It’s not always easy to come clean with God. Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, unless your sorrow is accompanied by true repentance. Repent means to “turn away,” to go the other direction. An act of repentance means one has confessed their sins to God, seen the error of their ways and has determined to correct them.
Repentance as restoration
Some view repentance in terms of sack cloth and ashes, while others view it as a “get out of jail free” card. Some view repentance as an act of fear, to avoid the consequences of sin and separation from God. Still others view repentance as an act of love, like a child wanting to be held after being naughty.
The “wages of sin” being what they are, let us focus on repentance as it pertains to restoration. The Bible is filled with accounts of people falling away from God, suffering, then coming back to God.
Gaining right standing with God is not about human action, it is about repentance. We are powerless to correct the wrongs, completely unable to pay the price and sadly doomed to separation from God for eternity.
God invites us to come clean and in doing so, He has provided the necessary payment to restore us to Him. The Bible has countless references to repentance or repent.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chronicles 32:26)
Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? You must decide, not I; so tell me what you know. (Job 34:33)
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6)
Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. (Proverbs 1:23)
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20)
Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. (Jeremiah 5:3)
I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. (Jeremiah 8:6)
Therefore this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. (Jeremiah 15:19)
“Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! (Ezekiel 14:6)… “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. (Ezekiel 18:30) … For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:32)
God forgives us when we repent… it is that simple!
What is interesting is that nowhere does God require payment, restitution or any other kind of righteous works. Breaking the Law of God is serious business, one that comes with an automatic penalty of death, regardless of the sin, big or small.
God is Holy and Just, requiring complete adherence to His Law at all times. But He is a loving and forgiving God, whose grace is enough to rescue us from the fire. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, paid the price we could not pay and through Him, we are redeemed. But it starts with repentance.
For so many people,how to read the Bible can be a challenge, either because it’s hard to understand or we just don’t know where to start. It can be a difficult task, but not if we can break it down into bite-sized pieces.
Even though the Bible is one, contiguous story, it can be read in just about any order. Pick a spot and dig in. But for the sake of convenience, my recommendation is to start with the Gospel of John. It tells a similar story about the life of Jesus, but more than any other Gospel, it is a love letter from God to us.
Here’s something to consider– if you understand who Jesus is and what He’s about, you’ll get insight into what every book of the Bible is trying to say.
God reveals what we need when we need it
The Bible is alive. The Holy Spirit flows through every word, every sentence. It is also spiritually discerned, which means that God will reveal to you what something means at the appropriate time. You may read something a hundred times and not know what it means, then suddenly it makes sense.
Because the Bible was inspired by God, who used men to write His message, it is logical to ask God for help when you start to read. Many people just browse the Bible and really don’t “read” it at all. They flip through pages, like changing the channels on the remote control. You ask for help, read the passage and that brings us to an important step—reflect on what you just read. This might be tough to chew on, but there are nine questions you need to ask as you reflect on what you just read. They are:
Is there a sin to confess and do I need to take action?
Is there a promise to claim?
Do I need to change my attitude about something?
Which commandment I need to obey?
What example for me to consider, positive or negative?
What a prayer to pray?
Which error do I need to avoid?
Can I see a new truth to be believed, new understandings about God?
Should I praise God for something?
Take a small piece at a time
Remember, just take the Bible one small piece at a time. As you read John’s Gospel, think of these questions. Take your time. Ask God to speak to your heart and mind and wait for His response.
It isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be. Just relax and enjoy the ride. Find a version of the Bible you like and get started. I personally use the New International version, but there are so many great versions.
To be honest, I also enjoy the New Revised Standard, the New Living Translation and of course, I do enjoy the King James for it’s Old English flavor. Versions may vary in emphasis. Some are word-for-word translations from the original Hebrew and Greek. Others are concept focused and try to convey the original intent of the writers. But stick to a translation and avoid a paraphrase version, which can be misleading.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Just enjoy.
Is Satan real?: Years ago comedian Flip Wilson created a wonderful character named “Geraldine.” This popular bit on his television show quickly became a favorite and Geraldine’s GO TO excuse for her bad decision making was to say, “the devil made me do it.”
Flip was brilliant. Very funny. But the comedy was evidence of a very real and often disturbing fact of human nature. When we want something, we often don’t think about the consequences of our actions and we do as we please.
