Soul ties. A term we hear tossed to and fro’ among conversations. Maybe a Youth pastor uses it to warn young Christians of the perils of pre-marital sex. Perhaps a mentor uses the term, trying their best to offer reasoning for a mentee’s distress and inflamed emotions after falling into sexual sin. Whatever the case is, soul ties are a belief held by many Christians. But what exactly are they and more importantly can we consider it a biblical truth?
Soul ties are commonly believed to describe the way in which two souls are ‘knit together’ spiritually. Many argue that this affinity can be forged through sexual relationships; an ‘eternal bond’ usually formed between a husband and wife. In cases of extra-marital sex, this ‘tie’ is believed to have destructive consequences on the individual’s emotional and spiritual health.
Most Christians will agree that the term isn’t directly mentioned in the Bible, however, there are scriptures that lead them to believe that soul ties exist. This begs the question; why do we believe in something that is so loosely based on scripture?
If you ask a Christian who believes in soul ties, whether it is biblical, they will be quick to guide you to 1 Samuel 18:1 (NKJV); “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.” However, is the ‘knitting’ that is described here, a spiritual welding of two souls? Or rather, an illustration of the visceral congeniality between two friends, a friendship more commonly known in our time as a ‘budding bromance’? What about soul ties during sex, can soul tying occur as a result of physical intimacy? Some might argue that a man and a woman’s souls are knitted together when they become ‘one flesh’ (Gen 2:24) and this bond is further deepened during sex; that is to say that Christians who practice sex outside of marriage put themselves at risk of ‘binding’ their souls to the individual they have slept with. While it is commendable that a Christian’s aim here, is to educate others (as they should) on the sanctity of sex in marriage, unfortunately, they misapply the covenant binding nature of marriage to the actual act of sex itself, which as result, can be misleading and cause much confusion.
I believe that one reason why many of us believe in soul ties despite the fact that is supported by little to no biblical evidence, is because of English translations of Hebrew manuscripts, and their best attempts to convey its exact meaning in a way that can be understood by those who read what has now formed to become the Bible. The issue is that, Hebrew is a language that is heavily pictorially based, often using imagery to drive home a particular point. Therefore, when trying to capture the affinity created between those who share an esteemed level of intimacy or affection, some of this meaning is lost in various translations. Given that there is a lot obscurity surrounding the understanding of the soul and how it functions, even the best of us can take up meaning to be literal, when it is in fact figurative.
Let us not be mistaken, though as believers we might feel entangled in our emotional and sexual desires as a result of a past relationship or sexual sin, we must understand that the gospel offers a completely different reality. A reality where our souls are not tied to man but instead united with Christ who has assured us of our freedom by means of His atonement on the Cross. During times, where we do feel burdened, we should pray for the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened to the hope that we have been called to (Eph 1:18) so that we can both recognise and rejoice in the fact that our souls have been set free from, not only the bondage in this present world but also from eternal corruption in the life to come.
What does the bible say about #CancleCulture and how should we think about forgiveness Biblically? In this episode, we tackle the hard but important topic; true biblical forgiveness. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #ThePulsePodcast
Join the debate online by using the hashtag #ThePulse
‘Why does a loving God allow suffering in the World’? Every day, we are inundated with news of the deadly virus COVID-19, wars, murders, and the list goes on. Our very natural response is to ask, ‘Why?’ ‘Why do these things happen?’ And if God exists, why would he let them happen? All of this and more are tackled in this week’s episode of The Pulse Podcast.
Join the debate online by using the hashtag #ThePulse
In my Christian walk, I’ve found great comfort in Jesus’ active role as the mediator between God and I (1 Timothy 2:5). This is explored throughout Hebrews where He is described as our Great High Priest (Hebrews 2:17, 4:14-15, 5:6 and 7:11-28). Jesus’ intercession for us at the right hand of the Father changes everything. It provides hope when struggling with sin, comfort and assurance in our salvation.
