Category Archives: Articles

General articles on Biblical themes

Starting Right

The Bible says that God created us in His image, with the ability to think, relate and choose. He wants us to have unhindered relationship and constant communion with Him.

Broken Relationship

But sin has separated us from God. We try in vain to please God through our charity, piety and religious rituals. The Bible says that no one is made right with God through his/her own efforts. God’s justice is far beyond our reach, so no one can satisfy it and justify himself before God. Hence, God in His love offers a way for us to reconcile with Him through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus who paid the price for our sins. Thus God has made Jesus the only Saviour of His creation.

Reconciliation

All those who believe what Jesus has accomplished through His death on the cross and accept Him as their Saviour, Lord and God will be reconciled with God. God will forgive their sins and accept them as His children. This is called regeneration or a new birth. Jesus will live in them and remain with them for ever. This is the assurance of the Bible. One who has made such a decision is a Christian. The Bible makes it clear that no one is born as a Christian, but has to be born again.

New Life

The Christian life, according to the Bible, is a new life. As we continue to yield to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, our attitudes, thoughts, words and actions will be renewed by the Spirit of God. God our heavenly Father loves to commune with us and reveal His plans for us. This is understood by regular study of God’s Word, prayer and fellowship with other Christians.

The Mysteries of Christmas

The Birth of Jesus Christ

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Mat.1:18-23)

There are some myths and mysteries about Christmas. In today’s self-centered and individualistic culture Christmas has lost its meaning. Some people call it “holiday season” because it doesn’t hold anything more than just a couple of free days for having fun. For some others it is a time of family reunion-the only time of the year when they spend time together. For a lot of people in the east Christmas is the birth anniversary of the founder of the Christian religion.

Christmas is not the beginning of Christ

Many have misunderstood Christmas to be the beginning of Jesus Christ like other spiritual gurus or religious founders. But the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus was there before Christmas. He was there right from the beginning, in fact, He is the beginning. He is referred to as “Alpha” and the “WORD”.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Rev.22:13)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)

Jesus told those who rejected His claims,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” ( John 8:58 )

He was “Immanuel”, which means “God with us”  or “God in human form”, as we read in Matthew 1:23. He existed before everything else because He is the Creator.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16)

Christmas is not just another event in history

So many things happen at random in the world. Children are born and some grow to be great personalities and people of influence. No one knew about their greatness before they existed. All of them die and are no more. The greatest of them may leave behind traces of memories for a couple of generations. But about 700 years before His coming into the world the Prophet of God announced that Jesus would come as a human baby. There were about 300 prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus in the Jewish Scriptures.

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’) (Isaiah 7:14)

Those who followed Jesus realized that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies.

Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” (John 1:45)

Jesus confirmed this when He said:

If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. (John 5:46)

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself…. Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled”…. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. (Luke 24:27,44,46)

Christmas will be complete at the return of Christ

The birth of Jesus Christ was announced as “Good news of great joy for all people” (Luke 2:10). It is good news that it points the way to forgiveness, to freedom, to lasting joy and peace, to eternal life, and to heaven-all available free of cost and effort. However, it is a package deal. You start enjoying these here and now, prevail through all the storms and struggles caused by the world corrupt by sin, and safely reach your eternal destination at the return of Christ. Christmas thus should remind us that we a re sojourners here and we await our transport at the trumpet call of the archangel. Then we shall be with our Saviour for ever, beyond the spell of corruption and sin, beyond the reach of tears and sorrow, beyond the powers of wickedness and evil. It will be then prove to have been Good News of Great Joy for ALL peoples, across nationalities, tongues and cultures, those who embraced it.

The Long Forgotten Ministry

The ministry of the Church is of a prophetic nature, in the sense that, it is carrying on the role of the prophets of old, of Jesus Himself and of the Apostles.

God communicates through His creation. In the early days God chose someone to be His prophet, to be His mouthpiece, to speak to people. God would speak to him something and he was to repeat it verbatim. Through the prophets He gave people rules to follow. Through them He announced what He would do in the days to come and warned people about impending judgment for disobedience. The prophets also fulfilled the office of the priests in the early days.

Today, there isn’t much of the foretelling aspect of it, because whatever God wanted people to know regarding their eternal salvation during their temporal life on earth has been put together in the form of a book – the Bible. So, it is just a matter of forth-telling, proclaiming it as it is written. Prophets of old said, “Thus says the LORD“, while we say, “Thus says God’s Word”.

All believers have a part in the Church’s mission today. We have a prophetic/priestly ministry to fulfill (1Pet.2:5, 9-10). Prophetic ministry encompasses all that the Church is commanded to do in the areas of its worship, nurture and evangelism. The Church should focus on all the three. Prophets should encourage the practice of God’s Word and rebuke the negligence of it. We must allow the Word of God to guide us in every area of our lives. 2Tim.3:16 says,

Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.“(CEV)

Jeremiah’s life was typical. In Jer.28 we read the contrast between a true prophet of God and a false prophet.

Saying What God says!

The prophets’ job has never been a comfortable one. He was the most unwelcome person among his people. He proclaimed the most unpleasant message and people considered him as a stumbling block or obstacle on their way. He brought messages of rebuke and judgment.

However, because of their people-pleasing and pleasant messages false prophets thrived. Messages of prosperity and wealth who wouldn’t want to hear! So, they had entry into royal palaces and wealthy homes. They would speak in the name of the sovereign LORD things which the sovereign LORD has not spoken. They are neither true to themselves nor to the LORD. But, a true prophet of God has to speak on God’s behalf whether the message is what people would like to hear or not.

Jesus fulfilled the ministry of a prophet in its true sense though He was much more than a prophet. He spoke all what God wanted to speak to the people and only what God wanted. Jesus said,

I don’t speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say.” (Jn.12:49 CEV)

Jesus was disliked by the Pharisees because He announced God’s displeasure on their hypocrisy.

We are called to be the prophets of God within our family, church and community. We need to use the Word to correct an erring brother, strengthen the weak, and build up the body of Christ. We need to build mutual accountability among ourselves where we can check each other for our own good. But often we fail to fulfill our responsibility as true prophets of God because we are afraid of the response of the audience and damaging our reputation.

