Monday, June 29, 2009

Do We Need The 10 Commandments?

CybeRanger alerted me to a blog post by Rev Kong Hee entitled "Do We Need The 10 Commandments?", and I posted a comment there and got a reply from Roy Jr whom I in turn replied. I shall share the exchange with you here but first let me say that I am thankful that Rev Kong Hee has confirmed something which I know deep in my heart but of which I did not have proof.

In my article "Questionable 'Questionable Teachings' #2-Part 1" which addresses the QT of "Being Taught The 10 Commandments Is Like Taking Poison!", I said the following:

I agree with Rev Kong Hee that the Law is not just the 10 commandments and consists of three portions which we have conveniently categorized as civil,ceremonial and moral BUT I disagree that these portions can be individually separated and replaced. There is only ONE LAW and ONE COVENANT and either the WHOLE LAW applies or it doesn't. We, mere man, are the ones who divided the Law into 3 portions, not God.

Rev Kong Hee has kindly, perhaps unwittingly, confirmed for me that it is "We, mere man, are the ones who divided the Law into 3 portions, not God." In his post, Rev Kong Hee wrote the following:

The law consists of various parts. The most important portion is the Ten Commandments, also known as the “moral law,” as they express the morality, values and character of God. The commandments were engraved on stone tablets and are recorded in Exodus 20: 2-17 and Deuteronomy 5: 6-21. Because there are ten of them, they are also commonly called the “Decalogue” (Gr. dekalogos), which means the “ten words” or “ten pronouncements.”

Apart from these commandments, God gave Moses further instructions that governed the ethics and rituals of the Israelites. Augustine (354-430) divided the law of Moses into two parts: the moral and symbolical. For example, “you shall not covet” is a moral law; “you shall circumcise every male on the eighth day” is a symbolical law. To Augustine and the early Church fathers, the moral law of the Ten Commandments is still binding while the symbolical law is no longer binding. Besides circumcision and the sacrifices, Augustine categorizes as symbolical law the tabernacle regulations, the dietary laws, the feasts, etc. Because they are non-binding, he interprets the rules against blended clothing (wool and linen) and the mixed yoke (ox and ass) allegorically.

As always, Scripture must be compared with Scripture to avoid misinterpretation. It is clear that Jesus brought to an end the observance of the symbolical laws by His redemptive accomplishment. The entire sacrificial system and ceremonial washings were “external regulations applying until the time of the new order” (Heb. 9:10). These symbolical or topological law was “only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves” (Heb. 10:1), its regulations were set aside once the realities had arrived in Christ (Heb. 7:18-19, 22). Jesus ushered in the new order that made the ceremonial rituals redundant: “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. 8:13).

This moral/symbolical distinction eventually gave way to the more precise three-part analysis first worked out in detail by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Aquinas says that the law of Moses is made up of moral, ceremonial and civil precepts. From the days of Aquinas to the Reformation, to our time, the Church has been consistent in teaching that only the moral law is still binding, all ceremonial and civil laws are no longer applicable to believers.

(emphasis in bold mine)


I shall now share my exchange with Roy Jr below and welcome comments from all of you:

Me:

I am not a theologian but I am just wondering, did any of those eleven historical church documents listed in the article explain how Rom 6:14 - “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” - fits in with obeying the 10 commandments?

Did those historical documents explain why the 10 commandments, which were “written and engraved on stones”, were called “the ministry of death” by Paul in 2 Cor 3:7?


Roy Jr:

@ Stanley Wong

quote: “Rom 6:14 - “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” - fits in with obeying the 10 commandments?”

You are completely taking this verse out of its intended context. Paul is speaking in this chapter to antinomians, licentious people who consider that the law is not necessary. Let’s read a little bit of this chapter.

Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Certainly not! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

Here, Paul candidly mentions that sinning is simply NOT one of the things God wants us to do. What is sinning, breaking a law of the Ten Commandments!

Romans 6:18″ You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

The above verse proceeds the verse you attempted to use to defend your argument. In the original context, to be a “slave to righteousness” is to be an individual that adheres to the laws that God has set in one’s life. The paradox of being a slave to righteousness, is that you are also liberated from your slavery to sin. God’s grace does, indeed, exist, and is indeed great, however, without following the laws of our God, it is impossible to be a “slave of righteousness” as Paul succinctly calls us to become.


