The Kingdom of Heaven under one Lordship of God

Matt 23:8-12 NLT.

8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

It is very clear from this teaching of our Lord Jesus that we are all equal under one Lordship of the Triune God in the Kingdom of Heaven. Though we may have different ministries and different offices bestowed to serve right now, we are to serve with this same attitude as Christ our Lord who came to serve and not to be served.

Yet it is sad how often the established Christendom tries to set one above another by addressing such titles which belong to God alone : Reverend, Father, Your Grace, Your Holiness, etc.

The False Teachers today And the Super Apostles of St Paul’s time

Matt 7:21-23.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Matt 24:24-25.
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.

The false prophets today are performing great signs and wonders to deceive even the elect. And you know what ? They are doing all these great signs and wonders in the name of Jesus ! Yet on that day of our Lord, He will not know them at all.
These false prophets do not come wearing a badge telling everyone they are false prophets. They will come masquerading as apostles of light. 2 Cor 11:13. Since Satan will come masquerading as an angel of light, it is not surprising that his servants will come masquerading as servants of righteousness. 2 Cor 11:14-15.
They will be among us preaching a false doctrine that sounds so pleasing to our ears. They will perform miracles in the name of Jesus and whip a frenzy in drawing the multitudes.
The Corinthian Church was being infiltrated this way during St Paul’s time. 2 Cor 11. The church readily accepted these false prophets as Super Apostles. 2 Cor 11:4-5. They were so eloquent in their delivery of messages. 2 Cor 11:6.
Though Paul was in no way inferior to these super apostles in signs and wonders, he rather boast in his weakness. That would be a tough act to emulate for the false prophets today who were there for the money, fame and power. 2 Cor 11:22-29.

Let us take a second close look at the characteristics of these false prophets being heralded as apostles of light in St Paul’s time and compare with the false teachers today:
1. They performed signs and wonders in the name of Jesus.
2. They preached a different Jesus and a different gospel which was easily accepted.
3. They were so eloquent or so sleek in their delivery of messages.
4. They were paid well for their ministry work. (So much so that St Paul felt short-changed as he was considered inferior for not being paid at all for his ministry work. 2 Cor 11:7).
5. They could not and would not boast in weakness like St Paul otherwise they would over-turn all their own messages of power and look silly.

I am not saying that God does not allow signs and wonders anymore today. He is sovereign and I believe He still does. But to chase after signs and wonders is another matter altogether and that will make us vulnerable to deception. It will be better to chase after His Word which is more sure. St Peter had the blessing of witnessing the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus and many other miracles,  yet he proclaimed the Word of God to be MORE SURE or MORE RELIABLE. And it will do us well to pay attention to the Word of God. 2 Pet 1: 16-21.

IVP New Testament Commentary Series…..”…it is a reasonable conjecture that Paul’s rivals were Palestinian Jews who, claiming the backing of the Jerusalem church, came to Corinth carrying letters of reference and sporting an impressive array of credentials (such as visions, ecstatic experiences and revelations). They sought to sway their audience through polished delivery and powerful oratory. They combined this with an outward show of the Spirit, appealing to the prominent role of the miraculous in Jesus’ ministry. The intruders’ focus on the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, compelling rhetoric and Jesus the wonder worker may well be what Paul cryptically refers to as “another Jesus/Spirit/gospel.” If so, their approach is not much different from what we call “power evangelism” today.”

God Is So Good

One very early morning during my personal devotion,  I was so overwhelmed by the grace of God knowing fully well that without direct intervention from God, I would not be able to extricate myself from the pit or road to destruction.   I just blurted out this first new song, God Is So Good.   As I have no music training at all,  I am sure it is a gift from the Spirit of Christ –  just like Xiao Min,  a peasant girl in rural China who composed over a thousand praise and worship songs without any music training as well.  All praise and glory to Jesus our Lord.

Our Hope – Self Same Bodies in Heaven

Westminster Catechism 1647
“The self-same bodies of the dead which were laid in the grave, being then again united to their souls forever, shall be raised up by the power of Christ.”