I am thankful to God for the Godly people who have helped me watch myself through their eyes. John K. is one of the first among them. I still remember our meetings, when the first thing he would ask is “What did the LORD speak to you today?”

Saying it at any cost

The true prophet receives no accolades from the hearers. But, with their lying flattery the false prophets earn favours and honours. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. At the end of the day he had only tears and agony for the reward. He was interrogated, threatened and attacked. His life was at risk (Jer.26:7-16). Yet he conveyed God’s message. It was not that Jeremiah did not desire his people’s deliverance and prosperity, but that was not what God told him to convey.

Jesus satisfied God’s law by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the entire human race. He conveyed God’s message of salvation to the people. But he had his share of agony and sorrow. He had a lowliest birth, poor man’s life and no place to stay. He went through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. He received a cross and a crown of thorns. Knowing all this ahead of time, He committed Himself to God and finished His mission. The result! God honoured Him with the name above every name, the name at which the entire creation will bow down and worship!

We need to help build the body of Christ by proclaiming the Word which is able to reprove, rebuke, teach, correct, encourage and edify. We are asked to share one another’s burdens (Gal.6:2) even if it is not the most pleasant thing to do. We may not be appreciated but we are becoming obedient. God will be glorified and His kingdom strengthened on earth.

Godliness Through Adversities

Adversity strikes all people, whether Christian or non-Christian, because adversities are part of human life. Natural calamities, accidents, sicknesses and man-made disasters can devastate our lives because nobody can stay prepared to face all these at all times. Though incomprehensible, if God permits these painful experiences in our lives while He loves us dearly, He must be seeing some better outcome than mere agony.

Apostle Peter in his letter to the Church says,

“So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1Pet.1:6-7)

Peter reminds us that:
1. Adversities are short lived compared to eternity
2. They are used for an endurance test of our faith
3. They help purify our faith
4. Successful endurance brings much glory in the presence of God

Apostles Paul writes to Christians in Rome, saying,

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom.5:3-5)

In a Christian’s lexicon ‘adversity’ can be spelt “Godversity” because adversity is God’s university for training His people in Godliness. God is preparing us for a sin-free eternity. Though positionally we are seated in the heavenly realms (Eph.1:20; 2:6), we are practically being chiseled and molded into the image of God’s holy Son and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are being made fit for ruling over God’s creation along with Jesus Christ in His kingdom. Tough earthly ventures like Mountaineering, Skydiving, Space mission and service in the Armed Forces need tougher training. Conditioning the body, mind and spirit to take up the task as life’s mission is very essential. Serving God’s purposes in a sin-filled atmosphere demands the highest endurance capacity and only the toughest training will equip us to be seasoned in Godly character.

Since it is tough many get tired and quit. Though we are assured of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we find it very hard to face it on a daily basis. We need constant reminders from the Word of God as well as support and encouragement from fellow believers to go through this experience. Godly people can continue to be Godly in spite of adversities. How can God’s people persevere through adversities? God calls our attention to the experiences of some of His people narrated in His Word.

See God’s providence in every situation

Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob and the first son of Rachel. Jacob loved him very much, thus causing the other siblings to dislike Joseph. God had specific plans for this young man and gave him dreams about it. This invited the wrath of his family. His brothers wanted to get rid of Joseph. They threw him in a pit and later sold him as a slave. Thus he landed up in a foreign land. For no fault of his Joseph had to endure the displeasure of his own family brothers. But the Bible tells us that God was with him during this adversity. Joseph fared well in Egypt. Though a slave, he was given responsibilities and the freedom to operate. He kept his integrity and exercised absolute faithfulness even when there was no one to check on him. And the Bible says God was with him because he behaved as if God was with him all those times. His integrity took him to prison but he still remained faithful waiting for God to work. God lifts him up to be the ruler of Egypt, next only to the King. He was instrumental in preserving the lives of his people in times of greater adversity. But, at last when God brought them together as a family, Joseph revealed his attitude that kept him going as a man of Godly character. The Bible records it in Gen.45:5. “I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” He was able to see the providence of God even in adversity.

Stick to the commitment to honor God

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were victims of war when the land of Judah was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezar. They went through this time of hardship even though they were Godly men living upright lives. God was chastising His people for their sin but He had specific plans for these Godly young men.

Though captives, they were taken to Babylonia as trainees at the royal palace. Unlike other captives, they had special privileges, such as royal food and beverage, education and training, etc. They were also under obligation to perform for the foreign king once they complete their training.

In a strange land among strange people they were left alone with no spiritual guidance. But as part of the covenant people of God they had certain obligations to their God. The new situation was inviting, but Daniel and his friends were determined to stick to their commitment to worship and honor their God through their lifestyle. There were other young Jewish men who were brought with them for the same purpose. The Bible says nothing about them. Perhaps they succumbed to pressure, or found it convenient to adapt, or accepted the lifestyle of royal executives, or simply wallowed in the luxuries and pleasures only the world’s most privileged would have. However, these four men stuck to their commitment to honor God through their lifestyle, even at the risk of their own lives. They decided to remain true to their commitment to follow God’s instructions regarding food. The book of Daniel says, “But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king.” ( Dan.1:8 )

Seek God’s mercy to tide over the situation

God was with them as they decided to stay with Him. So, on the completion of the training Daniel and friends ranked the best. In the personal interview they impressed the king the most and qualified to be appointed as the king’s Personal Advisers. They soon built up a reputation and created a track record not just topping the list of wise men in the entire country, but distancing the rest with an unmatchable superiority.

Things were seemingly going well until the king had a terrible nightmare that disturbed his sleep as well as peace. All the wise men and advisers were summoned to explain the dream and its meaning. They pleaded that if the king would narrate the dream then they could explain the hidden meaning. But the king insisted that they relate both the dream and its implications or else face execution. When the order was about to be implemented Daniel requested for some more time. He and his friends fell on their knees seeking God’s mercy to tide over the situation. And God did show mercy by revealing the dream and its meaning to Daniel.

