Worship – The Ultimate Priority

It is the believer’s ultimate priority to give the Lord the glory due His name and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.  Ps 29:2.  Music is just one medium of worship and so it is not limited to just singing praises on Sunday.

Worship is THE way of life and it should touch all areas of our lives.  We are saved to worship.  John 4:23-24.

Only the Word of God can tell us exactly how to worship God acceptably and please Him.

Worship. God is seeking the true worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We can only worship God when we have true and accurate knowledge of God from His Word.  We must also worship Him in spirit.  It is not about physical posture but require something in our innermost being.  We must be born again and be given the Holy Spirit to energize our new spirit to glorify Him.   John 4:23-24

Obedience.  Scripture clearly says if we love God, we will obey His commandments.  If we do not obey His commandments, we cannot claim to love Him.  And how can we worship Him if we do not love Him ?  John 14:15, 24

Reverence. We must worship God with reverence and awe. Our God is a jealous God and His righteous anger demands that He destroys all idolatry as He will not share His glory with idols. Heb 12:28.

Service.  We must do good to others.  It is a pleasing worship sacrifice to God.   Heb 13:16.

Holy Living. We must present our bodies as a holy living sacrifice. Rom 12:1.

Inward Transformation. We worship God with our renewed and cleansed minds, not with our emotions.  Rom 12:2

Praise. We should always offer up sacrifice of praise with our lips that acknowledge His name for that is pleasing to God.   Heb 13:15.

All thanks be to God for giving me the worship acronym to remind me of the true meaning of worship.  All honor and glory to the Lord of Lords !

Praise God Through Singing

Why singing matters in praising God ?

Eph 5:18-19

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…

Col 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Acts 16:25

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…

Singing and making melody to the Lord with our hearts is evidence of a Spirit-filled life.

Singing helps to imbibe the word of Christ in our hearts as it is easily memorized.

Singing praises to God corporately helps to build up one another as we are hearing confession of faith from one another.  And also witness to the unbelievers when they realize how joyful we are in the Lord in our exuberant singing of praises and confession of faith.

Singing strengthens our faith in the midst of trials and suffering.

(Thanks be to God for giving me another ACRONYM to remember to sing praises exuberantly to Him every time.)

Love – The Virtue Of All Virtues

To love God and one another perfectly in a perfect world – Love or Christlikeness – is the ultimate meaning of human existence.

Love is the virtue of all virtues for God is Love.  It is patient, kind, temperate and rejoices with truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  1 Cor 13:4-7.

As I was meditating on this virtue this morning, I thanked the Lord for the illuminating work of His Spirit again in giving me an acronym in which I could remind myself every day to live out all virtues of love for all eternity.

All glory to our Lord and God.

What To Pray ?

When I was younger in faith, I was taught to pray according to the acronym ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication – which is a very good gist of the things that should go into a prayer which was taught by our Lord in Matt 6:9-13.

As I was meditating on what could bring me to pour my heart before God without drawing a blank in my mind with an even easier acronym,  suddenly the acronym PRAY came to my mind.

All thanks and glory to our Lord for another testimony of the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.

Open Letter To Dr John MacArthur On His Book “Strange Fire”

Based on what you have written in the book,  I agree TOTALLY with your arguments that essentially the miraculous gifts of the apostles have ceased and the special revelation given to the apostles has also ceased. You have also shown conclusively that cessationism was not a product of the Enlightenment and that prominent church leaders throughout history – Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin,  Matthew Henry, John Owen, Thomas Watson, Jonathan Edwards, James Buchanan, Charles Spurgeon, Arthur Pink and D Martyn Lloyd-Jones – believed the same.

So I will be more of a cessationist than a continualist according to your definition based on your arguments.  But I hope that you will also give careful thought to my argument for the exception that some gifts in the lesser sense may still be given.

The Gift Of Tongues.

