The Storge Love of God

 

In my article The Four Faces of Love I gave some space to explain one of the four faces of love, in the Greek language, which is storge. An example of this kind of love is the natural (or instinctive) love or care which a mother hen has when she squawks to call her chicks to take shelter under her brood when danger threatens, such as when a hawk flies overhead.

I was going to insert an expansion of this love of God into this article, but thought I’d rather write a separate article to explain this. So here it goes.

The picture of a mother hen was the same image Jesus Christ used of Himself in addressing His fellow-Jews: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37)!

The unknown psalmist used a similar image of God:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High [in prayer], shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him I will trust! Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler! And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand [such as has happened in recent years due to the COVID pandemic, which has claimed the lives of millions worldwide. [See: Pandemic Pandemonium! and The Omicron Scare]; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. For He shall give you His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample under foot. Because he has set his love upon Me [by obeying God’s commandments (John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2-3)], therefore I will deliver him, I will set him on high, because he has known My name, he shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him, with long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation(Psalm 91:1-16).

The “sweet psalmist (Israel’s King David) famously wrote about God’s protective love: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

This shows that God does allow us to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” – to experience life-threatening circumstances. But He tells us not to fear, for surely He will see us through and comfort us.

In what has been commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer” Jesus teaches us to ask God: “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).

James, Jesus’ half-brother, tells us: “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). Instead, it is Satan, called the “tempter,” (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5) who tempts us by stirring up the lusts within us to commit sin or transgress God’s law. We are to ask God, as Jesus taught, to “deliver us from evil [or the evil one – Satan].

James further exhorted: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8). Indeed, too easily does sin beset or snare us (Hebrews 12:1). But we are to look to Jesus, so we can endure our temptations and triumph over them (Verse 2).

That is how the apostle Peter triumphed over his weakness. Jesus told Peter that Satan had desired to have him and to sift him as wheat (Luke 23:31). But because Peter still looked to Jesus, He saved him. Even when he lost faith to walk on water because of fear, Peter called to Christ to save him, and He did (Matthew 14:28-31).

Although Peter had denied Jesus thrice, Jesus looked on him with compassion; thus Peter cried bitterly when he realized his weakness – a show of his repentance. Thus Jesus was able to use Peter mightily to advance His cause and gospel.

As the Church of God observes the Day of Pentecost this coming 05 June, may God’s Spirit [which God poured out on Christ’s disciples on Pentecost day in A.D. 33] give you the strength to overcome whatever sin or sins you may be struggling with, and help you to obey Him and be saved! [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
14052022
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The Strength of Sin

 

In his famous “Resurrection Chapter” (1 Corinthians 15) the apostle Paul wrote: “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (Verse 56).

The word “strength” (in both the KJV and the NKJV) is rendered from the Greek dunamo, from where we derive the words dynamo and dynamic – meaning or having to do with force or power, strength.

Some people, whom the apostle Peter describes as being “untaught” (KJV) or “unlearned” (NKJV) [from the Greek amathes, meaning “ignorant”] and “unstable” [from the Greek asteriktos, meaning “unfixed” or “vacillating”] were those in God’s Church who “wrest” [from the Greek strebloo, meaning wrench, torture or “pervert”] the apostle Paul’s letters, “in which are some things hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

1 Corinthians 15:56 is one such difficult scripture. I have read about someone stating with presumed authority that Paul is here saying that, by God supposedly removing the law, sin has no more power or strength over a person, and the “sting” [from the Greek kentron, meaning “center” or point – prick with poison] of death, which sting is sin, can no longer affect man.

One can point to Romans 4:15, which says: “because the law brings about wrath: for where there is no law there is no transgression [sin].” It is thus easy to conclude: “Do away with the law, and you do away with sin!” [See: No Such Thing as Sin?]

But that is one hasty conclusion and fails to consider the whole counsel of Paul’s writings as well as all of the Scriptures.

Romans 7 is Paul’s clarification of the relationship or connection between the law and sin. True, Paul declared that, in Christ, we have “become dead to the law” (Verse 4). He also declared: “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death” (Verse 5).

Lest we be tempted to conclude that the law of God has a bad influence on us, Paul hastened to say, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said ‘You shall not covet’” (Verse 7). Paul then continued: “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead [‘slept’]” (Verse 8).

There is a common observation about the baffling behavior of my fellow-Filipinos, which may or may not be the case with other nations. It is this: that where a notice or sign says, “Bawal Magtapon ng Basura Dito” [“No Dumping of Garbage Here”], there, precisely, we find people throwing their garbage! The same goes with the notice “Bawal Umihi Dito.” [“No Peeing Here.”]. Right there, in some corner of a building men go to relieve their bladder!

Were the notices bad in themselves? No, they were meant to maintain sanitation and order in the designated places. But somehow people find those prohibited places convenient for their purposes (or needs?), and so they disregard the intent of the notices, and that despite any penalty or fine for disobeying the instruction.

In the same vein, Paul continued: “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment [of God] holy, and just and good” (Verse 12).

Paul then analyzed the irony of our human nature. “Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin [become clear as such] was producing in me death through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful, For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to do well is present with me; but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Verses 13-20).

Pondering this quandary, Paul was driven to despair – until he found the ultimate solution: “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

In chapter 8 Paul explains how Christ is able to help us obey the law of God. In a word, we can only do so with the help, and through the power, of Christ’s Holy Spirit. [See:  God’s Spirit and Obedience and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

God’s law abides forever

Contrary to the belief of many professing Christians, Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the law or commandments of God. He categorically said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven [if they get there at all!], but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven; for I say to you, that Unless Your Righteousness Exceeds…. the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Verses 17-20).

The psalmist said: “The law of God is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7). How can something perfect be done away with? God’s law – as does all His Word – abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23, quoted from Isaiah 40:6-8).) Psalm 119:142 affirms that God’s “law is the truth.” And Christ declared: “Your word is truth” (John 17:15).

As a Christian hymn says, “God’s grace [is] greater than all our sin.” The Son of God – Jesus Christ – is God’s gift [Greek, charis] of grace to sinful mankind because He died on Calvary’s cross so we can receive pardon from all our sins and thus become righteous with God, [See: The Ransomed of the LORD.]

As the Church of God observes God’s Feast of Unleavened Bread from the 16th of April through the 22nd this year, may our brethren find strength in Christ to overcome the sins that so easily beset us, thus helping us to make it to God’s glorious kingdom!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
16042022

Life After Death? Or Death Before Life?

 

Many people are obsessed with the “after life” –life after death.  Cultural practices of many countries include the placing of worldly goods and riches in the tomb of their departed ones, in the hope that the dead will be amply provided for in the “next life.” It’s a vain practice that ignores the old saying, “No, you can’t take it with you to your grave.”

In the Philippines among the archeological finds in Tabon Cave on Palawan Island is a clay piece believed to be a burial jar, the cover of which has an image of a man and his companion riding a boat – supposedly to transport them to a “better place.”

