Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The way of Eve or the way of Jesus?

I was reading Genesis 3-6 recently and I went to the Study Bible I use (The Companion Bible, Kregel Publications) to read the notes it has. It was the passage of Eve, searching, looking and finally eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that drew my attention:
Genesis 3:6 
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her; and he ate”
My Study Bible connects the above verse with I John 2 where in verses 15-16 we read:
I John 2:15-16 
“Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world”
“The lust of the flesh” …… “the woman saw that the tree was GOOD FOR FOOD”
“The lust of the eyes” …….. “that it was pleasant to the EYES”
“the pride of life” …….. “a tree to be desired to make one WISE”
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life …. pleasant to the flesh, pleasant to the eyes, to become wise… That is what the first human beings followed. And this is the very thing that we must not do. Sin breaks our fellowship with God and nobody should, like Eve, be deceived to think that he can have it both ways. As Galatians 6:7-8 says, referring to Christians:
Galatians 6:7-8 
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows THAT he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption: but he who sows to the spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life”
The epistle was written “unto the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2). It is Christians that are called to “not be deceived”. Yes, Christians can be deceived! We Christians, as the text warns, if we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption! The same devil that deceived Eve, is active today and has the same purpose: to deceive us. I Corinthians 11:3 tells us:
II Corinthians 11:3 
“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ”
“As the serpent deceived Eve….”. As the devil did with Eve so also he tries to do with us. Eve followed her senses. She saw, she thought, she acted. It seemed logical and wise but it was the greatest tragedy. What do we do today? Do we follow whatever seems pleasant to the eyes or what feels good? Whatever the world, the many do? Whatever seems wise according to the world’s standards? Or do we follow the wisdom that is of God, that comes from above and which in the eyes of the world is foolishness? I Corinthians 3:18-20 tells us:
I Corinthians 3:18-20 
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness. And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise that they are futile”
There is only one true wisdom: the wisdom that comes from God. Eve knew the word of God but she was overpowered by what she saw and thought. It is not her example that we must follow but the example of somebody else, also sinless, that came thousands of years after Eve and was tempted by the same enemy. Jesus Christ, our example, was as Hebrews 4:15 says “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” This is the example that we must follow.
Philippians 2:5-11 
“LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself and BECAME OBEDIENT TO THE POINT OF DEATH, EVEN THE DEATH OF THE CROSS. Therefore God also has highly exalted him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those in earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

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Monday, May 23, 2016

The city without walls and the helmet of Salvation

A talk with a friend inspired me to look a bit closer at the verses that mention the city without walls and the helmet of salvation. The issue of the talk was if a city with walls is like a Christian wearing the helmet of salvation. So we will look if it is so. I would like to show you the verses first and then look at them individually.
Proverbs 25:28
He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Ephesians 6:17a
And take the helmet of salvation

City without walls

The first verse says that the one whose spirit is uncontrolled is like an unwalled and broken down city. His affections and passions are without any guard against them, no fence about them to check his pride and vanity or to restrain his wrath, anger, revenge, etc. Desire has its seat in the soul, but in the spirit it grows into passion. Behind sensual passions (e.g. over eating, drunkenness), intellectual passions (e.g. ambition) and many other passions rules a false ego. Instead of being held down it rises to an unbounded supremacy. A man who knows not to hold in check his desires and affections is in constant danger of blindly following the impulse of his unbridled sensuality, and of being hurried forward to outbreaks of passion, thus bringing unhappiness upon himself and most likely to others, too. He who doesn’t rule over his own spirit and when temptations to excess in eating or drinking are before him, has no government of himself, or when he is provoked breaks out into exorbitant passions, such a one is like a city that is broken down and without walls. All that is good goes out, and forsakes him; all that is evil breaks in upon him. He lies exposed to all the temptations of Satan and becomes an easy prey to the enemy; he is also liable to many troubles.
Nehemiah 1:3 
And they said to me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.
The good character of a wise and virtuous man i.e. of someone that has rule over his own spirit, maintains the government of himself, and of his own appetites and passions, and does not suffer them to rebel against reason and conscience. He has the rule of his own thoughts, his desires, his inclinations, his resentments, and keeps them all in good order.
Proverbs 16:32
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

