Thursday, April 30, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Critics have written quite extensively on Word Faith teachings, so i will not talk further about it here. What I do want to highlight is that JP’s teaching over the last ten years has not moved beyond the whole theme of justification by faith. In fact, there has been no mention of the sanctification process or the need for it. In his teachings, believers become righteous from appropriating the finished work on the cross. There is no need to work out one’s salvation, one simply needs to “rest”.
JP’s teaching on Grace suggests a lack of basic understanding of God’s redemptive work. The Martin Luthers and Calvinists will tell you the only time a believer ever takes a rest in his walk with God is when he is getting saved through the finished work of Christ. One can’t earn salvation through his own good work, but he can by His grace and mercy as demonstrated by His outstretched arms on the cross. This is the turning point in a sinner’s life, when the sinner decides to take up the cross and follow Jesus, so that more and more he can be called to be in His image.
Positionally, the believer is forever saved, but the old man in him still needs to be transformed. Now, this walk of sanctification, JP Ministry completely ignores. It is interesting that JP perceives any effort on the believer’s part to act out God’s imperatives as the believer’s attempt to keep the law. He teaches that under the New Convenant, one does not keep the Law, but lives only by God’s grace. So, according to him, God has not only rescinded the need to keep the ceremonial laws, He has categorically abolished all laws, including the Decalogue!
My questions for all to consider:
1. If God has truly abolished the Decalogue, which reveals His moral character and absolute standards for human decency, then what should a believer hold fast to in order to live out his faith in a corrupt and decadent world? “We are in the world, but not of the world.” God also calls us “the salt of the earth”. What keeps us salty if God removes His standards/values for us? What is Grace? Is it a form of moral standard by which we can define and govern our thought life and behaviour?
2. If,according to JP’s theology, those of us who are trying to work out our salvation with fear and trembling are guilty of earning our salvation through our own “stinking efforts”, then what is the Holy Spirit for in our lives?
"12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," Pastors love to misquote this to promote works and that we need to work out our salvation still.
BUT Notice the comma behind?? This is NOT a full quote... you must also add in verse 13 which says - 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
And we know this point when quoted in FULL is accurate because Scripture confirms Scripture... Let's take a look at some scriptures that confirm the FULL quote from Phil 2:12-13
1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
And another one that confirms that the FULL quotation is right, not the half quote that pastors often misquote is found in Hebrews 13:20-21 -
who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great Shepherd of the sheep,
and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—
21 may he equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,[e]
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 And they will not need to teach their neighbors,
nor will they need to teach their relatives,
saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’
For everyone, from the least to the greatest,
will know me already.
12 And I will forgive their wickedness,
and I will never again remember their sins.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Some preachers are teaching that sinning could even be good for a person since it might draw him closer to God. When that happens, his sinning is actually helping him to realize God's love and grace toward him. As such, sinning might even be a good thing.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? ( Rom. 6:1-2)
Romans 2:4 says that "the goodness of God leads us to repentance." Sin certainly doesn't play a part in drawing us closer to Him; on the contrary, sin separates us from God.
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Friday, April 24, 2009
Again, this goes contrary to 2,000 years of mainstream Evangelical, Reformed, Renewed and Pentecostal theologies for practically every Church denomination. Every textbook in Bible seminaries and Christian bookstores would say that even for the born again believer, continued sinning would damage his relationship with God.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and. the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 Jn. 1:7)
Yes, we can have fellowship with God, but only as we walk in the light as He is in the light! Of course, if a Christian gets defiled in sin again, the Holy Spirit may not immediately leave him. However, if a believer walks in darkness, without genuine repentance, his fellowship with God would be damaged. Thereafter, if he persists in rebellious, willful sinning, without demonstrating any godly sorrow toward his sins, that fellowship with God would eventually be broken (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-27). As such, it is extremely presumptuous to think that sin would not break your fellowship or destroy your relationship with God.
Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. (Isa. 59:1-2)
Let's read the first chapter of 1 John, and keep in mind two important questions: "Who was John's audience?" and 'What was he trying to accomplish in this letter?"