The Apostle Paul has a insightful dissertation on this in the Book of Romans, especially in Chapter 7. We live our lives tugged back and forth between good and evil. That’s an ugly statement so we soften it by saying we make good decisions/choices and bad decisions/choices.
We don’t believe in Satan
Humor aside, many people, even Christians, don’t necessarily believe in Satan, even though Satan is well documented in both the Old and New testaments. We pick and choose what to believe, like going through a cafeteria line and choosing between the prime rib and the chicken. “Oh, I don’t believe THAT.” This is code for “This is too frightening and I hope it isn’t real.”
He goes by many names—Lucifer, the Devil, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles. He is described as the father of lies, the Prince of Darkness.
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus doesn’t stop Satan in the desert
Many people have heard this story, but there is one very large point of fact that is not mentioned at all. You can read this 100 times and you may not think of this important piece of truth. Jesus did not challenge the authority of Satan to do all that he said he could do. There are many references in the New Testament of Jesus warning people to be aware of Satan’s tricks and not to be fooled. The same Satan who tempted the Messiah is the Satan who tempts us.
Still, many Christians choose to not believe in Satan, or in the consequences of sin. Giving further proof to the warning signs shared by Christ. If you believe that Jesus did in fact spend 40 days in the desert being tempted by Satan. Then you must believe that Satan exists.
Understand that the only proof of Satan is found in the Bible. It is written that Satan is a threat here on earth. It is written that God is the ultimate power in the universe. We cannot prove the existence of God, nor can we prove the existence of Satan. But the evidence is there.
There’s an Irving Berlin song that goes, “After you get what you want, you don’t want it.” That is the main point of this posting, finding contentment. We are never satisfied and all too often it drives us crazy.
Most people want “more,” or “bigger,” or “better.” Whatever we consider to be happiness seems to be connected somehow with getting what we want. The Bible makes no promises of wealth, prosperity, celebrity or any other superficial goal. Why can’t we just be content?
Be content in what you have
The writer of the Book of Hebrews gave us a warning:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)
God desires a relationship with us and it is His desire that we would want Him. It’s not like a jilted lover getting cut loose in the romance, but it’s simply that God, our creator, loves us and made us an object of that love.
Any parent would want their son or daughter to love them back and want to be with them, so it is no mystery that God would want us to want that close relationship with Him. But we focus on other things. Instead of God, we long after things, material things. The trouble is, it’s insatiable. We’re never satisfied.
Has few material things but still content
I have known people, who by most standards, would be considered living in poverty. As a young man, I met a couple from church who lived paycheck to paycheck. The good news is that although they had little to nothing, they had Jesus in their life. They had what they needed and were content. Because of Jesus they were satisfied. Their two children were provided for. Dare I say it, they were happy.
As a young man I didn’t understand the source of their happiness. It was God. It took me a lot of years to see that. That contentment was something that could not be taken away from them. This close-knit family, with God at the center, was just fine.
Many who have everything but are NEVER satisfied… Nothing is enough!
I spent many years covering sports as a journalist. I met people who were so driven that they could not enjoy their successes. Nothing was enough. Win, win, win. And they did win, but there was no joy. Titles and money were the payoff, but there was no fulfillment. It struck me as very sad.
Acceptance often major key to contentment
I now coach baseball at the high school level. We encourage our players to love God, love one another, work hard at their skills and accept the results that will follow. Win, lose or draw, players know that there is contentment and satisfaction in leaving it all on the field. It’s fun to compete.
Without the pressure of winning, the boys have done a lot of winning over the years. They have victory in Jesus, and a couple of state titles. Over the years, only one went on to play professionally, but even that is secondary in the young man’s life. He loves God. He is content.
Paul able to be content in prison, hard to imagine, but true
So much of the Apostle Paul‘s writing came about when he was in prison. But even then, he talks about being content. Not happy, content. There’s a difference.
The man poured out the grace and love of God in his writings, all the while suffering physical discomfort and a lack of freedom. It teaches us to look ahead, to look for the future that God promises through His son. This life is temporary, but the Kingdom of God shall never end and we are promised a permanent place in it. Things of this world will pass away, so why hold on to them?
One of the major themes of the Bible, beginning in the Book of Genesis and weaving all the way through to the Book of Revelation is the influence of sin on the relationship between man and God. It is the primary dividing line between us and our creator. It’s also the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.
Sin started at the beginning
In Genesis 3, the serpent asked Eve, “Did God REALLY say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Clearly he is challenging the truth of the statement and questioning the goodness of God. He is appealing to Eve’s ego. He entices her to eat the forbidden fruit.
