POWER OF THE REMNANT
Charles Spurgeon preaching from the text Mt.28:19 "All power is given unto Me", said: you have a factor here that is absolutely infinite. Any fool can say, I will do as much as I can. But he that believes in Christ's power does what he cannot do. He moves on to attempt the impossible."
Faith in Jesus truly has the genius of transforming the barely possible into actuality.
When William Carey arrived on the Indian shore in 19th century, this is what he exactly believed. Otherwise how else would you think of a man who was rejected to be a missionary by the Baptist Missionary Board to become the father of Modern Missions?
If we do not trust in the power of Christ that He can turn the impossible into possible, our desire to be in the missions does not have a good foundation and is devoid of primary motivation.
As I go around visiting churches, it looks to me as though the present day missions has been badly crippled and looks almost like an old Jalopy stuck in the mud! Some missions program needs a push, probably a hauling.
Please read the following question, brush up your memory of church history and tell me who this gutsy, pioneer was. He brought a great revival, won tens of thousands of souls, and planted churches among the poor.
He said, "When has religion since the time of Constantine, the Great, made so large a progress in any nation within so short a time?"
John Wesley had the holy audacity and the divine grace to claim what only a few others in the history of the Christian church have been able to do. It was an incredible mission.
It is not that there were no great preachers in Wesley's day. In fact God had raised several men of God who did exploits for Him during that period. Very famous among them was a dynamic preacher and a prolific soul winner, George Whitefield. But amidst all this, John Wesley accomplished an amazing mission for the Lord.
Then there were the Moravians whose contribution to world missions was immensely phenomenal. They taught the whole world and their history is teaching us even today that a handful of people under the influence of the Holy Spirit can accomplish much.
THE MISSIONS OF THE REMNANT
Just think of this. Here was an Anglo-Saxon community of 600 migrants living in a rented facility of a man called Count Zinzendorf in Germany which dared to impact the world for Christ. They never thought they were a small community and that the task was too great for them. And today we can trace their footprints in many nations of the world.
This was creative mission carried out by the remnant of the Lord when the church was literally decaying. They were a small group of people and had a colossal mission in hand.
If China or Indian became a Christian country today, world evangelization would become easier. Reaching the whole world for them would not be a difficult mission. 1 billion people reaching 6 billion people may not really need a creative apostolic mission.
But if a handful of people wanted to reach the world for Christ, it would call for a creative apostolic mission.
I have referred to three great movements in history: Moravians, Willing Carey, and John Wesley. Carey's church was small, John Wesley's church very small when compared to today's Methodism and the Moravians were a small community. But their missions movement was much bigger. This was creative mission. By the time John Wesley died, he had won as many as 140,000 people to Christ.
I have been dreaming about two things for quite some time now: First, God enabling, to baptize 2999 people on a single day. It is because I do not want to be presumptuous to break the Pentecost record.
Second, to be able to help at least 140,000 people or more follow Christ in my life time. I am sure John Wesley must be happily turning sides in the grave to know this desire of a servant of Christ from a third world country.
WE NEED THE EXASPERATION
I do not understand why we cannot do this kind of exploits for the kingdom in mission. Why missions should be a struggle and a burden to us?
If our lifestyle is motivated by the love of Christ, if winning people to Christ is at the heart of all those who belong to our church, missions will not be a problem to us.
Did you ever hear of missions becoming a problem to Apostle Paul? Rather Paul was a problem to missions. Acts 17:16 says, When he saw the city given over to idols, he was exasperated in the spirit.
We need this exasperation and a sweating in the spirit.
If we belong to an apostolic movement charged with the task of reaching new populations of people, missions will not be a problem to us. We can achieve the barely possible into actuality.
The missions statement of every church forcefully suggests aggressive evangelism and planting new churches among the nations of the world. The Missions statement of a church is a declaration of purpose that explains its uniqueness. And if we have been a part of this aggressive mission, missions will not be a problem to us.
THE UNIQUENESS OF OUR MISSION
Marketing Guru Jack Trout in his book "Differential or Die" says, to survive in a world of killer competition, you have to differentiate or die. Differentiation is about the life and the death of a movement.
For example, there are many people who own the business of selling cows in India. Now if you started a Holy Cow business without a differentiation, your business is sure to go downhill, because all the cows in India are considered holy.
Your holy cow will not make a difference to the buyer. It has no uniqueness. In order to sustain your business, you must project your uniqueness. You may have to produce an USP like, a Jersey Cow giving 5 gallons of milk a day or a Miracle Cow that recites John 3:16 or Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scriptures). Your market will then quickly grow up to new heights.
Differentiation makes a business successful. Differentiation makes a mission productive.
As the remnant of the Lord, we must have a declaration of purpose that is unique. That makes us a unique people.
Here is the missions statement of a church: "To make known to all people everywhere God's call to wholeness through forgiveness and holiness in Jesus Christ, and to invite into membership and to equip for ministry all who respond in faith."
That must be the normal life of a church. That is our uniqueness. We have an identity that differentiates our life and mission.
We believe local church is God's instrument to transform society and the local leaders are to be trusted with the privilege and responsibility of fulfilling our core values. That would be creative mission.
PEOPLE BY PEOPLE STRATEGY
My research says, 100 years before McGavran talked about indigenous people movement, John Wesley talked about it and Moravians sent missionaries to different parts of the world to plant the banner of Christ among the new people.
The concept of people group movement has greatly developed through the past few decades. We have the strategy, the skill, the technology, the man power, and the innovative methods. All that we need to do is to translate our concept into action.
Somebody has well said, Evangelism is a concept and evangelization is the action. Until our concept is galvanized into serious action, missions will remain dormant.
We need to believe with Isaiah, that the Lord is doing a new thing in the world today and continually moving among some people to prepare a harvest that we can gather (Isa.40:9). We must desire to be there where God is doing a new thing.
God's people need to be challenged everywhere and bring out the remnant to become more productive and cooperate in creative mission, offering help and hope to a world in need.
In Jesus' days, people followed different kinds of religious traditions. Jesus was very aware of the worshippers of Sun god, gods of Amorites, Baal and Ashtaroth, gods of philistine, gods of Syria, and the religion practiced by the children of Ammon.
There were many countries and many religions in the world in Jesus' time. But He carefully chose to provide space for "ethnos" or ethnic groups in the Great Commission.
Many religions which were there in Jesus' days have become extinct. New religions have come into existence and they too may pass soon. Therefore reaching a religious group was not in the mission of Jesus.
Many countries have emerged with different names today. Zambia and Zembabwe were one country (Rhodesia) before. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan were one vast country in the past. There was a time, India itself was not existent as one nation. There were several smaller independent kingdoms.
When the American and European missionaries came to India in pre-independence era before 1947, they did a great work among the unreached people groups. They had a people group strategy. I am a fruit, a product of the movement that was initiated by the Canadian Baptist mission. Their work has grown and sustained in Orissa even to this day.
Some Missions Agencies which thought they had done enough in countries like India and Rhodesia withdrew their bases but surprisingly rushed to newer nations like Bangladesh and Zambia. It frustrates me that we have missed such vital, clear cut strategy of the Great Commission. We are not persuaded to give an international image to our agencies by going to a new country or reaching out a new religion, rather we are commissioned to disciple the nations (ethnos) of the world. It is an ethno after ethno strategy.
Jesus knew the complexity of the mission. He had a strategy in mind: not country after country, or religion after religion but a people after a people.
This is creative mission. This is where we belong.
CREATIVE MISSION HASTENS THE LORD'S COMING!
I have talked with many church leaders around the world about some of the most difficult tribes and the peoples; about 300 tribes that need enlightenment of Jesus' gospel. But the response often has not been encouraging. People can sponsor 10 children in an orphanage at a higher cost but cannot help 10 people hear the good news.
The heart's desire of Jesus as revealed to Apostle John was to have a church among every people, every tribe, and every language so they may stand before the throne on the last day according to Revelation 7:9. Only creative apostolic mission can accomplish this great work God expects us to do for His kingdom
Last January, Bill Gates gave a ground breaking speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. His talk was entitled - Creative Capitalism. Ever since, the entire world of corporate is talking about it. It took 30 years for this world's leading Capitalist to realize that capitalism wasn't working all that good for almost half of the people on earth.
He believes, corporate have the skill and the technical innovation to help the poor. He has challenged the corporate houses to become productive and share a portion of their profits to fight poverty and aids in the world.
I do not know how far the creative capitalism is going to help the world fight poverty and diseases but I believe creative mission can help the world follow Jesus and thereby alleviate the sufferings of the world.
I am therefore encouraging the remnant of God's people everywhere to enroll in creative missions, come together in unity, share our resources, and our expertise to impact the world for Christ and accomplish the Great Commission by discipling the ethnos.
"This gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations (Gk. ethnos) and then shall the end come" (Matt.23:14).
TO OBEY IS BETTER
A Message by Bishop Joab Lohara, Ph.D.
Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
and stubbornness is as iniquity, and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king" (1Sam 15:23)
My heart trembles with fear every time I read this passage. Saul was a choice young man, the heart-throb of Israel. Tall and handsome he had a debonair personality. There was none in whole of Israel who was goodlier than him. At first sight, Prophet Samuel was so very impressed by his person that he had no doubt God had chosen him to be the king. In fact God himself whispered into Samuel’s ear that he was the man chosen to be the king of Israel.
Saul was not only a handsome young man, he was also a humble man. When Samuel revealed the plan of God for Saul, he remarked: "Am I not a Benjaminite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?" 1Sam 9:21
Then when he was declared among his people as the king of Israel, he went and hid himself. His family member had to search him out from among the equipments. 1Sam 10:22
Saul had a superb military talent. God wanted to harness the ability of this young man to deliver the children of Israel from the hands of the Amalekites.
Saul was not a prophet but God favored him with the spirit of prophecy. On one occasion, he prophesied like a prophet to surprise the school of prophets (1Sam 10:10). Saul had the raw material to be a good leader: he had the appearance, he had courage, and he was action-oriented. He was the ideal visual image of a king.
We can hardly understand why such a man could be rejected by God? In fact when God told Samuel that He had rejected Saul, he was angry with God and pleaded with him the whole night so as to change the mind of God. When I read this story, I become very anxious to know the reason for his rejection. It is such a fearful thing to be cast out by God himself.
You must remember my friend that a man’s capability is not his suitability. God is not deceived by our outward piety and the show case mentality. He is never impressed by our contemporary, compromising culture.
When the tendency of our personality goes contrary to the purposes of God, we are done. Our impression could be deceptive, especially when the image created by our appearance is contradicted by our qualities and abilities.
That is why honesty is so important in our relationships with God and others. We can deceive man but trying to deceive God is presumptuous. The super cheat Jacob himself had to confess the reality of his life before the almighty God: I am Yaqoob, a supplanter.
God had the best of the plan for Saul and his kingdom. He wanted him to enjoy life and progress with him. But he aborted the plan of God by his life of disobedience. If a man chosen by God wanted to set his mind ruthlessly and relentlessly against His will, how can God work on his behalf? If he declared war against the purposes of God, how can He bless him?
