|START / What in the World Is God Doing / Abraham's Family Tree of Faith /GRÃOS DE OURO / Golden Nuggets from the Bible / About the Dicksons|
Golden Nuggets From the Bible
By E. G. Wilcox
(English version of Grãos de Ouro” by the Dickson Family)
|Preface of the first edition
This little booklet is made up of several brief tracts that
I have written and distributed all over
Several of my friends have suggested that I put them together in this form, and I do so with the hope that they will help someone to find Jesus Christ as their Redeemer and at the same time to guide believers to be more faithful to God’s Word.
Table of Contents:
The New Birth
Jesus answered and said to him: “Truly, truly I say to you,
unless one is born again, he
cannot see the
These are the words of Jesus Christ to the man who wanted to
know the truth about the
Jesus was aware of the sincerity of Nicodemus’ heart and
therefore He chose only the best words to answer the question. He said everything
that was necessary for the understanding of the subject. And any one who
accepted and carried out the conditions in the answer would surely know how to
The phrase about seeing the Kingdom of God meant to be prepared to enter the Kingdom as a regenerated person with a new heart, or in other words to be a believer. Without a doubt being a regenerated person with eternal life and who was a citizen of Heaven was very important to every sinner. So let us look at some facts concerning the new birth.
This decision to be born again happens when a sinner repents of sin and puts his complete trust in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. It is not a physical change but a change of the heart. In this decision the sinner’s desires are completely different. Now the sinner loves God and detests the evil things of this world. Immediately the sinner receives pardon for all of his misdeeds he begins to communicate the new peace in his heart with other sinners.
All of this occurs in an instant. A sinner can arrive at the
miracle of the new birth little by little during months and even years of
conviction. But the light of peace and pardon are the result of one decisive
moment when the sinner finally surrenders to the will of God completely. The
apostle Paul said that the great light came to him on the road to
Jesus does not give the new birth to sinners by installments. Sinners do not receive some of it on one day and the rest on another day. A sinner becomes a child of God instantaneously. The touch of God brings complete salvation that lacks nothing. It is perfect as He is perfect.
The new birth is somewhat similar to the first or physical birth. A new baby is a complete person. It has all of the organs of an adult. It is true that the baby is small, weak and in need of development. So also is the one who receives the new spiritual birth. The physical baby and the spiritual baby need to grow and develop. And this is a process that takes time. But normally such growth takes place. Gradually the baby becomes an adult that assumes more and more responsibility both as a human being and as a believer.
Just as a person has only one physical birth, so a child of God is born again only once. Since Nicodemus was totally in the dark about a spiritual birth he was intrigued with what Jesus said about a second birth. He was still thinking that Jesus meant another physical experience in the mother’s womb. But this would have been impossible in the flesh as well as in the spiritual sense. But someone might say: “I know a person who was a faithful believer but now just takes pleasure in worldly activities.” But who knows the reality of what took place between God and that individual. Only he and the Lord know whether or not he sincerely became a born again believer. One thing is certain, if he really became a child of God he is still a believer That experience cannot be undone.
This point must be well understood. The new birth that God brings about in a human heart is a spiritual rather than a fleshly experience. And it cannot be the result of human powers or any ritual or magic that humans might perform. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman He told her that the Samaritan mountains where she worshipped did not have any special religious powers. The believer is one who has access to power from God in the realm of the Spirit. Such a person can say with Paul: “I serve God in my spirit.” Jesus clearly expressed this idea when He said: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23). And again Jesus said: “God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24).
Since the new birth is spiritual it has to be invisible to the naked eye.
Spiritual things do not have physical bodies or shapes that can be seen with the eye. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.” (John 3: 8). The wind cannot be seen, but it is real and strong. So, even invisible things can be real. The new birth is very real as well as ideas or thoughts.
A person who is born again receives a new nature and can
sense a change in his heart. There will be a radical change in the way he looks
at life. He will have different desires and goals in life. The old life has
passed away and all is new. After his regeneration Zacchaeus immediately had
the desire to give half of his money to feed the poor. What happened? Christ
Jesus had now entered his heart! Also
The believer whose pocket book is not converted also should examine his spiritual experience to make sure it is genuine.
We should thank the good Lord that He gives us immediately a new nature. The sinner does not have to wait hours or even days to receive peace in his heart. The truth is that he receives life eternal immediately. The Bible guarantees that “Whosoever has the Son has life but whosoever has not the Son of God does not have life.” When the sinner receives Christ he receives life eternal.
“For by grace have you been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8).
Salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ
“I am telling you the truth: whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
In this passage Jesus is talking to the non-believing Jews. He wanted to save them so He presented to them in simple words the plan of salvation. These Jews were mortal enemies of Jesus, so they persecuted Him.
What Jesus Christ said in this verse to His enemies applies also to any sinner. My non-believing readers, I hope you will hear the word of Jesus.
The sinner has to hear. He must pay attention. He cannot hear with his mind agitated or perturbed. It is possible to hear the sound of the voice of the preacher and not hear his message. Some could be present at the service without hearing the sound or the voice of the preacher and with his mind ten million miles away from where he is sitting. This type of hearing will not bring about an acceptable result.
The sinner has to hear with an open mind in order to understand the truth of the Gospel. The sermon is not worth hearing if the mind of the listener is closed to the truth.
The sinner needs to hear like a child who is anxious to hear the truth. “If you have ears, then listen”. (Revelation 2:7)
The Holy Spirit says: “Hear my voice today.” But the Devil says: “You can hear today but not right now. You can wait until tomorrow.” My listener friend, the voice of God is better than the voice of the Devil.
Now Jesus says that every person needs to hear His Word. This declaration puts a
lot of responsibility on the preacher, or on any believer who speaks about Jesus .
It is the Scripture that must be announced. The preacher who
talks about human history is not preaching about the Word of God. History is good and without a doubt we need
to know a lot about it, but it is no substitute for the Word of God. Neither is
the Word of God trying to explain natural science. Jesus is not against science
since it was He who created it, but it is not something to be taught in the
pulpit. It is a
Also the philosophy of men should not be the topic for the pulpit of a New Testament church, nor is it appropriate material for a believer to use when he is trying to guide a sinner from darkness to the Light of Jesus Christ.
And furthermore talking about the various doctrines of other religions is not the Word of God.
History, science and philosophy can be used in the pulpit at times and also as a reference to explain a question being debated, but in no way can these subjects substitute the Word of God. The Words of Jesus Christ are the golden nuggets in the New Testament, and are the teachings that should be used in evangelizing.
Now the unbeliever must not only listen and hear the Word of Jesus but must also
believe and accept it. This acceptance must be absolute and without conditions. Also the act of believing must include the repentance of sins and the faith in Christ Jesus. It is not only the acceptance of the fact that Jesus actually came to earth, or that He was a good man and even a prophet, but it is necessary to accept Him as the Divine Messiah. It is necessary to believe that Christ Jesus is God. Regeneration is not just a simple decision to choose Jesus. It is a radical new birth, a new birth that is spiritual in nature and it must be believed with the mind and with the heart.
One proof that a sinner has accepted Jesus and has been saved is the good fruits that he produces. Yesterday the sinner loved the things of the world but today he hates those things and now loves the things of God. There is nothing unusual about the process of having faith since it is the same process that is used to have faith in some good friend. The only mystery is about God’s part in salvation. But even so the sinner exercises faith that God has saved him just as he is. Salvation comes first and afterwards the reformation is sure to follow.
Jesus said: “In the One who sent me”. The unbeliever must believe in a divine
person for salvation and not just in some ritual or ordinance.