I agreed with your argument that the intelligible tongues (such as those spoken at Pentecost) has ceased but I believe the unintelligible tongues has not. (1 Cor 13:1 makes mention of the tongues of angels – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. This is not to be confused with the gibberish tongues spoken at will by the Charismatic Movement.)

There are 8 diametrically opposite differences between the tongues spoken at Pentecost and at Corinth in the chart shown below (with information gleaned from J Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Maturity) which seem to suggest that intelligible and unintelligible tongues were spoken at Pentecost and at Corinth respectively, and if it is true, there will be no contradiction in all the Scriptural references.

As such, I will not discount the possibility of the continuation of the unintelligible tongues.  And I believe it is only given during times when the gospel is hard pressed today and I quote the champion of Sola Scriptura, Martin Luther.

“The signs here spoken of (Mark 16:17-18) are to be used according to need.  When the need arises, and the gospel is hard pressed, then we must definitely do these signs, before we allow the gospel to be maligned and knocked down.”  – Believer’s Bible Commentary.

(Mark 16:17-18.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with NEW tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

I noticed an interesting detail in Mark 16:17-18.  Do the NEW tongues refer to the believers speaking unlearned tongues, i.e. known without being learned;  or an unknown tongue altogether ? )

There is further similar argument for the possibility of unintelligible tongues continuing in the following link :  https://www.gotquestions.org/continuationism.html

Continuationists suggest that part of the confusion over this topic is that there may be two kinds of “tongues” spoken of in Acts and the letters to the Corinthians. The gift that came on the day of Pentecost enabled the apostles to speak in the languages of those in attendance. This allowed the gospel to spread rapidly throughout the region (Acts 2:6-8). However, in 1 Cor 14, Paul seems to be speaking about a different purpose for tongues. The entire fourteenth chapter is an instruction to the church about the purposes and use of this gift, one of which may be for worshiping God (14:2, 14–16, 28).

Biblical support for this position is found in Acts 10:45-46  when Cornelius received the Holy Spirit. He began praising God in tongues, even though there was no one present who needed to hear the gospel in other languages. Another example is in Acts 19:6-7. Twelve men from Ephesus received the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues, although there was no one present who needed to hear it. The Corinthian church regularly included tongues in their worship services, with no indication that there were always those present who needed to hear a message in their language.

John Piper calls this form of tongues “one particular way of releasing the heart of praise.” In 1 Cor 14:28, Paul continues his instruction on the use of tongues in corporate worship: “If there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.” This seems to imply that tongues can also be a means for praying “in the spirit,” which lends another perspective to passages such as 1  Cor 14:14-15 and 28, Rom 8:26, Eph 6:18, and Jude 1:20. Paul never chastised the Corinthians for using this gift (1 Cor 14:39) but only for misusing it and creating chaos (verses 23 and 39). He ends the fourteenth chapter by instructing them not to “forbid speaking in tongues” verse 39.

The Gift Of Prophecy.

Again, I believe the special revelation given to the apostles had ceased while the gift in the lesser sense can still continue.  You have mentioned the principle of probability can be used to verify prophecy so all these prophecies in the lesser sense should not be despised but tested according to this principle of probability.  Both Dr John Stott and Dr JI Packer did not discount the possibility.   Again, this gift of prophecy concerning knowledge of coming calamities should not be confused with that practiced by the Charismatic Movement today which resembles individual and corporate fortune telling.

“God on occasion in Bible times communicated with some people by supernaturally telling them what to do, and He has not said He will never do so again.  Some at least of the glowing stories that are told about guidance of this kind can hardly be doubted.  Some see reason to deny that God ever did, or will communicate this way now that the canon of Scripture is complete, but that view seems to us to go beyond what is written and to fly in the face of credible testimony.  It is not for us to place restrictions on God that He has not placed on Himself ! Certainly, no messages from God of this kind could be regarded as canonical in the sense of carrying authority for universal faith and life in the way Scripture does.  This, however, is not to deny that “private revelations” as the Puritans used to call them, ever take place nowadays.  On that question we keep an open mind.  Though we know that self-deception here is very easy, we would not short-circuit claims to have received words from God; we would instead test them, as objectively and open-mindedly as we can, in light of the teaching Scripture itself. Scripture teaches the principle of testing in such passages as Deuteronomy 18:22 where God’s people are told to listen to supposed prophets with discernment: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord,  if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously.  You need not be afraid of him.”  Similarly Paul instructs the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”  – Dr JI Packer, “The JI Packer Classic Collections”