Jesus belongs to a greater priesthood
Hebrews 6:20 describes Jesus as ‘a high priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek’ (ESV). To be a high priest in Israel you had to belong to the tribe of Levi, the first being Aaron (Exodus 28:1-3). However, there is an exception. Melchizedek was a priest before the Levitical priesthood even existed (Genesis 14:17-20). This means that Jesus is not a High Priest from the Levitical priesthood but belongs to a priestly line far superior – the Melchizedekian priesthood.
The Levitical priesthood was temporary, but Jesus’ priesthood is eternal. Like Melchizedek, he is both a priest and a king, now and forever as revealed centuries before in Psalm 110:1-4.
Jesus brought a greater sacrifice
Sacrifices brought by the priests on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) provided a temporary covering for Israel’s sins. This pointed toward a greater sacrifice our Great High Priest would bring before the altar of God – Himself. He lived a perfectly sinless life (1 Peter 2:22) which you and I cannot live ourselves. He bore the punishment we rightly deserved on the cross to atone for our sins, reconciling us unto God and delivering us from his wrath. Through faith in the atoning work of his blood we are made right with God, once and for all.
26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:26-27)
Our Great High Priest gives us full access to God
In John Calvin’s exposition on the nature of our heavenly High Priest’s intercession, he stated:
‘As He appears continually as the one who died and rose again, and as His death and resurrection stand in the place of eternal intercession and have the efficacy of a powerful prayer for reconciling and rendering the Father propitious to us, He is justly said to intercede for us.’
On earth, His intercession for His people took place on his knees (John 17). In heaven, it’s His very presence at the right hand of the Father! As theologian Ian Hamilton puts it, ‘Our Saviour’s nail-pierced hands and feet are our intercession.’
Jesus is presently and unrelentingly interceding for us. He does so with great empathy (Hebrews 4:14-16) because He knows what it’s like to live in this sinful world (John 1:12). He will never quit on us because He intimately understands our struggles. Accordingly, our access to God is direct, unrestrained and irrevocable.
Jesus’ intercession for us is crucial to our sanctification
Have you ever wondered why the longer you walk with God, the heavier the guilts feels when you sin? This is because sanctification sees us progressively become more like Christ and gradually free from sin. As we mature, we increasingly hate sin because we love God more. Thankfully, Jesus’ intercession mutes Satan’s accusations which intend to cast doubt over the assurance of our salvation when we stumble. With Jesus interceding on the basis of His payment for our sins on the cross (penal substitution), he preserves us. This ensures that though we may fall into sin, we never suffer total and final falls beyond God’s grace.
Our Great High Priest is interceding for you at this very moment. He is the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). We persevere in this Christian race not because of our own strength. It is by His intercessory work for us that we endure to the finish. Dr. R.C. Sproul declared:
‘My confidence of my preservation is not in my confidence to persevere. But my confidence rests in the power of Christ to sustain me with His grace and by the power of His intercession for us, that He is going to bring us safely through.’
Our obedience may fail, our faith may wane, but Christ’s intercession never fails us.
If you’ve stumbled upon this piece, I assure you first and foremost that this is not by chance! Whether you’re already a believer, looking to begin studying the Bible (potentially starting anew), or you’re intrigued as to where this book has originated from and where is a good place to begin reading it, or you’re just lost on the internet. All these reasons, however, being a good reason to stick around and read on. Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of faith, common questions arise to many believers and non-believers alike:
Who wrote the Bible and where did it come from?
Which of the books in the Bible do I begin with? Can I read them in order?
Do I need to memorize the whole Bible?
And so on and so forth, the list goes on. Early on in my Christian days I often found myself playing the proverbial ‘Bible roulette’, simply flicking to a random page and deeming that this must be what God wants me to read today! The Bible seemed to be this super dense, aged text that had little relevance to life today and because of this I rarely found myself diving into this life-changing book. I now find myself more assured in my daily life, holding on to the truth of the Bible to guide me through any situation life has to throw at me. It gives me joy when there’s sadness, peace during the chaos, reaffirms my identity when insecurities arise, and provides hope amongst despair. I cannot put into words how much I love the Bible and how much God has used His word to change my life and the lives of so many others around me. It is my prayer that you too would share in this unspeakable transformation.