It is so important that all believers must believe in the self-same bodies in Heaven. Without this belief of self-same body that we will have in Heaven, then what Hope is there in the realization of ideals by man as a truly and fully human being in the original image of God and resurrect with Christ again ?

Otherwise, the Word of God will be wrong to say, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” and we are the most to be pitied for we have turned our back in enmity with the world.
Let’s trust God wholeheartedly for this Hope that Christ had been resurrected and we will do the same one day and that He had already gone ahead to prepare the mansions for us.

Following are the quotes from eminent theologians and pastors expressing the same belief :

J C Ryle
“The man who is about to sail for Australia or New Zealand as a settler, is naturally anxious to know something about his future home, its climate, its employments, its inhabitants, its ways, its customs. All these are subjects of deep interest to him. You are leaving the land of your nativity,you are going to spend the rest of your life in a new hemisphere. It would be strange indeed if you did not desire information about your new abode. Now surely, if we hope to dwell forever in that “better country, even a heavenly one” we ought to seek all the knowledge we can get about it. Before we go to our eternal home we should try to become acquainted with it.”

Randy Alcorn
“The empty tomb is the ultimate proof that Christ’s Resurrection body was the same body that died on the cross. If Resurrection meant the creation of a new body, Christ’s original body would have remained in the tomb….This, then, is the most basic truth about our resurrected bodies. They are the same bodies God created for us, but they will be raised to greater perfection than we’ve ever known…It is like the new upgrade of my word processing software. When I heard there was an upgrade available, I didn’t say, “I have no idea what it will be like.” I knew that for the most part it would be like the old program, only better. Sure, it has some new features that I didn’t expect, and I’m glad for them. But I certainly recognise it as the same program I’ve used for a decade.”

Hank Hanegraff
“There is a one-to-one correspondence between the body of Christ that died and the body that rose.”

John Piper
“Christianity is not a platonic religion that regards material things as mere shadow of reality, which will be sloughed off as soon as possible. Not the mere immortality of the soul, but rather the resurrection of the body and the renewal of all creation is the hope of the Christian faith.”

Bruce Milne
“The Jesus who says, “Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have,”… this is the Jesus who draws back the curtain on the heavenly life and shows us what it will be like: embodied !”

John Updike
“Make no mistake: if he rose at all it was as His body, if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fail. Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping transcendence, making of the event as a parable, a sign painted in the faded credulity of earlier ages; let us walk through the door.”

R A Torrey
“We will not be disembodied spirits in the world to come, but redeemed spirits, in redeemed bodies, in a redeemed universe. If we don’t get it right on the resurrection of the body, we’ll get nothing else right. It’s therefore critical that we not merely affirm the resurrection of the dead as a point of doctrine but that we understand the meaning of the resurrection we affirm.”

Martyn Lloyd Jones
“Everything will be glorified, even nature itself. And that seems to me to be the biblical teaching about the eternal state that what we call heaven is life in this perfect world as God intended humanity to live it. When he put Adam in Paradise at the beginning, Adam fell, and all fell with him, but men and women are meant to live in the body, and will live in a glorified body in a glorified world, and God will be with them.”

A A Hodge
“Heaven, as the eternal home of the divine Man and of all the redeemed members of the human race, must necessarily be thoroughly human in its structure, conditions, and activities. Its joys and activities must all be rational, moral, emotional, voluntary and active. There must be the exercise of all the faculties, the gratification of all tastes, the development of all talent capacities, the realization of all ideals. The reason, the intellectual curiosity, the imagination, the aesthetic instincts, the holy affections, the social affinities, the inexhaustible resources of strength and power native to the human sould must all find in heaven exercise and satisfaction. Then there must always be a goal of endeavour before us, ever future….Heaven will prove the consummate flower and fruit of the whole creation and of all the history of the universe.”

Albert Wolters
“God hangs on to his fallen original creation and salvages it. He refuses to abandon the work of His hands – in fact, he sacrifices His own Son to save His original project. Humankind, which has botched its original mandate and the whole creation along with it, is given another chance in Christ; we are reinstated as God’s managers on earth. The original good creation is to be restored.”