Sign over the glory to God when He brings deliverance

Daniel, while explaining the mystery, did not forget to give the credit to the God of heaven. He admitted his limitations as a hapless human but glorified his God before whom nothing is hidden. He projected his God as the revealer of mysteries and the controller of events. Daniel was not carried away by the honor and promotion given to him. Though the king bowed down and worshiped him and ordered others to do so, it did not make Daniel think he has become a superhuman. He realized his role as a servant of God and continued to perform his duties faithfully. He also realized the role of his co-workers in his success and remembered to honor and elevate them as well. As a team they shared the suffering as well as the joy. Fellowship with the brethren will ease our suffering and increase our joy as God’ people. This is God’s way of preparing His people for His purposes in this world and the next.

“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom.5:3-5)

Let The Lamp Light Up Your Path

The Advent is the season when the church celebrates the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “Word becoming flesh”. The second Sunday in the advent season is earmarked as Bible Sunday to help us celebrate the gift of the Bible, the written Word becoming available to us. We must be thankful to God for the Bible that we hold in our hands. It was made possible through the blood and sweat of several servants of God, like John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, William Carey, Bartholomaeo Ziegenbalg, Benjamin Bailey, John Hands, and a host of others, who sacrificed their lives for the translation and distribution of God’s Holy Word.

Need for the Light

By December 2005 portions of Scripture were available in more than 2400 languages of the world, while complete Bibles were available in 426 of those languages. Bibles are available in 52 Indian languages and at least a portion of Scripture has been translated into more than 180 languages. According to official census there are 1652 languages and dialects in India. Experts say that with 300 strategic languages we can cover the entire population of our country. Still, it is a very long way to go. It is the responsibility of every Christian to involve in the task of bringing God’s Word to the people of his land. We need to pray, we need to give, and we need to share.

But, still more important, I feel, is our personal encounter with the Word of God. We can give the life giving Word to all those around and still be lost if we ourselves are not touched by it. If we look into the Word of God we can find why it is so important in the life of a Christian.

One night, several years ago, my brother Shaji was walking to the house of one of our friends. He was a new Christian at that time and he met with other friends regularly for prayer and Bible Study. He was passing through a hill side with thick rubber plantation. These rubber trees grow tall and wide and spread like a canopy above you. So it will be dark already by evening. And the ground will be covered with layers of dry leaves that fall from the trees. People trek across these plantations to avoid taking longer routes. Shaji was taking one of those usual short cuts. As he kicked through the heaps of dry leaves suddenly he felt a sting on his feet. He jumped back. In the quiet of the night he could hear movements over the dry leaves, like the sound of something crawling away. It must be a snake, he thought. But, is it just a rat snake or one of those deadly cobras or vipers? He could only guess because he did not have a flash light or a torch to light the path way. He didn’t want to take chances; immediately pulled out his hand kerchief and tied it as tight as he could below his knee, around the calf muscle. Then he rushed down to our friend’s house shouting his name. People came out of the house hearing the shout and he told them to take him to the hospital. They rushed him to the Mandiram Hospital on the other side of the hill. The doctor asked him about the snake but he had no idea. He could not see it in the dark. Doctor was confused about which anti venom to use. “You all pray”, He said, “I will take a chance and keep him under observation till morning”. They prayed and he survived. Later the doctor told him it was a deadly viper that had bit him.

We need light to see our way. We need light to decide which way to take. We need light to see the dangers that are on our way. We are all lost without the Light in this dark world of sin.

In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The secret of not groping in the darkness is to have the Light of Life. To have the Light of Life we need to follow the Light. How do we follow the Light? Psalm 119 sheds light on it. It says the Word of God will show us the Light and help us follow the Light. In Ps.119:105 we read, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

Personal Touch

Here we need to get it right. This is a very personal statement of the Psalmist. In other words, the Psalmist has experienced it in his life; he has experienced the Word of God as the lamp showing the way. There are general statements like, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1Tim.1:15). It doesn’t have to be a personal declaration. Someone can repeat this without believing it even a bit. It becomes personal when you answer the question, “What does that mean to me?” People repeat scripture passages like “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, without realizing that it is a personal affirmation. I need to ask myself whether the Lord really is MY shepherd!

How can the Word become personal? When you allow the Word to do a surgery in your life! It can do a scanning to locate the cancer and prescribe the remedy. Does that happen in your life? Look at Heb.4:12. “For the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight, everything is uncovered and laid bare before Him.” When you allow this scalpel of God to cut through you, to reach your soul and spirit, joint and marrow, to deal with your innermost being, to uncover and expose the real you – a wretched sinner in need of the Saviour, then and only then the Word will become personal to you.

Is the Word of God affecting your life? Is it helping you to find the way on a dark day? Is it shedding light in your pathway? If you want God’s Word to be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path you need to make a definite commitment to yield to its surgical intervention in your life.

Commitment to Obey the WORD

Keeping the Light in their hands and homes many Christians are still groping in the dark because they have not made up their minds to follow the light. You must be willing to walk the way the light reveals. You must be willing to obey what God’s Word says. There is no dearth of preaching and Bible Studies yet there are plenty of Christians standing at crossroads unable to make a decision. They have not made a definite commitment to obey God explicitly. In Job 24:13 (NLT) we read, “Wicked people rebel against the light. They refuse to acknowledge its ways or stay in its paths.” Bible study without a commitment for obedience is worse than no study at all because it increases carnality and invites the judgment of God. If you want God’s Word to show the light you need to make a definite decision to follow it. The Psalmist says in v.106, “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” In v.110 he says, “The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.” He made a decision to obey God’s Word and a commitment to stick on with it no matter what, may it be “suffering” as in v.107 or risks as in v.109, or “snares” as in v.110.

If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour and Master, this is covered under that decision. If you have not taken it seriously, you can make a commitment now to follow Him and obey whatever He says. This is the starting point of walking in the light. As a student, way back in 1971, I made a commitment to follow the Lord and obey His Word. How about you?