ME:

Dear Roy Jr,

You said “In the original context, to be a “slave to righteousness” is to be an individual that adheres to the laws that God has set in one’s life.”

To REALLY put a “slave to righteousness” in the PROPER CONTEXT, let’s take a look at what Paul says about righteousness in the book of Romans:

Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from FAITH to FAITH; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (emphasis in caps mine)

Romans 3:21-22 (NKJV)
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through FAITH in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. (emphasis in caps mine)

Romans 4:8-9 (NKJV)
8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
9 Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that FAITH was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. (emphasis in caps mine)

Romans 9:30-31 (NKJV)
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. (emphasis in caps mine)

It is obvious from the above verses in Romans that Paul was preaching about a righteousness that is by faith and NOT by adhering “to the laws that God has set in one’s life”.

Therefore Paul was saying in Rom 6:18 that we have become slaves to “righteousness of faith”, and no longer need to pursue “the law of righteousness”, which explains why Paul said in Rom 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are NOT UNDER LAW but under grace.” (emphasis in caps mine)

By the way, what about the question of Paul calling the 10 commandments “the ministry of death”?


Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Must Eat

I haven't been posting recently because I have been feeling rather tired, both physically and mentally. I was wondering why I felt that way and I think the reason is because I have not been eating God's Word recently.

My sister loaned me a couple of Japanese drama series while I bought one too at a sale by Poh Kim Video and I have been watching them at my stall for the last 2 weeks. I only listened to Pastor Prince's sermons on and off and I guess that is not really enough to feed my spirit.

Two days ago, Angie popped by my stall to hand me a stack of books (written by Peter Wade) which I ordered through her as well as a book by Steve McVey and one by Andrew Wommack (AW). As I started reading "The Believer's Authority" by AW, I began to feel a sense of strength coming back into my spirit and even my body.

Angie was a little concerned that AW was talking about a lot of dos and don'ts in his book but as I read on, I realized that AW was not telling us to do this or that, or don't do this or that per se but rather he was concerned about the effects of those dos and don'ts on our spirit ie. he was concerned for what we are feeding our spirit. In chapter 3, AW wrote:

"I minister to people all the time who desire the results they see in my life, but aren't willing to do what I do. They want to sit and watch "As the Stomach Turns" on television. They watch R- and X-rated movies, indulging negative emotions that I would never indulge. I recognize that there is a spiritual battle going on, and if I ever began to open up and allow such things into my heart and mind, Satan would take advantage of it. So I live a very restricted life, refraining from many things that other people do. (Psalm 101:3)"

After Jesus' resurrection, He showed Himself to his disciples who were out fishing and talked to Peter who had just denied Him three times earlier. Three times He asked Peter whether he loved Him and Peter answered "Yes" three times. The first time Peter answered, Jesus told him "Feed my lambs" while at the second and third time, Jesus told Peter "Feed my sheep". (John 21:15-17)

Jesus did not tell Peter to lead the sheep or guide the sheep or protect the sheep BUT He said FEED the sheep. Jesus is concerned for us that we get to eat. Eating is important because that is the only way we can grow and be strong. You know, those wolves and other predators out hunting the sheep, do you think that they just pick out any sheep at random and attack? No, they single out the weak ones because they are easy meat, and I suspect the weaker ones are those who have not been feeding well.

Take note that the first time, Jesus said "Feed my lambs." (John 21:15) - lambs, not sheep. What do lambs eat? Actually, they don't really eat but drink; they drink milk. All of us start out as lambs and as we feed and feed on milk, we grow and grow, and eventually we become sheep. However, does a sheep still drink milk? No, the sheep does not DRINK milk anymore but EATS grass and other solid food. That's why Jesus told Peter the second and third time to "feed my sheep". There's a difference between a lamb and a sheep. There's a difference between milk and grass too!

Hebrews 5:8-13 (NASB)

8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

11Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

13For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.


Yes, it's important to eat but what are you feeding yourselves? Is it milk? That means you are not feeding on the word of righteousness (v13). That means you are still a lamb, not a mature sheep. Looking at the context of the above passage, it is clear that the word of righteousness is about the finished work of Christ for Paul says in v11 "Concerning him we have much to say" where the "him" refers to Jesus, the Son of God (v8). Romans 10:17 confirms this - "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."

You want to do something for the Lord? Then eat first! Don't keep thinking about doing something for the Lord. Feed on the word of righteousness, on the finished work of Christ and grow strong in the Lord, and then you are fit for some work.

