Posted on Aug 15, 2017 in Pastors Pen
We are very delighted that you have chosen to make use of this page. It will help you to find out more about about Gateway from the comfort of your smartphone. We encourage you to navigate the pages and get to know our church. We are a multicultural church that is home to people from twenty different nations and you will feel right at home in this church. If you enjoy lively worship and in depth preaching, you will need to visit us one Sunday morning. Meanwhile there are plenty of audio and video messages here you can listen to. May God bless you!
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
All of us face challenges in our lives. We need to find ways to overcome them and move on in life. One of the tools given to us in the Bible is our prayers.
A classic example of overcoming challenges through prayers can be seen in the life of Elijah. We know Elijah as a prophet, as a miracle worker, a social critic and a fierce banner bearer for Jehovah. But how many of us know that Elijah was a prayer warrior?
There are four prayers of Elijah given to us in the Bible. The story is given to us in 1 Kings, chapter 17 and 18. In those chapters, three prayers of Elijah are given to us in detail and one is implied. We have to go to the book of James to realize that the beginning of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 had the back up of a prayer time. If anyone would wonder where Elijah got the courage and strength to walk in to a palace and make unthinkable proclamation, the answer is in James. He prayed.
1. Praying for Spiritual Authority.
The very first prayer of Elijah carried a heavy tag. He wanted to get the authority to shut up the heavens! Where did he get that idea?
Back in the book of Deuteronomy, as the children of Israel were traversing through the desert, God had already started talking to them about their lives once they reached the land of milk and honey. God had taught them through Moses how to keep the blessings in their lives.
It is one thing to receive blessings from God. But it is completely a different thing to keep them. Many people receive blessings from the Lord; only to lose them later we see this sad story repeated again and again in the pages of the Bible. Remember Samson? Remember Judas? Remember Demas? It is not limited to Biblical times either. Even in our generation we know of many people who received incredible blessings in the form of anointing, ministry etc. in their lives, but who failed to keep it throughout their lives.
God foretold them that if they forget the One brought them out of the bondage in Egypt and established them as a nation and start to copy the wicked ways of their neighbors, one of the ways in which He will punish them would be to shut up the heavens. (Deut. 11:17) Elijah knew about this.
In his generation, the children of Israel had gone far away from the true living God and filled the land with statues and temples for foreign Gods, under the leadership of Queen Jezebel. As the wickedness increased and prophets of God were killed in droves, Elijah decided to stand up for God. He felt all alone in this endeavor. So he started praying for unusual spiritual authority- to shut up the heavens.
He prayed until he was sure of it before he walked into King Ahab's court and declared, "As the Lord God of Israel live, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." (1 Kings 17:1). And it happened! There was no rain in Israel for next three and a half years!
We also face this same challenge in our prayer life. We know the promises in the Bible. We know about the authority of the word of God. But how can we be sure that anything will happen if we stand on the word of God? We need to pray until we get that confidence. More prayer, more confidence. Less prayer, less confidence. No prayer, no confidence.
2. Praying For A Miracle
After the declaration of faith, Elijah had to run for his life. He ended up in Zarephath, in the house of a widow, as God directed him. A short time later, the widow's son got ill and died. When Elijah returned home that evening, the lady blamed him for the death of her only son. Talk about a challenge!
But Elijah did not flinch. He simply said, "Give me your son." What a confidence! It was equivalent to one of us responding to a person who just shared an impossible situation and we responding, "Give me your impossible situation. I will come back with an answer."
The secret of his confidence is given to us in the next verse. We see him carrying the dead young man and climbing up the stairs to his upper room. What was that upper room? That was his prayer closet! That was where he knelt every day and communed with God. It is that relationship that gave Elijah the confidence to take up the problem.
Do you have an upper room? Do you have a prayer closet? Do you have an altar in your house? A favorite place where you always meet with God and commune? If you do, you will not flinch in front of seemingly impossible situations.
3. Praying For Fire
After three and a half years, Elijah could see that people were getting desperate. He thought eh people realized the power and authority of the true living God. But they did not! When Elijah challenged them to make up their mind as to which God they will follow, the just kept quiet. They were confused. It led to the miracle on the mount of Carmel. We know the story. Again we see Elijah accepting the challenge and even pushing the bar. But his prayer was answered and the fire came from heaven.
4. Prayer For Rain
Finally the children of Israel were ready to confess, "Jehovah is God and we will serve Him only." That is all Elijah wanted. He did not want them to suffer. As soon as he heard that, Elijah turned King Ahab and said, "I hear the voice of heavy rain." He hadn't even started to pray for the rain! But in his spirit he knew that the land was ready for rain. So he went up to Mount Carmel again and started praying earnestly, bowing down to the ground. This time he had to pray for seven times before he saw a small cloud in the shape of a palm. But that was enough. His prayer was answered. The rain was on its way.
What is the challenge in your life? You can overcome it through prayer. PUSH for an answer- Pray Until Something Happens!
All of Dr. Sunny Philip's messages are posted on our church website www.gatewaynyc.com.
If this message have ministered to you ,and you are facing a major challenge for which you need some prayers, please contact us. One of our ministers will be glad to pray with you. The church phone number is 516-596-7222.
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
In Mathew 24, when Jesus was addressing the end times, he said, "And there will be famines, pestilences,[b] and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.' He also said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."
Religious leaders have been (correctly) accused of pointing to every little thing as a sign of the end of days. But the clustering of events in recent months have alarming.