The helmet of salvation

The second verse is the one that speaks about the helmet of salvation:
Ephesians 6:17a 
"And take the helmet of salvation"
The context of this verse is the armor of God which we are to put on.
Ephesians 6:11 
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
This verse clearly says what we are to do with the armour that God gives us – to stand against the wiles of the devil, our enemy. What about the helmet as part of this armour? The following verse is a bit more specific
1 Thessalonians 5:8 
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.
It’s not an uncertain hope, but one that brings with it no shame of disappointment.
Romans 5:5 
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The head of the soldier was among the principal parts to be defended, as on it the deadliest strokes might fall. The head is the seat of the mind, which, when it has laid hold of the sure Gospel "hope" of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine, or give way to Satan's whispers and temptations to despair. Salvation must be our helmet; that is, hope, which has salvation for its object. A good hope of salvation, well founded and well built, will both purify the soul and keep it from being defiled by Satan. It will also comfort the soul and keep it from being troubled and tormented by him. He would tempt us to despair; but good hope keeps us trusting in God, and rejoicing in Him.


A man that has no command of himself and passions, but gives the reins to them, is exposed to the enemy of our soul, Satan. The city that is incapable of being defended, can be plundered without trouble. Self-control is the ruling of the spirit, the keeping down of the false enslaved ego.
Receive and accept the helmet offered by the Lord, namely, "salvation" to secure the head. The whole armour of God, that no part be naked and exposed to the enemy.
On one hand we have the city without walls and on the other hand the helmet of salvation. Walls and helmet are both to protect. The man who doesn’t control his spirit (from within) is compared to a city without walls. So the man who does control his spirit is like a city with walls, strong to defend external enemies. The one who doesn’t wear the helmet of salvation is in danger to get his head injured (from the outside). Its the head that does the thinking and commands the whole body. It better be guarded well so that we don’t "loose our head".
Actually those two are not quite the same, but we need both – to develop the fruit of the Spirit so that we don’t need to be compared to a city without walls.
Galatians 5:22-25 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
And in order to walk in the Spirit we also need to put on the whole Spiritual armour that God gave us, the helmet of salvation, in this case, to protect our head and our thinking from the enemy.
Andrea Kioulachoglou

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

I have declared my ways, and you answered me. King David.

This is a phrase we find in Psalms 119:26. David says that he declared his ways to God and God answered him. I believe the "and", after the comma, shows that the answer of God was a result of David declaring his ways. Many of us we keep from God. We have hidden compartments that we never open, even to God. Many people keep their hurts hidden because it is supposed that all their hurts come due to personal failures and therefore they are not to have any. Others they never speak and pray for specific subjects or cares because they believe that God does not care about such "trivialities of life" as our cares. Such things are to be faced completely by us alone, they think. Others they have dreams, fears and desires that they will never reveal to Him. It really sounds like a relationship where one of the sides constantly denies to reveal his/her heart to the other. How do we call such relationships? Shallow, I would say. And this is the relationship that many have with the God of the Bible that is OUR FATHER and loves us with love that went so far as to give His only begotten Son for us (John 3:20). I believe that openness of heart is a measure that can be used to measure a relationship, and also our relationship with God: our openness of heart determines the degree of relationship we have with Him. How much do you communicate with Him? What do you say to Him? How many of your ways you declare to Him? David declared his ways and I believe by this he means he declared everything. He opened his heart before his Creator and told Him about everything. He wanted to walk on the way of the Lord and asked for the Lord’s help. If it is cares that you keep for yourself, God wants you to cast all of them upon Him. Here is what His Word:
I Peter 5:7
"and all your cares cast upon Him for He cares for you"
and again Philippians 4:6-7
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
In everything, says the Word, let your requests be made known to Him! Are there sins that you keep hidden, because you believe that God would never forgive you for these? Here is what His Word says:
I John 1:8-10
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. But it does require an action from our side. To speak to Him. To confess our sins. To tell Him our wrongs. He is faithful and just to forgive us.
Is it dreams that you hide from Him, for you probably believe that they are not relevant to Him? It may be that dreams are not relevant to the dry, cold and chaotic world in which we live, but they are to the Lord. He thinks for us thoughts that cannot be numbered! It says it in Psalms 40:5:
Psalms 40:5
"Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works Which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered"
And again Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Romans 8:31-32
"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
And Psalms 84:11
"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."
The thoughts of God for you are more than can be numbered. There is nothing good that will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. He can do for you far beyond what you think, dream or ask. But you have to speak. You have to ask! Relationship requires communication. Whenever there is no communication there is no relationship. "You do not have because you do not ask", says James (James 4:2). "But does not God knows everything ?" some may say… It is not a matter of knowing or not. Of course He knows everything. Of course God knows all your cares, sins, dreams, hurts…. He knows it ALL. However, He desires something by asking for full openness of our hearts to Him. And what He desires is communication, fellowship, RELATIONSHIP. And relationship without communication cannot exist. It is not therefore whether God knows it or not … He knows EVERYTHING! But it is matter of communication. David declared all his ways to the Lord and the Lord answered him! Do you want the Lord to answer you? Then take time, time for communication with Him, time of declaring your ways, your requests, dreams, failures or sins to Him. It is guaranteed that He will hear you and He will answer.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The sadness of God's heart for the sin of His people

