Balanced Christianity

The reaction to what I said about this (debate) was mixed. Some evangelicals responded thoughtfully and theologically, others with inflexible dogmatism – I find myself increasingly out of sympathy with excessive evangelical dogmatism – and a third group, especially in the US, was positively hysterical in its denunciation…It’s a very distressing thing about evangelicalism that we are not good at responsible domestic debate. But the hallmark of an authentic evangelical is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions, but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh biblical scrutiny, and, if necessary, reform.

– John Stott, Balanced Christianity

How often we find ourselves similarly distressed debating over certain paradoxical doctrine. And we often confused debate on balanced Christian living with balanced view of doctrine. Let me explain so that we can have a clear understanding of the difference.

The Bible is full of exhortation to stay balanced in our Christian living. For example in Prov 30:8-9, the psalmist asked not of poverty nor riches for either extreme would be dishonoring the name of God or disowning Him altogether. We must not also be so generous as to be financially irresponsible towards providing for our own family, while at the same time not to be so miserly in not giving anything to anybody at all.

Concerning certain paradoxical doctrine (not including all other clear biblical truth but only referring to paradoxical ones), truth is accepting the biblical truth in both extremes, even mutually exclusive ones. For example, Jesus our Lord is 100% God and 100% man though they are mutually exclusive. In real life, we find light to have both the properties of particle and wave which has confounded scientists eversince, yet it does not deter scientists to continue their research and invention based on acceptance of both properties. Why must a scientist be so dogmatic on just one property of light and miss the whole picture ?

We find this paradox running across so many debates :
1. Faith alone and Works.
2. Predestination and Free Will.
3. Love and Suffering.
4. Etc.

We must bear in mind that God’s ways are definitely higher than ours, so what is impossible for us with our limited understanding may be possible for Him. I have come to believe truth may be found in the biblical part of both extremes. Standing on one extreme may be unbiblical as it will definitely include an unbiblical part arguing against the other extreme.

An example is the existence of both poverty and prosperity gospels. What the prosperity gospel disagree with the poverty gospel insisting that Christians must be materially poor is biblically correct, but that does not make the prosperity gospel a true biblical gospel with some truth in it. The true gospel is the balanced view in the stewardship gospel.

Our Lord’s Prayer For His Disciples

John 17 : 6-19
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Our Lord’s prayer for His disciples in John 17 is the most important exemplary prayer we should pray for one another. Jesus our Lord prayed for His disciples :

1. To believe the Word of God and be sanctified by it.
2. To be united in love.
3. To experience the same peace and joy of Him.
4. To be protected from the evil one.
5. To be sent out into the world to make disciples.

Now in the last days, the urgency to pray for one another is even more acute because there will be troubled times or persecution ahead and false teaching will proliferate.

The hyper grace false teaching is drawing large numbers away from believing the truth in the Word of God and be sanctified by it. Many are experiencing the false security in idols of wealth and well-being instead of true peace and joy in Christ. Many are blinded spiritually by the evil one with very subtle teaching of blending messages which extol grace and promote self-gratification at the same time. Knowing fully well that the hyper grace gospel is a false gospel, we are most uncharitable if we do not warn the believers who have fallen for such teaching and pray for them.

Stop hearing and believing dangerous teaching that we do not need to practise righteousness after believing in Jesus. 1 John 3:7-8. The clear evidence of who are the children of God or the children of the devil is this : those who do NOT practise righteousness is NOT born of God. 1 John 3:10. 1 John 2:29. Beware of the counter twist by the false teachers that if we practise righteousness, we are actually nullifying the perfect atonement of Christ our Lord on the Cross. That is a punch below the waist.  Such twist is good enough for the naive and the blinded. What actually happen is when we sincerely repent and believe in our Lord Jesus, God’s seed abides in us (the Word of God and the Holy Spirit) and we will practise righteousness as evidence of a sanctified life. We will pursue godliness because when we are led by the Spirit, we will set our minds on the things of the Spirit. Rom 8:5.

Stop hearing and believing another dangerous teaching that discipleship is not necessary once we believe in Jesus. Jesus never give us such an option. He stated the necessary demands of discipleship.   Luke 14:25-33.  We are sent out to make disciples, not professing believers, and to teach them to obey every command of Jesus.  Matt 28:19-20

One clear evidence of false teachers today is this: whether they make up clever lies to get hold of your money.  Note the word “CLEVER”.  They will extol grace in their teaching and yet hookwink their believers into giving more of their money in one way or another.

2 Pet 2:2-3 NLT.

Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up CLEVER lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

So if we truly love Jesus, we have to pray often for the protection of His beloved from the enemy and his agents.  We have to pray for them to have such hunger for the Word of God and be sanctified by it.

Knowledge And Wisdom (II)

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Wisdom can also be defined as the art of living.   All wisdom comes from God as He is the Creator of everything and surely He knows best.   And if we ask of Him,  He will gives generously to us.   When we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, all things shall be added unto us through the wisdom generously given us.

In the coming weeks,  I will be sharing about how we can experience peace and joy when we walk in the given wisdom of God which is diametrically opposite that of the world.

Knowledge And Wisdom (I)

Prov 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Knowledge learns about God; Wisdom fears God.
Knowledge believes in Christ; Wisdom obeys Christ.
Knowledge sees the coming danger; Wisdom prays and flees from it.
Knowledge sees the coming storm; Wisdom grows deep root in preparing for it.
Knowledge reads and memorizes the Scripture; Wisdom follows what is instructed in it.


Hyper Grace Believers Living As Enemies Of God

Phil 3: 17-21
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

It will be the most frightening and heart-wrenching prospect to find out that we have been living as enemies of the cross of Christ when it is too late because the destiny is destruction for eternity. Many who profess to love Christ will be heading towards such a prospect because they are deluded by false teachers today. St Paul, being as compassionate as Christ his Lord, said so with much tears because such a prospect is really heart wrenching.