As technology increases, we are able to see and know more and more things happening around us. Even then, the clustering of unnerving incidents in recent months is astonishing. Look at these examples:
1. MASSIVE SOLAR FLARES: Scientists have told us finally that two years ago, a massive solar flare almost wiped out all of our satellites and power grids. The civilization would have been pushed back to where we were in the 1800s. Imagine being forced to use horse carriages for a while, instead of electric cars! New calculation shows that if the event had happened one week earlier, earth would have experienced a direct hit and it would have fried all the satellites orbiting the earth. On top of that, they say that there is a 12% chance of a direct hit within next ten years. How can the earthlings get ready for an event like that? At its closest point, it takes only 490 seconds (a little over 7 minutes) for sun light to reach the earth. How much can you adjust even if you get that 7 minutes? (Add photo of solar flare to this section)
2. SINK HOLES AT THE END OF EARTH: Sink holes are found all over the earth. A sinkhole is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. A number of enormous sinkholes opening up in residential neighborhoods in the US have recently been in the headlines. It is generally formed when the water drains out of calcium carbonate laid rocks under the soil. But recently, there were three massive holes which appeared out of nowhere in a part of Siberia called the Yamal Peninsula. Yamal in the native language means 'end of the world.' It was 260 feet wide and 300 feet deep and did not meet any of the explanations for a sink hole. One actually exploded. What caused it? (insert image of sink hole in this section).
3. MYSTERY LAKE IN TUNISIA: While desertification is happening in many parts of the world including California and North India, the folks in Tunisia had a surprise. A mysterious lake that appeared suddenly in the Tunisian desert has created an impromptu "beach" in the drought-ridden country. No explanation has been given for the sudden appearance of "Gafsa Beach", which was discovered by shepherds three weeks ago. According to local authorities, the volume of the pool could be one million cubic meters over more than one hectare, with a depth of between 10 and 18 meters. Authorities have warned that the water, which started off a crystalline blue and has since turned a murky green with algae, could be carcinogenic but Tunisians have not been able to resist cooling off in the 40C heat. More than 600 people are believed to have flocked to the pool, locally dubbed "Lac de Gafsa", where they have paddled, scuba dived, launched themselves off rocks and relaxed on lilos. (INSERT PICTURE OF LAKE)
4. ANTARTIC ICE: While cries of global warming is heard everywhere on earth, scientists are baffled that the ice sheet in Antartica is actually growing. The political wing of the environmentalists are trying to prove these calculations wrong, but facts are facts. It shows clearly that despite all the advancements, humans still do not know what is going on with the earth. (insert picture of antartic ice sheet in his section)
5. A COMET ON THE WAY? At the very outer limits of our solar system is an area called the Oort Cloud. It is estimated that this region contain over a trillion comets, or icy planetary fragments. All the comets we have seen started their journey in this region. They are usually stationary there. But under a gentle tuck of gravity, it gets dislodged from this area and the sun pulls it towards the center of the solar system. Once it passes the huge gravity of Jupiter, the icy particles start streaming off and we begin to see a comet. Scientist says that it is highly likely that one of them will hit the earth directly. In fact, the Bible predicts such an incident in the book of Revelation; that will poison the water supply on earth. "That star was named Wormwood. One-third of the water turned into wormwood, and many people died from this water because it had turned bitter." (Rev. 8:11) It is no longer unfathomable. Because of the way we live today, the water supply is centralized. Very few people drink well water now. Recently we have seen the effects of green algae and red algae on water supplies. Thousands of people could not use the tap water for days. So imagine the effect of a comet strike. (insert image of comet)
6. AN ASTEROID STRIKE? Have you noticed that asteroids fill the news these days? Even movies are made on that theme. What is going on? People are more scared of asteroids because they do not have a tail like comets. These chunks of rock or metal will become visible only when it enters the earth's atmosphere. In 2102, an asteroid weighing 130,000 tons passed by earth much closer than the moon. Recently, a bus sized asteroid hit a remote area of Russia called Chelyabinsk. It came in at 40,0000 miles per hour! The light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun, even at 100 km distance. It was observed over a wide area of the region and in neighboring republics. Eyewitnesses also felt intense heat from the fireball. It released 20–30 times more energy than was released from the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima. Some 7,200 buildings in six cities across the region were damaged by the explosion's shock wave. Yet, this was a small potato compared to what lies out in space. Telescopes are trained to pick them up, but nobody saw the Chelyabinsk asteroid before it struck! (insert image of asteroid)
A lot of unsettling things are happening around us, even without wars. Jesus called them 'the beginning of sorrows.' So imaging the main show! Where is your trust my friend? In science or Jesus? Take a moment to reflect.
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
This is an absurd question for Christians. But over the years many people have tried to prove that Jesus did not resurrect. Some of the passages in 1 Corinthians 15, which is the detailed thesis on resurrection in the Bible, makes one wonder whether Paul was answering to some who raised doubts about the resurrection of Jesus. He says, "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Corinthians 15:12-14). He also contends in verse 6, "After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep." It is as if, he dares the doubters and go to the living witnesses and prove for themselves.
The twentieth century also has seen many people who tried to disprove the resurrection account using a number of ridiculous ideas. Some of them are given below.
1. The Swoon Theory. It was put forth by German Karl Friedrich Bahrdt. It claims that Jesus did not really die on the cross. He only went into a shock and fainted. The cool damp air in the tomb, resuscitated him and he walked out of the tomb, claiming to be resurrected. A good rebuttal of this was given by physician Dr. William Edwards. "Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials, was flogged, and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripe like lacerations and appreciable blood loss, and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion, his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and, after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes), his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophyslologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly, death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus' death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier's spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross." Dr. William Edwards, MD. (JAMA 1986;255:1455-1463)
2. The Theft Theory. Mat. 28:11-15. This is the oldest story. This group admits that Jesus actually died. We read in Matthew that the High Priests of the day told others to spread this story. It is possible that Paul was addressing this story in 1 Corinthians 15. The real question is who stole the body of Jesus? The Roman soldiers who had total access to the tomb where Jesus was buried? Why would they? The Jewish people? In that case, why would they be party to the crucifixion in the first place. The disciples? All of them had scattered and were in total shock over the way things unfolded. Where would they get the will to do it? Even if they wanted to, how would they bypass the Roman soldiers who watched the tomb? The women who told the story of resurrection? Nobody will even go there.