In the times of Jeremiah, the people of Israel were in apostasy. This kept on actually for quite some years and the writings of many of the prophets are in many cases, not to say in most, pleads for return and repentance and warnings for the coming judgment. Unfortunately, the people of God did not respond to these warnings. Reading some records from Jeremiah and Hosea will show us what great sadness and distress this caused to God. This may sound surprising to our ears as many implicitly or explicitly have difficulties to connect God with feelings we have over situations. Well, God’s Word tells us that we were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26) and it also shows us that we can make God joyful, pleased, angry or sad. If we think that our behavior has no effects to God’s heart but it only adds some points against us or for us then we are totally wrong. We can make God glad and we can make God sad! All depends on our behavior. In the case of the Israelites of the time of Jeremiah and Hosea, we can see that they had seriously hurt God’s heart. In Jeremiah 8:18-9:3 God is pouring out His heart revealing the effect the rebellious behavior of His people had on Him:
Jeremiah 8:18-9:3
I would comfort myself in sorrow; My heart is faint in me. Listen! The voice, The cry of the daughter of my people from a far country: "Is not the LORD in Zion? Is not her King in her?" "Why have they provoked Me to anger with their carved images - With foreign idols?" "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!" For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt. I am mourning; Astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people? Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for travelers; That I might leave my people, and go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me," says the LORD.
This is not Jeremiah’s personal sorrow. Many commentators present it as so, but a reading of the passage (see especially the phrases: “they provoked Me” and “says the Lord”) would make clear that it is God that is speaking here. It is God that expresses His heart and feelings here. It is God that was provoked to anger with their images and it He that wanted to leave them and cry endlessly because they didn’t know Him. God was terribly sorrowful for the sin of His people. And God is sorrowful when we sin. The New Testament tell us clearly “to grieve not the holy spirit of God, by which we were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The spirit of God can be grieved. God IS sorrowful when we reject Him. When we willfully forsake His way to walk somewhere else, due to personal passions, wills and ambitions. When instead of bowing down to Him and say “your will be done and not mine” we move ahead carelessly and without fearing Him. The spirit of God is not indifferent but sorrowful in such cases.
Hosea Hosea 11 is another passage where God expresses His feeling towards the apostasy of His people:
Hosea 11
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son. As they called them, so they went from them; They sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images. "I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; But they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them. "He shall not return to the land of Egypt; But the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent. And the sword shall slash in his cities, devour his districts, and consume them, because of their own counsels. My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, None at all exalt Him. "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst; And I will not come with terror. "They shall walk after the LORD. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west; They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria. And I will let them dwell in their houses," Says the LORD. "Ephraim has encircled Me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; But Judah still walks with God, even with the Holy One who is faithful.”
This passage shows another aspect going on in the heart of God concerning the rebellion of His people. His fierce anger and his sympathy were in struggle in Him. When the Bible says that his people provoked him to anger it is very real! God is a long suffering God and slow to anger but He does get angry! It takes long to make Him angry. He is VERY patient but He can do indeed get angry and rebellion of His people is certainly a main reason. In the above case, it is like God struggling against this anger. His heart was churn within Him!
Many people think of God as an Almighty but rather motionless being. This is not at all true. We have a real relationship with God and as in any relationship we can make him glad, blessed, sad, angry etc and this due to our behavior. Our God is not a set of cold rules which if you follow you will succeed. He is a LIVING GOD desiring a living relationship with each one of His kids. God desires a living relationship with YOU and YOU can make God, the Almighty Creator glad or sad. You can make Him pleased or displeased. Isn’t this amazing? Isn’t amazing that God has opened Himself so much to us human beings , to me and you, so that we can even hurt Him! I find this really amazing! Our relationship is with the LIVING GOD and it is up to us to make His heart not sad but glad! To make Him not wanting to cry but smile! Amazing!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

We serve a risen Savior!