People have many mistaken ideas about What Happens to Man After Death?  However, God’s word – the Holy Bible – has a definite and unequivocal say on this matter, among others.

Another matter that the Bible is concerned with, but which only a few people think about is death before life.  There are several facets to this matter.

The most crucial facet is the death of Jesus Christ before we human beings can have life – not just physical life in this present world — but everlasting life, or immortality, as we may call it.  The second Person in the Godhead – called the Logos [Greek for “Word” or “Spokesman”] had to empty Himself of His divinity in order to become a mortal human being, so He could die to pay the penalty [“wages,” Romans 6:23] of mankind’s sin: the penalty of death. Thus man would not die or “perish” but instead have everlasting life (Philippians 2:5-8; John 3:16). Jesus offered His life on Calvary’s cross as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). [See:  The True Christ, Forgiveness in the Bible, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]

The next facet of death before life is embodied in Christ’s saying in Luke 9:23-24 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life [by following one’s own ways contrary to God’s] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

The cross was the cruel Roman device to execute criminals through slow but sure death.  Christ commands that anyone who will follow Him needs to take up his own cross daily – to die to his old, sinful self every day, in order to find everlasting life [be saved].

The apostle Paul, whom Jesus especially ordained to preach His gospel, put it this way:  “Shall we continue in sin [so] that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism unto death, [so] that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Paul explained that “our old man [our previous sinful life] was crucified with Him, [so] that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died [to sin] has been freed from sin.  Now if we died in Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that /Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Verses 8-11).

Paul admonished:  “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your [bodily] members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Verses 12-13).  We are to become “slaves of righteousness” instead of slaves of sin or unrighteousness – uncleanness or lawlessness [Verses 17-19).  Thus we will have [the] “fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life (Verse 22).

It is such people – true Christians – who, though now physically dead [who “sleep in the dust”] will “awake… to everlasting life” and “will shine like the brightness of the firmament…like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3).

Jesus spoke of this same event:  “…all who are in the graves will hear His [Christ’s] voice and come forth [arise] – those who have done good [the righteous], to the resurrection of life [everlasting]” (John 5:28-29).

Paul confirmed these words when he wrote about the “coming of the Lord,” when “He will descend from heaven with a cloud, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we [Christians] who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord [in His kingdom on earth]” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

Paul also wrote about this in his famous “resurrection chapter” – 1 Corinthians 15, especially Verses 51-55.

Another facet of the matter of death before life concerns everyone.  Paul declared:  “…it is appointed [by God] for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).  That judgment comes when Christ, the Judge of both the living and the dead” returns to judge the earth (Psalm 98:9; Acts 10:42).

Those who have died without Christ in their lives will be resurrected to mortal life at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:5).  [See:  This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.]  This will be their opportunity to have God’s book [Greek biblia] – the Holy Bible – opened to their understanding (Verse 12), so that, as they would, their names would be written in The Book of Life (Verse 15), assured of receiving everlasting life.

Death before life will be celebrated by faithful Christians this year as they observe God’s commanded festival of the Passover, picturing Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary’s cross.  This ceremony will be observed in the evening of April 9.  The rest of God’s “spring festivals” – the Days of Unleavened Bread – pictures the Christians’ need to put away sin in their lives, to be observed on April 11-16.

May all of you who read this article become true participants in this arduous journey from death to glorious life!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
19032022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life After Death? Or Death Before Life?

Many people are obsessed with the “after life” –life after death. Cultural practices of many countries include the placing of worldly goods and riches in the tomb of their departed ones, in the hope that the dead will be amply provided for in the “next life.” It’s a vain practice that ignores the old saying, “No, you can’t take it with you to your grave.”
In the Philippines among the archeological finds in Tabon Cave on Palawan Island is a clay piece believed to be a burial jar, the cover of which has an image of a man riding a boat – supposedly to transport him to a “better place.”
People have many mistaken ideas about What Happens to Man After Death? However, God’s word – the Holy Bible – has a definite and unequivocal say on this matter, among others.
Another matter that the Bible is concerned with, but which only a few people think about is death before life. There are several facets to this matter.
The most crucial facet is the death of Jesus Christ before we human beings can have life – not just physical life in this present world — but everlasting life, or immortality, as we may call it. The second Person in the Godhead – called the Logos [Greek for “Word” or “Spokesman”] had to empty Himself of His divinity in order to become a mortal human being, so He could die to pay the penalty [“wages,” Romans 6:23] of mankind’s sin: the penalty of death. Thus man would not die or “perish” but instead have everlasting life (Philippians 2:5-8; John 3:16). Jesus offered His life on Calvary’s cross as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). [See: The True Christ, Forgiveness in the New Testament, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]
The next facet of death before life is embodied in Christ’s saying in Luke 9:23-24 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life [by following one’s own ways contrary to God’s] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
The cross was the cruel Roman device to execute criminals through slow but sure death. Christ commands that anyone who will follow Him needs to take up his own cross daily – to die to his old, sinful self every day, in order to find everlasting life [be saved].
The apostle Paul, whom Jesus especially ordained to preach His gospel, put it this way: “Shall we continue in sin [so] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Threfore we were buried with Him through baptism unto death, [so] that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Paul explained that “our old man [our previous sinful life] was crucified with Him, [so] that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died [to sin] has been freed from sin. Now if we died in Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that /Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Verses 8-11).
Paul admonished: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your [bodily] members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Verses 12-13). We are to become “slaves of righteousness” instead of slaves of sin or unrighteousness – uncleanness or lawlessness [Verses 17-19). Thus we will have [the] “fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life (Vewrse 22).
It is such people – true Christians – who, though now physically dead [who “sleep in the dust”] will “awake… to everlasting life” and “will shine like the brightness of the firmament…like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3).
Jesus spoke of this same event: “…all who are in the graves will hear His [Christ’s] voice and come forth [arise] – those who have done good [the righteous], to the resurrection of life [everlasting]” (John 5:28-29).
Paul confirmed these words when he wrote about the “coming of the Lord,” when “He will descend from heaven with a cloud, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first, b Then we [Christians] who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord [in His kingdom on earth]” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Paul also wrote about this in his famous “resurrection chapter” – 1 Corinthians 15, especially Verses 51-55.
Another facet of the matter of death before life concerns everyone. Paul declared: “…it is appointed [by God] for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27|). That judgment comes when Christ, he Judge of both the living and the dead” returns to judge the earth (Psalm 98:9; Acts 10:42).
Those who have died without Christ in their lives will be resurrected to mortal life at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.] This will be their opportunity to have God’s book [Greek biblia] – the Holy Bible – opened to their understanding (Verse 12), so that, as they would, their names would be written in God’s Book of Life (Verse 15), assured og receiving everlasting life.
Death before life will be celebrated by faithful Christians this year as they observe God’s commanded festival of the Passover, picturing Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary’s cross. This ceremony will be observed in the evening of April 9. The rest of God’s “spring festivals” – the Days of Unleavened Bread – pictures the Christians’ need to put away sin in their lives, to be observed on April 11-16.
May all of you who read this article become true participants in this arduous journey from death to glorious life!

