Category Archives: GOSPEL OF JOHN

Jesus Christ our Sufficient Sacrifice

sacrifice

God’s perfect creation in Genesis 1—2 was distorted by the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The entrance of sin brought about death and curses to human history.

Sin is not only a reality we struggle with but also an affront to a righteous God. Sin is serious. Therefore it has to be dealt with with the seriousness it deserves.

In the OT God in His wisdom and grace God chose to make a temporary way sin can be atoned as the coming of Christ is awaited. A substitutionary animal sacrifices was allowed for remission of sins. For sin to be atone for, there must be a shedding of blood (lose of life).

And so, the idea of animal sacrifices and levitical priesthood runs throughout the OT as a shadow of the NT reality in Christ.

Significantly, in the OT, there was a specific national day (the day of atonement) in which sins were atoned for. This day highlights seriousness of sin and God’s hatred for sin and demands for righteousness.

Understanding the Day of atonement, helps us understand better the sacrifice of Jesus.

Key Highlights of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16

  • Apart from having the other daily sacrifices, the annual day of atonement was a day of fast; a day God cleansed all the sins of his people; and the only day the high priest entered the Holy of Holies/the Most Holy Palace.
  • The high priest prepared himself to appear before God in a worthy manner.
  • A bull and two goats were required for the sacrifice. One goat was for the for the Lord (sin offering) and another for the scapegoat.
  • Aaron was to slaughter the bull for his personal sin offering and his household.
  • The high priest slaughtered the goat for sin offering for the people and took its blood behind the curtain and sprinkled on the atonement cover and in front of it. This showed that Israel’s sin could only be atoned for by a substitutionary death V15.
  • Concerning the scapegoat- The high priest was to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites-all their sins- and put them on the goat’s head. This goat was then released to the desert. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place. (According to Jewish tradition the goat was subsequently thrown over a cliff to prevent it from returning).

But there was a problem… clearly the animal sacrifices were insufficient in the following ways:

  • The Day of atonement and sacrifices were repeated endlessly year by year. No one sacrifice was enough or final. The sacrifices were an annual reminder of sins because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
  • It never made perfect the worshippers. The worshippers still felt guilty for their sins.
  • The day of Atonement was only a “shadow” of a reality that was to come through Jesus (Heb. 5:1-14).

 Sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus (Heb. 5, 9)

  • Like the sacrificed animal, he shed his blood for forgiveness of our sins
  • Jesus as a scapegoat was sent outside the camp (Jerusalem) and took the sins/guilt of his people- (Heb. 13:2; 1Jn 3:5).
  • Jesus was made sin for our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, (Jn. 1:29).
  • Jesus was made curse (Gal. 3:23).
  • His sacrifice is sufficient; perfect, and superior sacrifice- He entered a heavenly sanctuary, by his own blood (never needed to make atonement for himself as a high priest). He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. His sacrifice was once for all and he can make us holy.

The story of the adulterous woman in John 8:2-12 illustrates the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice. Her life was spared because they brought her to Jesus the ultimate and superior sacrifice. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus offers hope. Every hopeless sinner, like this woman, can find hope only in Jesus!  Again, why did God allow her to live? This story offers us profound lessons:

Jesus did not allow her to be put to death simply because in Him there is:

  1. Life- The sacrifice of Jesus offers humanity a free gift of life.

For example, in this story (John 8:2-12), the adulterous woman (we don’t have her real name) had already received her death sentence from her accusers: people and the religious leaders. Perhaps they pondered, “why should she live?” but Jesus perspective was, “why should she die?”

Jesus had come for the very purpose to seek and save that which was lost and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mk 10:45. Jesus also declares, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. He is the fountain of life and any sinner who turns to him in faith is never turned away but given eternal life.

He gives life and breathes life to your lifeless situations….

  1. Love- The story of the cross of Jesus is the story of unconditional love. While we were still sinners Christ dies for us (Rom. 5:8). He has loved us with an everlasting love. In his love he adopted us into his family as sons.

The woman in this story, like many in our world today, suffered rejection and hate. She was brought early in the morning and before everyone to shame her before stoning her. But Jesus does the unexpected. He accepts her. This does not mean that he affirmed her sin but in accepting her to come to him he clearly displayed God’s unconditional love. We see this love clearer when we look at the cross. God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). A very familiar verse summarizes it all, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… (Jn. 3:16).

This is a powerful love! What is it that can separate us from the love of Christ?

It is because of love Jesus laid down his life for us (Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 3:16).

  1. Forgiveness– In Christ, there is forgiveness of sins. Remember, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb. 10:17).

