Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Spirit Gives Life

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The Spirit gives life

In the beginning the Spirit was active in creation.  The Hebrew word for spirit and breath is the same word. So we can understand that the Spirit of God gave life to mankind in the beginning.  

Gen 2:7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

So physical life was given by the Spirit of God in the beginning.  But God has planned for us eternal life.  And that life also is given by the Spirit of God. 

We cannot earn eternal life because of our failures in life, which result in sin and separation from God.  Paul says that the letter kills, meaning the letter of law that requires righteous action.  But the Spirit gives life. The Spirit provides a way for us to be justified before God. Instead of a letter of the law covenant, the new covenant is a relationship covenant fashioned by the Spirit of God.

2 Cor 3: 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

You remember that the Holy Spirit gave life to Jesus in the womb of Mary. That child, the only begotten Son of God, gave His perfect life on the cross at Calvary to pay the price for the sins of all who will believe in Him.

Romans 8 English Standard Version (ESV)
Life in the Spirit

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So how do we walk according to the Spirit?  First we must come to Jesus for cleansing from sin, so that we can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  You remember that the Holy Spirit came on Peter and the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus. The Spirit inspired the message delivered by Peter that day, where he taught about Jesus being the Messiah, and answers the question "What shall we do?"

Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

"You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  God gives His Spirit to His children.  That Spirit is an encourager, a helper, a power within that reminds us of what God wants us to be. The Spirit does not overrule our own personal spirit, but encourages us to always do the right thing. 

And the Holy Spirit has revealed God's message for us in the Holy Scriptures. As Paul instructed Timothy, 2 Tim 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

And Jesus taught that the foundation principles are to love God with all our heart, soul, and might; and to love our neighbor as ourself. So when we love God with all our being, we desire to agree with His Spirit that encourages us to always do the right thing. 

And if we get discouraged sometimes, and wonder how we are doing, John tells us how to have assurance that God's Spirit is working in our lives. 

1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

So we can know that the Holy Spirit is not so much about emotion, dancing, speaking in tongues, falling on the floor, etc.; but is about doing the things that are pleasing to God.  Instead of building a big house, buying an airplane, amassing personal wealth (by making a show of charisma), we must do good for the helpless. 

Yes, the Holy Spirit is alive and well today.. Our spirit must connect with His Spirit within us and walk by His guidance, in agreement with what the Holy Spirit has taught and confirmed by miracles, recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Any person who claims the power of miracles by the Holy Spirit, and then  refuses to teach what is taught clearly in Scripture, has a serious problem.

Knowing Jesus, having been born again of water and the Spirit, enables the Holy Spirit to live in us and give us eternal life. 

1 John 5 English Standard Version (ESV)
Overcoming the World

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Testimony Concerning the Son of God

6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

The baptism commanded by Jesus and the Apostles for believers is immersion in water.  If you have any doubt about this, review Stephen's teaching to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8. 

Gal 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Immersed into Christ by the water and the Spirit!  As Jesus said, you must be born again in order to enter the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit baptism given to the Apostles and to the household of Cornelius demonstrated God's presence and power. But the immersion in water given to Paul, the household of Cornelius, to the Ethiopian Eunuch, and to 3,000 on the Day of Pentecost, is the immersion of water and the Spirit commanded by Jesus..

As the Ethiopian Eunuch said, "See, here is water.  What hinders me to be immersed?"

Acts 10: Then Peter declared,47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Law Kills

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"You will not die" said the Serpent

One law, "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge".  One law was enough to produce death.  

After eating the fruit, they were separated from God, feeling ashamed. It was death to the close relationship they had enjoyed with God. Now they were hiding, ashamed because of guilt, and trying their best to cover their nakedness. 

And eventually they died physically, because they were separated from the tree of life. The wages of sin is death. 

But the Serpent had made it sound so good.  "You will not die. You will be wise like God."

Don't we like to have things our own way!  The fruit was beautiful, looked like it would be very tasty, and would make one wise.  Lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  These are powerful motives to our human nature. Left to ourselves, these desires drive us to destruction, to death. Yes, the wages of sin is death.  

