John 3:18… Already Condemned?

Innocent until proven guilty.

That is one of our favorite clichés in the American system of justice.  Too bad it fits into the social media category #thingsjesusneversaid.

As in… there will be a judgement at the end of this age, the sinner will be on trial and considered innocent until the plethora of sins, misdeeds and crimes will be presented, and only then will he be judged and condemned.  Too bad that is not biblical.

In a twist that only a God who foreknows future events and who actually ordains them, John 3:18 reveals a shocking statement:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Condemned already?

This verse poses two problems for the humanists who criticize biblical faith

1. It tells us that there is only one way to avoid eternal judgement.  There is only one way to avoid condemnation at the final judgement in front of the white throne: to believe in Jesus Christ now.  Such concept runs against the inclusivity of today’s modern humanistic thought.  The world hates us because we are an exclusive faith.  There are no multiple ways to heaven.  There is one Way and His name is Jesus Christ

2. Future condemnation is foreordained for those who do not believe.  How is it possible to condemn someone before his sins are even judged? They ask this question because they do not know God.  They do not acknowledge His infinite and timeless attributes.  At any point of our earthly time dimension, God knows all facts and events… past, present, future.  God reserves the right to condemn an unbeliever even before he commits sin. Understanding and believing such attributes makes sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” all the more effective.

 The message of the Gospel is best news for those who believe it and the worst news for those who do not.  Condemnation to hell, as abrasive as it sounds not only in the world, but even in lukewarm churches, must be part of any Gospel presentation.  Without it the Gospel is incomplete which makes the Gospel a false gospel.

Eternity has been sealed.  

Believers in Christ and His atoning work stand redeemed, and those who will not believe have already been condemned.

To Be or not to Be… Born of God

That is the question…

More than a question asked by Hamlet about the meaning of life, for the Christian this is a question about the status of the soul.

This is a test of faith.

In this case the test of faith rests on what apostle John writes when he fights Gnosticism and heresy in the early church.  One of the pearls of John’s first letter is found in 1 John 3:9

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

A clear line can be drawn between those who live in sin continuously (make a practice of sinning), and those who do not persist in their sin but repent of it.   That line is a division between those who are born of God and those who are of the devil (1 John 3:8).

This is a radical concept.  Could it be that there is no in-between?  Is there no such thing as a lukewarm position of transition between these two polar opposites?

The answer is no.  One is either saved or unsaved.

Being born of God does not mean and we are completely free of sin in this life.  But we are not slaves to it.  We do not live in a pattern of continual sin.  The Holy Spirit convicts us and leads us to repentance when we do sin, and He points us to the cross where we find forgiveness.

The presence of this work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is what sets believers apart from non-believers.

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Who Raised Jesus from the Dead?

The straight forward answer is that God raised Jesus from the dead as Acts 2:24 states: “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

But I love the trinitarian implications found in Scripture with respect to Christ’s resurrection.

Most references to God raising Jesus up refer to God the Father.  Even the mockers testified truth when they said in Matthew 27:43: “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” The Father-Son relationship was validated by the resurrection, and God the Father proved to be faithful in resurrecting Jesus.

Scripture also gives us evidence that Christ’s power was involved in the resurrection, as Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity.  In John 11:25 Jesus makes the powerful statement “I am the resurrection and the life,” assuming to Himself the power to life.  Jesus also said in John 10:17-18, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again…  I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

The Father has assigned the task of life to the Son.

The Holy Spirit is also closely implicated in the greatest and most important event to ever grace the face of the universe.  Romans 1:4 says that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.”  And Romans 8:11 makes it clear that the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to life is similar to the work of resurrecting Jesus: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit have achieved the greatest and most glorious act in this work of redemption when Jesus was resurrected.

And we rejoice as we look forward to God resurrecting up His saints in a similar fashion!

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The Importance of Jesus’s Predictions

› He foresaw that his death would be by crucifixion (John 3:14, 12:32).

› He predicted that the disciples would find a unridden colt when they entered the town (Luke 19:30).