I will talk to you again soon but first ... I must eat!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jeffreyism (2) - We Are Always In The Light

I just received another sms from my dear brother-in-grace, Jeffrey and I like what he said so much that I just have to share with you all here:

At times we may feel that we are in the dark, not knowing what's going on and feeling confused BUT the truth is that we are in Christ and Christ is light. So no matter how we feel, we are never in the dark but always in the light, and His hand shall lead us and His right hand shall hold us.

Psalm 139:8-12 (NKJV)
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You
are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light
are both alike to You.


Ephesians 5:8 (NLT)
For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

P.S. Bro Jeff just told me that what he said was inspired by Steve McVey

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are You A GraceXtremist?

A fellow Christian brother, Derrick, who first commented on my blog days ago, wrote an article on his blog entitled "Thoughts About The "Extreme Grace" Camp". I am proud to say that Derrick included me as one of those in the "Extreme Grace" camp, which incidentally inspired me to call myself a "GraceXtremist" and form my own "extremist" group (^_~).

However, the main point I want to make today is that I believe the Grace of God can only be extreme, never balanced.

Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God did not have to send Jesus to die for us. He could easily have destroyed the whole human race and start over. But God did not; He took this extreme step of sacrificing His own Son, His one and only Son, whom He loved, for us!

Christ died for us while we were still sinners. That means that we have done nothing whatsoever to deserve Christ's sacrifice - that is grace! Do you know that there is absolutely nothing you can do which can ever repay what God and Christ have done for you? That is what makes the Grace of God extreme! You can never balance it with your works!

Yesterday, The New Paper reported on a traffic accident in Hong Kong where a minibus driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into pedestrians walking along a pavement. Among them was a trio of girls on their way home after a night out with other friends. One of the girls saw the oncoming minibus and quickly shoved her other two friends out of harm's way. The other two girls were still seriously hurt but their friend who tried to save them did not have time to save herself; she died on the spot.

This girl paid the ultimate price in order to save her two friends. The other two girls, after they recover, can try to be daughters to the mother of their friend but it is not the same, is it? There is nothing the two surviving girls can do to repay their friend's sacrifice; they can never balance the payment.

God paid the ultimate price and you can never repay enough to balance it! But get this, God does not want any payment from you at all; He just wants you to accept His grace. Grace is extreme in that respect!

I have accepted God's extreme grace and now proudly declare that I am a GraceXtremist. How about you?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Breathe (Part 2) - "In The Zone"

I posted my "Breathe" article as a comment in stillhaventfound's article "Thoughts on New Creation Church - About Discipleship - Part 2" and here is his response:


Hi Stanley,

Good you replied here coz I can’t comment on your website without using a google account.

You wrote, “there are many people who mistakenly think that what we mean is that we have no will or willpower of our own”. Actually, the implication in your response when you responded above “Yes, Paul does exhort us Christians to do this or that BUT he did not say do this or that by using one’s own willpower and efforts” made me wonder if you think we don’t have a will of our own. After all, you seem to deny that we use our will / willpower / efforts to fulfill the exhortations of Paul in this sentence. My point is that if we don’t use our will / willpower / efforts, then what exactly do we use?

I totally agree with you that the gospel has to be central. That’s the main point in my whole post. I disagree with placing the emphasis on what we do. But I will not deny that there’s a place for exhorting Christians to do this or that. To say there’s a role in Scripture for preachers to tell us to do this or that, is not to say that it has a central role. It’s simply to say that there is a role. The central role has to be focusing on the gospel of what Jesus did for us in His death and resurrection, not what we ought to do for Him.

And of course there’s no denying that the power to live for Him comes through Him and comes through focusing on what He did for us.

I disagree that our will is passive. It is very active. But does it mean that anyone who believes that the will is actively involved in doing God’s work or resisting sin - that such a person thinks that the power to do God’s work and resist sin comes from himself and not God and that such a person is thus proud and overly self-conscious? I think that’s going a bit too far and an unfair accusation.

I’m big on preaching that focuses on the gospel of Jesus, rather than preaching that focuses on what we’re exhorted to do for God. However, occasional focus on the exhortations of Scripture is not wrong. I will not criticize such exhortations as promoting self-consciousness or pride or as implying that we’re in control of our own lives. Of course, if the preaching always focuses on what we have to do for God then I think the preacher or church has missed the centrality of the gospel in all of Scripture and the Christian life.