The law gives direction, and tells us the right way to go, and establishes the righteousness of God. Paul explains in Romans chapter 7 that the Law is holy, just, and good. 

The Law and Sin

Romans 7:7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

So law is not the problem.  Our sinning is the problem.  Our human nature that drives us to please ourselves is the problem.  What makes us look good, feel good, and gives us pride!  We have the same nature as Adam and Eve.   One law was enough to condemn them to death. 

God created us subject to sin and temptation, so that we can pass through the testing ground and be redeemed by faith. Paul explained that God created us subject to the futility of sin and death in order for the revealing of the children of God.  

Future Glory

Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

So our failure to keep law leads us to condemnation and death, opening the way for our Savior who paid the death penalty for sin on the cross at Calvary.  We cannot justify ourselves by keeping law, because we fail. But we can be justified by the blood of Christ, if we believe in Him.  This salvation is available to all who will believe. 

As Paul explained earlier in the letter to the Roman believers,

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The one who has faith in Jesus!  That faith is revealed by the choices we make.  God chose the preaching of the gospel to save those who believe. Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone.  God did not choose an elect few to be saved, but chose everyone who will believe in Him.  He does not give faith to a few and exclude others, but faith comes by hearing the word of God. Faith is a personal choice, made by free will.

Yes, the law kills because we are sinners.  So why do some seek to make the new covenant into a letter of the law covenant by binding opinion as law?  Perhaps we feel the need to justify ourselves by our own performance.  Some are given to comparing themselves to others in order to feel good about themselves, judging by performance. So if someone else uses instrumental music, and we have a rule against it, we feel good because we do not use it.

But Jesus gave us a different standard.  He challenges us to love each other.  Yes, the law is there, if we love God we will keep His commandments. John writes to us about love, and shows how we can have confidence about our relationship in Jesus Christ. 

God Is Love

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Yes, the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. 

Romans 6 English Standard Version (ESV)
Dead to Sin, Alive to God

Rom 6:6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

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Victory in Jesus

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Aleph and the Tav

The First and the Last

The Alpha and Omega

Rev 22:8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

The Apostle John was writing the Revelation in Greek, so he said the Alpha and Omega. Had he been writing in Hebrew, it would have been the Aleph and the Tav.  Writing in English, it would have been the A and the Z, the first and last letters of the alphabet. The alphabet, the sounds by which we communicate. Letters by which God's truth is conveyed. 

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for truth, Eleph, has both Aleph and Tav. Truth was in the beginning, and truth will flourish in the end.

Before writing the Revelation, John wrote his gospel.  He goes directly to the heart of who Jesus is.  

John 1 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,and the life was the light of men.

Word is a translation of the Greek Logos.  See the definition below from the Britannica:

Logos, (Greek: “word,” “reason,” or “plan”) plural logoi, in Greek philosophy and theology, the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning. Though the concept defined by the term logos is found in Greek, Indian, Egyptian, and Persian philosophical and theological systems, it became particularly significant in Christian writings and doctrines to describe or define the role of Jesus Christ as the principle of God active in the creation and the continuous structuring of the cosmos and in revealing the divine plan of salvation to man. It thus underlies the basic Christian doctrine of the preexistence of Jesus.

So, in the beginning we have God creating the universe, even speaking it into existence, according to His eternal plan and purpose. Christ was there, not counting it robbery to be equal with God, according to Apostle Paul. 

Phil 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Yes, we can be part of Him, we can be in the first and the last, the alpha and omega.  But first we must learn about Him, from the Bible, from fellow believers, from the evidence of the universe and history. He is the truth, and the truth will set us free. He will set us free from slavery to sin and fear of death.  He will recreate a right spirit within us.  He will give us the Holy Spirit, once our sins have been washed away.

Peter preached the message on the day of Pentecost, following the resurrection of Jesus. 

'Acts 2:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Peter did not have them sign a confirmation card and pray a prayer.  Somehow three thousand were baptized that day, in a pool nearby. 

I am tired of the excuses made about immersion in water, about how it is not that important.  As we read through the book of Acts, when someone comes to the place of faith in Jesus Christ, they are immersed in water.  Philip taught the Eunuch about Jesus, and as they were riding along, the Eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me to be baptized?"