In Christ, we are forgiven- the past, present and future. The death of Jesus as a substitute brought us forgiveness by taking our penalty upon himself.

All we know about the woman in this story is that she was an adulterer. She was a sinner. Like any other sinner, she deserved death. The people and the religious leaders must have justified themselves from Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22. But Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29) took her sin upon himself!

Sadly, we sometimes doubt the forgiveness we have received! Remember, Doubts do not begin from God but from the devil, for he is the accuser of the brothers (Rev. 12:10). Satan plants doubts to paralyze us and the ministry God has put in us.

When Jesus forgives you, you also need to forgive yourself. He is the perfect sacrifice and so you should no longer be crippled by doubt, fear, and guilt conscience.

If you have put your faith in God count your transaction done in Christ! Tetelestai (Jn. 19:30). When God has forgiven who can reverse? Jesus our sacrifice is sufficient.

When Jesus forgives he does it completely: he removes them as far as east is from the west Ps103:12; he casts them behind his back Isa 38:17; he casts then into the depths of the sea Mic 7:19; he forgives all our trespasses Col 2:13; and he remembers them no more Heb 10:17. Amazing! He never leaves the woman the same point he found her, he forgives her and gives her a new beginning. Jesus said, It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, Matt 9:12. There is no remission of sins apart from the shedding of blood.

Since Jesus forgives, we should not live under the guilt of sin but instead confess our sins in order to be forgiven.

  1. Justification– In Jesus there is declaration of righteousness. In Christ, sinners are justified, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” Heb 5:10. This righteousness is not based on works but purely on the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, Heb 5:10. It is received by those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The woman we read about had no righteousness of her own but Jesus’ righteousness was imputed on her. This is precisely what grace is (undeserved favor).

The ultimate Judge took away her guilt and declared her righteous. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death, Rom 8:1-2. We also know that, God did not send his Son to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (Jn. 3:17).  Who else can condemn those who the Righteous Judge of all has declared as righteous?

Justification also leads to a process of being made holy (sanctification)…

  1. Freedom– It is only in Jesus that sinners are set free. In this case it freedom to not sin again.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees had a water-tight case against this specific woman until they brought it to Jesus who dismantled it. It is worth noting that Jesus eventually lets her go by telling her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” v11. The newfound freedom is a freedom not to further indulge sin but to serve the living Savior who had freed her (the nation of Israel in Egypt was also freed so as to serve Yahweh.

In the words of apostle Paul she was told, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your boy to him as instruments of righteousness” Rom 6:11-13.

  1. Reconciliation- Sin separates us from a holy God. In no other way is the wall of hostility between us and God bridged apart from the only one Mediator between men and God- Jesus Christ. It is through the death of Jesus Christ that we are once again reconciled to God (Rom. 5:11,12; 2 Cor. 5:18,19).

Because of the reconciliation we can come to God’s presence with confidence (Heb. 10:19, Col 1:19). We come before God not because we are worthy but because we are reconciled through the ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. We confidently bring our needs to Him knowing that he hears us and answers us.

The adulterous woman had broken the law of God, in fact caught in the act, and by status an enemy of God, but Jesus actions toward her demonstrates that God has made a way that sinners can find hope. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, Col 1:22.

  1. Redemption and deliverance– The penalty for sin is death and Jesus’ audience, together with the adulterous woman, must have understood this fact from the Law of Moses. But when they presented her to Jesus, they unknowingly presented her to the One who ultimately pays the penalty of sin once and for all.

Therefore, the adulterous woman, and any other sinner like you and me, can live because of the redemption through the shed blood of Jesus. The biblical authors testified, In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14). She, like any other sinner who comes to Jesus, was delivered from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.

Finally… contrast the human and angel fall and reflect on the grace and unique love that God has extended to mankind. Angels fell but no plan was given for their salvation; in fact,  hell was prepared for them. But mankind fell but God gave his very son as a sacrifice so that those who BELIEVE will inherit eternal life.

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Hearing God’s Voice: Discerning God’s Will

hearing God

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isa. 30:21)

Perhaps you have heard people say God spoke to them and you wonder how that happens.  It does happen, God speaks even today!  God has not left us in the wilderness of life without direction.

He may not communicate through a burning bush the way he did to Moses several centuries ago but he certainly does speak and guide those who look up to Him for guidance and direction. David said of God, “You have made known to me the path of life…” (Ps. 16:11). It is therefore believer’s duty to discern God’s voice amidst many noises.

Below are ways in which God guides or communicates to His chosen ones. We can hear Him through:

  1. His Word

Clearly, God has revealed Himself through his holy Word.

