Monday 11 April 2016

Created Beauty in Us

We can see the Golden Ratio in us. It should remind us of our great Creator.

Joel Kontinen

Last month the journal PLOS ONE retracted a paper discussing the excellent design of the human hand. The paper included the words 'Creator' and 'design'.

It was too much for some evolutionists.

But the journal cannot hide the obvious, i.e., we look designed.

He has made everything beautiful in its time,” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, English Standard Version).

The golden ratio is a hallmark of great beauty. We’ll get it if we divide a straight line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is as long as the entire line divided by the longer part. It is often symbolized by the Greek letter Φ (phi).

The distance from our navel to our heels and from our navel to the top of the head follows the ratio, which is also seen in our fingers. (You can read more here).

Created in God’s image, He “has put eternity into man’s heart.” He wants us to continue living after our life on Earth is over, in a place He has prepared for us.

Thursday 24 March 2016

The Bible Is Not an Ordinary Book

Luther’s Bible (1534). Image courtesy of Torsten Schleese.

Joel Kontinen

The Bible is not an ordinary book. It is not a random collection of old tales written by poorly-educated nomads who knew much less about the world than we do.

It is true history. The everlasting God, who says He cannot tell a lie, has a very lofty view of the book known as God’s Word. Jesus Himself had this to say:

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18, ESV)

This obviously also applies to the other parts of Scripture. Here’s a verse from the Psalms:

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times." (Psalm 12:6)

Just think about it. While the Bible was written by humans, God guided the thoughts and perhaps even the words of the authors, keeping the message pure.

That is why we can trust it. Whatever it says is true.

Monday 21 March 2016

What Being With Jesus Can Do

Being with the Lord Jesus changes us.

Joel Kontinen

The Bible often discloses profound truths in just a few words. When Luke described a difficult ordeal that the early disciples faced in Jerusalem, he mentions a small detail in connection to their arrest. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and they did not tolerate those who did and put the apostles behind bars but they were in for a surprise: ”Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, NKJV).

Even the Sadducees realised that Peter and John had been with Jesus.

Like Peter and many others, the apostle John took a very long spiritual journey. Jesus gave him and his brother James the name Boanerges, ’Sons of Thunder’ (Mark 3:17), which might say something about his temper. John for instance wanted to call down fire from heaven to punish a Samaritan village that refused to welcome Jesus and His disciples (Luke 9:51–56). Furthermore, he was obviously very ambitious as he wanted to be exalted above the other disciples to become a co-ruler in the Messianic Kingdom of Israel (Mark 10:35–37).

Yet, when as an older man he penned his Gospel, there were no traces of the old Boanerges spirit left in his writing. The Son of Thunder saw himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 20:2). The Lord did not single out one disciple as the sole object of his love, however. It is more probable that John used this phrase because he realised that Jesus loved him in spite of his temper and his occasional thunderstorms.

And, as Luke suggests, even Sadducees, the skeptics of his day, realised that John had been with Jesus. Being with Him changed the Beloved Disciple, and it can change me and you, also. The apostle Paul, who was transformed from a persecutor into a saint, said that those who are in Christ are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). The Creator, Jesus Christ, transforms us. The more we are with Him, the more we become like Him. Thunderstorms can give way for rays of bright sunshine.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18: ”But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Sunday 28 February 2016

Jesus: Real Hope for a Hopeless World

Jesus is the only real hope for the world. Image courtesy of Andreas Wahra, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

During a very tumultuous time in Israel’s history, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah:

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB.)

At the time Israel was a divided kingdom, and the Babylonians were about to take the rest of the Jews into captivity. Yet God, who knows everything about everything, promised hope for His people.

It was not an empty promise. Roughly 70 years later, the Jews were able to return to their own land, to rebuild the temple that Christ was to visit during His earthly ministry.

God never changes. He still offers hope for a hopeless world. True peace and real hope can only be found in Jesus Christ, who is the only real Saviour.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Searching for the Lost: Another Unique Trait of Christianity

Jesus as the Good Shepherd by Alfred Handel. Photo courtesy of Toby Hudson, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

Many non-Christian religions are stories of man’s search for God. Christianity (and Judaism, to some extent), differs from them, because it is the account of God’s search for man.

When Adam and Eve lost their way due to their own choice, God came to the garden to seek them and bring them back.

Since then, God has time and again stepped into history to point us the way back to Him.

At the appointed time, the Jesus left His heavenly dwelling and lived among His creations for a short while:

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

He came, because without Him, mankind was lost, without any hope whatsoever.

The New Testament shows us what Jesus is like. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). He was even ready to leave 99 sheep and go to search for the one that was lost.

He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep.

And that means us: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25).

If you are still lost, now is the time to let the Good Shepherd find you.

Scripture verses from the Berean Study Bible

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Can Our Faith Be Shipwrecked?

Image courtesy of Hans Olav Lien, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

Charles Templeton (1915 –2001) was once a very famous evangelist who preached to tens of thousands. But he lost his faith while studying at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he learnt about evolution and millions of years.

Before his death he wrote a book entitled Farewell to God: my reasons for rejecting the Christian faith (1995).

Some Christians believe that a genuine believer can never lose his faith. A few Scripture passages seem to support this view, for instance these:

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10: 27–28).

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38 – 39)

While it is true that no one can snatch us from God’s hand, He has given us free will. We can walk away from Him, as the following verses show:

Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1).

We cannot abandon something we don’t have.

Holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and thereby shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:19 – 20).

Time and again the New Testament exhorts us to cling on to the Lord, to fight the good fight so that we might overcome and inherit God’s eternal Kingdom.

Even to the faithful Philadelphian church He said:

I am coming soon. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Revelation 3:11).

Scripture verses from the Berean Study Bible

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Jesus: The Name Above Every Name

The name above every other name is Jesus (Greek: Ἰησοῦς, Iesous). Image courtesy of Andreas Wahra, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Joel Kontinen

How could God best show us what He is really like?

He has done that in two ways: 1) By giving us His Word, the Bible, and 2) by coming to live among us for a short while. The apostle Paul called Jesus “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

During His earthly ministry, Jesus “went about doing good and healing all those being oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38).

To identify with humanity, Jesus used the title Son of Man (Greek: ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου), a sign of humility.

Writing to the Philippians, Paul exhorts us to imitate Christ:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus Who subsisting in the form of God, did not consider to be equal with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, having taken the form of a servant, having been made in the likeness of men. And having been found in appearance as a man He humbled Himself, having become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (2:5–8).

Whereas His disciples wanted to be great, Jesus was willing to wash their feet.

This humility eventually led to exaltation:

Therefore God also highly exalted Him, and granted to Him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in the heavens and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (2:9–11).

Even today, there is power in the name that is above every other name. In Jesus' name, sinners receive salvation and the sick are healed.

Scripture quotations from the Berean Literal Bible