Jesus Christ is the first and the last.  The Alpha and the Omega. Here is what He told His disciples at the mountain in Galilee.  He gets the last word.

The Great Commission

Matt 28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Alpha and the Omega, the A and the Z, the Aleph and the Tav. He is the beginning and the end. In Him we believers exist and have our being. 

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Lamb

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The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  First pictured in the animals who gave their lives to provide the garments for covering the shame of Adam and Eve in the Garden. And the ram caught in the thorn bush, who became the substitute for Isaac, offered on the very hill, Mount Moriah, where Jesus would be crucified. And then the Passover Lamb, whose blood marked the door of the house where the first born were protected from death, when the Death Angel passed over in Egypt.

The wages of sin are death.  The soul that sins will surely die. Someone had to die to satisfy the debt. So Jesus offered His perfect life through suffering on the cross to pay the debt, my debt.  Your debt.

John the Baptist, "Behold, the Lamb of God"

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

They followed Jesus.  Another John was among those who followed Jesus, and years later, writing from Patmos, John the Apostle revealed this vision of the Lamb of God in His Glory.

Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

The lamb is the shepherd!  Who would know better than the lamb about the needs of the sheep?  The writer of Hebrews tells about the qualification of our Shepherd.  

The Founder of Salvation

Heb 2:5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Rock


The Rock at Horeb

Ex 17:5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Paul told the Corinthian believers that Christ is the Rock from which Israel drank in the wilderness. 

Warning Against Idolatry

10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

And Christ is the rock from which believers drink today.  As Jesus told the woman at the well, 

John 4:7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Yes, Jesus is the Rock who gives water welling up to eternal life. Just as He gave water for three million at the Rock at Horeb, He gives eternal life to all who believe and trust in Him.

From the Rock Israel and Moses journeyed on to camp at Mt. Sinai, and Moses spent 40 days on the mountain.  God hid Moses in the cleft of the rock and passed by him.

Mount Sinai, viewed from the east, the cleft in the rock
Exodus 34:17 And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

But God had a plan to reveal His eternal glory in His only begotten Son, and this plan was also pictured as a stone by the prophet Daniel

Daniel Interprets the Dream

31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Yes, in the days of the Roman kings, God set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.  That kingdom came in power on the day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus.  The stone that destroyed the nations of the earth became the foundation for God's living temple. The stone that was rejected by many of His own people became the Corner Stone.

Psalms 118

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Yes, for those who believe, Jesus is the cornerstone of God's temple.  A temple built of living stones, bound together by love.

1 Peter 2 English Standard Version (ESV)
A Living Stone and a Holy People

1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

8 and

“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

Yes, the cornerstone is a stumbling block to all who refuse to believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, the Son of God.  It was upon this confession of Peter that Jesus promised to build His community of people.

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  

Peter's name was similar to the word for rock, but the play on words was not for the purpose of exalting Peter, who would later deny Jesus three times leading up to the crucifixion. Jesus was talking about the foundation rock, His identity as the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God.  It is upon this confession and faith that Jesus would build the community of God's people, building up the house of living stones. 
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Believers in China

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Resurrection

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The Empty Tomb

Early Sunday morning John and Peter came to the tomb, after Mary Magdalene told them the tomb was empty.  This is what they found, recorded by John. 

John 20 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Resurrection

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a foundation for faith in Him.  As Paul taught in 1 Cor 15, if Christ was not resurrected, we have no hope.

1 Corinthians 15 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Resurrection of Christ

15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Yes, the resurrection destroys the power of death.  Fear of death is the sting of sin.  But those who are faithful in Jesus will live with Him forever.  As Jesus told Martha.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

John 11:17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Yes, Jesus rose from the grave on the third day of His burial. The rulers in Jerusalem tried their best to change the story, and accused the disciples of stealing the body. Strange that anyone would believe that story, especially after Jesus appeared to so many witnesses.