3. The Hallucination Theory. This group also admits that Jesus died. But they argue that the disciples or others did not see a resurrected Jesus. They hallucinated and thought they were seeing the resurrected Jesus. Well, according to psychiatrists, there are four pre-conditions for hallucination. (Please google it). None of it applied to disciples. Suffice to say that 500 people cannot be hallucinated at the same time.
4. The Impersonation Theory. This group argue that Jesus actually died in the tomb and someone else played the role of the resurrected Jesus. Here is what we can say about it. It claims that the Jesus actually died in the tomb and someone else played out the role of the resurrected Jesus. The disciples were the first to doubt resurrection. (Mt. 28:17, Mk. 16:11, Luke 24:11, John 20:19.) Also, the voice of Jesus was easily recognizable to Mary and Thomas.
5. The Unknown Tomb Theory. It claims that the disciples did not know where Jesus was buried and they looked in the wrong tomb for his body. But this is contrary to the historical facts. It was not the twelve disciples that buried Jesus. It was Joseph of Arimathea. He buried Jesus in his own sepulcher. He was a well known man and a member of Senhedrin (Luke 23:50-55). As such, people could easily locate the tomb. Secondly, Roman soldiers were watching over a particular tomb. Wouldn't that make identification easy?
It takes a lot more faith to deny the historical fact that Jesus resurrected.
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
Where did baptism come from?
Ritual cleansing has been part of religious life in many cultures. In the Bible, it originated in the Jewish mikvah, which is a ritual washing. Some Jewish men take a mikvah every Friday in preparation for the weekly Sabbath and before every holy day. It's also done before one's wedding or the circumcision of a son, or at the beginning of a great undertaking on the Lord's behalf. Jewish women take a mikvah each month after their menstrual period. All converts to Judaism take a mikvah upon entering the faith. So like the mikvah, a baptism symbolizes purification. But unlike the mikvah, one baptism lasts a lifetime.
The Jewish priest started his day bathing himself in water. Even then he had to wash his hands and feet before he could start his ministry (or duties) in the tabernacle, which was the first place of worship or in the temple that was later built in Jerusalem. A laver was placed in the tabernacle or temple for this purpose.
Other religions also believe in ritual cleansing. The Hindu priests are supposed to immerse themselves in running water before they start their priestly duties. Even the pious Hindus wash their hands and feet before they sit for prayers. Before Praying Muslims go through a routine washing ritual, cleansing themselves in preparation for prayer. The ritual washing, called Wudu, can be done in any clean place where there is water.
Thus, it seems that ritual cleansing was part of almost all religions of the world. If that is the case, is there any special significance to Christian baptism?
The Historical Connection
Baptism, as it is practiced today started during the inter-testamental period. Every synagogue had a baptistery like the ones we see today in the main line churches.
After the dispersion of the nation of Israel, immediate succession of world powers brought many in contact with the Jewish religion. Jewish faith was one of the few monotheistic faiths in the world. Others became curious about their worship system and especially the detailed prophetic accounts in the Bible. Translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek since the time of Ptolemy II of Egypt (the Septuagint Bible) also helped in this process. Many were converted into Judaism.
Since all gentiles were considered sinners, they needed cleansing from their sins. They were brought before the laver (or the baptistery as we call it now) and the holy water was sprinkled over them. Thereafter, they were declared cleansed and accepted into the Jewish community.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist is the person responsible for starting baptism in the New Testament. His account is fascinating as we see in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. He was the son of a priest. As such, he was supposed to start his priestly duties at the age of 25 in the temple in Jerusalem. But his call was to be a prophet. He became a prophet crying out in the wilderness, leading people to repentance. He addressed his audience as sinners who needed repentance. He also asked them to take baptism as a sign of repentance.
People in his generation understood his methods and message more than us. Prophets were often strange people with strange outfits and habits. (A cursory reading of the Old Testament prophetic books will confirm this. Some of the things they did would offend us today, so I spare the details here. But you are welcome to read them in your Bible and find out for yourselves). So the strange outfit of John the Baptist made out of camel skin did not bother them. Neither was his diet of locusts and wild honey. People still flocked to listen to him, because they respected him as a prophet. There was no prophetic voice in Israel for almost four hundred years. We read that a broad spectrum of people came to listen to him.
They were not offended that he called them sinners- at least the general public. They went into the Jordan river to be baptized by him. But it was a different story with the religious leaders of the day. We read that, "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him." (Luke 7:30). Why was that?
A careful analysis will show a number of reasons for their objections. (1) John was a priest's son who was supposed to become a priest like his father. But he became a prophet. Baptizing someone was a priest's job. So why is John, who did not want to be a priest, doing a priest's job? (2). A priest always wore priestly garments while conducting baptism. So why is John giving baptism to people wearing coat made of camel's skin? (3). Baptisms at that time were generally given in synagogues. Why was John giving baptism in an open river? (4). Baptism was for people who considered themselves sinners and who needed to get right with God. Why would the Pharisees who were meticulous in their religious practices need to take baptism? Why would Sadducees who were the Bible expositors of the day, need to take baptism?
John's dialogue in Mathew 3 shows us his reasoning for expecting the leaders also to take baptism. Even though they prided themselves as children of Abraham, they did not possess the God pleasing qualities that Abraham had. He told them not to hide behind their religious identity as children of Abraham. His contention was there was no spiritual fruit in them that identified them with Abraham. So he told them that axe is already the roots of the tree (which spoke of the judgment that was coming upon them). Since they had no fruits of righteousness in them, they were no better than the sinners and tax collectors and gentiles who were taking baptism there. They did not show 'fruits worthy of repentance.' But Pharisees did not accept that evaluation by John and refused to be baptized by John.
Why did John do baptism?
It was because of a clear understanding of his role in the scheme of things. John was born to an elderly priest couple named Zacharias and Elizabeth. They did not have any children for many years. One day an angel appeared to him in Jerusalem temple as Zacharias was ministering and told him:
The angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1: 13-17, NKJV)
John surrendered himself to God's will when he grew up and accepted the role of a prophet instead of a priest. He identified himself as the forerunner to Messiah foretold by prophet Isaiah. "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.'" (Isaiah 40:3). His message was about 'someone coming after me.'