The sin of Adam and Eve causes a breaking fellowship with God, resulting in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. From there, for the rest of Scripture, the “on again off again” relationship with God leads to the coming of Christ and man’s redemption.
Often people don’t believe in sin today
In today’s world, the concept of sin is greatly diminished, as people do not want to hear challenges to their lifestyle choices, or their conduct. There is no right and wrong.
For example, the Bible clearly speaks against same sex unions, but today it is mainstream and perfectly acceptable, if not celebrated. Additionally, people argue that there are more than two genders. Rejecting the Biblical account that God created man and woman. Babies are born male and female, but they are allowed to select what gender they identify with, so male and female in their world is no longer valid
Not only is the picking and choosing gender encouraged, any questioning of this “right” is greeted with anger and disdain. Children are allowed to undergo surgical procedures to change gender and their parents are proud.
Divorce is common regardless of how harmful
Divorce rates continue to climb. Once considered a rarity, divorce is now more common than a sustaining marriage. No fault divorce is the norm, as irreconcilable differences are the key to walking away from one’s spouse and children.
We have become numb to this destruction of the family unit. We have family and extended family. Men jump from marriage to marriage, and have children with every partner. Single moms are more common than married ones. But it’s acceptable. Sin is not considered.
Greed is celebrated
All aspects of culture center around personal satisfaction and gain. Television advertising zeros in on this and appeals to our selfishness. Not only do they make you want something, they tell you that you deserve it and because of this, anything that gets in the way is wrong.
Bigger house, better car, any little pleasures of life are yours because you are entitled. Advertising appeals to the worst of our nature.
We turn from God as we sin
Sin is just turning away from God. Sometimes it’s unintentional, but in all too many cases, it’s deliberate.
The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is filled with accounts of people turning away, suffering, then turning back. Sin is an inconvenient truth.
The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) It goes on to warn that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) This death is eternal separation from God, a never-ending punishment.
But it also goes on to say that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Realizing that we all turn away from Him and sin, God’s grace is extended to us through His son, Jesus.
It’s like being in court and the judge rules that we are guilty as charged. But then the judge takes off his robes, gets out of the chair of judgment and pays the penalty for us.
Because of what the Messiah did on the cross, we are set free., if we make the choice to accept the gift. You don’t have to accept it, but it’s highly advantageous to take it.
A wrathful, vengeful God? He is a God who loved all of us so much, He allowed his only son to die on the cross. The Bible’s most powerful theme is forgiveness and reconciliation. Sin is defeated when the gift of life is accepted.
The questions are as old as history itself. If God is good and loving, why is there so much evil in the world? Why does God allow evil? If God really loves us, why does he not rid the world of evil?
The question is easy to ask, but the answer is not always what we want to hear. Ever hear the old saying that when you point the finger at someone, there are three fingers point back at you? That might be the best way of explaining why evil is allowed to persist.
The story of evil in the world begins in Genesis
It all began in the Garden of Eden. We go back to Genesis, the first book in the Bible. God had instructed Adam and Eve that they could eat of any tree in the garden, with one small exception—the tree in the center of the garden.
Adam and Eve could have everything they wanted from all the other trees, just not that one. But Satan, in the form of a serpent, got Eve to think about God’s limitations on her choices. The beginning of Genesis 3 tells the story:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan deceives using pride
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. That is the beginning of evil in mankind.
Then, Eve also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it too. Because of this, the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
We have everything but it is not enough
What just happened in the Garden? God had given Adam and Eve everything, but Satan planted the idea in Eve’s head that God was withholding something from them. Then came the first deception–
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Even though God had been completely generous in His provision for them, they doubted His goodness. They believed that He was holding back on them. Satan had appealed to Eve’s pride, and pride is the root cause of all sin and evil.
Satan’s deception was made possible by another gift that God had given man, the gift of choice… a free will. We are free to make our choices.
Because of free will, no one can make us think anything we don’t want to think. Eve’s pride kicked into high gear when she was told that she would not die and that she would be like God.
Satan’s creates evil and turns away from God
According to the Bible, before God’s creation of man, Satan orchestrated a revolt against God in Heaven. He created evil on earth. But that revolt failed and Satan, the Archangel Lucifer, was cast out of Heaven along with one-third of the angels.
