Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reading the whole Bible: Gospels and Acts

These books are the most important parts of the Bible, about the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Who really is Jesus Christ? Before I became a Christian and opened and studied the Bible, I thought he was only a mythical, pie-in-the-sky figure who people believe in to have someone to blame for their problems, a kind of genie who will provide what you want. I realized that I was actually ignorant and just believed what popular media, atheist professors, and my prejudices about Christians tell me who Jesus is.

I thought that the best way to know a person is not through gossip and rumors but go straight to the source: the Bible.

When someone introduced Christianity to me and invited me to church, I was open and curious, though still a bit skeptical. I even resented that friend before, thinking that she didn't really want me as a friend but she just wanted to win a new 'convert'. She told me that I should start with the Gospel of John, as it was written so that people may believe. So I read John, and at first I was amazed at how well-written it was. At that time, I may have read a hundred books since high school, but I never really thought about the most popular book in the world (the Bible). Even in my heart it was still nothing but beautiful fiction.

I only started defining myself as Christian at 19, I look back and I realize that my real turning point is accidentally playing Jonah (yes, the prophet!) for a college class, in front of Kindergarten students! I wrote the script and the assigned actress didn't have time to memorize it, so I was pushed to the role because I knew the script and could improvise! Even if it was silly, I felt transformed by the story as I acted the trials of Jonah. Despair inside the dark whale, and reaching Nineveh and accepting God's assignment... it was the beginning of my journey back to God.

It was not until all the challenges has last year did I commit myself to reading the Bible and try my best to align my life according to the Word.

John 3:16 is the most popular and most memorized verse of the Bible as it is a perfect and concise description of who Jesus is:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
While Matthew, Luke, and Mark tell the same story with different variations, John diverted from their narratives and said that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. Here we see Jesus perform miracles, preach through parables, and question the hypocrisy of the religious establishment of his day.

God only forgives through the sacrifice of animals. The Bible says that Jesus was the 'perfect' sacrifice as God's son, who will die to end man's rebellion once and for all. Now, God has broken the divide and drawn us close to him, and whoever believes in Jesus and has faith and obeys him is also welcome in God's kingdom. Jesus died as man, as a sacrifice for sin, then he rose again in a new form, a heavenly form. This is God's gift to us: as he revived his Son, and all those who believe in Him will take part in his Kingdom when the physical world will pass away.

Reading the Bible, we see that Jesus was truly a man of wisdom. He had the correct answer to every problem, and even when the religious establishment of the time questioned him, they only marveled at his answers.

At the stoning of a sinful woman, he said that whoever who has not sinned should cast the first stone. No one raised a hand against the woman! And Jesus, who was the son of God and had not sinned, who had every right to punish her, forgave her and told her to go and sin no more! I am also moved by his healings, that whoever believed in Christ's power that they can be healed, were healed through their faith.

There are ten commandments, but Jesus said that there are only two important commandments: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. This is where the ten commandments are based, but human as we are, we can't even love and forgive our neighbors that easy! In reading the actual words of Jesus, I felt cut through the heart. Love and grace so undeserved, a message that one can't help but share to others.

The story isn't over with Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension. The book of Acts is the book of the Holy Spirit, telling of the spread of the Church, along with the persecutions that believers had to endure in the name of Christ. The apostle Paul, once the foremost persecutor of believers, was blinded by God so he can see the truth! Without Paul and his ministry, we wouldn't have this message for today. And until now, the Holy Spirit is at work at our everyday lives to bring us closer to Christ.

I believe that one should at least read these books, they carry the most important message of Christianity.

In conclusion, as I always write, the study of the Bible is not merely in reading and and knowing but in doing and believing. I just started my in-depth study of the Word late last year, and it would take a lifetime to study this. In reading His word, I felt my heart change and this growth will continue until our death. This life is merely a test, a temporary thing. I think it is a wasted life not to know about Jesus. I also would like to share Jesus to others, but I myself is in the process of growing and learning. The Word is indeed a sword that cuts through our hearts and exposes us! So I encourage you to read it and see for yourself.

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