Commitment to Study the WORD

The Bible is God’s letter to us. Through it He is sharing His desires, plans and instructions with His beloved children. To understand God’s mind we need to read it. Some times we need to read it over and over to follow the thoughts of God and to register in our minds the instructions. We need to take time and effort, use all available help, and study God’s instructions.

Fix up a convenient time of the day. Read through the Scripture book by book, using some kind of reading plan, like the Daily Bread. Take down notes or keep a diary to note down the important principles you discover, the promises to claim and commands to keep. Put down how you are going to apply it or the action that you will take and start doing it immediately.

Be willing to learn and to apply it, making amendments in your life wherever needed. Remember, Bible study without application is debasing, it is joining hands with the enemy. Don’t accumulate the wrath of God through Bible studies if you have no commitment to obey what God’s Word commands. The Psalmist prays in v.108, “Accept O Lord the willing praise of my mouth and teach me your laws”. Do you take time to study God’s Word? Do you do it regularly? May be you have made decisions earlier but broke it. Why not renew the commitment to study God’s Word?

Commitment to Meditate on the WORD

Meditation is occupying our minds with what we have read and studied. We need to reflect on what God’s Word says. It is a profitable practice to memorize scripture passages. That will help us in our reflection and that will pop up in our minds in times of need. God will use it to speak and reassure us of His promises. When we begin to drift in our daily walk this will alert us like an alarm. As we keep meditating on His Word we become aligned to His will.

Have you observed cattle graze? They do it in a hurry and then they lie down to relax in a quiet place. That is when they really enjoy the food as they chew the cud. We must learn to dwell up on the Word of God on a regular basis. The Psalmist says in v.109, “Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.” In v.11 of the same Psalm he says, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” How about you? Do you consciously install the Word of God in your heart so that it can warn you and guide you in your daily affairs? Do you reflect and dwell up on the Word of God?

Commitment to Treasure the Word

In Mat.6:19-21 Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth where moth and rust will destroy or thieves will steal… Your heart will always be where your treasure is”. The Psalmist says in Ps.119:111, “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” In the next verse he says, “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” (v.112) In Psalm 19:10 David says God’s Word is “more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb”. Ps.119:127 says, “Your laws mean more to me than the finest gold”. “Your word to me, your servant, is like pure gold; I treasure what you say” (Ps.119:140). Read through the entire Psalm 119 to realize how the Psalmist cherishes the Word of the Lord.

What gives you the greatest joy? Your family, your job, your possessions, your position, your power, flattering subordinates! All the worldly treasures will vanish. The wealth of the world can not provide security or else the wealthiest nations wouldn’t be living in terror. Others can rob us of our material wealth but no one can take away the peace, the eternal life, the promise and the assurance of salvation that the Word of God gives us. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my Words shall never pass away”, said Jesus.

What is the greatest treasure that you would want to pass on to your children? Property, Bank balance, Education! People give their children everything in the world but not the Word of God. What heritage do you want to pass on to your children? Do you want them to have the eternal treasure that will lead them to eternal life, or the worldly treasures that will soon vanish? You need to decide.

A commitment to Study, Meditate, Obey and Treasure the Word of God will light up your path and lead you to eternal life.

Many years ago there was an accident at a Railway crossing. There was no gate at this crossing but a gate keeper was appointed to be there at night. He gave signal using a kerosene lamp. It was raining heavily one night and in spite of his waving the signal lamp a speeding train ran into a car and several people were killed. The case was on trial and the gate keeper was questioned by the magistrate.

“Where you on duty that night”? He asked.

“Yes your Honour”, the gate keeper replied.

“Did you wave the lamp to warn the driver”?

“Yes, I did, your Honour”.

“How did you wave”?

The gate keeper raised his right hand as if holding the lamp and waved it few times.

The trial was over and the gate keeper was declared not guilty. But all through the trial he was looking disturbed and restless. After the proceedings were over when he came out of the court room, one of his friends asked him why he was looking disturbed and restless. Pulling his friend to a corner the gate keeper said, “I was troubled throughout because I was worried whether he will ask me if the lamp was lit”.

Is the Lamp in your life burning bright? Is God’s Word a Lamp to your feet and light to your path? Make a decision today to study, to meditate, to obey and to treasure the Word of God in your life on a daily basis. If you had made a decision earlier and had failed in keeping it, commit yourself into the hands of God and ask for grace to follow through your decision. Will you make that Commitment right now? May the Word of God be a Lamp to your feet and a light to your path, all the days of your life!

Prayer-An Empowering Experience

Prayer is a very vast subject in itself and it is more experiential than academic. Prayer may mean different things to different people but the Biblical point of view is very revealing and challenging.

The Bible records specific prayers of specific people to show us the empowering nature of prayer.

Abraham prayed for the deliverance of his nephew Lot and God send His angel.

God’s people cried for deliverance from bondage and God send them Moses. Moses prayed at the Red Sea and the waters parted. Solomon asked for wisdom and God blessed him with more than wisdom. Elijah prayed for a response from the God of heaven and fire came down. He asked God to hold back the rain and bring it down at his word and God did it. Zacharias asked God for a son and God gave him John the baptizer. A man with leprosy requested Jesus for healing and Jesus healed him. Stephen, while being stoned to death, prayed and saw the heavenly glory of God. Peter and John could pray healing upon a lame man in the temple. Peter prayed and a dead Tabitha got up. Disciples of Jesus prayed and the place they gathered was shaken. The Church prayed and prison doors opened before Peter.

These are all demonstrations of the empowering nature of prayer. Perhaps the greatest example we can find in the Bible is the prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Through that agonizing prayer He was empowered to carry the burden of the whole world’s sin.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray always and gave them a model prayer. We find this in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 verses from 9 to 13. It says,

” Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

We may make these words as our own prayer. However, there are some principles that could be learned from this model.

Prayer is as simple as the communication between two people

From this prayer we understand that it is nothing but our talking to God. Communication is a quality that God has given us as a part of being created in His image. God communicates and He wants us to talk to Him as well. Talking to each other is the way to express our feelings, our concerns and our needs. In this prayer, Jesus suggests that we address our communications directly to God. There is no magic in the words of the prayer or in the way that we pray.