It was nearly three days and three nights after the crucifixion. The body of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, was laid in a tomb outside Jerusalem, near the place He was crucified. They had anointed it with a lot of perfumes and dressed it with nice clothes. But what would be the benefit of this all? A dead body is a dead body, regardless of the clothes it is dressed or the perfumes and oils it is anointed. Lazarus’ body was dead and smelling decay. What would remain of it, if the Lord had not raised him from the dead would be just a sum of bones. But not this body! Not Jesus’ body. HIS BODY WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT DIDN’T SEE CORRUPTION. JESUS WAS THE ONLY ONE THAT DIED BUT RAISED AGAIN, LIVING FOREVER. He is the first fruits of the dead (I Corinthians 15:20)! He had told the disciples that he would die and raise again after three days but they didn’t understand Him. They put Him in nice but grave clothes and anoint His body with nice perfumes, like they would do to a very honorable dead. They didn’t expect what happened three days and three nights after the crucifixion. May be nobody expected it: HE WAS RISEN! God raised Jesus Christ from the dead! Matthew gives us a summary of the wonderful things that happened that day:
Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20
“ Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you." So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."… Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Those who guarded the dead, became as dead and the one that was dead became alive! Christianity’s Head is alive! As the Word of God says in II Corinthians 13:4 :
II Corinthians 13:4
“For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God.”
And as Paul told the Jews in Acts 13:26-39
Acts 13:26-39
"Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. "For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. "And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. "Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. "But God raised Him from the dead. "He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. "And we declare to you glad tidings----that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: `You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.' "And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: `I will give you the sure mercies of David. "Therefore He also says in another Psalm: `You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; "but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
God raised Jesus form the dead! As it also says in Romans, by this it is proven that He is God’s Son (Romans 1:4), the only begotten Son of God! What a wonderful reality brothers! What a wonderful reality! In this present evil age, humanism and Satan, its god, have elevated good morals kicking out the name of our wonderful Lord. But we don’t serve a teacher of good morals. We serve the raised Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, King of kings and Lord of lords!

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Five Marks of the False-Grace Movement

Barabbas: who was he?

We have heard his name many times. We see him in films related to the life of Jesus. When the day of the crucifixion arrives, here he is together with Jesus. His name is Barabbas. Barabbas, was a criminal, responsible for insurgence, murder and robbery. He was a murderer. That’s how Peter calls him in Acts 3:14. The penalty for his actions was death. The name Barabbas is composed by “Bar” that means son and “abass” that means father. He was “son of a father” i.e. a son of somebody. Here he is therefore together with Jesus before the Pilate. From the one side the innocent, Jesus Christ the Son of God. No evil was found in Him. He walked doing good and healing the people. And yet He is in the death queue. From the other side a murderer, a criminal that was condemned to death. One of the two will go to the cross and Barabbas has all the reasons to be there. The cross is his normal end. But let’s read the relative passage in Luke 23:13-25 :
Luke 23:13-25 
“And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him. (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucifyhim, crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.”
Jesus was delivered to be crucified and Barabbas was sent free! The innocent went to the cross in the stead of the guilty. But who is Barabbas anyway? I’ll tell you. It is me and you. In the person of Barabbas we are all of us. All of us “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us were condemned. All of us were worthy to go to the cross, and destined for the lake of fire. But here comes Jesus Christ, the innocent lamb, the lamb of God and He takes the place of Barabbas. Barabbas is now free. Me and you were released and are now free! See how the Word describes it in Ephesians 2:1-10 :
Ephesians 2:1-10
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
We were dead in trespasses and sins and God quickened us in Christ! He gave us new life! I believe God may had involved murderer Barabbas in the crucifixion scene to demonstrate his love: Barabbas’s life was saved by the death of Jesus Christ. He was destined to death, just as me and you were dead in sins and trespasses. The cross was made for him! Yet his life was spared by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus had not been “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8) Barabbas would be dead that day. Similarly it is through this obedience of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father that you and I, provided we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Son of God, became from dead alive. From children of wrath to children of God.
Galatians 3:26
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. ”
From slaves to sin, members of the kingdom of His dear Son:
Colossians 1:12-14
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins”
I don’t know what happened to Barabbas. But I know something: the next time that I will read the crucifixion passages or see them played, I will know that I was like him, dead in trespasses and sins, destined for the cross, and exactly as him I was released and set free by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who took not only Barabbas’ place in the cross but also ours. If you haven’t given your life to Jesus Christ, if you still haven’t tasted the sweet freedom He made possible for you with His death, I would very much encourage you to do so. Let Him set you FREE! As the Bible says:
Romans 10:9-10 says:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
It is not works that are going to save you, but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrection. And as He saved Barabbas life from the death of the cross, as He saved my life as He saved billion’s of others’ lives from being dead in trespasses and sins, He will also save YOU! Don’t delay. Give your life to Him TODAY!
Anastasios Kioulachoglou