› When the disciples entered Jerusalem that last Thursday, he predicted they would meet a man with the water pitcher who would have a room for them to
meet in (Luke 22:10).

› After three years of waiting, he knew the exact hour of his departure out of the world (John 13:1).

› Jesus knew that he would be betrayed, and who would betray him, and when it would happen (John 6:64, 13:1; Matthew 26:2, 21).

› He knew and predicted the fact and the time of Peter’s three denials (Matthew 26:34).

› Jesus predicted that the disciples would all fall away and be scattered (Matthew 26:31; John 16:32; Zechariah 13:7).

› Jesus prophesied that he would be “lifted up from the earth” (John 12:32). That is, he would not be stoned but crucified—not by Jews but by Romans.

So the decisions of Pilate and the Jews of how to dispose of him were a fulfillment of his prediction.  He makes all these predictions, according to John 13:19, so that we would believe he is God, that what he says about himself is true.

In other words, Jesus is saying, “If you are struggling to believe that I am the promised Messiah, that I am the one who was in the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1), that I am the divine Son of God, who can forgive all your sins and give you eternal life and guide you on the path to heaven, then I want to help you believe. And one of the ways I am going to help you have well grounded faith is by telling you what is going to happen to me before it happens, so that when it happens, you will have good reason to believe in me.”

from Love to the Uttermost by John Piper

And Now, Father, Glorify Me…

We are quickly approaching the Passion Week which is the most important time period in Christendom, culminating with the en-bloc event of death and resurrection of Christ, the greatest event to grace the face of the universe.

Without the death of Christ there is no atonement, there is no substitution, there is no forgiveness of sin.  And without the resurrection of Christ there would not be any Christianity.

This Man left His mark on human history like none other.  Even secular folks will agree with that.

But this Man was infinitely more than just a mere man.  He was divine.  He was God Himself, the Son of God.

We know that Jesus spent long periods of time in prayer communicating with the Father, and in John 17 we are given a glimpse, a revelation, a majestic treat of  the content of one of His prayers.  This special prayer occurred Thursday night of Passion Week, before Jesus went into Gethsemane where His arrest happened, and one day before his death.

He started the prayer with the final motive and outcome of the entire chain of events which would take place, God’s glory: “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”  John 17:1

The culmination of God’s redemptive plan brings Him the most glory via a most unlikely path, the death of the Son of God followed by His resurrection.  Such a method is contrary to any human approach.  That is why God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and God’s ways are not our ways…

Things that Jesus communicates to the Father in this prayer are incomprehensible for us.  Attesting to His divinity, Jesus says: “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” John 17:5

The same glory that will unfold in His death, resurrection, ascension, and return, the Son already had with the Father before the institution of time and the foundations of this world came to be!  This concept alone, under the revelation of the Holy Spirit, should make every Christian bow down in their spirit and worship God because He left that ultimate glory to come and die in our place!

But this is not the end of the story of glory…

Apostle Paul tells us that we will be glorified with Him, not because of us, but because He is in us: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col 1:27

As we approach Passion Week, meditate on Christ’s unimaginable glory and the fact that He, by His grace will share it with us one day.

Rick Warren and the New Pope

Super popular Saddleback mega church pastor Rick Warren has become a punching bag for mainstream evangelicals for the things he says in the TV media (which absolutely loves him) and social media.

Warren is famous for making controversial remarks on homosexuality and gay marriage which disappointed many conservative Christians.

In his prayer at the presidential inauguration in 2008 he showed his true syncretic colors when he called Jesus by the unbiblical and false name, the prophet “Isa,” which is the non-diety entity found in Islamic scripture.

Here is the latest puzzling tweet from the ecumenical pastor:

“Join me today in fasting and prayer for the 115 Cardinals seeking God’s Will in a new leader.”

This is coming from an evangelical leader.

Does that mean he thinks that the pope really is The Holy Father, God’s representative here on earth as sustained by Catholic doctrine?

Has Rick Warren asked himself how many of those 115 cardinals were perhaps involved in the sex abuse scandals which have been rocking the Catholic Church over the last couple of decades?