“…in the primary sense of prophets, as vehicles of direct and fresh revelation, it seems we must say that this charisma is no longer given. There is no longer anyone in the church who may dare to say, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying…” or “Thus says the Lord.” It has been argued, however, that prophets may be used in other and lesser senses. Some think there may be men today like the prophet Agabus (Acts 11:28; 21-10-11) whose function is not to add to revelation but to foretell some future event. This is possible. But both church history and personal experience make me cautious…”  – John Stott, Baptism and Fullness.

 

 

The Internal Testimony And Illumination Of The Holy Spirit

First Chapter Of Westminster Confession Of Faith

“The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.”

Over the years, I have studied on the amazing fulfillment of prophecies, the correlation of science with the content and doctrine of Scripture, and the astonishing unity and consistency of Scripture.  Though all these had helped me to a higher and more reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture, I have noticed that all such knowledge do not necessarily lead one to believe the Holy Scripture to be the infallible Word of God. Unless God the Spirit helps to bear witness to one’s spirit that it is God Himself speaking through the Word.

As we live out our faith,  we will surely notice that the faith of those with tremendous knowledge on apologetics does not necessarily tower over those who do not know much persuasive arguments. That is amazing grace.  The Holy Spirit will bear witness with our spirit that the Holy Scripture is the infallible Word of God and will also illuminate it for our understanding. 1 Cor 2:9-11.  If my dad called me over the phone and said,”Hi, son…”, I could immediately recognize his voice though anyone could have said such on the other line.  The sheep of our Lord Jesus will surely recognize the voice of their Master and have no doubt their Master is the One speaking.

He will help us to understand the Bible as some passages are difficult and to apply the contained truths in our lives.

 

 

Apparent Bible Difficulties

Matt 22:29
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

The Sadducees came with a question to Jesus our Lord intending to make certain doctrines in the Bible look silly. But our Lord answered that they were wrong because they neither knew the Scriptures nor the power of God. Matt 22:23-33.

How often we meet sceptical unbelievers who believe they have come across the insolvable discrepancy or illogical occurrence in the Bible in such examples as in disputing on the age of the earth vis-à-vis the short history of man, the 7 day creation story, or apparent discrepancy of different Scriptural accounts for the same event.

Firstly these people do not know the Scriptures.

Because Scriptures are sometimes silent on certain issues, it does not imply the continuation or discontinuation of these issues.  As in this issue brought out by the Sadducees in Matt 22:23-33, just because the scripture is silent on the husband and wife relationship in heaven, it does not imply it will be the same in heaven as on earth.

Secondly these people do not know the power of God.

If God can create man from dust, why can’t God resurrect those who have died and give them glorified bodies ?  For all the apparent discrepancies like the age of the earth vis-à-vis the short history of man, why can’t God accelerate the aging of the earth and change the geology of the earth within the period of the great flood ?  After all, in the future, God will renew the new heaven and earth, and will He do so in billion of years or in an instant ?

 

Overcoming Depression

It is important for believers to know that negative emotions are not wrong per se.  We do read in Scripture of the strong painful emotion our Lord faced in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Paul revealed his depressing emotion in 2 Cor 1:8 that the affliction he suffered caused him to despair of life. Paul actually felt it was a death sentence but he was quick to realize the affliction was to make him rely on God instead of himself.  And God did deliver him giving him further assurance that God would deliver again. 2 Cor 1:9-10.