               Please check out Anastasios's book 
               "The Warnings of the New Testament". 
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               download for FREE at: http://www.jba.gr/

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Jesus In the country of the Gergesenes

In Matthew 8:28-34 we are reading about the short visit of the Lord to the country of the Gergesenes:
Matthew 8:28-34
“When He had come to the other side [i.e. opposite to Capernaum, where he was in Matthew 8:5-27], to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, "If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine." And He said to them, "Go." So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. Then those who kept themfled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.
Jesus came to the country of the Gergesenes. He loved those Gergesenes as He loves any man on this earth. So he came, even uninvited. He left Capernaum and he came to their country. He started His visit by delivering two demon possessed people. While somebody would say that this was a great start, here is the reaction of those Gergesenes: “when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region”! The Son of God came to be with them. And yet the whole city came out, before He could even get in, begging Him to leave! The reason? I believe it was because of the loss of the swine. They were afraid of this “loss” being repeated. The Gergesenes between the Son of God and their unclean “swine” choose the swine. The Son of God left.
Are there things today for which you say “please Lord keep yourself away from this. This is my business”, because you are afraid of what He may do? Is there “swine” that you prefer to have it hidden than allow the Lord to visit? Do not be as the Gergesenes. Paul in Philippians 3:4-6 gives his short CV concerning his pre-Christian achievements:
Philippians 3:4-6
“If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”
Paul was according to the righteousness that is of the law, blameless! Not many men could say this. But he could! And yet…. here is his conclusion about all these “achievements”
Philippians 3:7-14
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul suffered the loss of all things. From a great man in his society and religious cycle, he found himself moving from town to town and preaching the gospel under great persecutions from his own people. His life was many times at stake. And yet he counted all his past achievements as rubbish in comparison to the knowledge of the Lord, looking not backwards but forwards, to those things that are ahead, pressing towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Are there things, areas of our life today that we would prefer to keep the Lord outside? If yes, let’s do the opposite from what the flesh says. Let’s not carry on hiding from Him but let’s make these things open to Him. Let’s be fully transparent to Him, instead of keeping Him away as the Gergesenes did. Let’s put Him in control, expressing to Him our desires but allowing Him also to do as He desires. HE IS THE LORD!

               Please check out Anastasios's book 
               "The Warnings of the New Testament". 
               Purchase at Kindle and Amazon or 
               download for FREE at: http://www.jba.gr/

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The parable of the debtor of the ten thousand talents

I had an argument with somebody recently. It was not the first time that this had happened and I was wondering: “Come on. It can not be that the same behavior comes up every time I meet this person. It simply cannot be.” I was rather upset and in my morning study I told God: “this happens repeatedly. I can’t bear with it”. Then surprisingly the following answer came back to my mind: “you repeatedly do the same sins again and again and I forgive you”. Of course, I “shut up” immediately. It didn’t take long to bring into my mind the same sins repeated again and again through the years and the times I went to God, not with tears, not with much heaviness but with a simple sorry like nothing had happened, requesting that He forgives me because …. He had to! You know, we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). If you are hurt when your brother sins against you, God is also hurt when you sin to Him (and/or your brother). It does not matter whether your behavior affects anybody or not. Regardless of whether or not the sin is against another human being, it always hurt God. And He forgives. Continuously! Non stop! Later the same day, thinking of this incidence that happened in the morning God brought to my mind the parable of the debtor of the ten thousand talents. Before we go to this parable though, let’s look at its context. In Matthew 18:15-22 we are reading:
Matthew 18:15-22 
"[The Lord is speaking] Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that `by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
The verse that follows the Lord’s reply to Peter is the parable of the debtor of the ten thousand talents. But as we see the context is forgiveness. Jesus explained what must be done when a brother sins against us. Then Peter comes with the question of the number of times he must forgive his brother. He must have thought of it like this - like probably the way me and many of us think -: “OK Lord… if this brother sins against me I can forgive him the first time, even the second and the third time…. I must give him more chances. But after some times, it is enough! I mean I gave him many opportunities but he continuously repeats the same error. I cannot bear with this any longer. I already gave him enough opportunities to change”. For Peter, 7 times would be enough. If the same error was repeated after seven times, then he would probably not give to his brother another chance. He had enough. Imagine God following the same principle with us! Imagine that He had a certain limit where He would say: “OK little fellow… I had enough with you. I can’t bear with you and your character any longer. I gave you enough chances and this was your last. Finished!” But fortunately that’s not what God does! God is a forgiving God. There is only one sin that cannot be forgiven, the unpardonable sin, but there is no other sin and no limit of times that a sin can be forgiven. In I John 1:8-10, 2:1-2 the Word says:
I John 1:8-10, 2:1-2
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
The Word says these things that we may not sin. But if we sin and confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us! In Him there is unlimited forgiveness! It is not “up to 7 times and then finished!”. It is not “I can’t bear with you any longer due to it!”. It is not “I had enough with you and your sins!”. In God there is endless forgiveness. I believe this is one of the most wonderful news in the Christian faith! That’s why the Lord turning to Peter told him “"I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”, meaning “there is no limit Peter. As the Father forgives you so also you must forgive your brother.” As there is unlimited forgiveness from our Father to our sins, so also there must be unlimited forgiveness to the sins of our brothers towards us. When you think that “you had enough with it and you cannot forgive any longer your brother” please think of the thousands of times God has forgiven you and will be forgiving you. I believe you will change your mind.

