Category Archives: Faith

The Oneness of Jesus and His Father

John 14:10  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?

John 14:11  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me;

John 14:20  In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

John 14:21  He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

Throughout the 14th chapter of John, we see Jesus continuously mentioning the Oneness between he and his Father.  This teaching starts in verse 8 when Philip says to him, “show us the Father” and Jesus responds with incredulity in verse 9, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Apparently, Jesus hasn’t yet taught his disciples in detail about He and the Father being One, otherwise Philip’s question would have been foolish.  However, we feel for Philip because we recognize that we have desired the same thing (to see the Father) and have asked the same question.  Therefore, knowing that Philip’s question is not a foolish one, we can understand that this is a new teaching from Jesus.  Although it was only hinted at before (such as John 10:30, 13:20,31-32), it is obvious that he had hoped that they would have fully grasped  it at this point.  This would not be the first or the last time that Jesus was disappointed in the knowledge and faith of his disciples (Matt 14:31, Matt 17:17, John 13:10, Luke 22:48, Luke 22:61-62).

So what is this teaching?  What does Jesus mean that he and His Father are one?  First, we must go back to John 1:1-3.  Here we learn that Jesus, who is the Word, was with God in the beginning and, in fact, is God.  He existed in the Beginning.  He was before anything had been created.  He was the Creator through whom all things have been made.  So in these verses, we read that Jesus was God.  Yet, though he is God, he is not the only person who is God for we read that he was with God in the Beginning (we usually don’t refer to ourselves as being with ourselves –“I’m with me”).  Though he was part of creating all things, it is through him, not simply by him.  In other words, there was Someone else who was creating and He created through the Word.  When we go back to Genesis, where we read about the Creation of all things, we read in Genesis 1:1-2 that the Spirit of God was also there.  Later on, during the creation of man, we read in Genesis 1:26-27 that God is a multi-person being as He speaks to Himself in the plural – he says “let us create man in our image”.   Both Genesis and John show us that there is more to God than a single person.  We see this in other places as well (for example, Jesus as the Angel of the LORD in Genesis 18, Exodus 3, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:11, Judges 13).

Jesus, is the LORD , but yet the Father is the LORD.  The Holy Spirit is also the LORD  (Genesis 1:1-2, Acts 5:3-4).  So we see that, though God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), He is also three.  He is three persons within one being.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit is One God.  It is here that we can start to understand what Jesus meant by saying that he and the Father are one.  We can see why in John 13:31-32, Jesus explains that the Glory of Jesus is the Glory of God.

We know that God is love (1 John 4:8).  The Christian God is the only God who can actually say this.  All other gods by definition cannot be love.  This is why: To be God, He must never change because change needs Time and Time only exists after God has created it as part of the physical universe.  Therefore, to be God and Love, He must love and exist prior to creation (Eternal – no beginning or end).   Jesus and the Father, with the Spirit, are eternal – they were together in the Beginning, before there was anything created (John 1:1-3).  As God, they chose to create all things for their own glory.  However, they did not need to create.  He could have existed forever without ever creating anything.  All other gods must create if they are Love, for there is no one to love except themselves until they create, and loving oneself of necessity is not love but is vain, narcissistic, egotistic and self-centered.  Hence all other gods cannot have been both Eternal and Love for there would be a time when they could not love.  However, the Christian God is the only God who could be Love from Eternity past.  For before anything was ever created and there was nothing but God, the Father loved the Son and the Spirit, the Son loved the Father and the Spirit and the Spirit loved the Father and the Son.  A Circle of Love.  Complete and full love existed in the God who is Love for Eternity.  It will continue to exist for Eternity.

This brings us to why the Oneness of the Father and the Son is so important to us.  Not only can we know that God is Love, but that same God has given us the opportunity to join Him.  John  14:20-23 shows us that God and Jesus are one. However, it also shows that by receiving Jesus, we are invited to become one with them.  This Lovefest  of God, which has been in existence for eternity, has been opened up for us to join in.  The Circle of Love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit has been opened up so that we are invited to come in and enter into that love.   How awesome is the Love of God!  How amazing is it that He would invite us to be a part of that.  Selah.  It is the psalmist’s way of saying “pause here – understand the greatness of what has just been said”.

