So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him, pleading that He would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” And the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. While he was going down, his servants met him and told him, “Your son lives!” When he inquired of them the hour when he began to heal, they answered, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” Then the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” So he and his whole household believed. John 4:46-53

The Scriptures tell us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). What does this mean? It means faith takes hold of things promised to us in God’s Word even though we can’t now see them with our eyes. And, indeed, we as Christians “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7; cf. Hab. 2:4).

God promises to all of us who trust in Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross His pardon and forgiveness for all our sins. Can you see this forgiveness? Do the heavens open, and does God’s voice sound audibly from heaven saying, “I forgive you all your sins”? No, we have only the word of the Gospel in our Bibles and preached by God’s ministers telling us it is so.

When we are sick and facing our mortality, do we see Jesus on His throne of glory and God’s angels descending from heaven to carry us home? No, we have only God’s promise that His angels will carry our souls into the bosom of Abraham because Jesus died for our sins and rose again (cf. Luke 16:22; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:21-23).

Many do not believe in God’s promises because they can’t see them with their eyes or understand them with their minds. But Jesus would have us trust Him and His Word and live by faith in His promises.

Consider the nobleman who came to Jesus while at Cana in Galilee. He came to Jesus from Capernaum (in the valley along the Sea of Galilee) because his son was deathly ill, and he asked Jesus to come down to Capernaum and heal his son.

But what did Jesus say? “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

The nobleman had heard of Jesus and thought Jesus could help in this hour of desperate need — if Jesus came down to Capernaum and to his house. But did Jesus, the eternal Son of God who created all things by His almighty word, need to go and be visibly present in this man’s home? Jesus desired this man to have faith in His words even if he could not yet see their fulfillment with his eyes. Jesus told him, “Go your way. Your son lives.”

A remarkable thing happened. This man who had begged Jesus to come down before his son died now believed and returned to his house. Jesus’ words not only expressed a truth; they had power — the power to create faith in this nobleman. The nobleman now believed and walked by faith all the way down to Capernaum (about 20 miles), where his eyes saw the truthfulness of what he had believed. And, as a result, both he and his household came to believe and trust in Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior!

The Word of God tells us Jesus is none other than God Himself in human flesh, who came into this world to redeem us from sin and eternal death. The Word of God tells us that He died as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world — in John the Baptist’s words, Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Word of God tells us He rose from the dead on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. The Word of God promises us pardon and forgiveness through faith in Jesus and His cross, and the Word of God promises all who trust in Jesus a place in God’s everlasting kingdom (John 3:14-16; 5:24; 14:1-6).

Can you see it? Does Jesus prove it before our eyes with modern-day signs and wonders? No, He tells us it is so in His Word. And that Word has power. St. Paul writes in Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” In Romans 10:17, the Bible says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

As we live our lives in this world, Jesus would have us walk by faith and not by sight. He would have us take Him at His Word and not have to see signs and wonders before we will believe.

And, like the nobleman, when we get home, we will see with our eyes the truthfulness of His Word. When we are received into the glories of our eternal home through faith alone in the merits of Christ, we will see that indeed Christ did atone for all our sins, that God accepted His atonement as His resurrection proves, that when we have God-wrought faith in Christ all our sins are pardoned and forgiven and that, through faith in Christ, the eternal joys of heaven are indeed ours!

O God, graciously grant that we walk by faith in Your Word and not by sight, for only through faith in Christ will our eyes ever come to see the blessings which are offered and given to us in Him! Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

Categories ,


Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39 (Read Acts 2)

How is it that one can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? How can one “be filled with the Spirit,” as the Apostle Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:18?

Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, gives us the answer: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ”

To be filled and led by the Spirit of God does not require any great work on our part. It does not require a specific prayer or living a holy and sinless life before the Holy Spirit enters into us.

Through the good news of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death for the sins of the world, God graciously calls us sinners to turn from our sins to faith in Christ Jesus for forgiveness and life everlasting (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13-14).

The Holy Spirit reveals our sinfulness and utter failure to live up to the demands of God’s perfect law (cf. Rom. 3:9-20), but then comforts us with the promise of sins forgiven and an eternal inheritance in heaven when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and His blood shed for us on the cross (cf. Rom. 3:21-26; John 3:14ff.; Ps. 51:1ff.).

When, by the grace of God, we believe this and trust in Christ as our Savior, being baptized in His name and according to His command for the forgiveness of our sins (Matt. 28:19; Acts 22:16), we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He takes up residence in our hearts, teaches us of Jesus from God’s Word, and strengthens and keeps us in the true and saving faith (cf. John 14:16-18, 26; 16:13-15).