Pedro R. Melendez, Jr.
19032022

Life After Death? Or Death Before Life?

Many people are obsessed with the “after life” –life after death. Cultural practices of many countries include the placing of worldly goods and riches in the tomb of their departed ones, in the hope that the dead will be amply provided for in the “next life.” It’s a vain practice that ignores the old saying, “No, you can’t take it with you to your grave.”
In the Philippines among the archeological finds in Tabon Cave on Palawan Island is a clay piece believed to be a burial jar, the cover of which has an image of a man riding a boat – supposedly to transport him to a “better place.”
People have many mistaken ideas about What Happens to Man After Death? However, God’s word – the Holy Bible – has a definite and unequivocal say on this matter, among others.
Another matter that the Bible is concerned with, but which only a few people think about is death before life. There are several facets to this matter.
The most crucial facet is the death of Jesus Christ before we human beings can have life – not just physical life in this present world — but everlasting life, or immortality, as we may call it. The second Person in the Godhead – called the Logos [Greek for “Word” or “Spokesman”] had to empty Himself of His divinity in order to become a mortal human being, so He could die to pay the penalty [“wages,” Romans 6:23] of mankind’s sin: the penalty of death. Thus man would not die or “perish” but instead have everlasting life (Philippians 2:5-8; John 3:16). Jesus offered His life on Calvary’s cross as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). [See: The True Christ, Forgiveness in the New Testament, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]
The next facet of death before life is embodied in Christ’s saying in Luke 9:23-24 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life [by following one’s own ways contrary to God’s] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
The cross was the cruel Roman device to execute criminals through slow but sure death. Christ commands that anyone who will follow Him needs to take up his own cross daily – to die to his old, sinful self every day, in order to find everlasting life [be saved].
The apostle Paul, whom Jesus especially ordained to preach His gospel, put it this way: “Shall we continue in sin [so] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Threfore we were buried with Him through baptism unto death, [so] that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Paul explained that “our old man [our previous sinful life] was crucified with Him, [so] that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died [to sin] has been freed from sin. Now if we died in Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that /Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Verses 8-11).
Paul admonished: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your [bodily] members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Verses 12-13). We are to become “slaves of righteousness” instead of slaves of sin or unrighteousness – uncleanness or lawlessness [Verses 17-19). Thus we will have [the] “fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life (Vewrse 22).
It is such people – true Christians – who, though now physically dead [who “sleep in the dust”] will “awake… to everlasting life” and “will shine like the brightness of the firmament…like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3).
Jesus spoke of this same event: “…all who are in the graves will hear His [Christ’s] voice and come forth [arise] – those who have done good [the righteous], to the resurrection of life [everlasting]” (John 5:28-29).
Paul confirmed these words when he wrote about the “coming of the Lord,” when “He will descend from heaven with a cloud, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first, b Then we [Christians] who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord [in His kingdom on earth]” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Paul also wrote about this in his famous “resurrection chapter” – 1 Corinthians 15, especially Verses 51-55.
Another facet of the matter of death before life concerns everyone. Paul declared: “…it is appointed [by God] for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27|). That judgment comes when Christ, he Judge of both the living and the dead” returns to judge the earth (Psalm 98:9; Acts 10:42).
Those who have died without Christ in their lives will be resurrected to mortal life at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.] This will be their opportunity to have God’s book [Greek biblia] – the Holy Bible – opened to their understanding (Verse 12), so that, as they would, their names would be written in God’s Book of Life (Verse 15), assured og receiving everlasting life.
Death before life will be celebrated by faithful Christians this year as they observe God’s commanded festival of the Passover, picturing Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary’s cross. This ceremony will be observed in the evening of April 9. The rest of God’s “spring festivals” – the Days of Unleavened Bread – pictures the Christians’ need to put away sin in their lives, to be observed on April 11-16.
May all of you who read this article become true participants in this arduous journey from death to glorious life!

Pedro R. Melendez, Jr.
19032022

Life After Death? Or Death Before Life?

Many people are obsessed with the “after life” –life after death. Cultural practices of many countries include the placing of worldly goods and riches in the tomb of their departed ones, in the hope that the dead will be amply provided for in the “next life.” It’s a vain practice that ignores the old saying, “No, you can’t take it with you to your grave.”
In the Philippines among the archeological finds in Tabon Cave on Palawan Island is a clay piece believed to be a burial jar, the cover of which has an image of a man riding a boat – supposedly to transport him to a “better place.”
People have many mistaken ideas about What Happens to Man After Death? However, God’s word – the Holy Bible – has a definite and unequivocal say on this matter, among others.
Another matter that the Bible is concerned with, but which only a few people think about is death before life. There are several facets to this matter.
The most crucial facet is the death of Jesus Christ before we human beings can have life – not just physical life in this present world — but everlasting life, or immortality, as we may call it. The second Person in the Godhead – called the Logos [Greek for “Word” or “Spokesman”] had to empty Himself of His divinity in order to become a mortal human being, so He could die to pay the penalty [“wages,” Romans 6:23] of mankind’s sin: the penalty of death. Thus man would not die or “perish” but instead have everlasting life (Philippians 2:5-8; John 3:16). Jesus offered His life on Calvary’s cross as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). [See: The True Christ, Forgiveness in the New Testament, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]
The next facet of death before life is embodied in Christ’s saying in Luke 9:23-24 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life [by following one’s own ways contrary to God’s] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
The cross was the cruel Roman device to execute criminals through slow but sure death. Christ commands that anyone who will follow Him needs to take up his own cross daily – to die to his old, sinful self every day, in order to find everlasting life [be saved].
The apostle Paul, whom Jesus especially ordained to preach His gospel, put it this way: “Shall we continue in sin [so] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Threfore we were buried with Him through baptism unto death, [so] that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Paul explained that “our old man [our previous sinful life] was crucified with Him, [so] that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died [to sin] has been freed from sin. Now if we died in Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that /Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Verses 8-11).
Paul admonished: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your [bodily] members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Verses 12-13). We are to become “slaves of righteousness” instead of slaves of sin or unrighteousness – uncleanness or lawlessness [Verses 17-19). Thus we will have [the] “fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life (Vewrse 22).
It is such people – true Christians – who, though now physically dead [who “sleep in the dust”] will “awake… to everlasting life” and “will shine like the brightness of the firmament…like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3).
Jesus spoke of this same event: “…all who are in the graves will hear His [Christ’s] voice and come forth [arise] – those who have done good [the righteous], to the resurrection of life [everlasting]” (John 5:28-29).
Paul confirmed these words when he wrote about the “coming of the Lord,” when “He will descend from heaven with a cloud, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first, b Then we [Christians] who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord [in His kingdom on earth]” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Paul also wrote about this in his famous “resurrection chapter” – 1 Corinthians 15, especially Verses 51-55.
Another facet of the matter of death before life concerns everyone. Paul declared: “…it is appointed [by God] for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27|). That judgment comes when Christ, he Judge of both the living and the dead” returns to judge the earth (Psalm 98:9; Acts 10:42).
Those who have died without Christ in their lives will be resurrected to mortal life at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.] This will be their opportunity to have God’s book [Greek biblia] – the Holy Bible – opened to their understanding (Verse 12), so that, as they would, their names would be written in God’s Book of Life (Verse 15), assured og receiving everlasting life.
Death before life will be celebrated by faithful Christians this year as they observe God’s commanded festival of the Passover, picturing Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary’s cross. This ceremony will be observed in the evening of April 9. The rest of God’s “spring festivals” – the Days of Unleavened Bread – pictures the Christians’ need to put away sin in their lives, to be observed on April 11-16.
May all of you who read this article become true participants in this arduous journey from death to glorious life!