'There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.' (John 1: 6-8, NKJV)
He told his disciples that he did not know who he was talking about initially. Even though he and Jesus were relatives, they grew up in two different areas of the nation. But he was given a sign. "I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water… And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God." (John 1:30, 32-34, NKJV).
This was fulfilled at the baptism of Jesus, as we read in Matthew, chapter 3. Thus, John was sent to do baptism as a means of introducing Jesus to the world.
The Kingdom Connection of Baptism
His message in Mathew, chapter 3 shows us another reason. John called himself a 'herald.' A herald was a messenger sent by a royal court to announce things. Let us say that a king wanted to visit a part of his kingdom. He generally would not just show up. He would send a herald to that area. The herald would come on a horseback and announce that the king is coming and be ready to receive him. Then the citizens would go out and either cut a new road for the king's chariot to travel or widen the existing road and clean it up nicely.
ohn considered himself a herald announcing the arrival of a king- the king of righteousness, the Messiah. His job was to prepare people to enter into the kingdom of God. "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." People in his generation did not need to go out and cut a new road for this king. This king ruled the hearts of men. So their hearts needed to be cleansed. Their lives needed to be straightened out. The way to do it was through repentance. And as a sign of repentance, they would take baptism in Jordan river.
Thus we see that John's baptism was related to entering into the kingdom of God. Even now, baptism is given as part of the message of the kingdom of God. Jesus asked his disciples to 'go into all the world and preach.' (Matthew 28:20). People who accept the gospel message and put their trust in Jesus Christ will repent of their sins and confess them. Through repentance they become worthy of the kingdom of God. Such people would be given baptism in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
John's baptism and the Christian baptism are different in many other aspects. John's baptism was based on the understanding in the Old Testament about ritual cleansing. But Christian baptism is given to a person who is already cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
"What can wash me white as snow? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"
I must add that John baptized only the people who repented of their sins. We will see later that the Apostles followed the same pattern. They only baptized people who repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
The Righteousness Connection of Baptism
If this is true, where does the baptism of Jesus fit in? Why did he take baptism?
People who took baptism by the hands of John were the ones who responded to his call and accepted themselves as sinners in need of repentance. While he is doing this, Jesus came forward to take baptism also. John could not understand it. So John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" The reply from Jesus shows an important aspect about baptism: "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."
Righteousness in the Bible means right standing before God. When you study the Bible, it is people who have walked in the ways of God and surrendered themselves to God's will, that have right standing before God. Jesus had surrendered himself to the will of the Father already. In the tests that Satan presented in the desert, he gave Jesus a more dramatic entrance. Satan asked Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of Jerusalem temple to prove that he was divine. We see superheroes doing that always in the cartoons and movies to generate awe. But the real Superhero turned that offer down. Instead, he went to a desert place where John was baptizing people and presented himself.
It was not Satan, but John who was given the commission to present Jesus to the world. It was not by impressing a crowd, but by the descent of the Holy Spirit that he would be identified as the Lamb of God to others including John. The place and the means were set by God himself and it was at the baptism site of John.
Thus when Jesus went to be baptized by John, it was indeed to fulfill all righteousness.
The Obedience Connection of Baptism
Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." It was the commandment of Jesus that everyone who believes in should be baptized (Matthew 28:18-20).
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 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."
This is exactly what his disciples did. They started preaching after they were empowered by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Baptism was part of Peter's message that day. But not everyone gathered there were baptized. Only the 3000 who obeyed his counsel was baptized that day. Later we see that number increasing to over 5000.
Where ever that message has been preached faithfully, people have come forward in obedience to take baptism. Today there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who have taken that step of obedience.
If you have not taken that step in your life yet, why are you delaying to obey God?
Baptism in the Early Christian Church
As referred above, the first baptism of the Christian church happened on the day of Pentecost, where three thousand people came forward to obey God in the waters of baptism. When we look at this chapter, we see that a pattern emerged very early. First there is the preaching of the gospel. Then, there is the call for repentance (altar call). Then the people who profess their faith in Jesus Christ are given baptism.
In Acts 8, we see another baptism where only one person took baptism. That was 'a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury.' (Acts 8:27). Philip was guided by the Holy Spirit to go and minister to him. The story is self-explanatory.
Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot."
30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth."
34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"
37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may."
And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
Again we see the same pattern. Fist Philip 'Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.' Philip did not just tell stories about Jesus to the eunuch. He explained his teachings to the eunuch. We know this because as soon as they came to some water, the eunuch was ready to take baptism. Upon his confession of faith, Philip gave him baptism. And the eunuch carried the message of Jesus Christ to Ethiopia in Africa. Here we see a proselyte (an outsider who embraced Judaism) taking baptism.
In Acts 9, we see Saul of Tarsus getting baptized. Even though he was a scholar in Hebrew scriptures and came from a noble family, he was not given a pass. Fist he had the encounter with Jesus at the end of which he was addressing the Nazarene who he derided earlier as 'Lord.' This shows that he had accepted Jesus as Messiah and Lord of his life. Ananias was sent to meet with the 'converted' Saul and give him baptism.
In Acts 10, we see the baptism of the family of Cornelius. From the story, we gather that he came from an Italian background. Peter was sent to his house as a result of the double visions both him and Cornelius had. Yet, Peter was very uncomfortable to be with a non-Jew and did not want to baptize anyone there. Until then, everyone who had taken baptism were either pure Jews or proselytes. Again we see the same classic pattern given to the church. First comes the message from Peter. It leads them to a divine encounter when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The response from the people who came with Pater is very telling: "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Acts 10:47). If God had not moved in that surprising manner, they would have gone back to Jerusalem without giving baptism to the family of Cornelius. Seeing what transpired, Peter commanded his friends to baptize them in water. Cornelius was the first European to take baptism.