While I’m also against preachers constantly emphasizing that we have to be more Christlike, I think there’s a place for that - not a central place, of course. I would like to see preachers focusing more on how Jesus took our place and how in Him we’re perfect and righteous. But I cannot over-react and say there’s no place for preaching that we need to be more Christlike in our character. In the very passage that we’ve been discussing - Philippians 2 - Paul talks about us imitating Christ!

I also disagree with your “breathing” metaphor. You asked, “Were you consciously commanding yourself to breathe or were you just breathing without really thinking about the fact you were breathing?”

The reason why I disagree with the metaphor is because breathing comes naturally, as you hinted. You’re right to say that we didn’t command ourselves to breath. If we have to command ourselves to breath, then there’s something wrong. We have to be constantly alert all the time and probably will not be able to sleep!

But aren’t Scriptures full of exhortations and commands? If good works flow automatically or unconsciously as Christians focus on Christ, there would be no need for exhortations in the New Covenant. Unlike breathing, Paul actually has to command us to be like this or like that!

I agree with you that there are times (maybe most of the time, who knows?) when we behave most like Christ when we’re totally unconscious of doing so and only conscious of Christ. And there are times when the more we focus on living for Him and trying to do better, the more frustrated we get. In these times, I accept the breathing analogy. However, I think it’s extremely reductionistic to view the whole of the Christian life like that and to say that it always works just one way. To me, Scripture is more nuanced than that.


My reply is as follows:

Hi shf,

You said "But aren’t Scriptures full of exhortations and commands? If good works flow automatically or unconsciously as Christians focus on Christ, there would be no need for exhortations in the New Covenant. Unlike breathing, Paul actually has to command us to be like this or like that!"

Paul did exhort us to do this or do that but I think the key is in HOW we do the this and that. Continuing with my breathing metaphor, it's like Paul exhorts us to breathe and we can breathe naturally, totally unconscious of the fact we are breathing or we can consciously will ourselves to breathe.

Actually, you hit the nail on the head when you said "there are times (maybe most of the time, who knows?) when we behave most like Christ when we’re totally unconscious of doing so and only conscious of Christ. And there are times when the more we focus on living for Him and trying to do better, the more frustrated we get."

This is exactly my point that ideally our Christian life should be in the "zone" where "we behave most like Christ when we’re totally unconscious of doing so and only conscious of Christ", although the reality is that "there are times when the more we focus on living for Him and trying to do better, the more frustrated we get."

This is like what I have read in newspapers interviews in which top athletes (like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan) talked about a certain exceptional performance of theirs and they describe it as being "in the zone" where they are not really conscious of what they were doing, they simply just did, and all the putts drop into the hole and every shot swishes through the net.

Of course, they don't operate like that most of the time but I'm sure they wish they do! Similarly, in terms of my Christian life, I wish that I am always in the zone of only being conscious of Christ although the reality is that I'm not.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Breathe

Two days ago, stillhaventfound posted an excellent article, "Thoughts on New Creation Church - About Discipleship - Part 2" which highlighted "the importance of making grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ the focus of our sanctification or the Christian life". I totally agree with him on that point but I put in a comment in his blog to say I disagree with the following point which he made:

"Now, unlike many pro-New Creation bloggers who tend to baulk at any hint of willpower being involved in change, I do think there’s a certain element of truth in the above and a certain role that the will and our efforts play in our transformation. I don’t think it’s true to say we just have to let go and let God. At least, not all the time. That’s because I clearly see in Scriptures Paul’s exhortation to do this or that. He does tell believers to stop doing this and start doing that. That is, I see Paul talking about behaviour modification and using one’s willpower and efforts - for how else are we to do this or stop doing that but through our willpower and efforts and changing our behaviour?"


My comment is as follows:

Yes, Paul does exhort us Christians to do this or that BUT he did not say do this or that by using one’s own willpower and efforts.

When we think that our OWN willpower and efforts are involved, we are setting ourselves up for failure because our focus will be unconsciously shifted from the power of the gospel onto our OWN power, which is no power at all.