Pedro R. Melendez, Jr.
19032022

Life After Death? Or Death Before Life?

Many people are obsessed with the “after life” –life after death. Cultural practices of many countries include the placing of worldly goods and riches in the tomb of their departed ones, in the hope that the dead will be amply provided for in the “next life.” It’s a vain practice that ignores the old saying, “No, you can’t take it with you to your grave.”
In the Philippines among the archeological finds in Tabon Cave on Palawan Island is a clay piece believed to be a burial jar, the cover of which has an image of a man riding a boat – supposedly to transport him to a “better place.”
People have many mistaken ideas about What Happens to Man After Death? However, God’s word – the Holy Bible – has a definite and unequivocal say on this matter, among others.
Another matter that the Bible is concerned with, but which only a few people think about is death before life. There are several facets to this matter.
The most crucial facet is the death of Jesus Christ before we human beings can have life – not just physical life in this present world — but everlasting life, or immortality, as we may call it. The second Person in the Godhead – called the Logos [Greek for “Word” or “Spokesman”] had to empty Himself of His divinity in order to become a mortal human being, so He could die to pay the penalty [“wages,” Romans 6:23] of mankind’s sin: the penalty of death. Thus man would not die or “perish” but instead have everlasting life (Philippians 2:5-8; John 3:16). Jesus offered His life on Calvary’s cross as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). [See: The True Christ, Forgiveness in the New Testament, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]
The next facet of death before life is embodied in Christ’s saying in Luke 9:23-24 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life [by following one’s own ways contrary to God’s] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
The cross was the cruel Roman device to execute criminals through slow but sure death. Christ commands that anyone who will follow Him needs to take up his own cross daily – to die to his old, sinful self every day, in order to find everlasting life [be saved].
The apostle Paul, whom Jesus especially ordained to preach His gospel, put it this way: “Shall we continue in sin [so] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Threfore we were buried with Him through baptism unto death, [so] that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Paul explained that “our old man [our previous sinful life] was crucified with Him, [so] that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died [to sin] has been freed from sin. Now if we died in Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that /Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Verses 8-11).
Paul admonished: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your [bodily] members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Verses 12-13). We are to become “slaves of righteousness” instead of slaves of sin or unrighteousness – uncleanness or lawlessness [Verses 17-19). Thus we will have [the] “fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life (Vewrse 22).
It is such people – true Christians – who, though now physically dead [who “sleep in the dust”] will “awake… to everlasting life” and “will shine like the brightness of the firmament…like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3).
Jesus spoke of this same event: “…all who are in the graves will hear His [Christ’s] voice and come forth [arise] – those who have done good [the righteous], to the resurrection of life [everlasting]” (John 5:28-29).
Paul confirmed these words when he wrote about the “coming of the Lord,” when “He will descend from heaven with a cloud, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first, b Then we [Christians] who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord [in His kingdom on earth]” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Paul also wrote about this in his famous “resurrection chapter” – 1 Corinthians 15, especially Verses 51-55.
Another facet of the matter of death before life concerns everyone. Paul declared: “…it is appointed [by God] for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27|). That judgment comes when Christ, he Judge of both the living and the dead” returns to judge the earth (Psalm 98:9; Acts 10:42).
Those who have died without Christ in their lives will be resurrected to mortal life at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.] This will be their opportunity to have God’s book [Greek biblia] – the Holy Bible – opened to their understanding (Verse 12), so that, as they would, their names would be written in God’s Book of Life (Verse 15), assured og receiving everlasting life.
Death before life will be celebrated by faithful Christians this year as they observe God’s commanded festival of the Passover, picturing Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary’s cross. This ceremony will be observed in the evening of April 9. The rest of God’s “spring festivals” – the Days of Unleavened Bread – pictures the Christians’ need to put away sin in their lives, to be observed on April 11-16.
May all of you who read this article become true participants in this arduous journey from death to glorious life!

 

Many people are obsessed with the “after life” –life after death. Cultural practices of many countries include the placing of worldly goods and riches in the tomb of their departed ones, in the hope that the dead will be amply provided for in the “next life.” It’s a vain practice that ignores the old saying, “No, you can’t take it with you to your grave.”

In the Philippines among the archeological finds in Tabon Cave on Palawan Island is a clay piece believed to be a burial jar, the cover of which has an image of a man riding a boat – supposedly to transport him to a “better place.”

People have many mistaken ideas about What Happens to Man After

Many people are obsessed with the “after life” –life after death. Cultural practices of many countries include the placing of worldly goods and riches in the tomb of their departed ones, in the hope that the dead will be amply provided for in the “next life.” It’s a vain practice that ignores the old saying, “No, you can’t take it with you to your grave.”

In the Philippines among the archeological finds in Tabon Cave on Palawan Island is a clay piece believed to be a burial jar, the cover of which has an image of a man riding a boat – supposedly to transport him to a “better place.”

People have many mistaken ideas about What Happens to Man After Death? However, God’s word – the Holy Bible – has a definite and unequivocal say on this matter, among others.

Another matter that the Bible is concerned with, but which only a few people think about is death before life. There are several facets to this matter.

The most crucial facet is the death of Jesus Christ before we human beings can have life – not just physical life in this present world — but everlasting life, or immortality, as we may call it. The second Person in the Godhead – called the Logos [Greek for “Word” or “Spokesman”] had to empty Himself of His divinity in order to become a mortal human being, so He could die to pay the penalty [“wages,” Romans 6:23] of mankind’s sin: the penalty of death. Thus man would not die or “perish” but instead have everlasting life (Philippians 2:5-8; John 3:16). Jesus offered His life on Calvary’s cross as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). [See: The True Christ, Forgiveness in the Bible, and The Ransomed of the LORD.]

The next facet of death before life is embodied in Christ’s saying in Luke 9:23-24 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life [by following one’s own ways contrary to God’s] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

The cross was the cruel Roman device to execute criminals through slow but sure death. Christ commands that anyone who will follow Him needs to take up his own cross daily – to die to his old, sinful self every day, in order to find everlasting life [be saved].

The apostle Paul, whom Jesus especially ordained to preach His gospel, put it this way: “Shall we continue in sin [so] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism unto death, [so] that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Paul explained that “our old man [our previous sinful life] was crucified with Him, [so] that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died [to sin] has been freed from sin. Now if we died in Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that /Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Verses 8-11).