While this short piece may not answer all of your questions in depth, it is our hope that it would provide some useful background information into the Bible, and great places to begin reading and studying. The word of God has the ability to teach, guide, heal, encourage, educate and so much more, and this isn’t something reserved for a special few, but a life changing experience accessible to all. I’ve included a range of references to scripture in brackets to aid your reading around anything mentioned in this piece.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” – Psalm 32:8 (NIV)
For starters, the Bible is made up of 66 books, written by various human authors; but one ultimate author working through these individuals, the Holy Spirit. It spans many different contexts and points in time. The key split in the Christian Bible comes in the form of “The Old Testament” (before Christ) and “The New Testament” (after Christ). When taken together, we see a beautiful story from Genesis 1 to Revelations 22 of God’s intention for creation, where we as humans have gone astray, the goodness of God and His saving grace through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the coming glory to be revealed in us upon the second coming of Christ.
Now this can be a lot to take in at first glance, littered amongst these pages are some of the stories we’ve come to know and love as children; Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-3), Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9), David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), the tale of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1). But they can very quickly become just that, stories we’re told as kids with no relevance and standing in today’s society. So where can we start to gain a deeper appreciation and paint a clearer picture of the teaching behind these stories…
Gospel, a common word that many of us would have heard before, both in Christian and secular contexts. Derived from the Greek word ‘Euangelion’ (εὐαγγέλιον). A compound word with “Eu” translating to ‘good’ and ‘angelion’ to ‘announcement’ or ‘news’. Therefore, we see the gospel translated to ‘good news’. What is this good news we speak of? Well, the good news of Jesus Christ and God’s kingdom foretold explicitly in the New Testament and woven into the fabric of the entire Bible’s metanarrative.
‘The Gospels’ consist of the first four books of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – and give accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each book serves a unique purpose in detailing Jesus’ life through either the author’s reason for writing the book and what message he is trying to convey about Jesus, or who the author’s intended audience was and how the gospel of Jesus Christ would impact their lives going forward (i.e. Jews and Gentiles). For example in John we see an eye witness account from ‘The Disciple Jesus Loved’ (not that he didn’t love them all, see John 13:23), addressed to the Jews at the time to inspire them to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that through faith they may receive life in his name (John 20:31). On the flip side, in Matthew, we see one of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life, including his lineage through the entire Old Testament, his birth and a great deal of his teachings. The Bible contains amazing and diverse literary structures including letters, parables, poems and more, none of which are missing from the four books of the gospel.
When studied individually, we get an insight into Jesus’ ministry but when pieced together we gain a holistic view of Jesus’ lineage (Matthew 1). We learn how his life fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 7:14 amongst others), the purpose of God sending his son to Earth (John 3:16), Jesus’ many teachings (Matthew 5 amongst others), Jesus’ love for all of humanity (John 15:9-17), the numerous miracles performed by Jesus and his disciples (John 2:1-11 amongst others), the significance of his death on the cross (Matthew 20:28) and the good news of the Gospel in his resurrection (John 11:25-26). You’ll notice how some events are detailed across multiple gospels while some only appear once. But ultimately, through the four gospels, you’ll get an appreciation of the loving characteristics of Jesus Christ. A man both fully human and fully God (Philippians 2: 5-11), who walked this Earth blamelessly and died on the cross as a sacrifice for all mankind. You may have seen this played out in Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ but there’s great satisfaction in coming to this revelation through study of scripture. The Gospel is told and exemplified in a number of different ways throughout the Bible and makes for great studying when comparing Old Testament symbolism with New Testament fulfilment. The Apostle Paul does an amazing job in describing the Gospel in his letters, for example in Ephesians 1 through 3.
This short synopsis doesn’t begin to touch upon the good news of the gospel, the hope for all in the resurrections and the boundless riches in Christ Jesus that are available to all of us as believers.
