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No one good but GOD, so we cannot ever be good? Matt. 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke. 18:19

luke-23Is God alone GOOD? 

Below are the three passages where we can read about Jesus claim that ”none is good but one, and that is God”. His statement has often been misunderstood in two ways 1) the idea that Jesus denies he is God (which he does not deny), and 2) the idea that no one apart from God can ever be considered good and we can forget about ever doing something that is considered righteous (which he does not say).

Matt. 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Markus 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Lukas 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

Jesus does not argue against being God, and let us not forget that God the Father himself calls Jesus God in Hebr. 1:8 (to mention one verse among many supporting the deity of Jesus). The rich ruler called Jesus ”Good Master”, and it seems like Jesus wanted him to reflect about his own statement. Does the man realize what he is saying and is he aware of who he is asking for advice? Jesus is not only a good master, but he can also forgive sins – which only God has the authority to do. Moreover, if Jesus would claim to not be God, we would have quite a few Bible contradictions to battle.

Notice also that the question was what to DO in order to inherit eternal life, and that Jesus did not answer ”just believe and do nothing”. Instead, Jesus answers the question by highlighting the commandments of God which are these: ”Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother”. When the rich ruler answers back that he has observed those commandments since youth, Jesus does not argue that such complete obedience is impossible but rather explains that the rich ruler still lacks one thing – to sell his many possessions and distribute the money to the poor. Here too we must try to understand what Jesus is saying. He is likely using a hyperbole since it would not be logical to ask the rich ruler to sell 100% of all this possessions. Not even Jesus and his disciples had done that themselves and Jesus was no hypocrite. Jesus was likely referring to the excess of possessions owned by the rich ruler, and that his heart was not entirely right before God. He was likely more concerned with his valuable possessions than having a prosperous connection with God.

If there is only one person (or God) who is good, does this mean the rest of human kind as well as angels are considered bad? No one can of course compare his/her goodness with the goodness of God, but if we have been cleansed from our sins then surely we must be considered ”good” (as long as we remain clean) since we have no sins left on our sin accounts. Babies might be considered neutral (they are not aware of the law), but since they have not done anything worthy of being called evil, another alternative is to label them ”good”.

Isaiah 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Rom. 9: 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Jesus expected his disciples (who had already sinned earlier in their lives) to be perfect as their Father. Unless Jesus is lying, we can all be considered perfect if we live righteous lives:

Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The question is rather what Jesus might mean with being ”perfect”. We already know it does not mean ”to never having sinned and to never sin even once for the rest of your life”, because Jesus was talking to his disciples who had already sinned. Anyone can repent for past sins and become totally cleansed and perfect. Anyone can continue on the righteous path by being led by the holy Spirit and avoid evil. The promise is:

Gal. 5:16 —Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

The Bible tells us that there are indeed GOOD individuals

Good” is in Matt. 19:17, Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 translated from the Greek adjective ἀγαθός (agathos Strong’s 18) which means good, generous, friendly, etc. There are other words which describe good and righteous individuals, but let us focus on this particular term. Joseph and Barnabas are two examples of good people according to the Bible:

Luke 23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a GOOD man, and a just

Acts 11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.—24 For he was a GOOD man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Through Biblical parables and analogies, we can see that individuals can be labelled as ”good”:

Matt. 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.—21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Luke 19:16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Matt. 22:9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Matt. 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Matt. 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Matt. 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

There were even good slave owners (masters) during this time:

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

Do read about the expression ”filthy rags” from Isaiah 64:6 here.

Can you be born again AGAIN? – John 3:3,7

born again

Being born again, or ”born from above”

When a sinner for the first time comes to Jesus, confesses his sins, repents, becomes forgiven/cleansed/regenerated and decides to leave his old sinful life style behind him to live a new life with Jesus Christ, this can be expressed with being ”born again”. He has put off the old man and put on the new. If a person has gone from spiritual death to spiritual life, being born again is truly a good description and expression – because the person has been given his life back and can start a brand new life together with the holy Spirit given to those who first repent (Acts 2:38). He has been given the key to the kingdom of God.

Sometimes you will hear the question ”Can you be born again AGAIN?” from particularly reformed believers who are convinced that it is only possible to make the transfer from spiritual death to spiritual life one time only (without ever reverting back to spiritual death) and that a person who is born again WILL endure to the end and inherit the kingdom of God as a certainty. They believe that if a person does seem to revert back to deep sin and spiritual death, then he was not saved to begin with. This is commonly believed by the ”once saved always saved” camp as well as the ”perseverance of the saints” camp. The question, however, should be rephrased in order to avoid misunderstandings. There is a risk that the person asking the question might interpret the expression in one way, and the person answering might understand it in a different way. ”Born again” might be only two words but the expression has a deep meaning.