Paul admonished: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your [bodily] members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Verses 12-13). We are to become “slaves of righteousness” instead of slaves of sin or unrighteousness – uncleanness or lawlessness [Verses 17-19). Thus we will have [the] “fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life (Verse 22).

It is such people – true Christians – who, though now physically dead [who “sleep in the dust”] will “awake… to everlasting life” and “will shine like the brightness of the firmament…like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2-3).

Jesus spoke of this same event: “…all who are in the graves will hear His [Christ’s] voice and come forth [arise] – those who have done good [the righteous], to the resurrection of life [everlasting]” (John 5:28-29).

Paul confirmed these words when he wrote about the “coming of the Lord,” when “He will descend from heaven with a cloud, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we [Christians] who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord [in His kingdom on earth]” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

Paul also wrote about this in his famous “resurrection chapter” – 1 Corinthians 15, especially Verses 51-55.

Another facet of the matter of death before life concerns everyone. Paul declared: “…it is appointed [by God] for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27|). That judgment comes when Christ, he Judge of both the living and the dead” returns to judge the earth (Psalm 98:9; Acts 10:42).

Those who have died without Christ in their lives will be resurrected to mortal life at the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.] This will be their opportunity to have God’s book [Greek biblia] – the Holy Bible – opened to their understanding (Verse 12), so that, as they would, their names would be written in The Book of Life (Verse 15), assured of receiving everlasting life.

Death before life will be celebrated by faithful Christians this year as they observe God’s commanded festival of the Passover, picturing Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary’s cross. This ceremony will be observed in the evening of April 9. The rest of God’s “spring festivals” – the Days of Unleavened Bread – pictures the Christians’ need to put away sin in their lives, to be observed on April 11-16.

May all of you who read this article become true participants in this arduous journey from death to glorious life!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
19032022

 

 

Pleasures Forevermore

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. — Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

In today’s society people seem bent on getting as much pleasure as they can, while they can. From the most exotic gourmet foods, to the latest computer games, to the most avant-garde of fashion, people seem to be on an endless quest for more. But, after the momentary thrill or fun is over, most feel a sense of emptiness.

Why is this?

It’s fine as long as the pleasure comes from doing what is right and good in God’s sight. As it has been said, fun that’s good is fun today and still fun tomorrow. But in more cases than not, people get pleasure from doing what is wrong or sinful in God’s view.

Hebrews 11:24-25 [NKJV, throughout] speaks about the Israelite leader Moses, a man of faith who, “when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin…” The KJV renders the last phrase as “the pleasures of sin for a season.” The pleasures don’t last! And they could be fraught with guilt, conflict and confusion.

The pleasurable sin may be gorging on the most exotic menu of meat forbidden by God’s law {Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14; see: Did Christ Cleanse All Meats?], indulging in sexual acts contrary to God’s law [see: The Faces of Love, The Rainbow Connection and The Deceitfulness of Sin], and the list of such pleasures can be quite long.

The pleasures of sin are often intense, accompanied by some physical, emotional and psychological highs. Even if people engage in lawful or legitimate pleasures, there is an end to the experience. Like music that starts slow then builds up in tempo to a crescendo and a climax, it suddenly ends, or softly fades away – and then it’s all over. Then silence! God’s word says that everything we might enjoy in this present age will all “perish with the using” (Colossians 2:22).

We sing about “Endless Love.” But is there really such a thing? Lovers may relish a long relationship, but how can their love last forever when one or both of the partners eventually die, as God has appointed for all men (Hebrews 9:27)? [See:  What Happens to Man After Death?]

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 declares the grim end of all human experiences: “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten, Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished. Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.”

How can pleasures last forevermore?

In order for anyone to enjoy pleasures forevermore, one has — first of all – to have or receive everlasting life! That’s what it means to be able to stand in the presence of God in His full glory, as Psalm 16:121 says – for no mortal man can see God’s full glory and live (Exodus 33:17-20).

How then can we have everlasting life? That exactly was the question which a rich young man asked Jesus. Notice what Jesus told him: “…if you want to enter into life [everlasting], keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17).

By our own human merits and power we cannot possibly keep God’s commandments. The apostle Paul wrote: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7).

It takes the Holy Spirit of God and of Christ to work in our minds and bodies so we can obey God’s commandments and thus live forever (Verse 13). [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

Isaiah 35:10 promises: “And The Ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

They will experience such joy that God and His angels in heaven have, as when even a single sinner truly repents (Luke 15:7, 10). As the ransomed and redeemed of Christ, true Christians will rule with Him at His return to earth (Revelation 20:6). They will help Him teach surviving mankind the way of God and lead them to repentance. What boundless joy they will experience as these mortal subjects of Christ’s rule come to repentance and eventually receive everlasting life also.

This is everlasting joy, with pleasures forevermore that all will enjoy in God’s glorious kingdom. Quoting Isaiah 64:4, Paul wrote: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). What a magnificent and glorious future awaits all true Christians, who love God and keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2-3).

Can we even begin to fathom the joys and pleasures which we as Christ’s true followers will experience forever in God’s presence? Can you imagine what pleasures we will enjoy in God’s presence?

• While we will no longer marry nor experience the delights of marital sex (Matthew 22:30), but who knows what greater pure ecstasy will be ours in the loving embrace of God the Father , Jesus Christ, and other members of God’s divine family?
• As divine, immortal beings in God’s kingdom, we will not need food for sustenance. But Revelation 22:1-2 describes the “tree of life” in New Jerusalem, the eternal City of God. The tree will bear twelve kinds of fruit, one each month. The family of God will eat the fruit for the sheer pleasure of it such as we’ve never savored in this present life. The tree’s leaves will be for the healing or health of the nations. There will be “no sickness, toil, or danger in that bright world” to which we go (as the American spiritual song says, reflecting Revelation 21:4 and Isaiah 35:10).
• Excellent wines, taken moderately, are one of life’s delectable pleasures. Judges 9:13 says that wine “…cheers both God and man.” Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine – and that of superior quality too (John 2:1-10).
• Fine, beautiful music is one of the human delights of this present life. Can it ever surpass the pleasures of heavenly and angelic music? Can the gifted in God’s divine family compose and make even more sublime music (Isaiah 35:10; 51:3)?
• God will re-landscape the earth and restore its Eden-like beauty (Isaiah 51:3).
• What excitement can we look forward to as we join God in “planting” the heavens (Isaiah 51:16)—perhaps starting new creations (Revelation 21:5)?

Meanwhile, we may – and will – suffer troubles while in this present world (Acts 14:22). But let’s take courage from Paul’s testimony: “For I consider that the sufferings of thus present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18) – the “redemption of our body” [from death and decay] (Verse 23). Paul also comforts us: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians10:13).

With the power of God’s Spirit we can overcome the temptations of Satan and his demons, the pulls of our evil society and our carnal, fleshly selves—all that could hinder us from making it to God’s glorious kingdom. [See: Does God Require Us to Do the Impossible?]