In Romans 7, Paul tells us clearly that our own willpower will fail for “I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (v15, NLT)

We should always be Christ-conscious and not self-conscious. Yes, we should work hard to show the results of our salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear but it is so important to always remember that this is because God is working in us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Phi 2:12-13)


stillhaventfound's response:

I believe that God does not control our will such that we have no responsibility whatsoever. Nor does He will for us. We control our will and thus it’s our willpower, not God’s. Whatever actions we do is us exercising our will. If not, we can claim that we’re not responsible for anything. Believing that our will and willpower is involved, of course, doesn’t mean that everything is dependent upon us and our will.

In a sense, it’s our doing. But seen from another perspective, it’s God giving us the power to do so. God is both sovereign, yet we also have responsibility. How it can be so, I don’t know, for this is a mystery.

When an unbeliever is called to believe in Christ to be saved, he’s exhorted to use his will to believe. He has the responsibility to do so. Yet, the Bible also says that faith itself is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). Even though we know that the very ability to have faith is actually a gift of God and not due to his will or efforts, we still tell the believer that it’s his decision and choice. It’s his responsibility.

We don’t tell him, “Oh, you don’t want to believe in Christ? That’s OK. It’s not your willpower involved after all. Just wait for God to give you the power to believe.” No, the call is to believe now and they are exhorted to believe as though they can do so.

In my opinion, there’s no contradiction between telling a person that he has to believe and acknowledging that even his faith is a gift of God. In the same way, there’s no contradiction between telling a person to change and acknowledging that the power of change comes from God.

I think the more we focus on Christ and behold Him, the more there will be that power over sin and breakthrough in one’s life. Surely, it’s not in focusing on our our efforts or strength or will that will give us the power. But to say that the will or our willpower has no place whatsoever in victory over sin is, in my opinion, over-reacting against a Christianity that lacks that focus on Christ and instead going to the opposite extreme of the spectrum.

Regarding Philippians 2:13, I think this proves my point that the will involved is ours. God works in us to will. He works in our lives by giving us the power and desire to do this or that. But it’s our will performing the action because we’re not puppets. It’s just like if my friend gives me money to buy an ice-cream. The money to buy the ice-cream belongs to my friend, but I am the one who bought it. In the same way, God gives us the power to live for Him. But we use our will (which is empowered by God) to live for Him. Our will definitely has a part to play. But it is not the be all and end all of godliness. To say so is to boast in buying the ice-cream when it was my friend who actually gave me the money to do so. But on the other hand, to say that my will has no part to play at all in godliness is to say that having the money is as good as having the ice-cream and there’s no need to buy the ice-cream. If so, then any sinner who continues sinning can claim that it’s not really their fault because their will has no part to play because God didn’t give them the strength in the first place. Of course, that’s faulty thinking.

Ultimately, I think we agree more with each other than not if you believe, as you have written, that “we should work hard to show the results of our salvation”. Maybe we’re just disagreeing over semantics - the definition of will and willpower. At least, your admission that “we should work hard” contradicts a “let go and let God” view that change always comes through us not trying at all.


I think that when we say "let go and let God", there are many people like stillhaventfound who mistakenly think that what we mean is that we have no will or willpower of our own, and we are just like puppets being controlled by God which as stillhaventfound rightly says so, we are not.

My personal point of view is that when we make the gospel of Jesus Christ the focus of our Christian walk, then we live out Phil 2:12--13 ie. we will
work hard to show the results of our salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear for God is working in us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Yes, I agree with stillhaventfound that while God is working in us, He does not force us to do but we have to respond to Him giving us the desire and power, and then we do. However, my comment was really about cautioning against being self-conscious ie. there is a danger that pride will set in when we think that we control our will and thus it is our will performing the action. Yes, our will is involved but its involvement, in reality, is passive because we did not generate the desire and power to do but God did. The role of our will is akin to that of a valve in a blood vessel, opening up to let the blood flow through. Our will doesn't generate the flow but it can sure block it.

I have been thinking over the past two days about how to explain clearly the role of our will when the word "Breathe" kept rising in my spirit.

While you were reading this post up till this very moment, have you noticed that you were and still are breathing? Were you consciously commanding yourself to breathe or were you just breathing without really thinking about the fact you were breathing?

I don't know about you but most of the time, I am not even conscious of the fact that I am breathing! I only notice my breathing when I am NOT AT REST or doing something strenuous.

Similarly, that is how Phil 2:12-13 works. When we are resting in the grace of God, our will and God's will become one; and we do, without being conscious of the fact that we are doing!