Paul Marshall
“This world is our home: we are made to live here. It has been devastated by sin, but God plans to put it right. hence, we look forward with joy to newly restored bodies and to living in a newly restored heaven and earth. We can love this world becasue it is God’s, and it will be healed, becoming at last what God intended from the beginning….Our destiny is an earthly one: a new earth, an earth redeemed and transfigured. An earth reunited with heaven, but an earth, nevertheless.”

David Lloyd George
“When I was a boy, the thought of Heaven used to frighten me more than the thought of Hell. I pictured Heaven as a place where time would be perpetual Sundays, with perpetual services from which there would be no escape.”

C S Lewis
“The hills and valleys of Heaven will be to those you now experience not as a copy is to the original, nor as a substitute is to the genuine article, but as the flower to the root, or the diamond to the coal.”

T S Eliot
“I had far rather walk, as I do, in daily terror of eternity, than feel that this was only a children’s game in which all the contestants would get equally worthless prizes in the end.”

Parable of the Wedding Feast

Matt 22:1-14 NLT.
Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! 4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. 7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The characters in this parable are easily identifiable. Israel was the invited guests and they turned down God’s invitation flatly. God in turn opened the invitation to the Gentiles. God was already displeased with the insolence of Israel and had ordered judgment. So God took issue with the further insolence of one who did not come to the wedding feast in proper attire showing how disrespectful he or she could be towards the invitation.

The parable is a serious reminder that though we accept the invitation to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we cannot come in an insolent or indifferent attitude without repentance. We need to come with a repentant heart and a total commitment to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. God had gone through the ultimate sacrifice of giving His Son for our sins to appease His justice and wrath, it will be so insolent of us to come to Him without true contrition and repentance. That is a fool’s presumptuous false peace to think he is justified by coming to Jesus with selfish motives of seeking food, wealth, health and escape from hell fire.

In John 2:23-25, we learned that many began to believe in Jesus when they saw the miraculous signs He did. But Jesus did not trust them because He knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature for He knew what was in each person’s heart. We can profess faith in Jesus but can He trust us if we come to Him only for selfish motives ?

The Unpardonable Sin

Matt 12:31-32

31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

The unpardonable sin is identified here as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.   Jesus our Lord had performed a miracle and yet the Pharisees attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to be the work of the devil.

Our Lord rebuked 5 out 7 churches in Rev 2 and 3 for their sin and ended with this exhortation, “Whoever has ears,  let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”    And culminated in Rev 3:19 which is very clear that Jesus or His Spirit will reprove and convict the Christians of sin and call for us to be zealous and repent.

(Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.  Rev 3:19.)

It is bad enough to deny this work of the Spirit of Jesus to convict a Christian of sin but to attribute it to the work of the devil will be utter blasphemy similar to the above incident told in the Scripture to specifically warn us.

The false cheap grace teachers have preached that the definite and marvelous work of the Spirit in convicting us of sin is actually the work of the devil in robbing us of joy by making us sin conscious.

They are even audacious enough to say that all the theologians and pastors in the past had got it so wrong about the conviction of sin by the Spirit of Jesus and the need to confess our sins.

They have confused guilt with contrition.  Or the confusion of their followers may be deliberate.  Guilt is bondage but contrition is true worship.  Ps 51:17; Is 66:2.

Possible Triggers of the Coming Economic Flood

This is one look at some possible triggers of the Coming Economic Flood by Mr Jim Rickards, the Financial Threat and Asymmetric Warfare Advisor for both the Pentagon and CIA, author of “Currency Wars” and “The Death of Money” :

1.  Foreign Ownership of Government Debt.

2.  The Fall of the Petrodollar.

3.  Global Gold Rebalancing.

4.  Collapse of China.

5.  The IMF’s Plan to replace the dollar.

Discerning False Prophets

1 John 4: 1-6.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Two tests are mentioned here :
1. Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus has come in the flesh is not from God which is the spirit of the antichrist.
2. The false prophets are from the world and speak from the viewpoint of the world and the world listens to them.