We can agree that a sinner can only once be ”totally converted for the first time” (when he repents, becomes forgiven, gets baptized and becomes a completely new cleansed person and a child of God). However, it is possible for the same sinner to go back to one or more of his old sins because he does not lose his free will in the process. Even Jesus Christ had the ability to sin (something he never did), so naturally we too could still make this choice. The serious part is that an unrepentant sinner is always lost, and people who were previously born again are not excepted from this danger. The devil is always on the hunt to tempt Christians with the hope to ensnare them in sin, and sometimes he succeeds when Christians give in for temptations. Some Christians repent at once, some do not repent until after months or years, and some Christians never repent but have truly reverted back to their own vomit and remain there. People can go from life, to death to life again:

The prodigal son: Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive AGAIN; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.-32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive AGAIN; and was lost, and is found.

The debt which was cancelled by the Lord, and later reinstated again: Matt. 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and FORGAVE HIM THE DEBT.32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.d

2 Pet. 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are AGAIN entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.22 But it is happened unto them accor—ding to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit AGAIN; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

So the question should rather be if a born again child of God can still choose to sin, and yes he can. Even King David, a man of God’s own heart, chose to sin quite severely – through murder, adultery and lies – and did not repent until after about a year. What does the Bible say about a righteous man who sins like King David?

Ez. 18:24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.—26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.

Ever since the time of Adam, the truth remains that the wages of sin is death and that Satan lied when he taught the opposite. Sins still separate us from God.

Being born again (1 Pet. 1:23)

Being born again is a translation from the Greek verb anagennaō (Strong’s 313). According to the Blueletter Bible, it could mean (apart from being born again) to be born anew, to produce again or to have one’s mind changed so that he lives a new life conformed to God’s will (so unlike before). From Strong’s 303 and 1080; to beget or (by extension) bear (again):—beget, (bear) × (again). We can read about being born again (313) in 1 Pet. 1:3 (twice) and in. v. 23.

1 Pet. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,—13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:—22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever

Ye must be born again”, says Jesus (John 3:3,7)

”Be born” is here a translation of the verb gennaō (Strong’s 1080) and is a variation of genós (Strong’s 1085). In the KJV it is translated: begat, be born, bear, gender, bring forth, be delivered. ”Again” is a translation of the adverb anōthen (Strong’s 509) and can be translated again, anew, from above, from a higher place, top, from the first and from the beginning.

We are all born physically from water (in our mother’s womb), but we also need to be spiritually reborn in order to become heirs to God’s kingdom, and that is when we are forgiven and cleansed from our past sins. No wonder Jesus taught ”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”! 

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

From the below text we learn that Jesus seemed surprised about Nicodemus’ failure to understand him, indicating that Jesus was no Calvinist (Calvinists believe God is the one who enables and prevents people to believe). Jesus also compares himself with the serpent in the wilderness during the time of Moses, and people had to walk up to this serpent to behold it in order to be cleansed from their wounds. They had to make their own choice to do it, and similarly we need to make our own choice to approach Jesus in order to be cleansed from our ”spiritual wounds” (our sins). Whosoever believes in Jesus will get eternal life, showing that it is a universal offer for everyone. God loved the WORLD, and sent his son not to condemn THE WORLD but to save it. Parts of the world will still be condemned,  but this does not change the fact that Jesus was sent to enable salvation to the world. We can see in v. 18-20, that the reason why people are still being condemned is because they do not believe in Jesus and do not come to the light due to their evil ways (they love darkness rather than light). If you do evil deeds you hate the light and do not come to the light. In v. 36 we can see that a person risks the wrath of God if he does not believe (and obey) the son of God (Jesus, God in flesh). God has no reason to be angry at someone who acts according to his will, which means that he is only angry at those who do NOT do his will but walk their own ways.

John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God —31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

The new man who is born againjohn piper

Do not trust reformed Mr Piper (see picture right), but trust in the Bible which says that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but was sent so that the world through him (the condition) could be saved. We must therefore remain in the vine (Jesus) so that we will not be cut off (John 15). Below we can see various descriptions about how a new person in Christ is expected to live his life. We can read about THE OLD MAN being put off:

Colossians 3:Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have PUT OFF THE OLD MAN WITH HIS DEEDS;10 AND HAVE PUT ON THE NEW MAN, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

2 Cor. 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.—17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATURE: OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY; behold, all things are become new.