The great Christians of days past have understood this.  Great Christians today understand it.  It is God’s will that we all understand this.  Christianity is not about what we do nor is it about who we are.  Christianity is about relationship – specifically, our relationship with the One True God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and their marvelous invitation to join them in their Circle of Love.  Once a Christian truly understands that though they are sinners, God’s Grace has welcomed them to come into His presence, has invited them into His Circle, they should be so overwhelmed by this thought that their hearts pound in their chest, they fall to their knees and they weep over the truth that is the Love of God.  It is out of this relationship with God that we will become what we are to be and will do what we are to do.  But first comes the relationship.

Let us be amazed at the awesome love of the One True God.  Then let us be overwhelmed that we are invited to become one with Him and to join in the Circle of Love that is the Christian God.  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our LORD!

The Beauty of Adoption

There are three benefits that come to us when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior:  Justification, Adoption and Sanctification.  Justification and Adoption are ours the moment we receive Christ, while Sanctification is an ongoing process that will last throughout our lives and will be completed when we are taken home to be with Jesus for eternity.

Evangelical churches spend most of their time speaking about Justification.  Justification is when our sins are forgiven and we are given the righteousness of Christ.  Here we are taught that to be justified, we can do nothing of ourselves but it is a free gift of Grace from God.  We also learn that the benefit of Justification to us is eternal life.

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Sanctification means to be made holy, to be set apart. There are many professing Christians that are happy to claim eternal life and to be part of the church. However, they are not holy, they are not set apart. They look just like the world. Are you one of those? If there is no sanctification, there probably was no justification. Examine yourself! [/dropshadowbox]

When churches are not preaching about Justification, they are preaching about Sanctification.  Sanctification is where we are becoming more and more like Jesus, becoming more holy and more able to die to ourselves and to live to righteousness – the righteousness of God.  We are taught  that sanctification is a work of God through His Holy Spirit and that we can recognize sanctification of ourselves through the fruit we produce, specifically the Fruit of the Spirit.

However, we rarely hear anyone teaching about adoption.  While Justification and Sanctification are of utmost importance, their triplet brother is just as important yet is treated like the red-headed stepchild – ignored and rarely mentioned.  Adoption is the work of God’s Grace that enables us to be called children of God.  There is nothing we can do to earn this. We cannot work to become a child of God; it is a gift of God (Eph 1:5).  Our Adoption only comes to us through belief in Jesus and receiving Him (John 1:12-13, Gal 3:26).  We receive this Adoption at the same time that we receive our Justification;  so the moment we receive Jesus, we are both Justified and Adopted.  Justified because our sins are forgiven and we receive the righteousness of God and Adopted because God now calls us His children (Rom 9:8).

[dropshadowbox align=”left” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]One of the great problems of the Church is that her body has heard all the teachings and has become insensitive to what is being said. We should always be entering the Word with a spirit that is looking to know what must change in our life and not think “I’ve heard this all before.”[/dropshadowbox]

This is not new to us.  We have heard that we are both justified and adopted into the family and kingdom of God when we receive Jesus.   We have heard that we are now called the Children of God.  Yet what seems to captivate us is our future entrance into Heaven and we quickly forget the great  riches that have been given to us in Adoption.  Justification has become the sole reason for receiving Jesus.  Adoption (and oftentimes Sanctification) has been determined to be unimportant.

However, the benefit of Adoption is that we are now called children of God and if we are Children, we are then Heirs (Gal 4:7, Romans 8:16-17).  God is King and as such, has a Kingdom – the Kingdom of Heaven.  The prince has an inheritance which is his part of the kingdom.  If we are adopted into the family of God, then the King has become our Father and we have become princes and princesses and hence, heirs to the Kingdom.  Princess Diana, Princess Kate – we follow their stories with wonder and marvel at the turn their destinies took when they entered into the Royal Family.  Yet we have entered into the Divine Family and we are more amazed at the good fortune of others than our own great fortune!  Why are we not captivated by the fact that we are now called Children of God?  Why does this not strike us as the most unimaginable truth?  Why have we decided to put so much emphasis on what will happen to us (entrance into Heaven) instead of what has already happened to us (entrance into the Divine Family?)