But what about the part of "working hard"? Interestingly, Paul also talked about working hard in Hebrews 4:11 - "
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest". When you see the word "therefore", you have to check out the preceding verses to find out why we have to "therefore":

Hebrews 4:9-10 (NKJV)
9There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

Why do we have to work hard to enter His rest? Because when we enter His rest, we cease from our own works; "
I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). Therefore, we should work hard to let go and let God.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My "Brand" Of Christian Life

A fellow Christian brother, Derrick posted the following comment on my post "Judicial Forgiveness and Parental Forgiveness - Part 4":
Hi Stanley I don't think you are going to change your mind, but does your brand of 'Christian life' (very different from mine) allow for any humility before God (eg. Paul calling himself the chief of sinners), or any subjective guilt (eg. Paul called himself a wretched man) or any confession of sins? Btw, I do not know any Christian who find the above three weary tasks to do, since we do them not to gain acceptance from God. Rather they are natural actions reflecting our Spirit life as a result of our faith. No offence, but I find your description of Christian life rather weird and not true liberation. In case you are wondering, I am not a fan of Kong Hee (I am actually against some of his teachings eg. prosperity gospel), but I find that he is closer to the fundamental gospel that Joseph Prince is.


I decided to publish Derrick's interesting comment and my response as a separate blog post as I hope that this will generate more responses from others and it would be interesting to see all the different "brands" ;-)

My response:
Hi Derrick,

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges that I stand righteous before God, not because of my own efforts, but because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross (Heb 10:14, 2 Cor 5:21).

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges that whatever righteous acts I do are like filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6), therefore I boast not of my works but of the grace of God (Rom 4:2)

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges the completeness of Christ Jesus' work on the cross (John 19:30); because of Christ Jesus' sacrifice, ALL of my sins are forgiven.

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges that God does not remember my sins anymore (Heb 10:17) for they have all been taken away by the blood of Christ Jesus(Heb 10:11-17)

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges that even when I fail and commit sins, I am the blessed man to whom God does not impute sin (Rom 4:8).

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges that God's grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness, and therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges that it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

My "brand" of Christian life acknowledges that I have been forgiven much and therefore I love much (Luke 7:41-43, 47).


Does my "brand" of Christian life "allow for any humility before God"? How about your "brand" of Christian life?

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Weight Of Being A Christian

In my last post, "Why Someone Walked Away From Christianity", I highlighted an article by theBEattitude who shared that he "no longer believe in Jesus or the god of the Bible" and his decision was one of relief because he "no longer felt the weight a Christian carries. The weight of guilt, unworthiness and fear of god’s judgement."

I empathize with this brother because I used to feel the same way. I started attending Sunday School when I was in primary school and continued all the way through to junior college. After that, I attended the adult worship service and all in all, I was in my previous church for about 30 years. However, all the while I felt I was not a good enough Christian because I seldom read the bible, seldom prayed, did not "do quiet time", etc and of course still sinned.

I continued going to church week after week as I thought that was the least I could do; I may not be a "hardworking" Christian from Monday to Saturday but at least I could be faithful in attending church on Sunday. I always thought that when I am in heaven, God will play back my life for all to see and I will be shamed but at least God can commend me for faithfully attending church.

I also felt like being a Christian was a burden and wanted to give up BUT deep, deep, deep inside me, I know that God is real and Jesus is real and the Holy Spirit is real. In the end, I sort of drifted aimlessly in my Christian walk, thankful that I am not going to hell but not enjoying my "Christianhood" at all.

I did not do any survey but I suspect there are a lot of "zombie" Christians like me. Thank God that I was awoken from my zombie state when I attended New Creation Church for the first time on 19 Oct 2003 and heard Pastor Prince preach for the first time. He made the bible come alive and through his sermons introduced me to the Heavenly Father and His only Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a whole different light.

I used to think of God as a school principal, carrying a cane in his hand, waiting and watching to catch me do any wrong, and then whack me with his cane. I always feel that I am not meeting God's impossibly high standards. However, now I know better because of the anointed preaching by Pastor Prince, the veil has been lifted from my face and I can now see clearly my position before God.

I no longer think that God is unhappy with me for not being up to standard because I now know that God has put me in Christ, and thus "by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Heb 10:14) I am now perfect in God's eyes, not because of my own qualities for "we all fall short of God’s glorious standard" (Rom 3:23) or what I have done but because of what Jesus had done on the cross.

