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Friday, November 27, 2015

Who Am I in Christ? (Part 2)

Edward F. Lundwall.Jr.

Who am I when I receive Christ?

I am one who "puts on" Christ's righteousness.

In baptism, I am one who dies in Christ and rises in Christ.

Receiving Christ, I also receive spiritual authority and sonship.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power [authority] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12

I am the recipient of God's gift of eternal life.

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:11– 13

In Jesus Christ, I am blessed "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 1:3)

I am being transformed into the Christ's image.

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Related reading: On Holy Baptism and Discipleship; Who Am I in Christ? (Part 1) 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Does Islam have a Savior, or only a Sword?

"Such is the double-edged sword of jihad. All Islamic governments, regimes, and kingdoms must always try to direct this potent instrument of war against enemies or neutral targets — preferably ones far away from their borders (Afghanistan, America, etc.). For they know that the longer the jihad waxes in strength and goes uncontained, the more it becomes like an all-consuming fire indiscriminately scorching all in its path." --Raymond Ibrahim (From here.)

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

The Iranian man I sat next to on the plane was quiet and generally withdrawn, but I made friendly conversation by asking where he was coming from. He said he was traveling from Iowa and to Southern California where he was employed. I sympathized with him that the state’s football team had been defeated in a bowl game in the last week. He had informed me that he had graduated from that University. I then asked where he was employed since he had a college degree. He said that he was working for an airline. At this point, I felt familiar enough to introduce myself since we were going to be spending a considerable time together on this flight. I gave him my first name and he gave me an ordinary American type name that didn’t fit his physical profile.

I asked him more about his job. We talked about the unsettled conditions of the country and world, especially about airlines. After that, I observed that much of the unsettled conditions affecting the airlines concerned religious affairs, adding all religions had moral standards, although they differed in ceremonial practices. He agreed and volunteered that he personally did not practice any religion although he did believe in God.

Then, I observed that most all religions believed in some kind of life after death and some kind of blessedness or judgment. However, that only one world religion professed to have a savior who did something to save those less than perfect. All but one left their people with an uncertain eternal future. The man acknowledged this reasoning that no one could be certain if he had done enough good things to compensate for his bad acts. This was especially so since their god might not give the same value to what they had done that they would.

I agreed that all religions, except biblical Christianity, did not profess to have a savior in their religions, and, that without a savior, a person’s eternal future was in doubt or that perhaps the religion did not have a firm standard of right and wrong if a savior was not thought to be necessary. After all, punishments in this life were not equal to the terrible things some have done. Therefore, a just god would have to give punishment in the life after death if justice was to be done. Failing this, that kind of god didn’t even have a sense of justice that men have and that whatever good after death (salvation) people might expect must come from a god who would be one’s savior. With an earned or merited salvation, sinful man would be his own savior. Further, this would not honor his god, but man making inadequate man to be an inadequate savior giving a doubtful salvation.

The suspicion logically comes that this religion comes from man and not the Creator since man must be his own savior. My seatmate acknowledged that my logic had some merit.

I continued by observing since the Creator God is the sovereign over his creation, in the final analysis, He was the judge of it all also. Furthermore, only the Creator Judge could in some way be the Savior, especially since when humankind sins, it is ultimately against Him. For as Creator, He determines what is compatible within his creation. Therefore, He must also determine what is necessary to reconcile an offender. The problem is that violating what is acceptable to Him is violating Him. Since He is infinite, the forgiveness must have a corresponding worth. Since man is finite, he cannot make a restitution of infinite worth. Therefore, the Creator must somehow do the saving of the offender, since only He is infinite.

I observed that no world religion offered any savior, let alone one of infinite power to compensate for one sin let alone that of all mankind. The ONLY EXCEPTION is the Savior revealed in the Bible, that is, Jesus Christ. I further observed that Islam honored Jesus as a genuine prophet, but that their leaders alleged that Jesus’ teachings were unreliably preserved. I went on to assert that this didn’t present a good picture of the Islamic God that sent Jesus with a revelation if he couldn’t preserve the message given the prophet Jesus.

I reminded him that all human beings that have lived long enough, know they do things contrary to the innate moral standards that the Creator instills in them. My Iranian acquaintance assented to this agreeing that men need a savior, because the best men can do to atone for personal sin is at best uncertain. All men have the inbuilt need for certainty, especially when the issue is an eternal state in Hell or Heaven.

Creator God, on the basis of responsible love, has provided all that man needs. These are man’s stewardship to use in the world in harmony with God’s design. In making man in the image of God, He not only gave man the responsibility of choice, but decreed Himself to be the payment for man’s redemption from before the foundation of the World, as God’s sacrificial lamb. This, Jesus did in His death, burial and resurrection. Even non-Christian literature testifies that early believers preached this message from the very beginning. These provisions come from love, but each man must receive them by faith.