Yet if we were to have a paradigm shift and change our thinking – from the way it is now, to the way our Christian forefathers thought – we would grasp onto this truth of Adoption and it would give us the greatest joy.  We have not attained this adoption because we have earned it.  We have done nothing to receive this most precious gift.  And a gift it is, given through the grace of God, not due us for anything we have done.  Does it cause you to fall on your knees when you realize that you do not deserve to be adopted into His family and to be heir to His Kingdom?  Does it not overwhelm you when you think that it is only by His grace that we are God’s child?

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Amazing Grace – it is truly awesome that it is only by the Grace of God that we have justification, adoption and sanctification. We can do none of it ourselves but God has done it all for us.[/dropshadowbox]

And yet, it is because it is by the Grace of God that we receive this most wonderful gift that we can know that no one can take it away from us, including ourselves.  There was nothing we did to earn this gift and there is nothing we can do to lose it.  We have been given this gift of adoption by God Himself and therefore it is secured for us.  Forever.

Understanding this, we no longer need to gain His approval or win His favor – He has already given it to us.  We no longer have to live in fear for we have the King, our Father, who is able to make a pronouncement to protect us.  We do not have to worry that we are not good enough for God for He has adopted us not because we have earned it but because of our faith in Jesus.  We do not have to beat ourselves up when we fall short.  In Christ, there is now no condemnation (Romans 8:1)

This should cause us to go out and be the person that God has intended for us to be, to do the things that He has for us to do – to become holy as He is holy and to walk in Jesus’ steps.  We do this, not because we must but because we desire it.

Additionally, it should cause us to stop beating ourselves up when we fall short.  We can have the assurance that God has already blessed us with the title of Son and Daughter and nothing can take that away.  Bathe in the knowledge of your adoption and be set free from Satan and the world, who will always try to steal our joy by deceiving us that God has turned His back, that He has remembered our sin, that He has removed His Hand.  Know instead that the Grace of God has brought you into His Family and rejoice.  It is our proper response to this marvelous gift of adoption.

What Good Thing Must I Do to Get Eternal Life?

Matt 19:16-26

Eternal life.

To some, it is a fantasy – something to give us false hope.  To others, it is a reality of what is to come after we die.  With all the books and movies about what happens after we die, it becomes obvious that most people recognize that there is more to life than this earthly body.  In all my discussions with people, even here in liberal-minded New York, I’ve never spoken to anyone who does not think they are going to heaven after they die.  And this makes sense to me.  After all, if we are just accidents that happen that somehow received life on this earth, then how did we get our reason, our love for beauty and art, our concern about our legacy after we die?  Where did the information in our DNA come from – that which somehow transformed some ape-like creature into a human being (since information means that someone with intelligence put it there – we would never look at an encyclopedia and assume that it was put together by accident, but by someone who had intelligence, and our DNA information is much more complex than a simple encyclopedia!).

Most of us believe that after this life here on Earth, there is a continuation of our life.  We call that eternal life.  But there is an implication with the phrase “Eternal Life”.  The implication is that if we are going to live forever after this life, we will do that somewhere.  Yes, there are some who believe that we get sucked into some cosmos-gathering where we become part of something else (Trekkies would call it the Borg).  But most of us know that there is another Place that we go to.  In America, most of us call that place “Heaven”.  Yet – those of us who know that there is an opportunity to go to Heaven after we die, also know that there must be a way to get to Heaven.  In other words, not everyone is going to go to Heaven but only those who know how to get there.  The implication is:  if you don’t know how to get there or you don’t succeed in doing what is necessary to get there, you will end up somewhere else – and though many people don’t like to think about it (who would?), we actually realize that as much as we don’t want it to be true, the answer to that question is, that we end up in Hell.