Rom. 6:6 Knowing this, that OUR OLD MAN is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.–-16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Eph. 4:17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;  2 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, THE OLD MAN which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you PUT ON THE NEW MAN which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and DO NOT SIN”:do not let the sun go down on your wrath,27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (NKJV)

Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

1 John 1:If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Matthew 9:17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

1 Cor. 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

The NATURAL MAN receives not the things of the Spirit of God? – 1 Cor. 2:14

flesh

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14) 

It is a choice to be a ”natural man” as no one is born a sinner. It is rather an adopted nature just as the context indicates. An alcoholic might suggest that he has inherited genes that makes him an alcoholic out of necessity just like his parents, but even though genetics can partly explain certain similar weaknesses/attitudes/traits we still cannot blame our actions – like repeatedly pouring liquor into a glass and drink – on our parents. ”Natural” in 1 Cor. 2:14 is a translation from the Greek adjective psychikos (Strong’s 5591) and can be translated as natural or sensual. The word is used 6 times in the New Testament. In 1 Cor. 15 we have a slightly different perspective of the word, because the passage talks about the resurrection when we will get rid of our fleshly bodies to get new spiritual bodies prior to entering the kingdom of God:

1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.—44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

James makes it clear that we should not mix righteous deeds with unrighteous deeds. Just like Paul he urges his readers to stop sinning:

Ja. 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?—14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

We can see that those who are ”natural” are those who choose to walk after their own lusts instead of having an interest to be led by the Spirit. It usually concerns those who have no desire to seek God (as per Rom. 1:18-32) and who are therefore atheists/agnostics, but it could also apply to anyone (also Christians) who chooses to walk after his/her own lusts. They separate themselves from God by following their ungodly lusts:

Jude 1:16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

A natural man is again someone who chooses to live after the flesh and not after the Spirit. The context below shows that Paul speaks highly of the power of the holy Spirit which is given to Christians (after repentance), and through this magnificent power it is certainly easier to come closer to God and know all the details of his will. We are able to be victorious over sin if we choose to be led by the Spirit, but it takes a will of our own. Also agnostics are able to avoid sin, but if they decide to repent and start living with Jesus Christ they will get a new power thanks to the new Helper – the holy Spirit. The holy Spirit does not force a person to obey him:

1 Cor. 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

The promise given to us in Gal. 5 is that if we decide to walk in the Spirit, we are automatically not fulfilling the lust of the flesh because of our righteous lives. If we instead live after the flesh, we automatically do not walk in the Spirit since the flesh is contrary to the Spirit. It is one or the other. The Spirit would never lead us unto the road of destruction. Paul assures us that if we do live after the flesh (and he gives examples of what that means) we can forget about inheriting the kingdom of God. He does not say that Christians are exempted from this danger. He also says ”If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”, showing that this is nothing that happens automatically without our participation. It is the responsibility of each individual to live a holy life, and we cannot blame God for preventing us from obeying his commandments:

Gal. 5:16 This I say then, WALK IN THE SPIRIT, AND YE SHALL NOT FULFIL THE LUST OF THE FLESH.17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Below we can more clearly see what happens to someone who God gives up to a reprobate mind due to the individual’s decision to walk after his own lusts (and become a natural man). Such a person is without excuse because he could have reached out to God and live according to his will, but chose not to. THAT is the reason for deserving a spot in hell. Not because God chose someone to be a wicked non-elect before he was even born, but because the person had all the chances in the world to seek and believe in God (the very purpose for God to create us in the first place as per Acts 17:26-30) but instead turned his back on him and lived a rebellious life.

Rom. 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 FOR THIS CAUSE God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, to do those things which are not convenient;29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

If we live according to the flesh, we CANNOT please Godglorified

It is not a good idea to be a natural man with a carnal mind, because then we simply cannot please God. A person who has his mind set on maintaining his sins cannot at the same time live according to God’s commandments.

Rom. 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

We can learn from Paul who those are who ”are after the flesh”. They are the ones who walk not after the Spirit but after the flesh. This means that their wicked actions cause them to be carnally minded/natural men. Fortunately there is a solution provided by Paul in that same chapter, and that is to walk after the Spirit which is a much better choice.

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.—4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Paul explains this also in Rom. 6, where he assures us that we can successfully start living according to the Spirit instead of obeying sin. Note that we are slaves to the one we choose to obey, so if we choose to obey sin we are slaves to sin and not free. Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome, so Christians are clearly not freed from the risk of landing in spiritual death – which would happen to anyone who decides to obey sin and who does not repent:

Rom. 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul refers to a passage in Isaiah 29 when it talks about hidden wisdom. The reason for people living in darkness is due to their decision to remove their hearts from him:

1 Cor. 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.*) 

*) Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

God loves us and wishes that we all would come to the knowledge of the truth:

1 Tim. 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

You can read about Eph. 2 here, where you will see that it is a choice to be ”children of wrath” (individuals who are subject to God’s wrath due to their sins) and that the chapter nowhere suggests that anyone is born that way. It is rather, yet again, about people who choose to walk after their own lusts.

