Friday, April 24, 2009

Questionable "Questionable Teachings" (3)

I shall continue with my discussion on "questionable teachings" listed in Rev Kong Hee's article "Balance is the key of life (Part 3)". Again,I want to emphatically say that I have no intention whatsoever to discredit the ministry of Rev Kong Hee or City Harvest Church. I believe they are working for the kingdom of God but here I want to question whether those teachings that Rev Kong Hee deem questionable are really questionable.

Questionable Teaching #3: Sin Will Never Break Your Fellowship With God!

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)

Again, Rev Kong Hee is saying that this goes against 2,000 years of mainstream theologies but I say this argument should not be used ever again because knowledge is built upon more knowledge, and sometimes this will lead us to the conclusion that what we knew previously as true is now no longer true eg. geocentrism vs heliocentrism which I mentioned in a previous post. Instead, let us examine the scriptures and see whether this teaching is really questionable.

Rev Kong Hee quoted 1 John 1:7, Heb 6:4-6 and Heb 10:26-27 and says that if one "gets defiled in sin", the Holy Spirit may not immediately leave him but if he "persists in rebellious, wilful sinning", then "that fellowship with God would eventually be broken".

Let's tackle his argument by first examining the verses quoted:

1 John 1:1-7 (actually, Rev Kong Hee quoted 1 John 1:6-7 but I included vv 1-5 for context)
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 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.

I have said before that John in 1 John 1 is addressing Gnostics and not Christians:

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.


John is telling the Gnostics in 1 John 1:5-7 that sin is real and they are living a lie when they sin and yet deny they have sin by claiming that only the body is sinning but the spirit remains pure and can never sin. Hence, John says they are not true Christians since they do not acknowledge that they are sinners BUT if they acknowledge that they are sinners, then the blood of Jesus will take care of the sin problem by cleansing them from all sin.

This line of argument by John is continued into 1 John 1:8-9 where he encourages them to acknowledge they have sin by confessing and God is faithful to forgive them of all their sins.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT)
4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—6 and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

Hebrews 10:26-27 (NKJV)
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

The two Hebrew passages quoted are talking about the same thing ie. the rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, God's ultimate sacrifice for our sins. For a proper context of reading the book of Hebrews, take note that it is a letter written by Paul addressed to his fellow Jews as Paul used the words "our ancestors" in Heb 1:1 - "Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets."

In Hebrews 6:4-6, Paul is talking about those Jews who became Christians but later went back to Judaism. That is why he said they were once enlightened, having shared in the Holy Spirit and tasted the goodness of the word of God BUT they turned away from God by rejecting the Son of God.

When we sin, are we rejecting the Son of God? Of course not! This rejecting of the Son of God mentioned in Heb 6 is talking about the Jews returning to Judaism. Similarly, in Heb 10 Paul is talking about those Jews who refuse to accept Christ at all even after receiving "the knowledge of the truth" ie. the preaching of the gospel of Christ as the ultimate sacrifice, and wants to continue in Judaism.

Since those Jews have rejected Christ as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, Paul said "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" ie. even though those Jews continue in Judaism, continue in their sacrifices of bulls and goats, those sacrifices are no longer acceptable to God because God now accepts ONLY Christ as the sacrifice.

But what does Paul mean by "if we sin wilfully"? In the context of Heb 10, Paul is talking about the sin of unbelief in Christ by the Jews. Paul is saying that he has told them clearly the truth about Christ and yet they still refused to believe, therefore they are sinning wilfully.

When Rev Kong Hee says "fellowship with God is broken", I think he is implying that God leaves us alone or does not want to be close to us (judging from his words "the Holy Spirit may not immediately leave him" which implies that the Holy Spirit eventually will leave). However, I believe that the reverse is true. When we persistently commit sinful acts, we want to run away from God, we don't want to be close to Him because we feel dirty and unworthy. We feel this way because we have been traditionally taught that God is angry or unhappy with us when we sin.

What does God himself say He will do when we sin?

Jeremiah 31:34
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,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

Jeremiah 31:37
This is what the Lord says:
“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 L
ord, have spoken!

Number 1, God says He forgives our sins and will NEVER remember them. Number 2, God says He will NOT forsake us when we sin. Therefore, SIN WILL NEVER BREAK YOUR FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD!

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