He became Satan and his followers became demons. Satan’s way of getting back at God for losing his challenge of God, was be to destroy God’s most prized creation, man. He won the first battle when he got both Adam and Eve to sin against God.
Had they resisted the temptation, and not eaten the fruit from the tree in the center of the garden, all would have been fine. But they didn’t resist. They gave in to the deception. Their pride got in the way. They made the wrong choice.
People often make bad choices and Satan helps
It is all too easy to blame someone else for our troubles. God gets blamed most of the time. I don’t get everything I want, so it’s God’s fault for not letting me have my own way.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people, not because God doesn’t love them or care for them, but because people make bad choices. Give a person an AR-15, then give him/her a grievance and you have the recipe for a mass killing.
Satan deceives us just like Adam and Eve
People are deceived by their own pride and arrogance. Because of this that is what Satan plays on. He plants an idea, we allow it to take root by thinking about it, and in all too many cases, we make a terrible decision. Firearms are legal. Murder is not.
The decisions people make, based on pride, are the triggering element in evil acts.
God allows evil because He allows choice
God allows evil, within certain limits. We are all given free will to make our choices. Throughout history we see kingdoms rise and fall, but all had their limitations.
We read about this in the Book of Daniel, when he interprets the dreams of the king. We see kingdoms come and go. But God is the constant force limiting the evil in the world, not all of it.
For over 75 years the world has had nuclear weapons, capable of killing every living creature on the planet. But that global thermonuclear war has not happened. Satan would love to give the wrong man the idea to press the button, but it has not yet happened. But thankfully, God allows man to go just so far, but no farther.
We are living in a period of grace
While God’s Law is very much in force today, we live in a period of grace. It is God’s desire that all accept the gift of salvation that He offers, through the completed work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is Jesus that changes hearts and minds, and turns us from our pride to follow God. It is Jesus who defeats Satan and evil.
When you want to blame God for all of the troubles in the world, just think about one simple fact– had man not sinned against God, none of the current evil would have ever happened.
There would be no sickness, no pain, no death. God gave us a perfect world to live in, the means to thrive and survive, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy our pride.
Thankfully, in spite of ourselves, God loves us and gave us His grace and the means to establish an eternal relationship through Jesus. At the end of the day, it’s a very good deal.
To decide is the Bible is true, you must first ask: Does God really exist? This is an important question, but the answer is simply we cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Belief in God and the Bible is simply a matter of faith.
The Bible begins…”In the beginning God…” The Bible is the story about the relationship between God and man, and faith is an important element in that relationship because the Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
Need to desire faith and be willing to seek God
For those who have faith, or desire to have faith, the answers to most questions are provided by the Bible. So finding answers is simply there for the reading. Also, it follows that, the answer to the question does God exist is yes.
For those who demand scientific proof, they will likely be disappointed, because if proving the existence of God were merely a scientific exercise, there would be no need of faith.Then everyone would know that God exists and and seeking Him would become irrelevant. We all know that gravity exists on earth whether we believe in it or not. We don’t need to seek it or believe in it.
If science could proof the existence of God then we would not need to seek God or read and study the Bible.
Lots of proof about the existence of Godand that the Bible is true
Still, there is plenty of proof, if you choose to look for it. But understand that two people can look at the same evidence, study it and come up with opposite conclusions. Therefore, if you look at the evidence in terms of God putting it there, things fall into place. If you are just looking for answers, in the absence of God, your information may not line up. Again, it is a matter of faith.
It’s probably easier to understand God or the existence of God, in terms of order and design. All of nature, for example, functions. Because of God, plants and animals do what they were designed to do. There are 24 hours in the day, and we know to the minute, when the sun will rise and set every day of every year.
Just the air we breathe is perfectly balanced. Most people understand cause and effect and that suggests something caused everything to come into existence. Something caused that to happen. That something is God.
We were created in the image of God
Man has the ability to reason, to create. We have an inner sense of right and wrong. The Bible states that we were created in the image of God, which would explain where our sense of right and wrong comes from.
Evolution is a lie and most scientists know it
But, men and women may not believe the truth, no matter how much evidence is put before them. Sometimes they would prefer to believe a lie.
A scientist once said, when asked about evolution or the biblical account of creation, that he knew evolution was a scientific impossibility. But because he refused to believe in God, he chose to believe in that which he knew was not true.