Prayer assumes a relationship between God and man as a pre-requisite

We are asked to talk to our Father in Heaven. God is addressed here as the Father. This means a relationship between God and us. When we study the Bible we understand that man lost his ability to communicate with God when he sinned. That is why it says in Romans 3:23 that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. We lost our relationship with God as a result of sin and became enemies of God. The result was eternal separation from God. But God loved us even then and wanted to restore us to that relationship. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death”. We read in Romans 5:8 and 10 that “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Thus, through faith in Jesus we can become God’s children and address him ‘Father in Heaven’. It is interesting that even people who are not related to God in this manner also address Him as ‘Father’.

Once, little Johnny was playing with a child in the neighborhood. The child liked Johnny’s toy and asked him whether he can have it. Johnny refused and said, “My daddy gave it to me”. The friend asked him, “Can I ask your daddy to get me also one?” Johnny clarified, “He is my daddy”.

Only those who have God’s life in them are God’s children. Unless we are God’s children we can not call him “Our Father in Heaven”. Those who are not His children can not expect God to give them what they ask.

Prayer is a two-way traffic

When two people talk to each other, we know that both will speak and both will listen. When you talk to somebody on the telephone, if you don’t hear a response, you will doubt whether the other person is listening or not. It is always talking and listening. Talking without listening is rude and just listening without talking is indifference. God wants us to talk to Him and He wants us to listen to what He has to say.

Often we hear God speak to us through His Word, the Bible. God will remind us passages from the scripture in response to our talking to Him. We will be able to experience peace and joy in our hearts as we talk to Him. Prayer always leads us to obedience. As we begin our prayer, it is important that we praise God for who He is. We have to accept His total authority over our lives before we make any requests. When we ask God for whatever we need we must be willing to forgive others.

Prayers are always answered

Prayers of God’s children are always answered, but not always the way they expect. He may say “yes”, He may say “no”, or He may say “hold on”. God’s ways are higher than our imagination. His answers are the best for us. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We need to believe what God is saying and trust in His faithfulness.

Prayer is the means through which we can know God closely. Those who know God closely will be able to trust Him boldly. Those who trust Him will be able to experience His power to deliver in times of trouble. The book of Psalms in the Bible reveals David’s confidence in His God. David knew God intimately through his times of conversations alone with God. All the Bible characters mentioned earlier knew their God enough to trust in Him. Prayer for them was not a ritual but a lively communion with their Heavenly Father. What is prayer to us today? Is it something we do only when we are afraid? Do we pray at all times as the scripture commands us to? Is prayer an empowering experience to us? May the Lord help us to experience His power through our prayer.

Seekers All, But What Makes You Different

 

Man is a seeker. Right from birth he starts seeking, seeking for things that satisfy. He starts with food, warmth and love from the parents. As he grows he begins his search for knowledge, answers to his questions and solutions to his problems. Often he settles for temporary solutions but his search never ends. Till death man will be seeking.

 

Many are lost in the process of this life long search because they are confused about priorities. That is why we see a lot of people seek after wealth, riches and physical pleasures which are very short lived and temporal. They have their value system all mixed up and they run after things that cannot really satisfy. Man needs more than just material input for him to experience real satisfaction, because that is how he is made. The Bible tells us that man was created in the image of God, with intellect – the ability to think, emotion – the ability to relate, and will – the ability to choose. This meant that man had the ability to use these faculties to seek God and to discern and do what God expects of him. From the very beginning God wanted man to seek Him and His fellowship more than anything else. This was the very purpose of creating man in His own image – to have constant fellowship and companionship with man.

 

We Can Seek God and What Pleases Him

 

But we read in the Bible that man used this ability to disobey God and fall in sin. If we look at that narrative in the book of Genesis we see that Adam and Eve listened to Satan, the enemy of God, instead of listening to God. They made a wrong choice because they were seeking after their own selfish desires. God said they would ‘die’ or would be separated from God if they eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. Satan lied to them that “they will be like God” if they eat the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve took a close look at the fruit. The fruit appeared good and tempting. They went for it. As a result the entire human race fell in depravity and lost the close communion Adam and Eve enjoyed with God.

 

Seeking the gratification of bodily desires and personal pleasures above all else can be devastating. Since the fall of the first man the whole of mankind acquired a natural tendency to sin. Thus, we lost that ability to seek God and His fellowship. The Bible says that all of us humans have thus sinned and come short of the standard of God. The result of this is death. All have sinned and all should pay for it by being separated from God eternally. This is the punishment.

 

However, God was not defeated when man went against His plans and sinned. God made a way out. He knew that we lost our ability to seek Him. So, the Bible says, He came seeking us in the person of Jesus. Jesus, who was God Himself, took the form of a man and became like one of us, except for sin. He died on the cross bearing the punishment of our sins upon Himself. He rose again victoriously defeating death and promises to restore us into that fellowship with God. Thus, what Adam lost in the garden of
Eden Jesus regained on the cross of
Calvary. The Bible says that all those who believe in Jesus and His sacrifice for their sins, will become children of God. They will be able to seek God and chose His will in their lives. We can seek God and His will in our lives if God has already sought us and restored us into a personal relationship with Him.

 

Why Seek God’s Kingdom

 

Because Jesus Commands it

 

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”, Jesus told His disciples. Seeking God’s kingdom means seeking after the things that please God. Jesus explained to them the significance of seeking God and His will more than anything else. We read this in the Gospel of Matthew 6:25-34. 

 

Because God Knows our Needs and Will Provide

 

Naturally, people seek to fulfill their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. When it seems difficult they begin to worry. Worry leads to anxiety and then it takes different undesired routes. Jesus points to the fact that we should not allow this to happen, because what is prompted by anxiety cannot provide our needs. It cannot change situations or make anything better. Rather, it can only make us sick. Jesus gives the examples of birds and flowers. He draws our attention to the fact that the birds are not driven by anxiety. They don’t toil or hoard like men yet their Creator provides their food. Next, Jesus calls our attention to the wild flowers in the fields. No one tends to these but God clothes them in beauty, that too, in comparison with the wealthiest king in history. Jesus assures us that our Father in heaven knows our needs and He will provide.