Right from the Genesis…
Now God’s nature is the same; yesterday, today and tomorrow. You may have heard of the Holy Trinity, depicting God in three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14). This doesn’t mean that there are three gods by any means, there is very much just the one true God, however we have received access to God’s being in these three different ways. We see the distinct nature of God the Father in the Old Testament, God the Son in Jesus Christ in the New Testament and God the Holy Spirit after the departure of Jesus and in the world we live today.
Why is this important? Well, another great place to start out any study of scripture is right at the beginning of the Bible. The very first book, Genesis, a Greek word meaning ‘origin’ or ‘beginning’. In the book of Genesis we see God lay out the foundation of the Earth and his wondrous plan for humanity. Chapter 1 starts out reading, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. We see how God famously created light, day and night, sun and moon, sea and sky, and creatures of every kind. Interestingly, in Genesis 1:26 when God created man, we see Him say: “Let US make mankind in OUR own image, in OUR own likeness”. The pluralisation in this context refers to the Hebrew pluralistic name of God, ‘Elohim’. It is worth noting that God, who is not constricted by time, made us in His image as God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus himself was present at the creation of the world!
Alongside creation, we see a pivotal part in history, the fall of man and the first sin (Genesis 3). Now this is an important part of scripture as we’re introduced to Satan for the first time as the snake that tricked Eve into eating from the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’ (the word ‘Satan’ translates to ‘accuser’ or ‘adversary’). We quickly see this first sin lead to a number of other ‘firsts’ for humans:
First experience of negative emotions in the world: shame and fear (Genesis 3:7-10)
First instance of the ‘blame game’ and abdication of responsibility (Genesis 3:11-12)
First notion of anger (Genesis 4:5-6)
Leading to the first murder in the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:8)
Alongside a whole host of other events in the 50 chapters of Genesis, this book does a great job of detailing how the days of old were, and more importantly, how those events have lead us to the world we live in today. We see how as humans, took a detour from God’s perfect plan for humanity and strayed from our God given identities. Never fear, however, because even in this book and for the rest of scripture we see God’s never-ending efforts to reconcile us back to Him. In Genesis, we gain an appreciation for those stories told as kids. We understand the wonder of creation, the significance of Noah’s ark, the example of Abraham’s faith, the trials of Joseph, and more! It is an important book (not that they’re not all-important) that provides great insight into the character of God and the foundation of the Bible at large, a great place to start studying.
Now this may sound like a lot, and trust me, I too am no Bible scholar. There are a wealth of other Biblical leaders that all play a key role in God’s beautiful plan for humanity, and scripture makes a very clear point of pointing out how flawed and human all of them were, just like you and me. Despite all of that, God still chose to use them for His great purpose (just as He can use you and I), and their names are marked down in scripture for eternity. Whether they knew it or not, these biblical leaders either directly or indirectly, point to the only infallible human character we see throughout scripture, Jesus Christ.
So how do we ACTUALLY begin?
Having said all of this, picking up the Bible for the first time and reading through scripture can be a challenging task alone. But never fear, as there is a wealth of tools available both online and offline at your disposal. Which one will work best for you? I can’t say for definite, but I am confident that each suggestion will help you in building a solid grounding in scripture and a relationship with the God of the universe that so dearly wants to meet with you.
Here are a few useful tips to get you started:
The Bible App – In today’s digital era, aside from going out and buying or borrowing a physical Bible this is a GREAT place to start, not to mention the easiest. The YouVersion Bible app is my favourite suggestion although I’m sure there are multiple on the app store. The Bible app was one of the first 200 apps first posted to the app store when it launched. It has been downloaded over 400 million times and translated into over 2000 versions and 1000 languages, so I’m sure you’ll find something for you. Aside from it’s easy accessibility, the Bible app has a wealth of biblical translations and bible plans to meet your needs whatever challenge in your life you may be facing; loss, hurt, addiction, fear, insecurities, stress, anger, unforgiveness, you name it and I’m sure there’ll be a short (or long) study plan for you. With its new prayer function and friendship feature, reading the Bible doesn’t have to be something you do alone. Not to sound like a salesmen but it really is a great addition to your iPhone/Android/cellular device!