There is difference between circumstantial and clinical depression. One is triggered by circumstances like low self-esteem, abuse, loss of loved ones, divorce, or loss of job, etc, while the other is caused by physical disorder.

Clinical depression is just like any illness which need medical attention. As God is sovereign and all healing is divine healing, it is ok to seek medical treatment.

As for circumstantial depression, we read of how Paul and his missionary companions came out of it. They stayed rooted in God’s promises overriding their emotions with faith in our Lord – that trials are part and parcel of life, knowing nothing can separate the love of our Lord from them, and looking forward to the coming glory.

If one’s hope is on his achievement, career, loved ones or marriage and when these things turn negative, he will see failed hope and negative emotions will surface reacting to this failed hope.  But if this hope is placed on the coming glory, then no suffering is worth comparing to the coming glory as Paul reasoned.  Rom 8:18.

Feelings of depression can abate when one moves the focus from himself to Christ our Lord and others. Joining a support group and helping others more unfortunate can help him to shift focus away from himself.

The Church And Civil Government

Both the church and civil government are institutions ordained and accountable separately to God.

The responsibility of the church is to preach the gospel, teach and nurture the souls of the disciples.  The responsibility of the civil government is to govern society and enterprise, raise and spend taxes accordingly, protect the life and property of her citizens, and also protect against foreign aggression.  The state is given the power of the sword by God so we can say the government is also a minister of God, while the church is given the power of the gospel to transform lives.  Rom 13:1-7.

Problem starts when the state behaves as God and tamper with God’s universal laws.  And the church behaves as the state in deciding how the state should spend the taxes responsibly or irresponsibly, or how the state should administer this program or that.  Both are accountable to God for their given roles so let God hold them accountable separately.  The church will be making a wrong turn to act on behalf of God to hold the state accountable for her given roles.

Christians honor their Lord by obeying His commandments to submit and obey the civil authorities and pray for them so that all can live tranquil and quiet lives. 1 Tim 2:2.  The only exception is when we are made to obey laws denigrating God’s honor and glory.  Daniel and his 3 friends served well in the government and were commended and they only disobeyed when they were forced to dishonor or disobey God.

Will God’s laws be changed and we end up prosecuted for non compliance; and our religious freedom to share the gospel be curtailed ?  These are concerns we weigh on in praying and voting for the civil government, as they affect our quiet lives to discharge our Christian duty.

Propitiation At The Heart Of The Gospel

Rom 2:5-10 NLT
“… For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. HE WILL GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO THOSE WHO KEEP DOING GOOD, …BUT HE WILL POUR HIS ANGER AND WRATH ON THOSE WHO LIVE FOR THEMSELVES, WHO REFUSE TO OBEY THE TRUTH and instead live lives of wickedness…”

If we preach only expiation, which is just the covering or putting away of sin that obstruct the fellowship of man with God, that is only half the story. For propitiation, which is the appeasement of God’s wrath against all unrighteousness of men, is at the heart of the gospel.

The wrath of God is still operative till the final judgment of all sin. If we do not preach the true gospel including the understanding of God’s wrath and propitiation, the repentance of sinners to accept the Lord Jesus as both Savior and Lord will be found short. That is, unless the sinner understands he has sinned against God and God alone which David Pawson called it the “God dimension” of repentance,  repentance will be found short.

Till we understand and fear God’s wrath, we will not appreciate how just He is and His amazing grace towards us. We will fail to understand His eternal will for us (a PURIFIED people for Jesus zealous for good works) and we are likely to trivialize obedience and doing good works in our training journey on earth. Eph 2:10.

(Jesus) who gave himself for us to REDEEM us from all lawlessness and to PURIFY for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for GOOD WORKS. – Titus 2:14

The hyper grace false gospel twists the gospel at its heart by saying repentance is just a change of mind and not the heart (Rom 10:9-10),  So it is not surprising that this false gospel trivializes obedience and doing good works.