Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Simple Truths To Live By (1)

I am not a theologian.  In fact, I get a headache trying to understand all those big words spouted by theologians (or theologian wannabes) and what the theologians are really trying to say with those big words.

One of the main reasons why I started writing this blog is to help lay Christians like myself understand better what our Christian faith is all about, in simple language.  Hence, this blog is not trying to prove the Christian faith, and therefore is not meant to convert non-Christians; non-Christians, like "the logical mouse" who visit this blog to challenge the Christian faith are barking up the wrong tree.

Among us Christians, there are many little details of our Christian faith which we do not agree with one another eg. confession and forgiveness of sins, the 10 commandments, prosperity, healing, the Holy Spirit, etc.  When we read so many different arguments regarding these issues, mixed with theological or religious jargon, we may get confused and lose our focus, which is Christ.  It can get tiring, trying to make sense of all the varying views, sorting out the truth from error.  Therefore, it is important to hold on to some rock solid simple truths in order to stand firm in our Christian faith.

I intend to share with you some of these truths which I live by and which I stubbornly refuse to be shaken from after learning and studying through these last seven years of NCC's ministry:

Simple Truth No.1 - God is Good.

What? Do we need to even discuss this basic truth? You might be surprised but there are (I suspect, many) Christians who find it hard to believe that God is good full stop.  They can believe that "God is good BUT ...", not "God is good full stop".  Many Christians believe that God's goodness to us is not unconditional but is dispensed based on our own "goodness" i.e. we have to earn God's goodness.

However, it is ironic that the same Christians who believe that God's goodness to us is not unconditional do not find it contradictory that their very own salvation comes from the unconditional redemption plan of God -   "But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.ows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us." (Rom 5:8)

God initiated and executed his redemption plan while we were still sinners; that is unconditional, He did not wait for us to be of acceptable standard to him.  Many Christians believe this, that our redemption is unconditional BUT they also believe that after they have accepted God's unconditional redemption plan, God then deals with them conditionally i.e.God will be good to them only if they live up to God's standards.

However, this is illogical since if God can give us His greatest gift, Christ, unconditionally, then how can all the other lesser gifts like health, prosperity, good relationships, etc not be also unconditional?  In fact, Paul addresses this issue in Rom 8:32 - "He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?"

But you ask: "Don't bad things happen to Christians too?"  Yes, they do and there are Christians who believe that God is the one who caused the bad things to happen but I am not among them.  I choose to believe and stubbornly hold on to the belief that God is good full stop. He will not cause anything bad to happen to me.

Then you ask: "Then why do bad things happen to Christians too?"  My short answer:  I don't know.  However, I do know that "the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour", and I have to be "well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times" (1 Pet 5:8).

There are Christians who believe that God causes bad things to happen to them to teach them a lesson.  I do not believe that.  You ask: "Then what about Job? God caused so many bad things to happen to him."  Well, if you read carefully, the devil was the one who caused all those bad things to happen to Job, not God.  In fact, God was the one protecting and blessing Job all the while as we can see when the devil said "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land." (Job 1:10)

You ask again: "Then why did God allow the devil to attack Job?" My short answer: I don't know.  But I do know that Job's time was when there was no mediator, which we now do have in Christ, between him and God:
Job 33:23-28
23 "Yet if there is an angel on his side
       as a mediator, one out of a thousand,
       to tell a man what is right for him,
 24 to be gracious to him and say,
       'Spare him from going down to the pit;
       I have found a ransom for him'-
 25 then his flesh is renewed like a child's;
       it is restored as in the days of his youth.
 26 He prays to God and finds favor with him,
       he sees God's face and shouts for joy;
       he is restored by God to his righteous state.
 27 Then he comes to men and says,
       'I sinned, and perverted what was right,
       but I did not get what I deserved.
 28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit,
       and I will live to enjoy the light.'

I also know that in the end, Job received from God double what he lost through the devil's attacks - "the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10)

There were times I got into trouble because I ignored or was not alert to the Holy Spirit's soft prompting and took a certain course of action which turned out badly.  There were also times when I did things without thinking through the possible consequences.  Nevertheless, I now do not attribute or blame God for bad things that happen to me; what I do now is to look to God to turn things around for me, even though sometimes the bad things are due to my own fault.  I now believe that God is the answer to, not the the cause of, my problems.  I now "know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose" (Rom 8:28)

This is the fundamental truth that I now live by.  I refuse to be moved from this position even when I see Christians quote verses trying to prove that "God is good BUT ...".  This is a paradox because those Christians who believe that "God is good BUT ..." read the bible through that light and therefore interpret scripture verses to see God in that light.  However, I interpret those same verses quoted in a different light because I see God in a different light: God is goodOnce I saw that God is good. , the rest of the simple truths which I live by fell naturally into place.  I will share with you in another post.

Shalom, God is Good.


Stanley TAN said...

Amen to all of the above!
I find it useful and good feeding.
thanks Stanley

Malcolm Loh said...

Excellent post, Stan!

God is good, all the time!

Rev Reuben has mentioned several times in his sermons that there are 3 fundamental truths that Christians need to be established upon:

(1) God is good.
(2) God's ways are good.
(3) God is love.

So whatever bad circumstances may come our way (eg. being made to step down from leadership, being interrogated by the police, etc), we know that we can still remain positive because God will come through for us in the end.

Stanley Wong said...

Amen, Mal :-)