SHOULD CHRISTIANS BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF DREAMS?
Dreams can fascinate believers at times. From the visions of Daniel in the Old Testament in Daniel chapter 7 to Peter’s dream of clean and unclean animals in Acts 10:9-17, it seems that dreams cover almost all the books of the Scriptures.
Also, in the modern context, it seems like many Christians have come to Christ by seeing Jesus in a dream.
Dream interpretation, Jewish in its imaginative attentiveness, involves psychological matters and the reality of repression. But isn’t limited to those concerns. Dreams are of larger realities and possible futures.
The children of the Enlightenment do not linger over such mysterious experiences as dreams regularly. We try to enlighten what is before us and conquer the mysterious and the eerie to make the world a better and manageable place. We perform well in our management while we are awake, and we keep the light, control, and power on 24 hours a day.
Except, of course, that we have to sleep, we need seasons of rest and, therefore, of vulnerability—our flags of control. We become open to stirrings that we don’t initiate. These stirrings appear to us in the night unbidden as dreams that direct us. They invite us beyond our initiative management.
The ancient world and the biblical tradition were aware of dreams. The ancients recognized that the unbidden communication in the night opens sleepers to a world different from the one they controlled during the day. However, the people during the ancients times dared to believe that this unbidden communication was a venue in which God’s holy intentions, perplexing and unreasonable as they might be, come to us.
What are some instances of dreams throughout Scripture? What does the Bible say about dreams explicitly, and does God speak to us through dreams? And how much belief should Christians put in their dreams today?
BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF GOD COMMUNICATING THROUGH DREAMS
Of course, every instance of dreams in the Scriptures cannot be dived into. However, a few instances of dreams will be highlighted:
• Joseph (Old Testament): You can’t talk about Joseph, the son of Jacob, without talking about his dreams. Granted, he spent much of his time interpreting dreams when he was in the Egyptian prison, but he had a dream of his own before he came to Egypt (Genesis 37). These dreams indicated that Joseph’s family would bow to him in the future. It comes to fruition as they come to him for food during a great famine. In reality, the dream was intended to foretell the future.
• Daniel (Old Testament): Like Joseph, he mostly interprets dreams rather than having them, but in Daniel 7, he experiences the disturbing dream of four beasts. Theologians also attributed each beast to a certain empire (Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman/End Times Kingdom). The dreams served to show the events and kingdoms to come.
• Joseph (New Testament): Joseph, the father of Jesus, sees an angel in a dream who warns him to flee to Egypt before Herod is planning to take the life of his son (Matthew 2:13). This dream served as a warning.
• The wife of Pontius Pilate (New Testament): As Jesus awaits trial in the court of Pontius Pilate, his wife warned him against condemning Jesus because she knows of his innocence (Matthew 27:19). The vision taught her of the true existence of Christ.
Dreams often use symbolism to teach a lesson, divulge elements of the future, or help us learn more about God.
WHAT THE SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT THE DREAMS FOR US
Although most of the dream references in Scripture apply to certain dreams that God has granted to a certain person, the Scripture says a few things about dreams:
• Acts 2:17: Many believers will see dreams in the End Times. Although it does not indicate precisely what they will see, it may be a dream of Heaven, of God, or the future.
• Ecclesiastes 5:7: This verse appears to caution about giving too much hope to dreams. “Much dreaming is meaningless.” Therefore, we should not linger too long on dreams, and instead, turn to the Scriptures to hear the words of God to us.
• Jeremiah 29:8: This verse warns us against placing our faith in the dreams of others. Often false prophets speak of dreams that did not take place to sway the people of God. Christians need to be careful whenever someone talks of a dream, and they must check everything they have said about that dream against the Scriptures.
HOW MUCH BELIEF SHOULD CHRISTIANS PLACE IN DREAMS?
Christians should read the Scripture if they have a vivid dream that seems to have a purpose or authority more considerable than the regular dreams had any other night.
In some instances, there are Muslims who have seen Jesus in their dreams, and such dreams happen because they don’t have access to the Word of God and have not read the Scriptures themselves. Dreams form a temporary path for them to encounter God.
When you look at the number of dreams in the Bible, most of them are in the Old Testament. Because most of those who lived in the Old Testament had little access to the Word of God, or in the case of those who lived before Moses’ time, God used dreams and visions to communicate His messages to people.
Although dreams and visions have been known to take place in the Old Testament and the New Testament, we must bear in mind that our primary basis for what God has to say to Christians is the canon of the Scriptures.
The Bible does mention Christians having dreams in the last days, but these dreams can never usurp Scripture in terms of authority.
God may place a dream in the life of a Christian to alert them of a future occurrence, display a sign that is important to the life of that believer, or communicate a certain message. If a Christian has such a dream, he is supposed to test the spirits by opening the Bible and reading what it has to tell about the subject of that dream.
Furthermore, though dreams may fascinate us, Christians should not envy other Christians who have dreams. Dreams have no greater authority than the Scripture, and most Christians have the word of God at their disposal.
DOES GOD STILL COMMUNICATE WITH CHRISTIANS THROUGH DREAMS TODAY?
God has indeed spoken to certain people in the past through dreams, but back then, it was an uncommon occurrence. Hebrews 1:1-2 suggests that God’s major way of interacting with people today is through the written Word that God has inspired, not through visions or dreams. The Bible warns Christians to be on guard against spirits (falling angels or demons) trying to mislead (1 John 4:1). One of how people are misled is through paranormal activities.