On the other hand, Islam requires meritorious works without certain promise of eternal life except through violent Jihad. The slightest violation by an Islamic, whether in act or attitude will endanger or destine the individual to death or Hell, and the only sure way to Heaven is to die in a violent Jihad. Redemption by faithfully observing the requirements of the Qur’an and the Five Pillars gives no certainty or promise. Allah performs no act of redemption for his people’s or other’s sin. It offers no savior.

In contrast, the God of the Bible asks the opposite of meritorious works, i.e., faith. The mindset from which saving faith grows is: “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true” (John 3:33 KJV). And, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:10–12 KJV).

Jesus’ assertion to be a part of the Creator God cannot logically be rejected because since man was created in the image of God, all men are more than just material. Even Islam speaks of the real identity of man is to go to Heaven or Hell when his body dies. This means that there are at least two parts to all men, physical and spiritual. Further, since angels who are spiritual beings can have physical appearances, how can Islamic teachers assert that a part of God cannot assume a physical existence? Also, if God is all powerful and sovereign, why can’t He take on a human expression? All this is what the reliable Bible portrays Jesus to be. The Old Testament prophecies in the Bible, confirm what the New Testament says about Jesus. I pointed out a study I made of the Old Testament prophecies about the person, work and even the timing of Messiah’s coming, all of which has been fulfilled in the Lord Jesus.

As the airliner was landing in Los Angeles, I asked him if he wanted me to lead him in calling upon the Lord Jesus to be his personal Savior. He consented and I prayed. I gave him my name and address so that he could write me for answers to any questions that he had. I warned him that family members would oppose him, but that God would be with him.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

True Disciples Watch for Christ's Return

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Jesus said that true believers will be watching for His return:

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40)

In 1 John 2:28, the Apostle exhorts all: “. . .when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”

Today we live in a society which does not except the return of Christ. This lack of belief in a key doctrine surrounding Messiah was already evident in the Apostolic times (2 Peter 3:4).

Even then some Jews believed. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)

Notable signs that we are living in the "end times" include:

1. Reestablishment and eventual turning of Israel to Messiah

“The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.” (In Zechariah 12:7,8)

The surviving nation of Israel will be converted:

In verse 10, Zechariah prophecies: “. . . they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

2. Worship of self

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” (2 Tim 3:2) They will have "a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Tim 3:5). Paul tells Timothy to "avoid such people."

This in contrast to a true disciples who takes up the cross to exchange his nature for Christ's nature. Luke 9:23–25.

3. Times will be difficult

Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul said, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come." (2 Timothy 3:1)

We are to take courage, however, because "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8) and "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son." (Colossians 1:13)

True disciples will face demonically-inspired challenges. "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons..." (1 Timothy 4:1)

4. Lukewarm, nominal Christians

There are many who call themselves"Christians" who are lukewarm in following the things that produce real salvation and godliness. Many fall away after making professions of faith. The word “Christian” was used only 3 times in the NT, but disciple is used 372 times. Jesus' true disciples stay faithful even when other disciples stop following Christ. (John 6:66–69)

How many of Christ's disciples are versed well enough in the Scriptures to refute the errors of the cults?

There is no Christian discipleship without the adoption of the disciple’s self concept. This involves confessing himself to be a disciple of Christ (John 9:27, 28; Matt 10:32, 42; Acts 9:26).

The true disciple seeks to learn the ways of Christ's holiness. He has an aggressive attitude to learn and abide in Christ's teaching (Matt 13:11, 12, 23; 28:19, 20).

A true disciple maintains an abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus by faith (John 15:1–16) and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13, 14).

A truly committed disciple serves in a local Church that functions as a fellowship of disciples (Acts 11:26; 13:1–3).

A true disciple seeks to bring others to Christ, knowing that the days are evil and the age is coming to an end.

Related reading: Rabbi Kaduri on the Identity of the Messiah; Spiritual Warfare; Call to the Discerning and Wise

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Praying Hebrews 2:9-11

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren...

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for this picture of You as the caretaker of the True Vine, the Lord Jesus, and then You make us His branches. For as You brought Him to completion as Emmanuel, He becomes our substitutionary and reconciling sacrifice. And He, our Great High Priest, administers Himself as our propitiation. I praise You that by this we are set apart through His blood and You make us one with Christ. Thereby, we are brothers with Him so You are not ashamed to confess us as Your own with joy.

Therefore, I encourage myself, and others, not only not to be ashamed to identify ourselves as belonging to Him, but to share every occasion to confess Him and speak of the greatness of how He takes every repentant sinner to praise Him. In doing so, we also bear testimony before even the heavenly beings of His great work to those who will commit themselves to You through Him. In this way, we contribute towards bringing sinners to what is eternally, not only worthwhile, but supremely blessed. We show “. . that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb 11:6).

Related reading: Praying Hebrews - Part 1; Praying Hebrews - Part 2; Praying Hebrews - Part 3