The Word of God has given the following clear evidence of a life at enmity with the cross of Christ.

1. Their god is their stomach. Such believers are so consumed with their desires as represented by their appetites. Not that difficult to identify such churches today when you will hear the hyper grace teachers stoking the appetites of their followers in every sermon without fail. Living godly lives is deliberately not exhorted at all because of the deliberate false claim that it will be works nullifying the finished atoning work of Christ.

2. Their glory is in their shame. The hyper grace believers even boast in the very things which they should be ashamed of. Whenever they sin, they will ignore confession and repentance and even boast of freedom from contrition of sin. They seriously still believe and boast that God favors them when they grieve His Spirit.

3. Their mind is set on earthly things. This is self explanatory. It is almost incredible that these false hyper grace teachers and their followers could still sound so pious to Christ while their minds and lifestyle are all set on earthly things contrary to the teachings of our Lord.

Costly Demands of Discipleship Are Diametrically Opposite That Of Hyper Grace Doctrine

Luke 14:25-33
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand ? So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Discipleship is never an option. A believer has to be a disciple. Jesus would rather have few sincere disciples obeying His demands than to have many professing believers among the big crowds which would not be with Him for all eternity. Matt 7:13-14.

Jesus had obeyed the same 3 demands He demanded of His disciples. Indeed, He had asked nothing of us which He was not willing to do Himself. He had “hated” His own heavenly home to come to live in a sinful world among us with no roof over His head. He had gone to the ultimate Cross dying for our sake for which the wages of our sin is death. He had renounced all that He had for our sake. Though He was rich, yet for our sake, He became poor. 2 Cor 8:9.

In view of the coming glory to which nothing can be compared, is it too much to ask of His disciples to go through the process of daily death to the lure of the world and the endurance of reproach and suffering for His name’s sake ? Is it too much to ask to renounce the hold of possessions on our lives ? We know we are in Him when we walked in the same way in which He walked. 1 John 2:6.

He shared two parables about considering carefully the cost of discipleship before making His third demand of renouncing the hold of possessions.  The emphasis is about careful consideration before making the commitment. Today, the false teachers are making the gospel message big on emotions and small on the cost of following Jesus.

Like going into a war with numerically inferior forces implying an uphill task, the king must consider very carefully whether to give 100% commitment to winning the war or back off from the war.

Or like building a tower with careful consideration of the cost and having enough to complete it.  If we follow Him for the wrong reason – when the going gets tough and we depart from the faith – we are going to cause even more damage to His cause. People will ridicule our faith when we cannot “finish building the tower” or finish the race. (Anyway, it is predicted that many will depart from the faith following false teachers in the last days. 1 Tim 4:1.)

He ended His above sermon addressing the large crowds with a very serious exhortation, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:35.

I pray that all believers will heed this exhortation and not believe the false hyper grace teachers whose main doctrinal tenets are diametrically opposite to the 3 costly demands of discipleship :

1.  Hyper grace believes solely in self love and doing good to oneself as the will of God. Hear what Victoria Osteen said in her own words.

2.  Hyper grace believes the finished work of Christ on the Cross to mean He has taken all your self-renunciation, reproach and suffering upon Himself on your behalf and you need not carry your own cross daily anymore.

3.  Hyper grace believes in claiming all instead of surrendering all.


True Grace And Hyper Grace Contrasted

Faith without obedience is Cheap Grace;
Obedience without Faith is Legalism;
Faith and Obedience must travel together.

The difference between true grace and hyper grace is quite stark. One comes with poverty of spirit to receive Grace with full gratitude and submissive obedience; the other comes with the binding insistence that God must honor His salvation promise with or without poverty of spirit. One is the response of the Tax Gatherer and the other that of the Pharisee.  One is justified while the other is not.

The contrast of the various facets of life based on believing the different gospels  – the way of life, experience, focus in life, hope, the response towards wrongdoing and the fruit (good or bad) –  is shown in the table below.Legitimate Faith-page-0

Why Did God Order The Genocide Of The Amalekites And The Canaanites ?

1 Sam 15:2-3; Deut 20:16-18

Why did God order the genocide of the Amalekites and the Canaanites including the children ? On the surface, it will seem that God is not merciful though just.

We must first remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. Is 55:9, Rom 11:33-36. We must trust that He is good as well as just.

Because King Saul did not obey God’s commandment to annihilate the Amalekites, decades later, the survivors were able to take King David’s family captive. This would never happen if King Saul obeyed.

And same for Canaanites which God forewarned that they would teach the Israelites detestable things such as worshipping idols and sinning against God. God was preventing future greater evil by giving such an order.

To judge such tribes without any righteous person seems fair but the difficult part of God’s command is the killing of children and infants.

But if the lives of the children and infants end before a certain accountable age to know right and wrong and they are saved, it will be a different matter altogether and in fact, it reveal God is merciful on the contrary. As seen in the case of the Amalekites, by sparing the young, they still grew up to be as wicked as their forefathers.

Two passages seem to suggest this possibility.

2 Samuel 12:22-23

22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Isaiah 7:14-15

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

When the life of King David’s son was ended, King David assuredly said that he would go to him in future implying that he will see his son in heaven.

In the other passage on the sign of Christ given to Israel by the prophet Isaiah, there was an accountable age mentioned by which he would know how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

So I strongly believe that all children and infants who die before the accountable age will get to go to heaven by the grace and mercy of God.

Similarly those, who suffer from mental illness before the accountability age and are unable to how to refuse the evil and choose the good, will get to heaven by the same line of reasoning.