The Bible talks of certain dreams that are deceptive in Jeremiah 23:25-27. Most dreams are a normal part of the sleeping state. The Bible speaks of the unreal and fleeting nature of dreams (Psalm 126:1; Isaiah 29:8).
Ecclesiastes 5:3 says, “For a dream cometh through the multitude of business,” suggesting that normal dreams are the inevitable outgrowths of the stimulation we experience in our waking hours. Dreams may come from our feelings, from what we hear others say, and from the material we read or watch.
As Christians, we must protect the knowledge that comes to our minds. For example, if we expose our minds to violence or sexually focused content, these stimuli may cause unwanted dreams. Paul gives us excellent guidance on how to guide our thinking in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Having done everything we can to ensure that we have a healthy environment and think of positive thoughts, we can ask God to bless us with quiet and restful sleep. Psalm 127:2 says, “He gives his beloved sleep.”
Joel prophesied of a future time, before the return of Jesus Christ when there would be signs of Heaven, and “your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28-31). The apostle Peter used this interpretation to help explain the extraordinary miracles on the Day of Pentecost. But it is obvious from the New Testament example that Christians are to follow the Word of God from the inspired Scriptures and valid biblical teachings, not from private interpretations (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 4:2-4; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
It is necessary to know that not all visions are God-given. It could be that you ate something odd, or that your mind just kept working after a busy day. Dreams could also come from Satan. The adversary of our souls is not ignorant of the power of a dream. Let 1 Samuel 28 be a warning to us. It describes a time when King Saul seeks counsel from a medium not of God.
INTERPRETATION OF DREAM
Listening to the Holy Spirit is the most important aspect of having a truthful understanding of dreams.
It is only natural and right to try to understand the meaning of dreams. It’s not divination, and it’s not to be confused with such. We are not to seek for dream and interpretation as our way of getting through life. We are to seek God and His Word.
Dream Interpretation is not mentioned as a spiritual gift, but a dream given by the holy spirit would be interpreted by the holy spirit. (Genesis 40:8, c).
God gave the dream that Pharaoh had in Genesis chapter 40, and God gave the meaning to Joseph. God gave the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had in the Book of Daniel, and we see that God gave the interpretation to Daniel.
We are to rely on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to validate and explain visions and dreams from God.
God is not going to give us dreams to entertain us or stop us from depending on Him and His Word.
HOW TO HANDLE VIVID DREAMS
1. PRAY: Before doing anything else, pray that God shows you the source of a dream and what He wants you to know.
2. LISTEN TO THE LORD: Take a moment and sit quietly before the Lord to hear His voice. When you sense His peace, then you can be assured that His Spirit was the source. Hearing from the Lord can save you, just as it saved the three wise men. They were told in a dream that they should return home in another way, escaping King Herod and saving the infant Jesus (Matthew 2).
3. WRITE IT DOWN: Write down what you know about it. When you believe that the vision is not of the Lord after you have prayed, then forget about it. So if you believe that God is in it, journal what you believe He’s speaking to you.
4. GO FOR A GODLY COUNSEL: Sharing your dreams is biblical. Pharaoh sought counsel from Joseph, and a generation was saved from starvation (Genesis 41). Just be wise about whom you share your dreams. Be especially careful of friends who consult books to interpret dreams (1 John 4:1). Most times, these books are philosophies that leave God out of the equation.
5. LET IT BE: The Lord will bring to your remembrance His dreams. Most people’s dreams are vivid, but the ones you should pay close attention to are the ones you remember years after you had them. Occasionally, while sitting in God’s presence, He’s going to remind you of a dream to reinforce the lesson He’ wants you to learn. The danger comes when these dreams preoccupy our thoughts instead of the One who gives us these supernatural visions.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER
If people experience visions and dreams today, it may fulfill what the Scriptures say about this happening more often in the Last Days.
However, it shows us that God still speaks to those who can’t be reached by the Scriptures.
WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN BELIEF?
What do Christians believe in? This question does not have a direct answer. Christianity generally encompasses a wide range of denominations and faith groups. Thus, within the general context of Christianity as a religion, Christian values differ widely as each denomination subscribes to its collection of doctrines and practices.
The most commonly practiced religion in the world is Christianity, with more than two billion followers. The Christian faith centers its belief on the birth, earthly ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. It began with a small gathering of followers. Many historians view the adoption and spread of Christianity across the world as one of the most successful spiritual missions in human history.
Christianity remains culturally diverse in its western and eastern branches and its doctrines on justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. Their creeds generally hold in common — Jesus Christ, the Son of God — who ministered, suffered, and died on the cross but rose from the dead on the third day for the salvation of mankind; which is the Gospel, in the Bible. The four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the revered history of the Gospel explain Jesus’ life and teachings.
Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as ‘The Way,’ probably coming from Isaiah 40:3, ‘…prepare ye the way of the Lord….’ According to Acts 11:26, the term ‘Christian’ was first used in reference to the disciples of Jesus in the city of Antioch, meaning ‘Christ’s followers,’ by the non-Jewish inhabitants of the city.
DEFINITION OF DOCTRINE
Doctrine is something that is taught, a principle or creed of principles presented for acceptance or a belief system. In the Scripture, doctrine has a broader meaning. This explanation of doctrine is given in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: “Christianity is a religion based on a message of good news grounded in the context of the life of Jesus Christ.”