Saul had rejected the word of God and had no regard for Him. He turned down the words of mercy that came from His throne. Therefore God could not walk with him anymore and have him as his representative. 1Sam 12:16
As we read on through his Saul, we realize that God did not just reject Saul but He took away the spirit from you. And an evil spirit came and tormented him. From being God-possessed, he became devil-possessed. Terrible state of affair for man chosen by God!
Why should God take away the Spirit from him? He did not commit murder or adultery. That was not the sin for which God withdrew himself from Him. Saul ignored and rejected the word of God and provoked Him out of his life. When we abandon God, we become wicked. We don’t listen to Him anymore. Isa.40:30
The classic case of disobedience in the Old Testament comes from the life of King Saul. We come across three major events in his life that indicated public disobedience to God.
I. THE FIRST PUBLIC DISOBEDIENCE OF SAUL: HIS UNLAWFUL SACRIFICE
1 Samuel 13
The troops of Israel gathered for war with the Philistines (v. 1-4).
The Philistines assembled a huge force. The people of Israel were "distressed." They began to tremble and hide. Samuel had said he would come but he delayed. Saul was in haste. He offered the burnt offering to ensure the success in battle in the place of Samuel.
Samuel arrived and questioned Saul about the sacrifice. Saul's had no words but excuse. He said: I felt compelled to offer up the sacrifice, because our people were scattering.
Samuel said, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God" (Chap. 13:13). You were told to wait but you were in great haste.
The fear exhibited by the Israelites was uncalled for. God was on their side, and He is on our side. It was not Saul’s battle. Some advocate "situation ethics." If such reasoning were valid, God would have excused Saul. God wants men and women to go "after His own heart."
There was a time in David’s life, when the Philistines were waging war. He had just finished a battle when they attacked the Israelites again.
2 Sam 5:22-25 says: “Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, "You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, and then you shall advance quickly. For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines. And David did so, as the LORD commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.”
If David could wait, why not Saul? Why not you and me?
II. THE SECOND DISOBEDIENCE OF SAUL: HE SPARES THE CATTLE AND THE KING OF AMALEKITES, 1 Sam. 15
Samuel commanded Saul to heed the words of the Lord and destroy the Amalekites and their livestock. Saul attacked the Amelekites but spared king Agag and the best of the livestock.
Then Saul set up a monument to him and claimed that he performed the commandment of the Lord. It grieved Samuel. He spoke to Saul: "When you were little in your own eyes, God chose you to be the king. But you have done evil in His eyes.
There are some significant lessons to be learned from Saul's disobedience.
A. Talking is not Obedience. (1 Samuel 15:13)
A. Talk is cheap." - It is easy to talk. It is easy to say, "I love the Lord, I love my brethren, I am willing to die if need be. How many people today talk about salvation yet they have not obeyed the Lord. Jesus once said: why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do the things which I say (Luke 6:46).
B. Partial Obedience is Complete Disobedience.
1. Saul "obeyed" God with two exceptions: Agag the King and the best of the flocks and herds. Saul's partial obedience was complete disobedience. Saul had not obeyed God. A person may do a lot of good works, but never obeys the Gospel, it is not obedience (Mark 10:17-22). Jesus said to the rich young rulers: "One thing you lack..." That was partial obedience and the young many did not qualify to be a member of God’s family.
C. Saul blamed the people (1 Samuel 15:19). It was Saul and the people.
But who said majority action Justifies Disobedience. Aaron and the people worshipped the golden calf and God said they were a stiff-necked people. (Exodus 32:1-5, 28; 33:7).
D. Worthy Objectives do not always justify Disobedience.(I Sam. 15:21)
This is when we try to think for God in order to justify things we don't understand or agree with. Many people try to justify unholy marriages. They try to justify bribe.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary says, Disobedience the condition of being incorrigible. Its meaning in the New Testament is that of obstinate rejection of the will of God.
Samuel used two synonyms for disobedience which give insight into the meaning: rebellion and stubbornness (1 Samuel 15:23).
God commanded utter destruction of the Amalekites because they were like a band of guerilla terrorists. They lived by attacking other nations and carrying off their wealth and families. They were the first to attack the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land and continued to raid Israelite camp at every opportunity.
God knew they could never live peacefully in the Promised Land as long as the Amalekites existed. He also knew that their corrupt, idolatrous religious practices threatened Israel’s relationship with him. The only way to protect their bodies and souls was to destroy the people of this evil nation and all their possessions including their idols.
Though Saul was told to destroy everything, he kept part of the spoils, including the choicest cattle. When Samuel arrived, he could see and hear the evidence of Saul’s wrong actions. He confronted Saul. And Saul’s response was the spoils taken were to be sacrificed to God. He said, People have saved some as sacrifice. All the cattle were under the ban. That means they were declared profane and doomed to destruction, thus not fit for sacrifice.
Saul said it was not his fault. The people spared them as though it could have been done without the express orders of Saul. It was a sorry subterfuge of an impenitent heart that will not confess his guilt, and then put the blame on others. It was with good intention of sacrifice unto our God. This is like saying, I stole the money so I could put it in the offering plate in the church.
Cattle of the Midianites were taken for a prey during Moses’ time and why not the cattle of the Amalekites now (Num 31:32).
There is a tribe called the Yerukulas in Andhra Pradesh. They have the practice of plundering the neighborhood for their survival. Before they set out on such journey, they gather before the statue of their God and pray for success.
Saul and his men did not destroy all the booty from the battle as God commanded (15:3). Anything under God’s ban was to be completely destroyed (Deut.20:16-18). To break this law was equivalent to idolatry and was punishable by death (Josh 7). It showed disrespect and disregard for God because it directly violated his command and involved taking what was not devoted to him.
When we gloss over sin in order to protect what we have or for material gain, we are not being shrewd; we are disobeying God’s law. We must not forget, selective obedience or delayed obedience amounts to disobedience.
Saul’s heart no longer belonged to God but to his own interest. Saul thought he had won a great victory over the Amalekites, but God saw it as a great failure because he had disobeyed him and then lied to Samuel about the results of the battle. Saul may have thought his lie would not be detected or that what he did was not wrong.
Dishonest people soon begin to believe the lie they construct around themselves. Then they lose the ability to tell the difference between telling the truth and lying. By believing your own lies, you will begin a life of alienation from God.
If we are not responsibly looking after what God has entrusted to us, we will eventually run out of excuses. All of us must one day give an account for our actions. (Rom 14:10-13).Samuel was very upset with Saul. His heart heavy with grief, he said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams 23 for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."
Was Samuel saying that sacrifice is unimportant? No. He was urging Saul to look at his reasons for making the sacrifice, rather than at the sacrifice itself. A sacrifice was a ritual transaction between man and God that physically demonstrated a relationship between them. But if the person’s heart was not truly repentant or if he did not truly love God, the sacrifice was a hollow ritual.
Religious ceremonies or rituals are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. Being religious (going to church, praying, giving to charity) is not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.
Rebellion and stubbornness are serious sins. They involve far more than being independent and strong minded. Scripture equates them with witchcraft and idol worship, sins worthy of death (Ex 22:18; Lev 206; Deut 13:12-15; 18:10; Micah 5:10-14).
Since Saul became so rebellious and stubborn, it is little wonder that God finally rejected him and took away his kingdom. Rebellion against God is more than a choice, privilege or option; it is serious sin that robs people the joys and benefits of life.
In true religion, conduct and character come before the external observance of worship, especially those who have no intrinsic spiritual value.
There was a change in Saul. He turned back from following God. It was the partiality of his obedience and prevalence of his covetousness that brought his downfall.
Saul had set up a triumphal arch and some monument of his victory at Carmel, seeking his own honor more than the honor of God and also that he had marched in great state to Gilgal with a great deal of pomp and parade.
The humble, sincerely and conscientious obedience to the will of God is more pleasing and acceptable than the burnt offering and sacrifice.
It is much easier to bring a bullock or a lamb to be burnt upon the altar than to bring every high thought into obedience to God and to the subject to his will. That nothing is as provoking to God as disobedience.
That is called rebellion and stubbornness and is said to be as bad as witchcraft and idolatry. This is the malignity of sin. It is the transgression of the law. Consequently it is enmity to God. Rom 8:7
III. THE THIRD OBEDIENCE OF SAUL: HE CONTACTS A MEDIUM, 1 Sam 28:7
Yet another time when Saul displayed a public disobedience was when he approached a witchdoctor to know his future. He was desperate for a revelation.
Prophet Samuel was dead by now. God did not answer Saul. But if he had humbled himself by repentance and perseverance who know God could have shown mercy. But since he can discern no comfort either from heaven or earth, he resolves to knock at the gates of hell and to see if any they will befriend him and give him advice.
“Get me a woman that has a familiar sprit,” cried Saul.
Occult practices were carried on in the name of pagan gods and people turned to the occult for answers that God would not give. Practitioners of occult have Satan and demons as the source of their information. God does not reveal his will to them. Instead he spoke through the prophets and still speaks today through His word.
God had strictly forbidden the Israelites to have anything to do with black magic, fortune tellers, witches, wizards or anyone who claimed to bring forth spirit from the dead. In fact, sorcerers were to be put to death.
Look at what Moses had to say about the spiritists and mediums:
De 18:9 "When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 "or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 "For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you” (Exo.22:18).
God brought man into the world and placed him in a garden. After some time, he thought he had grown big enough to walk out of the garden and defy God, His creator. He had no existence without him. Yet he loved to keep company with those who worked against the purposes of God.
A Christian ought to keep his ambitions and desires holy. God is moving among His people. We need to be honest before Him. He wants to invite us to enter into an experience that could revolutionize our lives (2Sam 5:24). God has always touched and anointed man to change the generation. And He wants to touch you now.
Are you willing to obey the Lord, my friend? Obedience is better than sacrifice.
THE DEATH DIES IN
BY BISHOP JOAB LOHARA
SOME THING DIVINE AND EXTRA-ORDINARY
HAPPENED ON THE EASTER
MORNING – THE DEATH ITSELF WAS DEAD!
With the occurrence of an earthquake on the first Easter morning, everything and everybody looked dead, except the risen Christ. Something divine and extra-ordinary happened – the death itself was dead.
The empty tomb was the manifestation of the awesome power of God. Power of the one and the only one who said, I am the Resurrection and the Life.
The violent earthquake caused by the coming of an angel of the victorious Christ, the gorgeous appearance of this heavenly being and the very warm and cordial invitation to the tomb “come and see” brought rapturous feeling to a believing soul.
The resurrection of Jesus was not a hidden truth, nor was it ever fabricated. Check it out for yourself was the challenge of the angel: “Come and see where he lay. He is risen indeed!”
Many have tried to examine the truth ever since. Lew Wallace who had set out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus and the conversion of Apostle Paul ended up writing that great classic “BENHUR”, proving beyond all doubt that Jesus had risen.
On that first Easter morning, standing near the open tomb, the disciples would have been exposed to a horrible stench released from the decomposed, decaying body of Jesus. This is why and how Martha had protested near the tomb of her brother Lazarus: “Do not remove the stone. He must be stinking.”