Let us overcome and endure to the end, and we will be saved (Matthew 24:13) – have everlasting life in Christ’s kingdom, and there enjoy pleasures forevermore in God’s presence!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
25022022

The Faces of Love

 

In most parts of the world February is celebrated as “the month of the heart” or “the month of love.” This is a good time, as any, to learn more about the different faces or facets of “love” and thus practice them faithfully in our lives.

The word “love” has been overused and often abused. People say, “I love flowers, noodles” – or what have you. All they really mean is that they have a fondness or appreciation for such things as they like.

The Greeks have three or four words that express the different aspects or faces of love. Let us take them up one by one, and see what light the Bible – God’s word – can shed on them.

First, we have the Greek word eros. In the Greek pantheon of gods, Eros was the god of love. From eros we derive the word “erotic” – meaning having to do with the sexual act. Some call this “romantic” love.

In His original intent and design God purposed that erotic love should be between a man and his duly married wife. In Genesis 1:27 [NKJV, throughout] we read: “So God created man in His own image: in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Verse 28 continues: “Then God blessed them, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

From this we learn that from the beginning God intended that a man and a woman – in marriage, as we shall see later – reproduce their kind [“mankind”] through the sexual capacity He gave each one to produce offspring – to bear “fruit,” be “fruitful” and “multiply” in numbers.

Genesis 2 details God’s creation of woman after He had created man [Adam]. Verses 19-20 show how Adam was given the task of naming all the other creatures, but none of them was found to be compatible with him. God saw this and said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to [appropriate or fitting for] him” (Verse 18).

Verses 21-22 show how God then created woman out of the man’s rib and presented her to Adam, saying: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Thus God thereby instituted marriage between a man and his wife.

The phrase “one flesh” is explained elsewhere in the Bible as having sexual union or intercourse [see 1 Corinthians 6:15-16]. Genesis 4:1 says: “Adam knew his wife [a reference to having sexual or “erotic” relation], and she conceived [became pregnant with child].” This sexual union, done in love, also binds the couple more strongly to each other.

To protect this God-intended marriage between a man and his wife, God commanded: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Thus God prohibits having sexual [erotic] relationship with some other person than one’s spouse. To do so destroys the couple’s relationship and adversely affects their children and family.

Furthermore, God instructs, through the apostle Paul: “The wife does not have authority [KJV, “power”] over her own body, but her husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4). Paul also wrote: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality, that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel [one’s wife] in sanctification [holiness] and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).

Thus, any manner of sexual activity except that between a husband and his wife is prohibited, not approved of, by God. This includes self-masturbation, adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality (all of the latter four forbidden in Leviticus 18:6-20, 23-24; 20:10-15, 17, 19-21).

Abstention from any sexual or erotic activity outside of marriage may be a formidable challenge. But it is something God can help us with (Matthew 19:3-12). [See: The Rainbow Connection and Does God Require Us to Do the Impossible?]

The next face of love is philia. From this we derive the word “filial love” – love for one’s family. “Phila” is used as a prefix to indicate “love for.” Thus: “Philadelphia” [brotherly love] and “philosophy” [love for wisdom], etc.

Caring for one’s own is a natural drive God placed in man to help preserve oneself and one’s family. The Greeks have another word for this: storge. We see this even in the animal kingdom, as when a mother hen squawks to her chicks to get them to hide under her brood when a hawk flies overhead, or if some other danger threatens. Male lions guard the territory of their family [called “pride”] from invaders, and with the lioness bring in meat for their young ones or cubs.

Even non-Christian people have a natural drive to provide for their own family. That is why it is a shame and reproach for a Christian man, especially a husband or father, to fail to perform this duty. Paul told Christians: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Timothy 5:8).

There is nothing sexual, as such, about philia. However, it has been used in some English words to denote forbidden sex, as in pedophilia [engaging in sexual acts with children, boys or girls] and philandering [having sex with a person other then one’s spouse – adultery]. These acts do not express true, God-ordained love.

The last and noblest face of love is agape. It is the kind of love that God has for mankind – a love given to someone not deserving of it. In a famous Bible verse we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Verse 5 continues: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Paul wrote: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified [made righteous] by His blood, we shall be saved from [God’s] wrath through Him. For if when were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:6-10). And: “[We are] justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation [payment for sin] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith [who believes] in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).

In return, God expects us to love [agape] Him also. He has made that possible “…because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [that] was given to us” (Romans 5:5). The gospel writer John [also called “the apostle of love”] wrote: “By this we know that we love [agapeo] the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3). Quoting Jesus, John also wrote: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (Verse 21).

We could sing “I love You, Lord” as much as we can, but if we don’t keep Jesus’ commandments, we don’t really love Him! [See: The Law of Christ and The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love.] True love involves obedience to God’s commandments and laws. The essence of God’s law is love for God and for one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 13:8-10).

With this knowledge I trust that you will “…increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we [Paul and company] do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
21022022

The Omicron Scare

 

This new year 2022 was met by the fast-spreading scourge of the latest strain of the CIVID-19 virus that originated in South Africa – the “omicron” variant – and has now done the rounds of almost all nations around the world. Estimates by the World Health Organization [WHO] are that some 19 million people worldwide have been infected by this variant, with some 48,000 deaths weekly as a result.

Alarmed, many nations have closed their borders to travelers to and from other countries where the incidence of this new variant has been reported. Lock-downs have also been enforced in some affected local areas. Needless to say, these have disadvantaged those who cannot travel and work, and the surge in new cases has taxed the health care system.

Although the symptoms arising from infection by the omicron variant are less severe than those of previous strains, omicron spreads at a faster rate. This is the most worrisome aspect of the variant, and some have died from it as well. Thus the present global omicron scare! Nations are trying to avoid it like, well, the plague!

Lessons learned?

Past plagues should be object lessons to learn from. But sadly, human nature seems reluctant or too dazed or too lazy to learn!

Take the example of the “Black Plague,” which decimated a good portion of Europe in the 1300s and later. People – even national leaders – were quick to place the blame for the plague on the Jews in their midst who were mostly spared from the plague.

Instead of learning from the hygienic practices of the Jews, many people blamed them for the deaths from the plague because of the unfounded belief, for one, that the Jews were poisoning the wells from which people were drawing water to drink! As a result, many Jews were persecuted and even killed.
[See: https://www.montana.edu/historybug/yusiniaessays/pariera-dinkins.ht.]

Some more-enlightened leaders, however, have pointed out that the unique customs and hygienic practices of the Jews had a lot to do with their being spared from the plague. The Jews’ meticulous rituals of frequent hand-washing and bathing were credited for their immunity from the plague. Jews also lived in ghettos, which isolated them from the general populace. In addition, the Jews strictly practice the food law of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. In fact, the Jews have overstretched that law by instituting their rigorous “kosher” laws. [See: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-kosher, and Did Christ Cleanse All Meats?]

If we look back to the very origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, the first cases were of those locals who had consumed bats and civet cats – both animals whose flesh is prohibited by divine law from being eaten by humans. From there the virus spread quickly worldwide. [See: Pandemic Pandemonium!]