In the Scripture, however, doctrine refers to the whole body of fundamental biblical realities that define and describe the message that incorporates historical facts, such as those surrounding the events of the life of Jesus Christ. Still, it is broader than the biographical facts alone.
The three main Christian creeds, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, constitute a relatively detailed summary of traditional Christian doctrine, reflecting the fundamental beliefs in a wide range of Christian churches. However, many churches oppose the custom of professing faith, even though they may agree with the creeds’ contents. They refuse to follow or acknowledge the creeds except that which is written in the Bible.
Some basic Christian concepts include:
• Christians are monotheistic; that is, they believe that there is only one God and that He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. The divine Godhead comprises of three parts: the Father (God himself), the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.
• The purpose of Christianity revolves around the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Christians believe that God sent his only begotten son, the Messiah, to save the world, and conclude that Christ was crucified on the cross to grant forgiveness of sins and that he resurrected three days after his death before ascending into Heaven.
• Christians believe that Jesus will come to earth again in what is known as the Second Coming.
• The Holy Bible contains the teachings of Jesus when He lived on earth, and the teachings of the great prophets and disciples, and how Christians should live.
• Both Christians and Jews follow the Old Testament of the Bible, but Christians also embrace the New Testament.
• The cross is a symbol of Christian.
• The most important Christian holidays are Christmas (which marks the birth of Jesus) and Easter (which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus).
WHO IS JESUS?
Some historians believe that Jesus is a real person born between 2 B.C and 7 B.C. Most of what historians know about Jesus is from the New Testament of the Holy Bible.
According to the Holy Bible, Jesus was born to a young Jewish virgin called Mary, in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem, in modern-day Palestine. Christians believe the birth was a supernatural occurrence “…for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:20)
A little is known about the upbringing of Jesus. The Scriptures show that he grew up in Nazareth, that he and his family fled the persecution of King Herod and moved to Egypt, and that his “earthly” father, Joseph, was a carpenter.
Jesus was raised as a Jew, and according to most historians, he was trying to reform Judaism — not to establish a new religion.
When he was about 30 years old, Jesus began his public ministry after being baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.
For around three years, Jesus traveled with 12 appointed disciples (also known as the Twelve Apostles), teaching large numbers of people and performing what the witnesses described as miracles. Some of the most prominent miracle incidents included raising the dead man called Lazarus from the grave, walking on water, healing the blind, e.t.c.
Jesus used parables— short stories with hidden messages — in his teachings.
Some of the central themes that Jesus taught, later embraced by Christians, include:
• Love the Lord thy God.
• Love the neighbor as yourself.
• Forgive those who have wronged you.
• Love your enemies.
• Ask God to forgive you of your sins.
• Jesus is the Lord and has been given the authority to forgive others.
• Repentance of sins is necessary.
• Don’t be hypocritical.
• Do not judge others.
• The Kingdom of God is near. It is not the rich and powerful — but the weak and the poor — who will inherit the kingdom of God.
During one of Jesus’ most famous teachings, known as the Sermon on the Mount, he summarized many of his moral instructions to his followers.
DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Most historians agree that Jesus died between 30 A.D. And 33 A.D., even though the exact date is transpiring debate among theologians.
According to the Bible, Jesus was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death. Roman governor Pontius Pilate issued an order to crucify Jesus, under pressure from Jewish leaders who believed that Jesus was guilty of several crimes, including blasphemy.
Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem by Roman soldiers, and his body was laid in a tomb. According to the Scriptures, three days after His crucifixion, He resurrected from the death.
In the days following Jesus’ resurrection, several people reported sightings and having an encounter with him. The authors of the Bible say that the resurrected Jesus ascended to Heaven.
THE HOLY BIBLE
The Holy Bible is a collection of sixty-six books written by different authors. It is divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Old Testament, which is also accepted by the adherents of Judaism, describes the history of the Jewish people, outlines the specific laws to be observed, discusses the lives of many prophets, and predicts the coming of the Messiah.
The New Testament was written after the death of Jesus Christ. The first four books — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — are known as the “Gospels,” which means “good news.” These texts were written sometime between 70 A.D. And 100 A.D. they give an account of Jesus’ birth, earthly ministration, death and resurrection, and the giving of the great commission.
The next book in the New Testament is the Acts of the Apostles, which gives an account of the apostles’ ministry after the death of Jesus. The author of the Acts of Apostles is the same author as one of the Gospels—it is also “part two” of the Gospels.
It is followed by the letters which were written by early Christian leaders. It is also known as “epistles,” which make up a large part of the New Testament. These letters provide instructions on how the Church should operate.
The last book of the New Testament is Revelation. It describes the signs and prophecies that will happen when the world is about to end and the metaphors that will explain the state of the world.
HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY
According to the Bible, the first Church organized itself 50 days after the death of Christ on the Day of Pentecost — when the Holy Spirit was believed to descend upon the followers of Jesus.
Many of the first Christians were Jewish converts, and the Church was centered in Jerusalem. Shortly after the founding of the Church, many Gentiles (non-Jews) adopted Christianity.
Early Christians felt it was their duty to spread and teach the Gospel. Apostle Paul, a former Christian persecutor, was one of the most prominent missionaries.
Paul’s conversion to Christianity, after a divine experience with Jesus, is outlined in the Acts of the Apostles. Paul preached the Gospel, and he founded churches in the Roman Empire, Europe, and Africa.
