Saturday, March 30, 2013


Who is the devil? Why the confusion? The devil makes an early entrance in the Bible, in Genesis chapter three, to be exact. Then he pops his ugly head up all the way through Scripture. So, what’s the problem? Why don’t people just simply believe that the devil exists? Well, that is part of the problem, a huge part of the problem. The devil likes to keep humanity in the dark. Listen to the following, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. People don’t believe what the Scriptures say about the devil because the devil has blinded them to what the Scriptures say about the devil (and whole lot of other things)! If we believe God’s Word we’ve seen already that the devil is “the god of this age” and that he has “blinded” those who are perishing.

Jesus believes what the Scriptures say about the devil and He even used the Scriptures to defeat the devil in the wilderness.Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:3-4. Here Jesus referred the devil to Deuteronomy 8:3. The devil didn’t come back at Jesus with, “Well, surely you don’t expect me to believe something from a book written by a bunch of ignorant sheepherders thousands of years ago?” No! As Jesus stood on the top of the Temple with the devil urging Him to jump. But instead of the usual remarks of unbelievers the devil quoted Scripture (albeit selectively), “It is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over You,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:6. Failing here too the devil showed and offered to Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only fall down and worship him. In other words, the devil was offering to Jesus what the Father had promised the Mediator if He would live a perfect life and die on the cross. Notice then that the devil is rightly called “the tempter.” What have learned about the devil? He is the god of this age, he has blinded all mankind, and he tempts us to do things?

The devil is a spirit being. And as such he is invisible. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 2:1-2. The devil doesn’t walk around dressed in red tights jabbing people with a pitchfork. He operates invisibly. At times he may even us e a prop such as the one he used when he tempted Eve in the Garden. Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5. The devil here was not trying to help Adam and Eve but rather hinder them. Like Adam the devil knew that the penalty for eating the forbidden fruit was death. Therefore, the devil was out to murder Adam and Eve. Jesus said to some of the devil’s offspring”, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44. What do we now know about the devil? The devil is the god of this age, he has blinded all mankind, he tempts us to do things, he is a murderer and he is the father of lies.

The devil has children and they look just like you and me. “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning … In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. ” 1 John 3:8&10-12. Note that there are two types of people on the planet today: children of God and children of the devil. The latter are dead to God and under the influence of the devil while the former are dead to the devil and under the influence of God. Therefore, the children of God, i.e., true Christians ought to expect friction in the world. “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” 1 John 3:13. Jesus says, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18. We’re learning lots about the devil! He is the god of this age, he has blinded all mankind, he tempts us to do things, he is a murderer, he is the father of lies, he has children and they hate Jesus and His brothers and sisters.

Is the devil as powerful as God? Are the devil and God locked in combat? God alone is almighty, He is the Almighty. God alone is Creator. The devil, like us, is a creature (albeit a powerful creature). Unlike God, but like us, he cannot be everywhere at once. Look at this little exchange between the devil and God: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Job 1:6-7. Note that the devil moves “to and fro on the earth.” He walks back and forth. Therefore, unlike God, but like us, he cannot be everywhere at once. And notice too that he is called “Satan.” “The word means “Adversary.” The following speaks of the devil being cast out of heaven: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” Revelation 12:9-10. Let’s build on what we know about the devil thus far. He is the god of this age, he has blinded all mankind, he tempts us to do things, he is a murderer, he is the father of lies, he has children and they hate Jesus and His brothers and sisters, he is our Adversary and he is the accuser of the brethren.

Should Christians show any respect for the devil? Well, Michael the only Archangel mentioned as such in the Bible respected the devil when disputing with him over the dead body of Moses. “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  Jude 1:9. Therefore, the devil ought not to be mocked. It ought to be left to the Lord to rebuke him. Even though he is evil the devil has an important role to play in the redemption drama. Like Joshua the priest in the following passage all true Christians are brands plucked from the fire: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:1-2. And we see that the Lord used the devil to keep humble the Apostle Paul post conversion: “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” 2 Corinthians 12:7. Who is the devil? He is the god of this age, he has blinded all mankind, he tempts us to do things, he is a murderer, he is the father of lies, he has children and they hate Jesus and His brothers and sisters, he is our Adversary, the accuser of the brethren, he is an instrument of God in redemption and he is to be respected.

Why did the Word become flesh? “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” What is the devil and his children’s fate? Jesus refers to it where He says, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41. The Apostle John speaks of the same fate in the Book of Revelation: "The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:10.

What did we learn about the devil? He is the god of this age, he has blinded all mankind, he tempts us to do things, he is a murderer, he is the father of lies, he has children and they hate Jesus and His brothers and sisters, he is our Adversary, the accuser of the brethren, he is an instrument of God in redemption, he is to be respected, Jesus is destroying his works and he will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented day and night foever.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


When John the Baptiser was imprisoned he sent a couple of his disciples to Jesus with a question. “‘Are You the coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.’” Matthew 11:4-5. Notice that one of the signs that Jesus was the promised Messiah or Christ was that He would raise the dead.     