Nobody has ever been saved by trusting in manmade things. And mush less in the works or words of some official of any church. All the ideas proposed by humans for getting to Heaven have never been successful. Christ is either the only Saviour or He is no Saviour at all. He Himself said: “I am the way.” If there were any other Saviour, Jesus would not have had to die.
Several days ago in a city in the south, I saw a lady walking on her knees around a Catholic church. The ground she walked on was full of rocks and made for a difficult and painful journey. Obviously she was just fulfilling a vow to some saint in that church. She was a pitiful looking person with her bloody knees and also because she really believed that she would be blessed through such a sacrifice on her part.
The reader will notice that the Scripture says: “has eternal life” (present tense) and not “will have.” The repentant sinner receives forgiveness and life eternal immediately when he believes. And he also has peace on earth with God in his heart.
The jailer asked Paul and Silas: “Sirs, what is necessary for me to do to be
saved?” The reply was “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” The repentant sinner does not have to wait until the end of his life. Thanks to the grace of God the sinner can receive life eternal here in this life to enjoy while he serves his Lord and Saviour during his stay on earth.
This life that the repentant sinner receives is eternal. It will never end since the eternal Christ has the power to give this quality to life. And it the only kind of life that He gives. “Whoever has the Son, has life eternal; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)
The repentant sinner can see what benefits he receives from Christ. For instance,
he will not be judged. And why is this so? Is it because he has never sinned? No, because the sinner knows he has disobeyed God’s laws for which he deserves to be punished. But Christ took on Himself the sins of the world and this was enough to allow God to forgive the repentant sinner. Christ suffered and paid the price for our sins.
Christ died on the cross so that repentant sinners would not have to suffer through all eternity for their sins. In His death Christ was able to satisfy the Law. He took on the guilt of our sins even though personally He never sinned. Christ entered into judgment in our place, and for this reason the repentant sinner will not be judged.
The sinner is dead in sin, but after repentance he receives eternal life. He has passed from death to life.
What sinner would not wish to enjoy this blessing? To have life eternal.To be at peace with God.To escape a horrible death in Hel`l? Therefore, my dear reader who does not believe, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” and you will enjoy the pleasure of eternal life in Christ.
The Prophecy of Isaiah Fulfilled in Jesus Christ
“And He was called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, eternal father, prince of peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Isaiah was a prophet with far-sighted vision. In this verse he looked to the future and declared what would happen. Besides having visions of the future, he also preached to his own generation. At the beginning of verse 6, announcing the birth of this very special person, the prophet used the present tense to announce a future fact. This manner of speaking expressed the fact with more emphasis. To the prophet the fulfillment of this prophesy was certain. In his mind it had already happened.
In this small article we will examine the golden nuggets of our text, describing the character of the person that Isaiah said will be born. I believe that only in the person of Jesus Christ can such descriptive words be entirely appropriate.
If in this world a man can be born whom we can call wonderful, this would have
to be Jesus. He performed more miracles than any other person. He caused more admiration in the hearts of sinners than any other individual. His teachings have instructed the largest number of people. His doctrines have been the basis of civilization for twenty centuries. That is why His name deserves to be called wonderful.
He was wonderful in His birth.
Never was there a birth like that of Jesus. He had a virgin for a mother and God was His Father. There never was a birth like this one and there will never be another. He is God-Man and Man-God. He was eternally with God, the Father. He is the same who spoke with Abraham, who taught the prophets, the One who became Jesus-Man. He became Man in order to help humans with their temptations and to join with them in their earthly problems. He left His heavenly home to live on the earth even though He had no place to call His own. But He had a wonderful birth. It was really the wonder of wonders and the miracles of miracles.
He was wonderful in His life.
He lived as no other human ever lived. During His few years on earth and especially during His active ministry He accomplished more than any other person. He lived daily teaching sinners how to be reconciled to God. Some times He spent the whole night in prayer. He traveled everywhere healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind and even raising people from death.
Jesus did not teach like the Scribes but as one who had authority, which He had. He cleansed the
in Temple by casting out the thieves who did business in it and said: “this is my Father’s house and must be a house of prayer.” Certainly the life of Jesus was wonderful. Jerusalem
He was wonderful in death.
The death of Jesus was different from others. He did die on the cross but He was not a criminal. He died in order that others might live. He gave up His life in order that sinners might have life eternal. In His death He was able to satisfy the wrath of God. He died that others might not have to die. Because of this His death was wonderful.
Who is it that does not appreciate counsels. And especially when they are wise? Jesus gave counsels to two groups: those who are believers and those who are not.
To the unbelievers He said: “Come after me and you will find life.” He also said: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew ).Christ wants to saved everyone. If someone is not saved it is because that person does not reach out to Christ, the only One who can save.
To the believers Christ said: “Keep my commandments” and also He said: “If you want to be happy in this life, do what I recommend.” If the believer follows the counsel of Christ he will grow spiritually and also be blessed materially.
This term always refers to God. A mere human cannot refer to himself .with such terminology.
God is powerful as proven by His creation of the universe. He said: “Let there be light and there was light.” He created the world from nothing. Only God can do this. Humans may be able to combine things already created and thus make something different. But they cannot create something from nothing.
God’s power is evident in the miracles that He performed. It is true that the disciples of Jesus performed miracles but only through the power that God gave them.
We see Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. Lazarus had already been dead for four days. But Jesus said to him “Come out” and Lazarus came out full of life. Only God can give life to a dead person.
On one occasion Jesus was in a boat with His disciples. Suddenly a strong wind arose and was about to capsize the small boat. The frightened disciples cried out to Jesus: “Save us Lord or we will all drown. So Jesus said: “You are men with very little faith” Then he rebuked the wind and the waters became calm. In this miracle is evidence of Jesus’ power over the elements of nature.
The personality of Jesus was powerful. People who looked Him in the eyes felt His power. Those who loved Him loved Him even more as their eyes met, but those who wanted to harm Him turned away when He looked at them. Surely He deserved to be called mighty God.
This phrase must mean that He was the author of eternity who always lived, without out beginning or end.
Christ was the only one who could claim such distinction. No other person would have the audacity to lay claim to this part of the prophecy of Isaiah.
In the Gospel of John it says: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) Jesus also said to the unbelievers that He lived before Abraham. Jesus said: “Verily, verily I say to you before Abraham was born, I AM”. (John 8:58). It is very clear from these Scriptures that there was never a time when Christ did not exist.
He is the Eternal Godhead.
In all of the teachings of Jesus, He emphasized the doctrine of peace, love, and
happiness. No wars would have ever been fought if His doctrine had prevailed. Any disagreement among people could have been worked out peacefully. The heart of the disturbed sinner could have immediately found solutions by trusting and obeying the Words of Jesus.
The believer who delights in peace is a believer who is obedient to his Master.
My readers can be sure that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. He is everything that anyone could desire. Receive Him gladly.
How to Be Saved
The most important question for a non-believer to ask is: How can I be saved?
No normal person would deliberately choose to spend an eternity in Hell. So the only way to avoid such a fate would be to consult the Bible. It will not fail in pointing the way to Heaven.
(1) Not by good deeds
If Abraham had been justified before God by good deeds, he would have had a right to brag, but not before God. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Romans 4:1-3). Remember that when a person works for someone his wages are not considered as a gift but as an obligation. But when a sinner knows that he cannot do anything to justify himself before God, then his only recourse is to have faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness.
(2) Not by keeping the Law.
“Now a man came to Jesus and asked: Teacher what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Do not murder or commit adultery, or steal, or give false testimony, but honor your father and your mother, and love your neighbor as yourself”. The young man replied “All these commandments I have kept so what more must I do?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be prefect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven, and then come follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he was very rich. (Matthew 19:16-22)
(3) Not by observing the ordinances
The ordinance of baptism
“Then Jesus came from
Galileeto the to be baptized by John. But John was reluctant to do this, saying, I need to be baptized by you, so why do you come to me? Jesus replied, “Let it be so now, it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” John accepted his argument and baptized Jesus. As soon as Jesus was baptized he went up out of the water. (Matthew 3:13-16). Jesus had no need of salvation since He is the Author of salvation. Consequently, His baptism did not have salvation as its goal. Jordan
The jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they responded: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. On hearing this, the jailer took them and washed their wounds and then he and all his family were baptized. (Acts 16:30-33). Paul and Silas told the jailer that salvation was by faith, while baptism was to let the world know that they were saved. “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead though the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3, 4)
So Paul taught that our baptism is a symbol of a new life in Christ. The Lord died and was buried but rose to life for the glory of the Father. Even so we died to sin and were buried in the baptismal waters but also rose from the waters symbolizing a new life in Christ Jesus. The baptism therefore has nothing to do with salvation but is a figure representing our redemption.
The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper
“In the same way after supper He took the cup, saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:25)
The supper was given to the believers. They were already saved so it was not instituted to save them. The Lord said: “Do this in my memory.”
(4) Not by giving alms
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpet, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (Matthew 6:2)
(5) Not by self-flagellations
Also the whipping of the body has nothing to do with salvation. Salvation is something spiritual and not physical. God does not demand physical pain but obedience. “God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
May these golden nuggets from the Word of God be welcome in your hearts for it is the only authority in regards to salvation. Hear its teachings!
What Jesus Said with Respect to Himself
When a person has the reputation of always telling the truth and never tricking or deceiving a person, the whole world quickly longs to know his opinion concerning any subject. If we feel this way about a mere person (man) who is limited in his wisdom and human strength, how much more should we wish to know the opinion of one who has never erred, being Himself the truth.
Everyone who spoke with Jesus Christ marveled at His Words.
They would say to those around: Never has any man spoken like this man.
There has never been an occasion of a person who was truly interested and had appealed to Jesus that hasn’t received the help wanted.
Therefore my non-believer friend, it is worth knowing what Jesus said about himself.
Jesus had the misfortune of talking to an audience not prepared. It is true that he talked to his disciples but even they were not prepared to receive his teachings.
The more intelligent of the disciples wanted to teach Jesus how to talk and walk.
For this reason Jesus portioned his teachings gradually, using at the same time many simple and natural lessons taken from the world that the disciples knew.
It seems that it took much time for his disciples to understand the depth, the reality and the magnitude of the Master’s doctrines.
There remained some doctrines that a man like Paul interpreted later. Paul never spoke with Jesus while he was on earth like Peter, John and the other disciples, however he had the ability of profoundly interpreting many teachings which Jesus left.
In this small leaflet, book, it will be impossible to say what Jesus taught about himself, in general, but only what he said himself as Savior of sinners and his relationship with the believers – and this only in certain situations.
In John 14:6 Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus used an illustration to teach or explain one fact. Many times one illustration teaches a truth better than any other method. A road is one way for a person to get from one place to another. Without this road the trip would be impossible. Jesus is the road or the way by which one can go from earth to heaven, that is, he is himself the means by which one reaches God’s paradise. Without Jesus the poor sinner will go to hell. He is the Savior.
In John 10:7 Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.”
Here Jesus is teaching about the true entrance for the sheep to enter the fold – it is the door, not the window or any other part. A friend always enters through the door; an enemy, however, would enter through some other place.
Just as the door is the true entrance to the house, Jesus is the true entrance to eternal life. A robber enters through the window; a shepherd enters through the door.
Those who came before Jesus were robbers and thieves. They wanted to trick the people and entered through the windows. Jesus, being the true Savior comes in through the door. Jesus is the door – the true Savior.
In John Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Everyone understands the work of a shepherd. Especially
those to whom Jesus spoke understood well this term. The people in
The good shepherd saves or rescues his sheep from any danger. Many times he gives his own life in order to save the life of one sheep.
Now when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd”, his audience knows well what his work and mission are in the world. He is the Savior. He has eternal life and wants to give it to others.
In John 11:25, Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.”
This is an impressive term. Resurrection means to live again. Was once dead – but now lives. Was once dead but now has life.
This is the meaning of the resurrection. The sinner was dead. Jesus comes into his heart through faith and now he lives. He has life – eternal life.
A corpse cannot come back to life on its own. The power comes from outside.
The same happens with a sinner who is dead in their transgressions and sins. He himself cannot get rid of this death. He has to be revived through divine powers. This is the work of Christ.
In John 15:1 Jesus says: “I am the Vine and My Father is the
What is the purpose of a vineyard? To produce fruit.
The fruit comes by means of the branches. Jesus told his disciples: I am the vine and you are the branches.
The branch depends on the vine to gain strength and life. When the branch is cut off of the vine it immediately dries up and dies.
Likewise for the believer that does not live constantly in Christ. He dries up and dies as far as producing spiritual fruit.
However, the cut branch continues being a branch – it does not become a stone.
A believer who is cut off from the intimate fellowship with Christ is good for nothing, has no power, has no joy in his heart and is not happy in his life.
In John we have these words of Jesus: “For on account of Him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him.”
Oh the glorious work of light! If something is lost in the dark it will remain lost if there is no light. Someone will search in vain in the dark. But when the light comes, all becomes clear. The light shines and the lost object can be found.
My friend who is not a believer – you are lost in the darkness of sin. You are lost without the light. The only true light is Jesus Christ. The only light that produces life is divine light.
Christ is everything to the non-believer as well as the believer. The non-believers cannot have eternal life with God without Jesus Christ and the believer cannot produce fruit outside of Christ.
The only medicine in this wicked world is Christ Jesus.
Christ, the Eternal Word; Christ in the Old Testament
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” ( John 1:1).
The verb was made flesh. This indicates that the verb was in another form before becoming flesh.
John 1:1 teaches us that the verb was God. The word verb here refers to Christ. Christ, thus, was in the beginning and Christ was God. Before His incarnation, Christ lived eternally with God the Father.
The word verb in the New Testament is the same as the word for word in the Old Testament.
In this small article we want to show a few places where the eternal verb or the word carried out his ministry.
The term angel of Jehovah is used in many passages of the Old Testament, indicating the same person.
In Genesis 15:1, the Word of Jehovah came to Abraham in a vision saying: “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward.”
Something without life, a term or a word alone, cannot speak. It only expresses the idea of someone else. However, here a person came to speak to Abraham. This doesn’t mean that the person was like Abraham with a human body. It is possible to have a real person without a human body. God is person and doesn’t have a visible body. God is spirit.
And so it was that the eternal Verb-Christ came to speak with Abraham. The patriarch was sad, thinking perhaps in an heir that he didn’t have, or in cattle, gold, or silver, but now one arrived that was better than cattle, gold, or silver. The Eternal Being, the Creator of the universe, appeared to give comfort and advice to his faithful servant. It was a night of thousands of stars filling the sky. And Abraham was in his tent meditating. The messenger told him to go out to observe the firmament. Oh what a beautiful scene! The patriarch was happy! And he stopped thinking in an heir, cattle, gold, or silver to look at his Creator.
It is the inspired Word of God that tells us: Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6).
It is the first time that we find the word “believer” in the Old Testament.
Some say that Abraham was converted here. Whatever was the time of his conversion, here he spoke to his Creator and found peace in his heart.
Hagar, servant of Abraham’s wife was sad. She was a victim of the sin of her owners. Fleeing from the presence of her owner, she was in the desert alone.