Most historians agree that Christianity would not have been widely spread without Paul’s ministration. In addition to preaching, 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament are believed to have been written by Apostle Paul.
PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS
The early Christians were persecuted by the Jewish and Roman leaders for their religion.
In 64 A.D., Emperor Nero accused Christians of a fire that broke out in Rome. During this time, several Christians were brutally tortured and killed.
Christianity was illegal under Emperor Domitian. During His reign, anyone who professes Christianity will be executed.
Beginning in 303 A.D., Christians have endured the most severe persecutions under the co-emperors Diocletian and Galerius. It was known as the Great Persecution.
CONSTANTINE EMBRACES CHRISTIANITY
The period the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity; religious tolerance shifted to the Roman Empire.
At that time, there were many groups of Christians with various ideas about how to view the Bible and the position of the Church.
In 313 A.D., Constantine, with the Edict of Milan, ended the ban on Christianity. A time went by, he sought to unify Christianity and resolve issues that divided the Church by creating the Nicene Creed.
Most historians agree that the conversion of Constantine was a turning point in the history of Christianity.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
In 380 A.D., Emperor Theodosius, the first, declared Catholicism to be the Roman Empire’s state religion. The Pope, or the Bishop of Rome, served as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Catholics expressed a sincere devotion to the Virgin Mary, recognized the seven sacraments, and honored the relics and sacred sites.
After the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 A.D., there were differences between Eastern and Western Christians.
In 1054 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church were divided into two classes.
Between 1095 A.D. and 1230 A.D., the Crusades, a campaign of holy wars, took place. In these wars, Christians fought against Islamic rulers and their Muslim soldiers to recover the Holy Land of Jerusalem.
The Christians succeeded in capturing Jerusalem during some of the Crusades, but eventually, they were defeated.
After the Crusades, the power and wealth of the Catholic Church increased.
In 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther published 95 Theses — a document that condemned the Pope’s actions and argued against some of the policies and goals of the Roman Catholic Church.
Later, Luther publicly declared that the Bible did not grant the Pope the exclusive right to read and interpret the Scriptures.
Luther’s teachings then gave rise to the Reformation — a movement aimed at reforming the Catholic Church. As a result, Protestantism was founded, and different Christian denominations gradually began to develop.
TYPES OF CHRISTIANITY
Christianity is generally divided into three branches: Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox.
The Catholic branch is governed by the Pope and by Catholic Bishops around the world. The Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox is divided into separate divisions, each governed by the Holy Synod; there is no overarching governing structure comparable to that of the Pope.
There are various sects within Protestant Christianity, all of which vary in their interpretation of the Bible and in their view of the Church.
Several of the other sects that fall under the category of Protestant Christianity include:
• The Baptist;
• Pentecostal / Charismatic
• The Lutherans
• The Anglicans
• Assemblies of God
• Christian Reform/Dutch Reform
• Church of the Nazarene
• Disciples of Christ
• The United Church of Christ;
• Christian Science
• The Seventh Day Adventist
While many Christian denominations have different beliefs, separate traditions, and worship in various ways, the core of their faith is based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW?
WHAT’S A WORLDVIEW?
A worldview is a framework from which we can see reality and make sense of life and the world. It is an ideology, philosophy, theology, movement, or religion that provides a global approach to understanding God, the world, and man’s relationship with God and the world.
EVERYONE HAS A WORLDVIEW
A popular Chinese proverb says, “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish.” Water is the sum and content of the world where the fish is immersed. The fish might not reflect on its habitat until it is abruptly forced to dry land, fighting for survival. It realizes, then, that the water provided its sustenance.
Immersed in our environment, we have not taken the implications of the secular worldview seriously. Sociologist and social critic Daniel Yankelovich defines culture as an attempt to provide a cohesive set of answers to the existential problems humans face in their lives. A real cultural shift is one that makes a decisive break with the shared meaning of the past. In particular, the break affects those meanings that relate to the deepest questions of the essence and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we comprehend the world wherein we live.
Christians everywhere recognize a great spiritual battle raging around the world against the hearts and minds of men and women. We are now in a cosmic struggle between Christian truth and a culture of moral indifference. Therefore, we need to shape a Christian worldview that will help us learn how to think like a Christian and live out the truth of the Christian faith.
The truth is that we all have a worldview. Some worldviews are inconsistent, merely a smorgasbord of natural, supernatural, pre-modern, modern, and post-modern options. However, an in-depth and thoughtful worldview is more than a private personal view; it is a comprehensive life system that tries to answer life’s fundamental questions. The Christian worldview is neither just a personal expression of one’s faith nor a theory. It is a fundamental way of life that applies to all spheres of life.
DISTINGUISHING A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
There is a clear Christian view of things, which has its essence, coherence, and unity, and is in sharp contrast to counter-theories and speculations. The Christian worldview has the stamp of reason and reality and can stand the history and experience test. The Christian view of the world cannot be violated, accepted, or rejected in part, but it stands or falls in its integrity. Such a holistic approach offers the stability of thought, a unity of comprehensive insight, not only on the religious area but also on thought. Christian philosophy is not built on two forms of reality (religious and philosophic or scientific) but on a universal principle and all-encompassing structure that influences faith, natural and social sciences, law, history, health care, arts, humanities, and all fields of life-long learning.