 

Because it distinguishes God’s people from those who are not

 

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them”, Jesus told His disciples. Those who know God will not worry and get anxious about their needs. Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties they trust the promise of God, because they know their Father in Heaven is faithful. Only those who do not know God will get worked up about these things. This should distinguish God’s children in this world.

 

How to Seek God’s Kingdom

 

Through Constant Submission

 

We work and earn to provide for our families. But we should never forget that it is still God who supplies our needs. He gives us the health and strength to work. He gives us intelligence to handle situations. He gives us skills to manage resources. He gives us relationships to cherish. But He wants us to use all of these in submission to His will and desire and not to worry about our needs.

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 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 body to him as instruments of righteousness.” (Rom.6:11-13)

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph.4:22-24) 

Through Consistent Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.4:6-7)

Through Conscious Thanksgiving 

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thess.5:16-18) 

Christians are called to help usher in the Kingdom and reign of God in this world. That is why Jesus taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come”. That is why we are kept as the salt and light of the earth. This is possible only if we as individuals and as the Church seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness as our first priority.

Accountability Of A Christian

Accountability is a quality that elevates the humans from the floors of the animal kingdom. Accountability comes alongside responsibility. The very fact that men and women were created in the image of God and for a specific purpose makes them responsible. Though many a Christian would love to see this word erased from the vocabulary itself, accountability is something that no human can evade.

Accountability is not ‘the ability to make up accounts’. It is defined as “total responsibility for whatever one does”, being ready to present a detailed account when called upon. In biblical terms it is being answerable to our Maker for our thoughts, attitudes, words and deeds. In other words, accountability is being responsible for ‘who’ we are and ‘what’ we do.

Universal Implication

The Bible teaches that the entire human race is accountable to God without any excuse, first of all for what they have done with God’s laws and standards, which were revealed to them from time to time (Rom. 1:18-21; 3:19), and secondly, for the way they handled their God-given responsibilities. Hence, our accountability is basically unidirectional – towards God our Creator. It includes all our responsibilities – towards fellow humans and towards the rest of God’s creation, towards individuals, social structures, governments and authorities, superior or inferior. Right from Cain’s time, people, to escape from their accountability, are raising the question “Am I my brother’s keeper”, because they know that God holds them responsible. (Genesis 4:9) But today, people have adopted to be their brothers’ keepers but not their own. While living ungodly lives they try to lead others. Leaving the log in their own eyes they try to help remove the specks from their brothers’ eyes. But this work of charity will not excuse anyone from his ultimate accountability. Instead of being righteous and just they are only trying to justify themselves.

Motivating Factors

Love for God and the fear of God are the two key factors that motivate people to be accountable. Another reason can be the fear of human authorities or governments. A Christian should be motivated by the love of Christ to lead a life of integrity and absolute accountability.

One of the repercussions of our accountability is that it is escorting us to rewards and retribution. Faithfulness towards responsibilities will lead to the crown of honour and negligence towards accountability to rebuke and humiliation. This is also a motivating factor for those who are not otherwise motivated.

Frighteningly, accountability is squarely proportionate to our given responsibility and a Christian’s accountability is multiplied in the light of what God has invested in him. The Bible says: much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater. (Luke 12:48 Living Bible) The whole world will be judged for what they did with the Lord Jesus Christ, while every Christian will be held accountable for what he did with himself as a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. For a Christian the judgment of sin is over at the cross (Romans 8:1), but a strict evaluation of his Christian life against God’s standards is awaiting him. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit, however, spiritual maturity of a Christian is the result of willful obedience and moment-by-moment submission of the individual. In other words, every child of God is responsible for his/her spiritual maturity or accountable for the lack of it. The Bible speaks resolutely about the Christian’s accountability, both individual and corporate.

We are not our own bosses to live or die as we ourselves might choose. Living or dying we follow the Lord. Either way we are his. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he can be our Lord both while we live and when we die. You have no right to criticize your brother or look down on him. Remember, each of us will stand personally before the Judgment Seat of God. For it is written, “As I live,” says the Lord, “every knee shall bow to me and every tongue confess to God.” Yes, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:7-12 Living Bible)

As Christians, our words, our works, our walk, our handling of God-given resources, and our very being has to be the reflection of God’s glorious standard of holiness. We are accountable for both commission and omission. Let us take a look at some of these areas of Christian accountability.

WORD

The words we utter should bring blessing to others and glory to God. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29; see Colossians 4:6 also) Conversations of the ungodly are filled with lies, enticements, deception, blasphemies and cursing. Lies intended for good purposes and lies that are harmless are still lies. Half-truths and exaggerated reports to impress donors are also lies. Not keeping promises and not standing by whatever we have said are also lies. Flattering superiors to get favours too is nothing but lying. The habit of swearing in order to make one’s words reliable is also against the biblical teaching. (Matthew 5:33-37) A Christian’s words should be worth its meaning. Anything less than that is lying.

My friends, we should not all try to become teachers. In fact, teachers will be judged more strictly than others. All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body… Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things. The tongue is like a spark. It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body and sets a person’s entire life on fire with flames that come from hell itself. (James 3:1-6)

Jesus warns us in Matthew12:36-37, I promise you that on the day of judgment, everyone will have to account for every careless word they have spoken. On that day they will be told that they are either innocent or guilty because of the things they have said. God told prophet Ezekiel that he would be held accountable for the people of Israel if he doesn’t warn them about their sins. (Ezekiel 3:17-21) Today’s shepherds are scared of the sheep and pretend to be blind to the wickedness within the fold. They know they are inviting God’s judgment upon themselves by not saying what God wants them to say.