“Health protocols” required by most government and business establishments include the use of face masks in public places, frequent hand-washing or disinfection, and “social distancing” or keeping oneself apart enough from others who might be carrying the virus, plus quarantining of persons exposed to the virus. And nations are in a race to get all or most of their citizens vaccinated against the virus. Some establishments that impose a “no vaccine/no travel or no work” policy on the citizens or employees are facing charges of human rights violation.

Human proclivity versus divine dictum

In the face of pandemics, the human tendency is to resort to treating the effects rather than getting at the cause. Medications, medical devices, and vaccines are the courts of first instance of anti-COVID measures. Yes, there should be no letup in stressing the routines of frequent hand-washing, bathing and general disinfection and isolation of persons suspected or known to be COVID-positive or carriers. If only the health practitioners’ knowledge of proper diet included God’s perfect dietary law, plus fresh fruits and veggies, and urged this on the citizenry, the people would have developed natural immunity that might obviate recourse to the controversial and expensive vaccines.

If only religious leaders taught this law and others of God’s laws that express love for God and for fellowmen, people would be so close to God that they can claim His promises to protect them from plagues (Psalm 91) and heal their diseases (Psalm 103:3; Exodus 15:26). [See: A Great Omission in Doing the “Great Commission.”]

That can save governments tons of money for economic development instead of treating the sick!

People would need not be scared of “omicron!” Omicron would be what it is – the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet. The least threat to mankind!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
23012022

What it Takes to Become a Judge in God’s Kingdom

 

 

Did you know that your future as a son or daughter of God is to become a judge in God’s kingdom? [See: Are We All God’s Children?]

Several Bible scriptures promise – and God’s word is sure! – that the “saints” or the people of God will rule with Jesus Christ on this earth as “kings and priests” after He returns here to set up God’s everlasting kingdom.  See:  Daniel 7:26-27; Revelation 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:3-10; and 20:6.

Psalms 96:13 and 98:9 assert that the LORD – Jesus Christ – “is coming to judge the earth,” and that with righteousness, truth, and equity.  Isaiah 2:2, 4 also affirms that “in the latter days” – soon in our times – the LORD will rule over all the earth and “He shall judge between the nations and rebuke many people.”

Unlike in most of today’s democratic nations, where there is a so-called “division of powers” – where the executive branch is separate from and does not interfere with the work of the legislative (or law-making) branch and the judicial branch – Christ and His glorified saints will be both kings and judges over people and nations. An example of this is Israel’s King Solomon and his famous judgment over two women who each claimed to be the mother of the surviving baby, after the other baby had died (1 Kings 3:16-28).

What it takes to be a judge

What, then, does being a judge require?  A look at this world’s judiciary system can give us helpful insights and tips. You may check these links:  https://learn.org/articles/Judge_Become_a_Judge_in_5_Steps.htm and https://www.lawyersweeklyjobs.com/what-are-the-qualifications-for-becoming-a-judge>.

Judges are assigned to preside over a court of law.  Here they hear arguments and evidence in cases brought up to the court.  They may need to perform legal research before issuing any ruling.  This is to ensure that the law of the land has been followed during court proceedings and that the court procedures are followed.  Judges rule on the admissibility (or credibility) of evidence or testimony and may provide instructions to the jury when necessary.  Judges are also involved in sentencing those convicted of a crime.

As such most countries require that a judge attend a government-accredited law school.  After obtaining the degree of JD (Juris Doctor) or LLB (Bachelor of Law), one has to pass the bar exam in order to become a licensed lawyer.  In addition, one has to have practiced as attorney for some period, in order to experience how courts of law operate.

A judge thus has to have basic knowledge of the country’s criminal law (which defines what acts or deeds are considered criminal), and its penal code (prescription of penalty for particular crimes).

The requirement for becoming a judge in God’s kingdom isn’t too different.  One has to have a good knowledge and understanding of God’s moral law – God’s commandments, statutes, and ordinances.  One also has to know God’s judgment for transgression of His law – which is what sin or iniquity is (1 John 3:4, KJV).

God’s law is contained in what the Jews call their Torah – the first five books of the Old Testament of the Holy Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – also called the “Pentateuch”). God’s law is elaborated on in the rest of the Bible – both the Old Testament and the New.  [See:  The Law of Christ.]

God’s judgments are specified in Exodus 21-22, and are also proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets and demonstrated or alluded to in the “writings” (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and the narrative books – from Joshua to Esther).  Jesus Christ Himself made many pronouncements against sinners and urged them all to repent or else perish (Luke 13, 5).  Revelation 20:8 is Jesus’ testimony about the destruction of all unrepentant sinners and wicked people in the “lake of fire” or the “second death.”

The apostle Paul admonished the brethren in Corinth to bring disputes among themselves to those in the Church of God who could judge over their case instead of resorting to the courts of the land which were administered by unbelievers or non-Christians.  He told the Corinthian Christians that they were, ultimately, to judge even the angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).

This being the case, it behooves all Christians to be well acquainted with God’s laws and judgments.  While God has promised to write His law in our hearts (Hebrews 8:7-11; 10:16), it might help further if we followed what God required the kings of Israel to do.  Deuteronomy 17:18-19 commands that the king write a copy of the book of God’s law and read it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the LORD  and carefully observe His law and statutes.

We can never over-learn God’s law in its depth and breadth (Psalm 36:6; 119:96; Romans 11:33)!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
18122021

Humans: What, Who Are We, Really?

 

On 02 November 2020 I published on this website the article titled “Should Everyone Be Allowed to Be Who They Are?” In this present article I would like to expand on who we really are as human beings.

The theory of evolution proposes that man is but the highest development in an evolutionary process, whereby “lower” forms of life “evolved” over a period of hundreds or thousands of years into higher, more advanced life forms – animals – ending with the evolution of man at the apex.

The theory of evolution does not attribute the existence or emergence of man to some divine power or process, as the story of man’s creation tells us (Genesis 1-3). Thus evolutionists do not believe that man should be beholden to a divine entity or “God” who expects or commands that man behave in certain ways as that God prescribes.

The apostle Paul wrote about where such a Godless belief leads to, ultimately, in Romans 1:20-31 (NKJV) –

For since the creation of the world His [God’s] attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, In the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature [Lesbianism]. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful [homosexuality or homosexual acts], and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Paul plainly says that the belief in evolution [which is also atheism] ultimately leads to the jettisoning of moral standards and to gross immorality, and consequently to death or perdition” (Romans 6:23).

God’s word – the Holy Bible – teaches that God created man in His own image, in His “likeness” (Genesis 1:26). We humans were created as being of the same “kind” [or genre] as God is. Genesis 1:20-25 gives examples of “kinds” of living creatures – sea creatures (fish), birds, cattle, and creeping things.