The followers of Jesus must articulate a Christian worldview for the twenty-first century, with all its accompanying challenges and changes, and show how such Christian thinking can be applied across every aspect of life. At the center of these challenges and changes, we see that truth, morality, and interpretive frameworks are ignored, if not rejected. Such challenges are indeed daunting. The very existence of normative truth is being challenged throughout the culture.
For Christians to respond to these challenges, we must hear the words of Jesus from the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Here we are asked to love God with our hearts and souls and with our minds. The words of Jesus apply to God’s wholehearted dedication in every part of our being, from whatever perspective we want to see it — emotionally, enthusiastically, or cognitively. The result of this kind of love for God is that every thought is taken captive and brought to the obedience of Christ. This means being able to see things from a Christian point of view, that is, thinking with Christ’s mind.
The starting point for developing a Christian worldview is the confession that we believe in God the Father, the Creator of Heaven and Earth (the Creed of the Apostles). We know that “in him, all things hold together,” for every true knowledge flows from the creator to his one creation.
WE BELIEVE IN GOD, CREATOR OF THE HEAVEN AND EARTH: A WORLDVIEW STARTING POINT
A worldview must offer a way of life consistent with reality by offering a comprehensive understanding of all areas of life and thought of all aspects of creation. As stated earlier, the starting point for a Christian worldview brings us to God’s presence without delay. The fundamental affirmation of the Scriptures is that there is a God, but that God has acted and spoken throughout history. God is Lord and King over this universe, ruling all things for His glory, showing His perfections in everything He does, so that humans and angels may worship and adore Him. God is triune; there are three persons within the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Thinking wrongly about God is idolatry (Psalm 50:21). Thinking right about God is eternal life (John 17:3) and should be the life goal of the believer. We can rightly think of God because he is knowable, yet we must keep in mind that he is, at the same time, incomprehensible (Rom. 11:33-36). God can be known, but he can’t be fully understood.
We maintain that God is powerful and separate from other beings, from nature, and the universe. This is in opposition to other worldviews that say that God is in a part of the world, creating a continuous cycle and that the process itself is God — or becoming God. God is self-existent and not dependent on anything external to himself. God is infinite, meaning that God is not just unlimited, but that nothing outside of God can constrain God. God is infinite in relation to time (meaning he is eternal), knowledge (omniscience), and power (omnipotent). He’s sovereign and unchanging. God is infinite, intimate, transcendent, and immanent. He is holy, righteous, just, good, true, faithful, loving, and merciful.
God, without the use of any pre-existing material, has brought into being everything that is. Both the first chapter of the Bible and the first paragraph of the Apostles’ Creed admit God as the Maker. Creation reveals God (Psalm 19) and brings glory to him (Isa. 43:7). All creation was originally good, but it is now imperfect because of the entrance of sin and its effects. However, this is only a temporary imperfection, for it will be redeemed in God’s final work, the new creation.
God, the creator is no different from the God who gives salvation through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. God is the Source of all this. This implies that God has put the universe into being out of nothing through a purposeful act of His free will. Christian philosophy affirms that God is the supreme and all-powerful Lord of all creation. Such an affirmation rejects any dualism.
Christian worldview also contends that God is separate from and transcends His creation. It maintains that God is a purposeful God who creates freedom. In God’s preservation and provision for His creation, he works out his ultimate goals for humanity and the world. Human life is, therefore, significant, meaningful, intelligent, and purposeful. This confirms the overall unity and intelligibility of the universe. Here we see the greatness, goodness, and wisdom of God.
GENERAL IMPLICATIONS OF A CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
The Christian worldview becomes a driving force in life that gives us a sense of God’s plan and purpose. This worldview shapes our identity. We can no longer see ourselves as marginalized sinners. The Christian worldview is escapism, but an energizing motivation for godly and faithful thinking and living here on Earth. It also gives us trust and hope for the future. Amid life’s challenges and hardships, the Christian worldview helps to stabilize life, anchoring us to God’s faithfulness and steadfastness.
The Christian worldview thus provides a framework for ethical thinking. We recognize that human beings, made in the image of God, are truly moral beings. We also understand that the fullest embodiment of goodness, love, holiness, grace, and truth is in Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18).
The Christian worldview has consequences for the understanding of history. We see that history is neither cyclical nor natural. Rather, we see history as a linear, meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for humanity. Human history is going to climax where it began — on Earth. This truth is another unique of Christian thinking since Christianity is at the core of history. In the sense that, according to his essential teaching, God has acted decisively in history, revealing himself in specific acts and events. Moreover, God will act to bring history to its providential destiny and its planned conclusion.
God that acted in history in past events will act in history to consummate this age. So when we ask, “How is it going to end?” We do not simply or suddenly move from the realm of history to never-never land. We move on to that which is still likely to happen, because God is behind it, and he is the one who assures us that it will happen.
The development of a Christian worldview is an ever-expanding process for us, a process in which Christian convictions increasingly shape our culture participation. This disciplined, vigorous, and never-ending process will help shape our assessment of culture and our place in it. Otherwise, culture is going to shape us and our thinking. Thus, the Christian worldview offers a new way of thinking, seeing, and acting based on a new way of doing things.