Among the disciples Thomas was hard to convince. He only believed after Jesus appeared to him and invited him to put his hand in the wound in Jesus' side.
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No Longer Doubting Thomas

Read this story about Thomas and India

Abhilash Paulose Chalakuzhy

The year was 52 AD and the place was a small village in the northern part of Kerala named Palayur. Those days Palayur was a traditional bastion of conservative Hindus. A small group of Jews lived nearby in a hilly place and they had a synagogue there. One morning four Brahmin Hindu priests were conducting their ritualistic sun worship in the temple pond. They were from the four well known families of the area, Kadappu, Kalikavu (Kaliyankal), Shankuthiri, and Pakalomittom. They were standing half immersed in water and sprinkling water upwards chanting Vedic mantras to the sun god.Suddenly a Jewish ascetic came and stopped near where they were worshipping. He was a visitor to the nearby synagogue and came from Jerusalem recently. The local Jews accompanied him.The visitor asked though his interpreter, what was going on. After getting their explanation he commented that it seemed the sun god was not accepting their offering, because the water fell back to the pond when they threw it up as an offering. The Hindu priests asked what could happen differently. Then the visiting Jewish holy man told them that he could throw the water as a supplication to the living God who is the creator of sun and all the other celestial stars, and his God would accept it.As the priests gave permission, he got down to the pond and worshipped God in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and then threw the water up in to the air, and to all present it seemed the water drops remained suspended in the air.The visitor explained to the Hindu priests that he was Thomas, one of the Disciples of Christ. He further told them that Jesus was the incarnation of God, the father. The convinced priests accepted baptism from the hands of the Apostle.

My grandfather had told me that our family is the direct descendents of the second Brahmin priest in the above story, the Kalikavu.There are thousands of other Christian families in Kerala claiming to be the descendents of each of these four Brahmins. According to this tradition, Christianity came to Kerala before it reached Europe or even Rome.In the 4th century, these families moved to another village, 200 miles south of Palayur to a village called Kuravilagad. St. Thomas hadordained some priests from these families. In the following years due to lack of scriptural books and the absence of connection to an Apostolic See, these groups of Christians went through a difficult period. In 354 AD, a bishop Mar Joseph and 72 other Christian families under the leadership of a merchant named Thomas of Cana emigrated to Kerala from Mesopotamia and Jerusalem. Thomas of Cana ( where Jesus turned water into wine) was said to be a blood relative of Jesus. This immigration was a great revitalization for the local Christians. These 72 families were Jewish Christians, and their descendents to this day live in Kerala. They keep a separate identity from all other communities in Kerala. They are known as Kanaya Christians and are fiercely ethnic and practice endogamy.Christians of Kerala converted by St. Thomas accepted the Syriac (Aramaic) liturgy from this newly arrived group and apostolic benediction from the Patriarch of Antioch. Hence, the St. Thomas Christians of Kerala are also known as Syrian Christians of Kerala. Syriac- Aramaic was the language spoken at the time of Jesus Christ in Palestine and it was also the lingua franca for communication among many nations of the East. Even today Syrian Christians use this language in parts of their liturgy.In ancient manuscripts the Christian community in Kerala is sometimes referred to as Nazaranis, meaning the followers of Jesus who was from Nazareth. Foreign travelers have also called them, Malabar Christians, as the coastal region of Kerala is called Malabar. Malankara is another name for the coast.