The angel of Jehovah appeared saying: “from where did you come and where are you going?” “From Sarah’s presence, my owner, I am fleeing.” The angel of Jehovah told her: “return to your owner and humble yourself in her presence.”
Thus Hagar received good advice and escaped the terrible death of the desert. Christ, the Eternal Verb, always was the author of the peace among His people.
The promised heir had already been born. His parents loved
him sufficiently. He was an obedient and good son. He grew up active, happy and
helpful in his home. What a surprise for Abraham when one day God spoke to him
saying: “Take your child, your only child, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the
The Son of the promise, the only son, the good son, having offered so many prayers and years of hope before being born, and after birth having so much care in his growth, was now to come to an end? However Abraham was not a man to doubt God’s Word. God’s Word for him was the last word.
And so without any delay or protesting, Abraham got up and went to the appointed place.
Everything was ready: the altar, the wood, the fire and the sacrifice – his own son. The paternal hand took the cleaver to begin the sacrifice, but from the heaven the angel of Jehovah declared saying: “Do not extend your hand over the young man, and do not do anything, because now I know that you fear God, seeing that you did not keep your son, your only son from me. (Genesis 22).
Thus the angel of Jehovah was a good messenger to this father, full of faith, and saved the life of the innocent boy.
So many physical lives and so many souls, He, the Eternal verb has been saving since the beginning until now.
In Numbers chapter 22, we see the angel of Jehovah as an adversary against Balaam. Balaam is a very interesting character from the Old Testament.
It seems that (Balaam) had good intensions, but was weak to execute them. Balaam was in journey against the will of God and the angel of Jehovah put him on the road as the adversary. Balaam was mounted on his donkey. The anger of God was flung against him. The angel was on the road with his sword drawn, ready to kill him. The donkey had better eyes than his owner, because the donkey saw the angel and changed directions.
Now Balaam’s anger came down on his donkey, punishing her. This happened three times. Jehovah opened the mouth of the donkey and she spoke to Balaam.
At the end of this conversation, Jehovah opened the eyes of Balaam and he saw the angel of Jehovah stopped on the road with his sword drawn.
The angel told Balaam that if the donkey had not changed directions he would have been killed. Balaam was sad and wanted to do the wish of the angel.
Such is the work of the Eternal being, guiding, protecting, and seeking the wish of the Eternal Jehovah.
Gideon was a young man from the tribe of Manasseh. The Midianites dominated the
Gideon was a humble and timid young man, hence he wanted a sign. Gideon said: “If I found favor in your eyes, give me a sign which shows me that it is you who are speaking to me. The sign was given. Gideon got up full of power and believing in the Lord, attained a great victory.
The angel of Jehovah was the angel of the power, giving victory to the people of God.
As the angel of hope and promise, he appeared to the woman of Manoah, promising her a son. She had been sterile and with this message she was very happy.
The boy was born according to the word of the angel of
Jehovah and became a strong arm against the enemies of
The King of Israel had sinned against God’s will and because of such great number of people died.
The angel of Jehovah, as an angel of destruction, extended
its hand over
Thus we see the angel of Jehovah throughout the Old Testament sometimes giving advice, peace, happiness and encouragement, sometimes as adversary against evil people and as instruments of divine justice.
To the Eternal Verb, to the Word of Jehovah, to the angel of Jehovah, to Him, the eternal Christ, before His incarnation – Glory be given to Him forever.
A Valley of Dried Bones
Ezekiel, a prophet of God lived in a foreign land with
Jewish rebellious people that had been captive because of their sins. God
wanted to save
However the majority of the people became worse and worse and instead of repenting from their sins they continued in them. God raised a man to warn them, preaching His message. This was the prophet Ezekiel.
One day, God took him to a great valley and showed him a vision of many dry bones.
We can imagine such a scene. Then Lord Jehovah said: “Son of man, do you think these bones can be reborn?” The prophet answered: “Lord Jehovah, you know.”
I believe that the prophet doubted the possibility of a miracle. A valley of thousands of dry bones – scattered, withered, forgotten!
Soon came the word of God to his servant: “Prophesy over these bones, and tell them: Dry bones, hear the Word of Jehovah. I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will live. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
The prophet, being a servant of God, obeyed immediately the Word of Jehovah. He prophesized.
Soon there was an earthquake and the bones gathered, bone upon bone. Then came skin and tendons over them however there was no breath in them. Again the voice of God said: “Come oh breath, from the four winds, and breathe over these dead so that them may live.”
The prophet prophesized and soon entered the breath in them and they lived. In a little while, these dry bones became a great army.
Now here is the question: Why this vision? What is the interpretation?
The same chapter explains when it says: “These bones are all
the house of
God was contemplating a day when His people would be reunited again in their land, according to His will. Could we draw some lessons today from this vision of a valley of dry bones? I think so.
The people of God in all of the centuries have the same nature. The human is always human. The lesson given in the days of Ezekiel still speaks to our souls.
There are churches today that are a valley of dry bones.
Any church whose members are scattered across the face of the earth, and still these members are not following God’s will, I say that such church is a valley of dry bones.
A church that does not cooperate with other churches in the fulfilling of Jesus’ commandment: Go, preach and baptize, is a valley of dry bones.
A church that can see people across the ocean dying without Christ, without hope for life after death, and does not try to reach out to such people, is a valley of dry bones.
A church that can hear the invitation of our missionaries among the Indians and does not contribute anything to Home Missions is a valley of dry bones.
A church that sends a young person called by God to the Seminary to get educated in order to better serve the churches and after a few months completely forgets him, ignoring totally all the pleas of the Seminary, I say such a church is a valley of dry bones.
A church that reads a religious newspaper every week for free, really liking this newspaper and asking for many copies each week and when this newspaper asks for a small voluntary contribution, explaining that its financial state is precarious, and such church closes its ears and negates the plea, I say this church is a valley of dry bones.
A church that uses its pastor while he is young and strong, until he finally breaks down under the pressure of the work and is forced to leave the church. And furthermore this church ignores the pleas of the Relief and Annuity Board to help all retired pastors. Such a church is a valley of dry bones.
The bones were dry, scattered, useless, withered, but they still were bones. The Lord had to pour flesh over them and fill them with breath, giving them life. There are churches like that. They live but they are still dead. They have the appearance of a church but they do not have life. The Lord Jesus has to give them life again.
When a believer does not wish to cooperate with the church, lives independently, separated from the members, such believer is a dry bone.
When a church goes years without a spiritual revival any new member will be driven away by the coldness and lack of spiritual concern, such church is a valley of dry bones.
When a church only thinks of itself, spending all its money on itself, ignoring the whole world to take care exclusively of itself, such church is a valley of dry bones.
The Lord Jehovah was not happy with that valley of dry bones, scattered and withered.
But He gave them life and they stood up and became a great army, following His voice, being useful to their God and Creator. Therefore, Jesus Christ does not want the churches to become dry and useless, but wants them to be alive, full of courage, following His voice and thus conquering the whole world.
Life Eternal according to the Evangelist John
John, the disciple loved by his Master, used the term “eternal life” 15 times in his Gospel, and 6 times in his letters. I thought it would be good to examine these 21 references so I could better study this doctrine and if possible appreciate it more. Since the beginning of my ministry I have always read with interest all that was written on this subject. Let us note what John said about this doctrine: “So that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:15).
Eternal life here is the result of believing on the Son of Man. In this verse Jesus speaks to Nicodemus. Jesus wanted to show him that, like an Israelite bitten by the serpent was cured by looking at the serpent, likewise would anyone looking to Jesus Christ by faith receive eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not die but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
In this verse Jesus declares that in order for one to receive eternal life it was necessary for God the Father to give His only Son; that all who believed in this Son might receive eternal life. And this eternal life is the guarantee that all believers will never perish. The word here has its usual meaning, that is, has no end, but is forever. In other words, the believer has eternal life and the guarantee that he will live in heaven eternally with Jesus and His people.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John ).