Christian philosophy is a logical way of seeing the universe apart from deism, naturalism, materialism, polytheism, existentialism, pantheism, mysticism, or post-modern deconstructionism. Such a theistic perspective provides bearing and direction when confronted with New Age spirituality or secular and pluralistic approaches to truth and morality. Fear of the future, suffering, illness, and misery are guided by a Christian perspective focused on the redemptive work of Christ and the glory of God. Also, Christian philosophy gives meaning and purpose to all aspects of life.
While many examples could be provided, there are six specific applications where the Christian worldview provides a different perspective:
1. TECHNOLOGY — Technology can become either an instrument through which we fulfill our role as stewards of God or an object of worship that will eventually rule over us. Christian philosophy offers balance and wisdom to grasp this critical dimension of the life of the twenty-first century.
2. SEXUALITY AND MARRIAGE — Sexuality has become a major theme for those reaching the third millennium. There is a big deal of misunderstanding between Christians and non-Christians. Sexuality is a good thing in the covenant relationship of mutual self-giving marriage. Sexual affection, apart from covenant marriage, in heterosexual or homosexual relationships, is immoral and has a distorted meaning, a self-serving purpose, and negative implications.
3. ENVIRONMENT — Environmental Stewardship means that we have a duty to the non-human aspects of God’s creation. Since the plan of God’s salvation involves both His world and human existence, we should do whatever we can to participate in it carefully and lovingly.
4. ARTS AND RECREATION — Arts and recreation are recognized as a valid and essential part of human imagination and culture. They express what it means to be made in the image of God. We need to learn critical analysis and assessment skills to be aware, and deliberate, and representative of what we make, see and do.
5. SCIENCE AND FAITH — Science has been at the center of our modern society for almost two decades. We must explore how we see science issues from the perspective of a Christian worldview. The understanding of God includes the knowledge that we obtain through scientific investigation. With the lens of faith in place, an image of God’s word emerges that harmonizes and complements the findings of science and the teachings of Scripture.
6. VOCATION — Understanding of work is important to any culture. Work is a gift from Heaven, and it is to be done with diligence for God’s glory. We recognize that all legitimate professions are honorable, that the abilities and gifts we have for our vocation come from God, and that prosperity and promotion come from God.
These are just a few examples that could be cited that will help shape our thinking in other areas.
Christian thought must surely subordinate all other efforts to improving the mind in the pursuit of truth, taking all thought captive to Jesus Christ.
Today, as in the days of Corinthian correspondence, our thinking and minds are captured by the several challenges and opposing worldviews in today’s academy.
The essence of a serious Christian worldview is bringing every thought captive to the Lordship of Jesus Christ to serve and teach others.
WILL CHRISTIANS BE JUDGED ON THE JUDGEMENT DAY?
WHAT IS JUDGMENT DAY?
The scripture says in Acts 17:31 that God “has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world “.
This day of judgment, also called the Final Judgment, is when Christ, the Son of God, will judge “the living and the dead” before destroying this present world that we are in, which are tainted by sin.
The devil would be thrown into the lake of fire, where the beast and the false prophet (Antichrist) have been since they were defeated when Jesus returned before the beginning of the millennium. It is to be an everlasting punishment for their sin and their rebellion against God. Now is the time for God to decide who is to join them in hell-fire, and who deserves a place on the new earth with Him and His Christ.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Sin can be described as anything that contradicts the will of God and the laws of God. To sin is to disobey or to violate His laws. Because the desire to sin exists in human nature, humanity is corrupted and somewhat motivated by the sinful inclinations that exist in all humans. This is the product of the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden. Before building His new heaven and earth, God must do away with anything that could bring about or bear sin in His new creation.
Jesus Christ will act as the justice of the Last Judgment, as the Bible says, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” (John 5:22). All the skeptics will be judged by Christ on the “great white throne,” and they will face punishment in accordance with the deeds they have done. The Bible is very clear that skeptics are collecting up vengeance against themselves and that “God will give to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-6). In the final judgment, the fate of the wicked and the unbelievers will be in the hands of the Almighty God, who will judge all according to the status of their souls.
Let’s look at the notable biblical references on Judgment Day to get a better understanding of the last judgment of God.
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)
“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1)
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:11-15
ARE WE EXCLUDED FROM THIS JUDGMENT?
Those that will be excluded from this judgment on the Judgment Day will be those who are the brides of Christ. The brides of Christ are all those who have purified themselves as holy and have been conformed to His likeness. (Romans 8:29) They cleanse and purify themselves from all sin and become sincere followers of Christ. They stood before Christ’s judgment sit when they were in the circumstances of their daily lives. They let the light of Christ shine in their souls, pointing out the sin and injustice that needed to be dealt with. They have, of their free will, accepted their sin, fought a war against it, and were cleansed by Christ’s blood. More than just seeking forgiveness for sin, they have used the Holy Spirit’s power to conquer it.
“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:31-32.
The martyrs are also excluded, those who went through the tribulation, resisted the devil, didn’t take the mark of the beast and were destroyed because of their faithfulness. (Revelation 13:15-17). They will live and reign with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
WHY WILL WE BE JUDGED ON JUDGMENT DAY?
The Scriptures state that Jesus Christ will judge every human who has ever lived (Acts 10:42). Those who refuse His offer of redemption face the white throne’s judgment — the last stop of the unbelievers before an eternity of exile from the presence of God. The believers will also stand before Christ, at which time they will finally come to a full understanding of His extravagant grace.
In 1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul says that Jesus will disclose the motives hidden in the hearts of believers. Many people have come up with the belief that all their mistakes will be revealed to all to see, but the Bible in no way supports that notion.
Jesus will reveal the true nature of the heart of a believer to him or her. Every act of rebellious, wrong attitude, and cutting word will be checked. When the Bible states that Jesus will wash away tears from our eyes, it applies to this moment (Isaiah 25:8). We will stand in the Holy Savior’s presence, grieving how unworthy we are of His sacrifice. But the sorrow will only last for a moment. At that moment comes the great joy of having received forgiveness and lived a life pleasing to Him. The judgment of Christ is not a punishment; it is a reminder that we are forgiven. Finally, we can fully realize the depth and breadth of His grace.
Believers do not need to cower or hang their heads during the trial. Nor are we to repent — the time is past. We will stand before God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and forgiven of every sin. And then, we can realize how wonderful the love of our God is to us.
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:31-46.
Everybody will be called to stand before the great white throne on the Day of Judgment, even millions who have been ignorant of both the law and the Gospel. Yet God has created every person with something very important — conscience. The acts of good and evil are written in the heart, and the conscience should direct an individual’s actions. Hence, they too have something to answer for on the day when God will judge people’s secrets. However, they would not be judged for something that they have no understanding of right or wrong. (Read Romans 2:12-16.)
Then Jesus will say, “for I was hungry, and you gave Me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?” Matt. 25:35-37.
Even if they were fully unaware that they were following Jesus in their deeds, He would say to them, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34. This will be their reward for obeying the dictates of their conscience and adherence to the laws written in the hearts of men.
“But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile, for there is no respect of persons with God.” Romans 2:10-11.
To all who hardened their hearts to do good against the dictates of their conscience, and did evil despite what they understood, Jesus would say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” Matthew 25:41.
THE ACCOUNTS ARE SETTLED
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14-15. No wonder Jesus said we should rejoice because our names are written in the Book of Life!
Then the accounts will be closed, and everything will be in its proper place. Sin and death are gone forever. Out of all affliction and misery, and despite the deceitful power of Satan, God, through His wisdom and strength, has finished His work in the bride, in the martyrs, and in the sheep who have been gathered to the right hand of Jesus. These are the individuals who are in the Book of Life and will live forever with God and Jesus in the new heaven and new earth.
IF SALVATION IS ONLY BY GRACE, AND NOT BY WORKS, HOW CAN BELIEVERS BE REWARDED IN HEAVEN FOR THEIR WORKS?
First, we have to note that the New Testament clearly states that we will be compensated for our good works. When we say that men and women cannot please God by their deeds, we are talking about unregenerate sinners who seek to be justified by works. This cannot be done. But it does not imply that regenerate Christians cannot please God, cannot do genuinely good works by active faith in Christ. While the unsaved man cannot satisfy God, the saved man can do so by faith in Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s power, even though our efforts in this life are never perfect. After we’ve been told that redemption is not by work in Eph. 2, Paul says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Verse 10)
Remarkably, the Bible maintains that we should be compensated for the good works we do, even if we know that they are God’s work. A simple example is found in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus states, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Mt. 6:19-20). The saying,” You can’t take it with you, “is not accurate when it comes to Christians. However, we send these riches ahead of us in the form of good works. A popular verse from the Old Testament that makes a similar point: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).
How can this be? How can we get rewards for what is God’s work of grace in us? The answer is God’s grace in Christ. It is in Christ that our works are received by God with favor and rewarded by His grace.
WHEN IS A CHRISTIAN SAVED?
Some people doubt that they are Christians. They want to be, but they feel like they are missing the happiness of the Christian faith.
The awful uncertainty that haunts many people arises out of a misconception of what the Christian experience is. Some people do not seem to know the nature of Christian conversion, while others have been misinformed about salvation and seek an understanding that is not biblical. A lot of people confuse faith with feeling.
Faith always implies an object — that is, what we believe in. To understand the Christian life, we will talk about: truth, faith, and feeling. They follow this order, and the order is essential. In this order, you will have the confidence and joy to say, “I know whom I have believed” (2Timothy 1:12).
First of all, we are saved by personal faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as described in the Scriptures. The Bible relates to the news of Christ’s death and resurrection to pay the penalty for our sins and provide a path to eternal life.
Although it may at first seem dogmatic and narrow-minded to you, the fact remains that there isn’t any other way through which you can be rescued from your sins than by the grace of God through your faith in Christ. The work of Jesus Christ is a fact, His cross is a fact, His tomb is a fact, his resurrection is a fact.
It is not possible to believe anything into existence. The Gospel didn’t come into being because men and women believed it, and the tomb of Christ was not empty three days after His resurrection, because His followers believed it. The truth followed faith. Without an object of our faith, we are spiritually incapable of believing. Christians do not call on people to believe in something that is not true but to believe in historical facts. Believing in Christ for your eternal salvation is trusting in a fact — not a figment of someone’s imagination.
Faith is the second of those three words. Faith is logically impossible where there is nothing to believe in. Faith has to have an object. Jesus is the symbol of the Christian faith. Faith means more than agreeing with Christ’s teachings; faith requires the will — the decision to believe in Christ.
If you say with your mind and heart, “Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ, and I receive everything He has done for me by dying on the cross for my sins,” then you have eternal life. Faith, then, means surrender and devotion to Christ’s claims. It means to acknowledge your sin and turn to God. We don’t know Christ through the five physical senses, but we know Him through the “sixth sense” that God has given to every man and woman — the ability to believe.