Buy a physical Bible – This might sound super intuitive, but there really is such plethora of options for you to choose the very best Bible for you. While we could talk forever debating the best study bible or red letter print, that initial investment in your first Bible will add tangibility to your pursuit of God through scripture. I once came across a video of Chinese Christians receiving their first ever bibles. In a country where Christians often face great prosecution for the exercising of their faith, many of them overcome with emotion began to break down in tears as they embraced, smelt and lauded over the books they now held in their hand. It was a stark reminder that the word of God is so precious, so sacred, so Holy, it is God’s very nature, His character, Himself breathed out for the edification of all humanity. What a blessing to so easily have access to this life-changing text.
Join a local Church or Bible study – One of the best ways to study the Bible is with other people! Many churches and fellowships run small groups across the country and I’m confident there’s one around you to take advantage of whether you’re a student, self employed or work full time. And if not, why not start one? What a great way to get together a mix of individuals, some with similar levels of Bible knowledge, some more, some less and ponder through scripture together. If you want any advice on finding a local bible study or church for that matter, please do reach out or take a look in the resources section below!
Now, these are just a few key ones I think that anyone can take advantage of. But if you’d like to make use of more resources like a year long plan that takes you through the Bible in chronological order, friendly YouTube videos that break down the narrative of specific books in the Bible, or a great gospel music playlist on Spotify to get your bible studying juices flowing. Then check out the resources listed at the end of this piece.
Whether you believe it or not, you being in this exact moment, reading these words at the specific point of your life is not by accident. The Bible tells us that God knew exactly how your life would pan out before you were formed in your Mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-18), before the foundations of the Earth were created He chose you (Ephesians 1:4). God’s thoughts for you outnumber the grains of sand and His love for you is unconditional. Whether Christian or not, if you’re reading this piece, it is our hope that you would give Jesus Christ a chance and let him blow you away with the beauty of the Gospel.
This isn’t bible reading 101, nor is this a be all and end all of how to study scripture. This isn’t something that you have to master overnight, but a lifelong journey. Nor is this something that is ever really perfected, and while you may not necessarily be called to become a bible scholar, study of scripture does have to be consistent and it does have to be intentional to enact real change in your life and the lives of those around you. The more you let the Bible teach, guide and uplift you, as you allow it to get down deep in your spirit, the more it begins to change your very life. Equipping you with the tools to fight every battle that this world may throw at you. Take heart, for you’ve been granted a helper in the Holy Spirit and the church worldwide to assist you on this journey. We hope this is a start onto a life-altering, world changing journey of your relationship with God. Remember, God loves you, Jesus Christ died to save you and you can never go too far for these two truths to not stand.
Hope it helps,
Peace and blessings!
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace” – Numbers 6: 24-26
Once upon a time, Country artist Dolly Parton made a statement which got people talking. She said “I still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and true love. Don’t even try to tell me different.” Many people found the quote endearing and humorous but it was also indicative of the rampant consumerism that has overtaken many Christian holidays; their true meanings lost in a sea of symbols and events. If you looked at popular culture today, you would be forgiven for thinking Easter was indeed about bunnies, gifts or discounts at your favourite shop. Of course, this is not the case, but this is what we are inundated with. In this period, it’s important we revisit the meaning of Easter and why His death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ matters.
Origins of Easter
The origins of Easter are obscure and wildly contested. It is often assumed that the name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. According to the theory, Eastre was the “goddess of the east (from where the sun rises),” her symbol was the hare (a symbol of fertility), and a festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by the Saxons to honor her. However, this theory on the origin of Easter is highly problematic.
The problem with associating the origin of Easter with the pagan goddess Eastre/Eostre is that we have no hard evidence that such a goddess was ever worshiped by anyone, anywhere. The only mention of Eastre comes from a passing reference in the writings of the Venerable Bede, an eighth-century monk, and historian. Bede wrote, “Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated as ‘Paschal month,’ and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour, feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate the Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance” (De Temporum Ratione). And that’s it. Eostre is not mentioned in any other ancient writing; we have found no shrines, no altars, nothing to document the worship of Eastre. It is possible that Bede simply extrapolated the name of the goddess from the name of the month. Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Christ on the third day after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based (1 Corinthians 15:14). In some Christian traditions, Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week and followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost. (Source)
Because of the commercialisation and possible pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to call it “Resurrection Sunday.” The rationale is that the more we focus on Christ and His work on our behalf, the better. Paul says that without the resurrection of Christ our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! Whether we call it “Easter” or “Resurrection Sunday,” what is important is the reason for our celebration, which is that Christ is alive, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)!
Why does Easter Matter?
The resurrection of Jesus (alongside his crucifixion) is the central historical event in the Christian faith. Without the resurrection there would be no Christianity or at least, it wouldn’t be real and powerful. “If Christ has not been raised,” wrote Paul, “then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
I, Mike Omoniyi am a Christian today because I believe in the resurrection. I am convinced that after dying a violent death on a cross on a Friday afternoon in 30 A.D., Jesus of Nazareth came back to life and emerged from the tomb on Sunday morning. This is not an esoteric or theoretical belief, its a belief that those events actually happened and a man really did come back from the dead. This is not easy to believe, but it is true and is the most pivotal event in human history.
What did Easter usher in?
Jesus had come into town for the Passover celebration and was nearing the time when he would be betrayed by one of his disciples, publicly humiliated and mocked, beaten beyond recognition, and hung on a cross to die. It was the night before his suffering when he made his special request for his followers to remember that He gave his body for them and poured out his blood as a sacrifice for them.
One of the clearest depictions we see in the bible about the true people of easter is through the depiction of The New Covenant
The New Covenant
In Luke 22 we get a picture of the night before his death:
When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper, he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” Luke 22:14-20
The heart of Easter lies in his words, “the new covenant between God and his people.”
To put this new covenant in context we must look at history. Long before Jesus was born in the first testament (Old Testament), God made other covenants with His people (the Israelites) – some to multiply them, some to bless them, and some to give them land. All along the way, God required believers to recognise their sinful nature, confess their sins, ask for forgiveness for their sins, and offer specific animals to the priests as sacrifices for their sins. Their religious observance of Passover included sacrificing unblemished lambs, just as the Israelites had done when they painted their doorposts with the lambs’ blood the actual night of Passover – when Moses led God’s people out of Egypt (Exodus 12:11-13).
The sacrificial lamb was a significant part of sparing the lives of the Isrealites on Passover as well as in future remembrances of the event. God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions on how to honor God with annual Passover celebrations. Lamb was the pinnacle of the Passover meal (and still is today). The lambs were to be without blemish and even lived with the families for several days before they were sacrificed, adding to the understanding that the ultimate sacrifice was close to the hearts of those whose sins were atoned for.Easter and Passover have a special relationship for many reasons. Jesus became the “lamb without blemish” as he sacrificed his life for the sins of all who believe in him – to bring them into right relationship with the Father. Just as the Israelites celebrate freedom from their slavery to the Egyptians as they celebrate Passover, Christians celebrate the victory over sin and death signified in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus said the new covenant between God and his people was “an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.” It was no coincidence that Jesus gave up his life for all at the time of Passover. It was the appointed time, chosen by the Father.
In John 1:29, as he sees Jesus approaching, John the Baptist announces to the crowd around him, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the son of God, the long awaited Messiah, the one whom God’s prophets had promised to save mankind from their sins and to give them a deep heartfelt relationship with God the Father. The new covenant would be an everlasting covenant, (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Jeremiah 32:39-42, Isaiah 55:3). Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, our Savior, our God, our Redeemer – he laid down his life as our sacrificial lamb to pay for our sins. When he rose from the dead three days later, he gave victory over eternal separation from God (death) to all who put their faith and trust in him. That is the new covenant – everlasting life spent with God through faith in all that Jesus Christ has done and continues to do.
This is why we have the access we have. This is why easter matters.