LIFE PRESERVED BY POWER
OF GOD DOES NOT STINK
But a life that is preserved by the power of God does not stink. If you know any Christian whose life has been decaying, then there is no doubt his spiritual vitality is sucked out. His hope, desire and excitement is dried. He could very well be outside the embrace of that power. We must never forget, our God the Lord of Life and is able to breathe His Spirit and enliven us from despair to hope and from death to life.
Recalling the gloriousness of this day, the Apostle Paul cried, “Death is swallowed up in victory! Where is your victory, O death, where is your sting?” (1Cor.15:55)
Newspapers and TV channels are being inundated every day by the death culture of our time. Our society lives in fear of war, killings, debts, hunger and diseases. They all hit the headlines.
We do not understand why the culture of resurrection does not surface anywhere. People do not want to talk about the power of resurrection. If you look through the gospels and the epistles, it was the dominant thought of the early church, the primary subject of the preaching of the apostles and the foundation of Christian church. It was the only anchor of hope for a dying world.
JOB REFUSED TO BELIEVE
IN A CULTURE OF DEATH!
My friends, when our life is dry, devoid of any life, the marrow within is withered away and there is no moisture found, it is deader than a dead life. When people are unsaved in the church, church is interested only in being a society, evil is rampant and young people are wayward and ungodly, we need the touch of resurrection power.
When we have more desire for the world than God, when our children are out of home way past midnight enjoying the pleasures of sin, and our sons and daughters have no motivation in life, we need the power of resurrection.
When people are dishonest, proud and rebellion, we need to hear the voice of the Lord of Life. He is Jehovah Jireh, I am that I am and the Rock of our salvation. For Him, nothing, yes nothing is impossible.
He is the Giver of Life, the Heart Fixer, the Mind Regulator and the Maker of Destiny. Job was taken almost to the point of death and extreme suffering. But this man of God refused to live in a culture of death. With great triumph in his voice, he announced to the whole world, “I know my Redeemer lives and in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:35). What a faith of victory!
With the same expression shouted King David, “I fear no evil even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… for you are with me (Ps.23:4).
When the hand of the Lord was upon Ezekiel, he set him among the dry bones and his preaching defied the physical sciences because he had the vision to believe in the resurrection. Even for the Apostles of Jesus, resurrection was the backbone to Christian faith: “If Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain.”
The living word of the Risen Savior can penetrate anything and anybody. It can raise us from our slumber, failures, unfruitfulness, bankcruptcy, injustice, persecution and even from death itself. To Paul, it was the reality effect. On the road to Emmaus, the hearts of the disciples burned as they heard the words of the Redeemer (Lk.24:32). This was the experience of John Wesley as well. “My heart was strangely warmed,” said the Wesleyan father.
We need to come to Jesus at this easter time and warm up our hearts in order to be able to go out and effectively share with the world the blessing and the power of resurrection.
“Come and see, then Go and tell!”
Thou hast conquered, Galilean. -Julian the Apostate
Jesus Christ, the condescension of divinity and the exaltation of humanity. --Phillip Brooks
The dying Jesus is the evidence of God's anger toward sin; but the living Jesus is the proof of God's love and forgiveness. –Eifert
The argument for the risen Christ is the living followers of Christ. --Winifred Kirkland
In his life, Christ is an example showing us how to live; in His death, He is a sacrifice satisfying for our sins; in His resurrection, a conqueror; in His ascension, a king; in His intercession, a high priest. --Martin Luther
He did not come to conquer by force of armies and physical weapons but by love planted in the hearts of individuals. –Melton
If Shakespeare should come into this room, we would all rise; but if Jesus Christ should come in we would all kneel. -Charles
Lamb No man can follow Christ and go astray. --Frederic W. Farrar
Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Dan 12:2.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I Cor. 15:22.
DO WE NEED TO BE THANKFUL?
A Message by Dr. Joab Lohara, Ph.D.
“Sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a thankless child.” These words of William Shakespeare may sound somewhat harsh for the people of the postmodern era. But isn’t there a lot of truth in what said?
For a Christian, gratefulness involves reveling in the grace of God as evident in the blessings He offers. If people think, they have earned some thing, it is hard to be thankful. If we think people owe us a good work, it is hard to be thankful. If someone thinks he/she deserved a benefit, it is certainly hard to be thankful.
The word thanksgiving comes from two Greek words- ek (good), and charis (grace). This compound term demonstrates a connection of thanksgiving as a response to the manifestation of God’s grace.
DISCONTENT HUMAN NATURE
In spite of God’s faithfulness to provide all that we need, human nature is always discontent. There is a craving desire for more. On the other hand, man’s heart is habitually insensible to the providence of the Almighty God. He can easily forget the source from which the blessings flow.
Think of the wilderness experience of the people of Israel. When Manna rained from heaven, it was a wonder to every one. They all loved that food. But soon they started insulting the divine provision. They seemed to prefer the supply of Pharaoh in Egypt more than the providence of God.
Ungratefulness comes from the attitude that we can be better off without God. We become unmindful of the very character of our God that He is faithful and His faithfulness never changes.
Duet 26:1-11 gives a detailed description of thanksgiving offering of first fruits. This offering was not optional. It was to be offered separately over and above the tithes.
Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 exhorted the followers of Jesus to give thanks in every thing. In joy or sorrow, laughter or tears, morning or midnight, in victory or defeat, in prosperity or in want, in success or failure, there should be praises on the lips of a believer in Christ.
SILENCE OF GRATITUDE
A related story is recorded in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus saw ten men who were affected with leprosy en route Jerusalem. That was in an age when a leprous man could not come within 300ft. of other people. These men pleaded with Jesus to heal them. And He complied with their request.
Jesus then advised them to go and present themselves before the priests. The priests who served in the temple were the ones who could examine and declare them clean. This declaration not only confirmed they were cured but it also gave them the long-desired acceptance to return to the mainstream of the society as dignified humans.
The miracle of healing also gave them the happiness of reunion with their families and friends. But nine of the ten men were so overwhelmed with the miracle that they forgot the Master of the miracle.
The scripture says, only one man broke the silence of gratitude. Only one person had the faith to be healed in the body and the soul. He did not care who heard him or saw him. He shouted all the way to Jesus and glorified God.
Friends, it is shouting time if we have been blessed. If the Lord saved, changed, healed or provided, it is time to give God the praise and the glory. We should never forget all blessings flow from him.
IS GOD PRAISE-HUNGRY?
In a recent meeting of university students, a student enquired: “Is the God of Christians praise-hungry? You people always talk about praising Him!”
Well, what else can you do? If you saw the magnanimity of an emperor who stopped by to rescue a drowning child from the sea waters, would you think of paying him a check for the services he offered? If you knew he was the emperor, gift check wouldn’t match his majesty. Would it?
What else can you do? Would you wait for an opportunity for the emperor to drown some day so you could reciprocate his services? Who knows, such an opportunity may never come?
What can you do then? Would it be considered incongruous to a noble mind to say “thank you” to the emperor who saved your life?
We must remember, we do not make God any more glorious by praising Him nor do we diminish his glory by insulting Him. He is God, self-existent, and absolute. Our praise and thanksgiving are only a feeble expression of who He is and what gives us so freely every day.
If we are well and alive today, it is because God made a difference in our lives. He became our provider, our victory, our Protector. He preserves us through trials and temptations seen and unseen. I went for a routine health check recently. The doctor knew I was a religious person. He talked religiously and made a statement that unfolded new appreciation to life: “After 50, every day is the grace of God.” How true!
POWER OF THANKGIVING
The one leprous man who returned to express his gratitude to Jesus, we are told, was a man of Samaria, a foreigner and a gentile. The other ‘holy folks’ who were healed perhaps raced home after the temple service to party with their families and friends. Jesus remained forgotten, completely out of their schedule. Even today, not many Christians stop by to offer their sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.
Faith in God has been the foundation of Christian living. We reflect on the fact that we live because Jesus lives. A Christian is an amazing person because he has in him Jesus-consciousness and realizes that the life he now lives is no more his but Christ’s. It is not difficult for such a person to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
“God is our praise,” said Moses. “He hath done for us great and wonderful things, which our eyes have seen” (Dt.10:21). “Praise is comely for the upright,” said David in Ps.33:1. “Those who are rooted and built up in the faith of Jesus abound in thanksgiving,” said the Apostle Paul (Col 2:7).
In line with these precious hearts of praise, wrote Fanny J. Crosby:
“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.”
The earth will hear the praise of His name, when we are thankful, thankful to one another and to the Lord. Our congregations and ministries must be replenished with praising people. Praising glorifies the Lord and when He is pleased, He would come down to be present among His people. He is the Lord of hosts. His army of angels will follow him and encamp wherever He goes.
What a power it brings to the camp of believers indeed! This is a reality not many have begun to comprehend.
WHO IS AGAINST PRAISE?
The devil is the one who does not like the praise of God; he wants to promote his own praise. He even tried that with Jesus in the wilderness. If Jesus had bowed down and worshipped him, he would have announced to the whole world that he was worthy of worship because the very Creator God had worshipped him. Therefore if there is hesitation or restraint on the part of a believer to be released in the spirit of praise, it could be that Satan has his finger on the snooze button. We need to be aware of that and pray that the spirit of worship and praise may be released among the people of God every where. Let the earth hear the voice of praise.
Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded empires; but upon what do these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love; and to this very day millions would die for Him.
The sages and heroes of history are receding from us, and history contrasts the record of their deeds into a narrower page. But time has no power over the name and deeds and words of Jesus Christ.
I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Clothes Make a Church
A Methodist church tried to get a man to attend, but he never did. “Why don't you come?” the minister asked, and the man finally admitted it was because he didn't have proper clothes. So a member of the congregation took him to a clothing store and got him a nice suit, shirt, tie, and shoes.
But on the following Sunday, he still did not show up. So the minister visited him again and asked why he didn't come.
“When I got dressed up in my new suit,” the man explained, “I looked so good I decided to go to the Episcopal church.”
A Better Speaker
A pastor was asked to speak for a certain charitable organization. After the meeting the program chairman handed the pastor a check. “Oh, I couldn't take this,” the pastor said with some embarrassment. “I appreciate the honor of being asked to speak. You have better uses for this money. You apply it to one of those uses.”
The program chairman asked, “Well, do you mind if we put it into our Special Fund?” The pastor replied, “Of course not. What is the Special Fund for?” The chairman answered, “It's so we can get a better speaker next year.”
A traveler was found by a U.S. Customs official to be carrying a half-gallon bottle in from Mexico. The official asked the man what it contained. The traveler replied, “It's just holy water. I took it from the shrine I visited.” The inspector was suspicious and opened the bottle and took a sniff. He shouted, “This isn't holy water, it's tequila!” The traveler lifted his eyes to the sky and cried out, “Good heavens! Yet another miracle.”
HERE COMES SHILOH!
A Message by Dr. Joab Lohara, Ph.D.
Every birth of a living child is a marvelous event. Because it brings into existence a souls that shall never die. But never was a birth as marvelous as the birth of Jesus. When God was manifest in the flesh, it was an unexplainable miracle.
Apostle Paul writing to Timothy said, “Beyond all question, great is the mystery of godliness: He appeared in the flesh and was vindicated by the spirit” (1Tim.3:16).