Denying God and believing in evolution requires an act of faith. Evolution is a religion which endeavors to explain the origin of life in the absence of a creator God. Man has long wanted to put himself equal to or ahead of God.
The three major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, endeavor to explain the origin of life in terms of God. Christianity goes one step farther than the two others, in that it explains all of existence in terms of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christians and Jews believe the Hebrew Bible to be God’s word, and so they accept the creation account in Genesis. God spoke the universe into existence, therefore we exist. That account sets the stage for everything else that is to come.
“Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
How can anyone preach unless they are sent?
As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.
For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
Belief in God and His word the Bible is an act of FAITH
It is a matter of faith. Reading the Bible is a good way to build knowledge, but at the same time also to build faith.
The Bible is a living document, just as alive and vibrant today as it was when each book was first written. It is the inspired word of God, given to man for wisdom, guidance and encouragement if he has the faith to seek it.
Many followers of Jesus, Christians, do not understand that their faith is actually deeply rooted in Judaism and that their practices and traditions are, in fact, Jewish. Take for example the Sacrament of Communion.
For Roman Catholics, it is the centerpiece of their liturgy and mass, with many practicing Catholics will take Communion every day, or at least every week. Protestant churches often have Communion on Sunday, but many do it once a month. But seldom to people really think about where it comes from.
Jesus becomes the blood of the Passover Lamb of God
Messianic Rabbi Jason Sobel writes about a traditional Passover meal called a Seder. “The third cup of wine celebrating the meal is poured and drunk after reciting a blessing. Remember, the third cup is a reminder of the blood of the Passover Lamb, which was sprinkled three times on the doorposts of the children of Israel in Egypt so that death would not take their Firstborn.
During a Seder meal there are four cups of wine which are symbolic the steps of freedom from Egypt. The Four Cups represent the four expressions of deliverance promised by God Exodus 6:6–7: “I will bring out,” “I will deliver,” “I will redeem,” and “I will take.” The third cup is the cup of redemption.
During the Last Supper, it was this third cup of the Seder that Jesus raised, blessed, and declared to be a representation of Himself, the greater Passover Lamb who would take away the sin of the world.
It reminds us of the blood of the greater Passover Lamb Jesus, who took the third cup and added even greater spiritual meaning when He said: In the same way, He took the cup after His final meal, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:20).”
Jesus’ Last Supper was the first Christian Communion
Communion is understood in different ways, depending on the church. It is generally accepted that it is based on what is called “The Last Supper,” when Jesus took his disciples into a private room for what is believed to be a Passover Seder. After the meal, he took great care in illustrating what was going to happen in the hours ahead.
It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On that first day it was customary to sacrifice the Passover Lamb.
“ When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:14-23)
Jesus used the Seder to make his point.
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke says “he gave thanks.”
The blessing He likely used was from the Seder it translated,
“Blessed are you, Lord our God, who brings forth bread from the earth.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
Again, the blessing was likely, “Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.”
God brings redemption to the world through Jesus
Interestingly, what comes from the earth is wheat, which is harvested and turned into bread. This illustrates redemption, just as the third cup of the Seder during Passover also symbolizes redemption.
God gives us the raw materials. God has given man life and opportunity. God worked through Moses to bring freedom from bondage in Egypt. God worked through Jesus to bring salvation and freedom from sin to all who believe. God chose to use Jesus to bring redemption to the world.
Jesus celebrated Passover throughout His life on earth
Jesus would have celebrated the Passover every year of his life, as well as observing all of the Jewish holidays, which are many. He told people that He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. He was not putting His Jewish faith aside by any means.
Still, there are those who want to separate followers of Jesus (Christians) from the Jewish people. There are different understandings of Scripture, differences in who Jesus was. Christians regard Him as the promised Messiah, while non-Messianic Jews believe that He could not have been the Messiah, as He did not meet their expectations. So most Jews and Christians do not understand their common beliefs, worshiping the same God.
Christian view the Communion as sacred
The Sacrament of Communion is sacred, as it reminds us of the sacrifice that God made, in sending His own Son to die on the cross. It is a representation of faith, a remembrance and a way of giving thanks. It honors Jesus just as He requested during the third cup of His Seder dinner during the His final Passover when He was crucified and then resurrected by God.
For more information
For a full understanding of Passover and the richness of the Jewish/Christian faith, go to FUSIONGLOBAL.ORG and learn from Rabbi Jason Sobel, author of “Mysteries of the Messiah.”