WORK

This is an age of counterfeits. Bible had foretold about the ‘wolves in sheepskin’ and satan presenting himself as the ‘angel of light’. People are confused and carried away by these look alikes. Fear of God has taken a back seat in Christendom and the church and missions have become the best means of gaining fame and fortune. They think that serving God is a way to get rich. (1Timothy 6:3-5 NCV) However, God’s Word has warned us about the deterioration in the churches and missions.

You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times. People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless, and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good. They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure. Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real. Don’t have anything to do with such people. (2Timothy 3:1-5)

Somebody commented, “Politicians are like bananas. Some are green, some are ripe but not one in the bunch is straight.” This may be more apt a description of today’s Christian leaders. Observing some of these great ‘men of god’ one will almost be convinced that satan also can preach the gospel and do it more attractively than most of us. But he being a ‘liar’ and ‘the father of lies’ denies its power by his own life.

If servants are not ready or willing to do what their master wants them to do, they will be beaten hard. But servants who don’t know what their master wants them to do will not be beaten so hard for doing wrong. If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better. (Luke 12:47,48)

God is not as much interested in fulltime Christian workers as He is in full time Christians. The best Christian ministry is being a true Christian. The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.” (Micah 6:8)

WALK

Strictly speaking, we are accountable for every single instruction in the Bible. We will have to account for what we did with the Word of God – how much of it we believed and practiced. Christian activities and prayer meetings are becoming symbols of piety and source of mere emotional satisfaction. Some use this as business platforms to build contacts, rather than seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness. God looks at the heart and judges our motives. (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:7,8; Mark 7:7) Our hypocrisy will be revealed on that day. Our sin will find us out. (Numbers 32:23)

Walk represents our total life. Christians are called to walk in light as children of light (Ephesians 5:8), walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), walk worthy of the call (Ephesians 4:1), walk in love (Ephesians 5:2) and so on. We are also placed as salt and light to the world. Like Paul we should have the audacity to say, “imitate me” (1Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; 2Thessalonians 3:7,9). We are either models or stumbling blocks for others in their growth towards Christ. It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks. (Mark 9:42)

We are admonished not to walk after the flesh but to allow the Holy Spirit to make our lives fruitful. (Galatians 5:19-23) We are accountable for our fruitlessness (John 15:4-8,16) and no Christian will be able to explain away his spiritual barrenness. These are evil times, so make every minute count. Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life. (Ephesians 5:16-18) Walking with God is the only way to make the most of our time for eternity. The natural outcome of such a life will be a powerful reflection of the glory of God, like the glow on Moses’ face (Exodus 34:29-35) or the witness of the widow about Elijah. (1Kings 17:24)

WEALTH

As we continue to receive material blessings we tend to forget that God is the owner of everything, both the possessions that we earned through hard work as well as the resources and opportunities left at our disposal, and we are just caretakers. We are accountable for all the resources including our own body.

Don’t you know that your bodies are part of the body of Christ? Is it right for me to join part of the body of Christ to a prostitute? No, it isn’t! Don’t you know that a man who does that becomes part of her body? The Scriptures say, “The two of them will be like one person.” But anyone who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit with him. Don’t be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is. You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. (1Corinthians 6:15-19; See also 2Corinthians 6:16)

All of you surely know that you are God’s temple and that his Spirit lives in you. Together you are God’s holy temple, and God will destroy anyone who destroys his temple. (1Corinthians 3:16,17)

Our own lives and that of our family members should be a testimony to the message we are proclaiming. If you are called to be a leader of God’s people, rate your own life against the standards of God’s Word, particularly 1Timothy 3:1-10. Our accountability thus spans from our own life to our family to our personal money to our official funds to all opportunities that we are faced with. We strategically plan our giving. We give ‘cheerfully’ if it is in front of a camera or if our names are flashed around. We give large amounts if we can have a say in the matters of the institution. We boast about the sacrifices we made for the Lord’s sake though the perquisites we are receiving from the Christian circles are far better than what the secular world would have given us. Some of us have the ‘give it, forget it’ attitude. We don’t take pains to know whether it is put to the proper use or not. We are satisfied because we did our part and it is the recipient’s responsibility to see how it is accounted for. Giving to a cause cannot be estranged from being a part of the whole operation. There are enough examples in the Bible to illustrate our accountability as God’s stewards. The parable to the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 points out that non use of God-given resources will also invite His displeasure. Luke 12:42-48 describes the plight of the servant who abuses his God-given power and authority. James writes: If you don’t do what you know is right, you have sinned. (James 4:17)

God will hold each of us accountable for every chance given to us to do what was pleasing to Him and we didn’t, every opportunity to reflect God’s holy nature but we compromised, every occasion where we should have lifted Jesus up but elevated ourselves, every message we preached to others and never applied in our own lives, every committee we sat in and never bothered to look beyond the reports, every program we planned in the name of the ministry but with personal motives, God will judge it all.

Apostle Paul warns us: And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do. (Romans 14:12) After all, Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad that we do while living in these bodies. (2Corinthians 5:10)

The Bible tells us in 1Corinthians 3:5-15 that servants who labour should not be the focus, rather God who brings life and growth. Servants will receive their pay according to their productivity. So we are warned to be careful about our work, the materials that we use and the sincerity we employ. Because, there will be a ‘fire test’ on the last day during which the wheat and the chaff will be revealed. Whatever is eternally valuable will be rewarded and the rest will cause embarrassment. So, let us wake up to our accountability and make up our minds to build for eternity.

Being A Christian Witness

Once up on a time Maharajas and governments appointed Christian Officers to handle responsibilities that required extreme integrity. There was a time when quality conscious customers crowded at business establishments run by Christians. In the past people trusted hospitals operated by Christian missionaries to get reliable and affordable medical care. You may recall the time when non-Christian parents wanted their children to be educated in ‘Christian’ schools. I know, you can add to this testimony statement of a Christian community that was.