There are some peoplewho do not want to believe that God could have appeared in the flesh in human form, simply because it cannot be explained. A prominent Christian leader once said…
A. That he did not believe the Bible to be the word of God.
B. He did not believe the virgin birth of Jesus.
C. He did not believe Jesus to be the only Savior because these truths are not
I do not understandwhat else he believed as a leader of the Christian church.
MIRACLE IN GOD’S CREATION
There are many things in God’s creation which are unexplainable. We do not understand them; we cannot explain them but we still believe those to be true.
Take for example: SALT. It is so essential to life. But the substances it is composed of are poisonous. Sodium and chloride, if taken individually, would kill us. Then how is it that those two poisonous elements combined could become something as useful as the salt.
Secondly, we are told, the strongest magnet found in the world is called the ALNICO magnet. Yet it is composed of three non-magnetic substances – Aluminum, Nickel and Cobalt. How can this be explained, my friends?
Water is another wonder we cannot explain. Any low grace science student could tell us, its chemical formula is H2O. That means it has two parts of hydrogen for each part of oxygen. Inversely, oxygen is flammable and hydrogen can easily burn. But when you unite these two, you can put out fire with it. How convincingly can we explain this truth? If we cannot explain these simple, ordinary elements of nature, isn’t it presumptuous to try to explain the very God of very God.
There was a day in history when God the creator chose to be born as a human baby – God was manifest in the flesh. The blessings it brought into the world were unspeakable. It opened to man the door of everlasting life.
THE TIME OF HIS BIRTH
Luke was the only Gospel writer who related the events he recorded to world history. His account was addressed to predominantly a Greek audience who would have been interested and familiar with the political situation of the time.
Palestine was under the rule of the Roman Empire. Caesar Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, was in charge of the then civilized world. The Roman rulers who were considered gods stood in stark contrast to the tiny baby in the manger.
Greek and Roman religions were not exclusive (monotheist) like Judaism. What the Greeks called a god, the Jews called it an idol of the hell. Greece was the home of legends and romance. They believed the sun sailed in his boat upon the ocean. He drove his great chariot up in the skies and fought with the forces of darkness.
The kings in the ancient times were so intimately connected with deity and magical powers that the line between kings and gods was often hard to draw. According to Greeks, spring-god was the lover of earth goddess. Apollo was believed to be the manifestation or emanation of the supreme God. Minerva had a military helmet and Jupiter sported a beard.
Mithra of Persia, Ammon of Libya, Silvanus of Italy, Tammuz of Babylon, Isis of Egypt, and the Baal of Syria had their own fabrications to proclaim. Myths were allegorical and their belief in totems was idiotic. They believed that man descended from some divine animal like a bull, snake or a swan. This was the kind of world Augustus became the emperor of. Palestine came under the Roman rule. And the scepter had practically departed from Judah. Jacob in his godly wisdom had foreseen that the scepter should come into the tribe of Judah even though the first king of Israel was from the tribe of Benjamin. This was fulfilled when David became the king after Saul. But now was the time Judah had become a Roman province and was being taxed by a foreign ruler.
Jacob had prophesied, the scepter shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes. The word “Shiloh” has led to interminable discussion. The meaning is often disputed. According to biblical record, it was in Shiloh that the Tent of Meeting was set up in the early days of Jewish conquest (Josh.18:1). It was the principal sanctuary for Israel during the time of judges (Jd.18:31).
Hebrew “Shiloh” can be rendered in several ways. Many scholars like Ryle believe that it is a Messianic title. RSV puts it this way: UNTIL HE COMES TO WHOM IT BELONGS. Judah was to hold the scepter until the Lion of Judah arrived and took over the reign from it.
Egyptians had ruled the world followed by world powers like Assyrians, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. They all had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. The whole world had come under the dominion of Rome now including Judah. Darkness had covered the whole world. There was not a divine revelation for 400 long years.
It was due time for God to interpose and send the Almighty Savior.
Times are in God’s hands (Ps.31:15). He knows the best time and seaon to send help for his people and new hope to the world. Martin Luther used to say to his over-anxious friends during the time of reformation: “Cease, Philip, to try to govern your world.”
Caesar may have designed the taxation plan to gratify his own pride. He may have thought he was advancing the glory of his name and of his kingdom (Isa.10:7). Little did he realize he was making preparation of the birth of the King of kings and for the establishment of the everlasting kingdom.
I do not know, my friend, who is having dominion over your life? If you think the control of your life has gone from your hands, that is the time you need the Savior in your life. The flesh has many dominating elements: greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, folly, etc. (Mk.7:21). Life must be driven by a divine purpose, not by sin and wickedness.
THE PLACE OF HIS BIRTH
He was not born in Nazareth where his earthly parents lived, nor in Bethlehem of Zebulon (Josh.19:19), which was 7 miles from the town of Nazareth.
In fact, since Nazareth is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament, the skeptics believe the story of angels visiting Mary and Joseph to be a fiction. But Talmud scripture mentions a place called Notzeriyah near the present town of Nazareth. This was also called Galilean Bethlehem which was probably where Mary and Joseph made their home.
However Jesus was not supposed to be born in this town. According to Prophet Micah, He was to be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, not Bethlehem Zebulon.
Bethlehem Ephrathah was 70 miles from Nazareth while Bethlehem Zebulon was only 7 miles away. In God’s providence, the decree of Caesar went out in its perfect timing forcing Joseph and Mary to arrive in Bethlehem Ephrathah as the true son of King David (Mic.5:2).
This provides us the assurance that God controls the history. Bethlehem signifies “the house of bread”. And so amazing was the grace that the Bread of Life that came from heaven chose Bethlehem to be his store house.
My dear friends! Let our soul rest in peace that there is one higher than everyone (Eccl.5:8). When the rulers of the world set themselves against God and His people, we should take comfort that we are the people of His pasture.
The mention of the manger in the gospel is the basis for traditional belief that Jesus was born in a stable. Stables were often caves with feeding cribs curved in rock walls. Unlike Christmas cards and pictures, surroundings were dark and dirty. This was not the atmosphere the Jews expected the Messiah to be born.
Perched on the highest hill south east of Bethlehem was a magnificent palace and fortress built by Herod, the Great. But Jesus, the Son of God chose to enter the world through a dark and dirty place.
Do you see a place where the dirt is in your life today and a place engulfed by darkness? Allow the Baby in the manger to enter your life. He will brighten up and remove the dirt.
THE MANNER OF HIS BIRTH
Look at His grace and condescension. He became poor of the poorest, lowly of the lowliest. The words of Apostle James come to mind at this point: God has chosen the poor of the world to inherit the kingdom (Js.2:5).
Such love is too wonderful. It passes all understanding. It is indescribable and fabulous.
The angels declared to the shepherds: the birth of Jesus was the good news to the entire world and to all people. These angels had never sinned and needed no salvation. They required no redeemer, nor the atoning blood. But they knew the kind of misery sin had brought into the creation. Therefore they rejoiced in the glorious prospect of man being saved from sin.
They had seen God’s power when the creation came into being. They had seen his justice during the flood. But His mercy remained to be fully revealed by the appearing and the atonement of Jesus. Therefore they said: we bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all people (Lk.2:10).
What a tiding indeed!
a. The spiritual darkness which had covered the world for about 400 years was about to be rolled away.
b. The way to pardon and peace was about to be thrown open.
c. The head of Satan was about to be bruised. Liberty was about to be proclaimed to the captives of sin.
d. The mighty truth was about to be announced that God could be just and yet for Christ’s sake, He could justify the ungodly.
e. The knowledge of God was no more to be confined to the Jews alone.
f. The days of heathenism were numbered.
g. The first stone of God’s kingdom was about to be laid.
If these were not good news, there never was a good news that deserved the name. I invite you this day, my friend, on the eve of the celebration, to be a participant in the joy of this good news.
“Being a Baby” was not the last impression of Jesus. His life did not end in a manger. This wonder child grew up to live an amazing life, died for the sins of humanity, rose from the dead, ascended up to heaven and is going to return as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Therefore it would be wrong to picture Jesus as a helpless, tiny Baby in the manger. He is the Lord of life. A soft drink known as “Thumps up” is very popular in the sub-continent. The Star Advertisers have impressed many young people today to choose thumb up and grow with it. What about Jesus? I challenge you to let Jesus enter your life and grow in you.
THE KINGDOM ADDICT
A Message by Dr. Joab Lohara, Ph.D.
“The field is wasted. The land is mourning,
for the grain is ruined; the new
wine is dried up and the oil has failed.”
Such unprecedented destruction was unknown in Jewish history. The winebibbers were summoned to arouse from their drunkenness and bemoan the devastation of the land.
Grain, vine and olive oil were the chief products of Palestine. The farmers were therefore vitally affected by the destruction of the harvest. The terrible consequences seemed to snap the link between Jehovah and His people
What a pity! The addiction to wine ruined their lives. It made them losers and the victims of object poverty.
They seem to be a peculiar group of farmers who did the farming very well. They sowed the seed, watered the ground, mowed the grass and watched the plants to grow. Then when it was time for harvest, they went drunk.
During this time of carousal, the locusts came and consumed the harvest. The enemies stripped the land. The vine was dried up and the grain ruined. When they woke up from the drunken stupor, they found the land desolate.
To summarize it all, said Prophet Joel: “Surely all joy is withered away!” (Joel 1:12).
Pentecost was originally a Harvest Festival. Like the farmers in the book of Joel, the disciples of Jesus did not go drunk. The onlookers observed them drunk just as Priest Eli had thought about Hannah while she prayed for the favor of a son in the temple at Shiloh. She was so lost in the presence of the Lord she did not mind what people thought about her. And out of that drunkenness was born to her Prophet Samuel.
Christian Mothers! The world is in need Samuels today to save our society from spiritual decay. Maybe God is looking for a Hannah at the moment, someone who knows to pray and to be lost in the presence of the Holy.
WERE THE DISCIPLES DRUNK?
The disciples were surely drunk on the Day of Pentecost but not with wine. They were addicted to the Holy Spirit. They were lost in His presence waiting in great expectation.
If they were drunk with wine, they would have missed the glorious descent of the Holy Ghost on that wonderful day when God gathered the harvest - the church. Ever since that day, gathering harvest has been the mission of the church. To that church which was born on the day of Pentecost, every day was a day of harvest. Every day was a Missions Day… and a day of prayer.
Harvest time bought great excitement and joy to the early church. It advanced the Kingdom of God, bringing growth in the body of believers. The church was never dismayed by the bigness of the task and in fact the difficulties thrilled the New Testament believers.
The prime reason for the descent of the Holy Spirit was to plant the banner of Jesus in all nations. It is He who gave the motivation, the energy and the ability to all those who wanted to engage in ministering to nations.
God surely had a reason in bringing the church into existence. The reason was that (a) He wanted the church to be a holy community (b) He desired it to be a nation of priests (c) He also intended the church to be a world-wide testimony to all nations.
IS MISSIONS A DRAGON’S MEAL?
There is a tale in Greek mythology about a hydra-headed dragon. It emerged from its cave once every year fire breathing and hungry. The dragon would devour everything that came in its way. The priests were worried and finally discovered a way to appease the dragon so the creation would be kept from his hunger and wrath. As soon as the dragon came out of the cave, the priests would offer a meal offering of 7 fairest virgin. The dragon would joyfully feed upon the offering, and then return to the cave fully satisfied. He would not think of a meal again for the rest of the year.