The first test is the test of the Christology or doctrine of Jesus Christ held by these prophets or teachers.
The second test is to test whatever these prophets or teachers say belongs to the prince of the world or the Son of God.

The second test is so crucial because the enemy’s agents will come masquerading as angels of light. They may have the rhetoric of praising Jesus or speaking correctly about the grace of our Lord, but their hearts may be far away from our Lord.

The prince of the world has and will continue to tempt mankind with the same three temptation – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He had done so with Eve (Gen 3:6) tempting her that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom. He had done so with Jesus our Lord too (Luke 4:1-13).
Any true prophet or teacher will not twist the teachings of our Lord Jesus and His Word (through the Prophets and the Apostles) to mean the opposite if they truly love Him. If any prophet or teacher promote the same three temptation, you can be sure that they are of the world and not of God.

Let’s look at some of these famous rhetorical key phrases by the false prophets or teachers and compare them with our Lord’s.

False prophet : Abundant life is an abundance of every good thing in life.
Jesus our Lord : Life does not consist in the abundance of things. (Luke 12:15).

False prophet : God wants to prosper Christians and we are called to enjoy wealth, to enjoy health and to enjoy a life of victory.
Jesus our Lord : The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. (Matt 13:22-23)… Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that Day will not come on you suddenly like a trap. (Luke 21:34-35).

False prophet : Only good things happen to those who believe God loves them.
Peter the Apostle : Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. (1 Pet 4:12-13).

Whoever is of the world does not listen to the Word of God; and this is how we recognize the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.  1 John 4:6.

The Foolishness of the Cross

What kind of God, instead of rescuing us out of trouble, rescues us by entering into the trouble with us ?
What kind of God, instead of helping us to avoid pain and heal us from our pain, enters into extreme pain with us ?
What kind of God, instead of fixing things for us, addresses them by becoming weak with us in our weakness ?
– Will Willimon, Sojourners Magazine, August 2007

After He had done so, He invited us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him in the same footsteps.

Such a message of Christ dying on the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks.

So the modern day carnal believer modify the message to satisfy themselves – that Christ will carry their cross on their behalf, rescue them from trouble, helping them to avoid pain and to fix every wrong thing for them.

But through history, the true believer walk in the same way in which He had walked – entering into the trouble with his neighbor, entering into pain with his neighbor, and becoming weak with his neighbor…1 John 2:6.

Fully God; Fully Man

Presently there is teaching that Jesus set aside His divinity while He was on earth. Such teaching is followed by the “peccability” belief that Jesus could have the possibility of sinning when tempted by the devil but did not.

The onus or burden of proof was placed entirely on the verses Phil 2:6-8 in which the proponents argued that Jesus “emptied” Himself – which according to the Greek word for “emptied” should be correctly translated as setting aside His divinity.

One Bible translation translated the Greek word as “of no reputation”. Even if the meaning concerns His divinity, setting aside His divinity for a moment is a world of difference from not exercising His divine privileges.

We read of the omniscience and omnipotence of Jesus in knowing the destruction of Jerusalem, the life of the Samaritan woman, calming the storm, rebuking the fever and feeding the 5000.  Still, we cannot be certain that He gave up His omnipresence as well even though He was fully man while being on earth.

Like the Holy Trinity, it was hard to comprehend 3 distinct Persons in the essential one God-head. It will be foolhardy to really believe we as His creatures can fully comprehend and describe God who create us using human reason which is also given by Him.  To accept this fact by faith is not really blind faith. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in many ways suitable for our understanding as in nature. We can see the tri-une nature of God in nature – 3 states; 3 dimensions, 3 elements of the universe as in matter, space and time.

As I began to ponder over this subject, I realized that I could not understand back in the secondary school days how light could behave as particle and wave at the same time which is like a mutually exclusive impossibility.   Scientists have argued over the centuries and could not come to an amicable conclusion.

I believe it is no coincidence that Jesus is the LIGHT of the world with this duality as fully God and fully man. John 1:1-5,9.

It is important to have this right doctrine of Jesus Christ our Lord as fully God and fully man otherwise we may fall into the spirit of the Antichrist. 1 John 4: 1-6.