Take note that Heb 10:14 also says we are "those who are being made holy" ie. our Christian walk is a on-going process and we do make mistakes and sin now and then BUT we are assured that God is not angry with us because He says "I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds." (Heb 10:17) We do not need to feel condemned when we fail, and God again assures us of this through His word: "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1)

God "is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love" (Psalm 103:8), "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103: 10-14), "if He kept a record of sins, who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3)

God is not angry with us, for if He is, there is no point sending Jesus to die for us and paying for the penalty of our sin. God is holy and just, therefore He cannot let sin go unpunished for "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23) BUT above all GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:8) and "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Most Christians can remember and quote John 3:16 but don't read on to John 3:17 which says "God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." Do you see it? God does NOT want to judge the world but He has to because He is holy and just, hence He sent His Son, Jesus, to save the world by pouring all the judgment of the world on Jesus instead of us. We who are in Christ no longer live in fear of God's judgment because Jesus has absorbed all the judgment on our behalf.

Why do many Christians still carry "The weight of guilt, unworthiness and fear of god’s judgement"? This is because many churches are still not preaching the gospel, the gospel that proclaims liberty and sets free the oppressed (Luke 4:18); free from "The weight of guilt, unworthiness and fear of god’s judgement".

In Matt 11:30, Jesus said "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" because He has carried the weight of God's judgment on his shoulders. We are called Christians because we are in Christ and Christ is in us, and my prayer is that more and more Christians will get to listen to preaching that helps them understand what that means. May God raise up more preachers like Pastor Prince, Andrew Wommack and Paul White to help us know the truth, and the truth will set us free. (John 8:32)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Someone Walked Away From "Christianity"

My blogger friend, Hagere posted a link to an interesting article from a guy, theBEattitude who wrote about why and how it was a relief that he gave up being a Christian.

You can click here to read his article and the over 1,000 comments it generated but I have reproduced his article below for your convenience:

I was planning to write up a detailed story about my Christian life and the recent rejection of my faith. But my goal is not to build a case to prove I believed in God or to demonstrate how good of a Christian I was. I did truly believe in God for most of my life and worshiped and prayed to him daily. I believed he was at work in my life at all times and using me to touch other people’s lives.

So you might be wondering what changed.

The change was a culmination of things that I could no longer ignore. Faith is belief in the unseen and unprovable, but still requires a foundation for that faith. With the countless religions of the world, I began to question why the god of the Bible is more believable than all other gods worshiped on earth. With the mountain of evidence staring me in the face, my faith began to die.

Last fall, I finally moved past guilt and admitted to myself that I no longer believe in Jesus or the god of the Bible. Surprisingly it was a relief. Not because I wanted to run wild and sin freely, but because I no longer felt the weight a Christian carries. The weight of guilt, unworthiness and fear of god’s judgement. I continue to spend my days striving to be a good husband, father and son. I help others in need around me as often as I can. The big difference is I do these things today because it brings me joy, not because I believe it brings an imaginary god joy.

For those wondering, here is a condensed “Top 20 List” of the things that led to my rejection of Christianity.

1. God is wrathful, jealous, hateful, and kills nations of people like it is a bodily function. He is certainly not just or “holy” in nature.

2. The act of throwing people into infinite torture and punishment for not believing a Jewish guy from 2,000 years ago was God’s son, or unknowingly worshiping the wrong god, is extremely cruel and sadistic.

3. The statements, “God works in mysterious ways,” or “It will all make sense in heaven,” are little more than irrational cop outs. This God allows horrible atrocities to be committed against innocent men, women and children every day.

4. Bloody animal and human sacrifices are illogical demands by a divine god as payment for petty wrong doings. These actions are no different than the rituals of archaic pagan religions. Not to mention the bizarre ritual of symbolically drinking human blood and eating human flesh.

5. If God loves us and wants us to know and believe in him, why be so completely invisible? What is the purpose of being so illusive to those who believe and worship him?

6. God never manifests himself or performs miracles as he regularly did for the Israelites in Old Testament stories.

7. Prayers are never answered. Certainly not in the way Jesus described. Prayer has absolutely no affect on the world around us.

8. Jesus did not fulfill major Old Testament prophesies or even fulfill his own promises and predictions.

9. The authors of much of the Bible are unknown. And of these unknown authors, the men who wrote the gospels likely never even met Jesus considering they were written 40-70 years after his death. A far cry from reliable testimony.