Here again the evangelist says that the believer has eternal life. We note that this life he possesses here in this world. The moment that a sinner receives Christ as Saviour he has eternal life. Eternal life guarantees peace with God but he who does not have eternal life has God’s wrath.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4: 14).
Here Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman. She was thinking of material water, but Jesus used natural water to show her spiritual water, signifying He Himself. The material water only quenches thirst for a brief while he who drinks spiritual water, that is, he who accepts Jesus, will never thirst because he has in him One who is the fountain of water which flows eternally.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24).
Eternal life in this verse is the result of hearing the word of Jesus and believing in the God who sent Him. He who has this life will not be judged but already has passed from death to life. The unbelieving sinner will be judged but the saved sinner will not be judged. Why is this? Because he who has Jesus Christ has life eternal. Christ has already paid the price. Christ was judged in the sinner’s place. The sins of a believer were covered by the blood of Jesus Christ when he accepted Jesus as Saviour.
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me.” (John 5:39).
Here Jesus speaks to the unbelieving Jews. They believed that that the Scriptures taught the doctrine of eternal life. Jesus agreed with them and that these same Scriptures gave proof of Him. These Jews believed that someone should have eternal life and be saved and affirmed that such a doctrine was taught in these Scriptures, however they denied that Christ Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus said: “no I am the author of eternal life.”
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man gives you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” (John 6:27).
This was Jesus’ response to the multitude that sought Him after He had given food to five thousand people. This multitude was only after the material food. Jesus declared that He was the bread, and had eternal life and would live forever.
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life. And I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40).
Jesus declared in this verse that the will of God is that each one have eternal life, seeing and believing in His Son. Eternal life is the guarantee to be resurrected by Jesus. This means that he who has eternal life has this promise of being raised in the resurrection of the saved. Jesus never fails in His promises. The one who possesses eternal life is certain of his life beyond the grave.
“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (John 6:47). Here Jesus continues to declare that the unbelieving Jews were not saved nor had eternal life, because they did not believe in Him, in spite of claiming to believe in God.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54).
This language was offensive to the unbelieving Jews. They could not understand the illustration. They ate the manna in the wilderness and died. Jesus said: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me and I in him.” Eternal life is the divine seed that lives in the believer because of his faith in Jesus Christ. This seed never dies; it will live eternally. To eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood means to believe in Him.
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).
Those were the words of Simon Peter when Jesus asked the twelve apostles: “Do you also want to leave?” Peter expressed the opinion of the twelve: “No, Master, you have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28).
Jesus gives eternal life to the persons that believe in Him, the same that the Father gives. These people will never. Perish is a sad word. The unbeliever is someone out of touch, without hope. It is not so with the believers because no one can take them out of the hands of Jesus Christ.
“I know that His command leads to eternal life.” (John 12:50).
Jesus declares here that the Word He mentioned came from the Father; it was the commandment of God and this commandment of eternal life.
For you granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given Him. Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17: 2, 3).
This is the prayer of Jesus to His Father when He was speaking about His glorification. He remembered that God had given Him power to give eternal life to all whom the Father had chosen. Eternal life is to know God and His Son.
“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1 John 1:2).
Here the author identifies eternal life with the Word. Both were with the Father in the beginning.
“And this is what He promised us- even eternal life.” (1John )
The apostle shows us in this chapter the intimate communion between the Father, the Son, and the believers. Christ promised eternal life.
“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” (1 John 3:15).
In the beginning of this verse John declares that everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; so life eternal is love, the exact opposite of hate.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1 John 5:11).
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13).
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true.” (1 John 5:20).
Dear readers, we are forced to conclude that the believer has eternal life because of having believed in the Son of God and on the Father who sent Him.
Jesus Christ Resurrected from the Dead
The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is as old as Christianity. The disciples of Christ referred to it constantly. However, there have also been critics of the doctrine.
Jesus Himself declared even before His death that He would be resurrected. So if He was not resurrected, He would not be faithful to His word, and we would not have a Saviour. In that case we would still be in our sins, without hope of being saved. If Christ did not rise from death, He would just be another Jew that was crucified by men and who was still dead in His tomb.
All of Christianity would have never existed. There would be no faith, nor hope. We would have no future because everything – faith, hope, heaven – is based on Jesus Christ.
To say such things to a believer is just like saying to him that he has been deluded and has misunderstood the Bible and his own experiences. If a person has been wrong about the Bible and his own personal experience there is no basis for his rationale. But I believe that my readers do believe in the Bible and that their personal experiences have been genuine and not just childish illusions.
Let us examine what the Bible says about this important doctrine. In the first place we have the testimony of a non-believer, Herod the tetrarch. He knew about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his friends: “This is John the Baptist who has risen from the dead.” (Matthew 14: 2). Here we hear the conscience of a person who was responsible for another person’s death expressing his superstition about the doctrine of the resurrection. John the Baptist, a just man who was faithful to his Lord, and who was brave enough to tell Herod that he was living in sin but who for this frankness was put to death. In the incident we see the general belief in those days of the doctrine of the resurrection.
The Testimony of Jesus
“From that time on Jesus began to explain
to His disciples that He must go to
One day Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a very high mountain. There He was transfigured before them. God opened the heavens and let these simple men see heavenly scenery. However they were cautioned to not report what they were shown. Jesus told them: “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:0; Mark 9:30-31).
On another occasion, Jesus was with His disciples in
Jesus rebuked the Sadducees about their teachings of resurrection life beyond the grave. (Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:225; and Luke 20:35).
On an important day near the end of His precious life Jesus instituted the supper. This took the name of “the supper of the Lord”, a title that has been used by evangelicals.
When Jesus finished He announced to the disciples that He
would not take the supper with them again until the day that He would do so in
The Testimony of an Angel
The day arrived. Jesus was dead at the hands of His enemies. He was buried. Three women that loved Him greatly were at the tomb to anoint His body as was the custom among the Jews. They arrived at the grave and did not find Jesus but an angel said to them: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.” (Matthew 28: 5,6). The Gospel of Mark says that a young man dressed in white gave the same good news to the women. (Mark 16:6).The Gospel of Luke says the women went to the tomb but could not find the body of Jesus. And two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning said to them that He had come back to life. (Luke 24:6).
Jesus appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus
and spoke with them but the two did not immediately recognize Him. Finally
Jesus entered their house and sat with them at the table. There the disciples
recognized Him. Finding the eleven disciples gathered in
Also the apostle John gave this testimony. Mary Magdalene went very early to the tomb and found the stone at the entrance rolled away. She ran and told this to Peter and the disciple that Jesus loved (John). The two disciples ran to the open door but John arrived first. Inside they found the tomb empty except for the strips of linen and the burial cloth that had been on the head of Jesus. Afterward Jesus appeared to Mary and said: “Do not hold on to me because I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
The first day of the week had arrived. The ten disciples
were together in a room with the doors locked when Jesus appeared to them and
said: “Peace be with you.” Eight days later Jesus
appeared again at a gathering of the eleven disciples. All of this is recorded
in John 21. This chapter leaves out any record of His appearance to the seven
disciples at the
The testimony of Peter occurred on the Day of Pentecost
after Peter had delivered a powerful message. As a result 3,000 people were
baptized. In this sermon Peter confirmed that God had raised Jesus from the
grave. (Acts ). Peter was now a
strong preacher and no longer a weak one. Peter and John went to the
Peter and John were arrested and put in jail. But the church was praying and God heard their prayer and freed the two apostles. They joined the other apostles and gave praise to God for His amazing power. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. (Acts ).