Many Christians think missions is like a dragon’s meal which needs to be prepared only once a year. They do not think it is something that should be thought of every day. My friend, if there is a local church in your area that produces no believers and has no vision for the ingathering of the harvest, she must be guilty of running with empty life.
We are a farming people. Harvest is where we belong. We cannot remain indifferent or uninvolved. But the reason many Christians stay away from the harvest is because they are addicted to the things of this world. They are stung, very deeply.
THREE ADDICTS IN THE BIBLE
I would like to present before you three Bible characters who were so addicted that they dared to lose a kingdom and the King himself.
Brother Demas is honorably mentioned in Col.4:14 as a friend and a fellow-laborer of Apostle Paul. But the addiction of the world drove him away from the kingdom work. Paul urged Timothy to come to him as Demas loved the present world and departed from him. The comfort of the world induced Demas so much, he abandoned the apostle himself and left the ministry of Jesus. He probably counted the cost and fell short of the demand to be an ardent follower.
In the first epistle of John 2:15 & 16, John provides a clear definition of the “world”. There is in the world, he says, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. If you recalled the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden or the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, you would find Satan direct these three bezels of his weapon at them. Eve was bruised and fell. But Christ came out victorious.
Satan still uses this millennium old, crude weapon and his temptations are centered on it. The tempter will push you to a point where you will long to satisfy the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of your life, and thus ruin yourself.
All those who try to find a fulfillment in the world should take a lesson from that great thinker, C. S. Lewis: “Nothing created or finite can ever satisfy our longing. Following the attraction of the nature will lead us into frustration. Our hunger for Jesus is better than all the fullness of this world. Our poverty in the spirit is better than all the wealth this world can give.”
But Demas did not pay heed. The addiction to the world took Demas away from the holy mission (2Tim.4:10). Sad, very sad!
SECOND: RICH YOUNG RULER
Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven and come and follow me. He went sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:21). Those who have much in possession are in the greatest danger of falling into it. Such is the bewitching nature of wealth. The addiction to riches has kept many away from the Kingdom of God.
This young man was a thinking person. He had a leaning toward Jesus and at the same time tried to hold on to riches.
RICH MAN IN MONEY TRAP!
Have you heard of the money trap? Monkeys love peanuts. The money trappers put the peanuts into a tin-box tied to a cocoanut tree. The money peeps into the box and cannot resist the temptation. He puts the hand in to take a grab but when the fist is full of peanuts it cannot come up through the small opening of the tin box. This is when the trappers arrive. The monkey has only seconds to decide whether to leave the peanut, run for life or keep holding onto it and get trapped.
The rich young ruler wanted to enjoy Jesus and addiction to riches, both freedom and peanuts at the same time. Jesus did not assent to the wishes of the young man.
He was probably a pious man, a pious ruler, and a pious son. But in order to obey Christ, he needed to make his obedience complete.
Jesus loved him. He was pleased with his amiableness. His character was good and he was a genuine seeker. However the addiction to riches put him away from the kingdom of Jesus and the King himself. If he had true love for God and his fellowmen, he would be willing to give up anything for Christ. After all, our gifts to the poor are accepted by God. He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, says Solomon’s proverb.
I believe the young man needed a better spirituality than his own religiosity. Anyone who wants to be a follower of Jesus must maintain a readiness and disposition of mind to part with all that he has when obedience demands it.
“I wrote to the church but Diotrephus who loves to have pre-eminence among them does not receive us” (3rd John v.9).
Ambition and covetousness are two pestilent sins. Diotrephus is condemned because of this pestilence.
He was a leader of the church who loved to have pre-eminence. He loved the presidency, a chief place in the church and magnified himself in his office. He did not want to learn from the Master who is meek and lowly. His temper and spirit were full of pride and ambition. He refused to acknowledge the authority of the apostle. He despised the content of his letter and ill-treated the friends who were sent by him. He showed no interest in the work of the kingdom.
The addiction to pre-eminence ruined the life a leader. Diotrephus could not become a harvester and share in the responsibility of the kingdom.
PASSION FOR THE HARVEST
We have a call to the nation, my friends. Anything otherwise is trifling. Let no other addiction get stronger on us. We must allow ourselves to live in the addiction of the kingdom. We are a kingdom people; our primary work is the work of the kingdom.
John Wesley was so influenced by the Moravians that he had every member of his church enrolled to Methodist Missionary Movement. He wanted to instill the consciousness in every member that missions was to be the care of every Christian and church was to know no boundaries. His desire was to see a passion for harvest in every member of the church regardless of their position, clergy or laity. He wanted them to engage in the transformation of individuals and communities.
You and I are made for missions, to be passionate about the harvest and to disciple the nations. Nothing else could be more fulfilling.
WHAT ARE WE THEN DOING?
I read of the camels in a zoo. The baby camel asked the mother camel: “Mom! Why do we have the padded feet?”
“So we could travel on the sands of the desert comfortably,” answered the mother.
“Why do we have the big hump?” asked the baby again.
“We are meant to live in the desert. The fat deposit in the hump could help us survive for many days without food and water,” said the mother camel as she walked ahead to feed on a green branch.
To this the baby camel responded, “What are we then doing in the zoo?”
What a question, my friend! Every time the addictions to the world try to keep us from the Lord and from the ministry of the kingdom, we need to ask ourselves: “What am I then doing here?”
BE A KINGDOM ADDICT!
When the priorities are toppled down, our passion adulterated and our purposes confused, we need to ask ourselves, “What am I then doing here?”
There are many addictions in the world today such as the drug addiction, tobacco addiction, alcohol, movie, TV, music, video games, books, sports, internet, etc. But the best of all addictions I have known is the kingdom addiction. Let us be addicted to the kingdom. Be the kingdom addict!
Every church can be a harvesting church. Every member can become a harvester when submitted to the addiction of the Spirit
My friend, do you desire to be a kingdom addict? Empty yourself, remove all filth from your heart and wait in the presence of the Lord. Be drunk with the Holy Spirit and be a harvester with Jesus in the glorious field of the kingdom.
I tell you, fellow Christian, your love has a broken wing if it cannot fly across the ocean. – Maltbie Babcock
God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to arouse a deaf world. – C. S. Lewis
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help. – Psalms
He that lives in the glass house must not throw stones at others. – English Proverb
Do not be a saint abroad and a devil at home. – John Bunyan
Few things are impossible to diligence and skill – Samuel Johnson
People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after. – Goldsmith
Slumber is not in the tents of your fathers. The world is advancing. Advance with it. – Mazzini
I am a part of all that I have met. – Tennyson
Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness. – Seneca
It is better to be of no church than to be bitter for any. – William Penn
O jealousy! Thou magnifier of trifles. – Schiller
WHY NEED A VISION?
A message by Dr. Joab Lohara
The following message was delivered recently at a
Missions Consultation in Bangkok, Thailand.
I do not intend to speak a poignant sermon tonight intoned in a ministerial pitch. I do not even want to think of myself as some one who has spent 30 years in active missions. As a fresher, I would like to take a fresh look with you at the vision God has given us for the kingdom work. I want to try to share my heart with you as a pioneer to a group of pioneers and communicate my thoughts as a church planter to those engaged in the glorious work of building the Body of Christ.
WHAT IS A VISION?
Friends! The word “vision” has gathered many misconceptions. When we say vision, we are not necessarily talking about a mystical sight. More often than not, a vision is a mental image that expresses the truth of some thing God is intending to do.
Most people think vision is some thing you see in a dream or visualize in an unconscious state. If this is how you too perceive, I would like to direct your attention to the Genesis account of God revealing His plan to Abraham.
God took Abraham outside and said, “Look up to the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him: “So shall your offspring be” (Gen.15:5).
Does this describe a vision?
This was not like the vision of Paul at Troas when a desperate Macedonian cried for help in a dream. This was not like Peter’s vision on the roof top when he fell into a trance and saw the unclean animals lowered down on a sheet, nor was it like the revelation given to John in an isolated Patmos. This was some thing that happened in the realm of the natural with a connection into the supernatural. This opened up to Abraham new vistas of God’s plans and purposes for him and his children not born yet.
Abraham only saw the stars in the sky, never his sons and daughters as many. But in visualizing the stars, he discovered some thing beyond himself, some thing bigger than himself that transformed him from being Abram to Abraham. The exalted father had now become of being the Father of nations.
As a wanderer, Abraham might have looked into the sky umpteen times. But today the skies portended a new meaning to his vision. This was a fresh revelation of what God intended to do with him and his descendants.
At this point of time, Abraham could never have thought of a hazardous journey to some unknown region beyond the borders of his country. In fact, most people of his age would have liked to stay on the porch and watch the world go by. But the vision strengthened the staggering knees of an old man. It gave him the excitement and a reason to live. It sustained his journey all the way to Canaan. It changed his perception. It broke him out of the boundary thinking. Every thing he thought and did now promoted the kingdom interest. He did not want to live on the basis and the strength of his own thoughts.
WHY A VISION?
When I was being trained as a journalist, I was taught, “A picture paints a thousand words!” Some times the meaning of some thing is best expressed through an image.
Just consider the vision of Ezekiel. The message of God would not have had the same impact if God had simply said, I would bring Israel back to life. But the valley of dry bones gave him the clear image that summed up the redemption work God was about to do.
General William Booth in his desperation to communicate his vision to his co-workers had once said: “If I could, I would finish the training of my workers in 24 hours by hanging them over the hell fire!” The man who would see the vision of the people burning in the hellfire would run like a hunter’s dog on the leash to rescue the hell-bound multitudes.
This is why we need a vision— the vision of God. We need a vision to build ourselves and impact the world for Christ. We will be aimless without a vision.
If there is no revelation of God, people would rather listen to a false voice. Do you remember how the people behaved in the days of Eli, the priest. People were given to unholy living, priests indulged in oppression and immorality. Prophets did not say the truth.
1 Samuel 3:1 says, Samuel appeared in a world where the word of God was rare and there was no widespread revelation. What a deplorable condition of the people of God indeed!
That is why the wise man had said: “People perish where there is no vision.”
The vision of God transforms the unbridled behavior of men. It makes them obedient to receive the blessing of God. There are always two kinds of people in the world, two kinds of cultures and societies. There is a culture of death and a culture of life. There is a culture of obedience and a culture of rebellion. A nation is blessed, a church is blessed and a mission is blessed when people love God, walk in obedience to His word. Obedience is better than sacrifice, said Samuel to warn an unbridled Saul.
WHO CAN SEE A VISION?
God gives his vision to those who love him. Abraham was a friend of God. Daniel was greatly beloved. David was a man after God’s own heart. John was the beloved disciple. And Mary was highly favored.
John the Apostle affirmed this truth when he said, “The father loves the son and shows him all things that he himself does” (Jn.5:17-20). When we have intimate relationship with God, He will show us his plans and purposes.
In Bible times, people who had vision were filled with a special consciousness of who God was and of what He wanted to get done. When people are not led by the heavenly vision, they are left to their own devices, carnal desires and unbelief. Without vision, the lost sheep will never be found. Our children will be lost, our families will perish, and Christianity itself will be in great danger.