And the Bible tells us that “He who began a good work in” us will dwell in us and “perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Savior, we thank You for granting to us the gift of the Holy Spirit — for moving us to turn from our sins to You for forgiveness and to be baptized in Your name, and for dwelling in us by Your Holy Spirit that we might be kept and preserved in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. For the sake of Your bitter sufferings and death in our stead, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

Categories ,


Since many people I meet show little interest in heaven and express little desire to go there, I thought I’d provide a few instructions on how to go to hell instead. Following are just a few surefire courses of action to be damned and arrive in eternal hellfire and brimstone:

  • Ignore the whole issue of heaven and hell and put off all thoughts of God and eternity for another day.
  • Avoid, as much as possible, reading the Bible or attending churches where the Bible is read and taught. After all, the Bible is so narrow in its views regarding life, God’s judgment, and the age to come.
  • Hope that God grades on a curve and will not condemn you if you have lived as well as the next guy.
  • Believe that you can escape the fires of hell and obtain eternal life in heaven by doing good deeds.
  • Live for now and indulge in all your desires because life is short.
  • Give no heed to preachers who call upon all to repent and look to Christ Jesus for mercy and forgiveness.
  • Treat the blood of Jesus shed for the sins of all as a worthless thing by continuing on in your sinful ways.
  • Ignore Jesus and His pleas for you to repent and trust in Him for pardon, forgiveness and life everlasting in heaven.

Yes, I could go on listing ways to be sure of hell; but wouldn’t you rather be sure of heaven?

It’s simple: Acknowledge and repent of your sinfulness and shortcomings and place your faith and hope in Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death for all sins.

In Jesus, heaven is sure! Why? Because Jesus kept all of God’s commandments perfectly in your stead and then suffered and died on the cross for your sins (and the sins of all), rose again, and ascended into the glories of heaven to prepare a place for all who repent of their sinful ways and believe God’s offer and promise of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus! All who look to Jesus in faith will be spared the fires of hell and receive, instead, the eternal glories of heaven!

God’s Word says, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31 KJV).

Some Bible proof passages: Romans 3:9-26; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 3:14-18, 36; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; John 14:1-6; Acts 1:9-11; 2:37-40; 3:19; 4:12; Ephesians 1 and 2; 1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2.

Categories ,


“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11 (Read 1-11)

In the Apostles’ Creed, we confess of Jesus Christ, our Lord, that “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”

And Thursday was Ascension Day, a Christian festival now often forgotten by churches. It is the day we remember Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the fact that He now rules over and fills all things (Eph. 1:15-23), intercedes for us (1 John 2:1-2; Rom. 8:34), pours out His Holy Spirit in our hearts (John 16:7), sends forth men to preach the Gospel and creates faith through the hearing of God’s Word (Eph. 4:8-16; Rom. 10:17), and will soon return to judge the living and the dead and establish His everlasting kingdom (Matt. 25:31ff.; Dan. 7:13-14; Rev. 11:15; 20:11ff.).

Today, we consider the words of the angels to Jesus’ disciples when Jesus was taken up into heaven: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

This Word of God, which was spoken by angels to the disciples who had just witnessed Jesus’ ascension into heaven, teaches us that Jesus Christ will return visibly in the clouds of glory on the Last Day. The Bible also says this in Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Cf. Matt. 24:29-31).

Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica that “… the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thess. 1:7-10).

As Jesus ascended into heaven, so He shall also return on the Last Day, the Day of Judgment. He will come again in clouds of glory with His holy angels. Every eye will see Him! His return will be no secret rapture — both the believer and the unbeliever will see Him coming in glory!

The true question for us is this: “Are you ready for His return and judgment? Are you prepared to meet Him?”

Those who do not trust in Him for salvation will wail in sorrow at His return because they stand condemned for not trusting in the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18; 2 Thess. 1:6-10). As Jesus said, they remain in their sins and, thus, face God’s judgment in the filthy garments of the flesh (cf. John 8:24; Isa. 64:6; Matt. 22:11-14).

But those who do trust in Christ Jesus as their Savior — trusting that they have pardon for their sins and peace with God for the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death in their stead — will rejoice at His return because He comes to take them to be with Him forever in the mansions of heaven (cf. Luke 21:27-28; Heb. 9:27-28; John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

And so, I ask you: “Do you acknowledge your sins and look to Christ and His cross for mercy and forgiveness?” If not, the day of His return will be for you a day of sorrow and mourning as you face His eternal judgment and condemnation!