In Acts 16, we see Paul and Silas in the city of Phillippi in Macedonia. The gospel is finally being preached in Europe. One of the first people to respond to the gospel in Europe was a woman named Lydia and she was baptized by Paul and Silas. Some say that she was a Jewish woman who lived in Macedonia for her business. 'She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God.' (Acts 16:14). Whereas, later when they were apprehended and brought before the magistrate, the complaint against them was that "they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe." So these were Europeans and Roman citizens. Later that night, when God visited the city and shook the foundations of the jail, Paul got an opportunity to share the gospel with the jailor. His heart was already prepared seeing the awesome power of the true living God which held back all the prisoners from running away, even though the prison doors were wide open. Paul used the occasion to share the gospel with him. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31). The jailor's family believed and they were baptized the same night. Again, these were Europeans being baptized.
The baptism account in Acts 19 is different from all others. A disciple of Paul called Apollos was the one who started the church in the city of Ephesus. He was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. So the teachings he had about baptism was that of John the Baptist. We already saw that it was based on the ritualistic washing systems of the Old Testament. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Luke 3:3). It did not contain the entire teaching of the New Testament church. In fact, the believers in Ephesus told Paul, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
So Paul taught them the doctrines of the New Testament and re-baptized them. Afterwards, he laid hands on them to be filled with the Holy Spirit and they received it.
This incident shows that it is scriptural to re-baptize someone, if the original baptism they received was not in line with the doctrines of the New Testament and teachings of the Apostles.
Why Should Anyone Take Baptism?
In the New Testament, a number of reasons are given for taking baptism. It is more than a ritual washing. It is a spiritually rich experience.
It is obeying the commandment of Jesus. In Mathew 28, Jesus gave the last commission to his disciples. It is often called the Great Commission, since the scope of it is great. Jesus expected his disciples to go into all the known world and preach the gospel. People who accepted the message and were ready to follow Jesus were baptized and accepted into the church. There is nothing more noble for a follower of Jesus than to obey his specific commands.
It is identifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus. (Romans 6:4). The early church practiced baptism only by immersing a person in water. When a person was under the water, it was identifying with the death and burial of Jesus. When he comes back up from the water, it is identifying with the resurrection of Jesus. Just like the resurrected Jesus had a different body, a baptized person should 'walk in the newness of life.' Behold, the old things have passed away; all things have become new!
It is the point of acceptance into the church. According to Bible, a person becomes the member of the church of Jesus Christ, when he takes baptism. A person's name is written the records of heaven the moment he or she accepts Jesus as savior. So a person need not take baptism to go to heaven. But after professing faith in Jesus, such persons are expected to be part of a local faith community. Many churches do not allow people who are not baptized to participate in the Holy Communion.(I realize that everyone understands this point. Recently I attended a christening service of a baby girl in our family in an Orthodox church. I was watching everything very carefully since this was the first time I attended such a service as an adult. I was surprised to see the vicar taking that baby girl in his hand and putting a drop of the communion wine on her lips and even a crumbled piece of the communion bread. He was accepting her as a member of the church family, now that she was baptized).
It is to maintain a good conscience with God. (1 Peter 3:21). The reason for the good conscience is that one has obeyed the commandment of God. So there is no guilt feeling in mind. One is free to worship God in full confidence.
It opens the door for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2: 38-39). Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." What caught the attention of the crowd on the day of Pentecost was hearing a group of people from Galilee speaking in so many different languages. They wanted that experience. Peter asked them to repent of their sins and take baptism. Three thousand of them did.
The Mode of Baptism
In all the accounts we saw from the Book of Acts, people were immersed in water at the time of baptism. The early church continued this practice. After the conversion of Constantine, many elaborate baptisteries were built in Italy and some of them are still around. The baptistery of the Lateran must be the earliest ecclesiastical building still in use. It was founded by Pope Sixtus III.
The Lateran Baptistry
The Lateran Baptistry
5th Century Cathedral of Frejus, France with baptistry
All of them feature a deep basin for full immersion. The Byzantine Basilica of Emmaus Nicopolis, which was built near the ancient city of Emmaus in the Holy Land in the fifth century had a baptistery. The oldest Christian building in France, which is in the city of Poitiers, had a baptistery for immersion. Almost all of the oldest cathedrals in Europe shows a baptistery for immersion. When Apostle Thomas went to India and established a faith community there, each of the churches he started had a pool next to it to conduct baptism by immersion.
The word 'baptisma' itself means to immerse something in water. The word pictures used in the Bible for baptism also conveys the idea of immersion. 1 Corinthians 10 likens baptism to the crossing of the Red Sea by ancient Israelites. In that story, the water stood like high walls on both sides as the Israelites passed through the dry land in the middle. In 1 Peter 3:20-21, Peter uses the image of Noah's family in the ark during the deluge as a picture of baptism. We already looked at Romans 6 where baptism is likened to a burial service. Thus, all the word pictures used for baptism in the Bible hints at baptizing people by immersion only.
Historically, baptism by immersion continued until early middle ages. When running water was not available, exception was allowed for 'aspersion' (sprinkling of water on the head) and 'affusion' (pouring of water on the head by the minister's hand. 'Immersion' also started taking different meanings as time went on. In most of the early Christian arts and modern movies, one see the baptizer and the baptizee going into the water and the pouring of water on the baptizee's head. This was actually considered 'partial immersion.' So a new phrase, 'baptism by submersion,' came into existence. Zwingli in the 16th century denounced all practices of baptism except by submersion. All of the full gospel denominations, Baptist denominations and some mainline churches like the Eastern Orthodox Church practice baptism by submersion. (In this blog, when I say baptism by immersion, I am referring to baptism by submersion, not partial immersion).
Today we see different churches and denominations practicing baptism in different ways. Some use aspersion, some use affusion, some use partial immersion and some use submersion. Since the teachings of the Bible and the Apostolic practices are clear in this matter, we believe that baptism by submersion is the right thing to do and practice it only in our baptism services.
