freedom from sin. This we can do by the grace of God and by focusing on Jesus

Thirsty?

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” (John 7:37b NIV)

All of us have experienced being thirsty at some point in our lives. Thirst may be the result of the heat of the sun, physical exertion or just the lack of potable water itself. Studies show that humans can go on living for several weeks without any food intake but usually not more than three days without any water.

In John 4:14 Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that whoever drinks the water that He gives them will never thirst. He says further, “Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus offered this same living water to the Jews on the last day of the feast in Jerusalem. He took advantage of the fact that there were a lot of people gathered when He cried out His invitation once more, and, if they will hear His voice, they shall live. Jesus knew that many of the people there were only present because of the festivities and that most of them would not have another chance to hear and surrender their lives to Him. Thus, the offer of eternal life through Him was given to anyone within earshot.

In the same way, we are already living in the last days. Jesus still offers His living water to anyone who desires it before it’s too late. However, the difficult part for most people is admitting that they are thirsty, thirsty for Jesus Christ. Only when we realize our sinfulness will we recognize our need for this living water, the only kind of water which can extinguish the flames of the sinful nature in us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This living water that Jesus offers is the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life as the Nicene Creed calls him. It is only by the indwelling of God’s Spirit that we can be born again into newness of life in Christ. So what are you waiting for? Call on the name of the Lord and be saved!

Fear not!

Jesus Walking on WaterBut he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” (John 6:20 NIV)

I remember a story of a pastor on a long flight between church conferences. It turned out to be a very turbulent flight. To make matters worse, a violent storm broke. The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash. Then, he suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly. Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world.

When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid.

The minister could hardly believe his eyes.

It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, the pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and the behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid. The child replied, “Cause my Daddy’s the pilot, and he’s taking me home.”

When Jesus’ disciples were alone on a boat one stormy night, they too were afraid, especially when they saw something or someone who they thought was a ghost. However, when Jesus informed them that it was Him, He also told them not to be afraid. Just to make sure, Peter asked Jesus to let him come to Him by walking on water and walk on water he did!

As Christians, we still encounter a lot of storms in life in form of financial, relational and physical problems. God, however, did not promise us a storm-free life but a storm-proof life. Just like the apostle Peter, if we focus our attention on Jesus, we will be able to walk on water regardless of the storms that that hit us.