Ever so often someone’s penned words emphatically capture your concrete feelings about a subject or an issue. This how I felt reading The Reason for God by Timothy Keller in 2009. Back then, I had just finished reading The God Delusion by Atheist Richard Dawkins and I wanted to read a definitive rebuttal. Kellers penned words did just that.
Today you only have to type in Coronavirus and Christ on google to see millions of blog posts, videos, and articles begging for your attention. Some claim to have new knowledge and revelation about the virus, some suggest looking back at previous periods of crisis in the church and learning from how we overcame them. They are all desperate attempts to make sense of what seems like a very confusing and senseless situation. Whilst there may be millions of links, not all links are created equal and not all of them deserve your attention and consideration. There are many falsehoods and lies online and we must do our best to reject the impulse to read them.
The questions you may be asking is well, which one should get my attention? The truth is I don’t know. However, in deciding here are thoughts which you may want to consider.
Is it Christ centred and Biblical?
Find resources that are based on the Bible. Some responses on the internet are simply not biblical and are more akin to fiction than a biblical response to a global pandemic. Where are the most bible saturated resources that make much of God and less of my thoughts in exploring these issues?
In a time of uncertainty, people can often begin to submit to the impulse to pursue novel and mystical. However, search for resources that make much of God’s voice and little of us. This is what Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper says,
“My voice is grass. God’s voice is granite. “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Pet. 1:24–25). Jesus said that God’s words in Scripture “cannot be broken” (John 10:35). What God says is “true, and righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:9). His word is, therefore, a firm foundation for life. “You have founded [your testimonies] forever” (Ps. 119:152). Listening to God, and believing him, is like building your house on a rock, not on sand (Matt. 7:24).”
He establishes the bible as a rock and a solid foundation and builds a response to COVID-19 with this knowledge in mind.
Is it richly Biblical?
Look for resources that are not only based on the bible but dwell richly in the scriptures and use them to build every single argument. This is what Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper says,
“Similarly, there is a divine sweetness in the glory of God in the message of the Bible. It touches a part of us that we know was put there by God. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103). “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8). This is a real seeing and tasting. It is not make-believe. It sees and tastes what is really there.”
So when Jesus says, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), and when the apostle Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16), and when the apostle Peter says, the authors of Scripture “were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21), our heart says yes. We have tasted and seen. We know. And the knowing is well founded. We are not leaping in the dark.
Our whole soul resonates with the biblical shout “The sum of your word is truth” (Ps. 119:160). “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Ps. 119:89). “Every word of God proves true” (Prov. 30:5). When this happens, the whole truth of God washes over us, even in the face of the coronavirus. It comes with incomparable comfort: “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Ps. 94:19). “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps. 34:18–19).
Look for resources that make much of God’s sovereignty. Resources which affirm that God has the FINAL say over every situation, your life, and your death. Sickness and sin. It is his word that is final. This is what Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper says,
“All things.” Not some things. And “according to his will,” not according to wills or forces outside himself. In other words, the sovereignty of God is all-encompassing and all-pervasive.
He holds absolute sway over this world. He governs wind (Luke 8:25), lightning (Job 36:32), snow (Ps. 147:16), frogs (Ex. 8:1–15), gnats (Ex. 8:16–19), flies (Ex. 8:20–32), locusts (Ex. 10:1–20), quail (Ex. 16:6–8), worms (Jonah 4:7), fish (Jonah 2:10), sparrows (Matt. 10:29), grass (Ps. 147:8), plants (Jonah 4:6), famine (Ps. 105:16), the sun (Josh. 10:12–13), prison doors (Acts 5:19), blindness (Ex. 4:11; Luke 18:42), deafness (Ex. 4:11; Mark 7:37), paralysis (Luke 5:24–25), fever (Matt. 8:15), every disease (Matt. 4:23), travel plans (James 4:13–15), the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21), nations (Ps. 33:10), murderers (Acts. 4: 27-28), and spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:4-5)— and all of them do his sovereign will.
Coronavirus and Christ by John Piper is a book all Christians should consider reading. It is utterly convincing, inspirational and deeply sobering.