Clearly, then, God made mankind after the God kind – not the animal-kind, as evolutionists teach. Man is no high-end animal! But God reveals that we humans are presently but a physical likeness or appearance of God. In John 3:6 Jesus explained that “That which is born of the flesh [as man is] is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus clarified that “God is Spirit…” (John 4:24)

In that profound conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus, Jesus told him that he – as all of us do – needed to be “born again” in order to see [enter or be in] the kingdom of God (Verse 3).

In the famous “memory verse” (John 3:16), Jesus said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus as also the ‘Son of Man’ who would be lifted up as Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness (Verse 14) – referring to Christ’s crucifixion or death as a payment or ransom to redeem or free mankind from the penalty of death for sin], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Having everlasting life is what seeing [or being in] God’s kingdom means, and that through a change from our earthly, mortal human frame to a spiritual, immortal frame, through a resurrection at Christ’s return to earth to claim all kingdoms for Himself and His chosen ones, the “saints” (Revelation 16:15; 20:6).

Paul magnificently explained this in his famous “Resurrection Chapter” – 1 Corinthians 15. He summarized this transformation in Verses 50-54 –

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

How can we attain to such a wondrous resurrection? Paul desired to attain to that resurrection (Philippians 3:10). And he explained how he could attain it (Verses 8-11) —

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that
I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection; and the fellowship of His sufferings: being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.

That was quite a list! Let’s break it down to more specifics.

1) The knowledge of Christ. What does it mean to “know Christ?” 1 John 2:3-4 says, “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Jesus also said that, at His return to claim His own chosen ones, He will say to many: “I never knew you!” and tell them to depart or go away from Him as those who “practice lawlessness” [Greek, anomian] (Matthew 7:23, NKJV). [See: “I Never Knew You!” and A Great Omission in Doing the “Great Commission.”] Twice Jesus said that if we really love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:21, 23). [See: The Law of Christ and Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries?]

2) Righteousness through faith in Christ. Of our own selves, we humans are not righteous, for we all sin (Romans 6:23) and are thus “unrighteous.” In order to make us righteous or “just” [“justified”] we need to be forgiven and cleansed of our sin, which is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4, KJV) – and this only through the blood of Jesus [the “Lamb of God,” John 1:3), whose death at Calvary’s cross pays the ransom that redeems us from death [see: The Ransomed of the LORD]. Through belief or faith in the power of Christ’s death to cleanse us of sin we thus become “righteous” or “just.” We are “justified” by our faith as Father Abraham was (Romans 4:2-6).

With such faith we have the “hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). Of that glory Paul wrote (Philippians 3:20-21):

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself, by which He is able to subdue all things to Himself.

As explained earlier, that will take place at Christ’s return, when He will resurrect the dead saints or change the living ones from mortal to immortal, having everlasting life.

3) Being conformed to Christ’s death. Paul also taught that at baptism after true repentance of our sins, we symbolically put to death our “old man” – our old sinful selves – so that, just as Jesus died and rose again to glorious life after three days and nights in the grave, so we true Christians come up from the water of baptism to a new life – a life that is righteous and acceptable to God.

Whereas we used to practice unrighteousness or sin, we now strive to live a righteous life, a life obedient to the laws and commandments of God [see, for example, Luke 1:6; see also: Saved for Good Works]. That is possible only through the help of God’s Holy Spirit, which God gives after baptism (Acts 2:38). [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, and Breaking Down our “Walls of Jericho.”]

Partaking of the “divine nature”

The apostle Peter wrote that as Christians we are “partakers of the divine nature” by having escaped the corruption where this lustful and sinful world used to hold us in its sway (2 Peter 1:4).

Through the resurrection to glory at Christ’s return, we His true followers will receive the full “divine nature” of God. We will then become full-fledged members of God’s divine family as God’s very own children! As such, we will then become perfect as God is perfect. We, like God, will not sin anymore (1 John 3:9).

Thus will David’s psalm about the true value of man be fulfilled (Psalm 8:3-8) –

When I consider Your [God’s] heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars. Which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen – even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.

Hebrews 2:5-8 qualifies this psalm by saying that, for now, we do not see all things put under man. Not until Jesus returns to bring us to glory and rule the nations and the vast universe with Him. Then we will become fully the brothers and sisters of Christ – the divine and glorious children of God (Verses 10-11)! [See: Are We All God’s Children?]

For a comprehensive treatment of the glorious future of mankind, see this link: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to Mr. Armstrong’s book titled The Incredible Human Potential.

I hope and pray that you who are reading this article will find yourself being told by Jesus at His return: “Welcome to God’s family!”

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
26112021

“Unless Your Righteousness Exceeds…”

“Jesus said: “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:2). Some consider this one of the hardest sayings of Jesus Christ.

The scribes and Pharisees were esteemed by most Jews in that day as the paragon or epitome of spirituality or religiousness. How could anyone surpass their high achievement and status?

Understanding what Jesus meant

We can understand the seemingly impossible dictum of Christ when we take The Whole Counsel of God (Acts 20:27) in His word.

The apostle Paul described himself as a rising “star” among his contemporary Pharisees (Galatians 1:14), and “concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless (Philippians 3:6).
Not having received God’s Spirit before his conversion to the Christian faith, Paul obeyed God’s law by the letter of the law, not by the Spirit of the law. After he was converted and ordained a minister of Christ’s gospel, Paul became a minister of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit, for, he said, “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6).

How does the letter of the law kill? Paul went on to explain the difference between Christ’s ministry and that of Moses. He called the latter “the ministry of death (Verse 7). And that is because, according to the letter of the law under Moses’ ministry, a sinner or transgressor of the law received the death penalty. In contrast, Paul described the ministry of Christ as “the ministry of righteousness” (Verse 8), and the “ministry of reconciliation” (Verse 18).

Reconciliation means being restored to a right relationship with God. Isaiah 59:2 declares: “But your iniquities have separated you from God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear…” We are reconciled to God through Christ’s supreme sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross, whereby we are redeemed from sin’s death penalty, thus forgiving and cleansing us of sin—making us “righteous” and able to obey God’s law (Luke 1:8) through His Spirit (Romans 8:7-11). [See: The Ransomed of the LORD, God’s Spirit and Obedience, and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

Thus Christ’s ministry of the Spirit is a ministry of LIFE! Jesus said that the word He spoke during His earthly ministry were “Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

Obedience by the letter versus by the Spirit

Jesus showed the example of obedience by the letter, such as when a man does not actually or literally commit adultery with a woman who is not his own wife, but he could commit adultery in his mind and heart by lusting after a woman who is not one’s wife (Matthew 5:237-28).

God is interested in what’s inside our minds and hearts, and will judge us accordingly [“I, the LORD, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10)].

The righteousness which the scribes and Pharisees exhibited was merely outward; inwardly – in their heart and mind or spirit – they were “full of lawlessness and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28). [See: Hypocrisy: Why God So Hates It!]

Paul said: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21).

That is how we are able to exceed the merely outward righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. This is one of the things impossible with men but fully possible with God! Unless we have such righteousness through faith in Christ, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven! [See: Does God Require Us to Do the Impossible? and “I Never Knew You!”]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
20102021