Sunday, August 27, 2017

The First Adam and The Second Adam

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthian 15:45)

We all know that Adam was the first man created by God.    When Adam was created by God, Bible simply refers him as the man.   The name “Adam” was not used until reaching Genesis Chapter 2 although he was created in Genesis Chapter 1: “The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.”  (Genesis 2:20, ESV)    God placed the first man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.   God also brought all the animals on the land and all the birds of the sky, and the man gave names to all the living creatures.   When God saw the need of a helper for the first man, God referred the first man as “Adam”.  Logically speaking, there was no need to use a name to refer the first man because there was no other men except Adam.   There are countless living creatures on the ground, in the sky and on and under the water, but God saw Adam was alone because all of these living creatures could not be a true companion of Adam.  

God created a woman, and the woman became Adam’s wife.  Bible also did not name the first woman until reaching Genesis Chapter 3.   In Chapter 3, the first woman was named “Eve”:  The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.  (Genesis 3:20)   Eve is an English name, but the original name sounds like khav-vaw in Hebrew.   The meaning of the name is a life giver.  Then the name “Eve” appears only once more in Genesis, when Cain was born.   For example, when Eve was tempted and deceived by the serpent, i.e., Satan, Eve was just called the woman because she was not doing her role of being the mother of all living.   After Eve’s deception by the serpent, Adam was also deceived.  Both Adam and Eve, as result, sinned against God.   Then, they hid themselves from the face of God.  (Does this sound familiar?   We also know that there is no way to hide from God.   Adam and Eve thought that they could hide from God among the trees.) 

God, merciful with full of love, came to Adam and Eve, who hid from God’s face.   Then God mercifully made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them, although they directly sinned against God.   (This is the first salvation story appeared in Bible.  This in fact, points to Jesus Christ, who died on cross for our sins to save us from the eternal death.)   God was also righteous.  Thus, God could not ignore their sins and keep them in Eden as if nothing had happened.   God had to send out of Eden.   This is the end of the third chapter of Genesis.   The following chapter of Genesis starts with “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.”  (Genesis 4:1)   For Adam and Eve, the earthly life that we all are familiar with had begun.

By the way, the above verse is the last time that the name “Eve” used in the book of Genesis, and the other books in Old Testaments.   The name, Adam, also only appears once more in the same chapter (except Chapter 5, which lists the genealogy of  Adam).   Specifically, Genesis chapter 4 verse 25 tells: And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”  (Genesis 4:25)    As a result, both Adam and Eve completed their mission on earth as the first man and the giver of life.   Were their lives successful in the eyes of God? 

Right after being expelled from Eden, Adam and Eve bore two sons: Cain and Abel.   Tragically, Cain, the first son killed Abel, the second son, who was also Cain’s one and only one brother.   The motivation of killing Abel was not so serious either.   Cain was simply jealous of Abel because Cain’s offering to God was not accepted while Abel’s offering was.   The first murder was born out of jealousy, which represented our sinful nature.   Even so, God was gracious and full of mercy.  He did not wipe out the entire humanity.  Instead God remembered His blessing given to Adam after he was created, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28b)    God gave another son, Seth, instead of Abel, who was killed by Cain, his own brother.  

Then Genesis Chapter 4 concludes “When Seth grew up, he had a son and named him Enosh. At that time people first began to worship the LORD by name. (Genesis 4:26)   God protected Seth from all harms and dangers.  Seth grew up before God.   God also gave Seth a son, Enosh.   Finally, the descendants of Adam started prosper in God.   They also recognized God as the source of blessings and as their Dear Father, rather than the God that Adam and Eve were afraid of.    Yes, this first man, Adam, terrified by God due to their sin, but God restored the relationship with Seth and his descendent.      

