Martes, Marso 3, 2015



IT IS IN man’s nature to find reasons and explanation to most experiences that he encounters in life.  As a rational and thinking being, he asks the question why for the various situations he gets into.

But contrary to man’s inherent rationality, we find people who tend to be pessimistic about their lives.  They don’t bother to find the real causes of their misfortunes in life and the solutions for these, but rather ascribe their impoverished lot to fate and destiny.

Their fatalism is aggravated by a belief in predestination as if God at the very beginning foreordained them to suffer while others are to enjoy their lives in this world.

The concept of predestination or the idea of assigning to God the twists and quirks of a person’s life and the belief that He may have laid down a preplanned life for every human being is biblically unfounded.  It is not God who makes the decisions that affect our lives.  He only gives us the alternatives from which we have to make our choices.

The Bible proves that it is not God but we who make the major decisions affecting our destinies.  In Deuteronomy 30:15, this is written:

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity.” (New American Standard Bible)

God has set before man two alternatives from which he can make his choices.  Life and prosperity or death and adversity.  With the mental faculty which God gives man, he is capable of choosing what is best for his destiny.

The Lord has blessed us with the capacity to think; He never wants us to become robots which operate through electrical or mechanical impulses as dictated by their creator.  The Almighty wants us to see, perceive, rationalize, and decide on what is good for us.  It’s not He who will make the choices for our life but we.

But what if we make the wrong choice?  To prevent such grievous error, God suggests the course of actions we have to take.  In verses 19-20 of the same chapter, He pronounces:

“ I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your [a]descendants, 20 by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for [b]this is your life and the length of your days, [c]that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.(Ibid.)

The Lord leads His people to the path of success and prosperity, to life and eternity.  He said, “choose life.”

Yet, what do we find in many people nowadays?  They are reeling in poverty, deeply enmeshed in vices and trapped in the tragic decadence of this inhuman world.  What causes these despicable conditions?  Is it fate or God’s predestination?  To this query, replies:

“But this is [a]what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.

“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and [a]went backward and not forward. (Jer. 7:23-24, Ibid.)

It is the wrong choice of many people which leads them to sufferings, destruction, and death.  While God wishes man to choose life by obeying His commandments, the recalcitrant tendencies of many people make them do otherwise.  They do not obey God’s counsels, instead they walk in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil hearts.

God’s policy of letting people decide on the actions they have to take continues in the Christian era.  Once again, the Almighty, this time through His Son, Jesus Christ, lays down before men the options from which they can make their choices.  Christ our Lord presented this in Matthew 7:13-14.  He said:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 

“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Ibid.)

The options in the Christian era are the two kinds of gates; one gate is small and narrow while the other is broad and wide.  The small gate treads a narrow way and leads to life.  The wide gate, on the other hand, leads to a broad way but ends in destruction.  Christ’s counsel to the people of this era is to choose the small gate and the narrow way which leads to life.  What should we do when we choose the small and narrow gate?  What is Christ’s commandment to those who have chosen the narrow gate?  In John 10:7, 9, this is written:

“So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

“I am the door, if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, …’” (Ibid.)

Those who have chosen the narrow gate must enter in it.  Christ is the gate or the door of the sheepfold.  Man must enter through Him to be saved.  Those who entered through Christ will become his sheep and will be gathered into one flock, which is the Church of Christ:

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. (Jn. 10:16, Ibid.)

“Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood. (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)

Therefore, Jesus wants those who choose life and salvation to become members of the Church of Christ.  At the same time, He warned people not to enter and walk in the broad way, which represents false religions, because it leads to death and destruction.

Christ’s parable about the sower, presents another set of options from which true Christians must make a choice.  He related:

“ The sower sows the word.  These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.  In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;  and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they [a]fall away.  And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,  but the worries of the [b]world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mk. 4:14-20, NASB)

The parable shows the different stereotypes of those who have heard the gospel.  Some hear the words of God but do not believe for they are only temporarily converted as they have no firm root in faith.  Those who have chosen to abide by the words of God must choose whether they would be fruitful or not.  True Christians must opt to bear fruits of righteousness in order to receive the much-hoped-for promises of God (Philip. 1:9-11).  To bear fruit, they must not permit the things of this world to hinder their efforts to this end.  To be overly devoted in the pursuit for worldly gain leads to unfruitfulness.

The ultimate choice for true Christians is whether to endure till the end or not.  To bear or not to bear the burden and sacrifice that a servant of God has to take.  For our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, asserts:

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Mt. 24:13, New King James Version)*


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Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind.