Category Archives: Scriptures

Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 5:1-12 contains the so-called beatitudes in the teachings of Jesus. The beatitudes are at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, a highly studied and significant record of Christ’s teachings in His own words.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against
you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (ESV)

I want to point out the first one: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Most of the times I have heard talks and sermons on this verse, the speaker, be it a man or a woman, gives a rather wrong interpretation. They tend to treat the phrase “poor in spirit” as if it means “poverty of spirit,” “lack of spirituality,” “going through hard times spiritually,” “struggling in one’s faith,” ‘’falling short of having of the Spirit of God,” “hungering for the spiritual things.”

None of these interpretations are right, as long as they insist that the poverty relates mainly to the spiritual state of the person. It is actually that the spiritual state of the person is such, that that his attitude is of being materially poor in this world.

The New Life Version even translates it like this: “Those who know there is nothing good in themselves are happy, because the holy nation of heaven is theirs.” Not that far from the proper meaning but still focusing on rather lacking spirituality and worthiness of self, rather than focusing on lacking of material possessions.

The Greek translation of “poor” actually means “those who own nothing.” It is not the poverty that defines the spiritual condition, it is the opposite – the spiritual condition evokes a feeling of poverty, a sense of owning nothing of material value in this world. It is not that you are in a destitute spiritual state. That would not be a blessing, but a curse. Jesus teaches that it is a blessing to be so spiritually connected with the things of God that regardless of your actual wealth or lack thereof here on earth, you consider yourself to be poor. Materially poor. Financially poor. You have nothing; you have it, but it is of no value to you, nor is it a goal in your life.

This interpretation goes along with the other teachings of Jesus on the competition between faith in God and material wealth, mammon. You cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24); the invitation to the rich young ruler to leave his wealth and influence, discard of his possessions and to come follow Him (Mark 10:17-27); sending His disciples on a mission trip to preach and demonstrate the kingdom of heaven without any means of payment (Matthew 10:9).

The mission in Matthew 10, of sending the 12 apostles, contained two parts: to proclaim the message and to do works that obviously went along with that message. The message was: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” The works were: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Freely you have received, freely give (v. 8). The demonstration of the kingdom of heaven was not to be tied to the secular financial system of exchange of value and money.

The above examples additionally speak that it is a blessed state when in your spirit you have
acknowledged that you have nothing to hold on to in this world. This acknowledgement can be applied to people who are actually rich in this world, and have a lot of money and possessions, and people who are materially poor and have very little to live life on earth. Both categories of people can be either “poor in spirit” or the opposite – “rich in spirit.”

To understand “poor in spirit” we may look to explain what is to be “rich in spirit.” If in your spirit you focus on money, material possessions in order to secure your life on earth, then regardless of the state of your finances and material wellbeing, you are “rich in spirit.” Your spiritual life, your connection to God, is tied to your earthly state of wellbeing. Your life is tied to earth. You understand the clear logic of this life and this world; that if you have money and possessions, you will have an easy and desirable life on earth. As long as you live on earth, riches will help you fulfill your dreams and desires, and people will respect and honor you. If you’re poor on earth, you will have few friends, and you will live a limited life. These are the simple reasons for all the “get rich quick” schemes to be so popular, as well as lotteries and gambling. People want to get rich, so they can have a good life on earth.

However, spiritual life is a category of the teaching of Jesus that points to life that recognizes not only living in this material world, but also that man has an inner life, connected to the aspiration for more, for a life beyond the mere life on earth. That is why it is the spirit that is charged with judging the value of life – be it on earth or in the spiritual realm. This is to say that you can be poor by the spiritual values you have, even if you are rich in earthly possessions – they do not interest you. You do not hold them in as high a regard as you do matters of the spirit, of life eternal, of God, and of issues of moral value.

One might wonder how can someone who is materially poor can also be poor in spirit; or more simply put, if you do not have anything, how can you be rich in spirit? In the very same way that you can be rich in possessions, yet poor in spirit. People who are poor do not necessarily lack completely. They still have some money or possessions, but very little in order to live a happy life on earth. However, they understand that to live a good life on earth, you need to have money and possessions. Thus, they strive and want to change the situation. They want to move from poverty to riches. That is the reason why many people from poor regions and countries emigrate and move to start a life in richer countries. That is why people seek education and “opportunities in life” – because they are “rich in spirit” – it is their understanding that riches are the way to have a good life in this world. And those of poor countries who cannot move to rich countries, if we expand that example of today, feel sorry, left behind, as if they’re missing out on life. “Riches” is their standard, even if they don’t have access to it. Their internal spiritual life is overwhelmed by the desire to be rich, and not poor in this world. Therefore, they are rich in spirit.

In an opposite fashion, the poor in spirit, either rich or poor in possessions, consider themselves poor because they know that no riches or earthly goods would be taken to the eternal life which they expect and hope for. They are blessed because they have seen the truth about what is actually of value. However, the blessing does not end with only this understanding. Jesus continues to say that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Lord’s prayer goes: “May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” In Matthew 18 we read that “whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will bound in heaven.” For those who seek God and His kingdom, life on earth is not limited to success on earth. There is an invisible, spiritual, yet real intertwining of the earth, the visible world, and the presence of heaven on earth as a result of the work and ministry of Jesus and the faith of those who seek God.

If you are poor in this world, then naturally, the kingdom of heaven is what you are looking for. This means that the resources of the kingdom of heaven will be at your disposal. If you are rich in this world, you do not need the kingdom of heaven, because you are spiritually rich. You are satisfied that you have goals in this life and for this life. That is why we are blessed, if in our spirits we feel poor according to the world’s values and possessions, and like we have nothing to hold onto on this earth. We live for the world to come, yet the blessings begin even now.

The message is: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” and it belongs to the poor, who have nothing in this dying world.

Sermon Diary: How to Hear God’s Voice


“My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27)

Reading the Scriptures, we understand that man’s life is dependent on his communication with God. The Creator of the universe created us to communicate both with Him and with each other. To fulfil this purpose of His, He has given us a voice and the ability to read, write, and listen. Without the use of the senses, which are the entrance to our consciousness and souls, without our much-needed communication, life is practically impossible.

God wants us to hear His voice much more than we want to because He is not ignorant of our need to be saved, as we are often. We seem to be deluded about His role and will in our lives. For this reason, we often turn away from God as He reaches out His hand to us to give us eternal love, the perfect expression of which we see in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

It is good to know that the Bible gives us many practical instructions on how to hear God‘s voice. In many cases, when we read and study the Scriptures, when we receive dreams from Him, when we converse with and receive advice from mature Christians, when we observe natural phenomena or study historical events, we can hear with our spiritual senses the words of the Lord of all things visible and invisible.

At the same time, we can rarely define God’s voice as audible – in the sense we put when we talk about human relationships. Because of our separation from God through sin, He speaks in a fallen world more covertly—often enigmatically. For this reason, it is necessary to be active in listening in order to be able to hear Him.

There are certain spiritual principles to apply when seeking to hear God’s voice, but three of them are especially effective if we apply them with faith:

1. “My sheep hear my voice”
Jesus said this: “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). These words make it clear to us that in order to understand the words of the Lord Jesus, we must be His, to be obedient as sheep, to be active in listening, for Him to know us and for us to follow Him.

2. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear…”
In many places in the New Testament, and especially in the parables that Jesus told His followers, we can read these words: “He who has ears to hear, let him listen…”. Of course, we know very well that there are no people without ears. Jesus’ call is about those who are interested in His teaching paying attention to His words and being open to receiving and reflecting on them. Only the listeners will understand the true content of what He is saying.

3. “The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth”
The Lord declares: “And when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak of himself, but whatever he hears, that will he speak, and he will declare to you the things to come” (John 16:13). From these words we understand that even without having the intellectual capacity to perceive all truth, we will be guided into all truth by the Spirit of God. We also realize that through the words of the Spirit we will receive prophetic vision and knowledge by which we will be informed of things to come.

Is the defense of religious freedom a legitimate Christian ministry?

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith,” says Robin David, the ADF International allied lawyer defending the pastors in court. “In India, many citizens face fierce harassment because they belong to a religious minority.”

These Christian pastors in India are being persecuted not because they are a minority but because they are Christians.  While “nobody should be persecuted for their religious belief” may be a nice sentiment, the reality is that persecution occurs on a daily basis. In fact, anti-Christian irrational hatred and the resulting persecution is amply talked about and predicted in the Lord’s teachings and throughout the New Testament.

It is right and proper for us to support each other as believers and stand up against persecution and the injustice it represents. The NT teaching that Christians must be ready to embrace suffering for the name of the Lord does not constitute a surrender to the claims of evil without opposition on our side. Jesus suffered ultimately but He never stopped to assert His divine right to be recognized as the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Savior of the world. We see the same example through the lives of the apostles and the martyrs of the faith.

Being subject to persecution should never be seen as a reason for Christians to approve of persecution, even if they gladly embrace it as a sign of their loyalty to Christ.

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Answers to Questions in a Worldly, Post-Christian Culture

Holy Bible


Who shapes our outlook on this life and the life to come? God and His Word, or the words of the culture around us, dominated by the prince of the air?

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” When we don’t want to listen to the truth of Scripture we have ways of reasoning faith away by simply ignoring the Biblical teaching or by twisting it to mean something different from what it actually means. Christians have an obligation to teach those who accept the Gospel of Christ to obey all that He has commanded (Matt. 28:16-18). The Great Commission mandate is not just to listen to and marvel at the Lord’s teachings, but to instruct the nations to obey these teachings.

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God Appoints Rulers

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor, states Proverbs 29:23.

With political passions engulfing the globe one must ask if believers should stay away from politics? The answer is negative. Simply our “politics” is different. It is of the Kingdom of God, and not of the kingdoms of this world. When Christ declared to Pilate in John 18 that His kingdom is not of this world He did not mean that He is an escapist. Neither did He want that for His disciples. He  meant that the way He and His followers engage in this world defies its principles of corruption and rebellion. Just the opposite, Jesus’s own mission and the one He gave to the church is one of full engagement with the Gospel with all peoples and worldly powers (Matt 28:16-18).

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Lord or Sir? Borthers or Sisters?

Christ meets Saul on the road to Damascus

Christ meets Saul on the road to Damascus

It is critically important that Bible translations remain true to the original text. The truth will set us free if it is presented…truthfully. Unfortunately, throughout the ages, as well as today, translators play with the cultural perception of the biblical message. Such playfulness often goes beyond the bona fide search for proper and adequate communication of the Word and changes the meaning of certain passages of Scripture. Such changes can confuse the reader or worse — lead to error and apostasy.

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