Luke affirms that the Lord appeared to Ananias in a vision in which He indicated that He had appeared to Saul in his journey and that he, Saul, was in prayer. (Acts ).
Peter preached the resurrection of Christ to the Gentiles in
Paul was on his first missionary journey and had arrived in
When Paul was brought a prisoner before King Agrippa, the king asked Him to defend himself. In his defense he told how Jesus had suffered and was crucified, but was the first to ever return to life again. (Acts 26:23).
Paul declared to the Romans that Jesus was “delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25).
In the 6th chapter of Romans Paul wrote that the believer should no live in sin because he was already dead to sin and that his baptism showed to the world he was buried to sin and resurrected to a new life, and that this was a picture of the death and resurrection of Christ. (Romans 6:2-4).
In the 8th chapter of Romans Paul wrote that the Spirit of God raised up Christ from the dead and by the same Spirit he can give life to a dead human body. (Romans 8:12).
Anyone who believes that Christ was resurrected will be saved. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9).
Christ, dying and rising from the grave, has become the Lord of the dead and of the living. “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:9).
Our resurrection is based on the resurrection of Christ. “By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also.” (1 Corinthians 6:14).
The resurrection of Christ is taught in the Scriptures. “that He was buried, that He was raised from the dead on the third day according to Scripture.” (1 Corinthians 15:4). Our preaching, our faith, our salvation, our resurrection, all is in vain if Christ was not resurrected. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). But Christ was resurrected and He is the first fruits of those who sleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Now, my dear readers, we can see the importance of this study. There is nothing to Christianity without this glorious doctrine. Seeing that the Bible declares that Jesus was resurrected, we accept and our hearts are happy in this glorious truth.
Pursuing Godly Love
“Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” (John 21:15)
These were the words of Jesus Christ to Simon Peter. Peter was fishing with some other disciples. They had worked all night without results. Early the next day Jesus was on the beach close by and asked them: “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” They answered that they had none. Jesus said, “Throw your nets on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
The disciple, John, whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord”. As soon as Simon heard this he could wait no longer and jumped in the water and swam to shore. The other disciples followed in the boat with the big catch of 153 fish. The breakfast was already prepared and Jesus invited them to come and eat. They accepted the invitation because they were very hungry after a night of fishing.
After they had eaten, Jesus began speaking to Peter. Without a doubt Jesus pointed to the rest of the fish and said, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
It is very interesting how Jesus and Peter used the word that is translated from the Greek as “love”. Jesus used the term “agapao” in His first and second questions but used the term “phileo” in the third question, while Peter always responded with the term “phileo”.
Thayer comments about the difference in the two terms saying that “agapao” was love in general. In Matthew, Luke, John and Paul it is the mutual love among believers. (1 John). It was this kind of love that led God to give His Son to die for the world. (John 3:16, Romans 8:37). It was also the kind of love that led Christ to give His life. (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2). It was indeed the kind of love that God had for Christ (John ; Ephesians 1:6). This was the kind of love for a teacher like God or Christ that called for reverence and obedience. It is based on admiration and reverence. In contrast the term “phileo” is motivated by sentimentality, emotion, feeling.
A believer should love God in the “agapao” sense rather than the “phileo” sense for it is said that God loved (agapao) the world. (John 3:16). Christ asked us to love (agapao) our enemies rather than love (phileo) them because the phileo love is based on sentimentality and does not deserve much confidence..
The word agapao cannot be used to express the love between the sexes.
Continuing with Thayer, he says that love (phileo) is the love of one friend to another when the word is used in connection with faith (pistis).It is based on having pleasure in something, the love we have in preserving life is contrary to the hate we should have in the sins of the world. It is the love that calls for a kiss.
This is the difference between these two words but sometimes they are used interchangeably. Therefore it is hard to be dogmatic about the exact meaning in each case.
“Do you love (agapao) me more than these?” was what Jesus asked Peter. It seems that Jesus had reference to the fish. The fish represented material work. Jesus had already said to Peter, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men”. It so happened that Peter had forgotten about fishing for men and had returned to his old trade. He was more interested now in the material work than in the spiritual work. But Jesus knew that the spiritual was the more important occupation. Maybe Peter perceived in the words from the Master something of a reprimand. If that is true Peter did not use the word agapao because he thought that phileo would better coincide with what he really wanted to say. But Jesus was issuing a new spiritual challenge to him when He said, “Feed my sheep”.
We can imagine the thoughts that came to Peter when he heard
this renewal of his call to spiritual work. Maybe Peter was remembering his
words in Mark 14:29-31. Jesus had said to the disciples, “You will all fall
away for it is written I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be
scattered. But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you to
This being so it is easy to see why Peter would carefully choose his reply to Jesus on the beach. He did not want his words to Jesus to be inconsistent again.
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Do you love me with the same love that God had when He gave His Son to die for the world?
Yes, Master, you know that I love you. I love you with the love that one friend has for another.
Simon son of John, do you love me with the same love that the Son of God had when He died on the cross for the salvation of sinners?
Yes, Master, you know that I love you. I love you like my own life.
Simon Son of John, do you love me with the love a disciple has for his Master, producing reverence and obedience?
Yes, Master, you know that I love you. I love you with the same love that a groom has for his bride.
Simon son of John, do you love me with the love that produces adoration and veneration?
Yes, Master, you know that I love you. I love you like a mother or father loves his son.
And finally Jesus said, Simon son of John do you love me like a brother loves one of his brothers? And Peter said, yes, Master you know that I love you.
Like we said before we cannot say for sure that agapao always signifies this and phileo signifies that because sometimes they are used in different senses. We must be careful because we do not want to put just any word in the mouth of Jesus or in the mouth of the great apostle Peter. Studying the text with the context and the common use of the two words, we have given them the interpretation mentioned.
Now, maybe it would be worth asking ourselves the same question, “Do you love me more than these?”
Do we love Christ enough to put His will above our own desires?
Love is the supreme motive. A servant who loves his master gives his all to serve him with gratitude no matter the cost. The good pastor loves his sheep and takes care of them whatever the need. On the other hand the hired hand is only interested in getting his salary.
Love is the tie that binds two people with inseparable bonds, and to betray this love is a serious crime.
Do we love Christ enough to accept what people in general might consider a humble place but where there is needy service to be done?
Do we love Christ enough to accept a small salary with a poor group of people but where there is an opportunity to be of service to the Cause?
Do we love Christ enough to serve a small church in an obscure place but where there are many lost souls?
Do we love Christ enough to remain in the Seminary until graduation even though we have an urgent invitation from a church that desires us to leave our studies early to serve them as pastor?
Do we love Christ enough to continue to stay in the Seminary to the end of our studies even though the monthly rent is hard to pay and our clothes are getting old and the owner of the grocery store insists on our monthly payments? Love is the only thing that conquers these difficulties.
Do we love Christ enough to study lessons that are not easy to grasp until we finally conquer them even though we are tired mentally and physically?
Do we love Christ enough and the Cause of God in the north sufficiently to stay here even though there are calls from the south?
Do we love Christ enough to keep His commandments or do we
keep them just because as preachers we are supposed to? If we love Christ our acts will be useful in
The life of love is the life of service and prayer. My young brothers, we should examine our motives and try to love Christ with agapao love since it is the godly kind of love.
Note: This discourse was given in the chapel to students and pastors of the Recife Seminary. Some thought it wise to have a larger audience and that is why it is included in this booklet.
Who Should be Baptized?
On this subject, like all religious subjects, the Bible has to be consulted. The Bible is the only source of our information about baptism. Whoever wants to be informed about this or any other Christian doctrine should consult the Bible.