If our ministries are losing vision and beginning to endure a care-taker management, it is in trouble. We need move on with a fresh vision to avoid decadence and stagnancy.
VISION OF THE PIONEER
As we read the Bible and the History of the Church, over and over again we see God communicating through vision.
When Abraham saw the vision of God’s plan for him, and his race, he had no idea where the nation would be located and how far he had to journey to reach the Promised Land. He could see his descendants as a great nation serving God in a far away country at a time when he had no child, nor the ability to become a father. People must have thought he was a crazy old man. But Abraham knew his dream was not just his dream but it was God’s dream for him.
This is where some people have problem. They do not want to discover the vision of God. They want to work on the strength of their own vision.
What we need desperately today is not so much an understanding of mission or a theology of mission but the vision of the mission. The pioneers never had a pattern to follow. Did anyone design a work pattern for David Livingstone? Did anyone guide the literary genius of William Carey? Did anyone hand out to John Wesley a Theology of Mission? Did anyone teach Hudson Taylor the ABCs of cross-cultural mission? Did anyone provide the know-how to the Apostle Paul on urban mission?
The vision identified their direction and purpose. The vision made them committed and built in them the confidence to step into the unknown and the extra-ordinary.
A visionary is that rare breed who creates reality from dreams and breathes new life even to the weakest of the movements.
When John Wesley said, the world is my parish, it was a vision of universal proportion. He had the vision of the clergy and the lay people going every where to proclaim the good news. The outcome was that in less than 300 years Wesleyans became one of the largest protestant movements in the world.
Wesley had the vision of applying scriptural holiness to social structures and making changes that eliminate suffering. The result was the abolition of slavery and disparity in the church and the prohibition of alcohol. There also grew up a mission for the poor and the sick. One branch of Methodism, Salvation Army, became synonymous with Christian charity in those days.
Oh! How I wish our missions were endowed with such a vision from God today!
Woodrow Wilson said, “No man that does not see the vision will ever realize any high hopes or undertake any high enterprise.” The purpose of the vision is to enable us to portray to the world the love and the power of Jesus Christ and to represent Him on earth.
WE NEED A GOD-SIZE VISION
It is the privilege of some to see the vision. How about others? It is also the privilege of others to own the vision. In the Book of Acts, when Paul shared his vision of the Macedonian call, his companions which included Dr. Luke readily accepted the challenge and packed their bags immediately to move to Macedonia (Acts 16:10). They had no hesitation in owning the vision of God.
Vision sustains mission. If we do not have the vision of God, we will soon be tired of following man-made plans. If our mission has nothing to do with a Biblical vision of what God intends to do in our generation, we will be sick of doing things God never initiated. The day will soon come when mission will become a burden to us and appear like a rickety vehicle stuck in the mud.
Friends! We desperately need a vision for our churches and our missions. We need the vision of God and a God-size vision.
What we have done till now is history. It does not do any good to simply gloat over the past. We need to wait upon the Lord for a fresh vision of His plan and purposes for this generation. When the Spirit of God is moving, how can we not see Him and join his movement?
The people who are nailed to the things of this life cannot lift their eyes beyond the ramparts of the world. William Barclay cites a striking illustration from the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon and a friend were once talking of life. It was dark; they walked to the window and looked out. There in the sky were distant stars little more than pinpoints of light. Napoleon who had sharp eyes while his friend was dim-sighted, pointed to the sky saying: “Do you see those stars?
“No,” answered his friend. “I can’t see them.”
“That,” said Napoleon, “is the difference between you and me.”
How true, my friends? The man who has a blurring eye sight is deprived of seeing many wonderful things. It is the man with a vision who looks at the horizon and sees the great purposes of God shinning as the stars.
Do not talk unless you can improve the silence. - Proverb
Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. -David Hume.
Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years. – Charles Spurgeon
A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life. - Charles Darwin
Today the real test of power is not the capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it. – Anne McCormick
There has never been any thing worthwhile achieved for God without anguish. – David Wilkerson
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it. - Bernard Shaw
I like to work. It is better to wear out than to rust out. – Bishop Cumberland
The world is like a board with holes in it, and the square men have got into the round holes and the round into the square. – Bishop Berkeley
Give me 100 men who fear none but God and love nothing but His Word. I will turn the world upside down.- John Wesley
RECESSION AND MISSIONS
The fear of recession is looming large. When a man cannot fend for his present, his future looks dark, bleak and uncertain. Naturally.
Many of our friends have emailed and asked me as to how well we are faring and how much is the ministry being impacted. I am grateful to each one of them for their concern. I call them the "remnant of the Lord".
I want my remnant friends to understand that AIM ASIA is unique in that it is not funded by any mega foundations or huge individual donors. And yet the Lord has been wonderfully sustaining the ministry for the past 23 years.
Recession and financial crunches are not new to the world. They will keep happening. But I believe the mission of the Lord is unstoppable, no matter what. It can break the cedars, make the land skip like a calf and divide the flames of fire; it can shake the desert and strip the forests bare. It has the power to penetrate the mountains to declare the glory of the Lord. Ps. 29:9.
The Book of Revelation asserts that there will be a time when the world will experience the most complex, the most gruesome, the most cruel and the greatest disaster ever in the last days in every sphere of human existence. But that would be also a time when the mission of the Lord will be accomplished in fullest measure.
We are advised to keep our eyes off the storm and look unto Jesus. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" ( Isa 45 22).
You have heard how great a persecution ripped through the Indian church during 2008. The night was terrible; the storm was boisterous. But the Lord has made the mourning and the storm to pass. The rebuilding work is in process. The church is looking forward to a new day. The mission of the Lord is unstoppable.
So friends, we press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
There is no recession in Jesus' mission. His kingdom is a kingdom of abundance, peace and righteousness. He has a clear-cut mission that he invites His remnants to be a part of.
- Joab Lohara
THE NOTOVITCH CONSPIRACY
Missing years of Jesus Resolved!
Here is another nosh to your thinking mind from Immanuel Books.
Like me, I am sure, you must have often wondered about the missing years of Jesus’ life unrecorded in the Holy Scriptures. While the agnostics have made attempts to throw Jesus into non-existence, some others like Levi Dowling have sent Him on study tours to foreign nations, East and West.
The first and foremost among the modern critics in the later discipline is undoubtedly Nicolas Notovitch, a Russian journalist. I am in fact preparing a review of his work “The Life of Saint Issa” verse by verse. It is hoped, a superb addendum will soon be available in print.
In the meanwhile, I just wanted to place something in your hands that could serve as an anti-thesis to the creation of Notovitch who has strong contentions that Jesus visited India to study Vedas and the Buddhist scriptures.
Trust you will find this helpful.
Bishop Joab Lohara.
JESUS IN ENGLAND
This has reference to an article published in Deccan Chronicle, an English daily, under the heading: CHRIST MAY HAVE COME TO INDIA TO STUDY VEDAS (Hyderabad Edition, Page 8, December 26, 2009).
It is a pure conjecture as the Filmmaker Kent Walwin admitted, “The first part of the movie would be based on the Gospels and the second part on pure conjecture...”
When something is not a part of the history, it has to be notional, imaginary and hypothetical. It could be an opinion formed on some incomplete information. It is therefore baffling that such a disputable viewpoint received so much of attention and publicity on a holy occasion like Christmas.
The unknown life of Jesus Christ between 13 and 29 years has kept the world guessing for the past 2000 years. Some isolated folk tales in countries like Greece, Japan, Egypt, England, Persia (Iran) and India keep unfolding this myth of young Jesus going abroad for religious studies. Every country has claimed to have offered him free access to the religious centers to study scriptures.
For instance, two recent books published in England have Jesus going to South West England as more than a summer tourist. “THE MISSING YEARS OF JESUS” written by Dennis Price details Jesus spending about 17 years in Britain. (1)
The other book of Ralph Ellis entitled “KING JESUS, From Kam(Egypt) to Camelot” published by Worldwide Multi Media describes Jesus Christ in exile as a great leader, eventually inspiring what would become the core of the Arthurian legends.
The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is the most powerful and enduring in the western world. King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot did not really exist, but their names conjure up a romantic image of gallant knights in shining armor, elegant ladies in medieval castles, heroic quests for the Holy Grail in a world of honor and romance, and the court of Camelot at the centre of a royal and mystical Britain.(2)
JESUS AND THE DRUIDS
While little is written in the Gospels about Joseph of Arimathea, a rich Jewish merchant who provided the prepared tomb for Jesus, the Apocrypha and tradition suggest he was far more important to Jesus in both life and death than most people imagine. Joseph of Arimathea was instrumental in establishing the followers of Christ in England, and may, indeed, have introduced the young Jesus to druidic mystical writings on a visit to Cornwall when Jesus was a boy. Later in life, Jesus returned to live in the island of Avalon, the modern Glastonbury.
Still, perhaps the most suggestive part of this is, Jesus might have studied with Druids in Cornwall. We see even the mystical poet William Blake wondering as much in his hymn, Jerusalem:
“And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills.”
The Roman occupation of Britain lasted from 43AD to around 400. Before the Romans invaded, the druid priesthood was the undisputed power in the land. For the previous two or three centuries the druids had been a dominant force throughout what was then the Celtic world, which included France, the Netherlands and parts of Scandinavia as well as Britain.
A controversial independent scholar of comparative religion, D. M. Murdock, has produced a master piece on the subject, “CHRIST IN EGYPT” published by Stellar House Publishing. This has many fascinating stories that resemble the life and works of Jesus in the land of the Pharaohs. (3)
JESUS AND RAVANA
Another impressive account on the missing years of Jesus’ life is found in the writings of the New Age pioneers. One such transcriber was Levi H. Dowling, who produced a phenomenal work known as “THE AQUARIAN GOSPEL” in 1920. This book has an extensive reworking of Jesus’ story with strong theosophical influence and attempts to fill in the two decade gap in Jesus’ traditional biography. Levi in his flight of imagination has taken Jesus to Greece, Persia, Egypt, and Tibet and as far as Western India. He provides a major space in his work (Chapter 47– 55) to narrate the life and works of Jesus in ancient Egypt.
If Dowling is to be believed, King Ravana met Jesus at a Jewish feast in Nazareth and was amazed at the wisdom of boy Jesus. As the narration goes, “Ravanna said to Him, All hail, most favoured son of heaven! And at the inn, Ravanna made a feast for all the people of the town; and Jesus and his parents were honoured guests. For certain days Ravanna was a guest in Joseph's home on Marmion Way; he sought to learn the secret of the wisdom of the son; but it was all too great for him. And then he asked that he might be the patron of the child; might take him to the East where he could learn the wisdom of the Brahms” (4)
The Indian epic “Ramayana” records that King Ravana possessed a magical jet plane called Pushpak. If Ravana had brought the Wonder Boy Jesus to India in his Pushpak, then stories of playwright like Notovitch and others who opine that Jesus had travelled with merchants from Nazareth to India en route Persia and Afghanistan fade away into mere falsehood.
JESUS IN LAKAKH
Nicolas Notovitch was a Russian journalist and playwright known for his contention that during the years of Jesus’ life missing from the Bible he followed travelling merchants abroad into India and the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh where he studied Buddhism. It is also said that he was a Cossack officer and a spy during the British regime in India.