The Biblical mandate for baptism is clear. Baptism is not universal in the Bible. Only the people who repent of their sins and profess their faith in Jesus Christ are required to take baptism. Since, these are not possible for an infant, there is no reason to baptize an infant. Linking baptism to salvation and treating it as a sacrament has created the confusion we see in Christendom in this matter. Even Martin Luther who taught that salvation is by faith alone, treated baptism as a sacrament.
The thought that people who are not baptized will not go to heaven has been around since the early times of Christianity. While the Roman persecution was taking place during the first three centuries, a number of martyrs did not get to take baptism before their death. Are they allowed into heaven without baptism was a major question in those days. That is when the phrase 'baptism by blood' was coined. But the Bible is clear in this matter. A person's name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life when a person is saved. I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7). Baptism will not take a person to heaven.
As for the children, they are the standard of innocence. Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3). If adults are challenged to become innocent as little children, will not the children go to heaven? So there is no need to baptize infants to make them worthy of heaven. Since every professing Christian is asked to take baptism, even the folks who were baptized as infants need to be re-baptized after their salvation.
Preparing For Baptism
The early Christian church took baptism very seriously. We have records of some abbots requiring a week of fasting before baptism. Everyone had to wear white on that day. Women were asked to take off all forms of Jewelry from their body before taking baptism. Many cultures around the world still follow the custom of women taking all the jewelry out before baptism. In some cultures, women are not allowed to remove certain ornaments as long as their husbands are alive. So this is not possible.
Baptism is an important step in a person's Christian walk. It is saying final good bye to your old lifestyle. You are getting rid of your 'old man' and starting your life as a 'new man.' It is the point of no return in your Christian walk. You are willingly turning your back to the world and your face to the cross. So no one should take it lightly.
Before the day of baptism, spend more time in Bible reading and prayers. If you can, read the chapters from the Book of Acts mentioned above that tell us the stories of others who took baptism. It will inspire you and encourage you. Since you are taking a step of obedience, an attitude of surrender is important. Use this season to ask God for special spiritual blessings. If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, ask for that special blessing in your life. Seek the will of God for your life after baptism. Every believer is an ambassador for Christ. God has plans to use your testimony and life to encourage others.
Baptism is the beginning of a new lifestyle. Before baptism, the person(s) have already repented of their sins and said good bye to their old lifestyle. He or she buries that old sin laden body in the waters of baptism. When they rise up from the water, they do so with the intention of walking in the newness of life. The model for that new walk can be seen in Acts 2. 'And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. .. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.' (Acts 2:42, 46, 47). This what is expected of people taking baptism today. You must attend church regularly and learn from scriptures, be there for the prayers, be there at the time of Holy Communion, fellowship with other Christians. Yes, it is a new and exciting life style.
May God bless you as you take this new step in your Christian walk!
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
Recently, I have posted many pictures of our church on Facebook. Some may think that I am boasting about our church. Not at all! It is an unfolding story of God's faithfulness.
Last year we went through a lot as a church. At times, our very survival looked bleak in the natural, even though we never had any doubts that God will come through for us. And He did it again and again!
As spring of 2011 arrived, we found ourselves cornered by many challenges. We had to trust God for all of our needs. Every dollar had to stretched. Our landscaper refused to clean up the edges of the parking lot without extra payments. We have a sizable parking lot and that was a lot of extra monies.
During that season, I would go into our sanctuary every morning and pray alone for a long time seeking God's guidance in all matters. So I decided to pray about this also.
The next day I had a big surprise. An agency called me and asked me if I could use two laborers who could help us with different things. When I told them I had no money to give them, their reply was to use them without any cost to the church! Within a week, we had laborers at church helping us out. They continued to clean the parking lot all spring and summer and helped us with other things. They are still with us helping out , without any cost to us. Praise God!
Then I realized we needed to rework our finances to move on. Again I went to the sanctuary and cried and prayed over this need. God put an idea in my mind. It was like a light bulb turning on in my head. I followed it and God made sure it came through and we moved on.
Then came hurricane Sandy. The day after the hurricane, when I went to see if there was any damage to our church,my heart sank. Our parking lot was covered with debris. The roof our fellowship hall was totally peeled off by the wind. Our front door was pulled out of its hinges and thrown into the street. At first look, I estimated it will cost us $100,000 to fix the place.
We had insurance. But I did not know what would be the hindrances I will have to overcome and how long it would take. On top of that we had a snow storm a few days later. (The only snow storm of the winter in New York so far). The snow that accumulated on the roof came through as water the next day. The next morning when I went to church, I wanted to sit down and wail. It was waterfalls everywhere in our fellowship hall. Now the cost of repairs would be much more. I did not even know how much more.
Hearing this, our insurance company sent a consultant. He was going to be the liaison between us and the insurance company. He was a believer. When I explained things to him, he agreed to work with us. I got permission to use the funds allocated for repair in creative ways. We prayed about it and followed the ideas God gave us. What we have now is the result of it. The photos convey this story of God's faithfulness.
In the end, we have a 400 seat sanctuary fully finished and a banquet hall that is better than many of the hotel banquet halls.
Dear friends, don't be discouraged by the challenges in your life. Trust in God and He will rise up for your defense and show in unimaginable ways that He is with you.
' Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!' Romans 11:33.
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
1. Seed of a woman.
Genesis 3:15. "And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."
New testament fulfillment: Mathew 1:18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
2. Promised Through the Seed of Abraham:
Old Testament Prophecy: Genesis 12:7. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there built he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 1:1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2. Promised Through Isaac:
Old Testament Prophecy: Genesis 21:12. But God said to Abraham, "Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.
New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:34. ' the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac,the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor.'
3. Out of the Tribe of Judah:
Old Testament Prophecy: Micah 5:2. "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."
New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:33. 'the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah'
4. Born in the Family of Jesse:
Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 11:1. There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:32. 'the son of Jesse, the son of Obed,the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon'
5. Born in the House of David (King):
Old Testament Prophecy: Jeremiah 23:5-6. "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord,
"That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth."