If the elect cannot be lost, why the Biblical warnings that they can be DECEIVED?

Do not be deceived

If Christians are exempt from the risk of being deceived, Biblical warnings about deception (addressing Christians) do not make much sense

In a world where predestination is the only factor which determines man’s paths, the elect cannot be lost and the non-elect cannot be saved. This would be the world of the reformed believers (Calvinists) who do not believe in ”free will” in the ordinary way. Yet, the Bible constantly reveals how God pleads with people, warns them and even punishes them for acting against his will. The Bible also tells us that certain people risk being deceived in such a way that their salvation is in jeopardy (not merely risking reduced rewards in heaven), and not even God’s ”little children” are exempt from this risk. Why warning the elect that they might be deceived if this can never truly happen? Why warning the non-elect that they might be deceived if they are even born deceived and will remain in that state of mind for ever more?

Deut. 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them

Do we have an option to take heed or not, or will God make sure that (some of us) WILL take heed and thus avoid the risk of worshiping other gods? In that case, why the severe warning to take heed lest we be deceived?

Mal. 1:14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lordof hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

Can such a thing really happen? A prophet which speaks corrupt things which God disapproves of and wishes that he would not have done? Yes, due to man’s free will.

”Deceive” in the New Testament is a translation from the Greek verb planaō (Strong’s 4105)

In the KJV it is translated deceive (24x), err (6x), go astray (5x), seduce (2x), wander (1x), be out of the way (1x). Below are a few examples:

Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Above we can read an analogy with a sheep going astray, but it is not certain that sheep that have gone astray will always be found. V. 13 tells us ”IF so be that he find it….”, then there will be much joy. Moreover, there are apparently a group of people (likened with sheep) who are not considered lost, but others who are. Those who are lost are obviously those who are not together with the shepherd but have gone astray. Furthermore, we can read that God the Father does not want any of those little lost ones (sheep going astray) to perish. Sadly certain lost people DO perish, so God’s will is not always done. Is there really a shepherd who would want some of his sheep to go astray, and is it likely that a loving parent would want some of his/her children to go astray and remain totally lost? The son of man came to save that which is lost. There is obviously no need to save people who are NOT lost and who need no repentance – perhaps because they are innocent babies/children or because they have already repented and remained cleansed. Those who need no repentance are likely the ”99 sheep” already with the shepherd, so he does not have to worry about their safety. They are already secure as long as they choose to remain with the shepherd. The shepherd will focus on those who are LOST and he will want to save as many sheep as possible. Shepherds do not place GPS-units on their sheep together with a modern device that can somehow force them to return home, but sheep rather have free will.:

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

More examples of being deceived:

Mark. 13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (+ Luke 21:8)

Matt. 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.—11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.—20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:—22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Jesus is above talking to his disciples (and all of us), and he feels it is urgent to give us warnings to take heed since people might deceive us. The love of many shall wax cold in the end of days but he who endures to the END shall be saved. It does not say ”he who is chosen to be elect and saved from the beginning of the world will remain saved”. Jesus also asks us (or perhaps those living near Jerusalem at the time) to pray that our flight will not take place in the winter or during a sabbath day. It certainly seems like we can affect the outcome with our prayers and that all things are not set in stone. What would happen if we do NOT pray about this? Will things turn out exactly as God has predestined anyway? Then why does Jesus so earnestly ask to pray about this matter if we cannot change what is already predestined? If people, like Jesus’ disciples, could never be tricked into following a false prophet, Jesus would not have to caution them about it. Some take v. 24 to mean that the elect cannot be deceived but that is not what it says. ”Elect” means something precious and special, such as Israel, certain angels and even Jesus Christ. As born again christians we are certainly ”a peculiar people” and very special indeed. The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8) , and if there is a possibility that he can trick some of God’s children he will of course try. Why putting in much effort to deceive people who are already deceived and lost?

1 Cor. 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Why does Paul tell christians to not be deceived if it is not possible for them to end up deceived? Can born again christians choose to sin in such ways that Paul listed? Sure, even Jesus Christ could have chosen to sin but he chose not to. The Bible gives us examples of true believers who have chosen to sin and not all of them repented. Paul tells us that if people engage in sin, the same people are prevented from inheriting the kingdom of God. He does not suggest that born again christians are exempted from this risk, nor that they can get away with sin because they are unconditionally eternally secured. Regardless if agnostics or christians engage in sin, they are still labelled unrighteous, and Paul makes it perfectly clear that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. There will always be preachers to teach the opposite (”No worries, it is not possible to stop sinning but God still accepts you as you are as long as you believe in him”) but Paul’s warning is ”Be not deceived” about them! Remember that it was Satan who managed to get Eve to believe that she could get away with sin (not obeying God) and still not die. As we all know, he lied. Sin separates us from God.

