Christianity

Jesus, the promised Messiah who came

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Scriptures scroll

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If you read this verse and you’re not very familiar with the Bible, you might think that it came from the New Testament, because it seems it is talking about Jesus, right?

How about this one:

They pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. (Psalm 22:16-18)

Doesn’t it look like a description of the crucifixion? It does. And that’s because it is.

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God doesn’t have grandchildren

According to the Bible, God has one son, Jesus Christ. Jesus allows us to be forgiven of our sins and become children of God by adoption (check John 1:12-13).

Hand to the skies

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The term “children of God” has lost its original meaning along the years. Nowadays, it is common to hear people saying that “everyone is a child of God”, but that is not true (check this post for more details).

The Bible says:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

Another fact about our relationship with God is that God doesn’t have grandchildren. What I mean to say is that, if a person is a child of someone who has a relationship with God, that doesn’t mean that this person is saved.

Salvation is personal, and so is a relationship with God. It is not inherited from our parents.

We have many examples in the Bible of godly parents whose children got away from God. And unfortunately, that is a common fact nowadays too.

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In the valley of shadow of death

The Lord is my shepherd. This is how one of the most beloved and known chapters of the Bible begin: Psalm 23.

Dark forest

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It brings us the assurance that the Lord is always taking care of us, like a good and loving shepherd.

But it isn’t uncommon to overlook some parts of the Scripture, for whatever reason. In this case, we usually don’t notice that the same Psalm that says that the Lord is our shepherd and that we won’t be in want, it also says:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)

I don’t know about you, but just hearing the words “valley of shadow of death” is pretty scary to me.

Can you imagine finding yourself in a place like that? Honestly, I can’t. I’ve never been anywhere that would be close to that description. I’ve seen a few places in TV that maybe could qualify, but I certainly have never come close to one of them.

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Death and eternal life

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Open door

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Most people think of life and death only as the physical events associated to being alive and to the moment after we take our last breath, respectively.

When Paul writes to the Roman church, he speaks of life and death with a different meaning behind those words. He talks about spiritual life and death, not the physical ones.

Death, from Paul’s point of view, means life without God. So a person can be walking around and breathing, and still be spiritually dead.

Life means having a relationship with God. And this life is eternal, it doesn’t stop when our body dies.

So just being “physically alive” doesn’t determine the most important state of our soul: the spiritual one.

The fact is, spiritual life and death are the ones that really matter.

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The missing sheep

Jesus used many parables during His ministry to teach us deep truths about God’s kingdom. He also used daily situations as comparisons to show us more about His character (for example, He pictured Himself as the Good Shepherd so we could have a first glimpse at His amazing love).

Sheep

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And one of the most beloved and known parable He told is the one about the lost sheep:

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:3-7)

There are a few things that fascinate me about this parable.

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Who do you say Jesus is?

Identity is essential to anyone. It tells people who you are. But not everyone identifies a certain person the same way. They may be trusting someone else to give them the perception of a person instead of coming to a conclusion themselves.

Question mark sign

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Jesus had a clear identity. He himself affirmed it many times. But that doesn’t mean that people got it. We can see that in the following excerpt:

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13,14)

First, let me make one thing clear: these verses don’t mean that the people of that time believed in reincarnation. If they did, they wouldn’t have mentioned John the Baptist in the list because Jesus and John were alive at the same time for many years.

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Faithful till the end

Imagine yourself living in the times of the early Christianity, during the second half of the first century. Christians were persecuted. Many of them knew that following Christ could mean death, and probably a cruel one.

Crosses

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Many people among the early followers were eye witnesses of Jesus’ miracles and wonders. They heard the good news from His own lips.

After Jesus resurrected, He spent 40 days among them. Those people were also witnesses of His resurrection.

They had all the physical and rational evidence they needed to believe. Then later, they received the Holy Spirit, as Jesus promised:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)

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What does it mean to accept Jesus as one’s Savior?

We Christians use this expression a lot: “accept Jesus Christ as one’s Savior”. But what does it mean?

Jesus saves

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First of all, let’s look at the problem. If someone needs a savior, it is because they need to be saved from something, right? So what do all humans need to be saved from?

The quick answer is: we need to be saved from our sins. Why are our sins a problem? Because our sins keep us away from God. That means that all humans are, by default, doomed to living apart from God in this life and through all eternity.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

The Bible refers to being away from God as “death”. So even though a person may be “physically” alive (breathing, heart beating, etc), spiritually they are dead if they are away from God:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)

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