But, if you, by the grace of God, agree with God about your sins and trust in Christ and the atonement He made for the sins of the world when He died on the cross, that day will be a day of joy and gladness as you receive His mercy, His pardon, and life eternal in His glorious kingdom! (Cf. 1 John 1:7-2:2; 5:11-12; Mark 16:15-16.)

We will then see Him face to face and be transformed into his image (cf. Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2; Phil. 3:20-21). And, we will partake of the pleasures of His everlasting kingdom (John 14:2-3; Psalm 16:11).

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, as You have ascended up into heaven to the right hand of God the Father, so come again and take us to be with You forever. Graciously keep us in the true and saving faith so that, on that Day, we may greet You with joy and not with sorrow. Grant this to us for the sake of Your holy life and bitter sufferings and death on the cross in our stead. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

Categories ,


“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 (Read v. 19-24)

Psalm 95 directs us to worship the LORD: “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1-2).

But how are we to worship? What kind of worship does God desire? Should it be with liturgy and organ or with contemporary song and guitar? Should it be in a beautiful church or cathedral or in a steel building or barn?

These questions are not much different than the question posed by the woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria when she perceived Jesus was a prophet because of His knowledge of her life and relationships. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship,” she said (John 4:20).

And she raised a valid question because the Samaritans, who accepted only the first five books of Moses and had altered parts of them, claimed they were to worship on Mt. Gerizim and had worshiped there for centuries and continued to worship there even after the Jewish ruler Hyrcanus destroyed their temple a little more than 100 years before Christ’s birth. The Jews, on the other hand, said that Jerusalem was the only place where people should worship (Deut. 12:5ff.; 16:5-6; 1 Kings 8:12ff.; 12:25ff.).

Jesus pointed out to this woman the time was coming when God’s people would neither worship in Mt. Gerizim nor at Jerusalem. As He said elsewhere, the temple would soon be destroyed (cf. Matt. 24:1-2, Luke 19:41-44; 21:5-6), and God’s people would be scattered all over the world preaching the Gospel and would, in many places, join together with fellow believers in worship (cf. Mark 16:15-16).

Sadly, though the Samaritans sought to worship, they did not know the true God because of their admixture of error and false teaching (2 Kings 17:24ff., especially v. 24ff.). They rejected most of the Old Testament Scriptures, including many of the promises of a Messiah and Savior who would bear the sins of the people and redeem them from sin and eternal death (cf. Isaiah 53; Psalm 130). The Jews, on the other hand, had the Scriptures and the promises of the Messiah and Savior.

Jesus said (John 4:23-24), “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

He pointed out to this woman and to us today that true worshipers would worship “in spirit and in truth,” meaning that true worship is not dependent upon where we worship or the form or liturgy used. Instead, it flows from a regenerated (or born-again) spirit in man and truly glorifies and praises God.

And so, what constitutes worshiping in spirit and in truth? First and foremost, true worship flows from faith in Jesus as God the Son, the Messiah, and the Savior of the world. Jesus, Himself, said that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that no one can come to the Father apart from Him (John 14:6). He also said we can do nothing pleasing to God in regard to good works and service toward God apart from faith in Him (John 15:4-5).

Jesus said, “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23; cf. 1 John 2:23). And, indeed, it is only through the atoning sacrifice of the Son that we can approach the throne of God with our prayers, praises and petitions (cf. Heb. 10:19-25; 1 John 5:11-15).

True worship, then, can only come from a heart regenerated by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63; cf. John 15:1ff.; 3:3,5-6).

True worship must not be idolatry like that of the Samaritans (cf. Ex. 20:1ff.; Deut. 6:13-15). It brings no glory to God if we do not worship the Triune God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. (Cf. Deut. 6:4ff.; Matt. 28:19; 1 Pet. 1:1-5.) Jesus said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).

True worship holds fast to the Bible’s teaching (1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:12-17; John 8:31-32; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:42). God hates false doctrine and any adulterating of His Word. Therefore, worship that contradicts the Scripture’s teaching is not true and pleasing to God (cf. Isaiah 8:20; Deut. 4:2; 13:1ff.; Matt. 7:21ff.; Jer. 23:28).

And, finally, true worship is exactly that: true worship. It is not merely going through the outward motions or using certain forms or liturgies. It is not vain repetitions of which Jesus speaks in His Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matt. 6:7). It is worship that comes from the heart of a believer and is genuine and sincere. It gives glory to God and thanks and praises Him for His goodness and mercy toward us in Christ Jesus.

It is as David writes in Psalm 103:1: “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”

O Lord, grant that we worship You in spirit and in truth — that we, from our hearts, glorify Your holy name for the gift of the Son and His atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the world. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

Categories ,