Sin in the Bible. We don’t want to hear about it: We don’t want to talk about it: We don’t know what it is, unless it applies to somebody else.
Sin is a controversial subject, but its definition is simple enough to understand—it is a purposeful act of disobeying God’s law. But at the same time, its definition is complex, because most people do not know where sin came from.
The root of sin is pride. From the very beginning, men and women had to deal with their own thoughts, words and deeds.
Sin in the Bible: Where It All Started
It did not take long for the first sin to occur in the Bible. In the very first book, Genesis, in the third chapter, we are told of the first sin.
Adam and Eve had been given the Garden of Eden, a utopia from God. There was no sin there, no death, no disease. Animals did not attack the two people, nor did the strong feed on the weak.
God had given them everything in the garden, except for the fruit of one tree. All was theirs for the taking, but God wanted that tree left alone. The explanation of this is found in Genesis 2:15,
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
God created woman
Right after that conversation, God put Adam to sleep, took one of his ribs, and made a woman, Eve, to be his wife. It all came apart in Genesis 3:3-7, which states,
“ Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.
5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
Serpent used pride to introduce sin
Eve was deceived. The serpent appealed to her pride. He suggested that God did not love them and was withholding things from them. Even though they had the whole garden to chose from, the idea of not being allowed to eat from the tree that God forbid them to eat from was seen through their prideful eyes as God withholding something.
She allowed herself to be deceived. She listened to the serpent and bought into the life. She embellished on God’s word by staying, “and you must not touch it.” God did not say that. He said “don’t eat of it.” Eve relied on her own thoughts to make a decision. She did not ask God, or think about God. She thought only of herself.
Both deceived because of their pride
Then there was Adam, right there with her. He did not step in and tell her not to eat the fruit, nor did he warn her about going against God’s rules. He watched. When she offered him the fruit, he ate it too.
When questioned about this by God, he blamed her for what he had done. She was created to help Adam, but he showed no desire to protect her, even though he knew as well as she that eating the fruit would have consequences.
Once sin entered everything changed
When they ate the fruit, as the Bible says, their eyes were opened. They realized they were naked and quickly covered themselves. They tried to hide their action. God, of course, saw it all and knew what had happened.
When God warned them about dying, he did not intend to strike them down when they sinned. God killed an animal and gave them skins to cover themselves. But the perfect life was gone. Sin has consequences, sometimes immediate, sometimes delayed, but always a reality.
Missing The Mark
The Apostle Paul wrote,
“all have sinned and fall short of the glory mof God.” (Romans 3:23).
An archer picks up the bow, pulls back and fires. The arrow falls short of the target. That is a good example of our problem with sin. No matter how hard we try, we still sin. Paul goes on to say, in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Roots of Sin
Long before Adam and Eve, there was a rebellion. God created Angels to serve him. The most glorious among these heavenly hosts was Lucifer, the shining one, who stood at God’s throne.
Being the top angel was not enough for Lucifer, who decided that he wanted the glory. He and about one-third of the lesser angels waged war against God. They lost.
God cast them out of heaven and to the earth He had created. Being Angels and not human, they were not killed, but became demons and their leader was Lucifer, now Satan. Having lost the battle with God, Satan, which means accuser, set out to destroy God’s most precious creation, man. He his also known as the devil, meaning adversary.
Satan’s main purpose is to corrupt man and separate him from God.
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.
The prophet Ezekiel wrote,
“You were in Eden, the garden of God.… I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire.
“You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. … and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire.
Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground. (Ezekiel 28:13-17)
Lucifer was a creation of God and was given a free will to serve God or to disobey. He chose to rebel. Likewise, for the same reason, PRIDE, man chose to rebel.
Our Struggle With Sin
Even those who follow Jesus, or dedicate themselves to following the Law, sometimes balk at the idea of being a sinner. Our pride gets in the way.
We rationalize our actions by trying to convince ourselves that while we may be sinners, the other guy is worse.
Even loyal church members cringe when a pastor talks about sin. People don’t want to hear it, so they try to change the narrative. In an effort to justify their own bad choices, they put the blame on God, for being bigoted, narrow minded, hateful and unloving.
God must be wrong if He disagrees with our choices. As a result, people put themselves on a slippery slope. By rationalizing their own perceptions, by watering down the Word of God in the Bible, they block out the truth, the absolute, eternal and never changing truth.