Does Rick Warren agree with the Catholic Church doctrines on salvation by works and by beatitudes, transubstantiation, purgatory (salvation after death), and many other heresies?

Does Rick Warren really think that the 115 cardinals are fulfilling God’s will in this process of electing a pope?

Is Rick Warren really an Evangelical?

Or is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

I Found the Book of Life


I saw a beautiful monument in front of a hospital chapel today with a fancy book entitled “The Book of Life.”  Great was my curiosity to see what words of wisdom this book contains.

To my surprise it contained names.  Lots and lots of names.  Some of the names were written as “Anonymous” followed by initials.

Biblically speaking, why would one want to have only his/her initials in the Book of Life?

Any believer should want their name to be spelled in bold letters, including their address, phone number, email, etc… in the real Book of Life!

But it quickly became evident from reading the introduction that this particular Book of Life was a record of those patients who “gave the gift of life” to someone else via organ and tissue donation.

I stepped outside and there I saw another beautiful monument.  This one was entitled “The Tree of Life,” and it was made of a steel tree with the names of various organ donors on its leaves.

Organ and tissue donation is a noble thing in the appropriate circumstances, but I found it interesting that two key figures from the Bible (The Book of Life and the Tree of Life) were used in naming these monuments.

It is important for Christian believers to realize that God is the Author of life, and only He can give physical and more importantly spiritual life.

Organ harvesting and transplantation are means to prolong a patient’s life and increase their quality of life in the same way that medications or implantable devices prolong life.  No doctor or transplant team can give life; by the common grace given to us by God, they can save a life or prolong a life. This is a critical distinction that must be made when thinking of these situations.

One Legacy is a large organ donation referral and matching service operating in California, and their motto is “Donate Life.”  From a biblical point of view, we do not give life, and we do not donate life.  We merely apply the common grace found in modern technology.

The decision to sign up for future organ donation is a personal one.  I do not believe the Bible prohibits it, but many Christians may disagree, raising the issue of the resurrection body and its totality.  One thing is clear to me from 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul writes the doctrine about Resurrection: our glorified resurrection bodies will not be the same as the our decaying physical bodies.

The saints whose bodies were burned to ashes across the centuries and recently in Africa for their faith will have awesome and majestic glorified bodies, despite the fact that their physical bodies were turned to ash for their LORD.  The same is true with believers who were consumed by ferocious animals in the Roman arenas.

Our physical bodies with their tissues and organs are a mere temporary tent.  Our glorified spiritual bodies will last forever.

A name in a hospital Book of Life is a nice memory.

Our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life… now that is cause for celebration and total obedience to the Savior who wrote them there!

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Theology 101: Angels and Our Relationship to Them

Angels are created, spiritual beings with moral judgment and high intelligence, but without physical bodies (1).

The Bible makes it clear that these heavenly creatures take a particular interest in us.  Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:10-12 that there are  “things into which angels long to look,” things that have to do with the grace and manner in which God provides salvation to humans.  This is a fascinating process for them, as they are unable to experience  redemption first hand which involves the greatest event in the universe, the death and resurrection of Christ.

The writer to the Hebrews makes a powerful statement about angels joining us in spiritual worship when he states that we “have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God…”

The Bible also tells that angels can take human form and interact with us.  “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” Hebrews 13:2. This verse encourages us to minister to others who may truly be “angels” of whom we are “unaware.”

Scripture also makes it clear that angels can convey physical protection for us.  An angel send by God shut the mouth of the lions in the den where Daniel was thrown. An angel delivered Peter from prison. Angels also came and ministered to Jesus after His temptation.

When we find ourselves in life and death situations and suddenly find that we are able to make it out untouched, we can certainly consider that an angel send by God perhaps rescued us.  When you avoided that car accident in a miraculous way, or something made you turn around to catch your baby just in the nick of time, that may have been God ministering to you via an invisible angel…

There is strong biblical support for this. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:11-12

And then there is one of my favorite verses about the relationship between children and angels: “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”  I find the phrase “their angels” fascinating.  It results that children have angels assigned to them, and these creatures are continually also in the presence of God.