There are two extremes about the age one should be baptized.
There are those who will baptize anyone of any age, even infants. (I am using the term baptism in the popular sense and not according to the Bible, because the Bible only speaks of one baptism that is, immersion in water, of a believer.) Others are scandalized about speaking of infant baptism, so that they go to the other extreme wanting to only baptize those who are 15 years old and older.
Well, both of these groups are wrong. The Bible doesn’t talk about the age of a candidate for baptism. There is only one prerequisite: be a believer. When a person becomes a believer, baptism should follow soon. This person must have the capacity to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.
The biblical doctrine includes repentance and faith, because a believer is repentant of sins and has salvation faith in Jesus Christ. A child, before arriving at the age of accountability, cannot be baptized. Some adults should not be baptized because they are mentally retarded and therefore unable to make a responsible decision. Not every person has the capacity to believe in Jesus Christ. Here is what the Bible says: All who were baptized were old enough and able to confess their sins.
Jesus told his disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19. This verse teaches that the disciples were the people who should be baptized.
Acts . These were capable of receiving the Word. They were believers.
The eunuch was baptized after Philip explained the Scriptures. Acts 8:34-38
We first notice that the eunuch was reading the Bible, having accepted the explanation that Phillip, God’s servant, gave him about Jesus the Son of God: and because of this we believe that he was a believer. Secondly immediately came the baptism. For such Phillip did not require that he be a theologian. Thirdly, we notice here that the method used here by Phillip was immersion. Both descended to the water and both came up from the water.
The jailer was baptized after hearing the words of Paul and Silas. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved – you and your household. Acts 16:31-34.
All of these were baptized of their own free will, fulfilling the Word of the Lord. We see in all of these cases that the people baptized were believers. An infant, a fool, or any other person that does not have good sense cannot be baptized.
So, who should be baptized? The answer according to the Bible is – a believer.
But a question emerges: Can a child of 9, 10 or 11 years old be baptized? My answer: depending on the capability of a child of 9, 10, 11 years. There are children of this age who are able to believe in Christ Jesus, thus being able to be born again. Such children are ready to be baptized. But someone might object: these children cannot defend our doctrine to the catholic world. That is true. However there are also children 50 years old with beard and mustache that do not know how to defend our doctrine to the world. To be baptized and become a member of a Baptist church, it is not necessary to become a theologian. Only to be regenerated. The learning of our doctrines comes afterwards. This is the work of our Sunday Schools, youth training and of the doctrinal sermons from the evangelistic pulpit. Also this training of our doctrines should have a base in our homes.
However there may be others saying: a child cannot vote in our business meetings of the church. If a child has enough reasoning to be born again, also will have enough reasoning to say what he wants.
Others also may object that such a child cannot conquer the temptations of the world, so yielding to such will bring scandal to the church. That is true. The rolls of our churches show that this has happened many times, but also it is noticed that the majority of the scandals in our churches come from adults of both sexes. This is not an argument against a child. If that were true then it would also be against an adult.
So what should we do?
The church should decide each case depending on the testimony of the candidate, being very careful when accepting such candidate.
The church and the pastor have a big responsibility. There are times in which the pastor should be lead more from what he knows and feels about the candidate, than from the candidates own words when making profession of faith. It is more important to read the heart of the candidate than to hear his words. The pastor being human cannot know with certainty whether the candidate is or not a child of God, but being very careful, if the person is still an unbeliever, it is not the Pastor’s responsibility.
Someone already has said that 50% of the members of our churches are unbelievers. I believe that the percentage is exaggerated, however unfortunately the reality shows that many are not believers. Whatever may be the age of the candidate, the weight should be on the candidate’s testimony. It is easy for children to become confused wanting to join the church because their friends have joined. In that case, they should not be baptized. If a church is undecided, it is good to wait a little and time should clarify the decision. This same care should be put into practice when dealing with adults.
So, who should be baptized? The New Testament teaches that it is the believer at whatever age that person is.
How to Have a Worship Service
The author of this chapter does not expect to say the final word on this subject, but only to give some suggestions. These are the result of his 22 years as a preacher and also after hearing the Word of God from childhood.
The Pastor – The pastor has more influence than any other person in the worship service. The spirit of the service depends on him, not in any absolute way, but in logical recognition of his leadership in the church.
This starts with the sermon that begins in the pastor’s study. The outline and some of the content should be already written down or at least well thought out. The pastor must not leave the preparation of the sermon to be made on his way to the church. This does not means that the inspiration of the Spirit has nothing to do with the sermon. But the Spirit usually helps the one who helps himself. The lazy preacher usually believes that he can count on God to fill his mouth with the right words just as he speaks. This is not true except in the sense that God will fill his mouth with air.
The pastor must be filled with the Power from on high when he steps in the pulpit. His heart should be filled with the Holy Spirit. But this only occurs when the pastor lives in communion with God. It is the wise pastor who spends some time with God before he stands in the pulpit. The listeners will sense the difference if this is done before the worship begins.
The hour of the service should be set at the time most convenient for the people. After it is set it should be honored by the pastor and other church leaders. The traveler that arrives five minutes after the train has left on its preset schedule is usually very disappointed. The work of the Lord deserves as much respect. The pastor should be among the first to arrive to see that everything is ready.
The Pastor’s Clothes – How should the pastor dress? I have been asked about this several times. I have always replied that he should always dress in such a way as to not call attention to his clothes.
By this I mean that his clothes should not attract attention by being too expensive or too worn and tattered. A pastor who dresses so much above the average that he is uncomfortable in the presence of a very poor person is a disgrace to the ministry. On the other hand the pastor whose clothes make his members ashamed is not a good example of the church he represents.
The church should pay its leader enough to be able to dress on a standard with the rest of his church.
The Announcements – The announcements should be made before the sermon and should be as brief as possible. They should not take away from the spiritual atmosphere of the service. It is a good idea for the pastor receive all announcements in writing before the service begins.
The pastor can irritate some of his members if he does not know how to handle this part of the service.
The Sermon – The sermon is the heart of the service. The music and prayers have their places in the service and are very important, but if the sermon is weak, the whole service will be a failure.
The sermon should not be too prolonged and also not too short. It all depends on the occasion. The pastor should decide this, as he is led by the Spirit.
Neither should the sermon be a political discourse nor mainly of science and philosophy, but rather should be a message from a prophet to God’s people.
The Music –Music is an important part of the worship service and the one who leads it can be an asset to the pastor if he or she knows how to lead it. The music should never be too slow nor too jazzy. It must not be like a funeral march nor so frivolous as if were a Fox-trot.
The audience should follow the rhythm set by the leader. If not the result will be a lack of harmony and a distraction to the atmosphere of worship.
The hymn of invitation should not be sung at the beginning of the service and neither the hymn of consecration at the last.
The church building should be ready on time, clean, attractive, and ventilated. The pews should not have be wiped clean by the clothes of the parishioners.
For a civilized group of people it does not have to be observed that it is forbidden to spit on the floor. This is a bad habit as well as repugnant and against the rules of good health.
The Worshippers - The people in the pews should enter the building in the spirit of praise to God. The House of God is not just any street gathering. Talking that will disturb the spiritual atmosphere should be eliminated. The worshippers should enter and find a seat. And they should not leave their place several times during the hour. Such conduct makes the pastor sick to his soul.
Nobody should leave to drink water during the service. A person does not die of thirst during the brief service. Also it is not the time to read a newspaper, nor a Bible nor any other book. The worship service should be used to hear what the pastor has to say. Business and other things that go on outside should not distract from the purpose of the service. Windows were made to bring ventilation and light and not to hinder the spiritual progress of the service.