It is through the Bible that we know who God is. In the Old Testament, He revealed himself, among many other ways, through visions and dreams (he can also today) but he now reveals himself through His written word. The Bible also reveals God and his word as trustworthy Guide.

The word of God reveals the heart of God for the nations; the necessity of loving one’s neighbor and more importantly the human story of redemption.

David affirmed, “your word is the lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps 119:105)

In His Word, God has also made known his will and purposes to every generation. We therefore need to read and study it. Scriptures can speak directly or indirectly to our circumstance, thus providing required guidance. It gives answers on how we need to live as Christians and relate to the external world. God’s requirements and will has been clearly revealed throughout the Bible. For example, we don’t need to scratch our heads on some issues that have already been clearly revealed; through his word we know it is not God’s will to marry an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14) or to revenge against our enemies (Matt 5:44).

Scriptures are also able to make us  make us wise unto salvation. We carry out God’s will when we accept and obey His Word.

  1. Circumstance/Life-changing Experience(s)

God allows and disallows various circumstances in our lives. There are no lucks or coincidences in what God does. He uses happenings in areas such as family, finance, job, relationships, education, and/or health to teach us.

Circumstances can also present to us dilemmatic situations that entail open and closed doors.

Also, every situation in our lives happens for a purpose. If the circumstance was an evil intended against us, then we can be sure that God will work it out to bring something good out of it (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28) for he has good plans for us (Jer. 29:11).

Therefore we need to discern God’s working in various circumstances we go through. It could be for the purpose of our character formation, to challenge us to have faith in God or to manifest His great power in us or to demonstrate the sufficiency of His grace. Some circumstances may come to teach us obedience, to trust, and to rejoice in God. Be teachable in such moments!

The point is, we need not to miss what God is accomplishing and teaching us through our hard times (times of pain, uncertainty, loss, failure etc). You pain is valid; and through it, God is accomplishing something bigger and greater for your good.

  1. Holy Spirit-

Jesus instructed that the Holy Spirit will guide believers into all truth (Jn. 16:13). The Spirit of God, our Guide, reminds us of all truth; illuminates the word of God, and gives assuring inner peace when we are in right direction (Isa. 26:3).

He prompts, impresses, and stirs our hearts thus enabling us follow God’s leading and make right and wise decisions. His working is evident in the book of Acts when he guided Philip, Paul, the church, and apostles.

But it requires that we walk by the Spirit; keep in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit; and be controlled /filled with the Holy Spirit and not wine (Eph. 5: 18; Gal. 5:16, 25).

  1. Godly Counsel

God also uses people around us to advice, teach or shape us. An iron sharpens an iron. That is why fellowship and relationships are important in the life of every believer in Christ. God can teach us great truths on joy patience, faithfulness, self-control by listening to other people’s stories, especially godly people.

The word of God encourages us to seek advice, obtain guidance (Prov. 20:18).

But we ought to exercise care upon seeking counsel; it should be from godly people not from anyone. Godly people are people who are in constant walk with God and are able to discern God’s voice like Eli (1 Sam. 3:9); people who in their walk of faith have matured. Their role is not to determine/dictate God’s will for you but to present God-perspective, biblical insight, and objective approach to your situation.

After all, you are the best person to determine God’s will for your life; not your friends or mentors.

  1. Example of Christ

When seeking guidance, consider the example Christ has given us. Turn to the gospel and examine the life and teachings of Jesus Christ; “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb. 1:1). Incarnation of Jesus reveals the Father and the life of Jesus (not just his death) provides us with redemption and an example to follow. Bringing Christ perspective into our situation can bring clarity on the issues involved. Consider using the WWJD approach.

  1. Prayer

We can also discern God’s will through prayer.

The worth of prayer is based on God’s promise to listen; it is what turns prayer from being a monologue to dialogue.

Prayer has other sub-components like adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. After we have prayed we wait, listen and believe (1Jn. 5:14-15). Prayer time helps us search our heart and realign our will to God’s will. It provides an opportunity to confess of sin that hinders doing God’s will (Ps. 66:18). Godly people across history have always sought God’s guidance through prayer.

Prayer is the wisest thing to do when we want to hear God.

Read Here for Hindrances to Discerning God’s guidance. 

listen to God hearphones

Desire for God

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,

in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalms 63:1-8 (NIV).

David, the man after God’s own heart, in Psalms 63 expresses a deep thirst for God. Graphically, he relates his thirst for God to a thirsty person in a dry land, looking for water to quench his thirst.