The first Adam started our human history, but the history, from the beginning, was tainted with the blood and brotherly jealousy.   Even so, God was with them.  He continue being faithful to the first Adam, and kept His original blessing -- Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.  Although the human wickedness sprang out of jealousy between Adam’s two sons, God amended the broken fabric of Adam’s family by bring in Seth.   The Satan did the terrible thing to Adam by tickling the very nature of human desire, but God poured out His mercy on Adam and his family in His love.   

The first Adam was sinful, but God was merciful and gracious.  God restored the brokenness of Adam’s family.   Sinning and God’s mercy were two pillars of the story of the first Adam.  The same story continues among all of his descendants (of course, including us).  If not, all humanity would have had been already perished long time ago due to own sins – even killing one’s own bother simply because of jealousy. 

Jesus Christ is the second Adam.   The first Adam was sinful and being occupied by his own desire and self, but Jesus was sinless, served others, and gave his life as a random for all.   The first Adam who chased his own pleasure in his eye, but the second Adam did love the sinners, who were against Him.   The first Adam lived in disobedience and violence, but the second Adam gave peace, hope and faith by demonstrating His own love to those who even crucified Him on cross.   As a result, we all died in the first Adam, but we are made alive in the second Adam, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.    Praise the LORD, Jesus Christ, who is gracious and merciful with full of love, which is unfathomable!   Give thanks to God!  Though Jesus, we all are made alive.  

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  (1 Corinthian 15:22)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

God's Promise and Our Faith

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

After crossing the Red Sea, Moses led the Israel people to Mount Sinai, where God called Moses again to the mountain.   God gave the ten commandments on the table of stone.  While Moses was on top of the mountain to receive the ten commandments,  the people built the golden calf to be their “god,” which was a terrible sin.  Moses interceded his prayer to God for their sins so that they were not completely destroyed for their sins.    God did not punished them per Moses’ intercessory prayer.   This was the greatest sin that they committed before God after being liberated from the slavery in Egypt by crossing the Red Sea. They spent about one year at the mountain area. 

Then they continued moving toward the promised land where milk and honey flowed.  They arrived at a place called Kadesh-Barnea.  Per God’s instruction, Moses sent twelve spies – one each from twelve tribes to explore the land of Canaan.  

Moses gave the spies these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country.  See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many.  See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps?  Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)  (Numbers 13:17-20)

Moses gave them such a detail instruction, which includes:
  1.  Direction and locations to explore
  2.  What to spy out

a.       People -- strong or weak, few or many
b.      Land – good or bad,  fertile or poor,  many trees
c.       Defense – protected by walls or camps
d.      Evidence --  bringing back samples of the crops

Moses was a great leader.  He led the huge number of Israel people (about 2 million people, base done what Bible tells 600,000 male adults only.)  Before the critically important event, he could give a clear instruction to his people.

Surely, the twelve spies exactly followed the instruction of Moses.   So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin to the hill country.   Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—all descendants of Anak—lived.   They also cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs.  The place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there.

However, such an excellent instruction did not materialized as Moses intended.   Please continue reading the rest to see what really happened and why.

After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces.  But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!  The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.” 

But Caleb and Joshua tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.  We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

The team of twelve spies was divided into two groups:   Caleb and Joshua vs the rest (i.e., the ten spies).  The ten spies exactly followed the instruction of Moses, and gave an accurate report back – i.e., what they saw with their eyes.    While the two spies, Caleb and Joshua saw the exactly same things, but their report was completely different.  They shared their faith rather than what they saw or felt while exploring the land, the people and their defense.  

The people of Israel heard both reports, which were completely different.   Now, the people of Israel had to choose either the report from the super majority of the spies (i.e., the ten spies) or that of the tiny minority (i.e., only two out of twelve).   The people of Israel chose the majority.   For their eyes, the ten spies were the majority, and they brought such an excellent report with full of details and a logical analysis and conclusion too.   The decision was rationally made by the Israel people.  Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.  Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and God.

We all know the Israel people should have listened to Caleb and Joshua although they were only two out of the twelve, and although they could not provide any physical evidences and rationality to their report except their faith.   As a result, the Israel people rebelled against God, and they had to wonder forty years in the wilderness.  Please see the above map.   They were right next to the promised land flowing milk and honey.   While wondering the wilderness for forty years, the whole generation was perished on the wilderness. 