Gal. 6:Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Above we are again asked to not be deceived, and Paul explains what we should not be deceived about. He wants us to understand that ”he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (NKJV). This means that what we choose to DO will determine our future. If we do bad (use our bodies to sin) we will die spiritually, but if we do good we will get everlasting life. It is not enough to spend our lives just ”believing” without showing our faith also with our actions, and neither is it possible to mix righteousness with unrighteousness and get away with it. Be not deceived!

Heb. 3:6 But
Heb. 3Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

There are many promises to God’s children above, but in connection to many ”ifs”. We are partakers of Jesus house IF we hold fast unto the end and IF we will not harden our hearts. Believers must take heed (”brethren”…”any of you”) LEST they might depart from God through sin. ”Today if ye hear his voice, harden not your hearts”. It seems like there is a possibility that believers might choose to harden their hearts, unless the warning is in vain. We can also read that there are individuals who ”err” in their hearts resulting in not knowing God’s ways. This leads to the wrath of God, and naturally God would not have any reason to be angry with people who always obeyed his will. Those who do err will not enter in God’s rest, and that is the reason why we must take heed. It is up to us.

Jas. 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

”If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and above we can read that those who love the Lord will receive the crown of life. God does not tempt us, much less cause us to sin (the calvinistic style). If we sin, it is our own doing and we cannot blame anyone else and certainly not the nature we were born with. Sin continues to bring forth death unless we repent and live a righteous life. Beloved brethren are asked to not err (be deceived) about this truth.

Jas. 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Again we can read that the warning to err from the truth concerns ”brethren”. This means that believers can stray away from the truth they once knew and be lost due to sin. We can also read that if such a brother is converted, this same person shall save his soul from death. He is not merely risking to get reduced stuff in heaven.

2 Pet. 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Peter above has the same story as James. This passage is replete with warnings to christians, because a dog can indeed ”return” to his own vomit which he previously got rid of. It is good to know that there is always a way out of each temptation even if temptations sometimes are hard to reject. The promise is for the ”godly”, and it is the holy Spirit in our lives which makes us godly and with much power to overcome temptations. Those who choose to walk after their flesh will of course be more open to give in for temptations. The ”unjust” will be punished, but of course, in a world where everyone always does the will of God there would be nothing for God to punish. We can read about people who have ”forsaken the right way, and are gone astray”. V. 20-21 are very clear. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” (NKJV). A person can indeed go from salvation to damnation due to sin. 

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

In the middle of the above text we find the well-known 1 John 1:8, but the verses before and after are not as popular – probably because we can read about conditions for salvation. v. 6 tells us that we lie if we walk in darkness (if we sin), and v. 7 tells us that we are cleansed from our sins if we walk in the light. The solution to our sin-problem is to confess sin, repent from it and start living a righteous life together with Jesus. We can do all things with the power of the holy Spirit!

1 john 31 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Above text shows that ”little children” can deceive themselves, and that is if they are not aware of that it is those who DOETH righteousness who are righteous, just like Jesus is righteous for the same reason (through avoiding sin). The verses do not suggest that he is righteous who takes cover behind Jesus to hide his sin from God the Father. ”Little children let no man deceive you – he that doeth righteous is righteous”.  Satan says the opposite – that it is not important to be obedient to God since we will not die anyway.

Rev. 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Deceived 3Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Rev. 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Rev. 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Revelations show us that Satan certainly is the deceiver, and he can even seduce God’s
servants. We must particularly be aware of his tactics in the end of days.

Jesus Christ is the chief CORNER-STONE worshiped by angels

hörnstenOur lives should be built on the foundation of Jesus Christ – the chief corner-stone and the ROCK

The son of God decided to be born as man on earth and die for all mankind as God in flesh. For a brief time Jesus was made lower than the angels – the same angels who would later worship him as God according to Heb. 1. We can read in Heb. 2 that Jesus was made ”a little lower than the angels”, and in the previous chapter we can read that he was ”so much better than the angels” and that he ”obtained a much excellent name than they”. This is not a contradiction since Jesus is also fully capable of placing himself in a free will temporary subjection to his own Father, with whom he shared the glory from eternity past (John 17:5).

John 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of MYSELF. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Heb. 2:5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.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.