New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:31. 'the son of Melea, the son of Menan,the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David'
6. Born in Bethlehem:
Old Testament Prophecy: Micah 5:2. "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me, The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth arefrom of old, From everlasting."
New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:4-7. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,[a] who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
7. Born of a virgin:
Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 1:34-37. Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" 35 And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible."
8. Worshipped and Presented gifts by Kings:
Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 72:10. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts.
New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 2:9-11. When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
9. Worshipped by Shepherds:
Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 72:9. 'Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him.'
New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:9-12. And behold,[a] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
10. Weeping for the Children
Old Testament Prophecy: Jeremiah 31:15.
"A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more."
New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 2:16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
11. Flight to Egypt
Old Testament Prophecy: Hosea 11:1. "When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son."
New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 2:13-14. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."
There are over 50 prophecies already fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. Professor Peter Stoner of Westmont College, did a statistical analysis of the probability of all of these being fulfilled in one person. His conclusion was that 1/10^17! (or 1 followed by 17 zeros).
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
When Jesus required his followers to fast, it was as a means to have victory in their spiritual warfare. He told them that 'this kind will not go away, except by fasting and praying.'In the next few blogs, I will write about spiritual warfare and how fasting can be used as a tool for victory in this battle. I have much to share from my experience in this area.
The worst of the spiritual battles we see in The Bible is the Spirit of Jezebel. Let me start there.
Jezebel of history was the wife of King Ahab in ancient Israel. She was the daughter of Ethbaal. Ethbaal means 'being with Baal.' So it is possible that her father was a Sidonian priest king, which was common then. The word Jezebel means 'without dwelling or habitation.' Was she a habitation for a wandering spirit? We do not know. But when one study the depth of evil that possessed her, there is room to think so.
King Ahab had already decided to follow the path of his forefather Jeroboam. He was already exposed to pagan worship. But when he decided to marry Jezebel, that ushered the northern kingdom of Israel into a tail spin.
What Ahab brought to the camp of Israel was not just a person, but a spiritual influence. She is the one who established Baal worship in Israel. What she did was to erect a counter altar to the altar of God almighty. Even the ministry of spiritual giants like Elijah and Elisha could not wipe out that evil influence from the land. It ultimately decimated the northern kingdom. To this day the ten tribes that comprised the northern kingdom of Israel are scattered around the world.
So let me start with a word of caution. If you enter into a treaty with a person who possess a deep seated evil spirit in him or her for temporary gains, you are inviting an influence that will eventually decimate your camp. Watch out with whom you form alliances!
This is what Bible teaches about how the Spirit of Jezebel functions:
1. It will gain upper hand seizing a weakness in a community.
Ahab was a weak king. As soon as Jezebel married him, she realized that and decided to take advantage of it.What she brought to Israel as dowry was 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. the King made an altar for Baal in Samaria and entrenched this evil spirit in the community.
The parallel to this historic lesson is given to us in Revelation 2:18-29. There we can learn how the Spirit of Jezebel functions in a church or a spiritual community like a denomination.
The church of Thyatira was one of the seven prominent churches in Asia Minor. When Holy Spirit said, 'your works, the last are more than the first,' it means it was a growing church. It was known for their 'works, love, service, faith and patience.' the negative remark about this church was that it allowed 'the Spirit of Jezebel to function' in the church. It talks about a person moving in the prophetic had gained upper hand in the church prior to leading the church into apostasy.
Please realize that prophetic office is not the issue. Jesus is building his church on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets (Eph. 4:11). What kind of spirit moves in the prophet is the issue. 1 Kings 18: 19 talks about the 'prophets of Baal' and 'prophets of Asherah.' Thyatira had a 'prophetess' who was moving in the Spirit of Jezebel.
What the Bible teaches us is that you will see the true color of a person moving in the Spirit of Jezebel after he or she gains the upper hand. And to gain the upper hand, it will latch on to people already in authority.
2. The servants of God becomes the target.
Once the altar of Baal was established, she started targeting the servants of God. 'Jezebel massacred the prophets of the Lord.' (1 Kings 18:4).
When a person moving in the same spirit is allowed prominence in a church or a in a community, servants of God watch out! You will be hunted. You will be viciously attacked. You will be mercilessly butchered. Nothing brings out the depravity and darkness of the evil side as when it attacks servants of God or entities established to show the goodness of God to others.
It will fight people of God mercilessly.
3. It will not respect limits and will work to gain control at any costs.
Once she gained upper hand, she began to exercise dominion. People had only two choices: obey her edicts or hide! When she screamed threats, even Elijah looked for a hiding place!
The climax came when she killed Naboth when he dared to stand up against the king and her (1 Kings 21).
Even today we see people with the same spirit doing the same things. They will encroach into your personal affairs. They butt their heads into things that do not concern them. They want to snatch your privacy, your honor, your blessings, your everything- just to show the extend of their influence.
Never forget that Ahab went to Jezebel, not the other way around. She was an invited presence! And she capitalized on it. Pretty soon all the prophets of God who used to boast about their anointing were hiding in caves.
4. It will not back off easily.
This principle becomes clear when you look at what happened on Mount Carmel. The fact that the prophets of Baal and prophets of Asherah were killed by Elijah did not stop her. You would expect her to run back to Sidon. But she did not have to. The person who invited her into Israel was still standing with her. So she dared to declare another threat against Elijah: '"So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."(1 Kings 19:2).
5. The Spirit of Jezebel operating in a christian community.
There are four specific things mentioned about this in revelation 2.
A. 'A prophetess': Became part of the church through a ministry position.
B. It became a contaminating spirit: The imagery presented in revelation 2 is that 'she seduced My servants to commit sexual immorality.' (As far as we know it is figurative speech, speaking about spiritual adultery.')
C. It will violate the directions of God. The issue in Thyatira was encouraging people 'to eat things sacrificed to idols' which was contrary to the teachings in 1 Corinthians.