What can we learn from the above painful example of Israel people?   They were right before the promised land flowing milk and honey, but they could not go in.

We can find answer from the Scripture:

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.    (1 Corinthians 1:27-28)

Therefore, fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, who is the pioneer and the finisher of our faith, and follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ with faith. 

And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.  (Genesis 15:6)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ever-Loving God vs Our Love to God

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30) 

Loving God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength is a really tall order.   As a human being, breading on earth, loving God, who is invisible, is simply impossible with our own might and strength.  This is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is, in turn, a very gift from God.   Unless God pours the Holy Spirit in us, we are not able to dearly love God with all our heart and mind.   As a living creature, moment by moment, our highest priority is automatically given to our own self’s wellbeing (or at minimum self-survival.)    However, the Holy Spirit intervenes our nature, and make ourselves to be holy (i.e., being separated from our natural being), and truly and dearly love our God, who is invisible in our physical eyes.   Thus, we praise God who pours the Holy Spirit in our heart so that we know who our God is, and love Him more than anything on earth.   Amazingly, for we, believers, this is so natural.    Why? We, believers, are God’s children, and our God is our true and eternal Father.   Without God, we don’t exist as His people at all.  Period.  This truth separates us from many people who live on earth without knowing God as their true and eternal Father.

Our Heavenly God is also a loving God, who dearly cares for His children.   Then is there a proof?   Yes. Sure it is.  Jesus Christ, who died on cross to saved us from our eternal death from our own sins.   Praise God, Our True and Ever-Loving Father!

By the way, whenever I share our Lord, Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins with many of my friends, who do not believe God, they ask:  God is omnipotent.  Then why does God have to sacrifice His own son Jesus Christ?   Why not just forgiving all sinners by simply declaring all of your sins are forgiveness?   Yes, it is a really good question.   This is an age old question too.   Essentially the same question was made by those who were at the scene when Jesus was crucified.   Among them, there were priests, teachers of religious law, elders, who supposedly knew who Jesus was and especially the truth that God was planning to do.  

The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus.  “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him!   He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”  Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.  (Matthew 27:41-44)

What a temptation to Jesus!  Jesus was in a real agony as a true human suffering and dying on cross.  What was told by them was also a very challenge directed to God.   If God was omnipotent, God should have saved Jesus to prove Himself as God that they wanted to have.  However, God did not do what people asked.  The people even shouted, “Let Jesus come down from the cross right now, and we will believe.”   God did not answer to them.   God proceed His salvation plan.   In fact, it was the silent proof of the love of Our God.   Then why was God silent to the people shouting and demanding a miracle so that they could believe?

First, a true faith does not come for a miracle that people wants to see, but it is directly from God as a gift, which is freely given according to His own will, neither by a request nor a demand by any human beings.   God is alone sovereign.   Yes, many people including me once think if they see a truly amazing miracle from God, they will surely believe God.   However, in reality, such a faith fades quickly.   As time goes by, their memory fades, and the faith induced by such a miracle also fades together and slowly disappears from our heart and memory.    Bible always has an example that we question about, and give us a teaching about the truth.   Jesus once fed 5000 people with five loaves of breed and two fish, and the 5000 people (not including women and children)  saw and experienced the miracle.   Surely, at the scene, all of them truly believed Jesus.   However, not long time later, Jesus was caught and being crucified,  how many of them were at the scene where Jesus was crucified?   Then what was the object of their faith – Jesus or the miracle? 

One more example from the Old Testament.   Israelites crossed the red sea by the omnipotent power of God.   If God did save them by letting them cross the red sea, they all were perished by the swords of Egyptian army.  This miracle was not just having one good meal after being hungry, but it was a lifetime once-for-all miracle because whether it was a matter of life and death.   We all think nobody will forget such a lifesaving miracle throughout one’s life.    I hope this is true.  Let’s see what happened to the Israelites as recorded in Bible.