A friend of mine was looking around for a reliable contractor for some repairs on the house they bought recently. They stumbled up on this man who seemed to be reasonable. More over they were impressed by his ‘Christian features’. He carried his Bible, read from it and talked about it. He clamoured about his church and its activities. But once he got the job and the advance cheque, everything was not so ‘Christian’ about him. He started off vigorously but became sluggish very soon. He vanished for a while until they took the trouble to trace him. He started telling lies to extract more money, used inferior materials and left them in deep trouble. They had promised to vacate their rented house with the hope that the new house will be ready by then. More over, the bank would start cutting the monthly installment towards their loan from the next month and if they did not move into the new house the rent and the loan payment will leave them with hardly anything to survive on. All because of the unchristian behaviour of a ‘Christian’ contractor. If they have lost confidence in people with a ‘Christian’ tag how about the non-Christian world?

When the Christian Church was smaller by millions it had better influence on the society than today. We have heard of great people making statements like “If I see one genuine Christian around I too would become one”. Although God will not accept it as an excuse for their turning down His offer of salvation through the death of His Son, He may use it as a witness against us on the day of reckoning.

Unparalleled Christian Witness

To “make disciples of all peoples by preaching, baptizing and teaching” was the last (and hence the ‘Great’) Commission Jesus gave his disciples and we should fulfill it meticulously. The first century disciples of Christ obeyed it and turned their world right side up. Generation after generation the followers of Christ have been trying to obey this Commission. However, with all the scientific developments that enhance communication the Church is not influencing the world as the handful of disciples did in the first century. They did not have tools, techniques, budgets or gadgets but they had the power of the Holy Spirit with which they shook the world.

God used the simple, uneducated, ordinary folks to do extraordinary things because they had unreservedly committed their lives to Him and absolutely depended on His power. God could use their unskillful lives as well as the highly educated life of apostle Paul. But the basis on which He did it was just the same – unreserved commitment and absolute dependence. God can use us today, with all our modern tools and techniques, again on the same condition.

However, obedience to the Great Commission will not excuse us from fulfilling all the other commissions and commands the Lord has given. He had summed it up for the disciples in two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments. (Mt. 22:37-40 CEV)

The lives of these disciples also reflected a quality of life that easily identified them as followers of Christ. They were referred to as people of “the Way” (Act. 9:2; 18:25,26; 19:9,23; 24:14,22) and were derisively named “Christians” (loyal followers of Christ) by the people of Antioch (Act. 11:25).

Lopsided Christian Witness

A story is told of a roadside vendor who was selling a special medicine that was supposed to cure baldness and help hair growth. He was very convincing in his promotional talk that a big crowd had gathered and most of them were buying the medicine. Suddenly a strong wind blew his hat off his head and to the surprise of the crowd he was totally bald. They threw his medicine at him and demanded their money. How can someone believe your preaching if it has not affected your own life?

The fulfillment of the Great Commission can happen neither through lukewarm, fruitless, callous churchgoers nor through the self-centred, pleasure loving, prosperity seeking evangelicals. Modern day evangelists may be able to preach the gospel message eloquently to the entire world but making disciples of all peoples is not achieved by professional efficiency or personal charisma. Today we have jumbo churches with mega budgets and mammoth projects but marginal influence on the communities. There has been aggressive preaching and proclamation but poor practicing and affirmation. Thus, in effect, we are sending out a wrong message, not the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Once I was going out with my family and on the way another vehicle came from the wrong side and hit ours. Even after being on the wrong the driver of the other car accused me of not giving him way. At this I got angry and shouted back at him trying to show him that he made the mistake. My wife reminded me that though I was right as per driving rules I was wrong in getting angry. “If that man comes to the church where you are preaching, what will be his evaluation of you?” she asked. I realized my mistake. Driving in city traffic during peak hours can be a test of our spirituality. It can also provide us opportunities to be a witness for Christ.

These days more and more people display bumper stickers and banners on their vehicles with phrases like “Praise the Lord”; “Jesus loves you”; “Jesus Saves”; “Jesus Never Fails” etc. It is a bold way of identifying yourself with having faith in Jesus Christ. However, it can bring a negative effect if our life does not match it. People who read these signs can also read our lives. Our lives are larger billboards and every attitude, word and action display some message about who we really are. The world will expect us to behave like Christians at all circumstances. If we are not prepared for it we will be sending out wrong messages about our Christian faith.

Effective Christian Witness

A Christian Police Officer who is highly respected for his integrity, commitment and testimony once narrated this incident. As the Inspector General (IG) of Prisons he visited a jail where a prisoner came to see him. He told the IG that he too was a Christian. “You are a Christian! Is this the place you ought to be?” the IG asked him. What a shameful testimony of a Christian! Apostle Peter reminds us, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer”(1Pet. 4:14,15 NAB).

Jesus told us, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt. 5:13-16 NAB).

Along with the Great Commission the Lord also told the disciples how to go about it. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NAB). The challenge is to be His witnesses and thus fulfill the command. The Word of God reminds us of the need to “be” more than to “do”. Without being what God wants us to be we cannot do what God wants us to do. Only a true disciple who is empowered by the Holy Spirit can effectively disciple others. There are fights and lawsuits between Christian denominations because the people in leadership are not willing to be like Christ. There is much propaganda in evangelistic meetings that the audience is confused about the message. There is obvious difference between the preacher’s pulpit life and personal life that the listeners wonder which is true. They are preaching a different gospel through their life and witness. Remember the warning of the Scripture:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed” (Gal. 1:8 NAB)

A Christian must be a Christian, always and at any cost. This is not an option but a command given to us. We must realize that there is no middle ground in this matter. We are either witnesses of Christ or agents of the devil. To be the latter one need not do anything but to be a witness for Christ is costly. It involves the conscious, continuous commitment of our total life to Him, as Paul says in Rom. 12:1,2

“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (NAB).

We are called to be a cut above the rest. When the whole world is dark you are called to be its light. When the world around is bland, callous and unconcerned, you are called to be its taste agent. If your life doesn’t exhibit the beauty of Christ and spread the fragrance of Christ why should others listen to your preaching and read your scriptures?

How do we strike a balance in our Christian witness? It is only by being a Christian, by living a fruitful Christian life. A fruit-bearing Christian is an effective witness, both in his walk and his talk.