Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Christian Or Non-Christian, Same Difference?

During an an exchange of views over at blogpastor's post, "Give Joseph Prince a Fair Hearing", one Christian brother, JM, made the following comment:
"Prosperity is great when you have it, but what will you do when it leaves you?
If you are now a 40 years old male, you can reasonably expect to live to about 72 years in Singapore before succumbing to a disease that will eventually kill you. 

We can predict that we will look forward to one of 3 outcomes:-
1. A sudden death without any warning.
2. A sudden life changing and debilitating experience which may drag on for many years.
3. Have more than 50% chance of getting Alzheimers if you live past 80.

How does JP’s “Unbridled Grace” model handle this reality – have done a cursory search but found him quite silent."

When I read that comment, the first thought that came to my mind was: "If that is what I can reasonably expect, being a Christian makes no difference in my life at all." NO! There must be a difference between a Christian and a non-Christian because we have been set apart by the Lord - "And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself." (Acts 20:32).

We have been set apart in Christ - "And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’" (Acts 26:17-18); Because of our faith in Christ, we are what Christ says in John 17:16 - "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." - i.e. we have been set apart. 

Since we have been set apart from the world, we should not expect the same "fate" of the world.  The world can expect a "sudden death without any warning" BUT we can expect a long good life because God says through the Psalmist in Psalm 91: 16 - "With long life I will satisfy him".  The world can expect a "sudden life changing and debilitating experience which may drag on for many years" BUT we can expect to be protected from harm because God says in Psalm 91:10-11 that "No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways."

What is the reality for one who has been set apart by the Lord?  Is it the same reality as that of the world?  In the Old Testament, we see Israel, which was under the Old Covenant set apart by God.  In fact, even before the nation of Israel was formed, before they received the Law, while the people were still slaves in the land of Egypt, they were already set apart by God. In Exodus 8, God told Moses to appear before Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelites but of course Pharaoh refused and God released plague after plague on Egypt.  The Israelites were also living in Egypt but did they also suffer the same fate as the Egyptians?

Exodus 8:20-24 (NKJV)
20 And the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. 22 And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. 23 I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.”’” 24 And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.

Can you see that God makes a difference between those who are his children and those who are not?  I think that many Christians don't feel this difference and non-Christians can't see this difference because many churches today don't know and/or don't preach this difference.  We have been set apart in Christ and this makes a difference, nay, I should say this makes THE difference.  Many churches today preach on what you must do and what must not do as a Christian but don't know and/or don't preach on what it means for us to be in Christ.

Do you know that the word translated as "difference" in Exodus 8:23 in Hebrew is  פְּדוּת (transliteration  pĕduwth) which literally means "ransom"?  God has made Christ a ransom for us and this is THE difference between us and the world.  Don't expect the same as the world expects!  The world expects the worst but we should expect good for God says in Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."


lukitoreny said...

Hi Stanley, I have been reading your blog and really enjoy it! Thank you to share some your thoughts. I also love listening to Joseph Prince preaching through the internet as I don't live in Singapore. I have been struggling in our church since I listen to JP. So keep writing.. it help me a lot to see the point of view and even testimony from someone from New Creation Church...
If I have any question later, would you mind to help me... ??? Please... thank you;

Stanley Wong said...

Hi lukitoreny,
You're welcome :-) I have met many other like-hearted Christians from other countries over facebook fact, I have just created a facebook on this site badge just for u ... perhaps you might like to join us there for sharing n discussion :-)