The psalmist profoundly desired God’s presence, love, power, and glory more than anything else. Though overwhelmed by his enemies he chose not to lament over his despondency but to express confidence in God, the source of his satisfaction. God is the object of his affection; the right and effective antidote to his present predicament. In God, his soul will be satisfied “as with the richest foods”. It is clear that the psalmist never thirsted for God out of envy for power and glory; but he wanted to experience God himself.

We live in a world that constantly beckons us to obey our “thirsts”. And for clarity, sometimes our thirsts are good and in line with God’s will, but many times they are not good. So how can we thirst for God in a time/generation were there are many “thirsts” to obey?

thirst

One thing that for sure we need to understand is, our longings should be what God can delight in satisfying. For he promises, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

Secondly, we should learn to desire God alone and the things he has revealed in his Word as noble and praiseworthy. As a Christian, desire to be filled of God, to do his will, to be led of God; desire to be like him, and to have an intimate relationship with God. Also, desire to set your heart on things above where Christ is seated; and to see the revelation of his kingdom. In your spiritual walk, desire to lead a holy life, to be used of him; desire to decrease as He increases in you. Likewise, desire to have a deeper experience of God’s love because his love is “better than life”.

Desiring God is the first step towards knowing and enjoying Him. Desire. Desire. Desire.

May God be the priceless pearl that you tirelessly seek; you singular desire; may he be at the center of your longings. For he promises to fill your desires with glorious riches; “for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Ps. 107:90).

CONNECTED

vine

Jesus used various illustrations to effectively communicate the relationship and the connection between him, the Father, and his disciples. One of such illustrations was an agricultural analogy.  Jesus presents himself as the true vine ( ‘I’m the true vine’), the Father as the gardener, and his disciples as the branches.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (Jn 15:1-3).

In this profound illustration two things are expected/desired by the Gardener:  

Fruitfulness– Fruitfulness is the Father’s expectation for every branch that is attached to the vine. It is God’s will that you become a fruitful believer. Fruitfulness is the increase and multiplication of the seed/word that was sown. There is a deposit in you that can either be suppressed or harnessed for greater multiplication and fruitfulness.

Fruitful here can refer to the way you live. It can also refer to bringing others to Jesus; but it can also be construed in terms of bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control­- Galatians 5:22-23. So be fruitful.

Any branch that isn’t fruitful has forfeited its purpose. There is no use of such a branch to the gardener. It is like clouds without rain, a well without water, or like salt that has lost its saltiness. The only thing that the gardener (God) does to such a branch is to cut it off and throw it to the fire. Elsewhere, He promises to spit out from his mouth that which is neither hot nor cold (Rev. 3:16). Therefore, see to it that you do not become axed by God.

Cleanliness– On the other hand, every branch that bears fruit is pruned to make it even more fruitful. Its productivity is enhanced and increased. Pruning, removing the unnecessary buds, is not meant to kill the sprouts of the vine but to make it clean, flourish, and even produce many more yields. (The painful ‘pruning experiences’ we sometimes go through are not meant to make us bitter but better).

Jesus further instructs, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you”. The word of God is able to purify us from all unrighteousness and make us clean, effective, and productive in our Christian lives. The Leviticus imperative “be holy because I am holy” is relevant here. It is untrue to claim that we (branches) are connected to Jesus (the true vine) yet we live in sin.

Therefore how can we remain connected to the true vine? Again, two things are necessary:  

i). Detachment– We need to be detached from the things that hinder us from getting connected to the true vine. It could be possible that you are attached to other “vines” and not to the “true vine”, Jesus Christ. Concurrently, you can’t be attached to Jesus and some other things.

Jesus guarantees, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5c). We are nothing without him. Without him, we achieve nothing. Detachment from Jesus only leads to fruitlessness and complete removal from the true vine.

The truth is, to be detached from our past (or from what we see as a source of life) is not an easy processes; it needs God’s grace and a decisive move.

ii). Attachment– Detachment should lead to attachment. There is no neutral ground. You “put off” and “putt on”. After getting detached from various concerns, we need to be attached to the true vine for fruitfulness and purity.

Jesus taught, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (Jn. 15:5)

Our life is derived from our connection with Jesus, the true vine. Jesus is our life. It is by remaining in him that we have the words of eternal life. In Jesus there is holiness; and it is by remaining in him that we become/are made holy. In Jesus there is a savior; by becoming connected to him we are saved. In Jesus there is glorious and unfading inheritance and by becoming constantly connected to him we become co-heirs with Christ.

Get connected today to the true vine to receive the life of God.

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