The person who goes to sleep is a discourtesy to the preacher as well as to God. God’s House is not a dormitory. If a listener gets drowsy and goes to sleep it can be considered as rudeness. This is because God is speaking through the preacher to each individual present with a message that is very important to the spiritual welfare of each listener. And He should be heard through the preacher. No physical weakness should be allowed to interfere with God’s Word to mankind.
But someone may say that he/she was not sleeping but had closed the eyes so as to better hear the preacher. This could be true, but when the preacher sees the closed eyes he can only judge that the person is sleeping. The preacher would have to be blind to judge otherwise.
Also there is a detraction that occurs during the invitation when someone strains to see who it is that comes forward to make a decision. This should not be done. It can serve to make a timid soul back out of the public decision to accept Christ. During the invitation the believers should be in silent prayer for God’s Spirit to encourage the unbelievers to accept Christ as personal Savior. This type of praying is the answer to defeating the Devil and is a very important role for the whole church to play in leading people to Christ.
The pastor is fortunate who has this type of support from his congregation!
Why Have a Baptist Church?
Everything that exists has a reason to be. When something out lives its purpose it is soon forgotten by people and just disappears.
If this is true with material things, how much more with spiritual things.
We believe that a
I believe that the only reason to have a
For a small church to evangelize multitudes of people by herself is very hard. But she can do it when she unites in this task with a group of other churches. This is the reason for organizing our work. For years Baptists have learned that to better carry out the work of our Master there must be cooperation together with each other.
To do this we have organized international, national, and state conventions. The State Convention is a smaller convention and supports financially the Baptist work in that State. The Conventions have designated boards to carry out the work that the Conventions planned in its last meeting. Our work here in Pernambuco is well organized. Through many years now the Cooperative Board has served the Pernambuco Convention.
The Baptist Churches of this State have always had a vision that includes the local work as well as the other work in all the world. The churches in this State have always obeyed the orders of our Master Jesus Christ in striving to carry out the work. Many times the leaders of this Board have made special appeals for money and have always been heard. I believe that this will be true on this occasion.
People of Pernambuco allow me a word about the work that is
dear to your hearts. The work is progressing well everywhere. The news from
Therefore, my friends, the appeal I make to you is to send me your financial contributions every month for the support of the work. The last two months we have failed miserably. A large group of churches have sent nothing. Some of these have failed to send anything during the entire year. If this trend should continue the work will have to stop. Your Board will have to terminate our contact with them and this should not happen. If the churches will give as they promised this sad situation will not happen.
A Church of Jesus Christ should not keep everything for itself. Sooner or later this church will fail. Sooner or later Jesus is not at the side of this church. My dear friends, I appeal to your Christian consciences, and in the name of thousands of hungry lost souls, that you do your part to support the work of the Lord. Yours, in Christ.
How Should the Believer Use Money
“Abraham was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:2)
In this brief study we will discuss the sense in which material wealth belongs to the believer and also how it belongs to God. In one sense the believer cannot claim his money as his personal possession except in a very limited sense. God is really the owner while the believer is just the steward of it. God is the real owner because He created it.
Psalm 24:1 says “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” So when someone speaks of my money, my house, my land, etc. he is speaking a partial truth. This person should acknowledge that God is the source of all of his material possessions. And therefore he is accountable to God for the way he uses them.
God Himself should determine how a believer uses his earthly possessions. These possessions should be considered as a loan from God and consequently subject to God’s approval. Should any believer administer these possessions according to his own personal desires, God will take them away and give them to others.
Among the riches that each believer receives from God are talents with which to serve God. Therefore the believer is supposed to use them for God’s honor and glory. Using them otherwise would be counted as rebellion against God.
The believer should develop the gifts or talents that have been given by the Lord. If a person can sing then that talent should be used to express glory to God. Others may have the gift of explaining God’s Word more clearly and therefore are obligated to do this on every opportunity that they might have.
Another divine gift is the amount of time that each believer receives. God is the owner of our time. He has made it clear that one day in seven belongs especially to Him. The believer should respect this day and use it only for the recuperation of physical energies and especially for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. There are believers who continue their daily work even on Sunday. Some do this out of necessity but others because they love the extra money that this will provide. Some believe that if they do not work every day, they will die of hunger. But this is just not so.
So it pleases God when the believer considers the Sabbath as a special day that can be used to the glory of God. But what about the other six days of the week? Do believers have the right to use them in just any old way? That is never true! It is never right for the believer to take part in activities that are against God’s will. If a believer lives like a pagan on any day he should read his Bible again.
In like manner the believer must remember that God is the owner of the money that he accumulates. But before this subject is discussed it will be useful to say a few things about the money that God wants from His people.
In the Old Testament God expected His people to give Him a
tithe of what they received. Moses confirms this in Numbers 18: 24 and 26.The
tribe of Levites were paid a tithe by the other tribes since the Levites had no
other source of income. The Levites dedicated their full time to serving in the
There are two reasons why pastors should be tithers – first, the Bible teaches it and second, to serve as an example. The church leader cannot preach this doctrine with conviction if he himself fails to practice it. Some might think that this teaching came from the Law of Moses but in reality Moses simply passed on the teaching from others.
On one occasion Jacob met with God. In this vision God
showed him the glories of heaven and revealed to him the plan to give him and
his descendants the
Now let us examine a New Testament passage. In Matthew 23:2-3 we read that Jesus spoke to the people and to His disciples about the Scribes and Pharisees who had to confirm the teaching of the tithe by Moses. They could not avoid this since it was part of the Law. However, while they taught the Law on tithing to others they themselves did not practice it. So here Jesus was approving of the teaching of the tithe because it was from God but berating those Jewish leaders who thought they were not obligated to practice it.
As has been said already the tithe is a law of God and not just from the time of Moses. It was known and practiced long before Moses. But Moses was faithful to include the tithe in his writings. In reality the doctrine of the tithe had its origin in the Divine Trinity.
It is the conviction of this author that a church of believers ought to be a tithing church. Without a doubt Jesus endorsed the tithe as the best way to finance His program for the church to make disciples of all nations.
I further believe that a church which receives tithes from its members but uses them only for its own local program is sinning against God. (Matthew 28:19-20). A church should give at least ten percent of it offerings to help finance God’s work beyond its own local situation. I do not understand a pastor who teaches his flock to tithe but will not insist on the church being a tither.
The believer and his money
Now let us consider the believer’s money as something that God gives him to administer faithfully as a good steward. God is the source of all money regardless of who might put it in the believer’s hands. Therefore, this money is different from that which the non-believer possesses. The believer has an obligation to use his money. in a way that would please God.
It might be asked if a believer can be rich, that is, the possessor of a lot of money.
The answer is “yes”. Abraham was very rich (Genesis 13:2) and his faithfulness to God is unquestionable. (Genesis 15:6). God has promised His blessings to every believer but these blessings are always “millionaires” in the spiritual sense and only sometimes in the monetary sense. It is rare to find a believer who can rightfully possess a great deal of wealth. The worse thing that can happen to most believers is to receive a lot of money since most do not know how to resist the temptations that go along with a lot of wealth. If money leads the believer away from God it is a curse rather than a blessing.
The wrong use of money
The right use of money
Money is the channel through which the necessities of life are negotiated. In a society like ours therefore money is a way of life.
We should buy that which our bodies need.
We must take care of our health but if we don’t we will be able to do very little in the Lord’s work.
Also we must buy that which is necessary for the development of our minds which could include books and other good literature.
We should help as much as we can to maintain organizations that serve humanity such as hospitals, schools, etc.
In summary we must use as much money as we can to promote everything that will help glorify our Lord.