Notovitch claims to have visited Ladakh and encountered the story of Issa in a Himalayan monastery. The Lama of the monastery informs him that Jesus is revered as Bodhisattva, under the name Issa, by a splinter sect of the Tibetan Buddhists. While Notovitch recovered from a broken leg, an ancient manuscript was read to him by the Lama. This tells of Jesus trekking to India to study the
Vedas and Buddhism. Jesus stirs up a caste war against the Brahmins and had to leave India. Then he returns home stopping off by Persia, where he preaches against Zoroastrianism.
Notovitch appears to have travelled in Kashmir and Ladakh area between October 14 and November 26, 1887. This was the time he claims to have discovered the story of Saint Issa.
Guess what an Indian journalist like Rajdeep Sardesai would have done if such a sensational story got into his hands. He would have probably lost no time to let the world know about it. The entire world would have been inundated with mighty floods of news from the missing years of Jesus’ life.
But for this Russian journalist, it took 7 years to get the message out. One wonders if he was writing a fiction book. Inventing a theme, identifying characters, working on storyline and the setting, correlating ideas and events, and developing the plot may take time.” THE UNKNOWN LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST” by Notovitch did not come to public knowledge until 1894. (5)
As a journalist Notovitch did not justify his work and as a playwright he failed to satisfy his readers with the creation of his mind. While some have questioned the authorship of the book, others have clearly identified interpolation of ideas foreign to a western visitor like Notovitch. Much against the wishes of the author, his work was dismissed by many a scholar and declared to be fraudulent by no less an authority than the great Orientalist Max Mueller.
THE NOTOVITCH CONSPIRACY
Professor Muller published a series of articles in “The Nineteenth Century” journal soon after Notovitch’s work was published in English and pointed out that Notovitch might possibly have been hoaxed by Buddhist priests from whom he professed to have gathered his information about Issa, i.e. Jesus. Such things have happened before. Inquisitive travelers have been supplied with the exact information which they wanted by the Mahatmas and other religious authorities whether in Tibet or India or even among the Zulus and Red Indians. It seemed a long cry to Leh in Ladakh and in throwing out in an English review this hint that Notovitch might have been hoaxed, I did not think that the Buddhist priests in the Monastery of Himis, might be offended by my remarks.
Later when the research reports of Professor Douglas reached him, he submitted his apologies to the Lamas. “I feel bound most humbly to apologize to the excellent Lamas of that monastery for having thought them capable of such frivolity. After the complete refutation or I should rather say annihilation of Mr. Notovitch by Professor Douglas, there does not seem to be any further necessity, nay, any excuse, for trying to spare the feelings of that venturesome Russian traveler. He was not hoaxed but he tried to hoax us. Mr. Douglas has sent me the original papers containing the depositions of the chief priest of the monastery and his interpreter and I gladly testify that they entirely agree with the extracts given in the article are signed and sealed by the Chief Lama and by Mr. Joldan, formerly Postmaster of Ladakh who acted as interpreter between the priest and Professor Douglas. The papers are dated, Himis Monastery, Little Tibet, June 3, 1894.
Professor Muller further maintained that despite the claim that the life of Issa was well-known, it did not appear in any of the catalogues of the literature of Tibet (and there are many of these catalogues, some of them very ancient). If we understand Mr. Notovitch rightly, this life of Christ was taken down from the mouths of some Jewish merchants who came to India immediately after the Crucifixion.” Muller asked how these Jewish merchants happened, among the uncounted millions of India, to meet 'the very people who had known Issa as a casual student of Sanskrit and Pali …and still more how those who had known Issa as a simple student in India, saw at once that he was the same person who had been put to death under Pontius Pilate. Two things in their account are impossible, or next to impossible. The first, that the Jews from Palestine who came to India in about 35 A.D should have met the very people who had known Issa when he was a student at Benares. The second, that this Sutra of Issa, composed in the first century of our era, should not have found a place either in the Kandjur or in the Tandjur, the greatest collections of Tibetan literature (6).
As Muller was writing his article about Notovitch's book, he received a letter from an English woman friend who happened to have just visited Himis Monastery. It was dated Leh, Ladakh, June 29, 1894, and read in part, 'Yesterday we were at the great Hemis monastery, the largest Buddhist monastery up here, 800 lamas. Did you hear of a Russian who could not gain admittance to the monastery in any way, but at last broke his leg outside and was taken in? His object was to copy a Buddhist life of Christ which is there. He says he got it and has published it since in French. There is not a single word of truth in the whole story! There has been no Russian here. No one has been taken into the Seminary for the past fifty years with a broken leg!'
In June 1895, a year after “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ” was published, J. Archibald Douglas, a Professor in Government College, Agra sent a report of his journey to Hemis monastery (The Nineteenth Century in June, 1895). He was at that time a guest in the Hemis monastery, enjoying the hospitality of the very abbot who was supposed to have imparted the Unknown Life of Jesus to Notovitch. Douglas found that no memory of any foreigner with a broken leg lingered at Leh or at Hemis. The abbot of Hemis indignantly repudiated the statements ascribed to him by Notovitch, and said that no traveler with a broken leg had ever been nursed at the monastery. He stated with emphasis that no such work as the 'Life of Issa' was known in Tibet, and that the statement that he had imparted such a record to a traveler was an invention.
When Notovitch's book was read to him he exclaimed with indignation, "Lies, lies, lies, nothing but lies!" Further, the abbot had not received from Notovitch the presents Notovitch reported having given him - a watch, an alarm clock, and a thermometer. In fact, he didn’t even know what a thermometer was. . In short, the chief lama made a clean sweep of the representations of Notovitch, and with the aid of Professor Douglas effected what Max Müller described as his annihilation. Archibald’s papers were later published in the “Orientalischen Bibliogafie” under the heading “Documents Prove Notovitch Swindle!”
FASCINATING HIDE & SEEK
Fascinating has been the “Hide-and-Seek” game of this mysterious Manuscript which contains the life of Saint Issa. When Notovitch goes to Himis monastery from Russia in 1987, a Lama reads it out to him. But when Archibald Douglas goes there from Agra in 1895, the same Lama denies the existence of such a manuscript. In 1922, Swami Abhedananda visits the Hemis monastery from England and discovers the same material as published by Notovitch in an ancient manuscript. But the German researcher and author of the book, JESUS LIVED IN INDIA, Holger Kerstern who visits Hemis Monastery in 1979 cannot find the manuscripts. A woman friend of Max Muller does not find the document in Hemis Monastery in 1895 but a Russian artist Nicholas Roerich finds these documents in the same Monastery in 1925.
A Himalayan conspiracy? Wherever these treasured documents are hidden, if they are hidden and whoever possesses them, if anyone possesses them, has the responsibility of bringing it out to the public knowledge. There is expertise in the world today to examine the age of the manuscripts, the style of language used in the era when these were written and to determine the source. The world should no longer be deceived with the rumors of an evil mind.
It may be noted that Nicolas Notovitch had no knowledge of the Tibetan language in which the Buddhist manuscripts were written. The Chief Lama who read out the “Life of Saint Issa” did not know English or Russian the language of Notovitch. Notovitch and the Lama had to completely depend on an interpreter to understand each other.
Since Notovitch does not mention the name of the interpreter in his travelogue or his book who helped him at the Hemis Monastery, there is no way to verify the interpreter’s grasp of English or Tibetan language. How could Notovitch ever forget to show gratitude and mention a credit line to a man or beast that had brought him the fame and popularity?
Just because a film is being made on the unknown life of Jesus Christ on the basis of a conjecture, it would be unfair to think that Jesus ever came to India to study the Vedas. As Max Muller rightly commented, “One might look for the waters of Jordan in the Brahmaputra as for a life of Christ in Tibet.”
CARPENTER BOY IN VIDIC SCHOOL
If Jesus left Galilee to study Vedas in India at the age of 13, he must have been way too far an intellect, a wonder boy to be able to connect with Vedic philosophers and the masters of the religion.
It also sounds like a case of child torture on the part of Galilean state to have sent out a 13 year old country boy without a guardian to travel thousands of miles through desert pathways and snowy, rugged terrains. Joseph and Mary were not rich enough to buy him a camel or a horse for transportation or to provide for his foreign adventure. They were so poor they could not afford to offer a lamb when they brought baby Jesus to be dedicated in the temple of Jerusalem; they had to be happy with the offering of a pair of turtledoves and two young pigeons.
Some of the western writers do not understand the existential difficulties of the people in other countries. What did Notovitch think of the holy Vedas? Were they a public property 2000 years ago that anyone could have accessed them?
By profession, Jesus was a carpenter. The Vedic code would term him as a Shudra or perhaps Ati Shudra since he was a teenager of foreign origin. Would any Vedic pundit allow an Ati Shudra Jesus to learn Vedas from him? At a time when Vedic code of conduct as laid down by Manu had enormous impact on the society, this would have been simply impossible.
According to Manu Shashtra, The Manusmriti, “Shudras and women of dwija varnas are denied of the right to study Vedas. If a person of lower caste adopts the occupation of a higher caste, the king ought to deprive him of all his property and expel him from his kingdom. If a Shudra dares to give moral lessons to a person of higher caste, the king is to get him punished by pouring hot oil in his ears and mouth. Similarly, if a Shudra occupies the same seat as a person of high caste, he is to be punished by branding his waist with hot iron or getting his buttocks cut out” (7)
It is hard to imagine how Jesus could have been permitted by the Vedic Priests to learn Vedas against their own dharma and the revered preceptor Manu. How could they sit across with him face to face in a Vedic School, a temple or in a priest’s homes?
The writer was in Puri last November with two of his Canadian friends. After visiting the beach area, the visitors wanted to go, see the Jagannath temple. So he took them along but was stopped by the gate keeper.
“You may go, but the foreigners cannot go into the temple premises,” said the man at the gate.
“Why can’t they go in, when I can? I am as much Christian as they are.”
When the gate keeper heard this, he did not let any of them go in.”
If 21st century Jagannath temple has these restrictions for the temple goers, it is hard to imagine a Jewish boy could have been allowed into the famous religious centers like Banaras and Puri in early in the first century. Though the Gospels are not clear about the food habits of Jesus, the fact that he came from a society that favored cow-slaughter was not unknown. By the way the Jagannath temple in Puri did not come into existence till 12th century A.D.
Notovitch’s father was a rabbi, of the Jewish stock. His brother was a Christian. In all probability Notovitch followed a Bhuddhist tradition while he loved his Jewish linage. His attempts to shift the blame on Romans for killing Jesus indicates his love for the ancestral family and his creation of young Jesus as a pupil of the Lamas bear witness to his Buddhist cadre.
One should not overlook the conspiracy of Notovitch. His mind is set against favoring Hinduism over Buddhism. His imagination brings Jesus to places like Banaras to study Vedas and trains him to cause a stir against Brahmin leaders and their scriptures.
Nitovitch’s UNKNOWN LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST includes a chapter entitled, The Life of Saint Issa. As it is, Chapter V, Verses 4 – 14 read:
4 They taught him to read and understand, to teach and to expound the sacred scriptures, to drive out evil desires from man and make him again in the likeness of God.