These concepts on the doctrine about angels as well as the verses supporting them can serve as great comfort for believers, knowing that God uses such means to protect us and our loved ones.

(1) Grudem, Wayne 1994; Systematic Theology; pp. 405-406

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Newtown: A Lesson for All

Murdering a human being is an assault on God. He made us in his own image. Destroying an image usually means you hate the imaged. Murdering God’s human image-bearer is not just murder. It’s treason — treason against the creator of the world. It is a capital crime — and more. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).

As usual, Jesus takes this up in devastating terms. None of us escapes.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21–22)

He does not say unwarranted anger is the same as murder. It’s not. Ask the bereaved parents of Newtown. He says both are liable to hell. Both come under a similar sentence from God. Why would Jesus say that?

Because both are a sin against God, not just man. Jesus’s threat of hell is owing not to the seriousness of murder against man, but to the seriousness of treason against God. In the mind of Jesus — the mind of God — heartfelt verbal invective against God’s image is an assault on the infinite dignity of God, the infinite worth of God. It is, therefore, in Jesus’s mind, worthy of God’s righteous judgment.

So what we saw yesterday in the Newtown murders was a picture of the seriousness of our own corruption. None of us escapes the charge of sinful anger and verbal venom. So we are all under the just sentence of God’s penalty. That is what Jesus was saying in Matthew 5:21–22.

And it is exactly what Jesus said again when people pressed him to talk about the time Pilate slaughtered worshippers in the temple. Instead of focusing on the slain or the slayer, he focused on all of us:

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:2–3)

Which means that the murders of Newtown are a warning to me — and you. Not a warning to see our schools as defenseless, but to see our souls as depraved. To see our need for a Savior. To humble ourselves in repentance for the God-diminishing bitterness of our hearts. To turn to Christ in desperate need, and to treasure his forgiveness, his transforming, and his friendship.

Article by John Piper ~ from

The Virgin Birth: Without it Christianity Cannot Stand

“The answer to that question would explain history for me.” – Atheist Larry King on his show’s 25th anniversary (June 5, 2010), on whether Jesus was born of a virgin.

The Washington Post is stirring things up on this theme by asking the question “Did Isaiah really predict the Virgin birth?”

It may be shocking to some of us who hold to the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture that there are some Christians who may not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin Mary.

To add fuel to this controversy there have been translations of the Bible which omit the word “virgin” from the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy. Examples:

“Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” NRSV

“Look this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman will name him Immanuel.” NET

The word in question here is the Hebrew word “almâ” which should be translated “virgin.” Strong’s dictionary which translates and annotates every word in the Bible (even provides detailed translation notes) gives the following commentary on “almâ:”

“There is no instance where it can be proved that this word designates a young woman who is not a virgin.”

Therefore, because of the paramount importance of the virgin birth, the word “virgin” absolutely belongs in Isaiah 7:14.

Without the virgin birth, Christians do not have a living faith; in fact, they do not have any faith at all. Why? Comparative religion scholar John Weldon gives us the answer:

“If Jesus Christ was not virgin born, then by definition he was produced by normal human procreation. If so, this makes him a normal human being just like every other person. The implications of this for all of Christology and biblical theology are devastating. If Christ was not virgin born, then he was not sinless, but a sinner like all other humans. If he were a sinner, he would require salvation from sin. If he was a sinner, he could not be God incarnate. If he was not God incarnate, he could not be the atoning Savior for sin. If he was not the atoning Savior for sin, we are still in our sins and the whole edifice of Christian theology crumbles. If we are still our sins, we are without hope.”

This is not only about the inerrancy of the Bible. This is about reducing and trying to fit God into human terms and human experience. The minute we are successful at boxing God into human parameters, that god is no longer the great “I am” revealed in the Bible.

This is why theologically liberal “Christians” must first of all come to the cross and receive the gift of faith for their salvation, and then they must use their faith to believe that Jesus was indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit in a supernatural way and born by virgin birth.