Heb. 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:4 Being made SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE ANGELS, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Phil. 2:Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is the most important stone in the building

The Old Testament contains numerous prophesies about the Messiah – Jesus Christ. He is also called the chief corner-stone, and that is a stone which is considered to be the most important part of a stone building since it is carrying the weight of the stones built on top of it while there are no stones UNDER it. Since Jesus Christ is the foundation of our salvation, it is important that we spread this information to the rest of the world to encourage people to seek the true Savior and thus be saved. People might be convinced of that they are on the right path to eternal salvation, but if they are not choosing to build their lives on the corner-stone, they are still off track. It is vital to identify this corner-stone. God does not share his glory with anyone, but shares it with Jesus. This means that Jesus must be God.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Is. 48:11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

Jesus Christ came from the tribe of Judah. Corner-stone below is a translation from the Hebrew word eben (Strong’s 68)

Isa. 28:2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.—16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.

Zechariah 10:2 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.3 Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the Lord of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.4 Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together

Unfortunately people are refusing to accept this head stone of the corner despite that it is the most important building block! We can see this statement in Ps. 118:20, and we can also read about the gate of the Lord and ”Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord”,  which is quoted in Matt. 21 – when Jesus entered Jerusalem and people were cheering their Hosianna.

Ps. 118:15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.”—20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

Jesus confirms that he is the stone that the scriptures speak about (read the above psalm) and whosoever falls on it shall be broken.

Matthew 21:8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.—42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone (lithos, Strong’s 3037) shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

Luke 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.33 Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Luke 19:38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 20:17 And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?

Jesus Christ is the stone, the head of the corner-stone…There is no salvation in anyone else.

Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.11 This is the stone (lithos, Strong’s 3037) which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

”Chief corner-stone” in the New Testament is a translation from the Greek word akrogōniaios (Strong’s 204) and this word can be found in Eph. 2:20 and 1 Pet 2:6.

Eph. 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Peter urges us to believe in this chief corner-stone from Sion, because there is salvation in no one else. If the corner-stone of the Old Testament is about our Lord God, then the same applies for the New Testament. Jesus Christ is our Lord, God in flesh. Jesus has become the rock of offence to many people who refuse to accept his deity, much like the pharisees who wanted to kill Jesus because ”thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33)

1 Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,8 And a stone (lithos, Strong’s 3037) of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

Again, Peter above is quoting these scriptures:

Isa. 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

You can also read about Jesus Christ being the ROCK in this article.

”God has dealt to every man a measure of faith” – concerns spiritual gifts – Rom. 12:3

acts 17 27We are created with the ability to seek and find God

To start with we know from the Bible that God has created us with the ability to SEEK him and FIND him, even though he is not far from any one of us. It’s for this purpose that he has formed us. There is much joy in heaven for each person who repents, because this means that a person has gone from death to life and God doesn’t want anyone to perish.

Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;30 Truly, these timso that they should seek the Lord,es of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this TO ALL by raising Him from the dead.” (NKJV)

John 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world

Ez. 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

If we preach that ”faith is a gift”, there is a risk that people will understand this to mean that God gives ”faith” (faith to believe in God) to some and not to others, since all people evidently don’t have faith in God. This logically results in that people who don’t believe in God are innocent victims, because God did not provide them with enough ”faith” to repent and believe in him. They would have good reasons to be disappointed with God who prevented them from believing. Therefore it’s best to not express ourselves in a way that can easily be misunderstood. (Nevertheless, calvinists do believe that God predestines some to be saved and others to not be saved so they wouldn’t have any reasons to suggest they are misunderstood.)

Many people get healed thanks to THEIR faith

Some christians erroneously believe that the ”gift” spoken about in Eph. 2:8-9 is ”faith”, but in reality the Greek shows that it’s ”salvation” that is the gift as can be seen here. It’s certainly true that we don’t have to pay for our salvation, or that we can merit salvation by anything we do (or believe), because we would be hopelessly lost without the gift offered to us even though we don’t deserve it in the least. Some christians suggest that Rom. 12:3 indicates that God hands out the gift of faith (the ability to believe in God) to SOME people, leaving the rest in darkness, but if that were the case God alone must be blamed for people’s ”choice” to not believe in him since they in reality wouldn’t have any choice in the matter. Rom. 12: 3 actually says that God has dealt to ”every man” the measure of faith:

Rom. 12:3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (KJV)

Note that not all ”faith” spoken about in the Bible is in relation to belief in God but it could also be in relation to a person’s faith in one or more of the spiritual gifts, and that is the topic of Rom. 12. Not all christians have a strong faith in that they can be healed (sometimes they get healed anyway), or that they can prophesy, speak in tongues, etc. Fortunately our faith can grow in this area. Here are some examples of where people’s faith plays an important role when it comes to healing (KJV and NKJV):

Mark 5:24 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.

Acts 14:9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

Luke 17:.17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE.

Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, GREAT IS THY FAITH: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Mark. 5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE; go in peace, and be faith 3whole of thy plague.