Just after they crossed the red sea safely, they were in a joy.   The joy must have been greater than anything that they experienced or even imagined.   All of them believed God as their protector, and they loved God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.    Why?  They got a second chance.  If not, they were completely abolished from the faith of the earth.   They truly believed God like a baby who completely trusted its parents.   

Here is a question: How long did their faith in God stay with them?    Please remember that their faith was directly caused by the miracle that gave an unforgettable memory in their lifetime.   The answer is “three days.”    Three days?   Yes, only three days.   Three days after they crossed the red sea, they arrived at a place where there was no water.  Then they started complaining about the lack of water.  What?  Complaining to God?   Yes, they did complain to God for not having water to drink.   Of course, they were really thirsty in the wilderness.  The almighty God could do anything, such as parting the red sea.  Rather than trusting God, they demanded God to fill their desire.   Their thirstiness was greater than their faith in God, who loved them and took care of them in the situation when they were sandwiched between the Red Sea and the Egyptian Army chasing and trying to kill them.  Their faith was already faded as the situation was changed to their uncomfortableness.   The memory and the excitement of the miracle of parting the Red Sea did not last long, and neither their faith.   A miracle cannot give a true faith to us.  

Second, God is faithful.   This means that God does not change under any circumstances.   God tells in Bible “For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a).”    Unfortunately, nobody is sinless.  Just look into ourselves?   Are we spotless without any sins?   Yes, Bible tells about this truth: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. (Romans 8:23)   Then what will happen to us?  We all die due to our sins according to God’s own Word.   God also loves those who believes.   So God wants to save those believer.   Sure, God can say one day that I will save all of you sinners from death.    Then what happens?  In reality, God contracts Himself.   In Bible, God said– “If you sin, you will die.”   Then God suddenly say, “No you will not die although you have sinned.”   In other words, God tells one thing, and He does the other that contracts what He already said.    We believe God because He has not changed and He will not change forever by being always faithful to His Word.    

Then is there a way to save us without contracting what God already said ‘’If you sin, you will die?”  Here is what God did   God brought a sacrifice (i.e., sheading of blood – death) of a sinless man.   Why a sinless man?   Can a sinful man save another sinful man by dying for another sinful man?   No.   His death is just for his own sin, not for others.   God needs a sinless man.   Is there a sinless man on earth?  None.  Except one without sin at all, who is Jesus Christ.   Therefore, although Jesus was God’s only begotten son, God had to scarified Jesus to fulfill His righteous word – “for the wage of sin is death” and His love toward us – who are full of sins and destined to death.    God paid our sins by sacrificing Jesus Christ, and in His Love we are saved.  Then what can we say?   His love toward us is greater than His only begotten son, Jesus.   This is the greatest proof of His love toward us, who are full of sins.  Before this love, the power of death was completely destroyed at the foot of the cross.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  (Romans 8:31-38a)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

God's Love and God's Loving Justice for Saving Us

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.  (Romans 9:30-31) 

Have you received a gift unexpectedly?    Then a natural though would be making a serious of question:  who did give you, why was it presented to you and what was it.   Or even you might even start to puzzle that should you give back something for the gift or at least should you pay for it and if so, how much.    I would equally do what you did.   On earth, the above reactionary behaviors to a unexpected gift is very natural because the law of this world universally tells there is nothing free, and especially a precious thing is not freely given out to a stranger.

The above Bible verse tells the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness, but they obtained the righteousness.    However, the people of Israel {at that time of Romans written} actively seek the righteousness by pursuing the law, which supposedly led them to the righteousness.   Even so, none of them could not succeed in reaching the law (i.e., perfectly keeping the law).   That is, all of them failed to keep the law as written.  Why?  