Jesus said to Martha, whose brother Lazarus had died four days before, “‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’” John 11:23-24. Keep in mind that the New Testament Scriptures were far from being completed at this point. Belief in the resurrection at the last day had been drawn out of the Old Testament Scriptures which of course was tied to the Messiah or Christ who was promised in the same Scriptures. Without Him there would be no resurrection.

A very important and probing question was put to Martha just before Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26. What was Martha’s response? “She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” John 11:27. Jesus then went on to raise Lazarus from the dead. So we see then that Jesus is the resurrection and the life because He is the Christ. It is He who will raise all the dead at the last day. As He said, Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” John 5:28-29.

The resurrection takes place at the last day. However, as we can see, there will be two types of resurrection, “the resurrection of life” and “the resurrection of condemnation.” The Creed is focusing on the former. Thus, to believe in the life everlasting is to believe that your body will be raised from the dead and will never see any decay or corruption. The Apostle Paul describes it, “‘Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory.’” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

For the Christian “incorruption” and “immortality” go hand in hand. I heard a radio interviewer say to his guest that immortality would be a curse. Of course, he was thinking of things as they are now, and not as they will be after the resurrection at the last day. What he said would also apply to those involved in “the resurrection of condemnation.” However, it does not apply to those who own the Apostles’ Creed. These believe in the life everlasting. And they already have it! For Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29.

Everlasting life begins the moment a person is in Christ’s hand, which is the very moment the Holy Ghost regenerates and converts the individual. We have everlasting life and we have it now! To be sure, we must never presume upon the grace of God. However, as Jesus says, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34. Therefore, we should be experiencing a measure of the bliss of everlasting life even on this side of the resurrection at the last day! We should be walking around as those who have heard and have believed some really good news, i.e., the Gospel! For the believer, like a scorpion without its tail, death has lost its sting. We look forward to our resurrection, which is the completion of our bliss. “But we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:23.

God made us in His image, and, as Creator He is eternal. We reflect His eternality on a creaturely level in that we are unannihilatable, i.e., we are everlasting. Our resurrection bodies will be suited for eternity. We will dwell on the New (i.e., renewed) Earth. And Jesus will dwell with us and us with Him. The fact is that it is all about Him not us! However, the beautiful thing is that the perfect image of God that became marred by our sin will be restored in us. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2.

Jesus went to great lengths to demonstrate that the body that was resurrected from the grave was the self-same body that had been nailed to the cross. After His resurrection He had Thomas examine His wounds (John 20:27). He said to His disciples, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” Luke 24:39. “He said to them, ‘Have you any food here?’ So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.” Luke 24:41b-43. We can see then that Jesus’s resurrected body was physically solid and He was able to eat solid food. Therefore, if after our resurrection “we shall be like Him,” then too we shall have solid physical bodies and be able to eat food and most certainly enjoy it!

Some think that the Bible teaches that the resurrected Jesus walked through solid objects, and, that if this is so, so will we after our resurrection.[1] They usually point to John 20:19 which speaks of Jesus coming and standing in a room of which the doors had been locked. John Calvin comments on this verse,

We ought to believe that Christ did not enter without a miracle, in order to give a demonstration of his Divinity, by which He might stimulate the attention of His disciples; and yet I am far from admitting the truth of what the Papists assert, that the body of Christ passed through the shut doors.

Their reason for maintaining this is, for the purpose of proving not only that the glorious body of Christ resembled a spirit, but that it was infinite, and could not be confined to any one place. But the words convey no such meaning; for the Evangelist does not say that He entered through the shut doors, but that He suddenly stood in the midst of His disciples, though the doors had been shut, and had not been opened to Him by the hand of man.[2]

A careful reading will demonstrate that nowhere does this verse say explicitly that Jesus passed through a solid object. We are left simply to wonder at how Jesus managed suddenly to appear in the midst of His disciples. However, like Calvin, I choose to leave it there, i.e., to remain in wonder of my Saviour!

We will be able to hear our footsteps in Heaven. We will feel the soft breeze in our faces. We will smell delightful scents in the wind. We will smell the perfume of flowers and hear the buzzing of bees. We will taste food and drink and our taste buds will excite us to thank and praise God for His provision. We shall see wonderfully awe-inspiring vistas, soaring mountains and deep verdant valleys, full to overflowing flowers and fauna, waterfalls with leaping salmon. But we shall also see the City of God, the Garden City. And we shall see the resurrected and glorified Jesus! We will cast our crowns before Him.

Charles Wesley (1707-88) long ago summed up the idea of the life everlasting for us in his hymn Love Divine,

Finish then Thy new creation;

Pure and spotless let us be;

Let us see Thy great salvation,

Perfectly restored in Thee,

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before Thee,

Lost in wonder, love, and praise.  

The word “Amen” appended to the end of the Creed simply means that we affirm that we believe all that the Creed has stated.

(Excerpted from my e-book "I Believe!" at:

[1] See my own On the Lord’s Table e-book in which I tackle this controversial issue in more detail.
[2] John Calvin, Commentary on John