Luke 18:41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE.43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Mark 6:4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now HE COULD DO NO MIGHTY WORK THERE, EXCEPT THAT HE LAID HIS HANDS ON A FEW SICK PEOPLE AND HEALED THEM. 6 And He marveled because of their UNBELIEF. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching. 

Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. —13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and AS THOU HAST BELIEVED, SO BE IT DONE UNTO THEE. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Matt. 17:14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.17 Then Jesus answered and said, O FAITHLESS AND PERVERSE GENERATION, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?20 And Jesus said unto them, BECAUSE OF YOUR UNEBELIEF: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Also 1 Corinthians 12-14 concerns the spiritual gifts. Paul says ”There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit”. He says that the Spirit is distributing these gifts to each one has he wills, but he also tells us to COVET EARNESTLY the best gifts. Too many christians are of the opinion that the spiritual gifts have ceased, but some of them still concede that ”Sure, if God one day hits me with some of these gifts out of the blue, then who am I to object”? Meaning, they wait for God to take action despite of their disinterest and objections to the spiritual gifts, and by being so reluctant they disobey Paul who tells us to EARNESTLY DESIRE the best gifts. Instead of earnestly desire these gifts, they might choose to discourage others from having this type of desire by telling them that the gifts have passed and are not for today. Flee from a pastor who warns you and discourages you from seeking the gifts. Satan is thrilled each time he can disarm a christian person and make him weaker.

If healing, prophesying and speaking in tongues have ceased, then so have faith, wisdom, knowledge and ”discerning of the spirits”, which can be found on the same list. ”Faith” is here listed separately, and it could for instance concern the hopes and expectations that we have when we take the time to pray. If we believe that praying is a more or less a waste of time and that God either doesn’t hear our prayers or that everything is predetermined, then it’s a risk that become weak when we pray (if we pray at all). It could also concern our faith in relation to prophesies and dreams – that God is able to express himself through such means (this could be combined with discerning the spirits) – and that we are able to find ourselves in ”divine appointments” with other individuals in our daily lives which we should make use of. Another example could be when we are trusting in God for providing financial aid in a difficult situation, and there are numerous testimonies from christians who give account of miracles that they have experienced when they are being provided money precisely when needed in a very urgent situation which they have prayed about. If we have a strong faith in that God is able to lead us in our daily life, we have accomplished much and our faith can grow even further. We will understand the power of prayers and that we can be useful tools for others, just like other people can be used by God to enlighten and encourage us.

1 Cor. 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

1 Cor. 12:30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But EARNESTLY DESIRE the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

faith 4The context of Romans 12 – having faith in spiritual gifts

Romans 12 shows us how Paul beseeches the christians in Rome, and all of us, to live holy lives in order to be acceptable to God, and to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Rom. 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Right after v. 3, where Paul mentioned ”as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”, he explains further what he means by that:

FOR as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

As we can see, Paul has spiritual gifts in mind when he speaks about ”faith” in v. 3 (the previous verse). He says in v. 4  ”let us prophesy in proportion to our faith”, because the truth is that not everyone has the gift of prophesying – often because they don’t even believe in the spiritual gifts . Paul says ”Let us use them”, indicating that some of us are not using our gifts even though they are provided to us, and one reason might be lack of boldness. Which gifts we possess are dependent on our willingness to seek the gifts (as we are told) and which gifts the Spirit provides us (God’s grace). Apart from using faith in relation to prophesy, Paul also mentions ministering, teaching exhorting, giving, leading and being merciful. These are all areas where a strong faith is very useful, and the more we see what God can do, the more our faith can grow and we become more bold – fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Not all of us are for instance teachers, but we can all do something for the Kingdom of God, depending on our personalities, talents, gifts and faith. We are all different members of the same body.

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 

We will be judged by a righteous God – and he knows what we know…osas 10

A person can be healed through faith in his name (either from the one who heals, or the one getting healed, or both). The following verse is both about believing in Jesus, and believing in the power that extends from him  – so that we are able to expect a person getting healed.

Acts 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

If we have a strong faith, we can better endure persecutions and tribulations, and we can better learn the power of a prayer. There is a risk that we might habitually pray but still lack faith in that God will respond. It’s like going in to a store and by the counter ask for a certain product, and when the salesperson says ”Sure, one moment please” and leaves the counter in order to get what you ask for, you stand there with doubts if this person is actually going to return with your product. ”Maybe the product is out of stock, or maybe the salesperson forgot about me or went for lunch?” So you just leave the store without getting the product that you asked for, even though you had the chance and should have endured. We can learn to grow in faith.

2 Thes. 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

If God would hand out various amounts of ”faith” to us , as an ability to even believe in him, it wouldn’t make sense for Jesus to request us to believe in him if he is aware of that some of us lack the faith to do it.