The parable of the debtor of the ten thousands talents

It was in this context of unlimited forgiveness towards one another that the Lord spoke the parable of the debtor of the ten thousand talents. This parable follows immediately after the conversation with Peter and is given in verses 23-35 of Matthew 18:
Matthew 18:23-35
Therefore [this word links the parable directly to what the Lord had just said about forgiveness] the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, `Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, `Pay me what you owe!' "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. `Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
The word “therefore” that opens the parable links it to what the Lord said in verses 15-22 about forgiveness. God brought to my mind this parable giving me also the following explanation: The king is God, the owner of the ten thousands talents is me, the debtor that owns me the 100 denarii is my brother that has sinned against me, the talents are a measure of sin. My sins towards God are like millions. Many, day after day, and many times the same again and again. I go to God for forgiveness and He does forgive me. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all my sins. God has deleted all my old debts and deletes any new one so that I can day after day live “debt-free”!! But now this fellow, my brother, comes and sins against me. And instead of thinking “I’m a debtor to God also. He forgives me and my debt every day. The same I will also do to my brother”, I say “No. I cannot accept your debts towards me. I had enough. I’m not going to forgive this. Put this brother to the prison. Throw him out. I don’t want to know him any longer (or more subtle like “I will keep my distances from him”)”. When we behave like this, we have forgotten from what God has forgiven us! And not only that but by doing “judgment” to our brother we also call the judgment of God in our lives. See what the Lord said:
Matthew 18:32-35
"Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. `Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
When instead of forgiving your brother you act as a judge, passing judgment and punishment to him, then you invite the judgment and punishment of God to your life and your sins! Jesus is very clear: “So my heavenly Father also will do to you”! What Jesus is saying is “be careful. If you act as a judge for the sins of your brother toward you, expect God to start acting as a JUDGE and start passing judgment on your sins too. Instead of forgiveness of the “debt”, expect punishment! Instead of “debt-free” life you may be “thrown into prison”. You may not like this, but that’s how it is!

Forgiveness: Other references

Here are some other references especially for those of us that have taken God’s forgiveness as granted and find it hard to forgive others:
Matthew 6:12-15 
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Mark 11:25-26
"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Luke 6:36-37
"Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."
What about if God stopped forgiving you? Terrible eh! What about if God started passing judgment for your sins? Awful! Well, that’s what is going to happen when we do not forgive others but we harbor in our hearts sins and hurts they may have given us, denying the gift of forgiveness to them. If we don’t forgive we will not be forgiven. If we pass judgment then we may find God passing judgment on our sins too! Who wants this? Certainly not me!
Ephesians 4:32
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Also Colossians 3:13
“bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
If you are looking for a measure of forgiveness, well here it is for you: “just as God in Christ forgave you”, “even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do”.


Forgiveness is not an option. It is a MUST. Sin is a reality and as others sin against us so also we sin against others and against God. Whenever you find it hard to forgive, whenever you come across to same behaviors and sins that are repeated, think of the forgiveness of God. Think of how many times, He has forgiven you and will keep forgiving you. We are all of us debtors of ten thousand talents and what is owed to us is just a few cents. Let them go!

               Please check out Anastasios's book 
               "The Warnings of the New Testament". 
               Purchase at Kindle and Amazon or 
               download for FREE at: http://www.jba.gr/