The law given by God is holy and nobody is holy.   We all are full of sins, and we eat and drink sins.  This phenomenon is not confined inside of ourselves, while making us sinful before God, but it is very contagious between us.   We exhale sins to others and harm them knowingly and unknowingly from our ignorance on a particular sins.   These sins are, then, certainly reciprocated to us by the other person (or persons).  This is our nature, and doing the same thing to the other (or the others) as we received from the other party.   We even call this as “justice.”  

Just turn on your TV tonight and watch your favorite nightly news.  Every night without an exception, there is a report about justice – demanding justice against a serious pain and agony due to what the other person did, or reporting justice being done by punishing the party harming.   Yes, this is the justice on earth.    However, the above Bible version tells something not conforming what we see, hear and expect.

One group of people called “Gentiles” who do not know righteousness and, thus, did not seek righteousness.   The other group called “the people of Israel”  who actively searched for righteousness by diligently keeping the law given by God.   They knew God, and they actively pursued to reach God’s righteousness by their own might and effort by keeping the law.   This effort became futile.   The law was so holy that any human beings could not keep it with any means available to humans, simply because we are sinful (i.e., not holy).  Again, nobody in our history could faithfully and fully keep the law.   

One of my friends, whom I am still praying for, clearly belongs to the latter category.   He diligently kept the law.  He also knew Bible very well.   When I ask him what is the law that you mean.   He immediately answer: to love God the Father and our neighbor as ourselves.   This is the very law answered by Jesus to an expert in the law:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”  (Matthew 22:36-40)

It is true that if we keep the above two commandments fully and thoroughly, we keep the all the Law and even the Prophets.   As Jesus answered, all the Law and the Prophets depend on the above two commandments – love God our Father with all our heart, soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  Please look back what we did to our neighbors and to God.   Have we really loved our neighbor as ourselves?   I simply failed (not just once).   I also know many believers did the same -- asking for “justice” out of an unforgiving heart toward the person who did harms, gave pains, and caused hardship.   At least, the other person comes and confess what he/she did while asking forgiveness.   This is not clearly loving our neighbor as ourselves – who demands justice rather than forgiving and loving the other person who gave harms and pains. 

How about loving God with all our heart, soul and mind?   Have we always been loving God?   Just look back again.   When we got into an agony and a pain apparently without reason, which we often call a disaster or an accident unexpected, what did we say in our heart?    Perhaps most popular questions might be “Where was God ?”   and “Why me?”  especially, when we were hit really hard by a life-long trial and a disaster which was too harsh to think about how we could get out or simply avoid.   Did our heart really love God or if not directly, essentially accuse our God as the source of the hardship while implicitly (or even explicitly) comforting our heart.  

The friend of mine was even objectively speaking a real good person who truly loves others while forgiving others, and loves God, at least for my eyes.   One day I had a deep conversation with him.   He told me “you might think I am a good person, but in reality I am not.  Because I am bad, I am trying my best to hide whom really I am.”    I really appreciate him who was truly honest to me on that day.    My next question was what would happen if you did.  He immediately answered to me that he would see God.   

Then I asked what you would say to God.    He was silent about 10 seconds, then he gave me a really heart-breaking answer, “God cannot refuse me.”   He meant he did good (although what did was not perfect) on earth.   Thus, he deserved to be with God in Heaven after he left this world.    This is not absolutely true.    This is the biggest and most terrible deception that Satan puts his heart.    (I am still praying for the friend who tries to get God’s favor with his good deeds.)

Then what’s the truth?     Only through the faith given by God through Jesus Christ, we can go to Heaven and be with God, our true and ever-loving Father.  This is the truth and the Gospel (the Good News) freely given to all of us who believe.  Not by our might nor by power, we cannot save ourselves from the sins that we all commit.   Through the power of Jesus Christ on cross, who bleed and died for our sins, our sins are forgiven and we are truly saved from the eternal condemnation – the eternal death that is the wage of our sins.   Give thanks to God, who is our True Father from now and forever to those who believe in Him by faith freely given to us through Jesus Christ. 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)