5 He spent six years in DJagguernat, Radjagriha and Benares and in other holy cities. The common people loved Issa, for he lived in peace with the Vaishya and the Shudras, to whom he taught the holy scriptures.
6 But the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas told him they were forbidden by the great Param Brahma to come near to those who were created from his belly and the feet.
7 That the Vaisyas might only hear the recital of the Vedas and this only on the festal days,
8 and that the Sudras were not only forbidden to attend the reading of the Vedas but even to look on them; for they were condemned to perpetual servitude as slaves of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and even the Vaisyas.
9 Death alone can enfranchise them from servitude,” has said Param Brahma. “Leave them therefore and come to adore with us the gods, whom you will make angry if you disobey them.”
10 But Issa, disregarding their words, he remained with the Sudras and preached against the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas.
11 He declaimed strongly against man’s arrogating to himself the authority to deprive his fellow-beings of their human and spiritual rights. “Verily, he said, “God has not made any difference between his children who are all alike dear unto him.”
12 Issa denied the divine inspiration of the Vedas and the Puranas, for, as he taught his followers,--“One law has been given to man to guide him in his actions:
13 “Fear the Lord, thy God; bend thy knee only before him and bring to him only the offerings which come from thy earning.”
14 Issa denied the Trimurty and the incarnation of Para-Brahma in Vishnu, Shiva and other gods. 9
It is not difficult to ascertain the motives of Notovitch. He sets Saint Issa against Brahminism and prepares a way for him to run through to the Buddhist monasteries. He does not realize that His Issa comes out of the Vedic school with no Vedic impacts whatsoever and his teachings stand contrary to the teachings of the Vedic teachers. This Issa preaches brotherhood and equality before he ever entered the Himalayan monasteries to study Buddhism.
And what does Issa do in Persia on his way home to Palestine? Issa of Notovitch teaches against Zoroastrianism and kicks off the dust against the rulers.
What in the world is this Russian Playwright doing? His brain child Issa does not listen to anybody or learn from anyone. Why does Notovitch make an elaborate setting for him in the slow-clad Himalayas and bring him to learn the wisdom of India?
DID YOUNG JESUS VISIT INDIA?
“Masih Hindustan Mein” is an Urdu treatise written by the Founder of Ahmadiyya Movement, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1899.
The preface of this wonderful work says, “A Russian traveler named Nicolas Notovitch stayed for quite some time with Lamas in Tibet and had their sacred books translated for him. He is of the opinion that Jesus must have come to Tibet before the crucifixion and gone back to Palestine after having imbibed Buddhist teachings. This is a mere statement unsupported by reliable historical evidence.”
Repudiating both these views, Hazrat Ahmad writes that Jesus did not come to India before the event of the Cross and that it was not he who borrowed Buddhist teachings but the followers of Buddha who seem to have reproduced the entire picture of the Gospels in their books.
Explaining how it could have happened in another section of his book, Hazrat Ahmad dismisses the very idea that Jesus ever came to India before the crucifixion:
“It is worth pondering why there was so much resemblance between the Buddha and Jesus. The Aryas in this connection say that Jesus became acquainted with Buddhism in the course of his journeys in India, and having acquired knowledge of the fact of Buddha's life, made his gospel out of this on return to his native country; that Jesus composed his moral precepts by plagiarizing the moral teaching of the Buddha, that just as the Buddha called himself the Light and Knowledge and adopted other titles, so Jesus ascribed all such titles to himself, so much so, that, even the long story of the Temptation of a Buddha was appropriated by him. This, however, is a fabrication of the Aryas. It is quite untrue that Jesus came to India before the event of the Cross; he had no need to take such a journey at that time…” (8)
Throwing the light further on, he says, “Let it be remembered that Buddha’s moral teaching and his mode of preaching, i.e., talking in parables, was the method of Jesus. This mode of preaching and this moral teaching, combined with other circumstances, at once suggest that this was in imitation of Jesus. Jesus was here in India (after his crucifixion); he went preaching everywhere; the followers of the Buddhist Faith met him, and finding him a holy person who worked miracles, recorded these things in their books; nay, they declared him to be the Buddha, for it is human nature to try to acquire a good thing for oneself wherever it may be, so much so, that people try to record and remember any clever remark made by any person before them. It is, therefore, quite likely that the followers of the Buddhist Faith may have reproduced the entire picture of the Gospels in their books.”
Now the Almighty conflict one is caught into is which of the Issas is the Jesus of the Christian Gospels? Issa of Notovitch, Jesus of Dennis Price, of William Blake, Murdock, of Hazrat Ahmad or Levi Dowling?
THE OTHER JESUS!
History has recorded more than one first-century Jewish prophets who were also called Jesus. According to the historian Josephus, Jesus the son of Ananias was a plebeian and a husbandman who appeared in Jerusalem during an annual feast several years before the Jewish War against Rome began in 66 C.E. (9)
Like Jesus of Nazareth, he was an apocalyptic prophet who proclaimed the imminent judgment of God, not just on the Romans but the Jews as well. In fact, he was relentless in his prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem.
The archetypal Jewish hero was Joshua (the successor of Moses) otherwise known as Yeshua ben Nun (‘Jesus of the fish’). Since the name Jesus (Yeshua or Yeshu in Hebrew, Ioshu in Greek, source of the English spelling) originally was a title (meaning ‘savior’, derived from ‘Yahweh Saves’) probably every band in the Jewish resistance had its own hero figure sporting this moniker, among others.
Josephus mentions no fewer than nineteen different Yeshuas/Jesii, about half of them contemporaries of the Christ Jesus of Nazareth! In his Antiquities, of the twenty-eight high priests who held office from the reign of Herod the Great to the fall of the Temple, no fewer than four bore the name Jesus: Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec, Jesus ben Damneus and Jesus ben Gamaliel.
According to the Biblical account, Pilate offered the Jews the release of just one prisoner and they chose Barabbas rather than Jesus of Nazareth. His name was Jesus Barabbas.
Even Saint Paul makes reference to a rival magician, preaching ‘another Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 11, 4). The surfeit of early Jesuses includes Jesus ben Sirach. This Jesus was reputedly the author of the Book of Sirach (aka 'Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach'), part of Old Testament Apocrypha.
Ben Sirach, writing in Greek about 180 BC, brought together Jewish 'wisdom' and Homeric-style heroes.
Jesus ben Pandira. A wonder-worker during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (106-79 BC), one of the most ruthless of the Maccabean kings. Imprudently, this Jesus launched into a career of end-time prophesy and agitation which upset the king. He met his own premature end-time by being hung on a tree – and on the eve of a Passover. Scholars have speculated this Jesus founded the Essene sect.
Jesus ben Saphat. In the insurrection of 68AD that wrought havoc in Galilee, this Jesus had led the rebels in Tiberias. When the city was about to fall to Vespasian’s legionaries he fled north to Tarichea on the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus ben Gamala. During 68/69 AD this Jesus was a leader of the ‘peace party’ in the civil war wrecking Judaea. From the walls of Jerusalem he had remonstrated with the besieging Idumeans (led by ‘James and John, sons of Susa’). It did him no good. When the Idumeans breached the walls he was put to death and his body thrown to the dogs and carrion birds.
Jesus ben Thebuth. A priest who, in the final capitulation of the upper city in 69AD, saved his own skin by surrendering the treasures of the Temple, which included two holy candlesticks, goblets of pure gold, sacred curtains and robes of the high priests. The booty figured prominently in the Triumph held for Vespasian and his son Titus.
Could it be that one of these Jesuses made a visit to India in his youth?
JESUS STAYS HOME
The gospels make it very clear, no conjecture, about the missing years of Jesus of Nazareth. After Jesus went to temple at the age of 12, Luke writes in his Gospel: “After this, He went down with them (parents), and came to Nazareth (in Galilee), and was subject to the parents.” (10)
Matthew connects the link to His public life, when he says, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.” (11)
It is true, the Gospel writers have not detailed all the events of Jesus’ life. In fact Mark and John do not even mention the events of Jesus’ birth like Luke and Matthew.
John explains the reason for the brevity of their works at the end of his gospel: “There are many other things that Jesus did which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”(12)
If Jesus really came to India to study Vedas, there was absolutely no need for the Gospel writers to hide it from the world. There was no reason for Galilee, his home town, to keep it concealed.
Is it an evil to study the Vedas? Why is there so much of hue and cry about it?
The writer has got with him all the volumes of four Vedas. He has read each volume and is still a student. When he makes a comparative study of scriptures, would it be justifiable to say he got all his knowledge from just one source of literature?
If Jesus was missing for 16 long years, his village would have taken notice of the boy missing and the grief of his mother Mary over her son.
Mary, who cared for him as the apple of her eye, after those extra-ordinary events of his birth, could not have been consoled with the separation of Jesus in an unknown distant land without any means of communication.
As the Gospel writer says, Jesus was subject to his parents. He would not have done a thing like this against Mary’s will. We do not see the lamentation of Mary for the separation of her son in any account like Yashoda in Mahabharata story (Yashoda is the foster mother of Krishna. Krishna leaves her for good as a young adult to rescue her real parents from the atrocities of his uncle. His absence drowns Yashoda into great grief and lamentation).
HE IS JESUS OF NAZARETH
As Notovitch describes, Jesus’ sudden reappearance after a long, long journey with his huge fan following would have awakened everyone in Galilee to the fact that he had become a different man during his sojourn in India.
If Jesus had indeed returned after his foreign education, the comments of the Pharisees would have been different. It would be something like…”With a little bit of learning in Hindustan, do you think you have surpassed everybody. Set your feet down on the ground, young man. This is the land of the Jews!”
The village elders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were rather curious how the son of a carpenter could speak the words of wisdom as he did and perform the miracles as he had never gone beyond the Galilean borders.
Nazareth had always seen Jesus subject to his parents and help in the family business. He was the eldest son; he could not have been irresponsible in a Jewish family which depended on him to fend for the family needs.
Man may always seek to discover all about this Wonderful Counselor, the Eternal Father. But as St. Augustine said, “If you could understand him, he would not be God.”
- Price, Dennis. The Missing Years of Jesus, Hay House UK Ltd., London, 2009.
- Ellis, Ralph. King Jesus from Kam (Egypt) to Camelot, Edfu Books, UK, 2008.
- Murdock, D. M. Christ in Egypt, Stellar House Publishing, USA, 2009.
- Dowling, Levi H. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, L N Fowler & Company, London, 1920, Ch. 6. 21.12-15.
- Notovitch, Nocolas, The Unknown Life of Christ, R F Fenno Company, 1894.
- The Nineteenth Century, Vol.3, July-December (London, October 1894, British Museum, p.p. 59, 39).
- Manusmriti, Ch. 1. 33 – 36
- Ahmad, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam. Jesus in India, Ahmadiyya Muslim Foreign Mission Department, 1978, Ch. IV, Section II, pp.39).
- Josephus, Flavius. The Jewish War, Penguin Books Ltd., England
- Gospel According to St. Luke, Ch. 2:51.
- Gospel According to St. Matthew, Ch. 3:13.
- Gospel According to St. John, Ch. 21:25.