D. It will refuse to repent. God says, "I gave her time to repent and she did not." People with Jezebel Spirit think they are the ultimate purveyors of truth. Therefore, they will not repent or change their ways. In the end, God will deal with them violently when he unleashes his fury.
6. They will be successful for a season.
1 Kings 19 shows that they can affect even the very elect for a while. The same Elijah who had a major victory on Mount Carmel found himself running the next day. Robert Morris, the Pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas has pointed out four ways in which the Spirit of Jezebel can affect an anointed servant of God.
A. Fear: he arose and ran for his life.
B. Isolation: he himself went a day's journey.
C. Exhaustion: he prayed that he might die.
D. Depression: he ate and drank, and lay down again.
He talks about a season when such a spirit was functioning in his church. He was often overcome by thoughts of quitting, thoughts of depression and desire to die. As a child of God he overcame that season and now Gateway is one of the largest churches in the USA.
God shows both in 1 Kings and in Revelation 2 that fate of people moving in the Spirit of Jezebel is sealed. God will judge them just as mercilessly as they have dealt with the people of God. They are guaranteed a violent end. So people of God will have victory in the end.
But God does not leave the Spirit of Jezebel unopposed until then. An Elijah came on the scene to oppose Jezebel. He was least qualified for the job. He was from Tishba (from the bushes). But he knew the word. And he had a personal relationship with God which strengthened him. When Jezebel had him on the run, he still heard God's voice. God gave him counsel to set things in motion which eventually guaranteed the violent end of Jezebel. When Jezebel had him discouraged, God came with bread and water to strengthen him.
So if you step out to oppose the Spirit of Jezebel, be ready. Prepare yourself. It will be a long and strenuous struggle. The Spirit of Jezebel is an entrenched spirit that has found habitation in a person or a church. It will not depart easily. But with prayer and fasting, you can gain the strength for the long haul.
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
In James chapter 1, we read two references to tests. KJV uses the word 'temptation' for both. But they are a world apart. Simpler translations like NLT make it very clear. In v.2 and 3, he refers to the trials of faith they were going through. It was definitely a reference to the persecution against the early church. He tells the believers that those trials are precious and that they can have victory through patience. Though the church lost thousands because of the persecution that lasted through the fourth century, she did maintain her patience and came out victorious.
But what is referred to in v. 13 to 15 is entirely different. I like the candid rendition in NLT: "And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, 'God is tempting me.'"
Remember that this was written to Jewish Christians scattered among the nations. Why we as Christians have to worry about temptations? Does any of us really want to do wrong? Or do we simply lose some battles?
Why do we lose the battles is the question. After going through the 'new creation' experience at salvation (2 Cor.5:17), after committing ourselves to 'walk in the newness of life' at baptism (Romans 6:4), after receiving the power to be 'victorious witnesses' by the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), why we still have to worry about stumbling and defeat?
The simple answer to that is that we are still in our mortal bodies that we inherited at birth. This body came with the Adamic sin nature. As long as we are in this body, therefore there will be a dichotomy in the life of a Christian. This is what Paul cried out about in Romans 7.
A detailed study on this subject would warrant writings by holiness and puritan writers of America. Wesley has written extensively on this subject.
One does not have to live a defeated life. He or she can have victory if you do the following.
1. Accept certain realities like one can still be lured by evil desires, that there are two laws at work in a Christian, that despite the struggle one can have victory if he or she does not give in.
2. Treat every temptation as a test of your faith. Tests can come in different forms. Like Odysseus in Greek mythology, we may think that we are beyond temptation. But no one is! Just as his soldiers had to tie him to the mast to save him, we need intervention in such times to protect our christian walk. But from whom?
3. God has made provisions to help you. in Hebrews chapter 2, v. 18 and chapter 4, v.15, the Bible assures us that our savior Jesus Christ understands perfectly what we go through because he was living among us for 33 plus years. that is why Paul cried out: "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 7:25 NLT). he has promised us that he will never leave us or forsake us. That goes for the times when you are severely struggling in your faith also.
4. There is a way of escape. What I have learned from experience and from the Word of God is that Satan cannot defeat a Christian until he or she gives up. many times Satan will increase the fire seven times to force you to give up. But if you hold on to your convictions, you will be walking free in that fire a short time later! Learn this secret: Many times having victory is as simple as buying a little extra time. A simple 'not now' can lead you to victory a million times!
5. Put on the whole armour of God. Spiritual warfare is a reality! There is only one way to victory in that area. Get ready for the fight! Put on the armor God has provided for you in Ephesians 6:10,11,16. "Resist the devil and he will flee away."
Posted on Mar 13, 2017 in Uncategorized
I have found myself talking a lot about Kingdom and Kingdom blessings during the past weekend. It all started with my preparation for the baptism classes that is going on every Friday night at church. I was developing the historical connection John the baptism has with baptism and what was the thrust of his message. Then i wanted to compare that with the real thrust of the teachings of Jesus while he was on earth, which culminated with the Great Commission. Our command to baptise people was given as part of that.
Since both john and JJesus talked a lot about the kingdom, my thoughts went back another step to the promises of the kingdom in the Old Testament prophecies. When we study the prophecies that spanned from 8th century B.C. to 6th century B.C., what we see is primarily warning against a people who were going away from God. It was a message of losing their kingdom rather than gaining a kingdom. Isaiah's prophecies are unique in this that though originated in the same time period, it contains majestic promises of a coming kingdom.
Jeremiah's book is even more interesting in this respect. He was an eye witness to the Babylonian captivity. As such, we see a dichotomy in his prophecies. Earlier in his book, we see warnings after warnings which made him very unpopular to his contemporaries and landed him in all types of peril. Then his prophecies began to fulfill right before his eyes. All of a sudden, the mercy of God started to pour out to the captives. Gazing at the long chain of Jewish captives, he shouted that the captivity will last only for seventy years. later he sent a letter to the captives saying that if they seek the welfare of the city where God has placed them they will do good and that God's plans for their