10. The Bible is repeatedly contradictory with itself, reality, and the laws of morality. Couldn’t God inspire a less poorly written book?

11. The Bible is open to interpretation. Everyone interprets it in the way that suits them best or serves their purposes.

12. Throughout history, Christians have justified horrific actions by the Bible and its teaching.

13. The Bible promotes hate and persecution against women, homosexuals and those who worship other gods or no god at all.

14. According to the Bible, nearly 70% percent of the people in the world will burn in hell because they don’t believe Jesus was the son of God.

15. The only reason I was a Christian was because I was indoctrinated into the religion as a child as a result of the culture and region of the world in which I was born.

16. Christianity has no more rational or factual foundation than any other religion on earth that I openly reject.

17. The Christian church is disjointed and can’t even agree with one another.

18. Christians are not at all ethically or morally different from non-Christians.

19. Today, powerful church leaders steal, lie and molest young children. The church repeatedly attempts to cover up these atrocities, only to reluctantly apologize as a last resort.

20. It is absolutely irrational to continue to believe archaic teaching with the amount of knowledge we’ve gained through science and technology. The Bible reads like a book of primitive folklore, not divinely inspired insight into our true reason for existence.


I feel sad for this guy. It seems that he had already made up his mind to give up on Christianity because he "felt the weight a Christian carries. The weight of guilt, unworthiness and fear of god’s judgement." The 20 "reasons" were like an afterthought, excuses that he can use to justify the decision he had already taken.

However, I think this brother is not alone in thinking this way and certainly not the first to have given up on "Christianity". This is because he and many others like him have not heard the true gospel, the gospel of grace. Like this brother, I had been a Christian for more than 30 years, and I may have followed him down the same road if I had not attended New Creation Church almost six years ago and listened to the gospel preached by Pastor Prince.

What this brother is giving up is "churchianity", not Christianity. The Church needs a gospel revolution and praise God for Pastor Prince and other preachers like Andrew Wommack, Paul White, etc who are doing their part to spread the grace gospel.

Monday, June 1, 2009

For His Sake (or mine?)

Recently, I had a short chat with a regular customer who is a Christian:

"So, on which day do you close your stall?"

"Sunday."

"Oh, that's good. You are honouring the Sabbath."

"Not really. I close my stall because I want to rest and go to church."

"But you are making a sacrifice since Sunday is the weekend and a good day for business. You can always come back and open the stall after the service."

"I tried that before but I find that I am not concentrating during the service because I am always thinking about what I need to do after it is over."



Actually, nowadays I don't feel like it is a sacrifice for me to close my stall and go to church on Sunday. For me, going to church is rest. I get refreshed when I hear the now word of God being preached by Pastor Prince (or the guest speakers) on Sunday. I am doing this for my own sake, for my own benefit.

There was a time though, that I felt that I was doing God a service by going to church on Sunday. That was when I was attending my previous church where I felt that I wasn't fed by the word of God. Going to church was a drag then, and I forced my family and myself to go because I thought I had to honour God that way.

Do you remember your dating days when you were happily courting your girlfriend (or if you are female, being courted by your boyfriend)? When you met your girlfriend at the appointed place, did you think that meeting her was your privilege or hers? Man, was I glad that my then girlfriend (who is now my wife) agreed to meet me! I wanted it so much and spent time making sure I looked good before I set out from my home (but I have to admit that the effort level went down a few notches after a few years :p).

How would you feel if your girlfriend was, in fact, not keen to meet you but agreed to meet you for your sake? Would it be an enjoyable date? Can you imagine going to church with that kind of attitude? I think God would rather you had stayed home!

The point I'm making is that I look forward to going to church and it is for my own sake that I'm doing it, not His sake. When I am doing this, yes, I am honouring God but it is incidental, not deliberate on my part.

Another customer overheard Pastor Prince "preaching" on my dvd player and told me to turn up the volume so that more people can hear the gospel. She thought that this is a good way for me to evangelize. I told her that I was playing the sermons because I wanted to listen to them myself, not because I wanted to evangelize. However, over the years, I have chatted with quite a number of customers about the gospel and given away quite a number of CDs to them, just because their interest were piqued from hearing Pastor Prince's voice playing softly in my stall while waiting for me to serve their orders.

Again, I was playing the sermons at my stall for my sake, not His sake but He is honoured in the process anyway. When you serve God in church through the many different ministries, are you doing it for His sake or yours?