How reliable is St. Thomas tradition, and the story of conversion of my ancestors?The tradition is that the apostle first landed in Kodungalore on the west coast of Kerala in 52 AD. His first followers were some of the local Jews and then a few of the indigenous people. He traveled south establishing 7 churches in Kerala. He continued his missionary journey to Malacca and China. He returned to India and was martyred in 72 A.D in Madras where his tomb still remains.Many historians think that the ancient Jews of Kerala were the descendants of Jews taken in captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Later when Cyrus, the king of Persia conquered Babylon he released the Jews, and some of them came to Kerala in 585 BC. There is enough evidence of a large Jewish colony in Kerala in the 1st century AD and there existed a continuous flow of trade between the Middle East and Kerala making the journey of the Apostle possible. Some of the early Christian converts of Kerala were probably from this Jewish community.The visit of St. Thomas to India is mentioned by many early church historians and also in the apocryphal book ' Acts of St. Thomas ' written by the Syrian Bardisan. (152-220 AD). Pantaenus, the governor of the school of faithful of Alexandria visited these Christians in 185 AD and left some references in his writings.Also, the presence of the Kanaya Christian community whose records indicate that their ancestors met St. Thomas Christians when they came to Kerala's shores in 345 AD is another strong evidence.In 552 AD, Cosmas Indicopleustus visited Kerala's coast and wrote about the presence of a Christian community there.In 1292, the famous Venetian traveler Marco Polo made the following interesting observation after a visit to the St. Thomas tomb in Madras." The Christians come here on pilgrimages from many places and gather some of the soil from this place where the Saint was killed, and this soil they take away with them to their countries. Now, if anyone falls ill of a tertian ague, or any other fever of anykind, they give him a portion made of this soil. As soon as the sick man drinks it, he is well again." Marco Polo further attests that he himself took some of this soil to Venice and cured many people. (Travels of Marco Polo by L.F. Benedetto translated by Aldo Ricci).Though this treatment is not available at present at the St. Thomas' tomb, it is a revered center of pilgrimage and still annually attracts thousands from all around the world.In the same year 1292, the Italian missionary priest John of Monte Corvino, who was a special representative of Pope Nicholas IV visited Kerala Christians on his way to China and stayed with them for 6 months. He writes that he was quite surprised because these Christians had never heard about the Pope. Their allegiance was to the church of Persia and Antioch.Two ancient inscribed copper plates in the possession of Kerala Christians and another copy of a copper plate kept in Cambridge museum in England are further proof of the antiquity of this community.

Let me continue the story of my ancestors. converted by St. Thomas in the Palayur village ,and later moved to the village of Kuravilagad in the 4th century.In Kuravilagad, they built a church with the assistance from the local ruler in 350 AD. Bishop Joseph who came with the Kana immigrants in 345 AD consecrated this church dedicated to St. Mary.My Christian ancestors lived in Kuravilagad and the surrounding areas for another millennium as farmers, merchants, and professionals, and they were well-respected members of the society.(It is about them, Gibbon wrote in his ' Decline and fall of Roman Empire ' " In arms, in arts, and possibly in virtue, they excelled the natives of Hindustan. Their husbandmen cultivated the palm trees, the merchants were enriched by pepper trade, and their soldiers preceded the other nobles of Malabar.")In 1498, when Portuguese merchants under the leadership of the great explorer Vasco Da Gamma came to Kerala, they were happy to see an indigenous group of Christians. But they soon realized that though these people were Christians, they were different from the Portuguese Christians. Portuguese were western Christians of the Latin rite who followed Pope of Rome.This was the period of inquisition in the Catholic Church and the Portuguese were very intolerant to other rites. Many local Christians became unhappy the way the Portuguese treated them, and many moved to the southern parts of Kerala, to be away from them. Kuravilagad was under the Northern kingdom, which was a protectorate of the Portuguese.

The Portuguese bishop of Goa, Dom Menezes came to Kerala in 1599 and from June 20- 24, he called for a meeting of the Kerala Christians. 153 local priests and 660 lay representatives attended these meetings and they were forced to accept the supremacy of the Latin Church. This is the infamous Synod of Diapore in the church history. Syrian Christians were forced to accept the hegemony of the Roman Church with the threat from the Portuguese soldiers and the power of the local king. Menezes visited many Kerala churches and burned much of the valuable ancient prayer books and other manuscripts because he considered them heresies.But as Portuguese were soon defeated by the Dutch in the Kerala coast, the local Christians who were waiting for an opportunity ,revolted against the Portuguese and the Latin domination of their church. The immediate provocation was when the Portuguese arrested a Syrian bishop Ahatulla from the holy land on his way to Kerala and took him to Goa as a prisoner. Somehow a rumor spread that the Portuguese drowned their bishop in the sea.On Friday, January 3, 1653, nearly 20,000 local Christians assembled in Mattachery, a port city near Cochin. They tied a long rope around a stone cross and touching the rope in a large human chain they took an oath that they or their children would never accept Portuguese or Latin hegemony over their church. This event is known in history as the Oath of Coonan Cross (leaning cross.)

The people unanimously elected their Archdeacon Thomas of the Pakalomittom family as their bishop. Later he was ordained by the visiting Mar Gregoriose, the bishop of Jerusalem under the Syrian (Jacobite) Patriarch of Antioch. At that time there were about 200,000 Christians in Kerala, and only 400 sided with the Portuguese.Soon Rome reviewed the situation more closely and started a conciliatory approach towards Syrian Christians. The Pope decreed that those who wanted could continue to practice the Syrian rite and liturgy. The Pope also sent an Italian bishop to Kerala and ordained a cousin of Arch Deacon Thomas from the Pakalomittom family as the first native Catholic bishop of Kerala.His name was Parampil Chandy Metran, or Bishop Alexander DeCampo as western historians refer to him. This caused a large number of rebelling Kerala Syrian Christians to return to the Roman Catholic Church. So for the first time there were two divisions with in the Syrian Christians of Kerala, one group following Rome, the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the other following the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.There were several confrontations between these two groups at that time. In one of those episodes in 1666 when a Portuguese bishop tried to enter the Kuravalagad Church, it unfortunately turned violent. The local ruler supported the Roman Catholic faction. The members of the original 4 Christian families were divided between these two factions. The faction that was rebelling against the papal group left Kuravilagad and moved further south to the southern kingdom, the Thekencore.

Thomas alias Oommen was my ancestor on the paternal side who lived 10 generations before me. He lived during this most turbulent period in the history of our community in Kerala. He strongly objected the Portuguese hegemony and the Latinisation of the Indian Church and he participated in Coonan Cross Oath of 1653. When the majority in his parish church, its vicar, and many of his relatives took pro- Papal position, Oommen Thomas was not prepared to compromise on his principles. If he had taken a position supporting the Portuguese and the Latin missionaries as many of his family members did, he could have avoided many of the financial and physical dangers. He even dared to take a position against the powerful local king. Finally when he found that he couldn't be true to the faith and traditions of his fathers if he obliged to the Portuguese power, he left Kuravilagad with a brother and a sister and came to Changanacherry, a town in central Kerala. It was only a distance of 60 miles, but this short distance of travel changed the destiny for his descendents.In Chaganachery Oommen lived in a house near the present municipal court given to him by the Raja of Theckencore. Oommen's brother became a priest and served the church in Chaganachery. At that time the churches in Chaganachery and Allepey Thathanpalli were branch churches (kurushupally) of Niranam church. Later these two churches joined Roman Catholicism.Oommen had two sons, Kuruvilla and Mathen. The second son, Mathen moved to Thiruvella and became the founding father of the Chalakuzhy family. He later died in a smallpox epidemic.

There are many versions about the origins of the family name " CHALAKUZHY ". The most likely versions are : The word " CHAAL " in Malayalam refers to " a water channel " used for irrigation and the word " KUZHY " refers to " a low lying piece of land. " The first home of our ancestors may have been on a low lying piece of land which had an irrigation channel passing through it. The name may also have its origins in the words " CHALAI " which means " MARKET " in the old Malayalam vernacular. Our ancestors may have accquired a low lying plot of land which was at that time used as a market place and hence they may have been referred to as the family that lived in the CHALAI-KUZHY. These are , of course , stories , based on conjencture and there is no hard evidence to prove either version.

Mr Abhilash Paulose Chalakuzhy grandson of Late C P Ninan the nephew of Chalakuzhy Paulose Mathen and His Grace the Most Rev Dr Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan which has its roots at Chalakuzhy Madom in Thiruvalla town in Kerala.

The arrival of faith in the resurrection of Christ in India in 52 AD is powerful evidence.  Indian Christians were represented at the council of Nicea, 325 AD.

The fact that the disciples faced death in support of their testimony of the resurrection is even greater evidence.  The proof of the resurrection is forever written in the blood of martyrs who died rather than deny their faith in the resurrected Savior. 

Yes, Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life.  He gives eternal hope to all who trust in Him.  

John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

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