The Bible tells of this conscious decision, saying that good will be called evil and evil good. The Holiness of God, the beauty and majesty of God becomes corrupted in the minds of those who will not accept His Word, who pick and chose what they will believe out of the Bible and what they will reject.
Sin is a part of Human nature
Sin is a part of human nature. God understands this completely. That is exactly why Jesus needed to leave heaven and come to earth to do that which we could not do for ourselves—defeat sin.
When people think of the Ten Commandments, they often think of the film by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Charlton Heston as Moses. They may also think of lessons learned in Sunday School, but rarely are the Ten Commandments thought of in terms of God reaching out to man to form the basis of an eternal friendship.
God brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt in 1446 BC, and immediately gave them the rules to follow to have a moral, well functioning society even as they lived in the wilderness for forty years. Moses went to the top of Mount Sinai and God inscribed the tablets with the Ten Commandments.
The commandments are the rules that God wanted the Israelites and all of us to follow.
Here are the Ten Commandments from the King James Version of the Bible:
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Ten Commandments define a moral society
People have debated the meaning of these commandments for centuries. Some regard them as a rigid set of rules and regulations, while others describe them as suggestions. Most would agree, that they are a set of morals that we all should follow to live a joyous and free life.
If we love God, then we will want to follow His commandments. God, as our creator, knows what is good for us and striving to follow these commandments helps us to live well.
Impossible to follow on our own
The Ten Commandments are the perfect set of standards one must adhere to in order to gain entrance into heaven. Disobeying the commandments is how sin is defined. If we covet what our neighbor has, we are sinning. If we worship false idols or prophets that is also sin.
Jesus knew, of course, that nobody can keep them, we as fallen humans are not able to avoid sinning and breaking the commandments. He also knew that only perfection would be allowed in His Father’s kingdom.
That is why we needed Jesus, our Messiah, to be willing to die on the cross and rise on the third day for us. His death and resurrection allows us enter into God’s kingdom with our sins covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. It all starts by understanding God’s law as outlined in His Ten Commandments.
Judaism is defined by the commandments
The Commandments were given to the Israelites, three weeks after their exodus from captivity in Egypt, the beginning of Judaism was taking shape. God directed Moses how worship was to be done, sacrifices to be made and from those original Ten Commandments, 613 individual laws were established.
The prophets over the ages would warn the people when they were falling away from God. After God gave Israel the commandments in the desert, the rest of the books of the Old Testament describe Israel’s disobedience. The Bible outlines a long history of Israel turning to God, turning away from God and then turning back again. The relationship between man and God was formalized.
God introduced sacrifice as atonement for sin
Because it was not possible to keep the commandments, God established a system whereby people could offer a sacrifice, a substitution shedding of blood to cover their sins.
Before fleeing Egypt, the first Passover was established. The people were instructed to take a perfect lamb, a first born, male, without blemish from the flock. God was very specific about this. The sacrifice was made. The blood was painted on the doorposts of houses and angel of death would pass over the house.
This became a yearly ritual. The shedding of blood to cover sins. It was the same thing that God did in the Garden of Eden, when He killed an animal and gave the skins to Adam and Eve to cover themselves. It was a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus, for all who believe.
God said He would write His commandments on our hearts. That is, for those who chose to follow Him, the Law is something to be embraced, a goal of heavenly perfection, shrived for our of love and desire to belong to God.
Ten Commandments give us a mirror into our lives
The Ten Commandments can also be like a mirror. By embracing the commandments men and women can look at themselves and see the truth of their lives. It is a warning system, reminding people to turn back to God and rekindle their relationship. It is a way for man to see the Holiness and perfection of God.
Because perfection is required for heaven, and because people are incapable of reaching that perfection, it becomes obvious that what separates man from God is man’s sin. Man’s debt for that sin cannot be repaid. It is impossible. Because of sin, man does not deserve heaven, can’t earn his way to heaven and cannot buy his way into heaven.
Jesus and His Resurrection redeem us from our sin
The penalty of sin leads us to the major point of the Bible—the Lord Jesus Christ. God loves us. He does not desire that we should perish. But He is Holy and perfect and the price for sin must be paid, otherwise He is a liar.
Rather than sacrificing man, God chose to sacrifice His own Son. The ultimate purpose of the Ten Commandments is they point the way to the Messiah.
The Ten Commandments, often overlooked as a lesson for children, are so much more. They point to Christ. They bind us to God. They are meant for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.