Monday, May 25, 2009

Questionable "Questionable Teachings" (11)

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 #11: The Moment You Receive Christ, You Immediately Achieve Perfection!

This teaching first surfaced in Singapore in the mid 1990s from the same fallen preacher that taught the need to commune with dead saints. Are born again Christians already made perfect? Legally yes, practically no. The moment they are saved, they are just babes in Christ. There is a need for us all to grow into spiritual maturity.

Balance is the key of life. Positional sanctification must be balanced by practical sanctification. It is true that the moment we become a Christian, we are made a saint. But we need the process of practical sanctification throughout our lives to make us more saintly in character and conduct.

Hebrews 6:1 challenges us to "on to perfection" now that we are saved. Ephesians 4:11-13 says that Jesus Christ gave the Church apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors to equip the believers, until 'we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man." That wouldn't be necessary if we are all already perfect!

Paul wrote to the Colossians that Epaphras their minister was laboring fervently for them "that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" (Col. 4:2). Now, if the Colossians were already perfect and complete from the moment they were born again, then Epaphras would have wasted his time on doing something that was totally unnecessary!

As such, the positional must always be balanced by the practical. Otherwise, a Christian would embrace a very lopsided understanding of Scripture that would stunt his own spiritual growth and development.

I agree with Rev Kong Hee that when we become Christians, we are not perfect in our walk with God and we need time and effort to grow and mature spiritually. However, the bible does say that we are perfect even though our walk is not perfect.

Hebrews 10:14
For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. (NKJV)

For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. (NLT)

Take note that the verse clearly distinguishes between our standing before God and our walking with God. In terms of our standing, He HAS PERFECTED FOREVER - past tense, ie. it is already finished and lasts forever. In terms of our walking, we are BEING SANCTIFIED - present continuous tense, ie. it is not finished but a ongoing process.

Let's take a closer look at the word "perfected" in the Greek:

Thayer Definition:
1) to make perfect, complete
1a) to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end
2) to complete (perfect)
2a) add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full
2b) to be found perfect
3) to bring to the end (goal) proposed
4) to accomplish
4a) bring to a close or fulfilment by event
4a1) of the prophecies of the scriptures

Do you know that this same word in the Greek "
teleioō" also appears in another verse BUT it is not rendered as "perfected" in the English?

John 17:4 (NKJV)
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

The same word in Greek is translated as "finished" in John 17:4 and what is the work which God gave Jesus that He "finished" or "perfected"? John 6:28-29 gives us a clue: "Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. "

Jesus' work is to reconcile man to God through his sacrifice on the cross ie. as Heb 10:14 says Jesus is that "one offering". When we believe in Christ Jesus, we are forever reconciled to God. When we say we are perfect before God, we are not saying we don't commit sinful acts anymore but rather, we are saying we have been perfectly redeemed by the offering of Christ, for "
you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet 1:18-19), and "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom 10:9)

Because of that one offering of Christ, sin is no longer imputed to us and therefore God always sees us perfect in Christ. Our continuing process of being made holy is not for God's benefit but our own, so that we do not bring harm upon ourselves and others through our sinful deeds and so that we can bring benefits to ourselves and others through our good deeds:

Job 35:6-8 (The Message)
If you sin, what difference could that make to God?
No matter how much you sin, will it matter to him?

Even if you're good, what would God get out of that?
Do you think he's dependent on your accomplishments?

The only ones who care whether you're good or bad are your family and friends and neighbors.
God's not dependent on your behavior.

Do you see the difference now? The moment you receive Christ, you immediately RECEIVE (NOT achieve) perfection! Christ Jesus has perfectly redeemed us from the penalty of sin but not from the commission of sinful acts.

Heb 10:14 says we are being sanctified and we go through this process when "we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor 3:18)
(please read Questionable QT8&9 for a detailed explanation of the sanctification process)


Kat said...

Hi Stan,
Thanks for taking the time and effort to post your views and expound on these 11 questionable teachings. This is a wonderful series and it has indeed blessed me so much. You are really gifted and anointed by the Holy Spirit in this area.
Keep writing these great posts for God's glory! I am eagerly waiting for you to publish a book! :)))

Stanley Wong said...

Dear grace,

Thanks for your encouraging words. Actually, I was learning too from the Holy Spirit even as I was writing the series, so I was really blessed as well :-)

Even then, I am really glad to have completed the series as it was a bit tedious at times to unravel many of the verses which were quoted out of context in the article.

Malcolm Loh said...

Thanks Stan for this great labour of love to benefit the Body of Christ.

Now, let me do the easier part of compiling it into a PDF document so that many more others can be edified.

Continue to blog for His glory!

Stanley Wong said...

Thanks Mal for doing the PDF thingy ... I really have no idea how to do it myself :-)

Malcolm Loh said...

It's done :-)

Check out this link

Derrick said...

Hi Stanley

I think this entire post was unnecessary since Pastor Kong Hee does not disagree with you - he already said we are made perfect legally (which is what you are explaining), but not practically.

His point is that we do not attain practical perfection.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Derrick,

I think you got the sequence wrong ... Rev Kong Hee wrote his article first in 2001,so it is not possible for him to disagree with me.

Anyway, I must stress that I am not writing just for the sake of disagreeing with everything Rev Kong Hee writes.

My objective is to discuss the topics raised by Rev Kong Hee in detail. If there are any disagreements, I will raise them and explain my reasons, and if I agree with certain points, I also say so.

While this post may seem unnecessary to you, I believe there are also others who appreciate what I have written here.

Derrick said...

Hi Stanley

I meant that you are not answering his point since you are arguing that we are made perfect legally, something he already agreed to :)
Rather, he was arguing against "perfected practical sanctification" which is impossible in this life.