The audience was a confused church in Asia. The pastor there asked John to write a letter to help clear up some major doctrinal heresy called "Gnosticism." Gnosticism comes from the Greek word " gnosis", which means knowledge. The Gnostics were a group of people who believed they possessed superior spiritual knowledge. They believed that all flesh is evil and that only spirit is good. Because they believed that, they didn't believe that Jesus really came in the flesh - they believed He was an illusion. They also believed that because sin had to do with our flesh, there really wasn't sin - sin was also just an Illusion. (That's similar to people today who believe sickness is an illusion.) The church in Ephesus was filled with people who not only didn't believe Christ came in the flesh, they didn't believe sin was real.
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life" (I John 1:1). In other words, John is establishing that he was an eyewitness to the fact that Jesus truly did come in the flesh. He did this to convince the Gnostics that Jesus was not an illusion.
"We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ" (verse 3). This verse says two things. First, John repeats the fact that he, the rest of the apostles and other people saw Christ in the flesh. He wanted the Gnostics to realize that there were many people who could testify to the reality of Christ. Second, he is saying that there are some people in the audience who were not in the fellowship with Christ.
“Just as the heavens cannot be measured
and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored,
so I will not consider casting them away
for the evil they have done.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
- Jesus Himself taught on the first commandment of putting God first in Mt. 22:37-38.
While Rev Kong Hee quoted Matthew 22:37-38, I believe we need to start reading from verse 34 and end at verse 40 for a proper context of verses 37-38.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
The context of what Jesus said in verses 37-38 was not about teaching the 10 commandments but rather He was answering a direct question from the Pharisees who were trying to challenge His authority as a rabbi.
The question was "Which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?" Actually, this question betrays the Pharisees lack of understanding of the law as well as their own perversion of the law. There is no such thing as the most important commandment "for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all". (James 2:10)
As an analogy, just suppose a pilot has to do 10 procedures before taking off, and if any one of the 10 procedures is not done or not done properly, then the plane will crash. Now tell me, which is the most important procedure? ALL of them of course, because missing out just one, any one procedure is going to crash the plane!
Similarly, ALL the commandments in the law are equally important because James 2:10 says that breaking any one is equivalent to breaking them ALL. Then why did Jesus say "‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ "
Strictly speaking, "you must love the Lord your God ..." was not written on the stone tablets listing the 10 commandments - let's take a look at Deut 5:1-22:
1 Moses summoned all Israel and said:
Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our fathers that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. 4 The LORD spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. 5 (At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:
6 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
7 "You shall have no other gods before me.
8 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
12 "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
16 "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
17 "You shall not murder.
18 "You shall not commit adultery.
19 "You shall not steal.
20 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
21 "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
22 These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.
What Jesus said was a quotation of Deut 6:5 where Moses was teaching the law to the Israelites. Jesus was telling the Pharisees (as well as many Christians today, including Rev Kong Hee and me) that the whole essence of the law is to love God and love your neighbour - "The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments" (Matt 22:40).
Have you noticed that the law is phrased in such a way that every single one of them is an action? This is the language of doing, the language which the Israelites spoke and the language which many Christians still speak today - "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17, Luke 10:25). Today, when we insist on following the 10 commandments and argue for keeping the 10 commandments, we have missed the mark. This is because Jesus was telling us that God is looking at your heart, and when your heart is right, right actions will naturally follow in good time.
When you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, would you have any other gods before you? Would you make or buy yourself an idol and worship it?
When you love your neighbour as yourself, would you give false witness against him? Would you murder? Would you steal? Would you commit adultery? Would you covet your neighbour's things?
Those who fight for keeping the 10 commandments are putting the cart before the horse:
1 Cor 13:1-3 (NKJV)
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
GOD IS LOVE and Jesus is teaching us to be like God; Jesus is teaching us to love. However, on our own, it is hard for us to love because of our flesh and selfishness. How can we be like God if we are spiritually dead? That's why God sent Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice to cut for us a new covenant, a new life in the spirit - we in Christ and Christ in us. Now, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:4).
Was Jesus teaching about the 10 commandments? NO, Jesus was teaching about LOVE.