So then, we come to this question posed in the Title of this  post – “What Good Thing Must I Do to Get Eternal Life?”  This is the question that is asked of Jesus by a man now known as the “Rich Young Ruler”.  In our passage in Matthew 19:16-26, Jesus answers this question for the Rich Young Ruler (who will be known to us as “RYR” moving forward) by giving Him some important Truths and showing the man the state of his spirit.

What we see immediately is the heartfelt desire of the RYR.  He really does want to know how to get to heaven.  It is important to him that He does whatever is necessary to gain entrance.  He doesn’t want to have spent his life without the knowledge of what was needed to have eternal life in heaven, without having done all he could to get there.  So he goes to the one person who he knows has the answer to this.  He goes to Jesus.  Most people in the world today know that the answers to their questions about eternal life come from Jesus.  That is why every major religion in the world either has Jesus as part of their faith system or at least talks about him.  Many Jews think he was a great Rabbi (though not the Son of God).  The Muslims think he was the Great Prophet (though, like the Jews, not the Son of God).  The Hindus think he is one of the gods in their pantheon (though not the Savior).  The Buddhists think he is a BodhisattvaNo other person has had the impact that Jesus has had in the Spiritual life of mankind.

The RYR also knew this and held Jesus in the same high esteem as all these religions of the world today.  The RYR seeks him out, as we all today try to seek him.  He bows to him, as we also do today.  Yet even as highly esteemed as Jesus was held in the heart and mind of the RYR,  the RYR does not receive Jesus’ teaching nor does he receive Jesus himself.  Jesus gives him the invitation to “follow me”, but the RYR goes away sad, sorrowfully, grieving.  This sorrowful departure, along with Jesus’ conclusion of the matter (“It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven”), lets us know that all the good things the RYR did was not enough.

It is important for us to recognize that the RYR did everything right.  He followed all the commandments that were given, that we usually think of as the things that we need to do to get into Heaven (Matt 19:18-19) – he did not murder, steal, commit adultery, lie or slander and he honored his parents and loved his neighbors as himself.  If any of us did all those things today, not only would we think we are headed for heaven, but the world would have such a high regard for us, that we would be world-reknown (see: Mother Teresa and Gandhi as examples – and interestingly, most people would have a hard time thinking that those two in particular are not in Heaven).  However, Jesus is clear that doing these things was not enough.

Jesus used this question – regarding all the good things he had done – to show the RYR that although he had done all those things, it was not enough.  He also needed to give up all his riches.  Why did Jesus add that to the list? (And once again, notice how Mother Teresa and Gandhi also gave up all their riches.)  Because Jesus was actually making a point to the RYR – “Give up that thing that you hold more dear than God”.  In other words, Jesus was telling him that even though your actions towards others is perfect, if your heart has a love higher than God, then you are not good enough to enter into Heaven.  If there is something that you hold onto more than God, something you won’t give up and allow God to come first, that “thing” is an idol and you cannot enter Heaven because of it.  The RYR could not give up his riches – they were more important to him than God was.  Because of this, he fell short of entering Heaven.  He preferred the riches of this world than to be with God forever.

This teaches us that entering Heaven is not going to happen just by doing a bunch of good things.  It shows us that entering Heaven is not going to happen just because we really want it, really desire it.  It shows us that seeking out Jesus and hearing what he has to say is not enough. The RYR did all these things and went away sorrowful.  If we want to enter Heaven, we must give up all our idols and put God first in our heart.  If there is anything – riches, career, children – anything that we put above God, we cannot follow Jesus.  Without following Jesus, we cannot enter Heaven (John 14:6).

As much as Jesus wants him to enter into the kingdom, Jesus does not chase him or try to convince him to change his mind – he accepts that most people are not going to receive him.  He is not going to force Himself on anyone.  Jesus allows us to make our own choices.  This includes where we will spend Eternity.  Just like the RYR, we have a choice:  Will we give up our idols and recognize that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior, who gave himself for our salvation (Phil 2:5-11, Romans 10:9) or will we walk away sorrowful because we don’t want to give up our idol, this thing that we have placed above God?  If we choose the first, it will lead to Heaven.  If we choose the second, it will lead to hell.  It is our choice.  We cannot blame God and say we did not know.  Jesus just told us.

Choose wisely.  Go with God…