 John 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, BELIEVE THE WORKS: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

Matt. 14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

It’s not biblically sound to answer Jesus ”because you didn’t provide us with enough faith”. What must we do to be saved?

Acts 16:30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I DO to be saved?”31 So they said, “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Paul and Silas didn’t answer ”There is nothing you can do to get saved, apart from hoping that God has given you enough faith to believe in him. Just wait and see”.

We will be judged based on our faith, what we know and learn, if we seek God’s wisdom, our fruit and our conscience:

Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?—17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Rom. 2: 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Luke 10:13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

God commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to REPENT – Acts 17:30

acts 17Acts 17 starts with the apostle Paul reasoning with the Jews in a synagogue in Thessalonica as his custom was, and he explained and demonstrated that Jesus is the Christ. Paul successfully managed to persuade some of them of this fact, indicating that our struggle and prayers for people’s souls can make a difference (i.e. people are not chosen to be elect/non-elect from the creation of the world). NKJV:

Acts 17:2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. (NKJV)

Paul continued on to Berea where we can read how Luke (the author) is praising these Bereans for being fair-minded because they ”received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”. (Note that they didn’t accept whatever Paul told them just because he was an apostle, but they compared Paul’s preaching with the scripture to check if Paul was on target.) For this reason (”therefore”) many of them believed – and since Paul’s main mission was to preach that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah of the scriptures, this is what these Berean apparently started to believe (among other things). We can again see that our efforts and Bible studies can make a difference.

Acts. 17:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

If God has predestined everything that takes place, there would be no reason for Paul to feel provoked by a city given over to idols, because then he would have praised God for arranging it that exact way. Instead Paul reasoned with the Jews to warn them about what was taking place in the city (as he often did) and also with the gentiles in their marketplace. Paul knew for a fact that his efforts could change the outcome of things and that everything was not set in stone from eternity past.

Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

We learn many interesting facts about God and his creation from Paul’s speech on Areopagus (Mars Hill):

Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, THOUGH HE IS NOT FAR FROM EACH ONE OF US; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.30 Truly, these times of ignorance God OVERLOOKED, but now COMMANDS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

  • We are all related to Adam and Eve (one blood) showing that Genesis seems to be a literal story.
  • He has ”determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings”, which likely means that he has set certain restrictions for us, such as maximum age and limits when it comes to our dwellings on earth.
  • God has created us in this way (perhaps referring to our ability to be aware of our mortality and also our ability to recognize that there is a God – which also Romans 1 confirms) in order to seek God, despite that Paul promises us that God is not far from anyone of us. It also says ”in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him”, and the reason Paul is not able to make any promises that we will absolutely find him (despite that he is always near each one of us) depends on our own sincerity when we seek him. Have we truly repented for our sins, and do we show him our love by what we do and by what we avoid doing? Some people might desire both God and their sins.
  • Paul calls us (human beings) the offspring of God, and he goes on to explain what we ”ought” to think about God. Not as tangible things such as gold, silver or stone (something shaped by man) but as something divine. He isn’t promising us that this is what we absolutely WILL do, but he is giving us good advice that we can be corrected by. As offspring of God, it wouldn’t make sense if some of his offspring were predestined to be wicked non-believers from the very start.
  • Apparently we have lived in times of ignorance, which is something that God has ”overlooked”, showing that our times of ignorance certainly haven’t been according to his will. He is, however, willing to forgive under certain conditions. Repentance!
  • God is willing to let go of our times of ignorance, but now he COMMANDS people to repent. He commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent. That indeed sounds like EVERY man in the entire world (so both men and women). Had Paul meant ”some” men (like a certain group of elect) there are a number of ways to express this. God is not the author of confusion, and he is able to explain things for us in a way that we can understand. It’s also natural for our God do make such commandment, because there is much JOY in heaven for each person who repents (Luke 15:7). Repenting signifies a person who has gone from spiritual death to spiritual life, and our merciful God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9).
  • God commands all people to repent, but all people clearly do not repent. This is due to our free will which God has created us with, and if we choose to reject God WE are to be blamed and have to face the consequences for our choices. God is totally innocent of our unwise decisions. He doesn’t tempt anyone, much less cause people to rebel against him.

Thanks to Paul’s speech on the Areopagus, some people started to believe. Praise God for fishers of men! We have the right to become children of God if we prior to this 1) receive him, an 2) believe in his name. We are also requested to live righteous lives. The Holy Ghost is our Helper!

John 1:2 But as many as RECEIVED Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who BELIEVE in His name (NKJV)

1 John 10:3  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (KJV)

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The order is 1) seek/believe, 2) confess sins, repent, 3) become cleansed/regenerated/born again when our sins are removed, 4) receive the Holy Ghost and become a child of God!