The feeling is the final word and must remain the last of your thinking. The sincere and truthful seekers of God’s redemption have confusion and difficulty as they think they must have some emotion to make conversion a true experience. If you seek redemption as portrayed in the Scriptures, you will want to learn what sort of experience the Bible says you should have.
You may have gone to a church altar, to a study room, or knelt by your radio or TV when you were asked to embrace Christ. You heard the message, and you realized you were a sinner in need of the Savior. You prayed to God for redemption in your wretched and hopeless state. You believed he could and would save you. You may have read about His invitation to sinners: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
When you read the New Testament carefully, you will see just what kind of experience you are supposed to have. You will see the nature of conversion experience and will find that the New Testament reveals just one: the experience of faith.
Believing is an experience as genuine as any experience. Still, multitudes are looking for something more — an electrical stimulation that brings energy to their physical bodies, or some other amazing occurrences. Many have been encouraged to look for spiritual thrills, but the Bible says that man is “justified by faith” rather than thinking. A human is saved by believing in the finished work of Christ on the cross and not by physical sensations and religious ecstasy.
When you realize Christ’s love for you as a sinner, respond with love for Christ, and love has feelings. Those who love Jesus, too, have faith in Him that lifts them above all fear.
Having a guilty conscience is also a feeling. The Bible explains in Hebrews 9:14 that Christ cleanses the conscience: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Having a guilty conscience cleansed, and being free from its relentless suspicion is an achievement, but it is not the cleansing of conscience that saves you. It is faith in Christ that saves. A cleansed conscience is the result of a right relationship with God.
Joy is a feeling, too. So is inward peace. Love for someone is a feeling. Concern for the lost souls is a feeling. But all these feelings are not conversion. Again, the only experience you can seek and expect to be converted is to believe in Jesus Christ.
Someone might say, “I believe the Gospel’s historical truth, but nothing has changed for me. I don’t think I am saved.” You might not be saved because the faith that saves has one defining quality: saving faith is a faith that creates obedience. This is a faith that brings about a way of life. Some have successfully imitated this way of life for a while, but for those who trust in Christ for salvation, this faith gives rise to a desire to live out that inward experience of faith. It’s a power that gives rise to godly living.
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
One of the followers of Jesus Christ was asked this question more than 2,000 years ago, and it is still just as relevant and important of a question today as it was asked then.
Have you ever thought about this question before?
Do you know the reply to the question?
I would like you to seriously consider this question today, as your answer will decide how you will live your life and where you will spend eternity after you die.
Here’s how the follower of Jesus answered the question:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
It’s an easy answer, but what does it mean to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? And from what do we need to be saved?
SAVED FROM WHAT?
The Bible, which is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and completely truthful (John 17:17; Psalm 119:160), provides a simple answer to what you need to be saved from, you need to be saved from God Himself.
The Bible states that God created and sustains all things in the world (Genesis 1:1; Job 38:1-41), including you (Psalm 139:13-16). It is Him who has established the unchanging rules of nature and morality. It is Him who has the ultimate control over His creation. He wants you to be in the right relationship with Him (1Timothy 2:3-4).
Besides being the Creator, God has another title — the Judge. He has created good and just laws for our benefit, but unfortunately you, and I and everyone else have violated His laws in one way or another: by lying, lusting, slandering, coveting, envying, stealing, cheating, using God’s or Jesus’ name as a curse word, or by loving someone or something more than God. Some of God’s laws that we have violated are mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17 (The Ten Commandments) or Matthew 5 (Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). If your violations of God’s laws are not resolved on His terms, you will stand before Him when He is the Judge one the judgment day.
There won’t be any injustice in the court of Heaven; nobody will be able to get away with any sin; God has seen and registered in His “books” every act of sin ever committed. He will be just in pronouncing His sentence.
That’s what you need to be rescued from, punishment and wrath of God. Or, to put it terrifyingly, you need to be saved from God “casting” you into the “lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15
Though God is indeed loving, caring, compassionate, merciful, and gracious, the Bible also presents God as full of wrath against those who violate His rules and refuse His reconciliation offer.
Although many people falsely believe that hell is not a real place, and God being loving and compassionate would certainly not send anyone there. The Bible explicitly states that God, the just Judge of the universe, has the power, the authority, and the purpose of sending out all those who condemn His Son, Jesus Christ. Consider the following passages from the Bible:
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36).
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15).
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31).
God’s idea of sending those who condemn His Son to a literal hell may look unfair, unjust, or even crazy to you. The Bible speaks clearly and consistently speaks of its truth (Luke 16:19-31), which leaves two options: either hell is real, or it isn’t. Considering that there is nothing in the
Bible that has ever been proven false — historical occurrences, locations, men, prophecies — it would be wise to take the Bible to its word — the hell is real.
Not wanting to be separated from Heaven and punished for eternity in hell would make us ask,
“What can I do to be saved so God will not send me to hell? The answer is clear: “Believe the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But what does that mean? Does that mean that you believe that Jesus was like some other historical figure, like Socrates, Napolean, George Washington, or Alexander the Great, or is there anything more to believe than that?
“Believing the Lord Jesus Christ” is much more than intellectual consent because He has existed; it means that you put your belief, confidence, the hope of redemption in who He is and all He has done for you.